September 29, 2004

Cal at Oregon State

Cal is #10 in both the coaches' and the AP poll; Oregon State received no votes in either. Cal is #17 in the Sagarin ratings (83.11), and Oregon State is #27 (80.58). With the 3.41 home advantage, that makes Oregon State a one-point favorite over the Bears by Sagarin standards. The oddsmakers disagree, though, making Cal a 7-point favorite.

Oregon State has won the last five games in this series, including last year's 35-21 walk-over in which the Bears had just 52 yards passing and Oregon State racked up 269 yards rushing. In addition, OSU is the only team to beat Cal in both of Tedford's first two years.

OSU is used to difficult competition, as their 1-3 record comes against three ranked opponents, including the near-miss on the road against LSU. Their one win was over New Mexico, and their losses were LSU (22-21, OT), Boise St (53-34), and Arizona State (27-14).

Oregon State has only allowed 7 points in the first quarter and 37 in the first half in four games. They held both LSU and UNM scoreless in the first half, but Boise State exploded for 20 in the second quarter of that game. On the flip side, OSU has scored 27 points in the first quarter and 44 in the first half.

QB Derek Anderson, who torched Cal for two rushing and one passing TD last year, is poised to become just the 8th player in Pac-10 history with 9,000 yards passing. In the first four games, he has 1,300 yards on 101 completions (192 attempts) with 10 TDs and 7 INTs. The Beavers lead the Pac-10 in passing offense with 325 yards per game. But because of the low completion and high interception-to-TD ratio, they are just 9th in the conference in pass efficiency.

The bigger story may be on the ground, however: The Beavers have just 2 rushing TDs and are currently worst in the conference with just 61.8 yards per game rushing. In addition, they've lost seven fumbles and have a remarkable -2.00 turnover margin, AVERAGE. (That's -8 overall in four games.) OSU also has given up 2.5 sacks a game and over 80 yards in penalties each game.

From a personnel standpoint, OSU is OK, returning 5 offensive starters and 7 defensive starters from last year's 8-5 team that won the Las Vegas Bowl over New Mexico. On offense, the other returning players they have are experienced, with several years of backup action. Their stars are Anderson and SE Mike Haas, and they have a solid offensive line returning with the center, RG, and RT all experienced veterans. The big loss was TB Steven Jackson, and it shows in their rushing totals. On defense, their defensive line is sort of experienced with two starters returning, but three of the four positions having only one year of experience. The rest of the defense is solid, though, and with the exception of the SS, they return all their defensive backs. (That's the story this week--Cal had only 52 yards passing last year, and it's largely the same passing offense and defense against each other again.)

Statistically, Cal should demolish OSU. But we are in the odd position of justifying gaudy statistics against weak competition, something I usually accuse opponents of. Oregon State is the team with the difficult competition (and the record and statistics to prove it), and Cal is the cream puff killer.

But let's take a quick look at the stats anyway, keeping in mind the fudge factor for the strength of the competition:

Cal has averaged 48.5 points per game scoring and given up only 14 ppg. They've done it by averaging nearly 600 yards of offense, including 339 yards per game rushing. JJ Arrington is averaging over 11 yards per carry. In two games, Aaron Rodgers has three TD passes and no interceptions, with a gaudy 73.8% completion rate. Cal gains, on average, 8.0 yards per rushing attempt. Oregon State gives up, on average, 3.7 yards per rush (not bad, but a little high). In two games, Cal has scored 14 TDs; in four games, Oregon State has scored 12.

Cal and OSU have the top two passing defenses in the conference, at 132 and 155 yards per game respectively. OSU is pretty good here, allowing only 7 TDs in four games and picking up 4 interceptions. The Bears have given up two passing TDs and claimed one INT. The Beavers are holding opponents to just 40% passing completion and 4.1 yards per completion, both very good statistics. The way the Bears are running the ball, though, this might not be important.

Cal has 52 first downs in 2 games (26 per game), 32 of which were running. Oregon State has 77 first downs in 4 games (19.25 per game), only 14 of which were on the ground. Clearly, this is a tale of two different teams: the Beavers are strong in passing and weak on running, and Cal is strong in running (and also pretty strong in passing).

One final statistic: Cal is 100% in the red zone. Cal has scored on all 8 of their red zone chances. Turns out that these were all rushing TDs. Not a single field goal or passing TD. OSU, however, has scored on just 9 of 13 opportunities in the red zone. 8 of those 9 were TDs (7 of them through the air), with three turnovers and 1-of-2 on field goals.

Cal is 100% in the red zone on defense, too, allowing four touchdowns in four opportunities. OSU has done better, allowing 9 TDs in 17 opportunities (plus 5 field goals).

All in all, this should be a very interesting game. I think Oregon State is hard to judge at this point. They got steamrolled by Boise State but nearly beat LSU in their opener. They have a good defense, the first time Cal's seen that this year. But I think Cal's offense is stronger than their defense. To wit: The OSU D line averages 259 pounds, much smaller than Cal's 312 pounds per man. With Cal's three weeks of rest, the offensive line is finally healthy (as Makonnen may also be), and rested. The Bears under Tedford are known for extraordinary fitness and could probably play a 90 minute game where most teams could play 60. OSU's corners are tall and athletic, which is one reason they're so good. Lyman will not have any height advantage this week, so that will limit Cal's passing offense somewhat. I expect, though, that Tedford will be completely focused on this game because he apparently took last year's loss personally. (Also, remember that OSU is the only team that's beaten him twice since coming to Cal.)

This will be an entertaining game. I expect the Bears to have a great rushing day again, and to style the passing attack to open up the run. On defense, the Bears have to contain the run and get some pressure on Anderson if possible, try to knock the ball loose. I think turnovers will be a factor in this game, and the Bears must hold on to the ball. If they take care of the ball and play a reasonably solid defensive game, they should win in the end. The Beavers will be close at halftime, but I expect the Bears to out-fitness them in the second half and pull away for a final score of 35-24.

Go Bears!

September 24, 2004

Bush Defines Democracy

In a campaign speech yesterday, president Bush said he hopes that one day, America will be just like Iraq. In the speech, Bush said,

"Incredibly, [Kerry] now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power, not in prison. Today he said, and I quote, 'We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.' He's saying he prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy."

Leaving aside for a minute the willful misrepresentation of what Kerry actually said (there he goes, misleading again!), we should analyze Bush's statement. We can infer that if he is talking down Kerry, then Bush is implying he believes the opposite. That is, Bush "prefers the hope and security of democracy to the stability of a dictatorship."

Out of context, that's a fine sentiment. In the context of Iraq as the hopeful and secure democracy, it's... well... frightening. Bush said that Iraq is a hopeful and secure democracy. And as president, Bush no doubt wants a hopeful and secure democracy here at home.

That means that Bush said that he wants America to be just like Iraq. Imagine that. Bush wants America to be just like Iraq! Don't believe it? Consider:

  • The government has installed roadblocks and concrete barricades around key government facilities in Washington, just like the Green Zone in Baghdad.
  • Bush encourages American citizens to acquire assault weapons, just like Iraqi citizens have.
  • The Republican neocons have installed a pet puppet leader in our presidency, just like they did with the prime minister in Iraq.
  • Bush is fighting to reduce the rights of women by promoting anti-abortion laws and court actions.
  • Stories and scandals of voter intimidation and election manipulation abound.
  • Bush "leads" with his faith, just like the Imams and clerics in Iraq lead with theirs.

I'm glad Bush is finally speaking what he truly believes: That one day, with hard work and dedication on his part, America can be a hopeful and secure democracy just like Iraq (click here).

September 22, 2004

Two Iraqs

John Edwards made his political coin on the phrase, "Two Americas." The gist is that there is the America that Bush represents: the rich and powerful getting more rich and powerful while leaving the workers to toil their own way; and the real America: working-class families suffering from lack of jobs, lack of health care, and lack of educational opportunity. In fact, Bush's own administration presents two Americas: There's the one we hear about in the campaign rhetoric (the economy has turned the corner, job growth is strong, etc., etc.), and the one we read about in very quietly released reports from the agencies themselves (charter schools failing, job growth stagnant, middle class and poor tax burdens increasing, people losing health care, etc., etc.).

Now we have not only two Americas coming from the Bush government, but two Iraqs. The first Iraq, the campaign rhetoric Iraq, is full of Democracy, Freedom, Reconstruction, and Hope. It's what Bush talks about whenever anyone is likely within earshot. Then there's the REAL Iraq, which is full of death, despair, conflict, chaos, and questions. This is the one the CIA talks about in a report that so far Bush has not made public despite the urging of both Democrat and Republican members of Congress.

This report (or so the liberal flakes in the Dan Rather-dominated news media would have you believe) says something to the effect that Iraq is an absolute mess, an unmitigated disaster where large portions of the country are not only run by insurgents but are entirely uncontrollable at this point. It paints the picture of a hostile native population, and it promises a short-term outlook for Iraq as somewhere between excruciatingly grim and shockingly desperate.

Over 1,000 American soldiers dead. Well over 20,000 Iraqi soldiers dead, and God knows how many civilians. A nation's infrastructure ruined. And it bears repeating: No weapons of mass destruction. No real evidence of a viable weapons program. No yellowcake. No link to Al Quaida or September 11th. No relevance in the "war on terror." No mobile biological weapons factories. NO JUSTIFICATION FOR ALL THIS DEATH, DESTRUCTION, AND MALFEASANCE.

Now that we've made a mess, we need to clean it up. Unfortunately, Bush has poured blood on the desert and turned it into a quagmire that will take decades to fix. He has demolished American credibility throughout the world. He has created an incubator for terrorism in Iraq while sliding backwards on many other important issues such as actual HOMELAND security, the environment, the economy, finding Osama, and the middle east conflict (remember that Palestinian thing?). Bush has made this world decidedly less safe and less friendly to Americans.

Regardless of what you might think of John Kerry, he is without doubt a better choice than four more years of Bush. Unless, of course, you like dead American soldiers and the world hating us and the environment torn down for economic gain and civili liberties trod upon and not being able to trust the president. If that's what you like, vote for Bush.

No one died when Clinton lied.
1,000 blood-soaked uniforms, and we impeached Clinton over one blue dress.
No 9/11 link.
No Al-Quaida link.
No Osama (where IS that guy?)
Bush's slogan should be "Support our oops", not "support our troops."
In November, I plan on supporting America's combat soldiers by voting for John Kerry.

Supporting our troops does not mean blindly following an incompetent leader. Supporting our troops involves moral support for the men and women doing the work, but also diligent watchdogging of the civilians who put them in harm's way. The best way to support our troops is to ensure they are put in danger only for worthwhile ends, and destroying the sovereign nation of Iraq was not a worthwhile end.

September 16, 2004

Proof that Bush is the Prince of Darkness

A New York Times article on May 28, 2004 described that sunlight reaching Earth's surface has been decreasing the past few years. Scientists have figured this out by measuring the relative brightness of the moon's "bright" and "dark" surfaces. The bright side is illumated by direct sunlight; the "dark" side is slightly illuminated by sunlight reflected off the Earth.

Scientists know that the sun's luminosity changes only slightly, so the large effects they are measuring come from the Earth. The article makes some interesting points regarding weather and global warming, but what stuck out most for me were these two sentences:

Over all, reflectivity increased - and sunshine dimmed
at the surface - from 1999 to 2003, with an especially
sharp jump last year.

... Earth reflected 32 percent of sunlight in 1985 and
that the reflectivity declined 7 percent over the
next 15 years, which would correspond to a
brightening of sunshine on Earth.

1985 was the year Mikhail Gorbachev took over the USSR, the beginning to the end of the Cold War, and the beginning to an era of greater international cooperation on many levels and in many theaters.

Fast forward to 1999, when the sunlight at the Earth's surface began dimming. 1999 began just 13 days after President Clinton's impeachment, which signaled the beginning to an era of partisan mistrust and manipulation in Congress and throughout the country. George W Bush swiped the presidential election in November 2000, and the dot-com boom ended on January 12th, 2001, just 8 days before Bush's inauguration, (he did NOT "inherit" a recession) signaling the beginning of a serious worldwide economic downturn and turmoil.

Fast forward again to early 2003, when there was an "exceptionally sharp jump" in brightness of the dark side of the moon. This means that when Bush sent our army to war, the Earth's surface actually got physically darker, and it's continuing to get darker.

As we know from human legend, lore, and literature, bad things happen in dark places, and darkness associates with badness. Which is the cause, and which is the effect? Are bad things happening now because the Earth is darkening, or is the Earth darkening because bad things are happening and because the collective, global mood is dark?

Most cultures millennia ago had a strong sense of interconnectedness with their environment and with everything around them. Today, we no longer think of changes like this being caused by things that seem completely unrelated on a scientific level--how can political climate affect global climate? Scientists, however, should be among the first to acknowledge that there is much in this world we don't understand, and subtleties that we can not yet perceive, let alone measure.

And it is indeed scientists that are leading an effort to figure out if there is, in fact, a global consciousness. There is eerie data from the Global Consciousness Project that shows that the events of September 11, 2001, may have had an impact on what could, for lack of a better term now, be referred to as the "global consciousness".

Now, isn't it interesting that in the run-up to the elections, Florida is the site of tremendous vote (mis)management controversy, a critical swing state and therefore a primary recipient of negative political ads, and in the throes of terrible upheaval in weather?

September 14, 2004

War in Iraq? What war?

How come everyone keeps talking about "the war in Iraq" like it's still going on? Wasn't the war over on May 1, 2003, when the Commander-In-Chief declared the "mission accomplished" and "the end of major military action"? Isn't Iraq a sovereign nation now, ruled by its own government with its own Prime Minister and on a path to democratic elections in the coming months? The keys to the country were handed over before the All-Star break (June 28, 2004), and here it is football season already. Iraq nearly won an Olympic soccer medal, for crying out loud!

So stop talking about the alleged "war" in Iraq. It's over, people. Get past it. Move on with your lives, spend (or invest!) your tax cut (we suggest Halliburton stock), and re-elect the Leader of the Free World. He's making the rest of the world more free every day with his leadership, and he's providing money direct to the taxpayers. What more can anyone want?

The slogan of his campaign should be "Freedom and Bread"!

September 9, 2004

A Vote for WAR

It makes me sad that so many Americans support the Dirty Harry style of "leadership" that George Bush represents. Clearly, because of what was said at the Republican Convention, a vote for George Bush is a vote for war. There is not one single thing besides war that Bush has shown he can convincingly accomplish, and even that has been done with supreme incompetence.

But by God he's Rambo in a cowboy hat, Dirty Harry with nukes, and he's just itching to ask the rest of the world if they feel lucky because he can't remember if he's wasted 900 or 1,000 American soldiers, but he knows the others have LOTS more bullets.

There is a difference between Bush and Rambo, or Dirty Harry, or any of the other good-guy action heroes from the movies. The movie guys always went after the RIGHT bad guys and always GOT them. Bush had the opportunity to go after bin Laden and instead went after Houssein, WHO HAD NO TIES TO AL-QUAIDA. The 9/11 Commission report (see here) says it in black and white.

But the American public is buying Bush's campaign lies and spin hook, line, and sinker. Polls show Bush with a good lead over Kerry. But the only thing Bush is running on is that he will make yet more war, that he will persecute yet more "potential terrorists" in the "war on terror." Forget for a minute that a "war on terror" is NEVER winnable (how do you know when you've won?); forget for a minute that we have tens of thousands of national guard troops deployed overseas when they could be helping recover from hurricanes and helping to keep our own shores safe; forget for a minute that the mission in Iraq has decidedly NOT been accomplished; forget for a minute that Osama bin Laden is still out there running Al Quaida; forget for a minute that Bush has created the biggest deficit in American history (but give him time, he'll break his own record no doubt); forget for a minute that every muslim in the US has suddenly become a suspect, indeed anyone with a muslim-sounding name. Forget that "Commander-in-Chief" is only one small part of Bush's job description.

Forget all those things because that will put you in with the majority of Americans who choose to blindly follow a tough guy than actually THINK about these complicated issues.

Make no mistake. A vote for Bush is a vote for more and more and more dead American soldiers. A vote for Kerry is a vote for complex and deep thought given to complex and vexing issues. Make your choice, America. I guess all those Nascar fans always wanted to be in a Rambo movie anyway.

September 8, 2004

Cal versus New Mexico State

On paper, this looks like one of those mismatches that we all ridicule
every year, like when Nebraska plays against Middle Northeastern Rhode
Island State, downtown campus. I think it will look like that on the
football field as well.

Gotta love Jay Heater (Contra Costa Times) for finding the bright spot
for NMSU. Last season, they got blown out by Texas in their opener, but
then came back and won their second game in a rout (48-3 on the road at
Western New Mexico). Unfortunately, that scene won't replay for NMSU,
who will face a better and more experienced team this week than they did
in last week's 63-13 loss to Arkansas.

After that one bright spot, things begin to look darker for NMSU. Even
if this were a letdown opportunity for Cal, I have a hard time believing
this will even be close at halftime. NMSU will of course take last
week's loss personally, and the players will come out motivated to prove
themselves. I have no doubt they will perform better than last week
because of it, but the Bears are simply too good a team for NMSU.

Some notes about NMSU's first loss last week:
Arkansas returned only ONE starter from last year, their QB. He left in
the third quarter after the game was decided, and his backup (a redshirt
freshman) also threw two TD passes. Even so, Arkansas abused NMSU for
221 yards rushing and 302 yards passing on a total of 78 plays (7 yards
per play). Arkansas pounded the ball with 54 rushing attempts (4.1
yards per carry).

Arkansas had 16 3rd-down opportunities, and NMSU allowed them to convert
11 of those (69%). This, with the 54 rushing attempts and 4.1 yards per
carry, shows why Arkansas had a time of possession of 33:36 (6 minutes
longer than NMSU). Arkansas allowed no sacks.

On the other side, NMSU had just 3.9 yards per play (9 yards per catch,
1.9 yards per carry). In addition, NMSU lost three fumbles, which is
never a good thing. They also gave up three sacks, and they were a
meager 3 of 13 on third downs (23%). They had no rushing TDs.

As to rankings and polls, here's the run-down:
NMSU is #115 in the Sagarin ratings with just 59.07 points. Cal is #9
with 86.50 points. With the home field advantage, that would put Cal as
a Sagarin 31-point favorite. Compare to Arkansas, which is currently
#27 in Sagarin's ratings (80.40 points). In addition, Cal is #12 in the
AP poll and #13 in the ESPN poll. (Arkansas is #39 in the ESPN poll.)

In conference ratings, NMSU is in the Sun Belt conference, which is
ranked #12 out of 12 Div I-A conferences by Sagarin. The Pac-10 is #3
(but on simple average of team rank is #1).

The oddsmakers agree, too. Cal is a favorite by 32-1/2 to 34 points.

Now to the teams:
We all know Cal's strengths. In addition, both Wendell Hunter and Ray
Tago are expected to be available this weekend after recovering from

NMSU lost two of their players this week due to felony forgery
indictments. From what I can gather, both were projected starters in
the summer but neither played against Arkansas. Looking at the current
depth chart, then, we see an offense that is filled with sophomores and
freshmen. Only three upperclassmen are listed as starters, RG, RT, and
QB. There are quite a few more juniors and seniors in the two-deep, but
there are just as many freshmen there as well. The interesting note on
their depth chart is that the two upperclassmen in the OL are HUGE. RG
Steve Subia is 6-1 and 368 pounds, and RT Nick Cole is 6-1 and 348
pounds. I would expect running plays to go behind those bulls, with
some counter plays and a lot of screens and passes back across the

The defense, however, is mostly juniors and seniors in the two-deep.
Only two sophomores (Nose tackle, left corner) are starters; all others
are upperclassmen. One wonders how they were so pummeled by the
Razorbacks, and one assumes they are not as bad as the statistics from
that game show. Still, their D line averages 263 pounds, 7 pounds a man
LESS than Air Force, and 39 pounds a man less than Cal's O line.
Clearly, Cal's game plan should be to exploit this mismatch. Another
mismatch is the DBs versus Cal's WRs. They have only two DBs who reach
6 feet tall, including a true freshman 3rd on the depth chart. Most of
the DBs are listed at 5-9. Compare this to Cal's WRs, who are 6-1
(McArthur), 6-4 (Lyman), 6-0 (Makonnen), and 6-2 (Toler). In addition,
both of Cal's TEs are 6-5.

When Cal has the ball, this game is simply a physical mismatch with Cal
having all the advantages. Heart and motivation can overcome a lot, but
it can't overcome this type of skill, power, training, discipline, and
physical advantage.

My prediction
While I expect NMSU to be motivated to prove themselves, and I expect
them to come out and play hard, I think it will be an interesting game
for about the first 20 minutes. Cal should pull away in the 2nd quarter
and have a good lead by halftime. It will be very important for the
Bears to come out and play HARD and put this team away because they have
a short week and go on the road for a Thursday night game at Southern
Miss, who will be out for revenge (but they play Nebraska this weekend).

I don't want to predict a final score, but I will say that I think the Bears will beat the point spread.

Go Bears!

September 3, 2004

Use the Bullhorn Again, George

Everyone at the convention this week was very impressed with how George Bush used a bullhorn to talk to rescuers at Ground Zero shortly after the September 11th attacks three years ago. Everyone agrees that besides a great photo-op, like wearing a flight suit on the deck of an aircaft carrier, it was a Very Presidential Thing to do.

Where did that bullhorn go?

I think it's time George got it out again. He should go to America's unemployment lines and shout at them, "I can hear you." He should go to America's inner city schools and shout at them, "I can hear you." He should go to America's homeless shelters and poor areas and shout at the 17 million children living in poverty, "I can hear you." He should go to the 45 million Americans without health insurance and shout at them, "I can hear you."

$87 billion dollars and nearly one thousand Americans dead, plus several thousand more wounded. Imagine if the president had taken all that money, all those national guard men and women, all those soldiers, all that food and fuel and cloth, and instead of killing foreigners and destroying a different country, he engaged in a pre-emptive war of choice on American poverty and homelessness.

This government does not believe in helping poor Americans because handouts encourage sloth, but with hard work and determination, even the poorest immigrant can grow up to be governor of California. If the government helps poor people, the poor will simply view it as a gravy train, to be ridden as far as it will take them.

Yet this government also believe in creating a global political welfare system where American taxes pay for "liberating" people who apparently can't (won't?) liberate themselves. Iraqis had to be liberated by America because they couldn't liberate themselves. The Marines would be viewed as saviors, greeted with cheers and parades and rose petals under their feet.

If you believe in both those things, then vote for George Bush, put your money in tax shelters instead of homeless shelters, and make sure your sons and daughters have enough draft deferment options so they don't have to serve in some remote part of the world being shot at by the people they are liberating.

If, however, you believe that poor American children don't have the same opportunity as wealthy American children; and if you believe that we shouldn't shoot other people without provocation; and if you believe that helping American children get adequate food, shelter, health care, and education is a worthy pursuit; then vote for John Kerry and John Edwards, go volunteer, give to charity, and thank God every day for all the opportunity you have.

September 1, 2004


It's scary when a Commerce Secretary believes that the economy has improved since Bush took office. According to today's Washington Post, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said, "This president inherited a Clinton recession and turned it into the early stages of Bush prosperity."

That is true, I suppose, if you consider a budget surplus a "recession" and a record budget deficit "Bush prosperity." Bush prosperity means a reduction of over a million jobs in three years. Bush prosperity means a dramatic increase of Americans living below the poverty level. Bush prosperity means more people than ever without any health care safety net. Bush prosperity means a larger tax burden on the middle class and working poor.

In short, "Bush prosperity" is Orwellian double-speak.

Arnold Schwarzenegger began his speech last night saying the Democratic campaign's theme should be "True lies." Bush's campaign theme, then, should be just, "Lies."