December 3, 2012

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Bowl game lineups set: College football’s massive bowl game lineup is now complete and, as expected, Alabama will face undefeated Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game. That’s not a big surprise as the Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in last week’s SEC championship. Even though the Irish are the undefeated team heading into the big game, expect powerhouse Alabama to be favored. While Notre Dame has struggled in several of their lesser games against the likes of mediocre teams such as Pitt, Purdue, and BYU, Alabama has plowed through the difficult SEC nearly unblemished. Notre Dame’s schedule was also a tough one, but the early pick here will be the Crimson Tide.

Alabama's SEC Championship win sent them to the BCS National Championship game.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa projected to fall short of Hall of Fame: Three of MLB’s biggest stars of our generation, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, are on the ballot for the sport’s Hall of Fame for the first time this year. But with their names tied to steroid use, all three will fall short of induction according to a recent survey taken by the Associated Press. Approximately 100 voters took part in the survey, and Clemens and Bonds received about 45% support while Sosa picked up only about 18% (75% is needed for induction). Even if the trio doesn’t get in this season, there will be plenty of opportunities for them down the road. But for Clemens and Bonds, the news would be particularly difficult to swallow since both were probable Hall of Famers before their alleged use.

ACC adds Louisville: After the defection of Maryland, who is headed to the Big Ten (or B1G … whichever you prefer), the ACC acted swiftly by adding Big East team Louisville. The move was somewhat of a surprise to many as Connecticut had been the trendy pick to receive the invitation. But the conference made it clear that they wanted a ‘football school’ with the move. The Cardinals aren’t a powerhouse by any means, but they have had some success in the Big East and was the conference’s champion this season. Louisville’s program needs to have some more good seasons to establish a bit of consistency, but current head coach Charlie Strong has them moving in the right direction.

Phoenix Suns offer money back guarantee: Desperate to hold onto a fan base not all that thrilled with the team’s rough start to the season, the Phoenix Suns are offering a money back guarantee for their game against the Dallas Mavericks this week. If fans at the game don’t think they’ve had a fun time, the franchise will reportedly offer them their money back according to this ESPN article. I don’t know all the details, but while this may sound like a good idea, part of me thinks the team may have been better off making this offer with a bad team in town. The Mavericks aren’t off to a great start so far, but are a pretty good team. And I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to have a good time when my favorite team wins.

Rick Majerus passes away: Popular college basketball head coach Rick Majerus passed away last week after heart failure. Majerus was most recently the coach of Saint Louis’ basketball team and took a leave of absence from the team earlier this year before the season began. He will probably be most remembered for his jovial personality, but Majerus was a pretty good coach as well. He took the little-regarded Utah Utes program to the NCAA championship game in 1998 and made them into a regular tournament team. Also, in his 25 years of coaching, he had only one losing season. It’s safe to say that he’ll be missed.

November 20, 2012

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BCS Championship Possibilities

By: Joe Williams

Did anybody see that coming? I sure didn’t. And now that there is just one perfect team left, the BCS Championship picture is pretty clear……unless they lose, too. And I think they will. With just a couple weeks of chaos remaining, here is where they stand:

No. 1 Notre Dame

The Irish are the only unbeaten team remaining and only have one game to go. Just USC stands between Notre Dame and a chance to play for a national championship. When the season began, the Trojans thought this game would be something they needed to survive to get a title shot. With the tables turned, I expect to see an angry USC squad take its best shot at knocking a long-time rival out of the title picture. The Irish would join a group of one-loss teams in the discussion if they don’t win, but an SEC team and Oregon (Ducks defeated Trojans 62-51) would be more deserving.

The Fighting Irish are one game away from the BCS Championship game.

No. 2 Alabama

Nobody gets the help they need faster than Alabama. Last year when the Tide dropped to No. 3 in the BCS standings they were back in the top two in two weeks. This year it only took one week for them to go from No. 4 to No. 2. Alabama needs to beat an Auburn team that is 0-7 in the SEC and then No. 3 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game in order to have a chance to win back-to-back national titles.

No. 3 Georgia
Suddenly, a team that nobody has been talking about controls its own destiny to play for the national championship.

The Bulldogs need to beat Georgia Tech (6-5) and then knock off  No. 2 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. If that happens, Georgia will be on the field against someone on Jan. 7.

No. 4 Florida

The Gators aren’t even going to play for the SEC title but are still in the mix. Sound familiar? (Alabama last year) We know one team in front of them is going to win and one is going to lose. And if Notre Dame falls at USC and Florida wins its final game at No. 10 Florida State, nothing will keep Florida from moving up to No. 2 in the rankings unless voters decide they do not want to see an all-SEC championship game and move Florida down.

No. 5 Oregon

Despite last week’s loss to Stanford, the Ducks have some hope. What has to happen? They must win at No. 15 Oregon State and hope that No. 17 UCLA can knock off No. 8 Stanford. That would put Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship Game against UCLA, who would be at top-15 team. A win there coupled with a Notre Dame loss to USC and either Alabama or Georgia losing should get Oregon a title shot because it would be a conference champion and Florida would not. Although, it wouldn’t matter if the Gators lose to Florida State.

No. 6 Kansas State

The Wildcats are pretty much out of it because of the way they lost against Baylor. Getting blown out 52-24 to a 5-5 Baylor team pretty much means they won’t get to the BCS Championship no matter what happens, but it would be possible if Notre Dame, Florida and Oregon all lost. Of course, they also need to beat No. 16 Texas to keep their hopes alive.

No. 10 Florida State

Are they still in it? It’s a longshot, but isn’t that what the BCS is all about? Notre Dame has to lose. The Seminoles need to blow Florida out of the water and beat Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. Oregon and maybe Kansas State would have to lose again and the voters would need to decide they want a conference champion to play the SEC champ.

Did I miss anything? Probably. Anything can happen in the BCS. Did I mention that Kent State has just one loss? Maybe it still has a shot.

October 23, 2012

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BCS Championship Update

By: Joe Williams

College football’s BCS championship contender field is narrowing each week. We are down to just 11 unbeaten teams (really 10 because Ohio State is not eligible this season) as we approach week eight and as that list continues to shrink, the chances of the top 1-loss teams continue to grow. Now that we’ve got a second edition of official BCS rankings, the championship picture is getting clearer…or is it?

Oregon has looked impressive so far this season. Will they make it to the BCS Championship game?

The battle for the SEC spot in the BCS title game has gotten much more interesting with the emergence of the Florida Gators. Their dominating win over South Carolina gave new life to No. 10 Georgia. Now the Bulldogs and Gators will go to the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” with a likely spot in the SEC Championship Game on the line. The winner should take on the winner of the Nov. 3 showdown between Alabama and LSU. (Sorry Mississippi St., but you’ve got to beat somebody that is ranked before entering the conversation.)

That leaves the non-SEC unbeatens Kansas State, Rutgers, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio, Oregon, Oregon State and a few 1-loss teams in a battle royal for the other spot on the BCS Championship field in January. Obviously some teams are in better shape to be serious contenders and some are too far down the BCS rankings to make a real run. Here’s a look at the teams best positioned to play for the title.

No. 3 Kansas State

Road wins over Oklahoma and West Virginia were impressive. Now the Wildcats have No. 15 Texas Tech to deal with and TCU, Baylor and Texas will not be easy. Even if they run the table, they probably would get passed over for an unbeaten Oregon or Notre Dame.

No. 4 Oregon
The Ducks have scored at least 42 points in every game. Expect them to get to 8-0 before facing three more ranked teams in November and then a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will get a title shot.

No. 5 Notre Dame

It’s not very pretty but the Irish keep finding ways to win. If that happens in big games at Oklahoma on Saturday and at USC to end the season, the Irish will have an excellent chance to play for the BCS title no matter what anyone else does.

No. 7 Oregon State

Could we be headed for the biggest “Civil War” of all time? If the Ducks and Beavers are still perfect, the Nov. 24 game may be the biggest event in the state’s history. The Beavers will likely need Notre Dame to lose get a title shot.

No. 11 Mississippi State
Go on the road and beat No. 1 Alabama on Saturday and then we’ll talk.

No. 15 Rutgers, No. 16 Louisville
If they both keep winning until the season finale on Nov. 29, that would be a huge game. Winner would also need everyone to lose. At least once. Maybe more.

No. 24 Ohio
They are beating everybody, but they aren’t playing anybody. It will be interesting to see if they can run the table and sneak into a BCS game, but it won’t be THE BCS game.
There are still a few teams with one loss that could get back in the mix if the rest of the season is as wild and crazy as they usually are. Here’s what you should be rooting for if you are a fan of one of these teams.

No. 8 Oklahoma
The Sooners have been crushing people since losing to Kansas State. They take down Notre Dame on Saturday and they will be right back in the conversation and if they run the table and both Oregon schools lose, the Sooners will be there.

No. 9 USC

The Trojans will need to run the table, which would require beating Oregon and Notre Dame and hopefully for USC a rematch with Stanford or an unbeaten Oregon State in the PAC-12 title game. They’ll also need Kansas State and maybe Oklahoma to lose.

No. 12 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have the schedule they need to jump over all the teams in front of them. A win over an undefeated Florida to end the regular season would be very impressive but they would need Kansas State, Oregon, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, and USC to lose and even that may not be enough.