December 17, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Mack Brown Resigns – Crazy week in Texas with football coach Mack Brown stepping down from his post with the Longhorns. Brown’s resignation has been the subject of speculation for a few years now as many fans haven’t been pleased with the team’s record lately. After nine consecutive seasons with at least ten wins, Texas hasn’t achieved that mark in the past four years. Brown hasn’t been terrible, mind you, guiding the Longhorns to three winning seasons in those four years. But the team hasn’t competed for a national championship in some time and the program hasn’t been as good as it was last decade under him. Alabama’s Nick Saban seemed to be a potential replacement for Brown, but he recently announced he’s staying put with the Crimson Tide.

Kobe Bryant Struggles in Return – The Los Angeles Lakers got their star back this week as Kobe Bryant returned from his Achilles injury sustained last season – but things haven’t gone quite as they hoped. The team got off to a 1-3 start since Bryant’s return with their only win a three-point victory over the Charlotte Bobcats under their belts. The Mamba isn’t helping things, either. In the four games he’s played, Bryant is scoring only 13.5 points a game. Helping to fill the point guard role in Steve Nash’s absence, the good news is that he is averaging a career-high seven assists per contest. But Bryant is also averaging a career-worst 6.3 turnovers and is clearly still dealing with a high amount of rust.

Jamaal Charles has Record Day … as a Receiver – Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jamaal Charles had some kind of day in the team’s 56-31 win over the rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Charles is one of the league’s best rushers, but he did his damage on Sunday through the air, racking up 195 receiving yards on eight catches. He added five big touchdowns and had 220 total yards on the day. According to ESPN, he had the third biggest receiving day for a running back since the 1970 merger and his five scores tied a franchise record. Needless to say, Charles surely won leagues for many of his fantasy football owners that reached their league’s championship games.

Roy Halladay Retires – Former All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay retired last week at the age of 36. Halladay, as recently as two seasons ago, was still one of baseball’s best pitchers. In his second season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, the pitcher had perhaps his best season ever with a 19-6 record and career-bests with 220 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.35. The past two seasons for Halladay, though, have been forgettable and last year, he suffered one of his worst professional seasons going 4-5 with a whopping 6.82 ERA. The next question will inevitably be if he will get into the Hall of Fame. His credentials are reasonable with a career 3.38 ERA and more than 2,100 strikeouts, but his relatively low total of 203 wins will hurt him. That’s unfortunate because playing for some pretty bad Toronto Blue Jays teams for the bulk of his career, Halladay would certainly have had more wins with a better franchise. Still, that number will be difficult to overcome since most of the other starters currently in the Hall have more victories.

Snowball Fight Ends with Oregon Player Suspended – The Oregon Ducks’ football team apparently organized a snowball fight with fans and, well, things got out of control. A player was even suspended for the team’s upcoming bowl game. Well, then.

RGIII Benched … Redskins Lose Anyway – The Washington Redskins benched their star quarterback Robert Griffin III after he’s been inconsistent all year long following his recovery from his ACL injury. Kirk Cousins got the start for Washington on Sunday, but the team still lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 27-26. The team was competitive and Cousins did some good things in throwing for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but he also struggled a little with two interceptions and failed to convert a potential game-winning two-point conversion near the end of the contest. Cousins is an interesting quarterback who has a future in this league, but the team is still better off with Griffin if he can return to the form he showed in 2012. Benching him was the right move and if the Skins are wise, they’ll do the same for the rest of the season and allow him to get healthy for next year.

Jameis Winston wins Heisman – In the long and storied history of the Heisman trophy, a freshman didn’t win the award until last season when Johnny Manziel took home the prize. That opened the door for others and for the second consecutive season, a first-year player has won the honor. Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been nothing short of spectacular for the Seminoles and he clearly deserved to win it, leading Florida State to an undefeated season as they head into the national championship game next month.

Skiing … Not Just for the MountainsSkiers are taking over Detroit’s abandoned buildings. No, really.

November 8, 2013

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Oregon vs. Baylor Would Be the 2013 Must-See Bowl Game

By: Matt Bowen

Thanks to a tough loss against rival Stanford recently, the Oregon Ducks may be officially out of the National Championship race. With Florida State and Ohio State waiting impatiently for a chance to move up in the ranks, the Ducks need some luck from here on out. While there are games left to be played, No. 1 Alabama seems like a team of destiny(again), Florida State’s only tough opponent left is rival Florida and Ohio State is only threatened by Michigan.

If Baylor doesn't have a date in the BCS National Championship, a matchup with Oregon would make for a very interesting Bowl game.

Ducks fans—don’t hang your head too long—the sun will come up tomorrow. Oregon has a great program and the team is still phenomenal. They are still bound to attend a BCS Bowl Game and their unfortunate loss sets the table for the best bowl game of the season.

Never mind Alabama vs. the field for the National Championship, the must-see game of the year will be Oregon vs. Baylor.

You see, these are the two most entertaining teams in the country. The Baylor Bears are currently 8-0, average an NCAA-best 61 points/game and have an underrated defense. The Ducks are second on the list with 51.7 per on offense.

What more does a college football fan need? Both teams provide plenty of offense and a primetime atmosphere would be television dynamite.

Baylor fans, please don’t scream at your monitors stating, “We Want Bama!” Everybody, even Ball State wants Bama. While the Bears may run the table and go undefeated, it seems like Florida State or Ohio State will still have the upper hand in the political game of BCS poker.

Baylor’s remaining schedule is tough with games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas to end the season. There’s nothing like saving the best for last and if Baylor makes it through unscathed they may just jump everybody in the BCS formula, but it’s a long shot.

Regardless, even if undefeated and snubbed, the game we want to see is Oregon vs. Baylor.

Oregon’s quarterback Marcus Mariota is headed to the NFL next season and it would be interesting to see him lineup across a Baylor defense that only allows opponents 15.4 points/game.

People who haven’t watched Baylor closely this season might write-off Baylor as a one-sided squad that simply puts up crooked numbers, but that’s not the case. While it can easily be argued that Baylor’s recent opponent Oklahoma was their toughest to date, they only allowed 12 points to an offense that averages 28.9 and won decisively, 41-12.

Keep in mind that Oregon’s defense is allowing just 17.9 per outing also.

So, who wins the game between Oregon and Baylor? This game would feature the two best offenses in the land and secretly a pair of the best defenses. What gives?

A football purist would say they want to see the defenses triumph, but the over/under in Vegas would read somewhere around 85. For this one only, forget the defense, we want all the offense these two can dish out. As fans, we can take it.

Oregon vs. Baylor—get ready for it.

Come New Year’s Day, do whatever you have to do watch this one in its entirety. Keeps your fingers crossed that this one happens and enjoy.

October 22, 2013

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Biggest College Football Games Left

By: Joe Williams

College football’s first BCS standings of 2013 are finally out. The teams that still have realistic BCS championship aspirations now have a much clearer path that must be followed. And we, as fans, now know what we should be rooting for. But there’s still a long way to go and a ton of football left to be played. Which games are going to have the biggest impact in the title  chase? Here’s my list. (Excluding the major conference championship games)

Oct. 26
UCLA at Oregon
UCLA could climb back into the race with a win. Oregon can make its claim that it deserves the No. 2 spot in the BCS.

South Carolina at Missouri
It’s no surprise that this game will help decide the SEC West champion. But everyone thought that it would possibly be South Carolina heading to Atlanta in December. Missouri is the surprise of 2013 and with a win here, would all but clinch a spot in the SEC title game.

Miami at Florida State could have a huge impact on both teams' season.

Nov. 2
Miami at Florida State
Miami should be 7-0. Florida State should 7-0. Both could be ranked in the top five. A win for Miami would launch it into the national title conversation. A win for Florida State would keep the Seminoles in one of those all-important top two spots in the BCS.

Nov. 7
Oregon at Stanford
These teams have a way of ruining each other’s national title hopes. Will it happen again in 2013? With wins over ranked opponents this weekend, both teams would enter this game in the national title mix.

Nov. 9
LSU at Alabama
This game looked a lot bigger a few days ago. Now that LSU has suffered a second loss, the Tigers will just be playing spoiler here. The Crimson Tide will be 8-0, No. 1 in the BCS and a couple of wins away from the SEC title game in Atlanta.

Nov. 16
Texas Tech at Baylor
It’s a long shot but both of these teams could take the field undefeated and ranked in the top five in the BCS. Both will have to get past Oklahoma between now and then, but if that happens, circle this one on your calendar.

Nov. 23
Ohio State at Michigan
The Buckeyes are 19-0 under coach Urban Meyer. They should be 23-0 and 11-0 in 2013 when they take on the Wolverines. The Buckeyes desperately need Michigan to be highly-ranked coming into this one.

Nov. 30
Alabama at Auburn
Auburn is a surprise at No. 11 and has plenty of time to move up before the regular season finale. It’s looking like the winner here will be headed to Atlanta for the SEC title game. And the winner in Atlanta always plays for and wins the BCS title. So this is basically a BCS quarterfinal. And it gets no bigger than that in November.

Florida State at Florida
This in-state rivalry could be returning to its glory days with national championship implications in this one. Closing out the regular season with a win over Florida (who should be back in the top 25 by then) would put FSU one game away from the BCS title game.

Other games that could impact the BCS:
Dec. 6: MAC Championship Game (Northern Illinois could be undefeated.)
Dec. 7: Fresno State vs Boise State (possible matchup in the MWC title game.)

October 8, 2013

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BCS Championship Update

By: Joe Williams

In just five weeks we’ve gone from 126 undefeated college football teams to just 17 without a loss. That number will be down to single digits in the next couple of weeks. The BCS rankings haven’t come out yet, but we all know that the BCS title game will feature the SEC champion against another team that is probably undefeated. How many of these teams are true contenders and which ones are really pretenders? Lets take a look.

In the SEC, its Alabama and everyone else. And unless LSU can take down the Tide on Nov. 9 they’ll be in the SEC title game against Georgia, South Carolina or maybe Florida. (We can’t leave out Missouri as long as it has a perfect record but that won’t last long with Georgia, Florida and South Carolina coming up in the next three weeks.)

So who will try to stop the SEC from winning another BCS title? That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 15 teams without a loss. Baylor, Clemson, Florida St., Fresno St., Houston, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas Tech and UCLA all have yet to lose.

Obviously some of those teams are serious contenders and some are too far down in the poll to make a serious run. Here’s a look at the teams best positioned to play for the title.

Could we see Clemson crash the BCS Championship game?

No. 2 Oregon
The Ducks have scored at least 55 points in every game. If they win out, they’ll play for the title. But it won’t be easy with Washington, UCLA, and Stanford still to play and then a possible Pac-12 title game.

No. 3 Clemson

Clemson has the best win of the season so far by beating Georgia. In two weeks, they’ll have to get by another top-10 team when they take on Florida State. The regular season finale at South Carolina will be another major hurdle before a possible ACC title game. Running the table would give the Tigers the best resume in the nation.

No. 4 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are perfect under second year coach Urban Meyer and should stay that way until they travel to the Big House to take on arch-rival Michigan and they they will likely be in the conference title game. Ohio State probably has the easiest road to perfection but may need some other teams to lose to reach No. 1 or No. 2 in the rankings.
No. 5 Stanford
The Cardinal have wins over two ranked teams already and have two more to go. They’ll have to get by UCLA before a showdown with Oregon. Winning those two games would give Stanford a great shot.

No. 6 Florida State
The Seminoles have been destroying their opponents so far. That will change with two of their next three games coming against Clemson and Miami. Winning those two games would set up a huge regular season finale against rival Florida. They’ll need Ohio State to lose to get a title shot though.

No. 8 Louisville
The Cardinals haven’t been tested yet and they may not be tested all season. With no ranked opponents on the schedule, the Cardinals will need everyone to lose at least one game and even that might not be enough to get them a title shot.

No. 11 UCLA
The Bruins will be a top four team if they win the next three games. Of course, that’s much easier said than done with Stanford and Oregon coming up after California.

No. 12 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State. If that happens and everyone in the PAC 12 loses along with Ohio State and the ACC teams, we could see the Sooners in another title game.

There are even 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. 7 Georgia

The medical staff. Nobody’s played a tougher schedule and nobody’s suffered more major injuries than the Bulldogs. Can Georgia get their guys back or survive without them? I don’t know. But running the table would include wins over Florida and Missouri before probably taking on Alabama in the SEC title game. A win there and they are in the BCS title game.

No. 9, 10, 10 Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina
These teams all need to win out and have some luck that the teams in front of them in the SEC, currently Alabama and Georgia, lose.

Unbeaten teams Baylor, Fresno St., Houston, Miami, Michigan, Northern Illinois and Texas Tech are all going to need multiple miracles to move that far up in the rankings but they deserve to stay in the conversation until they lose. And hey, miracles do happen.

September 6, 2013

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Best NCAA Football Games of Week 2 and 3

By: Tyler Vespa

That Georgia-Clemson game was a dandy. Other than that, it was a pretty quiet opening week. I also wanted the Washington Huskies and Keith Price to know I picked them to “upset” Boise State. So, well done, and I expect you to stay competitive for the Pac 12 crown.

Now, lets take a look at the top matchups of this week and next.

Will Notre Dame leave the Big House with a victory over Michigan?

September 7th

No. 10 Florida at Miami (FL)- 12 noon ET (ESPN)

Two great offenses do battle at Sun Life Stadium. However, the Gators are the superiors on defense. Last season, Will Muschamp’s crew had the 5th best defense in the country. That will keep the Hurricanes off the board enough for the win.

Final Score: No. 10 Florida- 31  Miami (FL)- 17

No. 6 South Carolina at No. 5 Georgia- 4:30 ET (ESPN)

Fresh off a loss to Clemson last week, the Bulldogs will be looking to avoid a repeat of their 2011 season where they also lost their first two games. South Carolina had a solid performance last week against North Carolina, although Jadeveon Clowney didn’t have a Heisman-like performance.  This will be a battle of offense versus defense. Can Jadeveon stop Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley? I don’t think so.

Final Score: No. 6 South Carolina- 17  No. 5 Georgia- 28

No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan- 8:00 ET (ESPN)

Both teams got easy victories last week. This will be anything but. A year removed from the Denard Robinson era, Big Blue has the look on offense they’ve always dreamed of. With Devin Gardner, a pro-style quarterback who can move and a solid running attack, the Wolverines look like the “winged helmets” of old. The Fighting Irish, fresh off their unbelievable run to the national title a year ago, lost a key piece to their offense this offseason. Starting quarterback Everett Golson got suspended for the season for poor academic judgment. Now, they have Tommy Rees at the helm. To me, Rees is just as good a passer as Everett Golson, but he can’t keep the play alive like Golson. I like the Wolverines at the Big House in a close one.

Final Score: No. 14 Notre Dame- 21 No. 17 Michigan- 28

September 14th:

No. 21 UCLA at No. 18 Nebraska- 12 noon ET (ABC)

Both teams played a team from the Mountain West Conference last week. Both teams won. One team won in convincing fashion, the other did the exact opposite. Something’s got to give. The Bruins are going to destroy the Cornhuskers in Lincoln.

Final Score: No. 21 UCLA- 42  No. 18 Nebraska- 27

No. 1 Alabama at No. 7 Texas A&M- 3:30 ET (CBS)

Welcome to 2013 Johnny Manziel. The Aggies better buckle up. I expect this game to be the exact opposite of last season. Johnny Manziel will beat himself, and Alabama will score points on both on offense and defense. This will never be close. Roll Tide.

Final Score: No. 1 Alabama- 42  No. 7 Texas A&M- 20