Archive for November, 2003

Lucky kiwis

Sunday, November 30th, 2003

The world premiere of Return of the King, in New Zealand, takes place… uh… today, I believe, if I’m not mixing up the dates. (Damn international date line.) Anyway, has live coverage, of course.

It always goes back to the Irish

Sunday, November 30th, 2003

Remember last year, when USC fans were put in the uncomfortable position of rooting like hell for, of all teams, UCLA, in the last week of the season, in hopes of getting a Rose Bowl bid? (If you don’t remember, here’s a refresher.) Well, it’s going to happen again… but this time around, the hated rival/new favorite team is Notre Dame. To wit:

If we assume that USC and LSU both win on Saturday — and that the order of the two teams does not change in the polls — the Tigers will need to make up a full point on the Trojans through strength of schedule and the computer ratings. Since LSU has no hope for a significant quality-win bonus or a commanding lead in schedule strength (thanks to this past weekend’s results), the Bayou Bengals will likely need to finish ahead of Southern California in six of the seven BCS computers to make up such ground.

That might not even be possible at this point, but if LSU still has a chance, it rests on the shoulder pads of a 5-6 Syracuse team. Outside of the Tigers’ and Trojans’ own games on Saturday, the only remaining matchup that could have significant impact on the BCS components is Notre Dame’s tussle in the Carrier Dome.

The Irish are an opponent of USC, and an additional win by ND should be enough to keep the Trojans from being jumped by LSU in more than four computers … and it would probably help SC hold them off in schedule strength, as well. Therefore, a Notre Dame win on Saturday would mean LSU’s only chance to jump USC in the BCS would be for the Tigers to overcome the Trojans in at least one of the human polls.

If Syracuse wins, however, there is still mathematical hope for LSU. There would remain an outside shot for supremacy over USC in six computers, and it would be possible for the Tigers to finish slightly ahead of the Trojans in schedule strength. The odds still wouldn’t be very good for LSU, but something is always better than nothing.

And because the Notre Dame-Syracuse game will be played before the Oregon State-USC game, LSU will know by kickoff whether it needs some help from the Beavers.

So says Brad Edwards in ESPN’s Road to the BCS. In simpler terms: GO IRISH!!! Hey, it works for me… for once, I can simultaneously root for my alma mater and my future law school! :)

But actually, methinks Mr. Road to the BCS has overlooked one or two other important SOS showdowns. According to Rich Tellshow, there is one other game that will definitely impact the strength-of-schedule battle, and another that might impact it. The definite player is Boise State at Hawaii, and the possible player is the MAC championship game between Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio. It goes like this:

· If Syracuse beats Notre Dame and Boise State beats Hawaii (worst-case scenario for the Trojans), LSU finishes ahead of USC in the final SOS by 0.16 points.

· If either Syracuse or Boise State, but not both, win, USC beats LSU by 0.08 points.

· If Notre Dame and Hawaii both win, USC beats LSU by 0.20 points… or 0.28 if Bowling Green wins the MAC. (The MAC title game has no effect in other scenarios.)

All of that is according to Tellshow, who, by the way, now shows a projected finish of USC 6.95, LSU 7.43. That’s just a hair closer than I reported earlier — whether because of a typographical error on my part, or a change on Tellshow’s, I’m not sure.

But either way, the bottom line remains the same. Although we should certainly root for Notre Dame, Hawaii, and Bowling Green for safety’s sake, I continue to believe that USC — assuming we beat Oregon State, of course — will stay ahead of LSU unless the Tigers pass us in one or both human polls. And as I’ve already explained here and on Tellshow’s message board, the Tigers have a lot of ground to make up. USC has sizeable leads in second-place votes in both polls (60-5 in the AP, 57-6 in the coaches).

I doubt even a big LSU win over Georgia will convince nearly 30 voters in either poll to abandon USC, unless the Trojans have an unexpectedly tight squeeze against Oregon State. If we blow out the Beavers, they aren’t going to “punish” us with a season-killing “demotion” in the polls.

Which means, at last, USC control its destiny.

Goooooo Trojans!!!!

UPDATE/CORRECTION?: According to, Jerry Palm thinks LSU is in better shape than either Brad Edwards or Rich Tellshow seemingly does (or at least, than my interpretation of Tellshow’s data led me to believe).

I’m confused now. Palm says “it’s 50-50.” He adds, “You really like [USC’s] chances if Notre Dame wins. But I really think if Syracuse wins, then LSU has the edge.”

Okay, whatever, but what I want to know is, why is everyone talking about Notre Dame-Syracuse and ignoring Boise State-Hawaii? Statistically speaking, they’re equally important, aren’t they? I know ND-Syracuse is a sexier game to talk about, but c’mon people, both the Irish and the Warriors are direct opponents for USC. What’s the difference?

Anyway, Palm also offered this surprising tidbit: “Contrary to popular belief, LSU would not have benefited from playing Florida instead of Georgia in the SEC title game. The schedule boost provided by playing the 10-2 Dawgs compensates for possibly losing the quality-win points.”

All I want for Christmas is…

Sunday, November 30th, 2003

It has been requested that I come up with a Christmas “wish list,” so that it will be easier for friends & family to know what to consider buying for me. I used to have such a list on… well, I still do, actually, but it’s hopelessly outdated now, and anyway it’s impossible nowadays to find a single retailer or website that sells the many items of technological miscellany that I need/want. :) Therefore, I’m creating a wish list on my own website. It will be available right here in the blog, and also at the URL


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Sunday, November 30th, 2003
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A good weekend

Sunday, November 30th, 2003

With the computer data beginning to roll in, Rich Tellshow‘s initial prediction for this week’s BCS standings shows the gap between USC and LSU shrinking somewhat, but not nearly as much as had been feared, from 2.15 points to 1.49 points. (Specifically, he says it will be USC 6.94, LSU 8.43.) That’s still a sizeable lead for the Trojans with one week left in the season.

More importantly, instead of a 7.11 to 7.11 tie in the projected final standings, Tellshow now has USC coming out on top, 6.95 to 7.59. We can thank Hawaii, Rice, and Florida State for that, he explains:

It was a good week for USC’s sos as Hawaii won and bad for LSU as Bama, LaTech and UF lost. USC’s projected sos gained 4 positions while LSU’s dropped 8 positions. I have looked at the effect of the Hawaii upset of Bama. USC’s sos would have been 1.48 instead of 1.28 and LSU’s would have been 1.24 instead of 1.36 had Bama won. That’s a difference of 0.32 had Bama won! This win also helps in the computer polls and USC is now projected to hold onto the #2 spot in the Colley Matrix. This win could be huge for USC. At the end of the season I will see if this game made the difference between USC and LSU. Had Bama and LaTech won, LSU’s sos would have been 1.04, and even lower if UF also won. If Syracuse upsets ND next week, USC projected sos is 1.44 instead of 1.28.

So next week it’s cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame… and of course, fight on Trojans and go Bulldogs! :)

UPDATE: Here’s a good wrap-up of the weekend that was.

And here’s a first look at next week’s key games. There are only two direct-opponent SOS matchups left: ND at Syracuse, as mentioned above, and Boise State at Hawaii. Go Irish and go Warriors!

ANOTHER UPDATE: A bit of quick math suggests to me that if USC can stay #2, ahead of LSU, in even one of the seven computer polls, that will probably be enough to hold off the Tigers. Two, I think, would definitely be enough, even if Syracuse upsets Notre Dame. I await Tellshow’s confirmation of this.

That is, of course, unless LSU overtakes USC in one or both of the human polls. The Tigers would definitely be going to the Sugar Bowl in that case. So USC doesn’t just need to beat the Beavers, we need to crush them.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Here’s my mathematical evidence.

ANOTHER DORKY UPDATE: The new ESPN/USA Today poll (a.k.a. the coaches’ poll) is out, and I just analyzed it to death over on Tellshow’s message boards. Bottom line: LSU took away four of USC’s previous 61 (out of 63) second-place votes with its big win over Arkansas, but the Trojans are still way ahead of the Tigers in this category, 57 to 6.

All we have to do is hold onto at least 32 of the 57 voters who currently rank us second, and we’ll finish #2 in the poll. So LSU must not convince more than 25 voters to change their minds. Which means (reiterating a previous point) that the Trojans need to not just win, but win big, against Oregon State, to guard against the possibility of a big, impressive LSU win over Georgia.

YET MORE DORKINESS: The AP poll is out. The situation there is very similar to the coaches’ poll. USC has 60 of 65 second-place votes currently, and must hold onto 33 (a bare majority) in order to be assured of beating LSU.

Further BCS updates will be contained in a new post, above.

Christmas panorama

Saturday, November 29th, 2003

Using the same “stitching” technique that I showed off yesterday, I’ve created a digital 360-degree panorama of Becky’s porch, so you can get a better idea of what my Christmas-lights display looks like. Click on the image below for a (much) larger version:

The white areas are artifacts of “stitching” the multiple photographs together. The process isn’t perfect, but still, pretty neat, huh? Here is the same image, broken down into three smaller pieces:

Hawaii is such a nice state

Saturday, November 29th, 2003

It’s been a good day so far for USC. Tennessee survives and Florida falls, so the SEC scenarios are no longer an issue — Georgia will play in the conference title game, and LSU will likely get no more than 0.1 or 0.2 quality-win points. Meanwhile, Rice pulls the upset, damaging LSU’s strength of schedule. And Florida’s loss also hurt’s LSU’s SOS. A good afternoon to be a Trojan. Good enough to make some wonder, “Is it over?” Heh. Not quite. So, how is the evening action going?

Well, the most important game, the SOS double-whammy of Alabama vs. Hawaii (on ESPN), is tied, 14-14 in the second quarter. I have a feeling that, if Hawaii wins this game, it will be over — USC will have the statistical edge over LSU wrapped up, provided that we win next Saturday and that LSU doesn’t pass us in either of the human polls. But that’s just a hunch; I rely on Tellshow for the raw numbers. At any rate, GO WARRIORS!!!

Meanwhile, Miami leads Pittsburgh, 21-7, in what is effectively the Big East championship game. Is this good or bad? It’s hard to say, as a Rich Tellshow commenter explains here. A Pittsburgh win would help USC in the strength of schedule battle, but a Miami win might nip another 0.1 points off LSU’s eventual QW total. I hadn’t thought of that. But since it seems to be pretty much awash, I will stick to my previous plan of rooting for Pittsburgh because Miami is a Big East traitor that doesn’t deserve the conference championship. (Of course, Pittsburgh doesn’t deserve it, either — West Virginia does, since the they beat Pitt head-to-head. But the Big East commissioners, in their infinite wisdom, decided to impose a BCS rule into even their two-way tiebreaker, so the Mountaineers get screwed. But the overriding bottom line is, Miami must lose.) C’mon, Panthers! Mount a comeback! You can do it!

In other news, Notre Dame is creaming Stanford, 21-0. (The Irish apparently got a touchdown on the last play of the first quarter, and hit the extra point on the first play of the second quarter, producing a bizarre box score with one point in the second quarter.) This is marginally bad news for USC, since more of our opponents’ opponents’ played Stanford than Notre Dame… but it’s only marginally bad. Alabama-Hawaii is far more important. Again, GO WARRIORS! :)

The Notre Dame-Stanford game does, however, raise the question: why the hell is this game nationally televised? Why on earth are significant portions of the country (including Arizona) being “treated” to a matchup between two 4-6 teams, instead of being able to watch the game where the championship of a BCS conference will be decided? Oh, right, because we’re talking about the Fighting Irish… normal rules don’t apply. (I really need to lose my outright contempt for Notre Dame before I start attending law school there next fall…)

UPDATE: Hawaii briefly look a 16-14 lead — breaking the tie with a safety, of all things — but Alabama has now jumped back on top, 21-16, on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. Dammit.

C’mon, Hawaii, you’re used to the dealing with the ocean, so go out there and stem the Tide!!! (ka-ching) (groan) I’ll be here all week, folks.

FINAL UPDATE: Hawaii wins!!! Warriors 37, Crimson Tide 29, final. Yes!!! I think USC has this statistical thing wrapped. But we’ll have to wait and see what Tellshow says.

Elsewhere, Notre Dame destroyed Stanford, 57-7, and Miami beat Pittsburgh, 28-14, to wrap up the Big East title… dammit.

The wild and wacky SEC

Saturday, November 29th, 2003

With Georgia kicking Georgia Tech’s butt, 27-3, Tennessee must hold onto its 10-7 fourth-quarter lead over Kentucky, or USC will face the nightmare scenario of Georgia finishing 10-2 but failing to quality for the SEC title game, thus guaranteeing LSU lots of quality win points.

Even if Tennessee does hold on, that doesn’t guarantee the nightmare scenario won’t happen; we still probably need either Florida State or Miami to win later today. But if Kentucky (which led 7-3 for quite a while) comes back and pulls the upset, we’re definitely in big trouble, regardless of what happens later.

UPDATE: Well, Tennessee did it. The Vols held on, 20-7. So the Trojans dodge that bullet… whew. Now, we root for Florida State over Florida. So far, so good: they’re winning, 10-6. Correction: they just scored! 16-6. Now 17-6. GO SEMINOLES!!!

Meanwhile, in a possible early Christmas present, #93 Rice is leading #74 Louisiana Tech at halftime, 28-7. If that result holds, it would hurt LSU’s strength of schedule… and because it would be an upset, it would be an unexpected boost for the Trojans. Yeah! GO OWLS!!!

In an unrelated but bizarre story, 10-1 Texas Christian, ranked #17 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, is tied 10-10 with 0-11 Southern Methodist, ranked #1 in the ESPN Bottom 10 poll, early in the third quarter. Could TCU — which was being considered for a BCS spot until last week — actually lose to SMU? Say it with me: Huh???

ANOTHER UPDATE: TCU held on, 20-13. More importantly, Rice won. Yay! Much more importantly, Florida-Florida State is going down to the wire. The Gators lead by 3, but the Seminoles are at the goalline now, trying to take the lead. Go ‘Noles!!!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Touchdown!!! 31-27 Florida State!

AND ANOTHER: Touchdown Florida… dammit. 34-31 Gators Now the Seminoles have 2:23 to tie it or win it.

AND STILL ANOTHER: YES!!!!!! TOUCHDOWN!!!!!! 37-34. They need this extra point, because Florida still has 55 seconds left…. got it! 38-34. C’mon ‘Noles… hold on to the lead…

SECOND-TO-LAST UPDATE: One second left… Florida at midfield… c’mon, Seminoles, no miracles now…

FINAL UPDATE: Florida State wins!!! Yay!!!!! Georgia goes to the SEC title game, which means LSU will either lose the game or lose its quality-win points (or at least most them). Hurrah! And now I don’t have to root for Miami tonight!! GO PITTSBURGH!!!

Root, root, root for the statistically helpful team

Saturday, November 29th, 2003

Well, LSU thoroughly destroyed Arkansas yesterday, so alas, we can’t ignore my viewer’s guide today; there are plenty of key games to watch.

For starters, there’s no score between Tennessee and Kentucky. GO VOLS! Meanwhile, Georgia and Georgia Tech are about to get underway. GO YELLOW JACKETS!

Meanwhile, bad news early in a strength-of-schedule game: Bowling Green leads Toledo, 7-0. GO… uh… GO WHATEVER TOLEDO’S DAMN NICKNAME IS! :)

Let the season begin!

Friday, November 28th, 2003

Well, the holiday season is officially underway, for Becky and me at least. My annual Christmas-lights ceremony was great! The music was a couple of seconds late, but the lights came on right on time, and everything looked lovely. Click below for a video of the countdown: (343 KB)

(Click here for photos and videos of past ceremonies, from 1995 through 2001.)

Alas, the main webcam failed at the last moment because of a faulty wire, but the audio broadcast apparently worked like a charm, and so did the indoor webcam. At least three people — my dad, Toni, and somebody else (possibly Dane??) — watched the webcast live over the Internet, according to my logs.

Six people were there in person: me, Becky, Becky’s sister Jen, Jen’s husband Soren, and Dr. and Mrs. Zak. They all seemed to enjoy it very much; for everyone except Becky and me, it was their first Brendan Loy Christmas ceremony. In addition, there were perhaps two dozen stuffed animals in attendance, and the cats and fish watched from inside the house.

Special thanks to Becky for letting me decorate her house! I’ll post photos, and another video clip from a different angle, later tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATE: My camera has a really neat feature that allows me to “stitch” multiple photos together into a panoramic picture. Check it out:

Here are some other pictures of tonight’s ceremony and the lights decorating Becky’s house:

The audience for this year’s Christmas season kickoff ceremony.

Becky’s and my stuffed animals watch the ceremony from a step ladder.

That’s right, my Christmas lights display includes a USC section. :) Go Trojans!

People stand around and listen to music during the ceremony. Please note the lights on the transom window, above the porch roof — getting those up there was something of a triumph over adversity. :)

Our beautiful outdoor tree…

…and our equally beautiful indoor tree!

A wide shot of Becky’s decorated porch.


Friday, November 28th, 2003

This blog post will be the location of tonight’s LIVE audio and video webcast of Becky’s and my Christmas season kickoff ceremony. (If you’re viewing this on the homepage, just click the link below…)

NOTE: Ceremony time has been CHANGED to 8:00 PM Mountain time! (That’s 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.)


Go Razorbacks!

Friday, November 28th, 2003

Here, for the scrolling-challenged among you, is a link to today and tomorrow’s Trojan viewer guide. :)

The basic message for today is, root like hell for Arkansas when the Razorbacks take the field against LSU in a couple of hours. But there are a couple of other relevant games today, if LSU wins that one.

The first relevant game is starting right now, actually. It’s Nebraska vs. Colorado, and I must admit, I’m a bit torn. A Colorado win would give USC some marginal strength-of-schedule help, which they might need if LSU wins out… but a Nebraska win would greatly buoy the bowl hopes of 9-3 independent UConn, my second-favorite team. However, the Trojans must come first, so I will grudgingly root for Colorado.

Wethersfield 50, Newington 22

Friday, November 28th, 2003

Here are the game stories on yesterday’s Indians-Eagles showdown from the Hartford Courant and the New Britain Herald.

Alas, this was Newington’s tenth consecutive Thanksgiving Day loss to Wethersfield. Better luck next year, boys.

Live from Mesa…

Thursday, November 27th, 2003

For the first time ever, I’m broadcasting audio over the Internet!! I’ve got a Shoutcast server running. I won’t leave it on all night, of course — I’ll be using it tomorrow evening for the Christmas ceremony; I’m just testing it now — but if you click here soon after I post this, you might be lucky enough to hear the extremely exciting sound of me typing on my keyboard. :)

DO ME A FAVOR: Hey, loyal readers, would you mind clicking here and then leaving a comment to let me know if the audio stream is working for you? I’m going to leave it running all night, playing the same song over and over, in hopes that someone will test it for me. :) It seems to be working on my end, but it’s hard to be sure…

A Picture Share!

Thursday, November 27th, 2003
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