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Rock M Roundtable!

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1 - Mizzourah's Big Head and I have been debating the magnitude of the loss of Pig Brown in comparison to the Brian Smith injury last year.  Thoughts?  Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things--last year was last year, this year is this year, and Manny be Manny--but is it worse to lose a star DE or a star safety?

2 - Is Kansas really going to run the table all the way to Arrowhead?  (Subquestion: how rude is it of KU to totally overshadow Mizzou's first Top 10 ranking since 1981?  I can't even enjoy the high ranking since I'm worried about KU ruining our season by doing even better!  And I'm being half-serious here!)

3 - I broke the seal on BCS/playoff talk this morning...might as well bring it up again.  What's the optimal system for college football: a) the current BCS Championship Game setup, b) Plus One Game, c) 8-team playoff, d) 16-team playoff, e) 32-team playoff, f) winner-takes-all 120-team playoff?

4 - Just for fun...who the hell wins the SEC East this year?  And more importantly, has Vanderbilt ever been still mathematically eligible for the title in November?  This is as impressive a logjam as I can remember.  Here are the remaining schedules:

Georgia (4-2): Auburn, Kentucky
Tennessee (3-2): Arkansas, Vanderbilt, @Kentucky (UT has tiebreaker over UGa)
Florida (3-3): Vanderbilt, @South Carolina
South Carolina (3-3): @Arkansas, Florida
Vanderbilt (2-3): @Florida, Kentucky, @Tennessee
Kentucky (2-3): @Vanderbilt, @Georgia, Tennessee

5 - Pick this week's games: MU @ CU, UT @ OSU, ATM @ OU, NU @ KU, KSU @ ISU, Tech @ BU.

Click 'Full Story' for answers, then post your own answers in the comments!

The Beef: 1 - I started debating #1 with ZD on Saturday and I will stand by my answer...it is not nearly as bad as B. Smith’s was (of course, we did not know at the time how bad it was going to be).  I think we have FAR more developed depth behind Pig with Garrett and Howard (though I did mention in previous conversations about how B. Smith’s injury helped Tommy Chavis become as effective as he has been this year), and I believe Pig is more of a vocal leader than Smith, which means his presence is not going to be going away (especially with the new "Pig Brown Rule")  That said, the key this week are the LB’s stepping their level of play back up, not the secondary.

2 - I still do not believe kU will beat Okie State down in Stillwater, but that Cowboy team could short circuit between now and then (especially given the...shall we say...tenuous grasp their coach has on reality), but I do not believe kU has seen speed like Okie State is going to offer and that will result in a close loss for them.

3 - I am torn between an "and 1" format and an 8-team format...I think both are better than what we currently have, but the 8-man offers problems when it comes to attendance and such (adding up to 3 extra games in likely non-home locations would be tough for a lot of schools to attend)  I guess for the sake of this, I will go "and 1" two weeks after the last game...and if the NFL could ever get on the same wave length, then I would say have it the same weekend as the Super Bowl :-) (no...not really)

4 - Hmmm...starting at the bottom, I think Kentucky loses at least one of those...Vandy loses all three...SC loses at Arkansas, Florida loses at SC, Tenn could win out to save Fulmer’s job and UGA lcomes down and loses to Auburn....so I say...um...Tennessee?

5 - MU 27 CU 21, wow....UT at OSU is tough....hmmm...OSU with a week off...OSU 38 UT 31, OU 45 aTm 10, JOE GANZ IS THE SAVIOR....well...at least for making it close (though I could see NU winning this simply along the lines of "It’s been that kind of season", but I will take kU 24 NU 10, kSU 35 ISU 17 and Tech 56 BU 14

Doug: 1 - I would say any major loss on defense is a killer, no matter what the position.  That was one of the big problems KU had last year with it's defense, a lot of guys went down with injuries over the course of the season.  Now, one guy versus a whole bunch is certainly a lot easier to weather, but from what I've seen Brown was a, perhaps the, leader for the MU D.  It may give teams a greater hope of throwing down field to test his replacement, it may change the overall tendencies of the defensive scheme.  But, you won't know for sure until Saturday.

2 - I'm going to go ahead and say yes.  I know, big surprise.  But, KU has been able to weather some unbelievably tough road games, and taken their one home Big 12 game and really throttled Baylor.  Nebraska is not going to be easy, nor is Iowa State and Oklahoma State is going to be the closest offense to MU that KU will face before Arrowhead.  This team has built up toughness, a little bit through rolling every non-conference game, but more because they were able to comeback and win against K-State and Colorado, and then stand tall for victories in Manhattan, Boulder, and College Station, three of the more difficult road environments in the Big 12.

And, see?  That's my point.  Who cares if KU is ranked about MU by one spot in all the rankings?  The amazing thing is how long it's taken both teams to get back to this point, especially at the same time.  I guess it is easier to sit here as a KU fan and say, "Holy crap, this is pretty amazing!"  Since, God knows we haven't seen anything like this in ages, nor have we had anything great expectations (several years of Terry Allen will do that to you).  I understand MU fans belief that they are one of the forgotten football powers in the country, (I understand it, I don't believe it), and why that creates a much bigger pressure on the team each year.

3 - I'll go 16-team, that would allow every conference a representative, plus 5 at-large teams.  However, I think there would be some seasons where you could make an argument that the MAC doesn't deserve a spot, and then you have 6 at-large bids.  I think no matter where you start, it has to be at least enough bids for every conference to conceivably have one representative.

4 - I'll go Tennessee.  That was an incredible over-time win against South Carolina.  The defense really came through for them when the Gamecocks had the ball.  Plus, with the tie-breaker of UGA, I'll stick with Phillip Fullmer's squad.

5 -  MU 35  CU 21  ,  UT 17  OSU 28  .  ATM 15  OU 28  ,  KU 35  NU 14  ,  KSU 28  ISU 14  , TT 42  BU 10

The Boy: 1 - Obviously my thoughts are in the linked thread above, but in general I do think it hurts more to lose a stud DE than a stud safety.  DE's have the opportunity to shut the play down entirely, while a safety comes into play mostly when the front seven didn't make the play.  Pig's loss will hurt, but Smitty's loss shut down our entire pass rush.  Justin Garrett was getting more and more PT in run situations (before he got hurt against Tech), and Del Howard played a lot against ISU even before Pig's injury.  Our defense is certainly worse without him, but I just don't think it's as bad as the Smith injury was last year.

Plus, as The Beef said...Pig can be almost as much of a vocal leader from the sideline as he was on the field.

2 - I still think OSU's offensive speed could be the key to beating Kansas.  ATM's lack of speed (or gameplan, or general competence) was just embarassing last Saturday.  I'm not sure I'm ready to predict OSU to win that game yet, but that could be a decent-sized landmine there.  Lord knows I'm HOPING the Pokes win that one...we need some margin for error.  I think ISU and NU (with Joey Ganz) will both put up a fight, but KU's likely safe in those two games, especially since they're at home.

3 - Again, I already made my thoughts known on this one, but I have to go with the Plus One.  I love March Madness and all the excitement that surrounds it, but...College Football doesn't have to be just like College Basketball.  They're great for different reasons.  I love that every game matters in football (lose once and you need a lot of help to win the title, lose twice and you're done), and I love the bowls...even the useless ones.  I love that a Central Florida-type of team gets rewarded for going 7-5, and I love that their fanbase gets rewarded just the same.  The only thing I would change is making the BCS Championship game a Finals situation after two semifinals (1vs4, 2vs3 obviously) in two BCS bowls the week before.  That would solve virtually every problem I've ever had with the current system.

4 - I think Georgia's the best team, but Tennessee's got the tiebreaker, and that could be huge.  Let's see...

Georgia (4-2): Auburn (W), Kentucky (W)
Tennessee (3-2): Arkansas (W), Vanderbilt (W), @Kentucky (L)
Florida (3-3): Vanderbilt (W), @South Carolina (L)
South Carolina (3-3): @Arkansas (W), Florida (W)
Vanderbilt (2-3): @Florida (L), Kentucky (W), @Tennessee (L)
Kentucky (2-3): @Vanderbilt (L), @Georgia (L), Tennessee (W)

So that leaves...

Georgia 6-2
Tennessee 5-3
Florida 4-4
South Carolina 5-3
Vanderbilt 3-5
Kentucky 3-5

I guess that wasn't as hard as I thought.

4 - I guess I have to put my money where my mouth is (not that there's any money on the line) and rely on what my Beyond the Box Score post said yesterday.  No point in talking about all these numbers if I'm not going to go with them.  So that means...

Missouri 28, Colorado 23
OSU 31, Texas 30
Oklahoma 24, ATM 17 (I'll be shocked if it ends up this close, though...ATM's due a total implosion)
Kansas 37, Nebraska 13 (though the 'unscouted' factor of Joe Ganz could be worth an extra 3-10 points...NU's defense still isn't going to stop KU much, though)
Kansas State 34, Iowa State 17
Tech 36, Baylor 17

ZouDave: 1 - It's just eerie that we can discuss it at all.  Both happened at home in the 8th game to make us 7-1 in consecutive years, and both happened to what the majority of people feel is our best defensive player at that given moment.  I don't think it's as much a question of worse between losing a star DE and a star Safety, I think it's a question of losing a defensive captain, an unquestioned leader on the field and our best defensive playmaker.  Brian Smith made plays last year by getting to the QB, knocking passes down, etc.  Pig makes huge hits on receivers, ball hawks interceptions and of course had the big TD against Illinois.  It's not good to lose either, but I think defensive coaches (and specifically our defensive coaches) will probably tell you it's easier to replace a safety than it is a DE.  But to me it's still a huge loss, because we lost the face of our defense.  He defined that half of the ball for us.  How Mizzou responds to the loss of Pig is going to totally decide these last 4 games.

2 - I don't see why they can't.  They're going to kill Nebraska, they're going to kill Iowa State, so that leaves Oklahoma State as their only other potential loss before Arrowhead.  And it's beyond rude.  It's downright mean.

3 - 8-team playoff.  You take the 6 conference winners and 2 at-large teams, seed them based on their BCS rankings, and add 3 bowl games to the BCS picture to give a total of 7 games needed to play them all (technically, I guess you'd add 2 bowl games since we already have the 4 BCS bowls and the National Championship game).  Plan on the National Title being on or around January 8, so the semi-finals are played on January 1 and the first round could easily be played around Christmas.  This won't be ideal because it is going to hurt the travel plans of fans since few will be able to make it to more than 1 bowl game, but that's just what you're going to have to face.  Hopefully there would be enough interest in this if it happened that local fans would go to the games to fill out the stadiums some more.  The TV ratings for those 7 games would go way up from normal.

4 - Georgia.  How's that for a concise answer?

5 -

Mizzou - 34
Colorado - 24

Texas - 33
Oklahoma State - 34

A&M - 10
Oklahoma - 48

Nebraska - 14
kansas - 47

KSU - 28
ISU - 17

Tech - 44
Baylor - 10

Michael Atchison: 1 - With all due respect to Pig (who I love), it was worse for the defense to lose Smith.  A disruptive force on the defensive line is far more valuable than a stud defensive back.  If the quarterback has time to sit in the pocket (as Nebraska helped demonstrate by rushing three at Chase), it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the defense is.  Luckily, we’re starting to see some serious disruption by the guys up front, especially Sulak.  I think the other thing this year’s defense has that last year’s lacked is playmakers at other spots.  With guys like Sulak, Weatherspoon and Moore out there, I have more faith that someone will step up.  It would also be nice if one of the corners would assert himself.

2 - Well, I’m certainly not going to pick against them in any remaining game.  They’ve earned the respect.  But this is a weird year with lots of surprising results.  I’ll give them a 51% shot to get to KC at 11-0.

I have been thinking about how both teams have risen simultaneously, how each is on the cusp of its best season in two generations, and how one could completely spoil it for the other.  One of these teams could end up 11-1 or 10-2 and have completely devastated fans.  Could you have imagined that in August?

3 - Eight teams.  Winners of the six BCS conferences, plus the next two highest BCS-rated conference champs or independents.  That takes most of the subjective element out of it.  You have to win your way in.  When I suggested something similar late last season, people cried that my system would leave out Ohio State or Michigan, which were clearly the two best teams!  Of course, they weren’t, and they built their stature playing against mainly Big Ten teams.  You could play it out a lot of different ways.  One thing I’ve thought of is to have the first round at neutral sites in early December (if you’re worried about attendance, play doubleheaders at the sites, or give the higher seeds home games), with the winners advancing to two of the top bowl games, and the winners of those games advancing to the championship.  And the losers of the first round games can still go bowling, too.

4 - I’m tempted to say Tennessee, but they’re a little too up-and-down for me.  I’ll take Georgia.

5 - Missouri 34  Colorado 24
Texas 24  Oklahoma State 20
Oklahoma 35  A&M 13
Kansas 34  Nebraska 16
Kansas State 23  Iowa State 21
Texas Tech  42  Baylor 14

rptgwb: 1 - Losing Brian Smith last year absolutely crippled this defense and put a complete stop to the any form of four-man pass rush. But as much as the loss of Brian Smith hurt the team physically, the loss of Pig Brown is that much more significantly emotionally in 2007. Yeah, he'll be on the sidelines and in the locker room and such, but take a moment to think at just how physical and inspired this defense has been in conference play. That intensity, that fire, and that passion can be directly attributed to three things: 1) the crowd, 2) Lorenzo Williams, and 3) Pig Brown. Against Colorado, they will only have one of those three. Losing Brian Smith killed the defensive pass rush. Losing Pig Brown has the potential to kill the defense's spirit.

2 - I'm running out of reasons to doubt KU. In previous years, Mangino had always gotten the most out of mediocre talent, usually with mediocre to decent results. As the talent has gotten better, so have the results. KU's defense is flying to the ball, the offense is doing just enough to win games, and the coaching staff is putting the team in the best possible scenario to take advantage of their opponent's weaknesses. I wouldn't overlook their trip to Stillwater, but as a whole, I would be more surprised if they didn't run the table to Arrowhead at this point. And how rude is their Top 10 ranking? It's like following Mangino in the buffet line. I can't truly enjoy it if he's hogging it before me.

3 - As much as I love the current "every game is a playoff" system so heavily endorsed by College Football Resource, I am still a proponent of the 16-team playoff. Here's the plan: Shorten the regular season by a game. Take the top 16 teams in the BCS, seed them accordingly, have the first round at the home field of the higher seed. Eight teams (four games) would remain. Play each quarterfinal at a BCS-venue (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange). Then hold the semifinals and finals at a predetermined site (like they've been doing with the National Championship). By the way, if the teams are seeded 1-16 by BCS ranking,  take a moment to ponder who No. 9 Missouri would face in round one (of course the ranking would change, but imagine if the playoff started today). Drama, anyone?

4 - Tennessee having the tiebreak over Georgia gives them the East. Kentucky really hurt themselves with that loss to MSU last weekend. I think Auburn gets by Georgia, whereas the Vols can win out as long as they contain Andre Woodson on the road in the season finale. I have absolutely no faith in Erik Ainge, but the schedule tells me that Fulmer's crew can win in spite of him.

5 - MU 34, CU 27
OSU 38, UT 28
OU 35, ATM 17
KU 28, NU 13
KSU 40, ISU 6
TT 52, BU 7

The Boy: My problem with the 16-teamer (and to a lesser extent, 8) is that it really does somewhat neuter the 'every game is a playoff' type of thing.  Look at it this way: if Mizzou and KU both win out on their way to Arrowhead, you'll likely have something like a #4 vs #5 (or #5 vs #6), winner-take-all matchup between the two teams.  That's by far the biggest KU-MU football game ever.  With a 16-team playoff, that game would mean almost nothing (other than maybe who gets to host a first-round playoff game), especially since you pretty much get rid of conference championship games with a 16-team playoff as well.

Zou Dave: It would completely change the way you view college football, but that doesn't mean it has to be changed for the worse.

Obviously, we compare college football the most to the NFL.  The playoff system would only strengthen that.

When you talk about your favorite NFL team's chances at the playoffs, you never sit there and say "They've got to go 14-2 to have a chance."  12-4, 11-5, even 10-6 in some years is most likely going to get you into the playoffs.  That doesn't make the NFL worse, in my opinion.  Every game still matters, but every loss isn't crippling.  College football in a playoff system would move closer to that mindset.

With 8 teams in the playoff, every game still matters quite a bit because it still means you basically have to be a 1 loss team or a major conference's champion to get in.  Mizzou fans would basically feel the same right now with that system vs the current system, because it appears we cannot lose another game if we want to get into the Big XII Championship game and/or have even a remote shot at a National Title.  ku fans would probably also feel about the same, knowing a loss at this point won't ruin anything for their season but with every win they're that much closer to a storybook season that nobody in their wildest dreams could have hoped for.  In my opinion, the 8-game playoff doesn't change much other than it doubles the amount of teams who have a realistic shot at the National Title going into November.  Seriously, right now there's probably 6-8 teams with plausible avenues at reaching the BCS Title Game:  Ohio State, Boston College, LSU, Arizona State, Oregon, Oklahoma, West Virginia and...dammit, kansas.  If we knew there was a playoffs at stake, though, where we'd be guaranteed a spot in the tournament just by winning the Big XII or being one of the top 2 ranked non-Champions then you'd expand the above list to include Missouri, Georgia, Virginia Tech, maybe Michigan and even USC.  All of those added in would be long shots, but they all still have a shot at their conference title or at least if they just win out then they could force themselves into that top 8 or so.

The Boy: But I don't wanna change mindsets!  (I tried to make that read as whiny as it sounds in my head.)  Just like NCAA hoops are significantly different from the NBA, NCAA football is significantly different from the NFL.  I love that things matter in tiers...you think of wins and losses in terms of a) national title, b) conference title, c) big bowl, d) little bowl, e) no bowl.  A 16-team playoff (and again, to a much lesser degree, 8-teamer) would get rid of some of that.  Conference titles would mean little for major conference teams, just like they do in college hoops.

I don't think I've ever said or typed these words before, but think like a K-State fan for a sec.  (I just vomited a little.)  In 2003, they whooped OU in the Big 12 title game, then got thumped by Ohio State in a the-score-was-more-competitive-than-the-game Fiesta Bowl.  With an 8- or 16-team playoff, you'd almost certainly get rid of conference title games.  OU, with a crippled Jason White at QB, would have likely lost in the quarters or semis, so the lack of a Big 12 title game wouldn't have helped them any.  But K-State, whose fans justifiably view the 2003 conference title as probably the biggest highlight in the history of the program, would have instead either gone to the Cotton or Holiday Bowl (if they still existed) or would have snuck into the bottom of a 16-team playoff and exited in orderly fashion by the quarterfinals.  Maybe they knock out a high seed in the first round, but they're done shortly afterward.  It would have been a fun year, but they'd have no banner to hang and no "___ Champs!" shirts to wear.  Now, I have no sympathy whatsoever for K-State fans (including my neighbors), but if that shoe were on Mizzou's foot, Mizzou would have been denied an opportunity for a major program highlight.

The way college football is currently structured, programs, coaches, players, and especially fans, are rewarded in a way unlike any other sport.  The very top of the college football structure (i.e. the national championship) desperately needs fixing, but that's it.  The rest of the structure is sturdy and sound, and we shouldn't destroy the foundation in order to fix the top level.

Michael Atchison: I don’t think 16 is feasible, at least not to start with.  They’d have to go to eight first and see how it works.

Part of the reason I like the eight-team format that requires a team to win its conference is because it still retains a lot of the "every game counts" appeal.  You have to win your way in, and any time you stub your toe could cost you the chance.  The problem now is that every game counts, but some count more than others.  This year, the system may have to select a team out of a whole raft one one-loss squads.  A one-loss LSU team may get the nod over any number of one-loss teams for no reason other than the subjective views of pollsters and the machinations of some computers.

The other problem with the And One is that it still virtually eliminates half the teams in Division One from a chance to play for a title.  I think if Boise State or Utah or Hawaii runs the table through the regular season, they’ve earned the shot.

The Boy: That's why I'd make losses worth a lot more than they are currently worth in the formula (but not so much that everybody starts scheduling like Kansas in the non-conference).  In 2004, a BCS formula of my design would have produced semis of USC vs Utah and Auburn vs OU.  Everybody would have been happy with that, and the David would have gotten a shot at Goliath.  Last year, Boise would have probably gotten the 4 seed (you could even create a clause that, barring 4 undefeated BCS teams, an undefeated non-BCS team gets in with a BCS ranking of __ or higher), and they'd have gotten their chance against Ohio State.  And lord knows with the way those two teams played in their respective games, BSU might have pulled off the upset there.  No way would they have beaten Florida in the finals, but they'd have provided a George Mason-level spark for the sport, which would have been awesome...

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