Saturday, September 22, 2007

More Knee-Jerk Reactions

Some late knee-jerk reactions from this afternoon's games in the world of college football...

What is wrong with Louisville? There is no D in Louisville, as they once again gave up a boatload of points. This time, it was to the previously winless and hapless Syracuse Orange, as the Cuse shocked the Cardinals, 38-35 at the Pizza Box in Louisville. The Ville has gone from a contender to a pretender in the space of two weeks.

For the ninth year in a row, the Michigan Wolverines defeated Penn State, 14-9. Michigan has started their Big Ten season off on the right foot. However, the embarrassment of losing to Appalachian State still lingers.

The chain reaction of college football continues, in a psycho kind of way. Appalachian State, conquerors of Michigan, lost to the Wofford Terriers today, 42-31. Wofford is the second smallest school in Division I, and is the smallest Division I school playing football. Wofford has around 1,200 students. Anyone want to see Wofford travel to Michigan for a date with the Wolverines?

I predicted that the Nebraska-Ball State game would be closer than it needed to be. I had no idea that Ball State would lead into the 4th quarter. The Cardinals missed a game-winning field goal attempt at the end of the game. This would have been a stunning upset in Huskerland.

That's it for now....

Friday, September 21, 2007

Knee-Jerk Reactions

A couple of knee-jerk reactions, as Big 12 teams played consecutive nights on the ESPN family of networks....

What was Texas A&M doing Thursday night? Miami hadn't played well all year, then delivered a butt-kicking to the Aggies last night. The score was 34-17, but the game wasn't even that close. Aggie fans are knee-jerking, and calling for coach Dennis Franchione's head. After five years, A&M really should be better. And, this year's schedule is designed to get a coach fired, with road games remaining at Texas Tech, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. In addition, the Texas Longhorns visit College Station. A&M athletic director Bill Byrne should be preparing to hire the search firm right now, because there will be a new coach in Aggieland next season.

My OU Sooners went up the turnpike Friday night and beat the snot out of Tulsa, 62-21. Tulsa actually kept the game competitive for about a quarter. The Hurricane will contend for a championship in Conference USA. They are not a bad team. However, OU is a true juggernaut. This has the potential to be a special season in Norman. The Sooners are averaging 61 points per game, and have beaten their four opponents by an average of almost 50 points per game.

I am on a trip to a company meeting in beautiful Lake Tahoe, California this weekend. I will blog when I can.

NFL Picks, Week 3

There’s something special in the air. Actually, these picks are in the air. Literally, because I’m picking games while on a plane at 30,000 feet. Figuratively, because the NFL is so unpredictable. Last week’s ugly duckling can easily become this week’s swan.

Last week: 9-7
Overall: 21-11

Dallas at Chicago: The Maddencruiser rolls into Chicago for the Sunday night extravaganza, as the Romo Empire attempts to take over Soldier Field. The columns outside Soldier Field actually fit the Roman motif. The Bears have a great defense and an inconsistent offense. The Cowboys’ offense has been impressive against two not-so-great defenses. I’m drinking the silver-and-blue Kool-Aid. Actually, I’m drunk on the silver-and-blue Kool-Aid. Pick: Dallas
Indianapolis at Houston: Hold on to your seats, because this is for first place in the AFC South. The last time the Colts lost was in Houston in the latter part of last season. They went on to win the Super Bowl. The Texans are a lot better now with QB Matt Schaub. However, star WR Andre Johnson is out for this game due to injury. This is too much too soon for the Texans. Pick: Colts
Miami at NY Jets: Yuck. Miami isn’t very good. The Jets are mediocre. It’s easier to spell Jets than Dolphins, so I’ll pick the team with the shorter name. Pick: Jets
Arizona at Baltimore: Arizona is coming off a big win over Seattle. They now go cross-country to face the Ravens. Pick against the Ravens at home? You’ve got to be kidding me. Pick: B-more
San Diego at Green Bay: Chargers follow up a bad road trip to New England with a trip to the not-yet-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Is the Pack for real? Honestly, I don’t know. Will the Chargers go 1-2? I don’t know. L.T. runs all over Green Bay. Pick: San Diego
Buffalo at New England: Mismatch city. The question is: Will the Patriots win by a score of 38-14 for the third week in a row? Pick: Pats
Minnesota at Kansas City: Winner gets the rights to eight cornfields in Iowa. Pick: Minnesota
San Francisco at Pittsburgh: One of the better games of the week. The Steelers are in a groove. It’s tough to pick against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Pick: Pittsburgh
St. Louis at Tampa Bay: The Rams have been disappointing through two weeks. The Bucs got a big win last week over the Saints. I don’t trust the Rams outdoors. Pick: Tampa Bay
Detroit at Philadelphia: The Lions are now 2-0, while the Eagles are 0-2. Are these teams headed in opposite directions? Something good has to happen for the Iggles, and this is a good week for that to happen. Pick: Philly
Cleveland at Oakland: This was expected to be the Suck Bowl Deluxe. Derek Anderson ruined that last week with six touchdown passes and a Browns win over Cincinnati. The Raiders were a late Mike Shanahan timeout away from an upset overtime win last week in Denver. Raiders close the deal this week. Pick: Oakland
Cincinnati at Seattle: Do the Bengals have a defense? They didn’t have one last week. It’s tough to say if they’ll have one this week, either. Pick: Seahawks
Jacksonville at Denver: Denver very nearly lost last week to the woeful Raiders. That proves nothing is a gimme in this league. Can Jacksonville win on the road? Not this week. Pick: Denver
Carolina at Atlanta: Southern fried battle promises to be more fried than Southern. Will anyone in Atlanta care in the immediate post-Vick era? The Falcons aren’t very good. Pick: Carolina
New York Giants at Washington: Washington got a big win on Monday night in Philadelphia. The Giants have given up 80 points in the last two games. I can’t see the Redskins hanging 40 on the Giants, but they’ll score enough to win the game. Pick: Washington
Tennessee at New Orleans: Vince Young vs. Reggie Bush. The Saints have looked like the Aints the last two weeks. That won’t continue. Pick: Saints

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

College Picks: Week 4

Last week was an above average week for picks, with a few unexpected results.

Last week: 16-5
Overall: 46-15

Last week, this blog accidentally predicted 21 games. In order to bring the total back to multiples of 20, there will only be 19 games predicted this week.

Oklahoma at Tulsa (Friday): Sooners face the best team they have played to date. This includes Miami. Sooner fans will take over Tulsa’s stadium. Tulsa is a pretty good team, but no match for the Sooners. Pick: OU
Texas A&M at Miami (Thursday): Aggies go to the hood to visit the U. It’s the Corps of Cadets vs. Gangsta Rappers. It’s really hard to get a feel for this game. Miami struggled to defeat Florida International by two touchdowns last week. Aggies have a bit more talent. I don’t know if Miami can score much on A&M. Pick: Texas A&M
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State: Big 12 season opens in Stillwater. Tech has throttled regional teams such as SMU and Rice. OSU embarrassed themselves and the conference in a 41-23 loss to Troy. Troy should have beaten OSU by even more than they did. OSU is in the midst of a quarterback controversy, and is having running back problems. Even in Stillwater, Tech should win. Pick: Tech
Baylor at Buffalo: Baylor is going to wish they had not scheduled this game. Buffalo has been historically woeful, but is improving under coach Turner Gill. The Bears are looking for a win, which will be hard to come by for them in the Big 12. This is a trap for the Bears. I like Buffalo’s chances here. Pick: Buffalo
Rice at Texas: The Longhorns are in the midst of trouble both on and off the field. Nonetheless, the Horns shouldn’t have a problem with Rice. Rice is reverting back to doormat form. Pick: Texas
Miami, Ohio at Colorado: Buffs are improving, but are not nearly where they would like to be. Miami is known for upsets. I don’t know if it would be an upset, but I like the team from Ohio in this one. Pick: Miami
Ball State at Nebraska: Huskers were manhandled last week by USC. Luckily for them, they get Ball State this week. This will be closer than it should be, but the Huskers should win. Pick: Nebraska
Florida International at Kansas: Four cupcakes, four wins for the Jayhawks. Pick: KU
Illinois State at Missouri: Missouri should wipe the floor with this opponent. Pick: Mizzou
Iowa State at Toledo: The Rockets host the juggernaut from Ames. ISU comes off an unexpected win over archrival Iowa. Toledo has not shown anything this season worthy of a pick, even at home. Pick: Iowa State
Penn State at Michigan: Wolverines earned a measure of respect by whipping Notre Dame last week. The celebration is short-lived, as Penn State visits the Big House. Pick: Penn State
Michigan State at Notre Dame: The Irish are one of the worst teams in America. Pick: Michigan State
South Carolina at LSU: Tigers receive test from ‘Cocks. Nonetheless, the home field will work in LSU’s favor. Pick: LSU
Georgia at Alabama: Tide scored a dramatic win over Arkansas, after blowing a 31-10 win. Now, the Bulldogs visit Tuscaloosa. Strange things happen in Tuscaloosa on Saturday nights on ESPN. It’s hard to go against the Sabanites here. Pick: Bama
Kentucky at Arkansas: Kentucky won a shootout last week over archrival Louisville, earning the Cats a spot in this week’s Top 25. Heisman candidate Darren McFadden led Arkansas to a monster comeback against Alabama, but the Hogs could not hold on. This is a huge game for the Razorbacks. Give me the Fighting Nutts. Pick: Arkansas
Washington at UCLA: Huskies opened strong with two wins before running into Ohio State last week. UCLA did not show up for a game last week in Salt Lake City, and were pile-driven 44-6 by Utah. Pick: Washington
Iowa at Wisconsin: Saturday night game in Cheeseland. Hawkeyes were embarrassed last week by previously winless archrival Iowa State. Badgers remain unbeaten. Pick: Wisconsin
SMU at TCU: Battle for the Iron Skillet. SMU currently holds the Skillet, having won in 2005 before the two teams took a sabbatical last season. SMU has been unimpressive this season, and coach Phil Bennett’s job is on the line. TCU blew a two touchdown lead last week at Air Force to lose their second game in a row. It’ll be ugly, but the Frogs should win this one. Pick: TCU
North Park at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology: Rose-Hulman hosts the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp in Terre Haute, Indiana. Some of the Colts’ championship magic dust remains behind at Rose-Hulman. Pick: Rose-Hulman

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mr. Ditka Goes To Washington

Today, the great Iron Mike Ditka was on Capitol Hill. He once turned down a chance to run for a seat in the United States Senate from Illinois. Ditka was in the Senate today, but was there to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on behalf of retired NFL players.

Ditka is the spokesman for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. The group is attempting to convince the NFL and the players' union to reform the system of disability payments for retired players. Ditka, in the meantime, is trying to force the union's hand by asking for a congressional investigation of the union's finances.

The NFL is the most successful professional sports league in America. The league is more popular than ever. The league and its players are making more money than ever. There are many retired players that have fallen through the cracks of the league's pension plan. There are other ex-players who have debilitating football-related injuries and are unable to work. Yes, there are occupational hazards that come with playing a full-contact collision sport. However, the league and its players' union have a responsibility to help take care of those who have helped build the sport.

These are proud men who would rather not ask for a handout. They are not asking for the government to help them. They would simply like to receive something back from the game that they helped build, so that they can take care of physical needs brought about by their football careers.

The Roger Goodell era of the NFL is off to a great start. My hope is that the NFL and the NFL Players Association can do something more to help former players that have fallen upon hard times due to football-related injuries and conditions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

NFL Highway, Week 2

Life is a highway. So is the NFL. We won’t ride it all night long, but it is time for another trip down the NFL highway for Week 2. From the branch office in Windsor, Connecticut….

The Romo Empire continues to be built. The Miami Dolphins are the latest conquest of Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys, as Dallas won on Sunday, 37-20. Romo threw for 185 yards and two touchdown passes. The Cowboys next travel to Chicago for the Sunday night extravaganza against the Bears.

Break up the Texans! The Houston Texans overcame an early 14-0 deficit to thump the Carolina Panthers, 34-21. Matt (My Name Is Not Earl) Schaub and Andre Johnson connected on two first half touchdown passes to help the Texans to the win. The Texans are 2-0 for the first time in team history. Next week, the Indianapolis Colts visit Houston.

This blog has been ruthless in its criticism of the Cleveland Browns. Someone in Cleveland was listening, as the Browns came out of hiding to hang half a hundred on Cincinnati in a 51-45 win. Derek Anderson threw five touchdown passes for CLE, while holding Brady Quinn off for the starting job. Carson Palmer threw for six touchdowns in a losing effort for Cincinnati, making many fantasy owners happy.

The New York Giants stunk up the field yesterday, losing to Green Bay at home 35-13. The Giants are melting down as we speak. It’s going to be a long year in the Big Apple.

The other New York team came up a bit short, as the Jets narrowly lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 20-13. Notable in New York is the fact that Chad Pennington was apparently ready to play for the Jets, but did not play, as the Jets started Kellen Clemens at QB.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to roll. The Steelers rode four field goals and two touchdowns to a workmanlike 26-3 thumping of Buffalo. The Steelers are 2-0, and neither win has been close. The Mike Tomlin era is off to an impressive start.

The St. Louis Rams have been a big disappointment over the first two weeks of the season. Star punt returner Dante Hall fumbled a punt late in the 4th quarter, setting up the winning field goal for the Niners. San Francisco moves to 2-0 in what is turning into a renaissance for the 49ers.

In the battle of Swampland and Peanuts, the Jacksonville Jaguars outuglied the Atlanta Falcons, 13-7. This game had a fraction of the atmosphere of the other Georgia-Florida matchup that takes place every year at Alltel Stadium. Georgia and Florida might be able to beat the Falcons, as well. I wouldn’t quite put a good college team up against a bad NFL team yet, but the Gators would give the Falcons all they want. That’s a rambling way to say that the Falcons aren’t very good.

The team laying the biggest egg in the first two weeks has to be the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were picked by many to go to the Super Bowl, but are instead a bad 0-2, after being whipped 31-14 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are not great at all, but made the Saints look really bad.

The Indianapolis Colts escaped Music City with a 22-20 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Colts’ defense came through, stopping a Vince Young-led comeback at the end of the game. The Colts are not giving up their title without a fight.

Sunday’s late games saw three contests decided by a field goal. One was in Arizona, where the Cardinals got a big win over the Seattle Seahawks, 23-20. Edgerrin James rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown for the Cardinals.

In Detroit, the Lions are 2-0 after beating Minnesota 20-17 in overtime. The Lions may or may not be that great, but they no longer suck. That is progress in the Motor City. Baby steps, baby steps.

The Denver Broncos were nearly embarrassed, as they needed overtime to beat the awful Oakland Raiders at home, 23-20. In the NFL, anything can happen, and usually does. That includes bad teams beating teams that are supposed to be good. That nearly happened in Denver on Sunday.

The Chicago Bears are now 2-0, after doubling up the Kansas City Chiefs, 20-10. The Chiefs are struggling. The Bears are good, once again.

In the Sunday night extravaganza, the New England Patriots scored their second 38-14 win in a row, this time over the San Diego Chargers. It is not known if there were illegal cameras in the stadium. Cameras or no cameras, someone is going to have to get past the Pats to get to the Super Bowl. This team is on a mission, and has improved greatly over last year.

The Monday night game features NFC East rivals Washington and Philadelphia, or a battle of the fight songs Hail to the Redskins and Fly, Eagles, Fly.