April 25, 2013

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NFL Mock Draft

By: Joe Williams

It’s that time of year and all the cool kids are doing NFL mock drafts. I gave in to the peer pressure so here is my attempt to get a couple of Thursday’s 32 picks right.

In 2012, we knew who the first QB taken, and first overall pick, would be before the NFL Draft started. Those answers aren't as clear this year.

1 Kansas City Chiefs: There’s a new coach in town. Andy Reid has got himself a new quarterback. Now he’ll get someone to protect that quarterback.

The pick: Luke Joeckel, OL, Texas A&M

2 Jacksonville Jaguars: When you are picking second, you can’t afford to miss on your pick. The Jags will wait for round two or three to get a quarterback and look to improve the worst pass rush in the league.

The pick: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

3 Oakland Raiders: With Matt Flynn in the fold, the Raiders can hope he becomes the franchise guy and look to fill a gaping hole on the defensive line. It’s a choice between Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd.

The pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

4 Philadelphia Eagles: This is where we find out if new coach Chip Kelly wants to groom Geno Smith for the future or protect Michael Vick for the present. One thing we know about Kelly is that he loves speed.

The pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

5 Detroit Lions: For the Lions to compete in the NFC North, they are going to have to beat Green Bay. That means getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

The pick: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

6 Cleveland Browns: Championship teams have to be great on one side of the ball. In Cleveland, that’s not going to be the offense until Weeden proves he is the right guy or they find someone else. Adding free agents Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and the top cornerback in the draft gives the defense a chance to be really good.

The pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

7 Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals offensive line was awful last year and if Fisher is still on the board, they won’t waste any time turning their card in.

The pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

8 Buffalo Bills: Here’s another team with a new quarterback. Buffalo follows suit and picks up some protection for Kevin Kolb.

The pick: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

9 New York Jets: The defense just took a major hit by trading Revis to Tampa Bay. If the pass coverage gets worse, the pass rush better improve.

The pick: Barkevlous Mingo, DL, LSU

10 Tennessee Titans: The Titans brought in Andy Levitre to fill the hole at one guard spot. Filling the hole on the other side would make life much easier for Jake Locker and Chris Johnson.

The pick: Johathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

11 San Diego Chargers: San Diego has got to get Phillip Rivers back on track. His 47 turnovers and 79 sacks over the last two seasons are way too many for this team to win.

The pick: Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma

12 Miami Dolphins: Cornerback duo Vontae Davis and Sean Smith are gone and the Dolphins still have to face Tom Brady twice a year. They need another corner.

The pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.

13 New York Jets: The secondary still needs help and this is the pick the Jets got in the Revis trade. But they don’t care when one of the best players on the board falls into their laps.

The pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

14 Carolina Panthers: Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and Cam Newton is going to need more weapons to keep up with Matt Ryan and Drew Brees.

The pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

15 New Orleans Saints: Getting Sean Payton back will help the offense so this pick should be used on the defense. With several options to choose from, the Saints take the best defender left on their board.

The pick: Bjoern Werner, DL, Florida St.

16 St. Louis Rams: With two big needs to fill and two first round picks, the Rams must decide between a safety and wide receiver.

The pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

17 Pittsburgh Steelers: James Harrison is in Cincinnati and Mike Wallace took his talents to South Beach. One will be replaced with this pick.

The pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

18 Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones just invested $100 million in Tony Romo. It’s safe to assume he’s going to want to protect that investment.

The pick: D.J. Fluker, OL, Alabama

19 New York Giants: When the Giants are great, they are putting pressure on the quarterback. And they like to draft pass rushers.

The pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

20 Chicago Bears: The Bears need help at linebacker with Brian Urlacher now gone. They’ll get it here, but it’s not who you think.

The pick: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas St.

21 Cincinnati Bengals: There aren’t a lot of holes in this roster. The biggest one is probably at safety. Not anymore.

The pic: Eric Reid, S, LSU

22 St. Louis: They’ve already picked up a safety. Now it’s time to get a receiver to fill the void left by Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola.

The pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

23 Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin is out and Greg Jennings is in. But the Vikings could still use one more guy to help take the weight off of Adrian Peterson.

The pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

24 Indianapolis Colts: Protection for Andrew Luck, a replacement for Dwight Freeney, or maybe the first running back off the board?

The pick: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA

25 Minnesota Vikings: Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler are in this division. Better get another defensive back.

The pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

26 Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers would love someone he could hand off to that would keep the defense guessing. First running back comes off the board here.

The pick: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

27 Houston Texans: Andre Johnson needs a tag team partner and Matt Schaub won’t complain about having another weapon either.

The pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California

28 Denver Broncos: The defensive line needed reinforcements even before the Dumervil debacle. One falls into John Elway’s lap on draft day.

The pick: Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri

29 New England Patriots: If the Pats make this pick it’s got to be a receiver or someone to cover a receiver.

The pick: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise St.

30 Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez decided to give it one more shot which means this is the perfect time to draft his replacement and let him learn from a Hall-of-Famer.

The pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

31 San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers could use another safety after losing Dashon Goldson in free agency.

The pick: Matt Elam, S, Florida

32 Baltimore Ravens: Ray Lewis is retired and Dannell Ellerbe is in Miami so they probably take a linebacker here.

The pick: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

January 10, 2013

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What I’ll Remember About 2012 – Part 1

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.

January 1 – Matt Flynn and Matthew Stafford combine for 971 net passing yards in 45-41 Green Bay win.

January 8 – The Denver Broncos make short work of the new NFL overtime rules, scoring an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime to beat the Steelers 29-23 in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

January 9 Alabama actually scored a touchdown in its rematch with LSU in the BCS Championship Game, winning 21-0.

January 14 Tom Brady shredded the Denver Broncos for five touchdown passes in the first half and another in the third quarter to tie the postseason single-game record in a 45-10 win.

January 14 – The 49ers and Saints combine for 34 points in the fourth quarter and four lead changes in the final five minutes as the 49ers outlasted New Orleans 36-32 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

January 22 – Joe Paterno passed away.

January 22 – The Baltimore Ravens had a dropped pass in the end zone that prevented them from winning the AFC Championship Game in New England and then missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

January 22 – The New York Giants advanced to the Super Bowl with a 20-17 overtime win against the 49ers after a fumbled punt set up the game-winning field goal.

February 4Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere and led the New York Knicks to a win with 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists in the first of an incredible 13-game stretch in which he averaged 22.3 points and 7.4 assists. His heroics were celebrated worldwide and he ended up on the cover of Time and Sports Illustrated and one of the biggest celebrities in the league.

Jeremy Lin was one of the biggest stories of 2012.

February 5 – The New York Giants beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in another Super Bowl, 21-17, led by Eli Manning and another fourth-quarter comeback.

February 5 – Tom Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, gets caught on camera blaming Patriot receivers for New England’s Super Bowl loss, saying that her husband cannot throw and catch the ball at the same time.

March 8 – The Indianapolis Colts announced that they will release future hall-of-fame quarterback, Peyton Manning.

March 13 – The First Four was worth watching on this night. First, Western Kentucky rallied from a 16-point deficit with 4:51 to go and beat Mississippi Valley State 59-58. Then BYU followed that up by erasing a 25-point deficit and beat Iona 78-72.

March 16Duke and Missouri, both No. 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament, go down on the same day. Norfolk State upset a 30-win Missouri team 86-84 and then later that night Lehigh defeated the Blue Devils 75-70. Only four No. 15 seeds have ever knocked off a No. 2 seed in history before it happened twice that day.

March 20 – Peyton Manning picks the Denver Broncos.

March 21NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell laid down the law on the New Orleans Saints for their bounty scandal, effectively ending the Saints season before it ever got started. This story never went away due to the continuous appeals of the suspensions.

March 26 – The Denver Broncos trade Tim Tebow to the New York Jets.

March 11 – Tiger Woods withdrew from the final round of the WGC Cadillac Championship with an injury. The blimp that was covering the golf tournament then followed Tiger as he left the golf course, a scene usually reserved for a high-speed chase.

April 1 – I.K. Kim takes the honor for worst golf shot of the year after she missed an 18-inch putt that would have won the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She ended up losing in a playoff.

April 2 – John Calipari and his Kentucky squad that consisted of six future NBA players wins the national title, beating Kansas 67-59.

April 3Baylor completed a perfect season at 40-0 and won the women’s national title, beating Notre Dame 80-61.

April 8 – Bubba Watson hits one of the greatest shots in Masters history; a miracle 40-yard hook shot out of the pine straw on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. Two putts for par later and Watson was wearing the green jacket.

April 21Phil Humber pitches a perfect game at Seattle, striking out nine in the White Sox 4-0 win.

April 26Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are drafted by the Colts and Redskins.

May 8 Josh Hamilton hit four home runs and had eight RBI against the Baltimore Orioles.

June 3 – Tiger Woods hit an incredible flop shot from behind the green on 16 that trickled into the hole on his way to winning the Memorial Tournament.

June 7 – LeBron James overwhelms the Boston Celtics with a 45 point and 15 rebound performance in a 98-79 win over Boston on the road to force a Game 7 in South Beach.

June 7 – Novak Djokovic outlasted Rafael Nadal in a grueling marathon in the Australian Open final (5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5) in a match that took five hours and 53 minutes and didn’t end until 1:37 a.m.

June 11 – The Los Angeles Kings win their first Stanley Cup in 45 years after barely squeaking into the final playoff spot in the West and going on one of the greatest runs in playoff history.

June 13Matt Cain pitched a perfect game in a 10-0 San Francisco win over the Astros.

June 21 – LeBron James and the Miami Heat win the NBA championship after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in game five.

June 27 – A four-team college football playoff was formally approved to begin in 2014.

June 30 – The third round of the AT&T National was played with no spectators on the golf course because of safety concerns after a powerful wind storm left trees uprooted all over the golf course.

November 6, 2012

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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…

November 5, 2012

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Lakers off to rough start: The Los Angeles Lakers not only started the season 0-3, but lost starting point guard Steve Nash along the way. He suffered a small fracture to his fibula and will be out for at least a week according to early reports. Obviously not the start the franchise was hoping for after trading for Nash and Dwight Howard in the offseason. Los Angeles was once a trendy pick to reach the NBA Finals, but while it’s early, that’s looking like a pipe dream so far. Any chance General Manager Mitch Kupchak is frantically searching for Phil Jackson’s cell phone number? Maybe not just yet, but …

Mariano Rivera decides he’ll be back in 2013: After a season-ending injury in May, Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera says he’s returning in 2013. At age 43, the thought was that he may retire, but as an all-time great, he should have the right to try to come back if he wants. Plus, with an ERA just over 2.00 last season, it looks like he still has something left in the tank.

Mariano Rivera will return to the Yankees in 2013.

Oregon and USC forget how to play defense: No. 4 Oregon defeated No. 17 USC, 62-51. With 113 combined points, even West Virginia thinks those defenses were bad.

NHL cancels Winter Classic: With the hockey season still on ice (see what I did there?), the NHL had little choice but to cancel its popular Winter Classic. This year’s event was to feature the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan’s football stadium on January 1st, but with the current lockout, that’s just not feasible – even if the season gets underway before then. So much planning goes into that game and without even knowing if the lockout will end anytime soon, it had to be canceled. That’s really bad news for a sport that struggles to keep up with the other major leagues. The Winter Classic is one of the few times the league is in the spotlight and this is just another reason why hockey needs to get back to playing … quickly.

CM Punk defeated Ryback in the WWE’s pay-per-view main event: Punk has now held onto the belt for nearly a full year after defeating new sensation, Ryback, at WWE’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. With a marred finish (the referee gave Ryback a cheap shot), the WWE played this perfectly. CM Punk keeps the belt, but helps Ryback maintain his momentum even as his unbeaten streak ends.

Division II St. Leo defeats Miami Hurricanes: When the Miami Hurricanes scheduled Division II St. Leo for a friendly exhibition basketball game, the thought of losing couldn’t possibly have crossed their mind. Yet, that’s exactly what happened as St. Leo won 69-67 over the ACC team. Miami’s Trey McKinney Jones said it best after the game when he declared “It’s embarrassing” (‘Yeah, pretty much’, I add parenthetically).

Rory McIlroy defeated Tiger Woods in golf exhibition: Tiger Woods lost to Rory McIlroy in a golf exhibition by one stroke in China. Even though it was only an exhibition, I’d personally like to see more of these types of matches in golf. Trying to follow dozens of players in a tournament is a bit mind-boggling. And even on the final day of a major, you can have a half dozen golfers in contention. But in a one-on-one stage, it turns golf into a bit more like the other sports. In a tournament, golfers are playing against a course. In a one-on-one match, while that still holds true, to a degree, there’s also direct competition with another player.

Alabama defeats LSU: The Crimson Tide defeated LSU in the top college football matchup of the week. With the Tigers suffering their second loss, it’s all but assured that the two teams won’t meet again in the national championship game as they did last year. Everyone outside of Alabama and Louisiana just breathed a massive sigh of relief.

San Francisco Giants snafu: And finally, presented without comment, a musician participating in the San Francisco Giants’ World Championship parade opened the stage show portion of the event by saying the “San Francisco 49ers swept the Detroit Tigers.”

Yeah, something like that.

November 1, 2012

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College Football Week 10

By: Junior

With college football’s BCS bowl picture just vaguely starting to take shape, speculation is already running rampant about which teams will play for the BCS National Championship. We have a long way to go before we find out, but Week 10 in college football could help shape the futures of a lot of teams. We look at the 5 biggest games of the weekend and how they could change the BCS picture.

LSU could shake up the BCS National Championship picture with a win over Alabama.

Alabama at LSU

This game could drastically change the BCS National Championship game. Alabama has long been penciled into the BCS National Championship game and a loss to LSU could be devastating. LSU has been very successful in Saturday night games at home, but they are still thought to be heavy underdogs against the Crimson Tide. If they can pull off the upset, they would have one loss and be launched back into the national championship conversation. Not to mention potentially take Alabama out of it.

Oklahoma State at Kansas State

Kansas State has been one of the most surprising teams this college football season. They are averaging over 44 points a game and giving up only 17. The Wildcats have dominated their last two opponents, #13 West Virginia and #14 Texas Tech, and are contending for a spot in the BCS National Championship. Oklahoma State has two losses and this will be their first of 4 straight games against ranked opponents. A win against the Wildcats would start their streak off on the right foot. A loss puts Kansas State one step closer to their goal.

Oregon at USC

No team scores quite like the Oregon Ducks. The undefeated Ducks average 53 points a game and, at 8-0, have been pretty successful winning games. The knock on Oregon is that they don’t play tough competition, but they beat Arizona, a team that beat USC just last week. USC would like nothing better than to bounce back and spoil Oregon’s season. Both team’s look set for a rematch in the PAC-12 championship game, although a loss to Oregon would put USC’s chances in jeopardy.

Texas A&M at Mississippi State

Both of these teams are facing season-defining games these next two weeks. If #16 Texas A&M can win this week against Mississippi State and then upset #1 Alabama, their BCS resume would be looking great. The Aggies would be 8-2, with their only losses being to Florida and LSU.

However, if #15 Mississippi State can beat Texas A&M and then turn around and upset LSU, they would be 9-1 with their only loss coming to Alabama. Regardless of the outcome of this game, one of these teams will have a chance to make some noise in the BCS picture in the next few weeks.

Texas at Texas Tech

Both teams are 6-2 and fighting for ranking spots not only in the Big 12 but in the national polls as well.  While they both have two losses, Texas’ came at the hands of West Virginia and Oklahoma, while Texas Tech lost to Kansas State and Oklahoma. The winner of this game still has a chance to go to a big bowl game later this year if they can win out the rest of the season. That task will be a little harder for Texas, who still has to play Kansas State in their regular season finale.