Originally published October 26, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated October 26, 2009 at 10:19a.m.


Machine taps NU in North


Guesses as to what the future will look like so often miss the mark. Yet, every generation or so, a genius comes along and crafts an eerily accurate take on tomorrow, we learn decades later. Rod Serling, host and script writer for two-thirds of the episodes of the still-popular TV show “The Twilight Zone,” saw the future.

One episode featured women being pressured to buy a new, perfect face, choosing from a limited array of versions. Sure enough, in some parts of the country, plastic surgeons are making a killing.

Serling also feared computers would run the world. Finally, he’s right. Thanks to this past weekend’s outcomes, especially Texas A&M;’s stunning thrashing of Texas Tech, we humans must surrender and see what the computers think when attempting to forecast the outcome of the mercurial Big 12 North race.

Three outcomes involving three Big 12 teams in three weeks so wildly contradicted each other that it hurts the brain to contemplate them. First, Texas Tech pounded Kansas State, 66-14, in Manhattan. The next week, K-State hammered Texas A&M;, 62-14, in Manhattan. Then A&M; lit up Tech, 52-30, Saturday in Lubbock.

Based on Tech being 52 points better than K-State and K-State being 48 points better than A&M;, Tech should have beaten the Aggies by 100 points. Instead, the Red Raiders lost to A&M; by 22 points, which means comparative scoring using just two outcomes from three teams is accurate to within a margin of error of 122 points. In other words, it’s useless.

So there exists no alternative but to turn to the best computer ranking out there, the Sagarin predictor, which is based entirely on comparative scoring, but at least takes into account every outcome from every team in the nation. To try to forecast a game’s outcome, Sagarin instructs to add 3.27 points to the home team’s predictor rating.

Sagarin likes Bo Pelini’s Cornhuskers a whole lot better than the state of Nebraska does at the moment. Using the current predictor ratings to determine the outcome of every remaining game involving a Big 12 team results in Colorado bringing up the rear at 1-7, Missouri and Kansas finishing 3-5, Farmageddon foes Iowa State and Kansas State finishing 4-4, and Nebraska winning four of its final five to represent the North in the Big 12 title game with a 5-3 record.

If every outcome adheres to Sagarin form, except for one and that one variable has Kansas beating the Cornhuskers, four teams would tie for first with a 4-4 record, and the first tiebreaker would be how the teams did against each other. Under that scenario, Kansas would be 3-0, the other three teams 1-2, and KU would get to play in its first Big 12 title game.

• A previous version of this story contained an error.


sdoyel 10 years, 9 months ago

How embarrassing will it be if we are CU's lone Big 12 win?

Tom Gillaspie 10 years, 9 months ago

How embarrassing will it be if ISU is our only Big 12 win?

Robert Brock 10 years, 9 months ago

How embarassing will it be if K-State whips KU for all the worthwhile recruits out of Kansas City?

slantrox 10 years, 9 months ago

Keegan, you started paragraph 3 with Sterling, not Serling. FYI

slantrox 10 years, 9 months ago

Many of the worthwhile recruits in KC are already heading to other states!

Robert Brock 10 years, 9 months ago

I was just kidding. Just adding to a sequence of hand-wringing that could bring on Farmageddon!

Jack Hoover 10 years, 9 months ago

Part of today's problems are that we as individuals do not take responsibility for our actions. You Mr. Keegan told us all that KU would beat Oklahoma in a article last week. Why heck, I went about my business knowing full well that because you forcasted it, it would happen. I didn't know that your forecast called for rain.

Many editors don't stick their necks out like that. While I appreciate your opinions it would seem that you do not know whether you are walking or riding a horse at the moment. I am not an editor and I don't have your smile, but I have more football knowledge than you at the moment. Perhaps an apology is in order for all those Jayhawk fans who believed you and bet their homes on that outcome. You should write an article taking responsibility for the baloney you dished out and should take an oath to do better. Good Grief! IB

Joshua Hann 10 years, 9 months ago

Iowaboy, you are a tool if you take the words of anyone, anywhere to heart, for the outcome of any game, ever! He made a prediction, he was wrong....he only had a 50/50 chance and guess what, he was not the only one. Would you like an apology from the people on the message boards here that also said they believed KU would win? What actions did he take? Did he have any affect on the outcome of the game? I'm going to predict that you are a genius and will bring world peace.....Readers, I apologize....I take full responsiblity for my actions...Iowaboy is not the chosen one and I'm wrong. You don't even pay for this page....I think you should apologize for being a fool.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 9 months ago

Maybe I'm alone, but I'd rather beat Mizzery than win the Big 12 North. Both would be nice.

jayhawk02 10 years, 9 months ago

I still think we beat KSU, NU at home and misewery to finish 8-4.

slaurenzo 10 years, 9 months ago

The still-popular TV show “The Twilight Zone”

Seriously, Keegan?

OlatheJHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree with jayhawk02. There is a strong chance we beat Tech and sweep the remaining North teams. Even if we don't beat Tech, 4-4 is enough to win the North with head-to-head wins over the remaining teams on the schedule.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

At what point does the Sagrin lose the 2008 bias, or whatever they use to "compute" 2009 rankings before ANY games are played in 2009, or during the first weeks of the season when the computer ranks teams with virtully no correlation to the very limited outcomes to date?

As a math geek/enginerd, I use to lean heavily toward the Sagrin, but the reality is that it is just a bigger, more complex version of the KSU-TTech-A&M anomoly - and why computers will never rule the world.

The Sagarin does add 3.27 points for home field advantage, but does it factor in film study, concussions, blown knees & shoulders, or headcoach/daddies? Glad they play the games on the field instead of the in a computer, newspaper, history book.

hawksince51 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Pikes Peak with a slight modification--I'd rather beat MU and not win the North. Keegan's last phrase says..."and KU would get to play in its first Big 12 title game." He should have said "have" not "get" to play... Why would we want to get stomped a 2nd time by Texas? I have been thankful that MU got the "privilege" of playing in the Big 12 Champ game the past two years. On paper NU should make the best showing on behalf of the North, so they can have that privilege this year so far as I am concerned. If not NU, then KSU. I am not losing sleep over the small chance that it will be KU.

actorman 10 years, 9 months ago

"'The still-popular TV show “The Twilight Zone' Seriously, Keegan?"

Considering how often you can still see reruns of the show, I'd say that's pretty accurate. it's certainly often still brilliant, even after all these years.

I can understand your point, hawksince51, but would still like to see KU play in the title game for two reasons:

  1. Even if KU stumbles into it with a 4-4 conference record, it would still represent progress (albeit limited progress) to win the north for the first time.

  2. Playing a team for a second time, even one as good as Texas, is a prime opportunity for an upset. That's even more the case if UT crushes KU the first time. We've all seen plenty of examples over the years of a much better team losing because it takes for granted that it will roll. That could certainly happen in this case, especially with KU's still-potent offense. At least it would give KU a SHOT at a BCS bowl, whereas if KU doesn't play for the Big XII title it has no chance.

Kent Wells 10 years, 9 months ago

Colorado and Oklahoma just tapped KU, why not a machine too??? Maybe I've misread. Again, I expected a completely different story... With me dynomite?

Jack Hoover 10 years, 9 months ago

Royaljayhwk, Of course not would I expect any apologies from the KU faithful. They are being just that faithful. Keegan gets paid therin lies the difference. I am not a genius but I am working on it. As far as world peace hell, I don't want that. We as Americans would have to support all of them getting along. Let them succeed or suffer without me opening my wallet.

Obviously you don't have a grasp for dialog as witnessed by your name calling. That is ok. After all, all of us can't be intelligent. It takes people like you to balance things out. SWEET!

FlaHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

KU football is all tapped out machines or no machines. They don;t have the talent on the field to win much of anything the rest of the year. Either Mangino has to step it up or the team and probably both!


LAJayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago


"He made a prediction, he was wrong....he only had a 50/50 chance..."

This is actually inaccurate. The final betting line favored OU by 7 points and gave KU a +240 "money line" to win straight up, versus the -290 for OU. If you remove the juice by combining the two you have KU at +265 which is equivalent to 2.65 to 1 odds on winning. Now if we calculate that out, KU had a 37.7% chance of beating OU, which, of course, would be Keegan's exact chance of his prediction being accurate, not 50/50.

At least, that is according to Vegas, a place with no other motivation than getting people to place money equally on both sides of a bet.

oregonjhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

What if we swept our remaining games, including whooping Texas, in Austin, for their first loss of the season? Can you imagine??!!

Joshua Hann 10 years, 9 months ago

No LAJayhawk....that has nothing to do with it but thanks for going over the top. When you predict an outcome of a game....there are only two or lose. We are not talking money here....Iowaboy...keep working on have quite a ways to go. A grasp for dialog!?!?!? Oh wow...I'm honestly chuclking to myself...that was a good one...

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