A few thoughts to tie together a long holiday weekend:
1 With 1:27 remaining and the Gophers leading Oregon State 30-23 after having just scored a touchdown in Thursday’s opener, head coach Tracy Claeys elected to attempt a two-point conversion. Many, including Big Ten Network analyst (and ex-Gophers coach) Glen Mason, acted like he was doing the most bizarre/dumb thing in the world. Really, the math says it was pretty much a wash either way.
Pro Football Reference lets you simulate any situation for an NFL game — down, distance, time remaining, scoring margin, even point spread — to let you calculate percent chance of winning at that moment. With the caveat that the NFL is different from college football, here is how the numbers play out if Oregon State, a 13-point underdog, was an NFL team with 1:27 remaining:
Down seven points: 4.2 percent chance to win. Down eight points: 1.8 percent chance to win. Down nine points: 0.8 percent chance to win.
Let’s say the Gophers make the two-point conversion 50 percent of the time and make the kick 95 percent of the time. Oregon State’s chances of winning are a little worse than 2 percent if the Gophers kick, and they’re about 2.5 percent if the Gophers go for two (the average of 4.2 and 0.8, assuming a 50 percent conversion rate).
2 This isn’t how baseball works, of course, but imagine if you could combine Brian Dozier’s first 2½ months last year with his most recent 2½ months this season. Taking Dozier through June 18 last year and from June 19 forward this year, here is what you get: 44 home runs, 41 doubles and seven triples (giving him 92 total extra-base hits, more than any player had in all of 2014 or 2015).
If you like more counting stats, try out 98 runs batted in and 113 runs scored — with a few weeks still left in the season. His 2016 numbers on their own are still plenty gaudy thanks to Dozier’s torrid stretch of late, but look out if he ever puts together a full season.
3 A popular theory about Sam Bradford potentially succeeding with the Vikings is that he won’t have to carry as much of the offensive load thanks to Adrian Peterson — and that he’s never played with a back like Peterson in previous years. Two thoughts on that:
One, Bradford did have Steven Jackson when he was with the Rams, a workhorse back who rushed for at least 1,000 yards from 2010-12, Bradford’s first three seasons.
Two, as good as Jackson was, people are right to say he’s not in the same class as Peterson. Few running backs in history are. As much as anything, this offense figures once again to default to a ground-heavy attack centered around the 31-year-old Peterson. As he went last year, so did the Vikings; when Peterson rushed for 98 yards or more, Minnesota was 8-0. In all other games, including the playoffs, the Vikings were 3-6.