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 4, 2013

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In Case You Missed It – September

By: Joe Williams

It’s been a full month of college and NFL football and baseball’s regular season finished with an exciting extra game to determine the final playoff spot. Many of us are spending more time in football pools and on our fantasy teams. If that sounds like you, there may be some interesting things from the sports world that you missed. Here’s a few that caught my eye in the last few weeks.

A billboard advertising UNLV football and basketball tickets was put up with the wrong basketball coach in the picture. The school’s former basketball coach Lon Kruger ended up on the billboard instead of current coach Dave Rice.

Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes in the first game of the NFL season and the Columbus Dispatch made an error and printed a headline giving John Elway credit for the record-setting performance.

Not many people would have guessed a month ago that Trent Richardson would be traded in September.

The Tennessee Titans started the season off on the wrong foot when Darius Reynaud caught the opening kickoff, took a step backward and went down to one knee, giving the Steelers a safety and a 2-0 lead. Things have since turned around for the Titans who are 3-1.

For the first time in NFL history, a game finished with the score 28-2. (Kansas City defeated Jacksonville)

Baseball’s home run leader Chris Davis hit a foul ball into his own jersey.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston made headlines when he said that he was looking forward to facing the Nevada Wolfpack because he wanted to see Wolfpack defensive end Brock Hekking’s mullet.

The Seattle Seahawks took an unusual step to increase fan safety at their home games, by announcing that there would be undercover police in the stadium wearing jerseys from the opposing teams.

Former Tampa Bay quarterback and team captain Josh Freeman didn’t help his cause with his teammates by not showing up for the annual team photo.

A TV station in Orlando actually apologized to its viewers for having to show the Jacksonville Jaguars game against the Oakland Raiders (due to NFL policy).

The Cleveland Browns shocked the NFL when they traded last year’s No. 3 overall pick, running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. Nobody was more shocked than Richardson though, who learned of the trade by hearing it on the radio.

The NHL is putting in some new rules and one of them states that players will be penalized for removing their helmets before a fight. But that didn’t stop Krys Barch and Brett Gallant who kindly removed each others helmets so they could duke it out.

It took bunch of complaints from the fan base for someone with the Cincinnati Bengals to realize that a Katy Perry song is not a good choice for getting your team fired up to play football. Her new song “Roar” had been used all through the Bengals game against the Steelers.

In one of the more bizarre rivalries in college football, Concordia University and St. Olaf College faced off for the right to win a “Troll.” True story.

One Utah fan took the rivalry with BYU to a new level by sending in photos of a BYU player breaking school rules and got him suspended for five games right before the teams met on the field.

Brett Favre’s agent just had to do it again and announce that the former quarterback “could play today.” Haven’t we all suffered enough?

The Denver Broncos had such an easy time against the Oakland Raiders that the running backs Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball all wanted to score a touchdown and the decision of who would get the glory came down to – you guessed it – a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Hillman was the winner and did score on a 1-yard run.

New Mexico State has such poor attendance at its football games that the school is now offering cash prizes to entice students to attend and stay at the games.

WNBA players Diana Taurasi and Siemone Augustus received a double-foul call after Taurasi kissed Augustus during the fourth quarter of the playoff game between Phoenix and Minnesota.

A high school team in Wisconsin put up a whopping 82 points in one game…and still lost. Final score: Oconomowoc 84, Wisconsin Lutheran School 82.

John Daly hit a golf ball out of a man’s mouth. And did it in the parking lot of a pizza joint in Nashville.

March 12, 2013

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Wooden Award Watch

By: Tyler Vespa

College basketball’s player of the year race is starting to heat up. In this wide open season where we’ve seen top 5 teams go down almost every week, the Wooden Award Watch has also been sent into a frenzy. We’ve seen so many teams picked to finish in the middle or the bottom of their conference rise above expectations. This parity has put names on the Wooden Award Watch that nobody saw coming.

Will Indiana's Victor Oladipo win the Wooden Award?

With that, here are my top 5 players (in order) that could take home player of the year honors:

Victor Oladipo- Indiana

His incredible quickness helps him do so many different things for the Hoosiers. Oladipo is one of the best I’ve seen at turning defense into offense. He averages 14.0 ppg, 2.1 assists, 6 rebounds and 2.3 steals and to top it off, he is shooting 63% from the floor. His play has been so consistent it’s hard to put anyone ahead of him at this point.

Otto Porter- Georgetown

The Hoyas swingman rises to the occasion in big games. Porter scored 33 points in a win at Syracuse, and scored 21 of his 22 points in the second half of a double-overtime win against Connecticut. Porter shoots 51% from the floor and averages 16.6 points. 2.5 assists, 7.6 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. The Hoyas have won 11 in a row, and Porter is averaging 19.2 ppg in the last 13 games. In other words, he single handedly took the Hoyas to the top of the Big East.

Rodney McGruder- Kansas St.

The Kansas State senior guard is averaging 14.9 ppg and 5.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals. This play by McGruder has helped the Wildcats win 5 in a row and take over 1st in the Big 12.

Deshaun Thomas- Ohio St.

In the toughest conference in the country, the junior forward has averaged 19.8 ppg, 1.3 assists, and 6.1 rebounds.  This consistency, along with Thomas’ 84.5 free throw shooting has helped the Buckeyes win 4 of their last 5, putting them 2nd in the Big Ten.

Marcus Smart- Oklahoma St.

The freshman guard is averaging 14.6 ppg, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists and 2.9 steals. Smart does it all for the Cowboys, who have now won 10 of their past 11, with their only loss coming against Kansas in double overtime. They now sit just one game behind Kansas and Kansas St. in the Big 12.

I would be in shock if one of these 5 didn’t win player of the year. Even with the conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, these are the top guys in the top conferences in the nation. I can’t wait to see how these guys perform down the stretch in the race for a national championship.

December 27, 2012

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Tim Tebow reportedly asks out of Wildcat packages: Many news outlets reported over the weekend that New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow asked not to be utilized in the team’s wildcat package on offense for this weekend’s game. According to the report, Tebow has been disappointed at not being named as the starter after Mark Sanchez was benched. His frustration can be understood to a degree as the Jets went with unproven rookie Greg McElroy, but if the reports are true, that’s a bad move on his part. Above all else, Tebow has to be a reliable member of the team and play as requested by the coaches – even if he doesn’t feel he’s being utilized properly. If he feels he’s being treated unfairly, he can always ask for a way out. But as long as he’s being paid by the franchise and is a member of the team, Tebow should participate in any way the coaches see fit.

Since benching Mark Sanchez, the quarterback situation for the New York Jets has gotten even cloudier.

Cleveland Indians sign Nick Swisher: The Cleveland Indians made a bit of a splash in MLB free agency by signing outfielder Nick Swisher away from the Yankees. Swisher hit 24 home runs and drove in nearly 100 runs in New York last year and will provide a boost to the Cleveland offense. The move is especially helpful for the Tribe as they recently traded away Shin-Soo Choo. And at 32 having had a pretty healthy career, Swisher should still have a few more years left in the tank.

Jabari Parker commits to Duke, reports backlash: High School basketball sensation Jabari Parker, widely regarded as one of the top two recruits in the class of 2013 committed to Duke last week. Afterwards, he reported being harassed on Twitter. He responded by saying he’s ‘just a kid’, but the fact is that it’s just something he’ll have to learn to deal with. Having a Twitter account is one thing athletes use to connect better with fans, but the flipside is that not everyone will be thrilled with what they do or say. I’m not condoning harassment of athletes on the social media site (particularly ones still in high school), but Parker will need to realize it’s only going to get worse as he advances to college and, presumably, the NBA.

Indianapolis Colts clinch playoff berth: The Colts did the unthinkable this weekend by making the NFL playoffs with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck at the helm. When the Colts decided to make the difficult move to transition away from Peyton Manning, most figured it would take a few years to get back to the postseason. But Luck not only had a monster rookie campaign, breaking Cam Newton’s rookie season passing record, he’s led Indianapolis to an unthinkable ten wins so far. The Colts’ management has to be absolutely pleased with the way things have worked out under Luck. He was expected to be a star in the league, but few could have seen this much success in only his first year.

DeMarcus Cousins in trouble … again: Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was recently suspended indefinitely by the team for conduct detrimental to the team. The exact reason hasn’t been specified, but Cousins and coach Keith Smart reportedly argued in the locker room at halftime of a recent game and the player was benched in the second half. Cousins wasn’t even permitted to leave the locker room during the benching. Even worse was the fact that this isn’t his first brush with trouble this season. Cousins was suspended for a game after striking the Dallas MavericksO.J. Mayo in the groin earlier this month. He was also suspended by the league for two games after an incident with San Antonio Spurs’ announcer and former player Sean Elliott back in November. For his part in the locker room incident with Smart, Cousins has since admitted he was wrong. But the Kings may be fed up with his actions lately and the indefinite suspension could last a while. If so, you have to applaud management since Cousins is the team leader in points, rebounds, and steals, and one of the few attractions the franchise has.

Texas’ Myck Kabongo has season-long suspension cut: Texas guard Myck Kabongo was recently suspended by the NCAA for the rest of this season, but last week had it cut to 23 games. Kabongo reportedly lied to the school about receiving improper gifts, but was found to have not lied to the NCAA. More alarming for me, though, was Texas coach Rick Barnes who said his thoughts are with Myck and his family and that he ‘feels’ for him. So let’s get this straight – a player lies to the school that provides him with a free education and a place to display his athletic talents, but is then treated as if he did nothing wrong and is virtually being tortured. Got it. I don’t deny that everyone makes mistakes, but Kabongo deserves to sit this time out. Instead of feeling bad for him, Barnes would sound much more credible if he said he was disappointed in his actions.

December 10, 2012

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Johnny Manziel makes history, wins Heisman Trophy: Texas A&M’s freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel made a bit of history last week by winning the Heisman Trophy. Manziel was the first freshman in the history of college football to win the prestigious award. He didn’t have stats that blew others out of the water (Manziel didn’t even finish in the top 15 in yards, touchdowns, or passer rating), but they were just good enough to put him on top. Also helping Manziel was the fact that Texas A&M had an outstanding season as a team, finishing 10-2 and defeating No. 1 Alabama on the road. He deserved the award, but the real news is that Manziel likely has opened the door for others. Many voters may have been hesitant to give the award to a freshman, but now that it’s already been done, that will make it easier for other underclassmen to win the award.

Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals had no answer for Seattle's defense on Sunday.

Manuel Marquez stuns Manny Pacquiao: For a long time, boxing fans have been clamoring for a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight. Talk of that may finally be dead, though, as Pacquiao was stunned by Manuel Marquez last week in dramatic fashion. Marquez knocked Pacquiao out cold with one second left in the sixth round, shocking the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mayweather, for one, has to be a bit happy at the turnout. Even if he felt he could beat Pacquiao, there’s always the chance he would lose. Now, Mayweather doesn’t even have to risk hurting his legacy as those calling for him to fight Pacquiao will likely move on to finding the next best opponent.

Seattle Seahawks crush Arizona Cardinals, 58-0: If you had the Seattle Seahawks’ defense on your fantasy football team, you had a good chance of winning your game this week. The Seahawks pitched a shutout against the Cardinals, prevailing 58-0 at home. The 58 points was a franchise record, but the defense was just as impressive. The unit not only stopped Arizona from scoring a single point, but forced eight turnovers. You just don’t see blowouts all that often in the NFL and this was simply a bloodbath.

Sidney Crosby talks Europe: After talks between players and owners broke down again last week, the NHL lockout may be forcing more players overseas. In particular, Sidney Crosby, who is possibly the league’s biggest star, talked about being more open to playing in Europe. That may not sound like a big deal, but you can bet that type of news isn’t what the league wants to hear. Even if the biggest stars are able to leave their temporary teams once a deal to play in the NHL is struck, there’s always the chance that someone could suffer a bad injury. The last thing the league wants in the midst of trying to rebuild a relationship with a disgruntled fanbase is to start a short season without a major star.

Jeremy Lin’s struggles continue: Jeremy Lin’s lackluster year continued with the worst stretch of the season. In three games against the Lakers, Spurs, and Mavericks last week, Lin’s offense was virtually non-existent. He scored a total of only 15 points and did it on a dismal 6-21 shooting. A fairly overlooked statistic is that Lin had only two free throw attempts in the three games. Not only is he not scoring, he’s not even being aggressive enough to get to the line. It’s really early but so far, the Jeremy Lin experiment isn’t going all that well in Houston. He isn’t completely falling off the radar as he’s averaging just over six assists and four rebounds a game, but his scoring is down significantly, despite having less talent around him. The expectation was that his numbers should improve even more as he’d be taking more shots, but Lin is actually shooting slightly less. It’s clear he has work to do to even approach the season he had last year.

Los Angeles Dodgers sign Korean star Hyun-jin Ryu: The Dodgers made an offseason splash by signing Korean pitching star Hyun-jin Ryu for six years/$36 million, according to ESPN. In seven seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization, Ryu struck out nearly a batter an inning and had an ERA of 2.80. With the new star, the Dodgers have added to their deep rotation. With Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett, the team has an outstanding one-two punch at the top of the rotation. Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, and Ryu will presumably compete for the remaining three spots. If all are healthy, look for the team to make a move or two in exchange for some more offense.