Friday, October 25, 2013

Playing Catch Up

Much to the chagrin of my handful of faithful readers, I’ve fallen down on the job this week. I’ll make it up next week, but in the interim, let’s have a quick review of last week and highlight a few things for the coming weekend.
A signature win or a loss by an unprepared team? Who cares? It comes with a trophy!
Last week

We saw some pretty interesting stuff last week. A few highlights;
  • Upsets galore. Ok, raise your hand if you saw all those coming…I thought so. It was a crazy week for upsets, which left most gamblers more pissed off than a Grambling football player (minus the staph infections). Although many people saw the Louisville and TAMU losses coming (like me), others were a bit unexpected (Hotty Toddy anyone?). And who, besides the most faithful Seminole fans, saw that epic ass-whoopin’ coming?
  • Clemson redefined “Clemsoning.” Oh my god, but that was a beat down of biblical proportions. For everyone who had Clemson in the office pool, thanks for playing.
  • The SEC is eating itself. Some might call this weakness, others might call it parity, I call it a great way to find yourself watching the BCS championship from the couch.
This week

This week, all I have are five questions;

  • Is Texas Tech for real? Many serious sports fans expected Kliff Kingsbury to succeed, but few besides the biggest Tech homers expected it to be this soon. Seriously, this is the same team that Tommy Tuberville won seven games with all last year. To top things off, he’s got to be plowing through the best women Lubbock has to offer. This week, the Red Raiders are heading to Norman to face the Sooners. A victory there will go a long way towards establishing legitimacy for the program.
  • Can Missouri lock up the SEC East? If they can beat South Carolina at home, it’s all but assured. However, the Gamecocks whooped that ass last year 31-10, and despite the absence of  QB Connor Shaw, may do it again.  This is probably one of the weekend’s best match-ups with the fate of the SEC East in the balance.
  • Can NC State do it again? Short answer, no.
  • Can Baylor put up 100? They’re playing Kansas, so there’s always a chance. Texas Tech put up 54 on them, so look out. If you like offense, click over when Baylor has theirs on the field.
  • Is Oregon State the best team you don’t watch? After losing to Eastern Washington (who is 5-2 now), the Beavers were written off by most. Since then, they’ve been one of the more prolific teams in the nation. This week they have the fightin’ Trees coming to town, and we know what happens when Beavers and Trees get together. Timber!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Five Things I’m Looking Forward to This Week

If you live in the north, you may already be freezing your ass off, but down here in the south, we’re experiencing our very brief but enjoyable fall season. To celebrate, I’m taking a half-day to enjoy the South Carolina State Fair and all the grade-A people watching it has to offer. In addition, I’ll be taking in some premier entertainment such as the Swifty Swine Racing Pigs. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. While this has nothing to do with football, it will be a nice lead-in to Thursday night’s ACC match-up between the undefeated Miami Hurricanes and the disappointing UNC Tar Heels. Besides the fair and all the fried goodness that it entails, I’m looking forward to a few things. Here they are:

If winning the Heisman means becoming a Jaguar,  losing to UCF might be a good idea.
  • Louisville going down. The Cardinals have been only quasi-impressive this season while plowing through their historically weak schedule. Meanwhile, the UCF Knights have beaten Penn State and given South Carolina the best, non-UGA game of their season. UCF Quarterback Blake Bortles has been impressive this season and will not shit the bed like Rutgers signal caller Gary (tur-)Nova did against the Louisville defense. Look for a relatively low scoring affair that will officially end all the talk about UofL sneaking into the championship game and Bridgewater winning the Heisman.
  • Luck running out for the Aggies. This may be a bit of a reach, but I’m just not convinced that TAMU can continue to win shootouts on the back of Manziel for the rest of the season. Eventually, he’s going to have a bad game against a comparable offense, and when he does, the defense is going to let him down. Considering that the Tigers can score with the best of ‘em, this may be the week. If the Aggies do survive this week (the game is in College Station), they probably won’t be tested again until LSU on November 23rd (sorry Vandy, UTEP, and MS State). If the Tigers prevail, the cries of Auburn being back will undoubtedly grow to a roar. Either way, I think this is as exciting of a game as you’ll see this week.
  • Showtime for Famous Jameis. There won’t be a bigger stage for Jameis Winston all season unless the Seminoles make the BCS Championship game. The same can be said for Tajh Boyd, but I think the Seminoles play caller may have the bigger upside despite his relative youth. I think the wildcard here is the Seminole defense, which gave up 34 points to a weak Boston College team. If Winston can put up a big performance for FSU in a win, look for him to take his place at the top of the Heisman heap. If Boyd can lead the Tigers to victory, look for them to promptly lose to Maryland next week. They are Clemson after all…
  • A battle for a potential BCS buster. If you haven’t been paying attention, and odds are you haven’t, the Fresno State Bulldogs are 5-0 and ranked 17th in the nation. They are ranked that high despite the shakiest of resumes, which includes a near collapse against Hawaii and one point wins against Rutgers and Boise State. Meanwhile, UNLV is inexplicably 4-2 coming into this game, with wins over no one of consequence. If you don’t want to see another NIU-Florida State type showdown in a BCS bowl, you might want to root for the Rebels to pull the upset, since Fresno State’s schedule isn’t getting any tougher. That said, if an undefeated Fresno State takes the BCS bowl spot normally reserved for Notre Dame’s mediocre ass (sidenote; GO USC!), who am I to complain?
  • Finding out if UCLA is for real. I wanted to save this final spot for yet another diatribe about the Ole Miss Rebels, but let’s face it, LSU is going to kill the injury plagued Rebels in Oxford barring a complete meltdown by Les Miles (which could happen). Meanwhile out west, the Bruins are 5-0 and facing their toughest stretch of the season with games against the Cardinal and Ducks in coming weeks. If they beat the formidable Cardinal, look for the showdown next week in Eugene to take on national championship implications. If the Bruins fall short, they still have a chance at a PAC-12 title, but a title run will likely be out of reach. I predict that an inspired Cardinal team will pull out a close one, but Coach Mora’s team might surprise us all.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Five Things I Learned Last Week

There are very few guarantees in life, but change is one of the few things you can guarantee. The only problem is, in college football, you just never know what those changes are going to be. While I think everyone who follows the sport knew that the upsets were coming, I would be shocked if anyone accurately predicted the outcomes this week. I know I sure didn’t. That said, it sure was fun wasn’t it? While I was taking in some remarkably enjoyable tailgating at idyllic Wofford College, all hell broke loose. As always, I learned some things and here they are:

Evidently, Saturday is funny hat day for the Longhorns.
  • You can only tempt fate so long. I’m talking about Michigan, of course. After near losses to Akron and UConn, the Wolverines finally fell to a “lesser” opponent. In an overtime period filled with mistakes (e.g., fumbles, missed kicks), Penn State got the last laugh, sending Michigan home with their tail between their legs. The biggest loser of the day was Ohio State who desperately needed Michigan to go undefeated into their end-of-season match-up. At this rate, the Buckeyes already abysmal schedule might be rivaling Louisville’s by the end of the season.
  • Mack is going out on his own terms. I’m not entirely sure that it’s a good thing, but it sure felt good to see the Longhorns soundly beat the Sooners. I wouldn’t take this victory to mean that Mack will be back next season or that the Longhorns will be winning the Big XII, but it does mean that Mack has stopped the bleeding for at least a week. Look for Mack to still “retire” at the end of the season and expect the Longhorns to get embarrassed at least once more this season (Texas Tech will do nicely). If you need me, I’ll be balancing my checkbook in hopes that I can contribute to the dump truck full of money we’ll be sending to either Tuscaloosa or Waco at the end of the season.
  • The PAC-12 might eat itself. With the astounding upset of the Cardinal by the Utes, the PAC-12 has gotten very interesting, but not in a good way if you’re a PAC-12 fan. Presumptive favorite Oregon still has UCLA, Stanford, and a surprisingly good Oregon State on the schedule. Lose to one of them and they may be on the outside looking in on the BCS championship game. UCLA can still win out and move up enough to warrant consideration, but they have to get past Stanford, Oregon, and Washington. Either way, the PAC-12 is looking like the SEC in years past, but I don’t think they’ll get the same benefit of the doubt if their champion has a loss. My money is still on Oregon running the table, but you never know. Ask Stanford.
  • Johnny Manziel is the damn devil. Either that, or he’s got one of those Saban-esque deals with the Dark Lord. After an injury scare that left even me hoping that he’d at least be hobbled for the rest of the game (I know, I’m a bad human being), Manziel was his usual frustrating self against the Rebels, pulling out a victory to keep the Aggies National Championship hopes barely alive. Although he wasn’t his normal flawless self, Manziel came through when he had to. On the other end, the Rebels showed a lot of grit, but grit doesn’t pay the bills. As usual, Rebel fans are left wondering what might have been after the offense stalled late in the fourth quarter. With LSU on the horizon, I think that most of the Rebel Nation is preparing for a 3-4 record after a 3-0 start. Would it have been too much to ask for MS State to lose to Bowling Green?
  • Speaking of Saban, his deal keeps on paying dividends. How else can you explain what happened to Georgia and Missouri? Missouri pulls the minor upset against an injury ravaged Bulldog squad only to lose their star quarterback to a shoulder injury. So, if you’re keeping score, the SEC East is currently being lead by a Missouri team that is without its quarterback. Georgia is decimated by injuries. Florida has no offense. The only team from the east that could possibly challenge Saban (South Carolina) needs to win out combined with a second Georgia loss, and that’s a tall order for the schizophrenic Gamecocks. Since I don’t have a lot of faith in LSU or Auburn, I think it’s safe to pencil in Saban’s minions in for the SEC and National Championship games.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Five Things I'm Looking Forward to this Week

Some people love the status quo. They love big corporations, inherited wealth, and traditional football powers. Others like to see things shaken up. They like mom and pop stores, rags to riches stories, and upsets on Saturday. The former is more likely to drink Bud Light while rooting for Alabama to run the table than to cheer for Northern Illinois to make a BCS bowl. The latter love to drink local craft beers and watch FCS teams knock off FBS teams much more than watching Ohio State trounce Purdue. While many folks are a mixture of the two, I find myself much more like the latter than the former, and this season has been a little frustrating. With the exception of Oklahoma State losing to West Virginia, there haven’t really been any upsets of ranked teams or shake-ups in the top ten. Last week we came close. Is this the week things get shaken up, or another weekend of the status quo? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m looking forward to a few things and here they are;
Somewhere, Rick Perry is looking at this picture and touching himself.
  • Wofford beating up on Elon. Admittedly, this is not the marquee game of the day. However, it will be how I’ll be starting my day. You might wonder why I’m attending a FCS game when the OU-Texas game is being played. First, I should be able to watch the first quarter of the Red River Rivalry, which is about all I will be able to stand as I expect OU to cover the 14-point spread in the first 15 minutes. Second, it will be nice to see a group of young men playing predominately for the love of the game. Third, it’s the last place I expect to run into an insufferable Sooners fan. Seriously, they make LSU fans look cordial.
  • Missouri playing a contender. Another game I’ll be getting updates on as opposed to watching will be the Missouri-Georgia contest. That said, I don’t so much care about the game as I do the outcome. Will a depleted Georgia team roll the Tigers in Athens as many expect or will Missouri show that it’s for real? Missouri has beaten good teams this season in Indiana and Vanderbilt and they have real talent in Franklin and Green-Beckham. Will that be enough to contend in the SEC East? If they can win this game, it just might.
  • Separation in the PAC-12. The Oregon-Washington game should eliminate Washington from the teams in the upper echelon of the PAC-12, leaving Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA to slug it out for supremacy. However, if Washington can pull the upset (and they’re 13.5-point dogs in the fight) things will get real muddy real quick in the PAC-12 North. Personally, I think the Ducks score early and often, but they haven’t really faced any real competition this season. Can the team that took Stanford to the wire knock off the team the Nike built? I doubt it, but you should watch anyway.
  • The Ole Miss defense versus Johnny Douchebag Football. Last year, the Rebels had the Aggies on the ropes only to fall victim to some of that Johnny Football magic. This year, the defensive talent has been upgraded, but the results have been largely the same. Win this one and the Rebels are staring at a possible eight-win season. Lose, and it’s likely a four game drought with LSU coming to town next week. My inner Ole Miss fan (i.e., pessimist) thinks that Johnny will come into town and rain touchdowns while the Rebel offense struggles to keep up. My more optimistic side died during the Bama game, so you won’t be hearing from it.
  • Swamp People. No, not the reality show about scary, bearded folks who hunt alligators for a living, but the game between the Bayou Bengals and the Florida Gators. This will be the best test of the season for the LSU offense, which has been uncharacteristically competent. It will also be a great opportunity for Florida QB Tyler Murphy to show what he can do against a LSU defense that has been uncharacteristically porous. Expect for Zach Mettenberger to put up solid numbers against the Gators until Les Miles inexplicable pulls him in favor of recent "juco transfer" LaMarcus Tussell who will win the game but later fail the requisite 15 drug tests to warrant a “talking to” and a 10 second suspension for the Ole Miss game (as voted for by the team).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Word on the Condoleezza Rice Controversy

Football is a male sport. It always has been and it always will be, save a few exceptions at the peewee, middle and high school levels. We may one day even see a female kicker at a FBS school, but football will remain an almost exclusively male enterprise. That said, women have made some minor inroads into the football arena, most notably as announcers and commentators. This hasn’t sit well with the old guard, many of whom view women as interlopers into one of the remaining male sanctums. This came to a head when it was leaked that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might be on the football playoff committee that is being formed to decide the participants in the 2014 FBS football playoff. Some notable male sports figures, including former Auburn coach Pat Dye and current talking head David Pollack, have come out against her appointment, or the appointment of any woman, to the committee. I’ll spare you their arguments as they come off as a series of unintelligible grunts that could have only been more backwards if they ended with “and tell her to get her ass back in the kitchen.” Besides the inherent sexism in suggesting that playing football is only an important qualification if you’re female (i.e., other individuals such as coach Mike Leach never played and you don’t hear anything about them not being qualified), it’s simply hypocritical. Our current system is based on the AP poll that is reliant on votes from a bunch of non-athletic sports writers and you don’t hear a lot of complaining about that. Ultimately, I think it’s a case of taking football a little too seriously. Deciding who the best four teams in the country are isn’t as difficult as, say, being Secretary of State. Hell, I’m pretty sure I can do it and my greatest football accomplishments include playing second string in high school and winning numerous national championships on my PS3. Sadly, anyone hiding behind the “never played football” argument is taking the cowardly way out to avoid admitting the truth; they’re simply sexist Neanderthals. Ultimately, the person that needs to grow a pair of balls isn’t Dr. Rice, it’s them.