Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is 85 a Number, or a Name?

That's Ocho Cinco in Spanish.

Chad Johnson, a pretty good receiver in Cincinnati, has drawn flak in recent years for attempting to wear "Ocho Cinco" on his back during a game. He has been fined by the league for doing so.

Now, he wants to wear Ocho Cinco on his back permanently. The NFL has told him that he can only wear his legal name on his back. So, he is taking steps in the state of Florida to legally change his name to Chad Ocho Cinco.

This is great stuff. If he wants to change his name to Ocho Cinco, more power to him. I sorta like that name. I even named my fantasy team Ocho Cinco a couple of years ago, and he wasn't even on my team.

A league without a sense of humor deserves some comic relief every now and then. This provides plenty of it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

College Football Projections: Mountain West

The best of the non-BCS conferences is traditionally the Mountain West Conference. This league is as much a victim of geography as anything, as there just aren’t that many TV sets between the Midwest and the West Coast. Nonetheless, this conference is a really big deal in places like the state of Utah.

The Mountain West has three teams that can play with anyone in the country. Utah, BYU, and TCU will take turns whipping up on the rest of this conference. The Utes’ toughest game will be their first: a trip to the Big House in Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in the first game for the Wolverines’ new coach. The last time Meatchicken opened a season at home, they lost to Appalachian State. So, there is hope for the Utes. Utah gets both TCU and BYU at home in November. The schedule is very favorable for them once they get past the Michigan game.

BYU will be very good, as well. The Y has the misfortune of having to travel to both TCU and Utah. Some believe the Cougars could crash the BCS. If they go through their schedule 12-0, they will very well deserve a BCS bid. They won’t go 12-0, though, and will have to settle for a December bowl game somewhere.

TCU looks to be strong, also. The Frogs will be favored in every game except two: trips to Norman, Oklahoma and Salt Lake City. TCU has won in their last two trips to Oklahoma. The last time the teams played was in 2005, when the Frogs went 11-1 and the Sooners went an uncharacteristic 9-4. In the conference, TCU should split with the two Utah teams and roll over everyone else.

The rest of the conference looks to be relatively even. However, there will be a surprise team. The Rebels of UNLV have been in a slump throughout most of this decade. They will break through for a winning record and a bowl game. Wyoming, Air Force, New Mexico, and San Diego State will take turns beating each other up. Colorado State is going through a coaching change and will struggle this year.

Projected Finish:
Utah 11-1, 8-0
TCU 10-2, 7-1
BYU 10-2, 6-2
UNLV 7-5, 5-3
Wyoming 5-7, 3-5
Air Force 5-7, 2-6
New Mexico 4-8, 2-6
San Diego State 4-8, 2-6
Colorado State 2-10, 1-7

Sunday, August 10, 2008

College Football Predictions: Conference USA

I haven’t forgotten about college football. There’ll be no video tonight, but there will be more fearless predictions. By the way, I went way out on a limb in picking Middle Tennessee to win the Sun Belt, and I’m catching a lot of grief for it on Sun Belt message boards. Their schedule looks very favorable, as they play the good teams in their conference at home. I have no choice but to stand by my predictions there. However, Troy and Florida Atlantic won’t let them give up without a fight.

Which reminds me: I do this for fun. I do not get paid for it. I’m just a guy in Texas with a computer and an internet connection. I have opinions, and so does everyone else. That’s why America is such a great country.

That has nothing to do with tonight’s topic: Conference USA. This league has a lot of pride and several programs that have made splashes on the national stage in their history.

The power in this conference resides in the West division this year. Some pundits give Tulsa a chance to go undefeated and to crash the BCS. The Golden Hurricane will be favored in all but one or two of their games. I’m tempted to jump on the undefeated bandwagon for them, but I can’t. The Hurricane will stumble once on their way to the C-USA championship game.

Also in the West, Houston welcomes new coach Kevin Sumlin, and should have another good season, though not quite winning the division. The team to watch here, though is on the Hilltop in University Park. SMU opened the checkbook and lured June Jones from Hawaii to coach the Mustangs. Perhaps SMU shouldn’t give up football, after all (apologies to Mike Rhyner of the Ticket in Dallas). I expect the Mustangs to win 7 games and go to a bowl game for the first time since they were paying players big money and getting caught. UTEP has a chance to make noise early with a home game against Texas, and will not go away easily in C-USA. Tulane and Rice will struggle on the field, but will excel in the classroom.

In the East, East Carolina looks to be the favorite as they follow up last year’s bowl win. UCF, Memphis, and Southern Miss will all be bunched together, while Marshall should be improved over the last couple of years. UAB will bring up the rear.

This conference will have a championship game. Tulsa will host East Carolina and defeat the Pirates for a trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

Projected Finish:
East Carolina 8-4, 6-2
UCF 6-6, 5-3
Memphis 6-6, 4-4
Marshall 5-7, 4-4
Southern Miss 5-7, 4-4
UAB 1-11, 0-8
Tulsa 11-1, 8-0
Houston 9-3, 6-2
SMU 7-5, 5-3
UTEP 6-6, 4-4
Tulane 4-8, 2-6
Rice 1-11, 0-8