Thursday, September 09, 2010

Prediction Thursday- Mississippi

Frank Helps You Think It All Out is faced with an odd game this weekend. We sort of know what Tulane is- a team with just enough offense to eek through a game with SE Louisiana. But what on earth do we have with the Rebels?

There is some juice here too. If you were to ask the Green Wave fan what program they loathe the most, it might shock you the number of Tulanians that answered with a ringing “Ole Miss!” Ed Orgeron’s attempt to loot the Tulane football program of players in the aftermath of Katrina will not be forgotten easily here:
Controversy arose for Mississippi and Orgeron after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. One of the most affected institutions was Tulane University. After Tulane football players were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Orgeron contacted Tulane football players regarding the future of their football program and the possibility of transferring to Ole Miss.

Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo was less than pleased with the idea. Scelfo criticized Orgeron after the incident, called those coaches or administrators connected to the Tulane controversy "lower than dirt" and later stated that "there's people in our business who do not belong in our business".
Particularly disgusting- as Mississippi, as our closest neighbors, were watching us drown. And Orgeron’s behavior drew not a singular peep of rebuke from the Ole Miss fans or administration.

Just low. Without class. You wouldn’t see Penn State do that. Heck, you wouldn't see Mississippi State do that. Part and parcel of trying to get burgler Jeremiah Masoli on campus, rather than off campus as soon as frickin' possible.

Anyway, the official line provider of Prediction Thursday is the New York Post- and they have put up Mississippi -21 over Tulane. Hey Vegas, just who again won their warm up tilt versus FCS opposition last weekend?

Analyzing this game can demonstrate the power the NFL has over our thinking. An NFL team loses an embarrassing game- and you can expect predictably pundits (and bloggers) to forecast a strong bounce back effort. After all, no one likes humiliation.

I’m not disagreeing with that. But the NFL offers a weekly slate of very competitive games between teams with much more equal talent bases than BCS football: the sourcing of talent is much fairer, the retention of talent equitable, a salary cap. Talent disparity is simply not as large a part of the pro game. Heck, even “good” teams lose four, five games. So intangibles- like excess motivation after a troublesome beating, coaching or injuries- become key criteria.

But in this sort of game- a three TD spread- mere intangibles don’t come close to addressing the disparity presented. That sort of raw inequality is ability, talent- an imbalance that is pretty routine in college football, albeit normally not as great as this specific game. It can be a sort of test: anyone who analyzes most pro games by looking for major roster talent discrepancies and, in turn, most college games by coaching, individual match-ups and injuries doesn’t understand the game of football.

This should not be taken to extremes. The Saints do have a clear talent edge on the Rams. Losing Sam Bradford hurt the Sooners.

But conversely, the fact that Ole Miss ought to be roaring here matters little. If desperation can move a pro line from -5 to -3, that is significant. But moving a college line from -24 to -21 is not as significant.

It is unimportant because Ole Miss appears wanting from a larger issue, the college football issue: talent. The secondary looked poor and the front seven overrated.

So, playing a full four quarters rather than pulling in the dogs late protecting the lead, Tulane can turn last week’s 27 points into something like 17-20 here… while keeping the ball some too. That means Ole Miss needs to score something like 40ish here to cover with 33 minutes ToP. I dunno- seems unlikely- particularly since the Rebels ain’t Florida (offense in excess) and also will be looking to run the ball, move that clock, in order to protect their suspect defense too.

So let’s try and move the mark to 2-0 ATS (last week’s pick was straight up) by taking Tulane +21 over Mississippi.

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