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.

July 1, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Blackhawks win Stanley Cup – Late in Game 6, it looked like the Stanley Cup Championship series was headed for a Game 7 just like the NBA Finals this year. With the Blackhawks holding a 3-2 series lead, the Bruins had a late 2-1 advantage in the game. But Chicago scored two goals over the final 1:16 left in regulation to stun the Bruins and win the cup. That second goal by Dave Bolland was the latest goal scored in regulation to ever clinch a Stanley Cup win. Simply an amazing end for what has been the best team in hockey this season.

Dave Bolland's last second goal clinched the Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks.

Aaron Hernandez charged with murder: Aaron Hernandez, a tight end with the New England Patriots, was charged with murder in the death of a former football player Odin Lloyd. The story’s been all over the news and we won’t rehash all of the details here, but it’s just a sad, sad debacle. Hernandez, understandably, was let go by the team as he awaits a trial.

Oregon lands on probation – The Oregon Ducks‘ football program was placed on probation by the NCAA for three years based on recent recruiting violations. While the move is a small blow to Oregon, the Ducks have to be happy that they won’t be banned from postseason play or stripped of any past achievements. A small loss in scholarships and recruiting visits are pretty minimal compared to what the Ducks could have ultimately faced. Postseason bans are among the worst things that can happen to a program that has to then sell recruits on playing with no chance of a bowl berth.

Roger Federer shoe ban – The All England Club has always been a stickler for rules about its all white attire. Still, it was mildly interesting that they banned the shoes of Roger Federer that he wore in his opening matchup at Wimbledon. Federer’s shoes were white, but the soles were orange. Note that Federer has won seven Wimbledon titles and is regarded by some as the sport’s greatest player. Seriously, could you see David Stern cracking down on Michael Jordan for a minor uniform violation? Not likely.

Bruins fan has lifelong tickets … for free - A great story found its way at the bottom of the headlines last week when after several years, a Boston Bruins fan mentioned that she had free tickets for life given to her by the club. The 77-year old woman, Marge Bishop, had to recently give up her front row tickets that she held since the 1960s because of the steep costs – $150.00 per ticket, per game. She had become friends with zamboni drivers and was known by many of the staff there. When told Bishop was no longer going to be purchasing the tickets, the club gave her an all access pass to come whenever she wanted free of charge. Teams can’t do this for everyone, but it’s nice to see years of loyalty rewarded.

Big East hires Val Ackerman as first Commissioner – Former WNBA president Val Ackerman was named the first commissioner of the new Big East last week. The new conference, which consists of basketball-heavy and non-FBS football schools will be a challenge for her. With Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Butler, and others, the league will be a very good one for college hoops. But it will still be a challenge to try to keep up with other conferences where football is the primary revenue generator. For the conference to ultimately succeed, a few of the schools will have to make deep NCAA Tournament runs in order to make the league attractive to land sizable TV contracts in the future.

Brian Shaw new coach of the Nuggets – Brian Shaw was hired as the new coach of the Denver Nuggets – a move sure to cause more confusion among fans. The team axed George Karl who had done a reasonably good job there and has been a successful coach in the league. That’s not to say that Shaw can’t eventually be an upgrade, but expecting the team to do much more under him right away probably isn’t realistic. Karl was the league’s Coach of the Year after he won a franchise record 57 games and Shaw has a tough act to follow. Yeah, I’m pretty sure this will end badly.

ARod angers Yankees - The Alex Rodriguez situation took on a new twist when he tweeted that he had been cleared by a doctor to play again since rehabbing from hip surgery in January. That contradicted what the Yankees had previously said and GM Brian Cashman was none too pleased, telling reporters that the star needed to ’shut the (fill in your own creative word here) up.’ Rodriguez has had a rough offseason after seeking a woman’s phone number during a playoff game last year, having the surgery, and then being named in the PED scandal. The problem is a big one for the Yankees as he’s still owed a boatload of money from his mega contract several years ago and has been in a steady decline the past few years. Typically a team would trade a player causing them so many headaches, but the contract is a reason he’s not likely to go anywhere.

Metta World Peace still hanging out in L.A. – The Los Angeles Lakers got some good/bad news (depending on how you look at it) when forward Metta World Peace, aka Ron Artest, announced he wasn’t opting out of his deal and would instead return to play for the team. He was a decent player last year, but the Lakers would prefer not to pay him the $7.7 million he’s owed. They can either eat the salary and hope that he produces again next year or they could try to amnesty him. Under that situation, they’d still have to pay him after he’s released, but he wouldn’t count against the salary cap.

March 20, 2013

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Let The Madness Begin

By: Joe Williams

The best tournament of the year is under way. I’ve already filled out my NCAA Tournament bracket – thrown it away – and filled out a new one. But I don’t like this one either. Time to start over and make a final attempt. But before I do, there are a few things I’m going to keep in mind.

There are many factors to keep in mind when filling out your NCAA Tournament bracket.

A No. 5 seed is going down. You can take that to the bank. The hard part is figuring out which one it will be. UNLV looks like the obvious choice because they have a rematch with Cal and it’s only about an hour away from the Bears’ campus. VCU could be in trouble if Akron wasn’t going to play without their star point guard. So the Oklahoma State Cowboys better be on upset alert because they have to play an Oregon team that is better than its 12 seed.

We also know that there is probably going to be a double-digit seed in the Sweet 16. Some of the best candidates are Colorado, Bucknell, Oregon, Middle Tennessee St., Minnesota, and Iowa St. Look for two of these teams to make it to the second weekend. It’s Bucknell and Iowa St. in my bracket.

The Mountain West Conference will have a good showing. Five teams got in (New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego St., Colorado St. and Boise St.) and all five will win at least one game..starting with the Broncos on Wednesday night. The SEC, on the other hand, will struggle to find a W. Florida should get one but that could be it.

The key to a successful bracket is to avoid picking teams to make a deep run and then they fall to an early-round upset. That’s going to be tough this year with how even the field appears to be. Here’s one team to avoid in each region…Florida, Syracuse, Ohio State and Duke.

All four No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four just one time in history. Don’t expect it to happen again this year. Which top team will make it to Atlanta? The last nine national champs have had blue for a school color so I will take Gonzaga and Kansas to win their regions. I’ll take St. Louis to shock the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals and win the Midwest. And if I’m sticking with blue then I guess its Marquette out of the East Region. And I better be right. I can’t afford another finish at the bottom of the office pool or I’m the one that’s going to be blue.

January 30, 2013

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2013 Off To A Wild Start

By: Joe Williams

Is it just me or has this been one of the craziest months is sports, both on and off the field? At the top of the list of course is the story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend and the hoax behind it. Every day there is a new unbelievable twist to this story. I’m not even going to try to comment. But it’s certainly not the only wacky thing we’ve seen recently…

More drama in New York

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was spotted in the Bahamas with a tattoo on his right arm of his wife’s likeness wearing only a Mark Sanchez jersey. Does this explain why Ryan stuck with Sanchez as his quarterback for so long instead of putting in Tim Tebow?

The Jets were a major story throughout 2012. Now, it has continued into 2013.

Alabama wins BCS Title

The Crimson Tide winning another title is one of the few things that doesn’t seem out of the ordinary in 2013. But it’s not very often when the most talked about play of a title game comes with a team up by 35 points. It’s even more unusual for that play to be a shoving match between the game-winning quarterback and center (A.J. McCarron and Barrett Jones). One more oddity about this game….the biggest star to emerge was not even on the field. McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb has become the talk of the game after some comments we made by commentator Brent Musberger. She will now be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and will be covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition.

Carmelo Anthony tries to fight Kevin Garnett

An on the court exchange of trash talk went too far when Kevin Garnett allegedly told Carmelo Anthony that his wife tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios. Anthony then tried to confront KG after the game as the teams were leaving the arena.

Tiger tops tee shot, misses cut

It was not a good start to 2013 for Tiger Woods. In his first tournament in Abu Dhabi, he not only topped a tee shot with his driver, but he was also penalized two shots for taking an illegal drop and ended up missing the cut by one shot. (He has since redeemed himself by easily winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.)

Miracle in Atlanta

After blowing a 20-0 halftime lead, the Falcons moved down the field in just two plays to kick the game-winning field goal in their divisional playoff game against Seattle.

Stunning finish in Denver

The Broncos’ defense committed a cardinal sin by letting Jacoby Jones get behind everybody and Joe Flacco found him for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown with just 31 seconds left. The Ravens would eventually win the game 38-35 in the second overtime period.

John Fox confuses Peyton Manning for Tim Tebow

Denver had the ball on its own 20 with 36 seconds on the clock and three timeouts to use before halftime. Fox calls for a handoff to the fullback and a run to the locker room. Then, leading 35-28 with 2:23 left in the game and one first down away from a win, Fox decides to run the ball three times and punt. And after Baltimore tied the game, the Broncos had the ball on their 20-yard-line with 31 seconds left and two timeouts and Fox goes for the trifecta and calls for a kneel down and overtime. He probably is still in the habit of doing this after all the pathetic offensive possessions Tim Tebow gave him last season, but aren’t situations like these the reason you give $96 million to one of the top quarterbacks of all time?

Patriots lose; wife goes off

Following in the footsteps of Tom Brady’s wife Gisele after the Patriots Super Bowl loss in 2012, Wes Welker’s wife lashed out on Facebook against Ray Lewis after the Ravens AFC title game win over the Patriots. And as if that wasn’t enough, Hulk Hogan’s former wife Linda has got Lewis’ back and come out against Mrs. Welker.

Biggest interviews in sports go to Oprah and Katie Couric

Lance Armstrong finally came clean (maybe) on the Oprah show and admitted that he used PED’s. Couric scored the first interview with Manti Te’o where he explained the situation with his girlfriend to be a hoax.

Really NFL?

49ers running back Frank Gore was fined $10,500 for having his socks too low, which is completely ridiculous, but looks even worse when the NFL later fined Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for trying to kick Ed Reed while sliding to the ground. So there is a stiffer penalty for how you wear your socks than there is for something that could injure another player?

Referee scandal?

We are all accustomed to people complaining about officials for favoring one side or the other, but the NFL showing favoritism among the officials is a new one. Apparently, several NFL game officials are questioning the league’s grading system and the selection of Jerome Boger as referee for Super Bowl XLVII.

Super sabotage?

Former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown claimed that former Raiders coach Bill Callahan sabotaged the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers. Brown said the coach changed the game plan in order to hurt Oakland’s chances of winning…a claim that was backed up by another former Raider, Jerry Rice. Callahan has denied the allegations.

Also:

Oregon scored a one-point safety in the Fiesta Bowl.

Houston Rockets center Greg Smith was called for a three-second violation after stopping in the lane to tie his shoe.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was hurt doing the Ray Lewis dance after losing a bet to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

New Orleans announces name change from Hornets to Pelicans.

Northern Illinois sets NCAA shot-clock era record with four points in a first half.

January 15, 2013

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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.