August 8, 2013

Comment (1)

NCAA Football Games To Watch In 2013

By: Joe Williams

August 31, Georgia at Clemson

Could there be a better way to start the season that with two teams ranked in the top eight who have serious national championship aspirations? It doesn’t get much better than that. Unfortunately, the hopes of either Georgia or Clemson will take a hit before we hit September.

Georgia starts the 2013 season with two very important games.

September 7, South Carolina at Georgia

If Georgia survives the Clemson game, it will have to bounce back quickly to deal with another team in the top 10 in Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. This game could determine who gets to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

September 14, Alabama at Texas A&M

Last year, Texas A&M shocked the Tide on its home field. This year it’s the defending national champions against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Maybe. It’s college football’s top coach Nick Saban against college football’s biggest star Johnny Manziel. Maybe. Can the Aggies knock off the Crimson Tide again? That likely depends on what happens with the NCAA investigation into Manziel’s autograph signings. He could be suspended. Or maybe this breaking news will turn into much ado about nothing. The impact of this game changes if he doesn’t play. My guess is that if he misses any games it will be just two and he makes his season debut against Alabama.

October 25, Boise State at BYU

Both Boise State and BYU could come in to this game on a BCS party-crashing run. Only one of them can leave this game that way. And they’ll have the college football audience to themselves with this game being played on a Friday night.

November 7, Oregon at Stanford

In 2011 Oregon ended Stanford’s perfect season. In 2012 Stanford returned the favor. In 2013 they are ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches’ Preseason Poll. One of these teams could be playing for a national championship game spot.

November 30, Ohio State at Michigan

The Buckeyes are coming off of an undefeated season and are now eligible for the postseason. The schedule sets up for them to make a run at the national championship game. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have returned to national prominence after a couple of down years and could make their own run if they catch a couple breaks.

November 30, Florida State at Florida

The Florida vs. Florida State rivalry has been heating back up lately and with these two teams starting the season at No. 10 and No. 12 in the preseason poll, this is a potentially huge game for at least one of these teams.

December 5, Louisville at Cincinnati

The Cardinals have one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. They begin the year at No. 9 and they don’t really play anybody that tough. They could be unbeaten and playing for a national title spot when they meet Cincinnati.

December 7, SEC Championship Game

While we don’t know which teams will be on the field in this game, we do know that it’s pretty much an unofficial playoff game with the winner headed to the national title game. It seems to happen every year so why not again in 2013?

January 15, 2013

Leave a Comment

What I Will Remember About 2012 – Part 2

By: Joe Williams

Every year we see things we never thought we would and things we never want to see again. We see everything from the incredible to the inspiring to the sad and hilarious. Here’s what I will remember about 2012.

To read part one, click here.

July 23 – Penn State became the first school to receive NCAA sanctions because of criminal matters that did not directly deal with breaking NCAA rules. The penalties included a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on postseason play, a reduction of scholarships for the next four years and the vacating of all victories from 1998-2011.

July 31 – Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic medal, making him the most decorated Olympian ever.

July 31 – The Fierce Five, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, won gold at the London Olympic Games.

August 2 – Gabby Douglas became the first African-American woman to win the individual all-around competition.

August 5 – Andy Murray bounces back from losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final to beat Federer and win the gold medal in front of his home country. He broke through again a month later, winning his first major title at the U.S. Open.

Miguel Cabrera winning baseball's Triple Crown is one of the biggest stories of 2012.

August 9 – Usain Bolt made his claim as the greatest sprinter ever by becoming the first man ever to defend his golds in both the 100m and 200m races.

August 9 – Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and the U.S. women’s soccer team won Olympic gold after a controversial semifinal against Canada and then getting revenge against Japan in the final after the shootout that ended the Women’s World Cup in 2011.

August 10 – The “Dwightmare” finally came to an end when Dwight Howard was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers after months and months of indecision about where he wanted to play and who he wanted to play with.

August 12 – Rory McIlroy wins the PGA Championship. He would follow that with two more wins heading into the Tour Championship and cement himself as the top player in the game.

August 15 – Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Rays and the Mariners won 1-0.

September 7 – In the midst of a pennant race and against his wishes, the Washington Nationals shut down their superstar pitcher Stephan Strasburg after 159 1/3 innings. The Nationals would go on to win the NL East and then lose in the NLDS in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

September 15 – The NHL labor dispute officially becomes a lockout.

September 24 – The Replacement refs fiasco came to a head on the final play of the Green Bay/Seattle Monday Night Football game. When the officials turned what sure looked to be an interception and a Green Bay win into a touchdown and a Seattle win, the NFL had no choice to settle the dispute with the regular officials.

September 30 – Team U.S.A. chokes the Ryder Cup away, blowing a 10-6 lead on the final day at Medinah. Justin Rose and Ian Poulter led the charge for Europe while Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk dropped critical 1-Up matches. The comeback almost didn’t happen when Rory McIlroy looked at his tee time in Eastern Time instead of Central time and needed a police escort to arrive at the course with just 10 minutes to spare.

October 3 – Miguel Cabrera goes 0-2 in the Detroit Tigers’ 1-0 win over Kansas City in the regular season finale but still manages to be the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown, finishing the season with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. He would be name the American League MVP.

October 10 – New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulls Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS. Raul Ibanez took A-Rod’s place and homered to send the game to extra innings. Ibanez did it again in the 12th inning, giving the Yankees the win.

October 13 – Notre Dame comes up with a goal-line stand, stopping Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor on fourth-and-goal and then survives a controversial replay review to beat Stanford 20-13 in overtime to remain undefeated.

October 13 – The St. Louis Cardinals scored four runs in the ninth inning to stun the Washington Nationals and advance to the NLCS.

October 15 – Trailing 24-0 at halftime in San Diego and staring a 2-4 record in the face, the Denver Broncos score 35 unanswered second-half points to beat the Chargers 35-24 and improve to 3-3. They would not lose again in the regular season and finish with the best record in the AFC.

October 25 – Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in Game 1 of the World Series on his way to earning the World Series MVP award.

October 28 – The San Francisco Giants completed an improbable run to a second World Series win in two years and did it after trailing 2-0 in a best-of-5 series against Cincinnati and then falling behind 3-1 to St. Louis in the NLCS

November 10 – Texas A&M upsets No. 1 Alabama 29-24, led by its redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. It was a springboard for Manziel as he led the Aggies to an 11-2 record in their first season in the SEC, a win in the Cotton Bowl and became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

November 17 – Undefeated Kansas State and Oregon both go down and lose their shot to play for the BCS National Championship. Baylor beat the Wildcats 52-24 and Stanford knocked off the Ducks 17-14 in overtime.

November 21 – Jack Taylor, guard at Grinnell College (Division III), scored an NCAA-record 138 points against Faith Baptist Bible College.

November 22 – Two words…Butt Fumble.

December 1 – Georgia came up five yards short of scoring the game-winning touchdown against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama hung on for a 32-28 win and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

December 8 – Appalachian State’s Brian Okam quickly became known for the worst free throw ever after a video of his miss went viral.

December 16 – Tom Brady leads the Patriots on a furious rally after falling behind 31-3 against the 49ers. After the game was tied at 34, San Francisco retook the lead and won 41-34.

December 30 – Adrian Peterson runs for 199 yards against the Green Bay Packers after already eclipsing 200 yards twice this season, but he came up a mere nine yards short of the single-season rushing record.

January 3, 2013

Leave a Comment

The Call That Changed Everything

By: Joe Williams

While most of the nation is looking ahead to next week’s BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame, I’m looking back. Back to October 13. Back to one play; one call; one moment that could define the 2012 college football season.

The Fighting Irish survived close call after close call during the regular season but perhaps the closest call of them all was in overtime against Stanford. It was surely the most controversial.

Notre Dame won some close games, maybe none closer than their overtime game against Stanford.

Trailing 20-13 and facing a fourth-and-goal from the one, Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor was stopped short of the goal line on his initial effort. He then twisted his body over the top of several other players and stretched the ball forward, appearing to reach the end zone.

But the call on the field was that he came up short. After a lengthy review, the ruling stood because there was no indisputable evidence to overturn the call. Notre Dame stormed the field in celebration and carried that momentum all the way to an undefeated season.

But what if Stanford had scored on that play and then went on to beat Notre Dame?

Only Ohio State would have finished the season without a loss, increasing the chances of the AP voting the Buckeyes No. 1 and giving us a split national championship. (But it would probably take everyone finishing with at least two losses for that to happen.)

Assuming the rest of the season played out the same – Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Kansas State, Stanford and Northern Illinois – would all have just one loss. There’s some chaos for you.

Out of those seven teams, Stanford would have the best case to make about playing for the BCS Championship. They would have beaten a team ranked No. 17 or better four weeks in a row and have wins over both Oregon and Notre Dame…in overtime. Nobody else would have a resume even close to that.

Oregon and Notre Dame could both say they have the best loss but would the voters want to see a rematch against Stanford? And if so, is it Oregon or Notre Dame?

Florida and Alabama also have quality losses coming against Georgia and Texas A&M but the Crimson Tide are the SEC champs so we can then assume that Stanford would be facing off against Alabama for all the marbles. Of course, if the 4-team playoff was already in place, most of these questions would be answered on the field.

I think the country would be pretty pumped about a Stanford, Alabama, Notre Dame, and Oregon playoff. Well, everyone except Florida and Kansas State fans.

One more honor that changed hands during that final play in South Bend is the coach of the year. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly has been named as the winner but Stanford head coach David Shaw would have been the coach of the year and maybe still should be. A year after winning 11 games and narrowly missing out on a chance to play for the BCS Championship, he’s got another 11-win team. And he’s done it without the great Andrew Luck.

December 3, 2012

Comment (1)

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 6, 2012

Leave a Comment

BCS Championship Update

By: Joe Williams

The big day has come and gone. All season, we’ve been waiting for Nov. 3 to make or break the BCS title race for some of the top teams. The LSU vs Alabama and USC vs Oregon games could have created BCS chaos, but with Alabama and Oregon remaining undefeated, the BCS waters have cleared. With three regular season games left for each team, here is where we stand.

The Trojans will have a lot of impact on which teams make it to the BCS Championship game.

We all know at least one SEC team will play for the title. Current BCS No. 1 Alabama will be in the SEC Championship Game and barring an upset, so will No. 5  Georgia. The question is…can the Bulldogs pull off a shocker and take down the reigning champs? If that happens and Georgia gets into the title game, Alabama could still end up in the top two and make it an all SEC Championship game again. But that’s not likely so lets look at the other teams remaining in the chase.

No. 2 Kansas State

The Wildcats path to the BCS title game has two roadblocks. The first is the injury to quarterback Colin Klein who is one of the front-runners for the Heisman Trophy. They managed to get by Oklahoma State fairly easily without him playing much in the second half but don’t expect them to beat TCU, Baylor and Texas without him. Hopefully, his injury is not serious. And the second roadblock is Oregon. If everyone wins out, Oregon will jump Kansas State in the standings. The Wildcats need the Ducks to go down.

No. 3 Oregon

Oregon jumped Notre Dame after beating USC. They will jump Kansas State if they beat California, Stanford, Oregon State and win the PAC-12 title game. The Ducks should be the only team besides Alabama that controls its own fate. Win and they are in.

No. 4 Notre Dame

The Irish keep winning ugly. Winning ugly doesn’t help you pass the teams in front of you. Notre Dame should beat Boston College and Wake Forest. Then it comes down to winning at USC and hoping somebody knocks off Kansas State and Oregon.

No. 9 Louisville

Hey. These guys keep winning so I’m keeping them in the discussion. It’s the least I can do. Yeah they haven’t beaten a ranked team all season but if they run the table and Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame all lose….the Cardinals will still be left out.

No. 10 Florida State

The Seminoles should be rooting for a couple teams to finish unbeaten. Otherwise, they may be kicking themselves over that never-should-have-happened last second loss at North Carolina State. But they may not be done yet. They just need to win against Virgina Tech and Maryland, then beat Florida while having Georgia lose to Auburn, who is 0-6 in the SEC. That would send Florida to face Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. And if Florida can win and Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon all lose a game…