Recently, here, there was a conclusion that the Huskies are the most overrated team in the Pac12, this week. The roundtable discussed several different reasons as to why they reached this conclusion. My question is this: did this conclusion defy logic?
Logic. It is the basis for many things ... math, science, legal analysis. If used correctly, a position in an argument can become impregnable, mostly; a discovery in science can become sturdy and robust; and in the courtroom, an attorney can convince the judge that the father is really a deadbeat and deserves ... well, you get the point.
At the base of every logical argument lies a syllogism (and no this is not something inappropriate ...). If used correctly, a syllogism can be a thing of beauty, and when done incorrectly, it can leave its creator looking, well, illogical. A simple syllogism is made up of three parts: a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. To save brain cells, due to over exertion in trying to explain what the heck I just said, instead I resort to giving a couple of examples (and don't laugh ... I have three daughters all under the age of 6):
My little ponies like to have fun
Pinkie Pie is a my little pony
Pinkie Pie likes to have fun
A you can see, the conclusion, Pinkie Pie likes to have fun, logically follows from the two premises; in other words, it directly follows that since my little ponies like to have fun, and Pinkie Pie is a my little pony, that she MUST like to have fun.
Problems arise when there is an argument that does, and this is speaking very generally, one of two things: (1) it fails to include a premise that is required for the conclusion to be correctly drawn; or (2) it relies on a premise that is, in fact, not true.
Scenario 1 (and I'll use more relevant examples this time):
Washington lost handily to #3 LSU
Therefore, Washington should not be ranked
Looking at the face of this argument, the conclusion CANNOT follow. The conclusion relies on a premise that is assumed, but not included in the argument. In this case, the necessary premise is something like, teams that lose handily to top 5 teams should not be ranked. Without this premise, or one similar to it the conclusion is false.
Teams with a positive turnover margin have a winning record
Utah has a positive turnover margin
Utah has a winning record
In this case, the major premise, teams with a positive turnover margin have a winning record, is false. For example, Utah has a positive turnover margin of .2, but its current record is 2-3. The conclusion cannot follow.
Now, finally, on to my evaluation of the roundtable's arguments, at least the ones that said UW is the most overrated team in the conference.
This analysis stems from the question of who the most overrated team in the Pac12 is after last weeks games.
Avinash Kunnath, California Golden Blogs (Cal) and Pacific Takes: Washington. So the Huskies get two touchdowns off of blown defensive assignments, shut down perhaps the worst quarterback in the Pac-12, and they're suddenly ranked? It was basically the same blueprint Stanford used to beat USC. Washington can prove me wrong if they shock the world these next two weeks, but I need to see way more from them.
Huskies get 2 touchdowns off of blown defensive assignments
Huskies shut down perhaps the worst QB in the Pac12
The Huskies are ranked in the top 25
The Huskies used the same blueprint Stanford used to beat USC
The Huskies are the most overrated team in the Pac12.
The missing premise from this argument is as follows: The most overrated team in the Pac12 will be ranked in the top 25 despite winning a game off of multiple blown defensive assignments, shutting down what might be the worst QB in the Pac12, and using the opposing team's blueprint for success against them. The question would be, does the conclusion logically follow?
Premise 1: The Huskies capitalized on two blown assignments from the Stanford D to the tune of 14 unanswered points. The first score, by Bishop Sankey, could indeed be categorized as a blown assignment, as 2 Stanford Linebackers, unsure of whether or not the Huskies were going to run a play before the quarter was over, clogged the same game, which happened to be the wrong one, and took themselves out of the play, thanks in part to a nice block by Husky wide receiver Di'Andre Campbell. The second play the Huskies scored on was on an run/pass option play where Kieth Price had the option to throw the ball to Kasen Williams on the sideline, or tuck the ball and run the necessary 2 yards for a touchdown. There was no blow defensive assignments on this play, unless you call missing a tackle a blown assignment ... Kasen broke the tackle, in single coverage, and sprinted for the score. However, for the sake of argument, we'll assume there was a blown defensive assignment here. How many teams capitalize on blown defensive assignments? Well, the good one's do it more than the bad ones ... just ask Colorado. From reviewing the game, Stanford didn't blow very many assignments, but the ones they did blow, the Huskies were able to capitalize on when the game mattered! (Italics used for emphasis.) As you can see, this premise does not lead to the conclusion because good teams, or teams that should be ranked in the top 25, are able to capitalize on blown assignments. Oregon makes a living off of blown defensive assignments.
Premise 2: The Huskies shut down possibly the worst QB in the Pac12. Lots of people would say that this, in fact, did not happen. Rather, that because of some dropped passes by a certain Stanford TE, the Huskies won this game. However, assuming this is true, good teams are supposed to shut down opposing QB's, regardless of their skill level. And if the Huskies did shut down Stanford's starting quarterback, they did was was expected of them. However, this fact does not lead to the conclusion that the Huskies are overrated. Rather, it shows that the Huskies did what good teams are supposed to do.
Premise 3: After beating Stanford, the Huskies are "suddenly" ranked in the top 25. I have not qualms with this bit of argument. However, up to this point in the season, nobody knows who Stanford is, or who Washington is ... It seems pretty clear that Stanford is not a top 10 team ... but we don't know where they should be ranked, or even if they should be ranked at all after this last week. Depending on how the season plays out, we will be able to see if this premise holds on to being true or not. It begs more information.
Premise 4: The Huskies just copied what Stanford did to USC, and did it to Stanford. I would assume that this means gang up on the run and force the quarterback to beat you. This is hardly copying what Stanford did. Rather, this is what ALL teams try to do against teams that like to run the ball to set up the pass. USC did it to Utah last night, Stanford did it to USC, Arizona State did it to Utah ... and the Huskies failed to do this against USC, though it was their game plan ... Good teams try and take away another team's strength. Against Stanford, it was their run game. Guess what? It worked. The Huskies executed, and limited Stanford's run game. They won.
Though each of these premises might be true, together, they do not lead to the conclusion that Washington is the most overrated team in the Pac12.
Scott Allen, Rule of Tree (Stanford): Washington. The Huskies' defense is undoubtedly improved, but I'm interested to see how they fare against Oregon and USC in the next two games.
The Husky defense is undoubtedly improved
The Huskies still have to play Oregon and USC, but we don't know how they will fare
The Huskies are the most overrated team in the Pac12
In this case, a premise is missing. The two premises are indeed true, but the argument, as is, does not follow. There is nothing in the premises, which make up the body of the actual argument, that alludes to the conclusion. The missing premise would be something like this: the most overrated team in the conference, though it can have an improved defense from a year ago, still has tough games to play this year, like Oregon and USC. The biggest problem with this argument is that the argument also fits for other teams in the conference this year, such as Oregon State. In fact, if you substitute Oregon State for the Huskies, the exact same result would follow. This argument clearly does not lead to the conclusion that Washington is the most overrated team in the Pac12 this week. However, Mr. Allen did hedge his argument by saying that the season will tell us who the most overrated team is. It just fails to answer the question.
Utecentral, Ute Football Central (Utah): I hesitate to select Washington here as I don't thing they are highly overrated at this point, but I'm not convinced that the Huskies are for real even after a really solid performance against Stanford. I want to see another strong game from them and their newly found defense. Will their defense be as tight against better offensive team like Oregon, USC, Arizona and Oregon?
This response doesn't label the Huskies as the most overrated team in the Pac12 this week, but points out that the Huskies could end up being the most overrated at the end of the season if the defense can't perform as tight against better offenses. In other words, we'll know if the Huskies were overrated this week by being ranked in the top 25 later on, after we see how the season plays out. Lastly, and this is mostly in jest, why did he mention Oregon's offense twice?
David Piper, Addicted to Quack (Oregon): Washington. Stanford is not the elite win that people think it is. Washington beat them with really only two offensive plays that did much of anything. They have no running game and the offensive line is a MASH unit. This is a 7-5 type-team, not a top-25 one.
Stanford is not the elite win that people think it is
The Huskies beat Stanford with 2 offensive plays
The Huskies have no running game
The Husky offensive line is a M.A.S.H. unit
A 7-5 team is not a top 25 team
The Huskies are a 7-5 team
The Huskies are the most overrated team in the Pac12
First, I would have to agree that the first premise is 100% true. Stanford is not as elite as people thought before last week.
Though the Huskies did have 2 large offensive plays that lead to 14 points and the win, the Huskies beat Stanford with much more than that. Don't forget the Husky defense. They stopped the run, and forced Shaw to try and call a different type of game. Also, don't forget that the Huskies were able to execute on a 4th and 1, getting a first down, and subsequently moving into Stanford territory, to set up KW's game-winning TD pass. This premise simply is not true.
The Stanford defense, prior to the Washington game was ranked #1 in the country against the run, and the Huskies proceeded to rack up over 4 yards per carry against them. That is still the case if you take out Bishop Sankey's long run. The fact is, the Huskies did have a run game.
The 4th premise is also basically true. With the rash of injuries, the Husky oline has a lot to prove, and so far, at least in pass protection, they have failed miserably.
Last year 2 teams in the top 25 were 7-5 teams. This premise is also false.
The Huskies are a 7-5 team. We don't know if this is true. As of this week, the Huskies are 3-1. They could better, they could be worse. Only time will tell.
In this argument, three out of the six premises are not true, and one of them cannot be proven. Without them, the conclusion cannot follow.
Trevor Wong, Conquest Chronicles (USC): Washington. They barely beat San Diego State at home, got absolutely throttled by LSU and then Sarkisian gets the "big" win to at least temporarily get off the hot seat. Now the Huskies get Oregon in Eugene, USC at home, Arizona on the road and then Oregon State. Let's see if their win against Stanford was for real.
The Huskies barely beat San Diego State at home.
The Huskies got throttled by LSU
Before the win against Stanford, Sarkisian was on the hot seat, but no longer is.
The Huskies had a "big" win against Stanford
That win might not be as big as some people were thinking
The Huskies have a difficult schedule the next 4 games
The Huskies are the most overrated team in the Pac12
Premise 1: The final score of this game was 21-12. The Huskies won by 2 scores. I suppose depending on your definition of barely, this could qualify. However, I tend to think that barely is what happened when UW beat Eastern Washington last. year. This game was never in doubt.
Premise 2: True in every sense of the word.
Premise 3: This premise has nothing do do with the conclusion, and is entirely irrelevant. Besides, it is, on its face, entirely untrue. The only people who have Sarkisian on the hot seat are trolls and members of the late Dawgman.com freeboards.
Premises 3-6: These three premises deal with the future, and have no bearing on how the Huskies are currently the most overrated team in the Pac12. Only the remainder of the season will tell us the answers. I must commend Mr. Wong however, because he hedged very well in stating that the win over Stanford "might" not be as big as some thought. The conclusion that follows from his line of reasoning, however, is that the Huskies "might" be the most overrated team in the conference.
To wrap things up, here's my attempt at logically determining who the most overrated team in the Pac12 is.
The most overrated team in the Pac12 is ranked higher in the polls than it should be.
If there is more than one team that is ranked higher than it should be in the polls, the team that more spots than it should be is the most overrated team.
Stanford and Washington are both ranked higher than they should be.
Stanford should have never been ranked 8th in the nation, even after the Cardinal beat the Trojans.
After its loss to Washington, Stanford should have dropped out of the rankings completely.
Since the rankings only go to 25, Stanford is ranked 7 spots higher than it should be, and Washington is ranked 3 spots higher than it should be.
Therefore, Stanford is the most overrated team in the Pac12.