Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

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catatac
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by catatac » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:43 am

Good write up! To your point on someone always going to call you out on your opinion for the Griz, no way in hell they'll be 9-2 heading into Cat\Griz. Probably 7-4, 8-3 best case scenario.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cledus » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:52 am

Catprint wrote:PS - could use some help on how to get a table into the post. ](*,)
Why not just put it in a table in Excel, take a screen shot, then crop the edges, and place it in your post as an image?



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by catatac » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:33 am

Cledus wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:52 am
Catprint wrote:PS - could use some help on how to get a table into the post. ](*,)
Why not just put it in a table in Excel, take a screen shot, then crop the edges, and place it in your post as an image?
I don't think that works, unless the image resides out there on a hosted site or something like that? I've tried to paste images into posts before, from my phone or PC and it doesn't work, or at least I don't know how if it's supported.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cledus » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:37 am

catatac wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:33 am
Cledus wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:52 am
Catprint wrote:PS - could use some help on how to get a table into the post. ](*,)
Why not just put it in a table in Excel, take a screen shot, then crop the edges, and place it in your post as an image?
I don't think that works, unless the image resides out there on a hosted site or something like that? I've tried to paste images into posts before, from my phone or PC and it doesn't work, or at least I don't know how if it's supported.
I've done it before, in fact in this very thread (if you go look at on p1 or p2 where I posted the blue column chart). It's not hard, but there are a few extra steps involved and another 10 minutes or so. And yes, once you take the screen shot and save as an image it would have to be hosted.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:52 am

catatac wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:43 am
Good write up! To your point on someone always going to call you out on your opinion for the Griz, no way in hell they'll be 9-2 heading into Cat\Griz. Probably 7-4, 8-3 best case scenario.
I don't believe they will be 9-2. I just thought that would be an ideal Cat-Griz scenario. I think 8-3 is possible going into Cat-Griz but heck how are they going to do later in the year is anyone's guess. If they already have 3 conference losses going into Cat-Griz, they will be at risk of missing the playoffs - As would be true of the Cats.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by mslacatfan » Fri Sep 27, 2019 11:12 am

I'm hoping both the cats and griz win out... man, if the cat-griz game was for the outright big sky championship, both teams undefeated in conference play, with both teams being around top 5 in the country..... might be the most hyped up cat-griz game in history.... which would make it that much sweeter when we win for the 4th time in a row.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Danster21 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:37 pm

To host the image (on, say, imgur) you don't actually have to save it. If you're on PC you can use snipping tool or Snip & Sketch (just look for it in the start menu/hit the windows button and type one of those names). You can right click the snip and copy the image and take it to imgur.com and just his ctrl + V and it'll upload right there. It sounds complicated here but once you try it out you'll see it's very quick and convenient.
And if you're on mobile you can download the sheets app from google and do your chart in there, then take a phone screenshot (this will save it to your phone however) and crop it in your gallery app or whatever you're using, and then upload it to whatever hosting site you're using that way.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:02 pm

Danster21 wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:37 pm
To host the image (on, say, imgur) you don't actually have to save it. If you're on PC you can use snipping tool or Snip & Sketch (just look for it in the start menu/hit the windows button and type one of those names). You can right click the snip and copy the image and take it to imgur.com and just his ctrl + V and it'll upload right there. It sounds complicated here but once you try it out you'll see it's very quick and convenient.
And if you're on mobile you can download the sheets app from google and do your chart in there, then take a phone screenshot (this will save it to your phone however) and crop it in your gallery app or whatever you're using, and then upload it to whatever hosting site you're using that way.
Thanks - I use Snip & Sketch all the time. I will try imgur.com



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:09 pm

Week 6

Summary of the Game

Sitting in the cold drizzle early in the 2nd quarter, down 21-0, there was not much to look forward to. The food in the corporate room was dried out tortillas with shredded chicken. But at least it would be warm. No heat in the stadium at that point in time – from the sun or the fans. I sent the two kids and the other dad to the Corporate room for some hot chocolate 4 minutes before the half. I would sit it out to half as I do no matter the weather. But what could happen in four minutes I think? We all know the answer and it reaffirmed my goal not to leave early!

There is no end to the coverage of the Cats comeback and the running of 22 consecutive running plays in the fourth quarter. Indeed, NAU line looked ragged and tired. While they world beaters in the first quarter, they could barely beat a rug in the fourth. In the fifth game in a row, the Cats scored at least as many points after halftime as they did in the first half. In three of those games, they scored 28 points in a row; 28 out of 35 points; and 35 points in a row. Conditioning certainly seems to be part of the reason. And this game lasted nearly 4 hours so conditioning was needed. I didn’t think it would end. From a playoff positioning perspective, the conditioning makes us a stronger team for a playoff run.

While the run game is solid and full of options, less exuberance exists for the passing game. Almost half way through the fourth year of the Choate era, we are still missing a steady, accurate passing game. Is it good enough? Maybe. I hope for the best and I really believe Rovig can step up and become a productive, if not great, passer. With NAU, the passes were mostly low and high and the interception was clearly a missed read as the tight end was open for 30-40 yards. At least for one more week, 7 and 8 men in the box during the fourth quarter does not slow down MSU’s running game.

Defensively, it was a solid performance. The secondary did not get nearly as much positive accolades in the sports press as did the offense the last couple of weeks. The Dbacks were on coverage more than I expected and there were a couple of great plays. It really was outstanding how difficult it was for Cookus to make his reads. Even though the Cats did not have a sack, Cookus was rattled and rushed in the 2nd half. Again, looking at playoff positioning, we have games against Sac, UC Davis and UM that will stretch our pass defense. This game was a good showing of our pass defense but it has to improve for us to beat all the pass happy teams on the schedule and remain high in the polls.

Other Games

Since early on, I have said we should not knock the Griz and say they are just patsies. I think the UC Davis game has shown otherwise. Sneed is very good and their defense is at least adequate. I think Griz could easily lose only 1 game before coming to Bozeman. UC Davis is now in the same place as EWU – are they good or just so-so? We will have to wait a couple of weeks for an answer.

EWU beat UND and that helps EWU get back in the hunt. It was a horrific game in the snow and Eastern had 284 yards rushing and only 93 yards passing. Wow, who would have ever guessed! I was sure the stats were somehow reversed. With regard to the playoffs, honestly, I think Cat fans should cheer for UND so they remain a solid team with a good resume. We should cheer against EWU. Given the way the Big Sky beats each other up, we need either EWU or UC Davis to fall apart and not be in the running for a seed in the playoffs (or perhaps miss it altogether). And what about Idaho losing to Northern Colorado? After I say UNC might not win a game, they win their first game. This happens after UI throttles EWU! What gives? I think it speaks hugely about the parity of the Big Sky.

The Polls
The poll gods looked favorably on both the Cats and the Griz. Cats are 6/7 and Griz are 8/9. Three of the top 10 teams had byes and UC Davis fell to 12th in both polls after the drubbing by UM. The Big Sky still has 5 teams in the top 25 with Sac State lurking just outside (and one sports writer – Brian McLaughlin of Hero Sports has Sac State at #20). There was a fair amount of shuffling in the lower levels. Of interest to Cat fans is SEMO still holding around 23 and the votes to Sac State and UND all are teams that might be good and if we can beat them, it helps our resume.

Path to the playoffs

DATE...........GAME........Result Needed................Record......FCS....... Comments
Week 1.........TTU..........Big Loss.........................0-1.........0-0........ Well, I got the easy one right.
Week 2.........SEMO.........Narrow Win….................1-1..........1-0........Does it count as narrow if tied at half-time?
Week 3.........WIU..........Loss (MISSED)..................2-1.........2-0........Everyone said not pretty. Missed this one.
Week 4.........Norfolk St...Big Win.........................3-1.........3-0........Got two easy ones right so far this year
Week 5.........NAU..........Win..............................4-1.........4-0........Wow, what a comeback. Watch for letdown.
Week 6.........Cal Poly......Win…...........................5-1.........5-0
Week 7 .........Sac State....Win…...........................6-1.........6-0
Week 8.........Open...........................................6-1.........6-0
Week 9.........UND...........Coin Flip/Loss................6-2.........6-1
Week 10.......SUU............Big Win........................7-2.........7-1
Week 11.......UNC...........Big Win.........................8-2.........8-1
Week 12.......UCD............Loss............................8-3.........8-2
Week 13.......UM.............Big Win........................9-3.........9-2
• Details, details – No one pointed out in prior posts I had UND as NDU and UNC as NCU. Too many N’s and U’s!! Got it right now.

CATS vs Cal Poly

I am long a realistic (pessimist) in life. I don’t expect to make a million in the stock market; have major leaguers from my kids blossoming out of little league; luck into lottery or sell every house at the peak and buy at the bottom (well, maybe that one). I think the Cats are better than last year and the year before. They have a strong O-line and interchangeable running backs. But they are not JMU or NDSU dominant. We have our inconsistencies and our pass defense can be questionable at times – but I will admit it showed flashes of real strength against Cookus. He was held to 3 and out 4 times in the second half and hardly completed a decent pass until the final trash drive which was only extended by the targeting call.

Cal Poly is another Big Sky enigma. They are 2-2 with a sold win over San Diego and squeaking out a win over Southern Utah. Weber handled Cal Poly fairly easily but that was at Ogden.

On the offense side of the game, it looks like we will see the ball on the ground the entire game. Cal Poly ranks 2nd in the Big Sky and 11th in the nation in rushing yards per game while the Cats rank 1st and 6th respectively. We average 312 yards per game against FCS competition. SO will this be strength against strength? I would not be surprised if both coaches attempt to set a different pattern at the beginning just as NAU did by rushing so many times in the first few drives. Wait, did I say that? Cal Poly does not even know the forward pass was invented in college football yet. They are 115th out of 124th! They have only thrown 43 times which is the 3rd lowest total!! Yet, to add fuel to my folly of a proposition that the coaches are going to mix it up early – MSU is 101st worst passing team. But to add some perspective to this set of numbers, #4 Weber State is 114 and #6 Kennesaw State is 121st. So being a poor passing team is not the kiss of death. We may very well thrive with a 70/30 balance IF our defense holds up.

So defense is offense is defense is this game. It really comes down to whether our defense can stop the triple option and whether Cal Poly really has a run defense. Cal Poly is 84th in run defense giving up nearly 200 yards a game. What running backs will MSU throw against CP? We have had 6 different backs reach 100 yards and our top back has only the 32nd most yards. This diversification makes it very difficult for opposing teams to prepare. I sure would like to see Ifanse play this weekend.

As our first road conference game and against a strong run opponent, we need a solid win that is workman in nature. Running the ball; stopping the big play; starting strong; holding the time of possession. These are all signs of a strong playoff team. We can win big at home but can we do what the Griz did? Win big on the road!

Gang of 5 Games
As conference play starts, there are fewer games to consider that have playoff implications from the top Big Sky teams as they play each other.
• ISU vs Griz – At home, the Griz should easily handle ISU. One of their easiest games of the year – so maybe they will fall flat and ISU QB Struck will strike for 300 yards and five touchdowns like he did against PSU. Struck is #26 in the country averaging nearly 255 yards a game. This is the Root Sports game of the week and might generate a lot of offense. If ISU is going to keep receiving votes in the polls, they need to win this game. I think the Griz win easily.

UC Davis vs UND – One of these teams is going to fade from playoff contention after this game. Two conference losses will be tough to overcome out of the gate. Since we play both teams, not sure it matters for title or playoff jockeying but I would rather see UC Davis lose since they already lost to the Griz. UND has a stellar defense last week notwithstanding. But I think they come back and beat UND.

Weber State vs Idaho – Which Idaho team is going to show up? Doesn’t matter – Weber’s soul crushing defense will take the air out of Petrino and his drives. While some people see Idaho as much improved, I don’t see them contending. Cat’s don’t play either of these teams but Weber winning is better for the Big Sky resume. We need 3 or 4 top 15 teams come end of the year.

EWU vs Sac State – I am very curious about this game. Is Sac State and their offense for real? Will this be a high scoring affair with two teams that love to pass? Is Sac State’s defense as solid as their 30th position in the FCS? Only PSU in the Big Sky has a stingier defense (but PSU played two DII teams so that does not even count!). If Sac State wins, you can expect a huge scramble in the polls and who has the inside track for a playoff spot – even this early.

Top 10
While it is still early for detailed playoff implications, it is clear the top 10 is dominated by CAA, MVFC and the Big Sky – each of whom have 3 teams in the Top 10. And if you stretch it to the Top 15 it is 4 each with only 3 other teams cracking the Top 15. But because of very difficult schedules and the automatic bids, these conferences have the potential to have a bunch of teams with 3 and 4 losses come end of the season.

The big games this week:
NDSU and Ill State. NDSU easily has the toughest schedule in the FCS. They play a ranked team 6 out of 7 weeks. This game between #1 and #9 at Illinois State promises to be true test for NDSU. They could lose which will make the Missouri Valley race a huge mess.

SDSU is the other top 10 MVFC team in action and they have a likely easy game against Southern Illinois. That said, S Ill. Did know off UMass who is technically an FBS school. UMass could end up 3-9 this year and call it a good year. I don’t expect SDSU is going to have any issue.

In the CAA, it is #2 JMU vs #24 Stony Brook; #5 Villanova vs William & Mary; #9 Towson vs Albany and #20 Maine vs Richmond. These contests already affect the playoff situation because last year the CAA had so many teams bunched together they got 6 teams in the playoffs (They have 6 in the top 25 vs 5 for the Big Sky at this point). We want to see just 3 or 4 solid CAA teams and some separation so the CAA grabs only 3 or 4 playoff spots. Cheer for JMU; Villanova, Towson and Maine every week. At least at this point in the season. What happens out east does affect the Cats playoff seeding options.

Go Cats



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by sdsyvie » Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:05 am

Wow what a write up. Great work, I love the detail on the other games as well. Makes them more interesting to follow.

Also would love to see Ifanse back and fully healthy

Has munchie returned yet? I would think if he came back, it would let our pass rushers be less aggressive staying back in the run defense? Is that a thing?



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by 91catAlum » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:23 am

sdsyvie wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:05 am
Wow what a write up. Great work, I love the detail on the other games as well. Makes them more interesting to follow.

Also would love to see Ifanse back and fully healthy

Has munchie returned yet? I would think if he came back, it would let our pass rushers be less aggressive staying back in the run defense? Is that a thing?
Nope, Filer hasn't taken a snap yet this year.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by mslacatfan » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:02 am

91catAlum wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:23 am
sdsyvie wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:05 am
Wow what a write up. Great work, I love the detail on the other games as well. Makes them more interesting to follow.

Also would love to see Ifanse back and fully healthy

Has munchie returned yet? I would think if he came back, it would let our pass rushers be less aggressive staying back in the run defense? Is that a thing?
Nope, Filer hasn't taken a snap yet this year.
I think I heard choate say somewhere that they were hoping to get him back around mid-conference play...? soooo maybe sometime the next couple weeks???

getting him back (and healthy) would be a huge boost to the defense.


FTG- GO CATS GO!

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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by iaafan » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:17 am

mslacatfan wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:02 am
91catAlum wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:23 am
sdsyvie wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:05 am
Wow what a write up. Great work, I love the detail on the other games as well. Makes them more interesting to follow.

Also would love to see Ifanse back and fully healthy

Has munchie returned yet? I would think if he came back, it would let our pass rushers be less aggressive staying back in the run defense? Is that a thing?
Nope, Filer hasn't taken a snap yet this year.
I think I heard choate say somewhere that they were hoping to get him back around mid-conference play...? soooo maybe sometime the next couple weeks???

getting him back (and healthy) would be a huge boost to the defense.
I heard he might play this week. What’s his injury?



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Hawks86
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Hawks86 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:23 am

Colter said he was practicing this week on his radio show.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by BleedingBLue » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:29 am

iaafan wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:17 am
mslacatfan wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:02 am
91catAlum wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:23 am
sdsyvie wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:05 am
Wow what a write up. Great work, I love the detail on the other games as well. Makes them more interesting to follow.

Also would love to see Ifanse back and fully healthy

Has munchie returned yet? I would think if he came back, it would let our pass rushers be less aggressive staying back in the run defense? Is that a thing?
Nope, Filer hasn't taken a snap yet this year.
I think I heard choate say somewhere that they were hoping to get him back around mid-conference play...? soooo maybe sometime the next couple weeks???

getting him back (and healthy) would be a huge boost to the defense.
I heard he might play this week. What’s his injury?
Someone had mentioned in camp that he was in a sling. He has been wear a pretty big elbow brace since Gold Rush.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by JimboCat » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:20 am

Our pass defense (122.9) is ranked 2nd in the Big Sky to Weber (119.8) based on passing efficiency. Much better than most think. Should only get better when Filler and Okada come back.

We have 4 of the top 20 in passes defended in the league, including Troy at #20.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by ilovethecats » Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:40 am

My favorite thread every season. Appreciate the work you do Catprint! Great stuff.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by sdsyvie » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:08 am

Looks like villanoca and james madison took care of business this week, as you had suggested would he postive. Maine and Towson must both have had byes.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:26 pm

Week 7

Ok, it was a good win at Cal Poly; great win even. However, before I move into our regular post, I want to delve into an area where perhaps I should not tread. But after posting for a couple of years, I feel like I can step into the abyss.

First – my credentials:

I have lived in the valley for 54 years. I have been attending Cat FB and BB games since I was 8 years old. While I did not attend MSU (graduated from a service academy during the Vietnam Era), my direct relatives (children; their spouses; brothers, their wives; nieces, and nephews) have 17 degrees from MSU including quite a few I funded directly. We are corporate sponsors; have a named athletic endowment and give a fair amount of money to the university on a regular basis. None of this is to say I am smarter or more qualified to say anything about Bobcat Football than anyone else. Only that my love of the Cats and support for the team and the university is long-standing and without question.

1. With the Cats doing really well this year through 6 games, there seems to be a sense among many the Cats are a team of destiny and we will win out and go on to win in Frisco. It is true we are 5-1 and have not lost an FCS game. It is true Choate has built a strong culture inside the locker room and on the field. It is true we have won two road games – that could have been lost – but we did what was necessary to turn the game into a win.

However, none of this guarantees anything next week. Coach Choate will say every week. - “Last week’s game earns us nothing for next week. We have to start over Monday morning.” So when a poster raises the issue that maybe the Cats passing game is not great or we have given up a lot of yards on defense or we could lose a game or two (or more) or we have not dominated on the road like the Griz have done, then suddenly this individual is a Debbie Downer or unrealistic or is not supportive of the Cats or even worse – “is not a real Bobcat fan”.

Do we really wear such rose-colored glasses we can’t see the Cats are a football team populated by coaches and players who are people just like the rest of us? That the way the football bounces in many games with injuries and bad calls and weather impacts and head-scratching mistakes the game results in one team winning when we all know the other team is better? That expressing a viewpoint that just might be contrary to the prevailing view of the bandwagon doesn’t mean this person is somehow a secret Griz fan and wants to see MSU converted into agricultural land for all posterity? Certainly, we are all capable of hearing opinions that differ from ours? Are we not?

2. This brings me to my second thought. Isn’t the purpose of the board to share opinions on Bobcat football? And aren’t those opinions, well, just that – opinions? I mean we all try to buttress our opinions with facts (TFL, YPG, total offense, etc.) but in the end it is our opinion. That is the fun of the board - doing some research (or none at all) and conjuring up some hypothesis on coaching, pass defense, line play, etc. that challenges the status quo. What would it be like if every week we read the same information from the same posters with the same “Wow, aren’t those Cats the absolute best team in the world without a fault?” Now maybe this is what it is like over on NDSU’s fan forum but I think they are the only one of the 120-odd FCS teams with that privilege. I would find that terribly boring. Don’t we want to hear from someone who looks at some facts and comes to a different conclusion then the rest of us? Do we all really believe ALL the comments such as “we are lock for a playoff team”; “I don’t see us losing a game”; “Our defense is the best”; “no way Texas tech puts up 40 or 50 points”.

3. My final thought is people of every opinion and every background deserve respect. I love hearing vehement support of another poster’s opinion. I thoroughly enjoy it when I read someone challenge a weakly supported concept and point out some well laid out facts to shoot it down. But I cringe at name calling and disrespectful vituperation thrown at posters who simply express a viewpoint. How does that make for a better day for all of us? I am not talking about the clearly humorous response or the biting sarcasm that is meant to flush out a poor assumption. I am talking about the mean-spirited, personally vindictive comments made about their commitment to the Bobcat Football Nation! Sure, some of that junk comes from trolls who seem to have no life other than making others miserable. Let’s not stoop to their level. Let’s lift up our respect for each other and for our institution. Next time someone legitimately suggests we COULD lose a quite a few games in the second half of the season; let’s listen to their thoughts; let’s respond with some strong thoughts of our own backed by occasional facts; let’s remember Chadron State; let’s remember the other poster is just a Bobcat fan expressing some inner fear that maybe we are not that good even though we all want them to be that good (See Darth Yoda’s post under “1-5” that is spot on about the long-suffering Cat fan neuroses!) Let’s lift the human spirit to another level for our team and our university. Go Cats!

Now that I have struck a nerve, let’s move on to the unsupported drivel I share each week about how great the Cats are this year and will be the number 1 seed in all of the FCS!

Summary of Cal Poly Game

Here’s a little tidbit, the Cats are tied for the second longest current win streak in FCS with JMU and NDSU! Quite the company. Only Villanova at 6 wins has a longer streak (soon to end – IMHO).

Cal Poly proved more a challenge than most of us expected. Yes, the Cats triumphed but not without a few breathless moments. Some positives were the 28 unanswered points which is the fourth game the Cats have scored at least 4 unanswered touchdowns in a row. This is a huge testament to the offense and its ability to create points against various schemes and defenses. We average a respectable 35 points a game and that is enough to win the games we have played. But it is not all out dominating – even Sac State is averaging 40.4 after playing two FBS teams. We did have 376 yards of total offense and 213 yards rushing which was below our season average. However, the passing game was better. And while we gave up 251 yards rushing to CP, their yards per rush was only 3.4 (way below their average before this game) as they had 73 rushing attempts (way above their average).

As many have pointed out, the defense had setbacks and the game almost was lost. Yes, there were some key problems on special teams and offense (6-yard punt and interception). Does it mean our defense is poor? I don’t think poor describes it but the statistics don’t support we have the drop-them-dead defense many Bobcat Nation members claim. It is bend but don’t break perhaps. Our rushing defense is 62nd (while UM is 32nd and Sac State is 18th!!). Our passing defense measured by passing yards allowed is 75th!! Our Passing defense efficiency is a more respectable 32nd. Overall, we are 64th which is not exactly spectacular – allowing 400 yards per game. It puts us just about at the 50th percentile. Yes, we played an FBS team but so did just about every other team. We all like how the defense has made some key stops but clearly we can improve. Plus, our defense was on the field for 84 plays and nearly 40 minutes! That will wear anyone down. But a win is a win AND the defense stepped up in overtime!

Other Big Sky Games

EWU vs Sac State was the surprise of the season. It is a complete swap of the expectations of the preseason. EWU was supposed to be the top of the heap, even though rebuilding. It was expected EWU would be a dominating force while Sac State would be where it was last year – barely a real FSC team. Yet, the tables have turned. Sac State has the 48th best offense in the FCS even after playing and nearly besting two FBS teams. EWU is 2-4 and one of those wins is against a DII team.

UM vs Idaho State
Not sure what can we can say about UM. They are unreal on the offensive side of the game. They have one of the top rated offenses in all of the FCS. They proved it again on Saturday by outscoring ISU 59-3 after spotting them a 17-point lead. They have the 8th rated passing offense and 5th rated total offense. Sneed has won BSC Offensive Player of the Week 3 times in a row – not sure I have ever seen that (and now Stats Offensive Player of the Week). But the other side of the coin UM’s defense is not exactly great – 77th. But they are overwhelming the opposition to such an extent that defense has not really been an issue.

And what can we say about UND/UCD? One is going up in playoff positioning (more next week) and one is going down. The Grand Forks Dome (Alamo Dome or AlaMode Dome or whatever) is a tough place to play and UCD is on verge of tubing their entire season after losing 36-38.

Further east, it appears NDSU is the juggernaut it always has been after defeating Ill State 37 -3. Does not seem any reason to believe they will not remain number 1 for the rest of the year. JMU and Villanova both won although JMU had a more difficult time of it. The third CAA team we are rooting for in order to improve our chances of a seed, Townson, was idle. SDSU took care of business against Southern Illinois. Kennesaw State was also idle.

Polls
In the three polls, the Cats moved up down and the sideways. Stats poll kept us at 6. The Coaches poll moved us from 7th to 6th due to the dropping of Illinois State while Athlon Power poll dropped us to 8th from 5th as Craig Haley did not like the tight game against CP. UM climbed to 8th in both polls. It has been many years since both UM and MSU have been in the top 10. One travesty of the polls is UND. They are just outside both polls with a 3-2 record yet two of the FCS teams they have beat (UCD and SHSU) are rated ahead of them with 4 and 2 losses respectfully. Just isn’t right.

Path to the Playoffs
DATE...........GAME........Result Needed................Record......FCS....... Comments
Week 1.........TTU..........Big Loss.........................0-1.........0-0........ Well, I got the easy one right.
Week 2.........SEMO.........Narrow Win….................1-1..........1-0........Does it count as narrow if tied at half-time?
Week 3.........WIU..........Loss (MISSED)..................2-1.........2-0........Everyone said not pretty. Missed this one.
Week 4.........Norfolk St...Big Win.........................3-1.........3-0........Got two easy ones right so far this year
Week 5.........NAU..........Win..............................4-1.........4-0........Wow, what a comeback. Watch for letdown.
Week 6.........Cal Poly......Win…...........................5-1.........5-0........Maybe a letdown? A win is a win. What next?
Week 7 ........Sac State....Win…............................6-1.........6-0
Week 8.........Open...........................................6-1.........6-0
Week 9.........UND...........Coin Flip/Loss................6-2.........6-1
Week 10.......SUU............Big Win........................7-2.........7-1
Week 11.......UNC...........Big Win.........................8-2.........8-1
Week 12.......UCD............Loss............................8-3.........8-2
Week 13.......UM.............Big Win........................9-3.........9-2

Playoff Seeding

Technically, seven FCS wins gives your team the opportunity to be in the conversation for a playoff spot. With five FCS wins, Cats are only two wins away from the magic seven. However, because this is a 12 game season, seven games may not be enough wins to sneak into the playoffs, especially if the second half of your season shows a downward trend.

Other paid FCS writers have various ways of looking at the playoffs. Some look at the playoffs and predict what teams would be in the playoffs if the playoffs began today. Others like Hero sports make seedings based on who they think should be in the playoffs. What I intend to do is the more obvious based on today’s scores and standings, who is likely to be a seed team. I am unwilling to think I can even begin to be smarter than the many sources who do playoff predictions. Rather I hope to look at the 8 seeds and what needs to happen for MSU and other Big Sky teams to get one or more seeds.

Firstly, three seeds are locked in with NDSU, JMU and SDSU. In my opinion, only seeds 4-8 are available. Here are who I believe will have seeds in the playoffs based on how the committee works; the current records; the future schedule, the strength of the competition, etc. (with only minor deep research this week due to my week long 40th Academy Reunion back east – left me short of time again).

The first controversy is around Kennesaw State. The coaches have them at #4 but they play a very weak schedule and many writers do not think they deserve a seed; maybe not even a home game. However, I think contrary to what we would like to believe, the committee is not rational. If KS is ranked 4 or 5 at the end of the season, they will get a seed. This is unfortunate as they do not deserve a seeded position but alas, I don’t have a vote. But I am hoping they do not get the #4 seed. I put them at 7

That leaves us four seeds available. Here is my list of contenders
Big Sky: Weber, MSU, UM, Sac State
CAA: Villanova, Townson, Delaware, Stony Brook
MVFC: Illinois State, UNI, Youngstown State
Southern: Furman

I believe the schedule gives a strong edge to Weber State and Villanova to capture two more seeds. It is difficult to see Weber State losing more than one more game and 9-3 will be more than enough to take a seed since they have two FBS losses. They have a strong chance to be the Big Sky champion based on the current situation and I give them the fourth seed. Villanova has already beaten Maine and Towson, two of the toughest teams in the CAA. They can afford at least 2 more losses in CAA play and be at 10-2. They may or may not win the conference but 10-2 is lock for a seed.

This only leaves two more seeds. The first tier of teams are MSU, UM, Townson, Illinois State and UNI. If any of these teams falter, then I see a second tier of Sac State, Delaware, Stony Brook, Youngstown State and Furman as able to step into their place. With only 8 seeds and Kennesaw State grabbing one of them, that only leaves 7 seeds for the top three conferences. For a least one more week, I am going to leave the last two seeds open with my bet on MSU/UM and UNI/Towson as the likely candidates. I do not see the Big Sky getting three first round byes like we did last year. It is only possible if Cats and Griz both win out (or one suffers a loss but then prevails in Cat/Griz) because 9-3 will be on the cusp of a seed with so many strong teams. In a normal year, nine wins should get you a seed. In addition, early season losses count less than later. By starting strong, Cats and Griz need to finish strong.

Seed 1 – NDSU
Seed 2 – JMU
Seed 3 – SDSU
Seed 4 – Weber State
Seed 5 – Villanova
Seed 6 – OPEN (UM/MSU)
Seed 7 – Kennesaw State
Seed 8 – OPEN (Towson/UNI).


Cats vs Sac State

Cats Have the Ball
This is where the conversation gets tough. Everyone is on the wagon train and believes the Cats have arrived. I certainly hope so. Is this a statement game? Really, we are asking that about a Sac State game at home? I am afraid it is. Sac State is for real. For starters, their defense against the rush is well tested. We think we have a good defense but Sac leads us in nearly every defensive stat – 17th in scoring defense; 48th in total defense; 18th in rushing defense. Their weakness on defense is the passing side to complement our weakness on offense. So something will give when the Cats have the ball. Either we will run and break their strong D line or we will somehow find a strong passing game to exploit their weakness. Otherwise, we don’t score enough points to offset their explosively strong offense. One positive is EWU did get nearly 500 yards on Sac state, mostly in the air, so their defense is not NDSU-like by any means. Another classic of strength (Cat rushing offense - #7) against strength (Sac Rushing defense - #18).

Sac Has the Ball
When Sac State has the ball, they are going to pass a ton much like NAU and will push our secondary. Thomson is a good quarterback (rated #15/16th so far) and he will push our secondary. We saw from last week how Sac took apart EWU and exploited Eastern’s weaker defense. However, I would not be surprised if Sac does like NAU and attempts to establish a rushing game right out of the blocks. They will try to make our line pay attention to the run and hold in the line backers. A loss for the Cats doesn’t really hurt our playoff chances although it will definitely hurt our ability to get a seed. Sac State needs to win either in Bozeman or against UM at home to be in the conversation come playoff time. On a pure statistical basis, Sac State has a better defense than the Cats; better offense; much better passing game. Cats have a better passing defense and rushing offense.

Big Sky Games
Eastern and Davis are both on the edge of irrelevancy. UCD gets a possible breather this week against Cal Poly. I would expect a win, but I don’t put anything past the downhill slide. UCD has to win 5 out of the next 6 games to even be playoff eligible. With Sac State, Weber, Cal Poly and MSU on the schedule, I don’t see them winning every game but one. Eastern has to win out to even qualify with 7 DI wins. And as I will point out in the next series, this is a year that 7 wins will be really questionable whether that gets a team in the playoffs. Eastern has a fairly easy schedule but still has to play NAU, Griz and Cal Poly. Given how poorly the EWU is playing, I don’t see any way for them to make the playoffs.

There are not much else in terms of great games in the Sky this week. Weber vs. Southern Utah seems easy to call; Idaho vs PSU is irrelevant all the way around; UNC vs EWU might have some meaning if EWU total implodes but somewhere Eastern has to find their soul – they will this week. Griz, ISU, NAU and UND all have a bye.

Top 10 Team Games
The games for us to watch include NDSU vs UNI; JMU vs Villanova; and SDSU vs Youngstown State. The Missouri Valley will need to weed out some teams in order to keep their playoff teams at 4 or 5 max. It appears South Dakota is not going to be in the conversation even though some people considered they may on the cusp. NDSU plays UNI at the Fargo Dome. Hardly seems like the game NDSU will lose. But UNI always plays NDSU very closely. I will be cheering for SDSU and NDSU as we really need either UNI or Youngstown State to falter against the top MVFC teams. This seems like a good bet to me.

In the CAA, it is too early. JMU and Villanova both have outstanding starts. One will fall in their game this weekend but that will not damage their playoff resume or even hurt their ability to get a seed. Towson has a winnable game against Albany. The other potential playoff teams are legion – Elon, UNH, Stony Brook, Delaware and Maine. Delaware plays against Elon and the winner will have the upper hand for the 4th or 5th CAA playoff. I think Delaware has played really well (nearly beat Pitt) and is the best bet for a solid 4th CAA spot.

There are some Southland games that might have some key meaning for those final playoff spots if it comes to that for the Cats. But for now, the conference is a jumble of 2 and 3 loss teams (8 of them – too many to weed out). It will have to wait until next week.

GO CATS!



ilovethecats
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by ilovethecats » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:46 pm

Wow that is amazing work



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