Thursday, August 6, 2020


"I don't know if there is anything wrong because I don't know how other people are." -- Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) in "Punch Drunk Love"

Last season (2019) I had been very tempted to take a year off from Atomic Football.  There was a lot going on in my life, and I desperately needed a break.  However, being the hopelessly persistent and committed person that I am, I pushed through.

This year (2020), my need for a break has easily doubled, and, as fate would have it, I was offered up a pandemic.  Not what I had in mind, but life can be funny-sad that way.

So, I get my year off.

For people around the world, the accelerating pandemic made April a month like no other.  For me, however, the most life-changing part of that month had nothing to do with a virus.

But it did have something to do with a diagnosis.

And suddenly, I learned that 98% of humans are not like I thought they were.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Recovery, Part 3

So after seeing a couple of good weeks, I couldn't help but be curious.  I pulled down Todd's data archive for the season to date from Prediction Tracker.  After filtering the first week out, darn if I wasn't the most accurate (in terms of Mean Square Error) of anyone, including the line (which was second).  Doing this well early in the season is really hard.  I hate that I've messed up my numbers for the year.

If you're curious, I had a formula in a spreadsheet that pulled over the returning quarterbacks data.  Unfortunately, I forgot to convert the formulas to values before I sorted the teams.  The teams "sorted," but the returning QB numbers never moved.

Such is life.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Recovery, Part 2

I did another spot check on last week (week #6).  Again, most accurate in terms of mean square error, again by a pretty good margin, beating even the updated line* (~268 to ~276).  Now I'm beginning to wonder how the season numbers would look if I hadn't boogered up week #1.  Oh, well.

*Disclaimer:  I very highly recommend the stock market over sports betting.

Monday, September 17, 2018


I didn't do a close check on week two, but week three was definitely much better. According to Todd Beck's Prediction Tracker (, my mean square error for the week was the best among all those he tracks by a pretty decent margin. I'll try to keep it going (even in the midst of my annual grind-me-into-the-ground case of walking pneumonia -- ugghhh).

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


For those who might have been using my predictions for the first weekend of September (2018), my apologies.  There were several errors in my returning quarterbacks data that caused the predictions to be very much sub-par for the week.

It's been a rough summer.  I did well to get Atomic Football going at all.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Expanding Darkness

Like the Northern Sun Conference, it has been brought to my attention that the MIAA conference within Division II has also dropped interconference games during the regular season.  Regrettably, we will have to discontinue ranking these teams as well.  While our critics have suggested that this destroys the credibility of our D2 rankings, it's unclear how anyone could do credible rankings of a D2 conference relative to the rest of the division when that conference only plays games among themselves.  From a fan base that seems to pride itself on its playoffs ("we determine things on the field"), I must confess that I wrestle to reconcile the criticisms when the chasm between "sorting it out on the field" and "I can't even find a team that played a team that played a team that played a team that you insist should be ranked higher (or lower)."  Of course, there is the usual invocation of common sense, kind of like one blogger whose "perfect rankings" would grant points for turnover margin.  I guess he would be disappointed to find out that a positive turnover margin is actually a negative indicator for future performance -- most turnovers are just luck and reversion to the mean for teams that depend on them are a killer.  Just like most things, the less you know, the easier it seems.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


OK, I got home and away teams reversed on the D3, D3, and FCS playoffs.  Sorry, I'm used to seeing the home team listed on bottom.  Will fix it tonight.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Northern Darkness

It has recently come to my attention that the Northern Sun conference in Division II no longer plays nonconference games during the regular season.  Like the NESCAC (D3), this will force me to exclude them from rankings during the season.  Hopefully, nonconference games will be restored in the near future.  In the meantime, ranking the Northern Sun relative to the rest of the D2 football world is now reduced to a process of generating random numbers.  Too bad.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Teams with the Best Chance to Finish the Regular Season Undefeated and Ranked 1 or 2

This is not strictly a commentary on how good a team may or may not be.  It also has a lot to do with schedules, and whether or not teams ahead of you are likely to fall.  Typically, having one's toughest games at home helps a lot, but this year there seem to be many exceptions.  So, with that, here are the teams with the best chance to finish the regular season undefeated and ranked 1 or 2.

1.  Alabama - The schedule is very favorable... except for Texas A&M on the road.  If the O-line doesn't figure out how to block soon, though, then all bets are off.

2.  Oregon - The biggest test is Stanford on the road in the Battle of the Big Birds.  Of course, Washington and Arizona away won't be easy either.

3.  Oklahoma State - Should be 9-0 when they go to Texas.  After that, the Cowboys finish with Baylor and Oklahoma at home.

4.  Florida State - Must visit Clemson and Florida, both unfriendly to visitors.

5.  Texas A&M - If they take down a Bama team that showed several weaknesses last week, then it should be smooth sailing until they pay LSU a visit.

6.  Louisville - Should be favored by a TD or more until they go to Cincinnati to finish the year.  In the meantime, they'll need some teams ahead of them to go down.

Highly ranked teams very unlikely to finish the regular season undefeated*:

1.  Ohio State - Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan, plus most of the rest of the schedule is no cake walk.

2.  Stanford - It will take more than they have to navigate the last eight games without stumbling.

3.  South Carolina - Getting past a Georgia team with nothing to lose will certainly help, but probably not enough.

4.  Clemson - While the ACC may not always boast a lot of top ranked teams, there are few gimmes either.  The talking heads seem to put a lot of stock in beating Georgia by a home field advantage, but the SEC will get another shot when Clemson finishes up at South Carolina.

*About the only thing working in this group's favor is that when South Carolina faces Clemson, one of the two has to win.

What Was I Thinking?

There are times that I sometimes think that college football rankings and predictions must be the stupidest hobby I could have ever chosen.  I hate to disrespect my fellow hobbiests, but, as a group, we may be exceeded in paranoia only by the MUFON crowd.  Unlike the MUFON crowd, however, which is only paranoid about space aliens and the government, rankings and predictions hobbyists are paranoid about each other, which probably makes us the only hobby in the country where the hobbyists are afraid to communicate with each other.

We each act like we possess some secret formula that will cure cancer, change lead to gold, dissolve warts, make brussel sprouts taste good, end war, and silence Kirk Herbstreit, all with zero preservatives or calories.  Come on, people.  When you describe your ranking formula by saying you "look at this" and "look at that," that's a warning sign.  Plus, I hate to break the news, but most predictions are no better than numerical noise, and those that are better still suffer from a signal-to-noise ratio comfortably below -20dB.

I guess the best way to describe this hobby is with one of those hybrid words -- funny-sad.  Do they make an emoticon for that one?