October 15, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Baseball playoffs continue: The League Championship series are set and underway. In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals hold a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the American League, the Detroit Tigers are tied with the Boston Red Sox at a game apiece. As expected, home field has given teams quite the advantage in each series as the road team has won only one game so far. The Tigers nearly took a 2-0 lead back home but David Ortiz’ eighth-inning grand slam on Sunday helped the Red Sox to a 6-5 win. The NLCS now moves to L.A. while the ALCS heads to Detroit.

David Ortiz's game-tying Grand Slam helped the Red Sox even up the ALCS series at 1-1.

All the injuries: There are always several injuries from each NFL weekend, but this past Sunday appeared to be one of the worst in recent memory when it came to stars being forced to the sidelines. Among the wounded were Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (more on this later), Packers wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, Cowboys stars DeMarcus Ware and Demarco Murray, Patriots receiver Danny Amendola, and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, among others. In other words, there should be a lot of activity on Fantasy Football waiver wires this week.

SEC sets poll record: The SEC continued their dominance of college football by placing a record eight teams in the AP Top 25 poll this weekend. Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, and Auburn all made the cut. Defending national champion Bama still holds the top spot and it’s hard to make an argument that the SEC isn’t the best conference in the nation. The ACC isn’t quite there but is making a pretty good case as a top conference with three teams in the top ten, including Florida State and Clemson in the top five.

A new form of skateboarding: Yeah, I think I’ll pass on this.

Adrian Peterson loses son: Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has had a difficult year so far. On the field, Peterson has fallen well short of the expectations he set for himself when he said he wanted to break Eric Dickerson’s long-standing record for most yards in a season. Thus far, the running back is on pace for a good, but not a jaw-dropping season (approximately 1,350 yards), and his Vikings are 1-4. Off the field, things have been far, far worse as Peterson tragically lost his two-year old son who was reportedly beaten to death. Despite the horrific loss, Peterson still played, but was largely ineffective with only 62 yards as their opponent, the Carolina Panthers, led the entire game.

Greg Oden preparing for NBA preseason: NBA center Greg Oden is making his return to the court for the first time in approximately four years. The former Trailblazers center was signed to a two-year deal this offseason by the Miami Heat and is preparing for his return to the league. ESPN reported last week that he is getting ready for 5-on-5 drills this week and could play in Miami’s late preseason games. Anything the Heat get out of him would be a bonus and the situation is an ideal one for Oden. He will only make the league minimum this season but has a player option for the second year of his deal. If he’s able to stay healthy and prove his worth, he can void that second year and pursue a bigger deal. Also, in joining the defending champions, Miami doesn’t have to rely on him for much on the court.

Matt Schaub falls on hard times: Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub once appeared on the fast track to stardom. Teaming up with wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster, the Texans had one of the most potent offenses in the league. Schaub, though, has struggled mightily this year with only 1,366 yards through six games this season to go along with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. Things got even worse this past weekend when Schaub injured his ankle and some fans in Houston cheered his exit from the game. Fans thinking backup T.J. Yates will be the answer are in for a rude awakening, though. Yates completed 12 of his 17 passes after taking over for Schaub in the game, but also threw two interceptions. Instead of hoping Schaub is too injured to play, Houston’s fans would be better off hoping Schaub improves as he’s their best hope for a winning season this year.

Corey Maggette could retire: Corey Maggette was flying high in the NBA only a few short years ago, averaging about 20 points a game from 2007 – 2010. Things have gone downhill, though, and Maggette’s career has been in jeopardy ever since. In 2011-12, Maggette was still averaging 15 points a game for Charlotte, but was making only 37% of his shots. Last year in Detroit, he played sparingly (suiting up in only 18 games), averaging 5.3 points per game while connecting on a meager 35% of his attempts. Maggette’s been given another shot with the San Antonio Spurs, but he says if he doesn’t make the team, he will retire.

February 11, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Antawn Jamison talks Michael Jordan comeback: Los Angeles Lakers forward Antawn Jamison talked a bit about Michael Jordan this past week to reporters. That fact isn’t all that surprising considering he and Jordan are friends and North Carolina alums, but what was surprising was the context of the discussion. Jamison insisted that Jordan could not only average double figures in scoring if he returned to the NBA, but that he wouldn’t be all that surprised if Jordan did make a comeback attempt. Ever since he retired from the Washington Wizards, talk of an MJ comeback has been widely discussed. But Jamison’s recent comments just add fuel to the fire with Jordan’s 50th birthday coming up this week. Could Jordan come back? I’d never rule it out and the thing about him is that he thrives on trying to do the impossible. Playing at 50 would be an incredible feat and if he were able to contribute to any team, that’d be even more impressive. For now, file this one in the ‘not likely, but certainly possible’ category.

Despite a loss last week, Indiana remains the #1 team in the nation.

Another ‘one’ bites the dust: With Indiana’s loss this week to Illinois, there’s likely to be a new No. 1 when the latest college basketball polls are released. No. 1 teams lose every now and then, but this will be the sixth straight week another team takes the top spot. With all of the changes this season, it proves one thing: there’s no truly dominant team in the sport. By the end of the season, we’ll have a champion. But if you played the NCAA Tournament ten times, you might come away with ten different winners this year. No. 4 Duke would be my pick to regain the top position since the teams ahead of them in the rankings, Indiana, Florida, and Michigan all lost this past week. (Update: Indiana remains the #1 team in the country, with Duke coming in at #2.)

Super Bowl power outage caused by … equipment designed to stop power failures: Strange as it sounds, the massive power outage in the Super Bowl appears to have been caused by equipment that was designed to prevent outages. All of the details aren’t yet known, but the utility company (Entergy) installed a device and the settings apparently played a part in the outage. Because Baltimore ended up winning the game after jumping out to a big lead, this won’t be discussed all that much. But if San Francisco had completed the largest comeback in Super Bowl history after taking control of the game after the outage, it’s a moment that would never be forgotten.

Big East split in 2014?: Even with Pitt and Syracuse due to enter the ACC in time for the 2013 football and basketball seasons, the Big East may have another year before major changes take place. Notre Dame, which participates in the conference’s non-football sports, announced it would be staying for 2013. They are slated to join the Panthers and Orange in the ACC for all sports except football, but it won’t be this season.. The biggest impact, though, is that the Catholic 7 (non-football playing members) may be staying in 2013 as well. They previously announced they would exit the conference to create a new league, but the chances of that happening in time for next year are looking slim. Notre Dame’s decision to stay in for 2013 was partially based on the premise that the non-football schools are likely to remain for another year as well. If that’s true, that’s good news for the Big East. Even though the conference is losing those members, another year gives them more transition time to look for new schools to join and figure out a viable plan to make the conference relevant.

Mexico wins Caribbean World Series: Mexico won the Caribbean World Series last week, defeating the Dominican Republic. To many of us that may not have watched, the win itself may not have been all that noteworthy. What was, though, was the length of the game. The contest between the two teams lasted 18 innings and took a whopping 7 ½ hours to complete. Well, then. I’m all for extra-inning baseball, but 7 ½ hours is long by anyone’s standards. But in a championship game, there’s no choice by to continue playing – despite the game ending at 4:30 a.m. The 18 innings and nearly eight hours of play were records for the event.

National Signing Day ends in bizarre tale: I could go on and on about college football’s National Signing Day on Wednesday. But instead of talking about the best classes, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. In case you missed it, Alex Collins, one of the top running backs in the nation was all set to send in his paperwork to Arkansas to sign with the school. But reports said his mother had other ideas, and she’s alleged to have taken the necessary papers and went into hiding. This, of course, set off all kinds of jokes about an SEC running back not being able to catch his own mom. The bizarre story was capped off by Collins’ father signing the letter of intent for Collins and the running back is now officially at Arkansas. But yeah, what a weird tale.

October 9, 2012

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BCS Championship Update

By: Joe Williams

A lot has happened in college football the last two weeks. The number of unbeaten teams has dropped from 27 to 16. 12 teams ranked in the top 25 have lost (including nine on Saturday). Some contenders have proven to be pretenders while new contenders have emerged. Where do we stand now?

Even with a move to the Big 12 this season, the Mountaineers remain undefeated.

I still believe the SEC winner plays in the big game. After watching South Carolina destroy Georgia on Saturday, it looks like the Gamecocks will take on the Alabama-LSU winner in the SEC Championship Game for a chance to play for the BCS title (but we have to at least mention that Florida and Mississippi St. are both still undefeated and could get there with some help). Against who?

That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 12 unbeatens. Cincinnati, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, Texas-San Antonio and West Virginia 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.

No. 2 Oregon
The Ducks have scored at least 42 points in every game. Expect them to get to 8-0 before facing three more ranked teams in November and then a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will get a title shot.

No. 5 West Virginia

So far so good for the Mountaineers in their new conference. They have put up 118 points in the last two games, both against ranked opponents. Then again, they have given up 108 in those two games. Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma are still to come.

No. 6 Kansas State

If the Wildcats are going to run the table and win the Big 12, they will have to earn it with road games at Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU and Baylor. They got by the Sooners and take the trip to West Virginia in two weeks. That will essentially be an elimination game.

No. 7 Notre Dame

The Irish haven’t allowed a touchdown since Sept. 8. If the defense can do that to Stanford, Oklahoma and USC, the Irish will have an excellent chance to play for the BCS title.

No. 8 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are not eligible to play in a bowl game.

No. 10 Oregon State

The Beavers could be the surprise of the year. They play at Stanford but get Oregon at home. Lets see if they keep it going this week against a stout defense at BYU.

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. 11 USC

The Trojans will need to run the table, which would require beating Oregon and Notre Dame and hopefully, for USC, a rematch with Stanford in the PAC-12 title game. They’ll also need the Big 12 champs to lose.

No. 12 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have as strong a schedule as some teams in front of them, but wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and in the ACC title game would give them a 12-1 record. They’ll need the Big 12 winner and everyone in PAC 12 to lose though.

No. 13 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia and TCU. If that happens and both Oregon schools lose, the Sooners will be there.

Unbeaten teams Cincinnati, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Ohio, Rutgers and Texas-San Antonio 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 27, 2012

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College Football Playoff In 2012?

By: Joe Williams

For those of you who thought we had to wait a couple more years for a college football playoff, think again. Just a month ago 122 teams were unbeaten and dreaming of a national title. Now just 27 are left with an unblemished record. Two of them will probably meet for the BCS Championship in January and one of those spots will be determined in what is basically an SEC playoff.

On Nov. 3, No. 1 Alabama will visit No. 3 LSU. The winner should be in the SEC title game against the winner of the Oct. 6 game between No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 South Carolina. And the winner of the SEC title game will mostly likely play for the BCS Championship. This is essentially a four-team playoff for one spot in the BCS Championship. Undefeated Florida and Mississippi State can’t be counted out and could enter the conversation with a few more wins and some help.

Will Alabama return to the BCS Championship game this season?

Who will get the other spot and face the SEC winnner? That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 21 unbeatens. Baylor, Cincinnati, Florida State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas San-Antonio, Texas Tech, and West Virginia 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.

No. 2 Oregon

The Ducks just beat a ranked opponent 49-0 and still have three ranked teams on their schedule and a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will be in that game.

No. 4 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have as strong a schedule as Oregon but wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and in the ACC title game would give them a resume worthy of the title game.

No. 7 Kansas State
The Wildcats seized control of the Big 12 with a road win over Oklahoma on Saturday night. With four ranked opponents still to play, they have a long way to go but will have a strong argument if they run the table.

No. 8 Stanford
Road wins at Notre Dame and Oregon would have the Cardinal in position to head to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

No. 9 West Virginia
Welcome to the Big 12 Mountaineers. With five games against ranked teams in the next seven weeks, West Virginia has its work cut out for it and maybe the toughest remaining schedule in the country.

No. 10 Notre Dame
The Irish have skyrocketed up the rankings after wins over Michigan and Michigan State without allowing a touchdown. Stanford, Oklahoma and USC still left to play.

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. 13 USC
The Trojans will need to run the table, which would require beating Oregon and Notre Dame and hopefully for USC a rematch with Stanford in the PAC-12 title game. They’ll also need Florida State and the Big 12 champs to lose.

No. 16 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia and TCU. If that happens and Oregon, Florida State, Stanford and USC lose the Sooners will be there.

No. 20 Michigan State
The Spartans will have to beat Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, hope everyone has at least one loss, Notre Dame loses twice and Boise State finishes at 11-1.

Hey. It could happen. But so could a thousand other scenarios. That’s what makes college football great.

July 31, 2012

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Top College Football Games Of 2012

By: Joe Williams

We are officially less than a month away from kickoff of the 2012 college football season. Can’t wait! (Thank you Bart Scott) College football always provides the most entertaining regular season of the major sports in America. We don’t know which games are going to mean the most or be the best, but here are a few that I’ll have marked on my TV watching calendar.

You can bet Mountaineer Field will be rowdy when Oklahoma visits this season.

Boise State at Michigan State

Friday, August 31

The Broncos came out of nowhere to become a major force in college football in the last few years. Boise St. has gone on the road against some big-time schools in recent years; Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oregon and Oklahoma have all paid the price for taking the field against the Broncos. Fortunately, that didn’t stop Michigan State from agreeing to play in the opening week of the season. If the Broncos win, (despite having to replace the majority for their starters), they could be in for another season of BCS debate.

Alabama at Michigan

Saturday, September 1

The defending national champs have a huge test right out of the gate. Michigan is on the way back to the top of college football and a win here would be a huge step for the program. The Tide will have to run the table if they lose. Both of these storied programs have their sights set on the BCS title game in January. The winner of this game could be there.

Clemson at Florida State

September 22

Who’s going to win the ACC? Will it mean anything in the national championship picture? If anybody from the ACC will make a run at a title, I think it starts here. Of course, Virginia Tech will have something to say about that but I’ll take this game.

Oregon at USC

November 3

College football will have a playoff system but not this year. This game ought to be as close to a playoff game as we get in 2012. Both teams enter the season as national championship contenders. Both teams could be undefeated. Both teams want home-field advantage for the Pac-12 title game. Only one team will be left standing.

Oklahoma at West Virginia

November 17

One of the good things about all the realignment happening in college football is that we will get to see some different matchups. Two BCS game regulars are now conference rivals (West Virginia is now in the Big 12) and the winner here could be in the national championship discussion.

LSU at Arkansas

November 23

The rest of the country should be tired of the SEC dominating college football. That’s not likely to change much but this game could at least provide a different SEC team for the nation to root against. Will this be the year the Razorbacks make the jump to the top of the SEC? It will take a victory over the Tigers to make that happen.