Friday, September 29, 2006

Ready For Prime Time?

I'm flipping channels late last night, and ESPN2 was showing a high school football game from California between Oaks Christian and Venice. For what it's worth, Oaks Christian won the game, 47-17.

This is the second week in a row that Oaks Christian has been on national TV, as they whipped a team called St. Bonaventure (which ended a 27 game winning streak) last week on FSN. They feature Notre Dame commitment Jimmy Clausen, brother of former Tennessee QBs Casey and Rick, and USC commitment Marc Tyler, son of former Ram and 49er Wendell Tyler. As far as high school teams go, they are really good. The school has only been around since 1997.

High school teams are getting a lot of exposure these days, and there are at least two polls that declare a mythical national high school champion. Sponsors are stepping up to the plate and flying teams great distances to play out-of-state teams. Fox Sports Net has a high school game of the week, and ESPN2 regularly shows high school games. Kirk Herbstreit, of Ohio State and College Gameday fame, promotes an annual event which this year brought nine nationally known high school teams to Ohio to play top Ohio programs. There is a group of programs that have quickly established themselves as magnets for talent, as parents will move their children into particular school districts so they will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level, and be looked at for potential college scholarships. I really don't have a problem with it, but I also realize that the vast majority of high schools will stay with the status quo: to provide a competitive outlet for students, to boost school spirit, and to be rallying point for students and members of the community. A state championship is a pipe dream for 95% of schools in a given state, and a national championship isn't even on the radar screen.

As I saw Oaks Christian last night, I recognized that they have been available on my TV as many times this year (twice) as the Dallas Cowboys, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. That's big time. That will change, of course, but it's still a big deal for a high school team to have its highlights on the Friday night news, much less be televised nationally.

I wish someone would fly them to Texas this year, though. It'd be good to see them stack up against a team like Southlake Carroll. :-)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Picks-Week 4

This week: 9-5. Overall: 30-16

Dallas at Tennessee: Just another week in paradise at Valley Ranch. Not really. The new face of the franchise almost offed himself on Tuesday, then came back to practice on Thursday. How unstable. But, the Titans are terrible, and the Cowboys should get their heads right with ball long enough to win. Pick: Dallas
Miami at Houston: Two bad teams. Miami has a win because they played a worse team in the Titans. Which quarterback will be sacked more often: Daunte Culpepper, or David Carr? The Texans’ defense is horrible. The Dolphins get well, at least for a week. Pick: Miami
San Francisco at Kansas City: The Joe Montana Bowl. The Niners are young, and improving, but not where they need to be yet. The Chiefs are missing QB Trent Green immensely. Still, the Chiefs should have enough for this week. Pick: Kansas City
Arizona at Atlanta: Kurt Warner is the QB in Arizona, at least for one more week. Michael Vick is the QB in Atlanta. Pick: Atlanta
Indianapolis at New York Jets: There is a Manning playing QB at the Meadowlands this week, but it’s not Eli. It’s Peyton, and he’ll take care of business against the Jets. Pick: Indy
Minnesota at Buffalo: The Vikings are coming off of a tough loss against the Bears. Likewise for the Bills against the Jets. The Vikes are just a little better than the Bills. Pick: Minnesota
New Orleans at Carolina: The Panthers rescued their season last week in Tampa. The Saints have already matched last year’s win total. The Saints have to be spent emotionally after the reopening of the Superdome. The Panthers are back to business. Pick: Carolina
San Diego at Baltimore: Great matchup. Both teams are undefeated, and someone has to lose here. The Ravens’ defense will mess with first-year starter Phillip Rivers, and stuff L.T. Pick: Baltimore
Detroit at St. Louis: The Lions are one of several bad teams. The Rams are inconsistent, yet 2-1. They’ll be 3-1 after this week. Pick: St. Louis
Cleveland at Oakland: One of the worst games of this or any year. What a dud game. The Raiders are dreadful. Ya gotta look out for Cle. Pick: Cleveland
Jacksonville at Washington: Both teams coming off losses. Jacksonville is a contender, and Washington is a pretender. Pick: Jacksonville
New England at Cincinnati: The Pats are coming off an unexpected loss. The Bengals are coming off a big win in Pittsburgh. The streak continues. Pick: Cincinnati
Seattle at Chicago: The Seahawks are in trouble, as Shaun Alexander is out with an injury. The Bears have a good team, for the second year in a row. Sunday night in Chicago, give me Da Bears.
Green Bay at Philadelphia: Whatever the over/under is on this game, take the over. There will be a lot of offense in this one. Philly outscores the Pack. Pick: Philadelphia

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

College Picks-Weekend of September 30

Last Week: 14-6 Overall: 64-16

The games become harder to pick as we move away from bodybag games and deeper into conference play. The 14-6 should have an asterisk by it, as Hardin-Simmons led Louisiana College 28-12 in the second quarter when the game was called due to lightning. The game was not restarted, and the game will not be made up. The statistics do not count for either team, but I will count it as a win, since HSU had a commanding lead and would probably have won by more.

Texas Tech at Texas A&M: The biggest game of the Franchione era. Lose, and Fran’s head goes on the chopping block. Win, and A&M goes to 5-0 and probably into the Top 25. Tech has been inconsistent. Will they go down to Aggieland and get the win? Before the season, I would have said yes. Tech’s loss to TCU didn’t worry me, as lots of teams would lose at TCU. Their lack of offense there concerns me a lot. The realtors in Bryan/College Station relax for at least a week, as Fran’s job is saved, and A&M wins.
Kansas at Nebraska: The Huskers had won 37 in a row over the Jayhawks until last year. Nebraska starts another streak this year. Pick: Nebraska
Colorado at Missouri: The Buffs have improved greatly, from a loss to Montana State in the opening week to a near-miss between the hedges at Georgia. Missouri went undefeated in their non-conference schedule. It’ll be closer than it ought to be, but Mizzou wins at home.
Kansas State at Baylor: Baylor is favored in a conference game for the first time since Dr. Pepper was invented. Well, not that long, but it’s been a while. This pick is a real crap shoot. I hope it’s not just plain crap. I don’t trust Baylor. Give me K-State.
Sam Houston State at Texas: Rhett Bomar is not eligible to play at Sam Houston as of yet. As if it would really matter. Pick: Texas
Northern Iowa at Iowa State: A no-win situation for the Cyclones. Northern Iowa is a strong Division 1-AA program. The ‘Clones have nothing to gain, and everything to lose. Iowa State’s program, though, has moved beyond losing games like this. Pick: ISU
BYU at TCU: I thought the Mountain West Conference was getting away from Thursday games with their new TV contract. Instead, CSTV/Versus/OLN/Public Access Cable/Channel 84 is having them play on Thursday night at 6 PM. That’s 6 PM Eastern Time. The game starts at 5 PM in Fort Worth, and 4 PM in Utah. Outrageous. Are they making them play early so they can show reruns of Survivor: Marquesas in prime time? The Y will give TCU a test, but the Frogs win at home. Pick: TCU
Ohio State at Iowa: tOSU’s toughest game before the end of the season clash with the School Up North. Iowa is good, and they’re playing at home under the lights. Ohio State’s the best thing going, though. If they can win in Austin, they can win in Iowa City. Pick: The Ohio State University
Auburn at South Carolina: Steve Spurrier has had quarterback issues, and the ‘Cocks only beat Wofford by 7 points, before creaming Florida Atlantic last week. Auburn slept through a scrimmage with Buffalo last week. War Eagle needs this one to stay unbeaten. I don’t know how the ‘Cocks will do here. Pick: Auburn
Alabama at Florida: The Tide goes down to the Swamp bruised after a double-overtime loss to the Hogs. The Gators are looking strong. Bama doesn’t have enough this week. Pick: Florida
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: The Ramblin’ Wreck have a pretty good team. The Hokies are a little better, especially at home. Pick: VPI
Michigan at Minnesota: Minnesota always plays Michigan tough, and in recent years has created new ways to lose to the Wolverines. This year will be no exception. The Little Brown Jug stays in A-Squared. Pick: Michigan
Miami, Ohio at Cincinnati: Miami is usually better than UC. Cincinnati, though, has shown sparks of brilliance at times against Ohio State and Virginia Tech. The Bearcats put it together against their hated rivals. Pick: Cincinnati
Rutgers at South Florida: The State University of New Jersey has cracked the Top 25. How long will it last? USF isn’t chopped liver at home. Pick: USF
Houston at Miami: Things are upside down when Rutgers is ranked and Miami isn’t. The Canes are down, and Larry Coker is a dead man walking. The Coogs are undefeated, and have a chance to win this game. In the end, though, Miami has too much talent. Pick: Miami
Purdue at Notre Dame: Purdue is off to a good start after an off year. The Irish are coming off the “Comeback of The Century”. Aren’t all Notre Dame comebacks that great? The Irish will be a little flat. However, I can’t pick against them, as badly as I may want to. Pick: ND
Boise State at Utah: Ambush City. Boise State is ranked this week. That won’t last. Pick: Utah
Wyoming at Syracuse: Syracuse has won two games this year, doubling last year’s win total. This week will be win #3 for the Orange. Pick: Syracuse
Illinois at Michigan State: Many will question the quality of coaching in this game, as Ron Zook is on one sideline, and John L. Smith is on the other. The Green and White blew it last week, big time. However, they have more talent, and the home field this week. Pick: MSU
Slippery Rock at Clarion: Saturday night in the rocking metropolis of Clarion, PA. Slippery Rock has rolled over their three D-II foes thus far. Give me the Rock. Pick: Slippery Rock

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


The title of this blog is College and Pro Ball. Baseball counts as pro ball, and this is the most exciting time of the year. Normally, by this time of year, I'm used to baseball being irrelevant, as I'm used to being around the mediocre Rangers. But, I live in a baseball town now (at least as far as Texas goes), and the National League has been mediocre all year.

The Astros have been pedestrian all year, and just went over .500 tonight. Last week, when the Cardinals came to town, St. Louis had a 7 1/2 game lead in the Central Division with 12 games to play. The Astros swept four from the Cardinals, are now on a seven-game winning streak, and the Cardinals are gagging on this lead. The Cardinals just lost to San Diego, while Houston beat Pittsburgh tonight.

If the Astros pass the Cardinals, it would be a worse choke than 1964, when Philadelphia blew a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games to play, and the Cardinals won the National League pennant.

This is really strange. The Astros are within 1 1/2 games of first place, with five games to play. Wow.

Turnabout-or correction?

It turns out that Kurt Warner is going to be the starter this week in Arizona, after all. How long he will remain the starter, no one knows. He was the veteran quarterback in New York when the G-Men drafted Eli Manning. Eli was starting by mid-season that year.

But, the question is: does Kurt Warner still suck?

Best of luck to Kurt Warner.

Thanks to Zee for the tip!

Monday, September 25, 2006

End Of An Era

I earlier questioned the direction of the Arizona Cardinals. Well, it looks like Kurt Warner is about to be benched.

I love Kurt Warner. His is one of the great stories in the history of the National Football League, as he went from stocking shelves at Hy-Vee to Super Bowl MVP. He's a great guy off the field, also. But, as my wife and I have joked for the past couple of years, he sucks now. Four turnovers yesterday sealed it for him.

That's ok. He had a great run. He'll still be paid well to be a backup quarterback in Arizona.

As for Matt Leinart: He goes from having Reggie Bush and a set of great receivers at USC to being surrounded by Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin. To whom much is given, much is required.

NFL Week In Review-Week 3

A review of yesterday’s NFL action:

The Houston Texans continue to redefine the word suck. They got creamed yesterday by the Redskins, 31-15, in a game that could have been even worse. The Texans had a chance to get back in the game, as they returned a fumble for a touchdown, which would have cut the margin to 31-21. But, it was called back on a penalty for unnecessary roughness. The Texans have three chances for a win this year, as Oakland is on the schedule, in addition to two meetings with the Titans.

The New York Giants showed up for one quarter yesterday. Unfortunately for them, it was the 4th quarter. Seattle led 42-3, before calling off the dogs. The G-Men made it respectable and lost 42-30. Seattle looks really strong right now. They are the team to beat in the NFC after three weeks.

The Iggles showed up in the City by the Bay, winning comfortably over the 49ers. Brian Westbrook had three touchdowns, and the defense had a 98 yard fumble return. Philly is healthy, and they are back. You might could even call them the Dreaded and Feared.

What is up with Arizona? They have two great receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, a great running back in Edgerrin James, a still serviceable quarterback in Kurt Warner, and a brand new stadium. So far, though, they are the same old Cardinals. They found a new way to lose yesterday, as Marc Bulger of the Rams fumbled in Cardinals’ territory late in the game. The Cardinals were trying to set up a game-winning field goal, when Kurt Warner fumbled a snap, and the Rams recovered. The Cardinals are cursed, just as they were in Chicago and St. Louis.

I thought Cleveland was going to pull it off yesterday, but the Ravens found a way to win. Good teams do that. The Ravens are good. The Browns are not.

Speaking of Ohio, the Bengals went to Pittsburgh and got a big win over the Steelers. Carson Palmer was unconscious, throwing four touchdown passes. The Bengals are undefeated, and the Steelers are 1-2.

Chicago and Minnesota played an ugly one yesterday in the Twin Cities. Rex Grossman threw a touchdown pass to the Vikings, and one for the Bears. Lucky for him, the Bears won.

As many expected, Green Bay and Detroit had a shootout yesterday. Brett Favre threw for another million yards, and this time, the Packers won. The Lions are the most mediocre franchise in the NFL. I don’t know which is worse: being mediocre, or being sorry. At least when you're sorry, you have a chance for a good draft pick. Of course, ask the Houston Texans about high draft picks.

The Buccaneers had a horrible day yesterday. First, they lost their third in a row, 26-24 to the Panthers. Then, Chris Simms had to be rushed to the hospital, and was briefly in critical condition. He had been hit so hard that his spleen ruptured, and had to be removed. He is doing better, and should recover. The Bucs are in big trouble, however.

The Colts took care of business against the Jaguars. Peyton Manning had a rushing touchdown, on a quarterback bootleg around the right end from one yard out. I expected him to have a rough day, but he did pass for a touchdown and run for a touchdown. The Colts are still very good.

In the AFC East, the Jets went to Buffalo and took care of business. As long as they can stay healthy, they will be vastly improved over last year, when they went through five quarterbacks.

The Dolphins barely got their first win yesterday, squeaking by the Titans, 13-10. Daunte Culpepper has not fully recovered from his knee injury, and is a shell of his former self. Miami has a chance for another win next week, as they play the Texans.

Last night, the Patriots laid an egg against the Broncos. The Pats’ lack of receivers will come back to bite them. Speaking of receivers, Javon Walker had his coming out party, with 130 yards and two touchdowns. I need to put him back in my fantasy lineup after they come back from next week’s bye.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Big XII Rankings

This conference continues to define mediocrity. The conference just missed its signature non-conference win, as Colorado lost in the last minutes between the hedges at Georgia. Conference play gets into full swing this week, and the contenders will separate themselves from the pretenders.

1. Texas. At the top for now. Big game at Fair Park in Dallas in two weeks.
2. Nebraska. Thumping teams they would have struggled with during the last three years.
3. Oklahoma. Bounced back from the theft in Oregon to whip hapless Middle Tennessee.
4. Missouri. Undefeated and optimistic. Will challenge the Huskers in the North.
5. Texas Tech. Big game at A&M.
6. Texas A&M. Undefeated after four games with cream puffs.
7. Iowa State. Coming off losses to two quality teams in Iowa and Texas.
8. Kansas. Fighting Manginos are 3-1 and improving. Big game at Nebraska this week.
9. Kansas State. Stayed on the field with Louisville. Three wins in the Big XII put them into a bowl.
10. Oklahoma State. Lost on the road against Houston, their first legitimate opponent. Jury is still out.
11. Baylor. Tough overtime loss to Black Knights of Army.
12. Colorado. Close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades.

Ralphie Went Down To Georgia and the Luck of the Irish

This was, as expected, a dud weekend in the world of college football. There were two notable near-misses, and a whole lot of other action that pretty much went according to form. The closest thing to an upset was the double overtime loss by the Crimson Tide in the hills of Arkansas.

The first disappointment of the day was the narrow defeat of the Colorado Buffaloes at Georgia. The Buffs, losers of seven straight, led for the entire game, until giving up a touchdown in the final minute. The game lasts 60 minutes, not 58. Ralphie, the Buffs' live buffalo mascot, made the cross-country road trip from Colorado to Georgia. It was his first road trip in 20 years, according to ESPN Gameday. That was surprising to me, because Colorado has had its best stretch of football in the last 20 years, including a national championship, a few conference championships, and several Big XII North championships. The Buffs still look to be the underdog in every remaining game, but they fought hard yesterday, and are improving. I doubt if they go 0-12.

The second disappointment of the day was in East Lansing, Michigan. I stepped out for a little while, when Michigan State had a comfortable 31-21 lead over Notre Dame. From what I have read, Michigan State started playing not to lose, and let the Irish back in the game. The Irish then returned an interception for a touchdown with less than 3 minutes to go for the go-ahead touchdown. The game also put Brady Quinn back on the map for Heisman Trophy consideration. ESPN was orgasmic in describing the comeback. I'm already sick of the Notre Dame lovefest. Barf. On the Spartans' side, coach John L. Smith's head goes back on the chopping block. A promising start now leads into a shaky entrance into Big 10 play. The Spartans will need to play well in the Big 10, or there will be a coaching change in East Lansing.