It's probably hard to believe, but we here at BGS really only do one true prediction post a year. Sure, we offer opinions and guesses on all kinds of things, but if you look back I think you'll find that we haven't done a lot of "stone--cold--lock" type of posts over the years. Predictive journalism (and predictive blogging), I think, is easy and fun to write, but ultimately empty: it's always bold and brassy to claim to know the future -- and convenient for the author, because nobody usually checks up afterwards to see if the predictions came true. Mostly, though, predictive commentary is empty because predictions are usually wrong. I'm reminded of a comment by blogger Bryan Appleyard, talking about the pitfalls of punditry:
Writing about Jonah Lehrer's book on decision making in The Sunday Times, I didn't mention the findings of Philip Tetlock at Berkeley. He studied pundits and discovered they were, to a rough approximation, always wrong when making predictions. He took 284 pundits and asked them questions about the future. Their performance was worse than chance. With three possible answers, they were right less than 33 per cent of the time. A monkey chucking darts would have done better.Anyhow, the pundit team at BGS (and BGS emeritus-- thanks, Sean!) ignored all that Tetlock and Appleyard worrywart stuff and got our picks down on paper for the 2009 Irish season. Stone. Cold. Lock!
This is consoling. More consoling still is Tetlock's further finding that the more certain a pundit was, the more likely he was to be wrong. Their problem being that they couldn't self-correct, presumably because they'd invested so much of their personality and self-esteem in a specific view. (That makes me think of so many people, almost everybody, in fact.) Tetlock said: 'The dominant danger remains hubris, the vice of closed-mindedness, of dismissing dissonant possibilites too quickly.'
2009 BGS Predictions
|BGS ||Nev ||UM ||MSU ||PU ||UW ||USC ||BC ||WSU||Pitt ||Navy ||Conn ||Stan ||W-L|
|Kevin ||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||W ||L ||W||W||W||11-1 |
|Dylan ||W||W||W||W||W||L||W||W||W||W||W ||W||11-1 |
|Jay ||W ||W||L||W||W||L||W||W||L||W||W||W||9-3 |
|Jeff ||L||W||L||W||W ||L||W ||W||W ||W||W||W ||9-3|
|Michael ||W ||W||W ||W||W ||W||W ||W ||L||W||W||W||11-1 |
|Mike ||W||W ||L||W||W||L||L||W ||W||W||W||W||9-3|
|Pat ||W||W ||W||W||W||L||W||W||L||W||W||W ||10-2 |
|Pete ||W||W||L||W ||W||L||W ||W||W||W||W||W ||10-2 |
|Sean ||W||W||W||W||W||L||W||W||W||W||W||L||10-2 |
As usual, we also fired around a few meta-questions for the group, such as...
1. What will the three closest/toughest games be, and why?
Kevin- Michigan, USC, and Pitt: the favorite generally has a tough time in the ND-UM game; USC is USC, and their defense will give us fits; Pitt would have been our second-most dangerous opponent with McCoy, and they may still be. I think ND could have a let-down after the USC and BC games.
Dylan- MSU (W). They have a decent coach, and they have our number. This will be the season-defining game. If we can overmatch them on the lines, it means a trip to the BCS. c) Pitt. Our offensive problems of the past two years open the door to being beaten by solid defensive teams, and if Wannstedt is good at anything (which is not a given) it’s putting defenses together.
Mike- Michigan State - I think Dantonio will continue to pound away with the running game all day, which will start to really pay off in the second half. Their defense should be solid. Also, I've been generally impressed with what Dantonio has done with the MSU program. He even may have cured their trademark mental instability. When the replay official made up a rule to give Michigan a touchdown last year, the Spartans kept their composure and went on to win the game comfortably. Contrast this to the John-El era, when this type of setback (e.g., the FG attempt against OSU) would cause their entire season to unravel. 3. Boston College - I don't think BC is one of the three best teams on the schedule. They don't have a quarterback and they lost the three players on their defense who were head and shoulders above everyone else on their roster. Pitt and Stanford should prove themselves to be better teams than BC. That said, BC always treats this game like the Super Bowl. The Irish will suffer the inevitable post-Southern Cal let down. (How has this game been scheduled immediately after a far more important game for ND so often? The week after Florida State, the week after Southern Cal, one year sandwiched in between games against Southern Cal and Tennessee, etc. It's like the schedule is designed to ensure that ND overlooks this game.)
Pete- Michigan, Michigan State, USC. The Michigan-ND series has never been about blowouts, and has its fair share of upsets. Michigan State seems to have had ND's number since the Davie days, and USC is, well, the best team on the schedule (although probably in worse shape this year than any other time in the Weis Era.
2. What's a game we should win handily, but might give us some problems?
Dylan- Nevada . Defending a gimmick offense in the first game of the year could be a problem. Thankfully, they have the worst pass defense in the history of everything, so it shouldn’t matter.
Pete- Boston College. They should be absolutely in the dumps this year, but Notre Dame has never made a habit of blowing them out (let alone beating them in recent years), and they're in prime USC-hangover real estate. Hopefully last year's debacle remains fresh in the team's mind, even if they're riding high after finally beating USC.
Jeff- Nevada – A good scrambling QB and the pistol offense scares me a bit. Maybe I am worrying too much, but if Nevada plays like they have nothing to lose and the Irish play like they did against SD State last season, I could easily see a loss in the home opener.
Pat- Nevada or BC come to mind, but I think I might go with UConn. By then ND might be a bit beat up and it's possible the lack of depth at certain positions might become more of an issue. Edsell is building a pretty solid team so who knows what could happen if the November weather makes ND's passing game less effective.
Sean- On paper, I think ND should beat Nevada handily and ultimately I think we'll win a high scoring game by a couple touchdowns, but I think a combination of the home opener doldrums (which, let's face it this team has had for several years now) and Colin Kapernick will keep Nevada in until the fourth quarter. Eventually, talent wins out but nails will be bitten for three quarters.
3. Which freshman will make the biggest mark on the season (or name two, if Nick Tausch is your #1)?
Kevin- Tausch and Shaquelle Evans.
Dylan- Shaq Evans. If he can grab the number three WR spot, he could do a lot to open up the field even if he doesn’t catch a lot of balls.
Pete- Tausch obviously has to be number one, and I really hope Manti Te'o is number two.
Pat- Te'o and Tausch.
Sean- Easy answers are Te'o and Tausch but I'll add Zeke Motta (playing on all four special teams and I think will see the field in that Harrison Smith hybrid LB/safety role some) and Theo Riddick (KO return) to the list as well.
4. Will ND go to a bowl, and if so, which one?
Kevin- One of the non-title BCS games. I think a one-loss ND team would be the odd man out, and Florida and the Big XII champ will play for the title.
Dylan- Since there’s no real risk of the PAC-10 or Big 1? champ getting to the BCS championship game, the Rose Bowl is out, making the Fiesta and Sugar the most likely BCS targets. I’ll flip a coin and say it will be the Fiesta Bowl, since that’s closer to where I live.
Mike- Yes. Gator Bowl.
Pete- A non-championship BCS Bowl -- in what may be the team's first true test against an elite team this year if USC hits some bumps in the road.
Jeff- I expect this season will bring back criers complaining that an undeserving ND team got picked for the Orange Bowl over Penn State/Cal/Boise State/etc.
Pat- Yes, ND will go to one of the BCS bowls and reap the huge financial benefit of the entire $17.5M payou...oh, wait, that's right.
Sean- Yes. Gator Bowl vs ACC runner up Georgia Tech.
5. Finally, will Charlie Weis be the Notre Dame coach next year?
Kevin- Yes; I think ND will win often this year, and the big guy will return to everyone's good graces. I'm not convinced everything's fixed, but I think this team will be pretty good.
Dylan- He will, because I don’t believe we will lose more than two games. More than two losses and I’ll pat him on the back and buy him the ticket back to Jersey .
Mike- Yes. 9-3 against this schedule would not be some great achievement, but it would be enough for Weis to keep his job.
Pete- Awful hard to kick anybody off the sideline at 10-2, but hopefully 2009 shows Weis finally getting over the hump with greener pastures ahead. We should know by Week 3.
Jeff- I may get stoned for staying this (are there any women here today?), but I’d hate to see even an 8-5 Weis get canned unless there is a proven winner ready to take the job (ala Gruden, Meyer, etc.). Ditching Weis for the next Davie, Willingham, or even the next Weis would be a huge mistake unless the program is clearly regressing. Unless there is a true superstar waiting in the wings to coach the Irish, I have to think that any steps forward are good enough, even if they are baby steps.
Pat- Yes he will. He won't answer all of his critics this season, but Charlie should win enough (read: 9 games or more) to keep his job for another season.
Sean- Yes. He's recruiting too well, appears to have a much better grasp on who to surround himself with than his initial set of hires, and the schedule is very employment-friendly.
Finally, to go along with the staffers' predictions, here's another link back to the reader poll results, currently in progress. And here's your preseason mood ring based on everyone's responses.