Saturday, February 28, 2009

DeFranks Rankings - Final College Football 2008

I know it's a bit late but I just figured out hwo to compute my formula and rankings on the computer rather than by hand.

Here the are:
1 Florida 140.0526826
2 Utah 110.2980132
3 Texas 106.9116775
4 USC 106.8969669
5 Oklahoma 99.56679894
6 Alabama 90.85704666
7 Boise State 87.83147773
8 Texas Tech 84.02393162
9 Penn State 79.25692308
10 TCU 77.11056395
11 Cincinnati 73.95294707
12 Ball State 73.01393728
13 Georgia 72.01117634
14 Ohio State 68.96402545
15 Virginia Tech 65.41770931
16 Pittsburgh 64.56181319
17 Oregon 62.11931729
18 Mississippi 61.88465622
19 Tulsa 60.87667888
20 Missouri 60.06409519
21 Oregon State 58.77053554
22 Georgia Tech 58.50112986
23 Iowa 54.9090482
24 Brigham Young 54.68989847
25 Rice 54.49530957
26 Boston College 54.38535311
27 Florida State 54.19314029
28 East Carolina 53.8551264
29 Michigan State 52.25014985
30 Oklahoma State 51.88421107
31 Maryland 51.55788727
32 North Carolina 50.19010989
33 Nebraska 49.44036566
34 California 49.11934732
35 West Virginia 48.56599058
36 Northwestern 45.03626374
37 Houston 44.68184389
38 Western Michigan 44.17272363
39 Rutgers 43.52893773
40 LSU 43.3710373
41 Wake Forest 42.60245304
42 Kansas 42.5451715
43 South Florida 40.48039216
44 Air Force 39.79147563
45 North Carolina State 38.98898908
46 Connecticut 38.2254902
47 Vanderbilt 38.20853617
48 Navy 37.95421245
49 Arizona 37.06068376
50 Troy 36.62744764
51 Buffalo 36.44652015
52 Central Michigan 34.5518074
53 Louisiana Tech 33.8367295
54 Clemson 33.83195286
55 South Carolina 33.07246172
56 Nevada 32.39163182
57 Hawaii 32.03075168
58 Miami (FL) 31.78761323
59 Wisconsin 31.57618065
60 Colorado State 31.43625558
61 Virginia 30.96234568
62 Fresno State 30.94624511
63 Minnesota 29.00711077
64 Florida Atlantic 28.45134408
65 Notre Dame 28.36223776
66 Kentucky 28.21455492
67 Southern Miss 26.2242735
68 Arkansas 26.17968988
69 Illinois 23.70539624
70 Colorado 22.31582106
71 San Jose State 21.89778567
72 Northern Illinois 21.81507896
73 Bowling Green 21.65350649
74 Stanford 20.67171581
75 Arkansas State 20.29378882
76 UTEP 19.47283899
77 Auburn 18.64505495
78 Louisville 18.31082924
79 Purdue 18.2592939
80 Memphis 18.1175355
81 Louisiana-Lafayette 17.35265306
82 Baylor 17.24021262
83 Arizona State 16.79701953
84 UNLV 16.55650794
85 Kansas State 16.09829236
86 Tennessee 15.73454715
87 Temple 15.58879994
88 Florida International 15.57955013
89 Duke 15.52680653
90 Marshall 14.34211451
91 Mississippi State 13.9197411
92 Indiana 13.66008985
93 New Mexico 13.26669222
94 UCLA 13.11701949
95 Syracuse 13.11267606
96 Utah State 13.09104859
97 Middle Tennessee State 12.77943791
98 Akron 12.59386508
99 Michigan 11.07593985
100 Wyoming 9.906914174
101 Texas A&M 9.181512605
102 Ohio 9.156765315
103 UAB 8.850455927
104 UCF 8.142857143
105 Louisiana-Monroe 5.269160998
106 Kent State 4.935180568
107 Eastern Michigan 3.899275166
108 San Diego State 3.331426392
109 Army 2.850938073
110 Idaho 2.457440476
111 Toledo 2.151626836
112 New Mexico State 1.222642938
113 Tulane 0.493173493
114 Washington State 0.489386929
115 Southern Methodist -0.354609929
116 Western Kentucky -0.436987818
117 Washington -2.012987013
118 Iowa State -2.046928916
119 North Texas -3.620621118
120 Miami (OH) -4.763392857

This fall look for 2009 College Football Rankings. This winter, college basketball rankings will be available.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oklahoma's Offense vs. Florida's Defense

Thursday's BCS National Championship will feature 2 great offenses and 2 suspect defenses that will decide the game.

What Oklahoma wants to do: Oklahoma's trademark thorughout the year has been their offense, but particulary their hurry-up offense. Every snap is quick. Every formation is quick. And every substitution is quick. In addition to wearing down the Gator defense, they plan to establish the run with 1,000-yard rusher Chris Brown. Without DeMarco Murray, Brown and Mossis Madu will have to carry the load against the fast Florida defense. Heisman winner Sam Bradford will get his stats, get his points and get his touchdowns. That is a given. Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Joaquin Iglesias and Manny Johnson will contribute to the high-octane offense of OU. The Sooners also must protect Bradford in the pocket.

What Florida wants to do: Florida only has to do one this on defense: pressure Sam Bradford. When Bradford has been pressured (as he was against Texas), the Sooners have not been as successful. Brian Orakpo had a few sacks that games and they held OU to 35 points, only 14 in the second half.

How Florida stops Oklahoma: Florida should start out by placing 8 men in the box to stop the run that Oklahoma will try to establish early. Later in the game, when the Sooners go back to their bread-and-butter, the pass, the Gators should try t bring 6 or 7 guys to pressure Bradford into bad throws and sacks. And with Florida's speed, zone blitzes may work well, dropping defensive linemen into converage and blitzing with linebackers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Florida's Offense vs. Oklahoma's Defense

Thursday's BCS National Championship will feature 2 great offenses and 2 suspect defenses that will decide the game.

What Florida wants to do: Florida wants to establish the run with Percy Harvin, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps before opening up the pass for Harvin, Louis Murphy and tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Cornelius Ingram. Quarterback Tim Tebow will actually look to pass first rather than take off a bulldoze the Sooners. Tebow, although wanting to the win the title, will also want to prove to the NFL that he can be a quarterback in the pros. Florida's spread and speed will be their main weapons and advantages, using space to get the ball to their playmakers. Florida's offensive line keeps with this principle, while being lean but not fat. Florida's offense is built for screens with speed at skill positions and agility on the line.

What Oklahoma wants to do: Oklahoma wants to (like every other team in every other game) wants to make Florida one-dimensional, preferably primarily using the pass as the first option. All-American Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a key cog that clogs up the middle against the run for the Sooners. The OU defense also has been defending the pass most of the year, as the opposing offenses have been a) from the Big 12 and b) playing from behind. On the ground, Oklahoma has held Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter and Missouri's Derrick Washington in check, both outstanding players. If Oklahoma does what they want to, stop the run, they may be able to somewhat control the Gator offense.

How Oklahoma stops Florida: Oklahoma should go nickel (5 defensive backs) every series to match up with Florida wide reveivers and tight ends and only keep in 2 linebackers. The linebacking corps of OU has been continually dessimated and weakened, pushing freshman Austin Box into the spotlight. From the 4-2-5 formations on defense, Oklahoma should try to bring 5 or 6 guys to put pressure on Tebow to make a quick decision. If necesary, a QB Spy may be needed. When UF played Miami, the 'Canes were able to limit Tebow by bringing blitzes up the middle into his face. OU should try to do the same to stop it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Will Ferrell = Playoff Football

With the beginning of the playoffs and the elimination of four more teams, I thought it fitting for a Will Ferrell characters. Ferrell, along with Seth Rogen and vintage Adam Sandler, is in the top tier of gloriously funny actors. The teams should feel honored to be compared to Mr. Will Ferrell.

-Talladega Nights' Ricky Bobby
Cocky, confident race-car driver gets stiff competition from a man from a foreign culture (France).
-Tennessee Titans
Cinfident, resilient Titans face stiff competition from a foreign culture (Pittsburgh).

-Step Brothers' Brennan Huff
Remains tough and friends with Dale, his newfound rival, even after getting beat up.
-Pittsburgh Steelers
Tough attitude remains from Cowher era and after the Titans' late season beatdown.

-Blades of Glory's Chazz Michael Michaels
The flashy ice skater's late injury forces him to try the other role of the Iron Lotus, and succeeds.
-San Diego Chargers
Chargers' star running back LaDanian Tomlinson's injury forces Darren Sproles into the spotlight, and succeeds.

-Wedding Crashers' Chazz
While trying to teach novice wedding crasher John his ways, all he wants his mom's meatloaf.
-Baltimore Ravens
While trying to teach rookie quarterback Joe Flacco the ropes, all they want is a title.

-Kicking & Screaming's Phil Weston
Phil's team, the Tigers were soft and horrible before the arrival of Mike Ditka.
-New York Giants
Giants were horrible and soft before the arrival of tough disciplinarian Tom Coughlin.

-Old School's Frank the Tank
Name says it all for Frank.
-Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Stewart and defense fit "tank" role for the Panthers.

-Elf's Buddy
Unexpected surprise visitor from North Pole brings originality and spirit to New York.
-Arizona Cardinals
Unexpected surprise visitor from Phoenix brings cute and original passing offense not seen before in Arizona.

-Anchorman's Ron Burgundy
The best ever before stumbling on a broadcast, insulting the city around him. Later rebounds to cover the panda story.

-Philadelphia Eagles
Started strong while looking like Super Bowl contenders but midseason swoon almost caused them to miss playoffs, but they made it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Chargers, Cardinals Prove Playoff Structure Is Right

Okay, so the 11-5 New England Patriots got left out. Go cry me a river.

Okay, so the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals made the playoffs. Congratulations to them.

Okay, so the 8-8 San Diego Chargers advanced to the postseason. They took care of business.

And while many have been clammoring for a different playoff format, even proposing to combine the conferences for the playoffs. But like any other playoff talk (college football and baseball), this argument holds no water.

By virtue of the "mediocre" Cards and Bolts wins on Saturday, they defied the critics and proved the the playoff structure is fine. They took down the mighty darling Falcons and red hot MVP-led Colts, respectively.

And while the AFC East is obviously tougher than both the AFC and NFC West, its not Arizona's and San Diego's fault that the NFL divided the regions and divisions that way. They took care of business to secure spots in the playoffs.

The Cardinals clinched in midseason, the first team to clinch actually, and subsequently took the rest of the season off.

The Chargers on the other hand finished furiously after a slow start and with help from the Broncos, made the playoffs.

And nothing is wrong with any of this.

Why? Because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

And it ain't broke.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How Good Are Mid-Majors?

I'm not talking about Villanova or George Mason or Davidson. I'm not talking about the Missouri Valley Conference or the Colonial Athletic Conference.

But I am talking about Utah and Boise State and Hawaii. I am talking about the Mountain West and the WAC. And, yes, I am talking about mid-majors.

Mid-majors, by name are only half a major, and thus only half a good, right? Right? Wrong.

Just ask Alabama or Oklahoma or even Michigan. And Nick Saban, Bob Stoops and Lloyd Carr will tell you that these litte "Davids" are Goliaths.

Many viewed these small little schools as just another win on the schedule, a mere bump in the road rather than a ten-car pile-up. But as Utah has proved, that is wrong.

Utah absolutely manhandled and outplayed and outphysicaled Alabama, known for their toughness and physical play. They never trailed in an easy Sugar Bowl win over the vividly and obviously overmatched SEC team. Alabama never could get on track while the Utes' constant rush pressured John Parker Wilson into sacks and bad throws. So maybe not all the speed is in the SEC.

And while Utah and Boise State are nice stories, lets still remember Hawaii. Hawaii's Sugar Bowl flop last year against the SEC's Georgia still reminds us not all schools are created equal.

Even darling TCU, who defeated this year's undefeated Boise State, got blown out by powerhouse Oklahoma. So even if these mid-majors are a nice story, they still aren't in the top tier of the college football.

Because that tier is reserved for the Big East, Big Ten and ACC.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Should USC Win The National Title?

"I don't think anybody can beat the Trojans. I think we can beat anyone we play," declared USC head coach Pete Carroll.

And who's to say he's wrong?

After dismantling Big Ten champion Penn State in the Rose Bowl, the Trojans look as impressive as ever. The USC defense, the best in the nation, held the Spread HD of Penn State to only 7 points inthe first half while virtually eliminating playmaker Derrick Williams. The Trojan offense was nearly unstoppable, led by Mark Sanchez's 4 touchdowns and Damian Williams' stellar receiving game, racking up 474 total yards of offense.

If anyone questioned the Trojans, all doubt should be gone now. But a new question should be raised: Do the Trojans deserve the #1 spot?

The big knock on USC throughout the season was that the Pac-10 was having a down year and wasn't as strong as power conferences SEC and Big 12. But in the bowl season, the Pac-10 went 5-0, with wins over the media darling Mountain West and the high-powered Big 12.

Now with the conference's perceived weakness debunked, shouldn't USC receive more credit for their conference wins? USC's 34-point win over Oregon is the shining moment in USC's season (other than their 32-point win over Ohio State).

The Trojans lone blemish was their road loss to Oregon State on an electric Thursday night in Corvallis. An early season road Thursday night conference game against a hungry team is far better than a home loss to Ole Miss (Florida).

I still believe that Oklahoma is the best team in the nation and if they win the BCS Championship game on Thursday, they should be #1. And if they don't, USC should be.

And if you disagree, ask Pete Carroll.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

10 Bold Predictions for 2009

With the new year comes new faces, games and championships. This is what I expect from 2009.

· The BCS will cause controversy.

· Brett Favre will retire, I think.

· The New York Giants will win their second consecutive Super Bowl title.

· The Yankees big payroll will get them in the playoffs, but will not win the championship.

· The Spread offense will produce another Heisman winner.

· Chris Paul and Deron Williams will cement their spot among the elite with LeBron, Kobe and D-Wade.

· A game-winning shot will not be needed in the NCAA Basketball title game because North Carolina will be in it.

· Mixed Martial Arts will replace hockey and NASCAR in the "Big Four" of sports.

· John Daly will never win another PGA Tour event.

· Sean Avery will find another team, until he comments on his teammates fashion style.


Note: I took off the entire month of December because of more pressing issues. Thanks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Only the Raiders

Can we blame this on Al Davis? Please. Pretty please.

He (and apparently, Tom Cable) is the only person stupid enough to do this. Only him. Only the Raiders.

Maybe he called in the play from upstairs. Maybe he wanted this to be practiced during the week. Maybe he wanted some more "Raider magic" (read Raider stupidity).

But there was no magic, only embarassment.

But I bet the Raiders only imagined a touchdown when lining up for a field goal. The players knew the play, at least, I think they did. The play was a fake field goal, a play in which punter/holder Shane Lechler would catch the ball, fake that he is holding for a field goal attempt, then flip the ball to kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who will be running behind the holder to receive the lateral.

And it had been done before, last year when LSU's Matt Flinn and Colt David executed it to perfection. But they are the Tigers, and these are the Raiders.

These Raiders failed. Miserably.

When Lechler attempted to pitch the ball to Janikowski, a Kansas City Chief (one of those terrible Chiefs) stepped in front of the lateral and took it to the house.

In fact, the pitch wasn't even close. It was between his legs and short. But I guess we should have expected that.

So when the Raiders lost to the Chiefs, by a touchdown, there was only one excuse.

It's the Raiders.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Week 13 NFL Picks

San Francisco @ Buffalo - Bills hung half-a-hundred on the Chiefs last week and will pound the 49ers in cold Buffalo.

The Pick: Buffalo

Baltimore @ Cincinnati - At least this game isn't on Thanksgiving.

The Pick: Baltimore

Indianapolis @ Cleveland - Colts continue hot streak over Quinn-less Browns.

The Pick: Indianapolis

Carolina @ Green Bay - Surprising Panthers punish horrendous Packer D.

The Pick: Carolina

Miami @ St. Louis - Dolphins are OK, but Rams are bad.

The Pick: Miami

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay - New Orleans' offense is rolling after hanging 50+ on Green Bay.

The Pick: New Orleans

NY Giants @ Washington - Giants can't be stopped.

The Pick: NY Giants

Atlanta @ San Diego - Matt Ryan and the Falcons get a huge confidence boost with tin over struggling Chargers.

The Pick: Atlanta

Kansas City @ Oakland - The game is in Oakland. That's all I want to say about this game.

The Pick: Oakland

Pittsburgh @ New England - New England returns home after blowing out the Dolphins and looks to do the same against the Steelers.

The Pick: New England

Denver @ NY Jets - Jets are the hottest team in the AFC and Denver's sorry defense can't touch them.

The Pick: NY Jets

Chicago @ Minnesota - Adrian Peterson proves Bears' defense isn't insurmountable.

The Pick: Minnesota

Jacksonville @ Houston - Jags get important win over division rival.

The Pick: Jacksonville

Last Week: 10-6.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Week 14 College Picks

#3 Oklahoma @ #12 Oklahoma State - Sooners come off huge win over Texas Tech while Cowboys had 2 weeks to prepare. But so did Texas Tech. Texas Tech's two weeks culminated in a very humbling loss to OU by 44 points. Although the Cowboys won't lose by that much (because they're at home), they will lose. The Sooner offense is as close to unstoppable you can get, with QB Sam Bradford leading the aerial attack and RBs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown providing a second dimension on the ground. The Cowboys have a similar pair with QB Zac Robinson and RB Kendall Hunter. But Oklahoma's defense has improved so much over the last month or so and should be able to handle yet another Big 12 offensive show.

Oklahoma, 59-24

#4 Florida @ #20 Florida State - The Gators travel to Tallahassee to battle for the state title with the surprising and upcoming Seminoles. Florida comes in on a roll and poised for a spot in the national title game behind the spectacular play of Heisman winner QB Tim Tebow. Tebow along with Percy Harvin, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps provide a formidable running attack against the stubborn 'Nole run defense. Through the air, Tebow can air it out, especially TE Aaron Hernandez, who has filled in nicely for the injured Cornelius Ingram. Florida State will look to first establish the run, then air it out with young Christian Ponder. The former won't happen, so the latter will be less successful.

Florida, 48-27

#22 Georgia Tech @ #11 Georgia - Possibly the most intriguing non-BCS affecting state rivalry of the weekend. The Jackets come of a thrashing of Miami, where they ran over the 'Canes to the tune of 472 yards. The Dawgs, on the other hand, have completed their tough SEC schedule and now must prepare for the unique and tough to defend triple option attack. GT had a chance to have 4 100 yard rushers in the game last Thursday, but showed mercy on Miami, inserting backup Jaybo Shaw into the game. And while the triple option gets all the pub (and deservedly so), Georgia has been quietly consistent on the ground as well, with steady RB Knowshon Moreno carrying the rock. In the end, the game is in Athens and the athletic and disciplined defensive ends of UGa will be able to control the option attack.

Georgia, 28-20

#23 Oregon @ #17 Oregon State - Oregon State is just one win away from winning the Pac-10 and earning a berth in the Rose Bowl. But state rival Oregon will look to end those aspirations and give USC the conference title. This year, the Civil War takes on a new meaning, with BCS implications at hand and, of course, bragging rights to be had. Beavers' Rodgers brothers Jaquizz and James will look to continue their hot streak with a huge offensive performance against the Ducks. The Ducks run the ball well, but it won't enough to keep the Beavers out of Pasadena.

Oregon State, 30-23

West Virginia @ #25 Pitt - The Backyard Brawl carries not onyl Big East title implications but also revenge for West Virginia after the Panthers knocked them out of the national title picture. This time around, Pitt is the favorite and the Mountaineers are the sneaky underdog. Pat White and Co. are coming off of a blowout win over struggling Lousiville and Pitt lost last week to Big East-leading Cincinnati. LeSean "Shady" McCoy should have no problem running the ball and keeping it out of the Mountaineers' hands.

Pitt, 33-27

Auburn @ #1 Alabama - Auburn is really bad and probably will be shut out of a bowl. And Alabama is really good and could go to the national title game. The Iron Bowl losing streak for the Tide will end behind the stellar play of RBs Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch. And, oh yeah, Mount Cody is healthy.

Alabama, 45-3

Maryland @ #21 Boston College - Maryland has been the toughest team this year to get a gauge on. Their sporadic play has led to multiple losses and many doubters. Plus, they play bad when outside the friendly confides of their backyard. BC, meanwhile, has been the most consistent team in the ACC the last few weeks behind the stellar play of the their defense, particularly their linebackers, led by Mike Herzlich.

Boston College, 21-16

Notre Dame @ #5 USC - I would like to think that a Bush Push would decide this game. But who am I kidding? This game will be a blowout as Pete Carroll demolishes the Irish and takes full control of the cross-country rivalry.

USC, 66-3

Last Week: 6-2. Maryland's Jekyll and Hide characters hindered me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! (Unless you're a Lions fan)

First, a very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, I hope you have a great day. But there are, as usual, football games on Thanksgiving. Well, they're called games, but they're not really.

Tennessee @ Detroit - If not for the Titans' loss on Sunday, this matchup would be 11-0 vs. 0-11. Despite the records, still a great mismatch.

The Pick: Tennessee

Seattle @ Dallas - Cowboys are 2-0 since Tony Romo's return, plus T.O.'s happy.

The Pick: Dallas

Arizona @ Philadelphia - Cardinals come off close but humbling loss to Giants ready to take out anger on discombobulated Eagles.

The Pick: Arizona

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

LeBron is Going to New York, but Do We Need to Talk About it Now?

2010 is two years away. A lot can happen in two years. A lot can change.

Just two years ago, we thought Dwyane Wade was Michael Jordan. And just last year, we thought he was done.

And just two years ago, we would have never thought Eli Manning would win a title.

And just two years ago, who had ever heard of the spread offense.

And in just two years, LeBron James, the king of basketball, will be a free agent and be sure to test the market. And by test the market, I mean go to New York. So still two years away, LeBron has already created a buzz not matched or even challenged by the other stars of the free agent class of 2010: Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudamire, Steve Nash and Chris Bosh.

So why do we need to hear about LeBron's love for New York now, when there is still the rest of this season and a whole other one? Once again, the media is to blame. After all, the Cavs are 11-3, best start in franchise history.

But no one is talking about that. Everything is about 2010.

The Knicks, Cavs, LeBron or the other stars have commented on the free agent situation, but still the media feels it necessary to analyze LeBron's every move in New York.

Because we all know he will be there in the future.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Playoff Will Ever Work

You want one. I want one. Even the President-Elect wants one. But it won’t ever happen. A playoff will never happen because it won’t ever work. People are begging, clamoring, yelling for a playoff to celebrate the parity in today’s college football universe. But no format, other than Mike Leach’s 64-team proposal, will appease everyone.

And in each proposed format, I think we can all agree that every BCS conference winner should be admitted and each undefeated team should be admitted. If undefeated teams are not admitted, there still will not be a clear-cut national championship, like in 2003 when Auburn went undefeated.

A “plus-one” or four team playoff would take the top four teams in the nation, regardless of winning their conference. Regardless of what conference they’re in. If it is possible to have a national champion that isn’t a conference champion, why have conferences? If this format is adopted, there will be no need for conferences, let alone “BCS conferences.”

And this year, a four team playoff would not work primarily because of the two undefeated mid-majors. Given the criteria (BCS conference champs and undefeated teams), there must be at least an 8-team playoff, this year including Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Boise State and Utah. But this format still leaves out Alabama, Texas, Texas Tech and Ohio State.

Given that, the only logical solution appears to be a 16-team playoff, which would require 4 victories to win the national title. With the twelve game regular season already in place, plus a conference championship game, plus four possible playoff games, that would make for a 17 game season for these student-athletes. And yes, these players are supposed to be students, with actual schoolwork. And these won’t be 17 games against weak competition. These are 17 games of rivalries and conference battles, hard-fought wins and heart-breaking losses, blowouts and nail-biters.

And I haven’t even mentioned the money issue.

Like everything else in sports, money motivates college football. From logo-printed Pop tarts to head coach buyouts, financial decisions far outweigh logical football ones. In a world where Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis keeps his job because of his $21 million buyout rather than his 9-15 record the last two years, dollars make sense. And why shouldn’t they? In the bowl games alone last year, a total of over $140 million was dished out to conferences. That number does not even figure in travel costs and hotel stays and ticket sales and food sales and endorsements and TV contracts. A ticket for this year’s championship game: $581 in the upper deck in row 24 in the end zone. Imagine 60,000 more tickets to be sold and 33 more games to be played during bowl season. Way too much money to be passed up by college football. The only bowls (out of 34) that aren’t sponsored by companies and corporations are Independence, Texas, and International Bowls.

Then there are the conference championship games, a game that, for most teams, would be their 13th of a possible 17 games. Conference championships, much like bowl games are sponsored. Dr. Pepper sponsors the ACC, Big XII and SEC games while Marathon even sponsors the lowly MAC game. Under the proposed system, conference title games would likely be banished, upsetting sponsors and university presidents even more.

Then there is the regular season, where tons of alumni would kill for season tickets, no matter who their team plays, partly due to the importance of the regular season. Under the current system, one loss could eliminate you from the title race, placing importance and relevance on each game played. If a playoff is adopted, the importance of the regular season would go down, and so would ticket sales, meaning a drop in revenue for the universities. And they do not want that.

While the playoff system is ideal for deciding champions, unfortunately, it will never happen. Unless university presidents see the green on the field rather than the green in their wallet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heisman Race Tightened

With Oklahoma's thrashing of Texas Tech, the Heisman Trophy race has been tightened, with another candidate taking the lead and a front-runner going down.

1. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford (68.2%, 3710 yards, 46 Total TDs, 6 INTs) - Sooners signal-caller took lead in Heisman race after picking apart Red Raiders defense for 4 passing TDs. Bradford has been the most consistent player this year, even throwing for 5 TDs in OU's lone loss to Texas. Bradford seems poised to each 50 TDs and 4000 yards.

2. Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell (70.5%, 4438 yards, 45 Total TDs, 6 INTs) - Harrell was my preseason pick as the Heisman winner, mostly based on his offense (that I don't have a problem with). Down in Lubbock, Harrell should throw for over 5000 yards for the second consecutive year, a very impressive feat. The Red Raiders have also had their most successful year in decades.

3. Texas QB Colt McCoy (77.2%, 3134 passing yards, 527 rushing yards, 38 Total TDs, 7 INTs) - McCoy was idle this weekend but has been in the race the whole season primarily because his dual-threat talents. McCoy has been the passing and rushing leader for the Longhorns for basically the entire year. He should reach 600 yards rushing and 3500 yards passing, putting the dynamic QB in the race till the end.

4. Florida QB Tim Tebow (65.8%, 2114 passing yards, 427 rushing yards, 33 Total TDs, 2 INTs) - Defending Heisman winner still has one advantage that none of the other candidates have: the ability to vote for himself (all past Hiesman Trophy winners have a vote). His late surge in the last 5 or 6 games have vaulted Tebow past stud WR Michael Crabtree and others. His reputation and late push still won't be enough to overcome the high-powered Big 12 passing attacks.

5. Iowa RB Shonn Greene (1729 rushing yards, 6.2 yards per carry, 17 TDs) - Greene has single-handedly carried the Hawkeyes through the season, from a below-average team to a mediocre team. He can still reach 2000 rushing yards and should reach 20 TDs, both impressive feats in the tough, hard-nosed Big Ten. Greene will be considered, but shouldn't win the award.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sooner or Later, Oklahoma Will Be in Title Game

This wasn't a game. This wasn't even a blowout. This was an obliteration. A display of sheer power and skill on one side, and on the other a display of premature hype.

The score was 65-21, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Oklahoma had rolled up over 400...just in the first house. They ran for almost 300 yards. Quarterback Sam Bradford even threw for 4 TDs. The Sooner defense stifled the vaunted and powerful Texas Tech offense, holding them to 14 points through 59:49. They forced turnovers, even returning two of them inside the Red Raider five, making it just that much easier for the unstoppable OU offense to punch it in.

And while this victory was impressive, very impressive, the Sooners still were #3 in the BCS Standings, behind undefeated Alabama and rival Texas. The win convinced the human polls, who put the Sooners in either the #2 or #3 slot, but all three had them ahead of the Longhorns.

While some may argue Texas should be ahead of Oklahoma because they beat them, then another one-loss team, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who beat Texas, should be ahead of the 'Horns. And there is a reason that the Big 12 South will be decided by the BCS: because none of the tiebreakers worked, including head-to-head. So why should this set of rankings be based on head-to-head?

Oklahoma's non-conference schedule was also much better than that of the 'Horns -- and the Raiders, for that matter. And although the Sooners played Division 1-AA (FCS) Chatanooga, the also challenged Big East-leading and 9-2 Cincinnati and Mountain West heavyweight TCU. Texas' best non-conference game came against SEC cellar dweller Arkansas. Even the darling Red Raiders had a cupcake non-conference schedule with WAC also-ran Nevada as the highest profile team.

Seeing as we're in November, just on the verge of December, every team should be playing their best football. And right now, there are two teams who are feared everywhere: Florida and Oklahoma. Since each suffered their first and only loss, they have been on a tear, scoring consistently in the 50s and 60s. I don't see Texas winning with as much ease as OU is. Not even close.

Now maybe this is a little premature, with the Sooners final regular season game against #12 Oklahoma State this weekend. If the Sooners win at Stillwater, it will be tough for Oklahoma not to jump Texas. In fact, Texas needs Oklahoma to win so they still have a shot at the Big 12 South. If Oklahoma loses and Texas Tech wins (they play Baylor), Texas Tech, not Texas will be the South's representative. No matter what happens, it seems inevitable that the Longhorns will left out.

This particular situation reminds me of 2000, when one-loss Florida State was inserted into the National Title game against Oklahoma, instead of one-loss Miami, who beat FSU. Although these two situations aren't exactly alike, the BCS has set precedent in these dilemnas.

Oklahoma has proved to everyone that they are one of the best teams in the country, blowing out Texas Tech by 44 and their next stop: Miami.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Week 12 NFL Picks

Houston @ Cleveland - Browns' Quinn continues on hot streak with home win over Texans.

The Pick: Cleveland

San Francisco @ Dallas - Tony Romo's return last week turned into a road win against the 'Skins. Now, they get bad 49ers in Dallas.

The Pick: Dallas

Tampa Bay @ Detroit - Lions are bad. Really bad.

The Pick: Tampa Bay

NY Jets @ Tennessee - Titans stay undefeated with hard fought victory over scrappy Jets.

The Pick: Tennessee

Buffalo @ Kansas City - Sliding Bills find solace with a win over sorry Chiefs.

The Pick: Buffalo

Chicago @ St. Louis - Bears' dismantling by Green Bay showed Chicago defense isn't invinceable. But the Ram offense isn't the Packers'.

The Pick: Chicago

New England @ Miami - Dolphins complete season sweep of Patriots and tie Jets for division lead.

The Pick: Miami

Minnesota @ Jacksonville - Adrian Peterson runs all over Jaguars to power Vikes to victory.

The Pick: Minnesota

Philadelphia @ Baltimore - Philly TIED the Bengals last week. Tied. The. Bengals.

The Pick: Baltimore

Oakland @ Denver - Broncs continue stranglehold on weak AFC West.

The Pick: Denver

Carolina @ Atlanta - Match-up of NFC South powers features good defenses and steady offenses. But Panthers have better of both.

The Pick: Carolina

NY Giants @ Arizona - Giants travel out west to challenge surprising Cards. Brandon Jacobs and Co. pound their way to a win.

The Pick: NY Giants

Washington @ Seattle - Redskins bounce back nicely after loss to Cowboys.

The Pick: Washington

Indianapolis @ San Diego - Streaking Colts terrorize struggling Chargers.

The Pick: Indianapolis

Green Bay @ New Orleans - Offensive and defensive showing last week against Bears shows up again for Pack.

The Pick: Green Bay

Last week: 12-3-1.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week 13 College Picks

#2 Texas Tech @ #5 Oklahoma - Red Raiders have been impressive through their tough stretch, but now go on the road to face a hungry and motivated Sooner squad. Although the OU defense won't be able to stop Graham Harrell, they will slow him down. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford will show the nation be belongs with Harrell in the Heisman talk.

Oklahoma, 52-38

#15 Michigan State @ #8 Penn State - Spartans magical season could culminate in a trip to Pasadena with a win and a loss by Ohio State. But that won't happen. Nittany Lions still could make a the Rose Bowl with a win over MSU. Lions' QB Daryll Clark should be able to pick apart the Michigan State D on the way to a home win and a Big Ten title.

Penn State, 34-24

#14 BYU @ #7 Utah - The Holy War came in with a lot of hype earlier in the year when both teams were undefeated and shaping up to be a Mountain West title game and a BCS elimination game. Since then, BYU has lost and Utah has prevailed. Utah barely beat TCU on a Thursday night game but the Utes' defense should be enough to lift them to a victory.

Utah, 27-21

#20 Pittsburgh @ #19 Cincinnati - Last big Big East game for each team figures to decide the conference championship. Cincinnati comes in hot hunting for a berth in the Orange Bowl. Pitt enters with LeSean "Shady" McCoy at running back, one of the top backs in the nation. I expect McCoy to run wild and Cincy to not have an answer to him.

Pittsburgh, 31-20

#21 Oregon State @ Arizona - Oregon State is only two wins away from an improbable Rose Bowl invitation and go down to Tucson to face a tough Wildcat team. Look for Pac-10 rushing leader Jaquizz Rodgers to have a big game to lead the Beavers to victory and one step closer to Pasadena.

Oregon State, 33-23

Michigan @ #10 Ohio State - One of the biggest mismatches in the history of the rivals gets worse because it's in Columbus. Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor demolish sad Wolverines to win fifth straight in series.

Ohio State, 45-10

Florida State @ #25 Maryland - Maryland is undefeated at home this year and have played their best against top competetion. Florida State surely qualifies as tough competition. Hence, Maryland comes out with a win.

Maryland, 23-17

Ole Miss @ #18 LSU - LSU almost lost to Troy last week after being down by 30. Meanwhile, Ole Miss has been quietly a good team in the SEC. The Rebels take care of business.

Ole Miss, 30-20

Last Week: 6-2. Weak slate kind to me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heavy Work Load

Due to an increased work load, I was not able to do much today other than handicap tonight's Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game.

The next few days will also be light.

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh - Bengals travel to cold Pittsburgh only to get beat down by Big Ben and the Steeler D.

The Pick: Pittsburgh

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Northwestern vs. Columbus Will Not Disappoint

You would be angry, too. If the same kid always got higher grades than you. If your big brother always beat you up. If the same team knocked you out of the playoffs two years in a row.

And this is what the Columbus football team is experiencing right now after eventual state champion Northwestern knocked them out each of the last two years, in ugly fashion. But those were to be expected. After all, Northwestern did have QB Jacory Harris and his gang of receivers including Aldarius Johnson and Tommy Streeter. Not to mention RB Antwain Easterling, Dade’s most feared rusher two years ago.

But this time around, when Columbus takes on Northwestern (Friday 7:30, FIU), all those players are gone and a new cast of Bulls has stepped up. Among them is Sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater, who has already thrown for over 400 yards, breaking the Northwestern passing record. Big-time recruit Daquan Hargrett is the leader for the Bulls in the backfield, along with Tyresse Jones and Corvin Lamb. Hargrett has already committed to West Virginia and will surely be looking for another state title.

On defense, the Bulls are led by Todd Chandler, a run-stopper on the defensive line sure to change games and game plans. If any weakness on the defensive side, the linebacking corps is it. After losing star Sean Spence to graduation, the Bulls ‘backing corps is trying to recover. The secondary is the strength of this team, having the size to match up with any receivers in Dade. All of them are 5’9” or taller.

Columbus, led by RB Jakhari Gore, is the last undefeated team left in 6A. Gore (1104 yards and 15 TDs) has been on a tear all lately, running for over 100 yards in five consecutive games, keying the comeback win over Killian. The highlight performance from Gore came against district rival Coral Gables, when he ran for 271 yards and 3 TDs, securing the Explorers’ district title.

Through the air, Explorer QB Garrett Colao has spread the ball around to numerous receivers, including Division I-A recruits Gary Bush and Kenny Whittaker. Whittaker, in the Killian game (possibly Columbus’ only real test), caught two late touchdowns to bring Columbus from down 12-0 to a 20-18 victory.

More impressive than the receivers in the Killian game was the defense. The Columbus defense stifled Dade’s leading rusher, Lamar Miller, holding him to 27 yards on 19 carries. The Explorer front seven has a habit of shutting down talented running backs, holding Palmetto standout Jaamal Berry to under 60 yards in a 49-0 win over the Panthers. The defense (withholding returns for touchdowns and safteys), has just allowed 4 points per game, but once again face the vaunted spread attack of the Bulls, which has picked apart the secondary again and again.

If there will be a large difference on Friday, it will come on special teams, where Columbus has struggled and dynamic return man Corvin Lamb has excelled. Miller, although held in check on offense, returned a punt for a touchdown, giving Killian the early lead. If the Explorers can limit the return game, they will be poised for a successful game.

Unlike past years, when the Bulls dominated and everyone else was marginalized, Columbus looks to be a real contender, in Dade and Florida.

And with the talent Northwestern always possess, this game should not disappoint.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dustin Pedroia is My Hero

I would like people to think it's because he's a second baseman for the Red Sox that hits clean-up. Or maybe that he is a blue-collared, hard-working, tough player.

But I love Dustin Pedroia because of his height. Yes, his height.

Me, being as I am 5'6", admire overacheivers who happen to vertically challenged. Now Dustin Pedroia has been officially enshrined in my Hall of Fame (already inducted: Earl Boykins, Mugsey Boughes, the Notre Dame leprechaun, Darren Sproles and Trindon Holliday) with his new award, the American League MVP.

Pedroia, listed at 5'9", is no where near that height but rather closer to 5'7" or 5'8". And I like that. I like that he uses his entire body to catapult the ball wherever he pleases. I like how every night his jersey is dirty. I like his scruffy, billy goat beard.

And even though I don't completely agree with his selection (see one Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez), you can't tell me he hasn't worked hard enough for it. The pair of Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia in the Boston infield embody the city of Boston with their hard-working, lunch-pail attitude.

Pedroia's chuga-chuga, never say quit approach single-handedly won him this award, or at least more than his height.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BCS Means More Than Ever this Year

It has happened in '00 and '01 and '03 and '04 and '06. It garners attention of President-Elect Barack Obama. It is hated by just about every college football fan. Yet it still decides the national championship match-up.

And the BCS means now more than ever before.

As part of the nation's most heated and competitive conference race, the Big XII's South division hinges on the decision of the BCS Standings. Because of 4 quality teams -- Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas, and Oklahoma State --, the South has been compacted into a tight, neck-and-neck dash to the finish. If Oklahoma beats Texas Tech on Saturday, there would be a three-way tie between Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech in the Big XII South. The first few tiebreaking procedures will do nothing to break the tie. So what is the deciding factor? The BCS. So, for one the first times, if not the first, the BCS will decide a conference race, an important conference race.

With the emergence of non-BCS conference schools, the BCS has been thrown for a loop. Are they supposed to take an undefeated mid-major team or a once- or twice-beaten powerhouse? This year, unlike the last two years, there are multiple undefeated small school teams. Utah, from the Mountain West Conference, has been the most impressive so far, beating a respectable TCU team. From the WAC, Boise State's best win came against Oregon. And Ball State, hailing from the MAC, does not deserve to go to a BCS bowl primarily because their best win was against and 3-7 Indiana squad. But under BCS rules, only non-BCS teams in the top 8 are elgible for BCS bowls. So for two of these teams, the dream will be differed.

Because the Big XII and SEC are elite conferences and the ACC, Pac-10, Big East are mediocre conferences, another question has arisen. Do those conferences deserve bids to BCS bowls, especially with whining mid-majors? The ACC has been shaken up week after week and rocked by upsets, giving the conference a bad reputation. The ACC is deep, but their highest ranked team, #22 North Carolina, is behind Utah, Boise State, Ball State, BYU and TCU, all mid-majors vying for a spot in a BCS bowl. In this case, the ACC Champion would land in the Orange Bowl while Boise State would land in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl. Even though the Pac-10 has USC, the conference champion is likely to be Oregon State by virtue of their early season victory over the Trojans. So another bid would be stolen from the mid-majors. Thus the rankings, especially for the non-conference winners, are the most important in recent history.

And it shouldn't come as a surprise that another controversy is among us. But this time, there will be two or three or four of them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Am Embarassed to Say I Watched NASCAR

When it is on TV, I usually vacate the room or run away. When it is on TV, I might even cry. But not today or even yesterday.

NASCAR, not considered a sport by me, was in town this weekend, down south in Homestead. And even though I usually hate the activity, this weekend I felt compelled to watch it, even though the championship was all but decided.

On Saturday, the Nationwide series -- the minor league of NASCAR -- wrapped up its season with Clint Bowyer as its champion. But that was not why I watched (sort of, you can't really watch 300 miles of cars going in circles again and again). The CEO of Camping World, an alum of Columbus High School, my high school, altered his car in order to pay tribute to Columbus' 50th anniversary.

So for about an hour I looked patiently for the blue #33 car with a Chicago Bears-style "C" on the hood. And although, driver Ryan Newman failed to win, it was still exciting to see my high school represented on a national stage.

Today, there was no personal interest for me, but some for my dad. You see, my dad is a Tony Stewart fan, and with about 15 laps to go, he was running low on fuel and still driving his brains out. It was exciting, until Stewart pitted and dropped back to 15th. Then a new excitement ensued. Carl Edwards, still mathematically in it to win the title, was low on fuel and now had a 13 second lead. So he coasted on turns and straightaways until the finish line when he exclaimed "That's it! We're out of fuel!"

So for one day, just one, hopefully just one, NASCAR was semi-exciting. But still not a sport.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Week 11 NFL Picks

Denver @ Atlanta - Matt Ryan chews up Broncos defense just like Brady Quinn did.

The Pick: Atlanta

Philadelphia @ Cincinnati - Eagles keep hapless Bengals winless.

The Pick: Philadelphia

Chicago @ Green Bay - Packers defense (and offense) has struggled lately while Bears played Titans tough.

The Pick: Chicago

Houston @ Indianapolis - Colts on the way back after slow start.

The Pick: Indianapolis

New Orleans @ Kansas City - Saints pass offense shreds Chiefs defense.

The Pick: New Orleans

Oakland @ Miami - Dolphins stay hot with big win over struggling and confused Raiders.

The Pick: Miami

Baltimore @ NY Giants - Manning and Jacobs neutralize Ravens defense.

The Pick: NY Giants

Minnesota @ Tampa Bay - Bucs defense slow down Adrian Peterson.

The Pick: Tampa Bay

Detroit @ Carolina - Jake Delhomme bounces back from career worst game against the Raiders with a career best against the Lions.

The Pick: Carolina

St. Louis @ San Francisco - 49ers looked good last week in barely losing to the Cardinals while Rams lost by 44 points to the Jets.

The Pick: San Francisco

Arizona @ Seattle - Arizona continues stranglehold on NFC West with another division win.

The Pick: Arizona

San Diego @ Pittsburgh - Chargers were a tipped pass away from losing to the Chiefs.

The Pick: Pittsburgh

Tennessee @ Jacksonville - Titans take care of division foe Jaguars with LenDale White and Chris Johnson.

The Pick: Tennessee

Dallas @ Washington - Tony Romo returns to a hostile environment in Washington and faces tough Redskin defense.

The Pick: Washington

Cleveland @ Buffalo - Brady Quinn draws the falling Bills in his second career start.

The Pick: Cleveland

Last Week: 10-4.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Week 12 College Picks

#25 South Carolina @ #4 Florida - Florida has been the most explosive team in the nation in the last few weeks but South Carolina brings in a tough defense, allowing just 16 points per game. The Gamecocks also bring in head coach Steve Spurrier, who returns to the Swamp for the second time as a visitor. Last time he was there, 2 years ago, the Gators pulled out a late win against the Gamecocks after 3 field goals were blocked by UF. The late emergence of Heisman winner Tim Tebow has helped spark the offense along with quick sparkplugs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey in the backfield. South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has to look out for more than Brandon Spikes and the Gator defense but also umpires in the field.

Florida, 51-13

#19 Florida State @ Boston College - Because of a fight with a fraternity on campus, Seminoles have suspended 5 players from their game against the Eagles. Even without those players, FSU should be able to control the clock with their grind it out, smash mouth running game. FSU's stars on the ground, Antone Smith and Jermaine Thomas, should be able to pound the BC defense and put up more points than Notre Dame did last week. Florida State's defense should also be able to put pressure on the quarterback and pull out the home win.

Florida State, 21-17

#3 Texas @ Kansas - Longhorns head to Lawrence to battle the underacheiving Jayhawks. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy should have a field day against the 116th-ranked passing defense of Kansas. The vaunted Jayhawk offense, led by quaterback Todd Reesing and wide receiver Jake Sharp, has been subdued lately in big games against Texas Tech and South Florida. The Longhorns welcome back defensive end Brian Orakpo to the line that will put pressure on Reesing.

Texas, 63-21

#16 North Carolina @ Maryland - Key ACC matchup pits a UNC team coming off a big win against Georgia Tech while Maryland is coming off a thrashing by Virginia Tech. UNC was able to shut down the triple-option attack of GT, only allowing 7 points. Maryland, on ther other hand, wasn't able to slow down Hokie freshman running back Darren Evans, who ran for 253 yards. The Terps are a much better team at home than on the road and are figting for their ACC lives.

Maryland, 24-23

#11 Ohio State @ Illinois - Ohio State looks to avenge last year's loss to Illinois. Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor has bounced back nicely after the Penn State game mostly remembered for Pryor's key fumble. Meanwhile, preseason Heisman hopeful Beanie Wells has quietly bounced back from and early season injury. At Illinois, it has been a tough season, missing Rashard Mendenhall more than expected.

Ohio State, 45-13

#10 Georgia @ Auburn - Bulldogs come off last second win at Lexington, Kentucky, winning 42-38. In Auburn, the offense has struggled to score 42 points in the last 5 games. In the end, Knowshon Moreno and A.J. Green are too much for Tiger defense.

Georgia, 35-16

#13 Oklahoma State @ Colorado - Pokes come into Boulder looking to bounce back from blowout loss in Lubbock. OK State's Zac Robinson and Kendall Hunter tandem are similar to West Virginia's Pat White and Noel Devine (who Colorado beat earlier this season). And although their offenses are similar, their defenses are not.

Oklahoma State, 45-21

Notre Dame @ Navy - Irish have not beaten a team with a winning record this year and are 1-16 in their last 17 games against such teams. Navy has a winning record.

Navy, 23-13

Last Week: 5-3. Thursday night games screwed up a promising Saturday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Storm Brewing in Coral Gables

With the new season, University of Miami guard Jack McClinton started talks of a national title. And why?

Because they return 4 starters, especially in the backcourt, wher Lance Hurdle, James Dews and McClinton return. Also, off the bench comes Eddie Rios, a point guard full of potential. In the frontcourt, big men Dwayne Collins and Jimmy Graham will look to set high picks and rebound more than score consistently. The offense will always roll through the big three in the backcourt, but not always through the post. Graham and Collins should make up for the loss of center Anthony King to graduation.

Head coach Frank Haith has also added a few pieces to the puzzle that has UM at #16 in the preseason polls. Guard/Forward DeQuan Jones comes to Coral Gables as a five-star recruit out of Georgia, with a lot of hype surrounding him. Forward Cyrus McGowan also debuts for the 'Canes. McGowan and Jones should be able to add another dimension to the Miami offense with their length, size and athleticism.

Although national championships may be a bit of a stretch, the ACC championship is within reach.


Thursday Football Game:
NY Jets @ New England - Jets defense continues hot streak against Cassel-led Pats.

The Pick: NY Jets

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Louisville Ready to Spread Wings

Off the heels of an Elite 8 loss to UNC, the Louisville Cardinals are hungry for more this year, looking for a national title.

As in past years under head coach Rick Pitino, defense won't be a problem for the Cards. They employ a full-court pressure, on the ball, in your face defense. They specialize in forcing turnovers and bad shots late in the shot clock. By doing this, they can effectively frustrate opposing point guards as well as star post players by not allowing entry to the block.

On offense, the Cards are led by a quartet of guards that all have significant playing experience in college. Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith provide size at the point guard position while Andre McGee and Mississippi State transfer Reginald Delk offer more scoring options. These guards control the tempo and rarely turn the ball over.

The forwards are mostly in charge of scoring and, of course, rebounding. Power forward Earl Clark, at 6'9", is a little undersized, especially in the Big East, but can rebound with the best of them. Last season, he averaged 8.1 rebounds per game and accumulated 10 double-doubles. Clark is accompanied in the frontcourt by Terrence Williams, a junior small forward who led Lousiville in assists last year with 4.5 per game. Williams is a slasher who can drive and kick as well as finish strong in the paint. His size and athletic ability, along with his point forward skills, make him a tough guard for slower forwards in the Big East.

And, yes, North Carolina returns much of their Final Four team, including Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough and point guard Ty Lawson. Louisville also brings back a lot of talent while adding two top-flight recruits. Freshmen Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings bring depth to the frontcourt that wasn't seen when star forward David Padgett was at UL. Samuels is a power forward whose strength is rebounding and Jennings is a finisher around the bucket.

The Cards were close last year, but this, under the steady guidance of Rick Pitino, they will spread their wings to the tune of a national title.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Giants Aim for 18-1

It was a scene to be seen, to remember, to relish. It was a scene of joy, of sadness, of success. It was a scene of a championship.

Last Year’s Super Bowl in Phoenix could have been the single-most surprising and enthralling and shocking upset in Super Bowl history. After all, the Giants strutted in on a roll after a lackluster regular season while the New England Patriots came in a perfect 18-0.

But after the game, signs all over the confetti-filled stadium read “18-1,” paying homage to the Giants’ victory over the mighty Pats.

But this year is different. The roles have changed, and the tables turned. This year, it is the Giants with one loss and wanting ten more wins.

Now, like last year, there is no guarantee for success. But the Giants have already been there, done that, conquered the NFL and looking for more.

The Giants are now the hunted while the New England is the hunter. The Pats lost a large part of their artillery when all-century quarterback Tom Brady went down with a knee injury in the first game of the season. Enter Matt Cassell, a water gun compared to Brady’s bazooka. And they have done okay so far under him, nothing spectacular but still leading a winner and still gunning for the division rival Jets and NFC-leading Giants.

The Giants, on the other hand, have been nearly flawless so far – save the horrific, atrocious showing at Cleveland in which Braylon Edwards terrorized the Giants’ D with bomb after bomb downfield. And running back Brandon Jacobs has been the 260 pound tank he was last year, during the improbable playoff run. And Eli Manning has been as mistake free as a computer while also providing the accuracy of a sniper. Not to mention the Plaxico Burress situation.

And, make no mistake, this will not be easy.

Especially in the best division in football, whose last place team is Super Bowl contender Dallas. Especially with the aforementioned Plaxico Burress diva situation. Especially in first place.

As witnessed by collapses of first place teams (see Mets, Yankees, Patriots) and the success of sneaky, lurking second-place teams (see Phillies, Giants), being in first place doesn’t always mean you are the best. In fact, most of the time, that team will not win the championship but finish rather mediocre and hidden (I bet you can name the last two NFL champions, but can you name the runner-ups?).

The rest of the year will be a tough stretch for New York with all their remaining games against teams with winning records.

In the next few weeks, they play Baltimore and Arizona and Washington and Philadelphia and Dallas. They may be able to handle the gauntlet, but at times, they have looked less than impressive against average to bad teams.

Remember September 21, when the winless Bengals took the G-Men to overtime before falling? Remember the Monday Night thrashing by the one-win Browns (whose only previous win was over the Bengals)? Remember October 18, when hapless San Francisco allowed just 273 total yards to the vaunted Giants offense? Remember those New York?

The Giants are rolling and looking good. But they haven’t won anything just yet.

The Giants and Titans are the media darlings now, but so were the Cowboys and Patriots last year. Until both met a better, younger, second-place team: The New York football Giants.

And the same will happen this year unless Tom Coughlin can find a way to reload. And the same will happen this year unless the rest of the league stops firing empties. Unless the Giants win.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What Will Mike Singletary Do Next?

Because Mike Singletary is such a crazy cat (see Vernon Davis and trouser drop), it got me thinking: What will he do next?

-Grow a mustache and wear a sweater vest (a la Mike Ditka).

-Trade his entire draft for a running back (a la Mike Ditka).

-Appear in a Will Ferrell movie (a la Mike Ditka).

-Apply for Chippendale membership.

-Drop his pants for the halftime interview.

-Do the Full Monty.

-Do the Super Bowl Shuffle during halftime to get his message across.

-Send the waterboy to the showers.

-Get the hell out of San Francisco. Oh, wait, he can't. Oops.

-Play linebacker for San Fran.

-Kill himself after seeing how bad the Niners are.

-Try to beat the Cardinals (yeah, right).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Is Texas Tech For Real?

The Red Raiders have long been a joke to Texas, the Big 12, and ultimately, the nation. But this year, they garner respect that has launched them to the #2 spot in the BCS Ranksings. But are they for real, can they win the Big 12 South, the Big 12 or the National Title?

The Big 12 South is the most stacked division in all of Division I-A football. With 3 top 5 teams and 4 top 13 teams, the Big 12 South offers the toughest competition in the nation. Texas Tech has finished half of their gauntlet (Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) with wins over Texas and Oklahoma State. Meanwhile Texas has finished theirs, winning against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State while falling to Texas Tech on the road. The Sooners still have Texas Tech at home and Oklahoma State in Stillwater. OSU has been all but eliminated from contention with their 2 conference losses. The big game will be in Norman, November 22, when the Red Raiders come into town undefeated with the season on the line. Oklahoma and Texas Tech have been able to post points at blinding speeds frequently scoring in the 50s, 60s and 70s. The game is in Oklahoma so the Schooner should bring them victory. In the case of a three-way tie, the tiebreaker would be higher BCS rank. This is where it gets tricky. Texas Tech, coming off a loss to OU, will certainly drop behind Texas and Oklahoma. But where will UT and OU be placed? But its very unlikely that after a loss to Oklahoma, the Red Raiders will win the Big 12 South.

So lets pretend that Texas Tech did win the South. Would they win the Big 12 overall? Simply yes. Missouri and Kansas have not been as good as advertised. Missouri has lost at home to Oklahoma State and blown out at Texas. Kansas, meanwhile, lost 63-21 to Mike Leach and Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell. The North has no chance against the South champion.

Once again, lets pretend that Texas Tech wins the Big 12 South and the Big 12, they would appear in the National Championship in Miami. Their opponent would probably be either Alabama or Florida. The way the Gators have been playing the last few weeks, there is no one that will beat them. Not even Texas Tech.

Are the Raiders for real? A resounding yes. Will they win the title? A resounding no.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Week 10 NFL Picks

New Orleans @ Atlanta - Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan continues maturation process with win over Saints.

The Pick: Atlanta

Tennessee @ Chicago - Titans' running back tandem of LenDale White and Chris Johnson overshadow vaunted Bears defense.

The Pick: Tennessee

Jacksonville @ Detroit - Detroit goes from bad to worse this week when Duante Culpepper gets the nod after a Dan Orlovsky injury.

The Pick: Jacksonville

Seattle @ Miami - Dolphin linebacker Joey Porter wreaks havoc on Seneca Wallace and the Seahawk offense.

The Pick: Miami

Green Bay @ Minnesota - Aaron Rodgers completes sweep of Vikings with strong game.

The Pick: Green Bay

Buffalo @ New England - Buffalo enter on a two-game losing streak and missing 4 or 5 starters.

The Pick: New England

St. Louis @ NY Jets - Haslett's Rams have been better but Jets' DT Kris Jenkins disrupts flow. And I can't say Jets without saying Brett Favre. So Brett Favre.

The Pick: NY Jets

Baltimore @ Houston - Baltimore's Ray Rice continues hot streak against porous Texan denfense.

The Pick: Baltimore

Carolina @ Oakland - The Raiders managed 77 total yards and 3 first downs last week. Enough said.

The Pick: Carolina

Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh's tough, hard-hittin defense punishes Manning and the Colts.

The Pick: Pittsburgh

Kansas City @ San Diego - Chargers win the "We-Get-To-Play-The-Chiefs-This-Week" lottery.

The Pick: San Diego

NY Giants @ Philadelphia - Giants win key NFC East matchup behind angry Justin Tuck and poised Eli Manning.

The Pick: NY Giants

San Francisco @ Arizona - Arizona hopefully won't pull down their pants against Mike Singletary's 49ers.

The Pick: Arizona

Last Week: 10-4.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Week 11 College Picks

#9 Oklahoma State @ #2 Texas Tech - A year ago, in Stillwater, Red Raider freshman wideout Michael Crabtree dropped a would-be winning touchdown pass. And after the game, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy sounded off to the media, proclaiming that he is indeed a man, and that he is also 40. But this year, Crabtree already has a game-winning catch with his magical, miraculous, tackle-breaking touchdown at the end of the Texas game. So, a rare drop last year has turned into motivation this year. Also in that game last year, quarterback Graham Harrell threw for 646 yards and 5 TDs. To put that in perspective, the NFL record for passing yards is 554. Harrell had almost a hundred more yards than the NFL's passing record. Wow. And while it may be a strecth to call for a Harrell repeat, it is not outlandish to expect a great performance out of him. On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma State is led by QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant. On offense, these two teams are very similar with a standout quarterback (Harrell and Robinson), change-of-pace running games and gamebreaking wide receivers (Crabtree and Bryant). Oklahoma State's offense is good but not good enough to keep up with the Red Raiders' high-octane offense. The Cowboys defense was able to get pressure on Missouri QB Chase Daniel with their speed rushers on the defensive line. And yes, Missouri's and Texas Tech's offenses are similar, but the Red Raiders were able to handle Texas' speed rushers and protect Harrell. This week shouldn't be any different. And, this time, Crabtree will make the catch.

Texas Tech, 52-49

#1 Alabama @ #16 LSU - The return of Alabama head coach Nick Saban to LSU brings emotions and harsh feelings to Baton Rouge. Saban has been the center of attention for the past week and it is a good a storyline but there is actually a football game being played. The Crimson Tide rolls into Louisiana undefeated and now atop the BCS Rankings. They are one of the most balanced teams with John Parker Wilson at QB and Roy Upchurch and Glen Coffee in the backfield. Also, on defense, the defensive line is one of the most dominant in the nation. The LSU Tigers have been lit up in big losses to Florida and Georgia, allowing over 50 points each game. And on offense, they are sputtering under QB Jarrett Lee. While emotions can help win a game, emotion alone will not pull the Tigers past the #1 Tide.

Alabama, 28-17

#11 Ohio State @ #24 Northwestern - Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor has had two weeks to discard the memory of the Penn State fumble from his mind and now focuses on Northwestern. The Ohio State offense should get back on track against a battered Wildcat team. The Northwestern offense is also banged up, down to their third string running back. The Buckeye defense (allowing 13 points per game) should be able to stop the Wildcat offense, keying an OSU win.

Ohio State, 30-10

#21 California @ #7 USC - Cal got a big win last week against then #24 Oregon and now face the class of the Pac-10, the USC Trojans. Southern Cal's defense enters the game as the top ranked scoring defense as well as top ranked yardage defense. The Golden Bears should put on a respectable performance but still lose by double-digits.

USC, 45-23

#20 Georgia Tech @ #19 North Carolina - Yellow Jackets come off last-second win against Florida State thanks to Seminole fumble in the last minute inside the 5. But the most important thing to come out of the game might have been QB Josh Nesbitt's injury. Nesbitt got hurt and after, Jonathan Dwyer was less effective as the feature back in the triple option. North Carolina is playing the best football of the year and this week is playing at home. The injury to Nesbitt will hinder Georgia Tech's triple option, relegating them to a loss.

North Carolina, 24-20

#3 Penn State @ Iowa - Nittany Lions travel to Iowa to take on Shonn Greene and the sneaky Hawkeyes. Greene is one of the top rushers in the country, even garnering some Heisman Trophy talk. But Daryll Clark and the Lion defense will be too much for Iowa. Hawkeyes will keep it close, but PSU will pull it out.

Penn State, 34-24

Last Week: 4-4. A few last second wins, a few last second losses.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

If You Don't Have a System Quarterback, He's in the Wrong System

With last year's and this year's Heisman candidates, much talk has arisen about "system quarterbacks." These individuals are supposedly a product of their system and not of their talent. And this may be true, and probably is, but at least they are in the right system.

All of the quarterback candidates from last season, ultimate winner Florida QB Tim Tebow, Hawaii QB Colt Brennan and Missouri QB Chase Daniel, all came from the vaunted spread attack.

And there is no doubting that Tebow's numbers were inflated by Urban Meyer's style of offense. And the same holds true for Brennan and Daniel. But at least they are in the right system.

Their system allows them to maximize their talents while putting up huge numbers. Mizzou's Daniel is a smaller quarterback and the wide splits his offensive line uses helps to give more vision than usual. Hawaii's Brennan utilized deep passes to his speedy wide receivers to bolster his stats. And they are in the right system.

College quarterbacks in a Pro-style offense (like USC's) are more prepared for the NFL, but not neccesarily the most successful in college (like Duke). But the most important thing in college is not preparation but rather winning by any means neccesary. And that is what these systems have done.

A so-called "gimmick" offense has proved successful thus far, with Florida already winning the national title and the Big XII, the strongest conference, has been dominated by the spread.

Leading Heisman candidates Graham Harrell, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy all come from the spread offense and their teams are in the top 6 in the nation. And they are in the right system.

If quarterbacks not in favorable systems are not putting up big numbers, it shouldn't come as a surprise. But they need to be in a system that favors them.

Because they need to be in the right system.


Thursday Football Games:
Denver @ Cleveland - Broncos struggling defense makes for an easy debut for Brady Quinn while Jamal Lewis pounds away.

The Pick: Cleveland

#23 Maryland @ Virginia Tech - The only two teams left in the ACC that control their own destiny meet in a crucial Thursday night game. Virginia comes into game hobbled at the quarterback position with hurt QBs Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor injured. Both will be a gametime decision and even third stringer Cory Holt might get the nod. The Terps have been a tale of two teams so far, one losing to a Divison 1-AA team while defeating a respectable Cal team. The past few weeks, they have showed up and played well, only with one ACC loss. Despite Maryland's Jekyll and Hyde nature, Virginia Tech's QB woes are too much to overcome.

Maryland, 27-16

#12 TCU @ #8 Utah - TCU enters game with one loss, to Oklahoma, and a win over BYU while Utah enters the game undefeated and in the top 10 nationally. TCU's defense, in the top 5, should be able to stop the potent and able Ute offense. TCU's offense is also impressive, as witnessed by the thrashing of BYU. But in the end, the Horned Frog defense will be the difference.

TCU, 31-27

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why Each State Voted the Way The Did

On the day after the election, it is time to dissect the various reasons why each state voted for the candidate they chose...sports style. Republican candidate John McCain is from Arizona and Democratic winner Barack Obama is from Illinois.

Alabama (McCain) - Auburn alum Karlos Dansby stars for surprising Arizona Cardinals.

Alaska (McCain) - Big hockey fans (there's not much else) vote Republican.

Arizona (McCain) - Pat on the back for successful year in Phoenix.

Arkansas (McCain) - Deep South in SEC country strongly dislikes Big Ten football.

California (Obama) - Special thank you from USC to Illinois for the easy Rose Bowl win.

Colorado (Obama) - Rockie fans know who one of their top rivals is: the Arizona D'Backs.

Connecticut (Obama) - UConn basketball is 2-1 all-time against Fighting Illini.

Delaware (Obama) - The Fighting Blue Hens of Delware are 2-0 all-time against powerhouse Southern Illinois football.

District of Columbia (Obama) - Wanted change in Washington, especially the Nationals.

Florida (Obama) - University of Miami has never won the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.

Georgia (McCain) - Deep South in SEC country strongly dislikes Big Ten football.

Hawaii (Obama) - Obama's unique and quirky style appeal to the Hawaii Warriors.

Idaho (McCain) - Boise State Broncos' reminisce their miracle Fiesta Bowl victory.

Illinois (Obama) - Self pity after White Sox's early exit in playoffs.

Indiana (Obama) - Big Ten states show "brotherhood."

Iowa (Obama) - Big Ten states show "brotherhood."

Kansas (McCain) - Jayhawks basketball was first in the country, as well as "Country First."

Kentucky (McCain) - Arizona has 3 horse racing tracks, a staple in Kentucky.

Louisiana (McCain) - New Orleans Hornets and Phoenix Suns share up-and-down style.

Maine (Obama) - Red Sox's affiliate Portland Sea Dogs sympathize with Cub fans' misery.

Maryland (Obama) - Baltimore Ravens moved from Cleveland, which is somewhat close to Chicago.

Massachusetts (Obama) - Red Sox fans sympathize with Cub fans' misery.

Michigan (Obama) - Big Ten states show "brotherhood."

Minnesota (Obama) - Big Ten states show "brotherhood."

Mississippi (McCain) - Mississippi's college rivalries similar to Arizona's.

Missouri (Tie) - Want their Royals to emulate D'Backs' turnaround success but also want to thank Illinois for easy season opening win.

Montana (McCain) - Grizzlies from the Big Sky vote for fellow conference school Northern Arizona.

Nebraska (McCain) - Huskers won one national title in the Fiesta Bowl.

Nevada (Obama) - Las Vegas feels the need to play back depressed and bankrupt Cubs' fans.

New Hampshire (Obama) - University of New Hampshire Wildcats share small school vibe with Bradley Braves, located in Illinois.

New Jersey (Obama) - MLS's MetroStars and Chicago Fire are a couple of the few remaining MLS teams.

New Mexico (Obama) - New Mexico Lobos are neighborly rivals with the Arizona teams.

New York (Obama) - New York City has a total of 7 pro teams, comparing nicely with Chicago's 5.

North Carolina (Tie) - Tar Heels basketball is first in the country, but can not decide if it's "Country First."

North Dakota (McCain) - Proud North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey alum Matt Jones plays for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Ohio (Obama) - Big Ten states show "brotherhood."

Oklahoma (McCain) - Sooners really want to go to Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon (Obama) - Oregon and Oregon State's rivalries with Arizona and Arizona State loom large.

Pennsylvania (Obama) - Big Ten states show "brotherhood."

Rhode Island (Obama) - Brown and Chicago remember the glory days of college football in the 1800s.

South Carolina (McCain) - University of South Carolina under Steve Spurrier do not need change.

South Dakota (McCain) - Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL are fierce rivals with the Chicago Steel.

Tennessee (McCain) - Nashville Predators often feast on Phoenix Coyotes.

Texas (McCain) - Loved the Mavs so much, figured they would vote for another "Maverick."

Utah (McCain) - BYU and Utah like McCain's underdog status.

Vermont (Obama) - Vermont Lake Monsters are an affiliate of the Nationals, who need "change" in Washington.

Virginia (Obama) - Virginia fans unhappy with West Virginia winning the Fiesta Bowl last year.

Washington (Obama) - Washington and Washington State's rivalries with Arizona and Arizona State loom large.

West Virginia (McCain) - Mountaineers hate Rich Rodriguez, who bolted for Michigan, which is close to Illinois.

Wisconsin (Obama) - Big Ten states show "brotherhood."

Wyoming (McCain) - Wyoming Cowboys helped create the Fiesta Bowl.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Athletes = Politicians

In the spirit of Election Day 2008, I have decided to compare the main figures in this year's election to sports stars of today.

-John McCain
Old, grizzled, stiff war veteran.
-Brett Favre
Old, gray-bearded, unmobile, football player.

-Sarah Palin
Good-looking, funny, full of personality, unfit for leadership.
-Shaquille O'Neal
Funny, never shuts up, unfit for leadership (see ruins in Los Angeles and Miami)

-Barack Obama
Enthusiastic, inexperienced, welcomes change to Washington.
-Gilbert Arenas
Eccentric, inexperienced (never been past the 2nd round), and would always welcome a change, or championship to Washington.

-Joe Biden
Bland, boring, vanilla, gets it done.
-Tim Duncan
The Big Fundamental has 4 rings.

-Ralph Nader
In the race most of the time, but never wins.
-Chicago Cubs
Close the last few tears, but 100 year drought continues.

Monday, November 3, 2008

BCS Starts to Stir Pot

You would think they would finally get it right. But no.

After controversies in '00 and '01 and '03 and '04 and '06, one would hope that the BCS would maybe get an iota of intelligence. Oh, that's right, they're computers, they don't make mistakes. Or do they?

Of course they do.

This Sunday, when the new, updated, but still wrong BCS rankings were unvealed, Texas Tech was at No. 2 and Texas was at No. 4.

Ok, so Texas lost on the road to a terrific, tough Texas Tech team. Ok, the Big Ten isn't as strong as the Big XII. And ok, Graham Harrell will win the Heisman. But the Big XII's supremacy has been given too much respect (as if that was possible).

Penn State has demolished every opponent in front of them, except for the Ohio State game that was in Columbus. They have proven themselves against worthy opponents and don't deserve to be dropped to No. 3 after not playing.

With Florida's destructive dismantling of Georgia, they were primed for a huge jump in the rankings. But they didn't. They jumped a few teams (see USC, Oklahoma), but did not jump Texas. The Gators have been playing the best football in the nation since their loss to Ole Miss in late September yet still need a lot of help to make it to the National Title Game. Florida should have made it to No. 4, but are instead planted behind the Longhorns.

And I may be a dreamer, but maybe the BCS will get it right this year.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Change We Need

Both candidates this week were in the battleground state of Virginia. They both made their case as "the" choice, with one exiting with the upper hand. One made a couple mistakes to damage his reputation while the other appealed to the masses with his actions.

Jacory Harris and Robert Marve once again battled for supremacy and the starting job at Quarterback U.

But another ACC game, another "boneheaded" mistake by Marve. So enter Harris, the tall, lanky, skinny, quiet freshman signal-called.

And another tough situation, trailing on the road in a conference game, another Harris masterpiece.

Harris engineered a miraculous 15-play, 95-yard scoring drive spanning 7 minutes. It was not only the longest drive of the season, but also the most important. If Harris and the 'Canes don't score, they lose the game, drop to 2-3 in the ACC, 5-4 overall and out of ACC championship contention. But instead, Harris kept his poise and calmly drove from his own 2.

Unlike Marve, Harris did not force balls into tight spaces, did not turn the ball over, did not lose. Harris instead, stood tall in the pocket, patiently waited for open receivers and nailed them with lasers, lofts and dying quails.

Harris led UM to another victory and gave us something we have wanted and needed: Change.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Week 9 NFL Picks

NY Jets @ Buffalo - Shaky Favre continues inconsistent play against rebounding Bills.

The Pick: Buffalo

Detroit @ Chicago - Kyle Orton has improved dramatically from the start of the year while Dan Orlovsky quarterbacks the Lions.

The Pick: Chicago

Jacksonville @ Cincinnati - Jacksonville needs to pick up wins to keep up in AFC South, especially when playing 0-8 Bengals.

The Pick: Jacksonville

Baltimore @ Cleveland - Baltimore's "Wildbird" 2 quarterback offense confuses Browns even more.

The Pick: Baltimore

Green Bay @ Tennessee - Unbeaten Titans avoid trap game against talented Packers because Chris Johnson and LedDale White run wild.

The Pick: Tennessee

Tampa Bay @ Kansas City - Bucs' ground game eyes terrible Chiefs' run defense.

The Pick: Tampa Bay

Arizona @ St. Louis - Improving Rams aren't enough to overcome Kurt Warner and his weapons.

The Pick: Arizona

Houston @ Minnesota - Vikings shut down Steve Slaton and force Matt Schaub to pass while Adrian Peterson controls the clock.

The Pick: Minnesota

Miami @ Denver - Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall shred horrific Dolphin pass defense.

The Pick: Denver

Atlanta @ Oakland - DeAngelo Hall misses revenge on old team as Matt Ryan and Michael Turner terrorize Raider D.

The Pick: Atlanta

Dallas @ NY Giants - Brad Johnson's sputtering offense can't keep up with fully loaded Giants' offense and dominating defense.

The Pick: NY Giants

Philadelphia @ Seattle - Seahawks struggle to cover speedy Philly receivers and Seneca Wallace struggles again.

The Pick: Philadelphia

New England @ Indianapolis - Matchup has lost a bit of luster due to Brady's injury and Colts' stuggles but Manning poineers Indy to victory.

The Pick: Indianapolis

Pittsburgh @ Washington - Tough, grind it out running game propels Redskins to close win.

The Pick: Washington

Last Week: 9-5.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Week 10 College Picks

#8 Florida vs. #6 Georgia - Formerly the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” this year’s Florida-Georgia matchup shapes up to be heavily important on a SEC and even national level. Florida has looked good since losing to Ole Miss at home, bashing Kentucky 63-5 last week. Tim Tebow, even though not running as often as last year, has jumped up to 11th in pass efficiency after starting rough. Young speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, along with versatile Percy Harvin, have provided a running game not found since Emmitt Smith. They are not individually good, but can keep each other fresh to pound the opposing defense. Speaking of defense, Florida’s is one of the best in the nation. They are allowing on average just under 12 points per game and just over 100 rushing a game. This may be important because of the caliber of running back in Knowshon Moreno. Moreno is averaging 115 yards a game on the ground while quarterback Matthew Stafford is leading the best passing game in the SEC. Stafford looked good last week while hanging 52 on and LSU defense that Florida put 51 on. These two offenses are very similar but their defenses are not, Florida’s is much better and should be able to somewhat shut down the powerful Georgia offense. And, oh, yeah, remember that "Georgia Stomp" last year? Revenge is sweet.

Florida, 48-38

#1 Texas @ #7 Texas Tech – Texas is nearing the end of the treacherous stretch unmatched by any schedule in the country that featured 4 top 11 teams in a row. The first was Oklahoma at a neutral site in Dallas. The next two were against Missouri and Oklahoma State, both at home. But this time, they head on the road to Lubbock to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Tech offense has put up outrageous numbers, averaging 557 yards and 48 points per game, including 63 against Kansas. Quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree form the best hook-up in the nation. Both are potential Heisman candidates, and each make each other better. Harrell has thrown for 3147 yards and 28 touchdowns, much better than Texas’ Colt McCoy (2285, 21). The Raider offensive line has allowed 3 sacks all years, approximately one for every 120 snaps. Brian Orakpo is good, but may not be that good. The Texas Tech defense is better than most people think, only allowing 21 points to an explosive Kansas offense. The Red Raiders won’t be able to shut down the Longhorns’ offense, but could slow it.

Texas Tech, 56-52

#15 Florida State @ Georgia Tech – A matchup of ACC heavyweights pits Mickey Andrews’ swarming defense against Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. The matchup appears to favor Florida State’s defense, ranked 3rd in total defense and 7th in rushing defense. The game figures to be an old-school, slug-it-out, smash mouth football game. Expect quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer to try to control the clock and keep the ball out of improving Christian Ponder’s hands. The ‘Nole defensive line has been dominant all year long, not only in the running game but also in the passing game, where they have 22 sacks on the year. In the end, Florida State should be able to pull out the victory.

Florida State, 20-13

#24 Oregon @ California – Puzzling Cal Golden Bears come into game still trying to figure out who their starting quarterback is while Oregon just looks to run the ball. The Ducks lead the nation in rushing TDs mostly because of the lack of a consistent starting quarterback. Oregon has been decimated by injuries at the quarterback position, playing with their fourth string at one point. LeGarrette Blount leads the Ducks on the ground, averaging 81 yards a game. Cal’s defense has been inconsistent at best, but has shown flashes of greatness. In this important Pac-10 game, Oregon’s running beats Cal’s passing.

Oregon, 24-21

Northwestern @ #17 Minnesota – Surprise 6-2 Northwestern meets even more surprising 7-1 Minnesota. Northwestern lost to Indiana last week, but also lost their starting quarterback and running back. Look for the Golden Gophers to pound the Wildcats all the way back to Chicago.

Minnesota, 31-14

Wisconsin @ #22 Michigan State – Wisconsin was supposed to be a good team. They were a good team. But that was then, and this is now, where the Badgers suck. East Lansing should be going crazy on Saturday after Javon Ringer gets back on track against a struggling Wisconsin team.

Michigan State, 30-17

West Virginia @ #25 Connecticut – Mountaineers and Huskies meet in the “Big East Championship” in what looks to be the worst conference in the nation. Running back Donald Brown has carried the Huskies thus far, leading the nation in rushing yards. On the other side, West Virginia quarterback Pat White has suffered since Rich Rodriguez left and running back Noel Devine has been just all right. Both teams run the ball exceptionally well, so expect another smash mouth close game.

Connecticut, 28-27

Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame – Finally Notre Dame plays a good team. Notre Dame has feasted on lesser opponents but not face a legitimate test in the Pitt Panthers. Coming off an ugly loss to Rutgers, the Panthers will be hungry for a win, especially against Notre Dame. LeSean “Shady” McCoy should be given the ball up to 40 times on Saturday to pound away at the suspect Irish defense. Jimmy Clausen will get his numbers but won’t be spectacular.

Pittsburgh, 31-27

Last Week: 6-2. Even in defeat, pretty close to score and almost nailed a few games.