The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 18, 2017

2017 Sun Belt Conference Preview

You can see it coming. This little league, normally the weakest Group of 5 conference in FBS football is beginning to show some teeth. In most years since its inception, the SBC has had one team capable of producing an upset, and maybe another team capable of knocking off a better Group of 5 school in a bowl game.

That’s starting to change. At least for this year, three and possibly four teams are capable of making a run to a double-digit win season and knock off an Power 5 Conference foe.

There is a little bit of change this year, as the league expands temporarily to 12 teams with the addition of Coastal Carolina as a full-fledged member. You would think the league would divide into divisions and play a conference championship game. Next year, the league contracts to 10 teams as New Mexico State and Idaho depart. NMSU will try to make it as an independent like BYU and U Mass, while Idaho drops to the FCS level. Unfortunately for the Vandals, they are making the move downward at the least favorable time in their recent existence. Idaho has the league’s top home field advantage playing in the Kibbe Dome, and their offense is about to make historical strides forward with Matt Linehan at quarterback.

The Vandals should be in a pack of four teams trying to contend with the big three. Appalachian State, Troy, and Arkansas State figure to be the top three teams in the league, while South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Georgia State compete with Idaho for best of the rest. Georgia State should get a momentum boost when the Panthers move into the former Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field, which has been remodeled into a beautiful venue for football.

Here’s how the media voted in its preseason predictions.

2017 Sun Belt Conference Media Poll
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 Appalachian St. 7 136
2 Troy 2 127
3 Arkansas St. 1 122
4 S. Alabama 0 98
5 UL-Lafayette 1 95
6 Idaho 0 84
7 Georgia Southern 0 82
8 Georgia St. 0 48
9 UL-Monroe 0 46
10 N. Mexico St. 1 41
11 Texas St. 0 31
12 Coastal Carolina 0 26

The PiRate Ratings agree on the top three, but there is a bit of difference after that.

Sunbelt Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 99.8 96.8 100.4 99.0
Troy 94.1 94.4 93.4 94.0
Arkansas St. 88.3 90.1 90.0 89.5
Idaho 86.4 89.1 87.2 87.5
Georgia St. 86.3 85.5 86.2 86.0
UL-Lafayette 84.9 86.8 84.7 85.5
S. Alabama 83.8 86.8 84.0 84.9
N. Mexico St. 84.2 81.5 83.2 83.0
Georgia Southern 80.4 82.1 79.8 80.8
UL-Monroe 79.6 80.2 77.8 79.2
Coastal Carolina 72.1 73.5 73.9 73.2
Texas St. 70.7 74.7 69.4 71.6
Sun Belt Averages 84.2 85.1 84.2 84.5

And, here are our not-so-scientific predictions for this year’s standings with bowl projections.

Sun Belt Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Appalachian St. 7-1 10-2 Cure
Troy 7-1 9-3 Arizona
Arkansas St. 7-1 8-4 Camellia
S. Alabama 5-3 6-6 New Orleans
Idaho 4-4 6-6 Idaho
Georgia St. 4-4 6-6 Dollar General
UL-Lafayette 4-4 5-7  
Georgia Southern 3-5 4-8  
UL-Monroe 3-5 3-9  
N. Mexico St. 2-6 3-9  
Coastal Carolina 2-6 3-9  
Texas St. 0-8 1-11  

Coming tomorrow: You sort of get a double dose. There are just four Independents, so we will preview the Independents as well as the American Athletic Conference. Then, beginning Sunday, we start with the Power 5 conferences. College football begins in just eight days!

***A special shout out to our reader Ryan. Yesterday, we issued what we thought was a rather tough trivia question, and Ryan nailed it rather quickly. So, today, we will increase the difficulty with a little tougher trivia. ***


Who are these two legendary coaches? Coach number one was a college head coach who won 70% of his games at his first Division 1 school, a team that played in a now defunct conference. He moved on to be a college head coach at two additional schools, the second of which he was replaced by a second coaching legend who won more than 200 games at the college level and more than 250 when his NFL wins were added. Four decades after winning 70% of his games at the first school, Coach number one was still coaching, now the head coach of an NFL team which he guided to the playoffs multiple times. Coach number two was still coaching four decades later after he replaced coach number one. Coach number two won a national championship during his career.

Name the two coaches. If nobody gets the answer by the time we go to press with tomorrow’s preview, we will give the answer, but we know that our readers tend to be among the most knowledgeable football fans and analytical geniuses, so we expect somebody to come up with the correct answer.

September 5, 2011

1960’s NFL Football Trivia Quiz

1960’s Pro Football Trivia Quiz


Okay pro football fans.  See how many of theses dozen trivia questions from the 1960’s you can answer.  This quiz was issued to a Green Bay Packers pre-game gathering, and not one of the 34 “experts” came close to getting all these questions correct.  Of course, they did not have a computer with which to cheat and look up the answers.


Some of these questions are tricky, so be on your toes.  It doesn’t hurt to be over 50 and to have remembered this era, but then again, with our aging memories, it may not help either.


1. What team handed Vince Lombardi his last NFL postseason loss?


2. Who was the American Football League’s passing leader in its first year of existence?


3. Who was the first pro player to record 100 receptions in a single season?


4. Who was the first kicker to connect on more than 30 field goals in a single season?


5. The Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans recycled their nicknames.  Which two pro teams were once the Texans and Titans?


6. What NFL team lost only its final regular season game and failed to make the playoffs?


7. What NFL team won only one game in the first half of their season and still won their division?


8. Besides Jim Brown, which two players won multiple NFL rushing titles in the 1960’s?


9. Which TV network televised the first Super Bowl?


10. Which team and in what year was the last time an offense ran out of a full-house T formation for an entire game?


11. Who was the only player to be a member of both the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line?


12. During the 1960’s, 12 pro teams played their home games for at least one season in a stadium that began as a Major League baseball park and was not constructed for football.  How many can you come up with?

Answers  Below













1. No, it was not the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1960 NFL Championship Game.  The St. Louis Cardinals defeated Green Bay in the 1964 Playoff Bowl at The Orange Bowl in Miami.  Prior to 1970, the runner-up in the Eastern Conference played the runner-up in the Western Conference in Miami for third place in what was called “The Bert Bell Benefit Bowl”, but most media and fans called it “The Playoff Bowl.”  St. Louis, finished runner-up to the Cleveland Browns, while Green Bay finished runner-up to the Baltimore Colts.  The Cardinals defeated Green Bay 24-17.




2. Former member of the US House, presidential and vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp of the Los Angeles Chargers




3. Lionel Taylor caught 100 passes for the Denver Broncos in 1961.




4. Jim Turner 34 with 1968 Super Bowl Winner New York Jets




5. The New York Titans and Dallas Texans were original members of the American Football League (AFL).  The Titans became the Jets following a change of ownership, while the Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs.




6. The 1967 Baltimore Colts were 11-0-2 entering their final game against the Los Angeles Rams at the LA Coliseum.  The Rams were 10-1-2 entering this game, having tied the Colts in Baltimore earlier in the season.  Los Angeles beat the Colts to win the NFL Coastal Division title at 11-1-2, and the Colts were done at 11-1-2, which was the second best record in the NFL.  The other three playoff teams (Dallas, Cleveland, and Green Bay) entered with just nine wins each.




7. The 1970 Cincinnati Bengals were 1-6-0 at the halfway point.  After an opening week win over Oakland, the Bengals lost six in a row.  Cleveland led at 4-3-0; Pittsburgh was second at 3-4-0, and Houston was third at 2-4-1.  The Bengals caught fire in the second half using the short passing of quarterback Virgil Carter and the running of Paul Robinson combined with a defense that was tough against the run.  The team won all seven games in the second half to win the AFC Central at 8-6-0, as Cleveland folded and finished 7-7-0.  In the playoffs, the Bengals fell quickly to eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore 17-0, when they had no answer for Bubba Smith, Roy Hilton, and Mike Curtis and gained less than 150 total yards.  Johnny Unitas completed two bomb for touchdowns.




8. Gayle Sayers of the Chicago Bears in 1966 & 1969 and Leroy Kelly of the Cleveland Browns 1967-1968




9. TRICK QUESTION: Both NBC and CBS televised Super Bowl I at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.  CBS used Ray Scott and Frank Gifford with Jack Whitaker commentary in the Booth and with Pat Summerall reporting on the sidelines.  NBC used Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman in the booth with Charlie Jones on the Sidelines.




10. On October 20, 1968, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Oakland Raiders 24-10 using a full-house T-formation offense.  Coach Hank Stram had no healthy wide receivers available for the game.  He took his starting halfback, Mike Garrett, his starting fullback, Robert Holmes, and his backup fullback, Wendell Hayes and placed them in the backfield with Hayes in the middle and Garrett and Holmes to the sides.  Stram also used two tight ends, and quarterback Len Dawson threw just three passes all day, all on play-action. The Chiefs rushed for almost 300 yards on the day.  Oakland could not stop the deceptive quickness to the outside or the power to the inside. 




11. Rosey Grier




12. St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium I (aka Sportsman’s Park)


Chicago Bears in Wrigley Field


Cincinnati Bengals in Crosley Field


Cleveland Browns in Cleveland Municipal Stadium


Detroit Lions in Tiger Stadium


Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City Municipal Stadium


Minnesota Vikings in Metropolitan Stadium


Boston Patriots in Fenway Park


New York Giants in Yankee Stadium


New York Titans in the Polo Grounds


Pittsburgh Steelers in Forbes Field


Washington Redskins at Griffith Stadium




If you said the Baltimore Colts, you are wrong.  The Colts played at Memorial Stadium before the Orioles moved from St. Louis.  As for other teams, The Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons played in venues that were created as multi-use parks.  The Denver Broncos played in a Minor League baseball park that would one day become a Major League park.




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