Football Prediction Contest Winner Announced
No matter how successful an Arizona Football season is, losing the last game of the year obliterates the positives. Well, that's one way of looking at it, and one probably shared by the majority of Arizona fans. We’ve had several weeks to contemplate the loss, and it doesn’t hurt any less. But the reality is that the season was a success despite the bitter conclusion. The results of the game are once again a lesson that in this game, anything else can and should be thrown out the window.
As proof that the unexpected often happens in this long, fierce rivalry, out of 31 posters who took part in the pre-season prediction contest, only one correctly predicted that Arizona would lose to ASU, our beloved, Wineknow. But he also predicted that Arizona would lose the most games and would finish the regular season at 3-9. Improbable as it seemed at the time, especially with Arizona playing with a short roster all year, with a few different bounces of the ball here or there, the results could have been as good as bpwildcat’s prediction of 10-2. Really anything between his cheery prognosis and Wineknow's dire assessment of the team could have come true.
Before we get to the winner, though, let's take a look at how Arizona arrived at the final record, 7-5, which was the result envisioned by 8 posters, and made our contest almost a perfect bell curve, with 20 posters predicting 8-4 or 7-5. A quick look at the stat sheet shows the strength of the team was the duo of Matt Scott and Ka’Deem Carey who carried the team, helping Arizona to average 37.5 points per game.
Could anyone have predicted that Carey would lead the conference, much less the nation, in rushing? Well, actually in all humility, I came close, at least asking the question; "Could Arizona lead the conference in rushing?" Carey showed sparks in his freshman season, but really blossomed into a very tough, second effort runner with out of this world potential. Let’s hope Coach Rodriguez can keep him for two more years! His single season mark of 1757 rushing yards, with a bowl game of some kind still to come has been nothing less than spectacular.
Scott himself averaged 44 yards a game rushing, as well as close to 300 yards a game passing, and finished with a 60% completion mark, and 24 passing touchdowns against just 12 picks. After an incredible, gutsy game by him against USC, he seemed a bit less effective for the remainder of the season. Still, Scott's improvement over five years in the program, and his fulfillment as a double threat was dramatic, and in my view, he and Carey share the team MVP.
It was a season of extremes, with signature wins over Oklahoma State and USC, blow- out losses by Oregon and UCLA, and close losses to Oregon State and Stanford not to mention that team up North. For a first year coaching staff, the season was certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Despite a porous defense that will surely be shored up in future years, Arizona was competitive in 10 1/2 of 12 regular season games. So, for much of the season, most posters were "in the game". And going in to the final game 20 were, in theory, potential winners of our contest.
Here is the breakdown; eight posters predicted a 7-5 season. Kudos, collectively, to JBuch70, CatsinCo, Ashton, TonyTone, WildCat_Brad, TewaCat, Gary Randazzo, and Rodotrbennett. No one predicted correctly all five losses, but 7 assumed correctly 2 of the losses, all picking Oregon and Stanford. This was the most common denominator. Seven of the eight posters also thought Arizona would lose to Utah.
Picking the correct losses was the first tie breaker. (Ashton -- seriously? You picked Arizona to lose to South Carolina State University?) The publisher, Gary Randazzo, picked Arizona to lose to UCLA, and he alone was correct in this one game prediction among those who finished at 7-5.
Since no one was the clear winner with the first tie breaker, we went to the total number of points scored and points allowed. The season total for Arizona was 447/411 = 858. Only three posters, JBuch70, CatsinCo and Ashton predicted a combined total over 800 points. The differential between second place and the eventual winner was only 6 points. Congratulations, Ashton, all of those years of data analysis earned you second place as you predicted a total of 820 points, a difference of 38.
And no, the drum roll, please, winner of this year's contest, with a point differential of only 32 points . . . is JBuch70 . . . who at this moment is contemplating how he will spend his $100 gift card.
An improbable season and an improbable contest, somehow, it seems to fit, doesn't it?
Thanks to all who entered. Best wishes to all Wildcat Football fans everywhere. The season ending was bitter, but the team lived up to its nickname, although not very deep, they certainly fought like Wildcats to earn all seven wins!