Saturday, November 24, 2007

More Knee-Jerk Reactions

As I said earlier in the year, I love the SEC. Every game is a war. Every game is full of suspense and excitement, providing 3 ½ hours of sheer drama. Any team (except Ole Miss) can beat any other team on a given day. 18 games in the SEC this season have been decided by six points or less. Every team has at least two losses in the conference. The conference season is like a death march. Today, Tennessee went up to the bluegrass of Kentucky and barely made it out alive. The Vols won a nailbiter, 52-50 in quadruple overtime. With the win, the Vols claimed the SEC East title and will play LSU next week in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

The Fighting Manginos, aka Kansas Jayhawks, have had a great run this season. However, their hated archrival Missouri Tigers are just a little better. Mizzou had their way with KU for most of Saturday evening at Arrowhead Stadium. As a Sooner fan, I do not look forward to facing Mizzou for a second time next week. OU can’t win a national championship. However, the Sooners can keep Missouri from winning one.

Speaking of OU, the Sooners rebounded from last week’s debacle in West Texas by pounding Oklahoma State, 49-17. OU thus clinched the Big 12 South Division championship. The Sooners will be in the Big 12 championship game for the sixth time in eight years. They have a chance to become the first team in the history of the Big 12 to repeat as champion. The Sooners have championships in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

Two head coaching jobs came open on Saturday. At Nebraska, Tom Osborne did the expected and gave the boot to coach Bill Callahan. Ole Miss fired head coach Ed Orgeron, and thus deprived several college football blogs of plenty of choice material.

Does Brent Musburger remember that KU’s nickname is Jayhawks? He seems to love to refer to them as the Manginos. He’s done that several times tonight. I know “Fighting Manginos” is a cool moniker, and I’m guilty of using it a lot. It just sounds weird in the middle of the game.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Knee-Jerk Reactions, Friday Edition

Some knee-jerk reactions on a wild day of college football…

The folks at Nebraska are even more interested in a new defensive coordinator than they are in a new head coach. Nebraska followed this season’s porous defensive results with a 65-point giveaway to Colorado. The Buffs beat Nebraska 65-51. That’s a basketball score. At least it wasn’t their worst performance of the year. The Buffs earned a trip to a bowl to be named later. The Huskers get to look for a new coaching staff.

Does anyone want to be in the national championship game? LSU had their chance, but lost their second triple-overtime game this season, falling 50-48 to the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs suddenly find themselves 8-4, and Houston Nutt may have saved his job yet again.

There is an official coaching search now underway at Texas A&M. Dennis Franchione announced his resignation as coach of the Aggies tonight, and will not coach in the bowl game. He is retreating to an island in the South Pacific, or to a cabin in southeast Kansas. The Ags sent Coach Fran out with a bang, though, defeating the hated Texas Longhorns 38-30. Don’t cry too much for Coach Fran, though, as he still got a decent golden parachute from the Agriculturalists.

Right now, it is a good thing to be Ohio State. The Buckeyes may well yet end up in the national championship game. They are 11-1 with no remaining games. LSU has already lost. Kansas and Missouri play Saturday night. The winner most likely plays Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship. If OU wins that game, that knocks KU or Mizzou out, unless KU remains at #2 with one loss. There is a very good chance that West Virginia will play Ohio State for the national championship.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NFL Picks, Week 12

It's Thanksgiving week, and there are three Thursday games in the NFL this week. So, it's time for more picks..

Last week: 12-4
Season: 107-45

New York Jets at Dallas (Thursday): The woeful Jets come in with a one-game winning streak, and are in a scrum with several other teams for the #2 pick in the draft (the Dolphins have a corner on the #1 pick). The Cowboys are rolling at 9-1. The Cowboys are good for big TV ratings on Thanksgiving Day, and the Tony Romo/Terrell Owens combination won't disappoint. Pick: Dallas

Green Bay at Detroit (Thursday): The annual Thanksgiving game in the Motor City brings the hot Packers to town, with ageless wonder Brett Favre. Detroit has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but is on a two-game losing streak. Streaks end here for both teams. Detroit is tough on Thanksgiving when they have a halfway decent team. Pick: Detroit

Indianapolis at Atlanta (Thursday): When the schedule came out, this was supposed to be Peyton Manning vs. Michael Vick. Now, the two-headed quarterback monster of Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich is in charge in Atlanta. The Colts are banged up, but the Falcons are horrible. Pick: Indy

Houston at Cleveland: This should be a fun game. The Texans have QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson back, and are thus a totally different team. The Browns have won overtime nailbiters the last two weeks. The Texans won't be able to stop Derek Anderson. They might not even be able to contain him. Pick: Cleveland

New Orleans at Carolina: Both teams have been disappointing to date. The Saints have a better chance to redeem themselves. Pick: New Orleans

Tennessee at Cincinnati: Bragging rights to Kentucky are at stake. The Titans are pretty good. The Bengals are disintegrating. This has the potential to be a shootout. Pick: Tennessee

Buffalo at Jacksonville: The Bills got spanked last week by the Patriots. Will they show up for the trip to Jacksonville? Yes, but showing up won't be enough. Pick: Jacksonville

Oakland at Kansas City: One of the great rivalries from the old AFL. The Raiders have reverted to being the bad team that they are. The Chiefs have injury problems at running back. Still, the Chiefs should be able to pull this one out. Pick: KC

Minnesota at New York Giants: The Vikings ran all over the Raiders last week with Chester Taylor. They will attempt to do the same thing to the Giants. The Giants are a pretty decent team when they're not playing the Cowboys. Pick: Giants

Seattle at St. Louis: Break up the Rams! They've got their big guns back from injury, and have promptly won two in a row. The Seahawks are trying to separate themselves from the rest of the NFC West. It won't be that easy. Pick: St. Louis

Washington at Tampa Bay: The Bucs are in position to win the NFC South. They should be able to handle the Redskins at home. Pick: Bucs

San Francisco at Arizona: The Niners are awful. Believe it or not, the Cardinals are in playoff contention. This might be ugly. Pick: Arizona

Denver at Chicago: The Broncos have looked awful at times, but now look pretty good. They go on the road to play an inconsistent Bears team. When in doubt, pick the home team. Pick: Chicago

Baltimore at San Diego: Two disappointing teams on a downward spiral. The Chargers are healthier. Pick: San Diego

Philadelphia at New England: The Eagles look to be without Donovan McNabb for this one. The Pats are 20 point favorites in this one, a rarity in the NFL. Desperate Housewives is on ABC Sunday night, and some crime show will be on CBS. Both of those will be better options than football on NBC. Pick: Patriots

Miami at Pittsburgh: The 0-10 Dolphins get to appear on Monday Night Football. Yuck! For the second time in three weeks, the Steelers win big on Monday night. Pick: Pittsburgh

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

College Picks, Week 13

With Thursday night games and family things happening this week, picks are being made on a Tuesday night. This is Rivalry Week, with many, many grudge matches taking place all over the country. In most of these games, you can throw out the records, as pride and bragging rights are more than enough. The BCS also is a player this week, as teams continue to position themselves for a big-money bowl.

Last Week: 12-8
Season: 158-82

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma: The Sooners’ national championship hopes disappeared on the turf of Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock last week, as QB Sam Bradford suffered a concussion on the first offensive play from scrimmage, and OU was upset by Texas Tech. Now, the Sooners find themselves fighting for a South Division championship and a spot in the Big 12 championship game. OSU is barely bowl-eligible at 6-5. This is their Super Bowl. OSU lives to beat OU. The Sooners will be forced to focus on OSU and to not overlook the Cowboys. If Bradford returns, as expected, the Sooners could be dangerous. The bleeding stops Saturday in Norman. Pick: OU

Missouri vs. Kansas at Kansas City: 20 years ago, these schools made up two-thirds of the Bermuda Triangle of college football. Both schools won one game each that season. This season, KU is 11-0, and Mizzou is 10-1 with a close loss to OU in Norman. This is the game of the year. Both teams are great on offense. KU is slightly better on defense. However, Missouri has scored a minimum of 32 points in every game this year. Unfortunately, someone has to lose this game. Missouri earns a trip to San Antonio for the Big 12 championship game. KU stays in the running for a BCS at-large bid. Pick: Mizzou

Nebraska at Colorado (Friday): Winner gets a trip to Shreveport or to some other Big 12 bowl locale. The loser stays home. This is most likely Nebraska coach Bill Callahan’s last game. When we last saw the Huskers, they were hanging 73 on Kansas State, a week after giving up 76 to Kansas. Talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Husker. CU has lost four games to Big 12 North teams. This game is as unpredictable as it gets. The Huskers are playing better as of late. Pick: Nebraska

Texas at Texas A&M (Friday): This is the swan song for Aggie coach Dennis Franchione, who will most likely be fired after the game. Texas finds itself with a chance to win the Big 12 South with a win and some help from the Oklahoma Aggies. Texas gets revenge for last year’s A&M win in Austin. Pick: Texas

Kansas State at Fresno State: K-State plays a rare season-ending non-conference game. It’s a tough ending to a tough season. The Wildcats can still qualify for a bowl with a win. The win doesn’t happen. There’s a reason why few teams want to travel to Fresno. It’s a tough place. Pick: Fresno State

Alabama at Auburn: The Iron Bowl. The Four Million Dollar Man, Nick Saban, takes his Tide to the Loveliest Village on the Plains a week after an inexcusable loss to Louisiana-Monroe. It doesn’t get any better for the Tide. War Eagle gets its sixth win in a row over Bama. Pick: Auburn

Arkansas at LSU (Friday): Houston Nutt enters perhaps his last game as coach of the Razorbacks as a decided underdog on the road at the #1 team in the nation, LSU. The Bayou Bengals are two wins away from a national championship game on their virtual home field at the Superdome in New Orleans. Do the Pigs have a chance? Not much of one. Pick: LSU

Tennessee at Kentucky: This game was once played for a barrel of bourbon, before two Kentucky players were killed by a drunk driver in 1999. It became smart to de-emphasize the alcohol. The rivalry hasn’t cooled off at all. Tennessee needs a win to earn a spot in the SEC championship game. Kentucky has had some good wins, but has fallen victim to the brutal SEC schedule. The Cats smell blood, and can make their season with a win over the Vols. It doesn’t happen here. Tennessee gets the win. Pick: Tennessee

Florida State at Florida: The Seminoles have shown flashes of brilliance this season, and flashes of mediocrity. The Gators have three losses to SEC opponents. Throw out the records in this one. However, there’s a guy named Tebow that plays for the Gators. Advantage, Florida. Pick: Gators

Clemson at South Carolina: Another bitter in-state rivalry, with two coaches which have active agents. Tommy Bowden is about to get run off from Clemson after not winning a division or conference championship in nine years. Steve Spurrier is rumored to be unhappy at South Carolina and has been mentioned in connection with the Texas A&M job. Which team wants to fight for their coach? The ‘Cocks have been in freefall. Pick: Clemson

Georgia at Georgia Tech: The Bulldogs enter this game as a team that no one wants to play. The Yellow Jackets enter this game as a team that a lot of teams want to play. This could be the last game of the Chan Gailey era in Midtown Atlanta. The Bulldogs are too much. Pick: Georgia

Ole Miss at Mississippi State: The Egg Bowl. The Rebels have shown themselves to be the worst team in the SEC. MSU is bowl-eligible in Sylvester Croom’s fourth year, and are trying to solidify a bowl bid. Rebels get Croomed. Pick: Mississippi State

USC at Arizona State (Thursday): Thursday Night Football returns to the wild Pac-10, where both USC and ASU suddenly have Rose Bowl hopes once again. This has been a bad year by USC standards. The Trojans have lost two games. ASU now controls their own destiny in the Pac-10. The Fighting Sun Devils won’t blow it. Pick: ASU

Connecticut at West Virginia: Believe it or not, this is for a conference championship. UConn is 5-1 in the Big East, and has an opportunity to go 10-2, win the conference, and go to a BCS bowl. They haven’t played a team as good as West Virginia. The Mountaineers have a good chance to play for a national championship. They take no prisoners against UConn. Pick: WVU

Virginia Tech at Virginia: Big game in the Commonwealth for a division championship in the ACC. Virginia Tech has the tradition, while Virginia has the home field. This is the Cavs’ year. Pick: Virginia

Utah at BYU: The Holy War. BYU has rolled through the Mountain West. That continues here against their archrival. Pick: BYU

Duke at North Carolina: A great basketball game, a horrible football game. Duke is so bad, they lost by three touchdowns to Notre Dame. Pick: UNC

Notre Dame at Stanford: Notre Dame makes their annual trip to the West Coast to play Stanford. The Irish need a win to avoid a 10-loss season. Stanford attempts to earn wins over USC and Notre Dame in the same season. Coach Jim Harbaugh is a Michigan man, and thus has no love lost for the Irish. Pick: Stanford

Oregon at UCLA: The Ducks find themselves reeling after the season-ending injury to QB and Heisman Trophy candidate Dennis Dixon. Oregon has plenty to play for, as they can still go to the Rose Bowl as long as they win out and Arizona State loses. UCLA defines inconsistency. Pick: Oregon

Boise State at Hawaii (Friday): The game of the year in the WAC. Both teams have an outside chance at the BCS. They have one loss between them. There will be a lot of points scored in this game. It will be a wild scene in Honolulu. The home island advantage is too much for the plucky Broncos to overcome. Pick: Hawaii

Monday, November 19, 2007

NFL Highway, Week 11

The NFL Highway always leads through Nevada. Don’t let anyone tell you different. They’ll never have a team of their own, but a TON of money passes through that state in relation to the NFL. That is due to legalized sports betting.

The NFL had its share of excitement on Sunday. There was a blowout of collegiate proportions, there were field goals bouncing off goal posts, and the two NFC leaders continued on their collision course.

The Dallas Cowboys continued their run through the NFC, holding on for a win over their archrival Washington Redskins, 28-23. Tony Romo threw four touchdown passes to Terrell Owens to give the Cowboys the win. Jerry Jones got lucky on a quarterback, and was willing to pay a mortal enemy to come over to his camp. Both moves are paying off in spades up to this point. As long as Tony throws the ball to T.O., T.O. is happy.

In Green Bay, the Packers continued their roll, defeating Vinny Testaverde and the Carolina Panthers, 31-17. The combined ages of the quarterbacks in this game was 82. 38-year-old Brett Favre continues to amaze, and is having a career year in leading the Pack to a 9-1 record.

The play of the day occurred in Baltimore. Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson attempted a 51 yard field goal to tie the game on the last play and send it into overtime. The ball bounced off the upright and went down on the field. The officials called it no good. One of the officials, however, noticed that the ball bounced off the upright, then bounced off the top of the goal post fixture before bouncing down onto the field. After a consultation, the officials reversed themselves and declared the field goal good. The players had already gone toward the locker rooms, and were summoned back to the field for overtime. Dawson then kicked a field goal in overtime to win the game for the Browns, 33-30. The Browns are a fun team to watch. By the way, both veteran kickers in this game are graduates of Lake Highlands High School in Dallas: the Browns’ Dawson and the Ravens’ Matt Stover.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are starting to take control of a bad NFC South division. The Bucs throttled the Atlanta Falcons, 31-7. The game wasn’t even that close.

In Cincinnati, Antrel Rolle ruined Carson Palmer’s day. Rolle returned not one, but two interceptions for touchdowns to help the Arizona Cardinals beat the Bengals, 35-27. The Cardinals are 5-5 and are only a game out of first place in the NFC West. That is news, for the Cardinals to still be in contention this late in the season. The Bengals’ wheels are falling off at 3-7.

The Houston Texans returned Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson back from injury, and not a moment too soon. Houston disposed of the New Orleans Saints, 23-10, earning bragging rights to the riverboat casinos in Lake Charles. The Saints are a disappointing 4-6.

The Indianapolis Colts are becoming slightly mortal due to the injury bug. The Colts struggled but managed to use a last-second Adam Vinatieri field goal to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 13-10. The Colts can’t wait to get Marvin Harrison and Dwight Freeney back from injury.

In Jacksonville, the Jaguars proved that they are a better team than the once-awesome San Diego Chargers, with a 24-17 win. The Chargers are so ordinary. They will need to make a good playoff run, including an upset, to save coach Norv Turner’s job. At this rate, they will do well to make the playoffs.

Note to NFL GMs: The Minnesota Vikings have two good running backs. They have no quarterback. They will consider all reasonable offers in the off-season. Chester Taylor ran all over the horrible Raiders’ run defense for 164 yards and three touchdowns, as the Vikes ruined Daunte Culpepper’s return with a 29-22 win. The Raiders are one of several teams with a dreadful 2-8 record.

The New York Football Giants went to Detroit and showed why they will probably be the best NFC wild card team in the playoffs, as they intercepted QB Jon Kitna three times and handled the Lions, 16-10. Detroit still has a chance to make the playoffs in the mediocre NFC, but they’re not quite ready for prime time.

The Miami Dolphins have staked their claim as the worst team in the NFL. They are now 0-10, as the Philadelphia Eagles earned a 17-7 win in the City of Brotherly Love. The Dolphins still have a chance to become the first team in NFL history to go 0-16.

Staying in the AFC East, the New York Jets returned to the win column, with a 19-16 overtime win over the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers. That just goes to prove that on any given Sunday in the NFL, anything can happen.

The ugly game of the day was in the Suck Bowl in San Francisco, where the St. Louis Rams out-uglied the 49ers to get a 13-9 win. Both teams are tied for the cellar in the NFC West with 2-8 records. A tanker spilled oil into San Francisco Bay last week. It is not certain that it wasn’t the local NFL teams that caused the spill, as both the Niners and Raiders are pretty putrid.

A surprisingly high-scoring game took place in Seattle on Sunday, as the Seahawks outlasted the Chicago Bears, 30-23. The Seahawks earned a measure of revenge for last year’s playoff loss, and are establishing themselves once again as the team to beat in the NFC West.

Sunday Night Football on NBC was not family entertainment. The New England Patriots annihilated the Buffalo Bills, 56-10. Believe it or not, one of the touchdowns was on defense, and Bill Belichick actually started emptying the bench in the 3rd quarter. The Patriots have only punted 22 times in 10 games. They are a well-oiled killing machine. They could have scored 70 or 80 if they had wanted. But, they have to play the Bills twice a year, every year, and payback is always possible.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More Bowl Projections

Every week in college football brings the unexpected. Last week was no exception, as BCS #2 Oregon and BCS #4 Oklahoma were defeated, throwing the BCS into even more chaos. Here are this blog’s latest bowl projections.

This list projects LSU as the winner of the SEC championship game. It also projects Missouri to defeat Kansas this week, and to go on to defeat Oklahoma or Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Sorry, as I like the Fighting Manginos, and I love the Sooners, but Mizzou is playing more than well enough to beat both teams. Mizzou would use wins over those two teams to leap past West Virginia into a spot in the national championship game.

Hawaii is 15th in the BCS this week. Even with a win over Boise State, the Warriors probably will not get the votes or computer points they need to finish in the top 12 of the BCS. They really need Connecticut to beat West Virginia this week and win the Big East. A non-BCS conference champion can also qualify for the BCS if they finish in the top 16 and ahead of a qualifying conference champion.


BCS NCG: LSU vs. Missouri
Rose: Arizona State vs. Ohio State
Orange: Virginia vs. West Virginia
Fiesta: Oregon vs. Kansas
Sugar: Georgia vs. Virginia Tech

Capital One: Michigan vs. Florida
Cotton: Oklahoma vs. Tennessee
Outback: Illinois vs. Auburn
Gator: Texas Tech vs. Clemson
Holiday: Texas vs. USC
Chick-Fil-A: Kentucky vs. Florida State
Alamo: Texas A&M vs. Wisconsin
Sun: Oregon State vs. Connecticut
Champs Sports: Boston College vs. Penn State
Liberty: UCF vs. Arkansas
Independence: Mississippi State vs. Nebraska
Insight: Oklahoma State vs. Indiana
Motor City: Michigan State vs. Miami, Ohio
Meineke Car Care: Cincinnati vs. Wake Forest
Las Vegas: BYU vs. Purdue (Pac 10 without enough qualifying teams)
Armed Forces: Air Force vs. Houston
GMAC: Central Michigan vs. Tulsa
Poinsettia: Navy vs. Utah
Humanitarian: Boise State vs. Iowa (ACC without enough qualifying teams)
Papajohn’s: Memphis vs. Ball State
New Orleans: East Carolina vs. Troy
Texas: South Florida vs. TCU (Big 12 without enough qualifying teams)
Emerald: California vs. N.C. State
International: Bowling Green vs. Rutgers
New Mexico: Fresno State vs. New Mexico
Hawaii: Hawaii vs. South Carolina (C-USA without enough qualifying teams)