Thursday, December 04, 2008

NFL Picks, Week 14

Last Week: 10-6 (.625)
Season: 122-69-1 (.712)

Dallas at Pittsburgh: The Cowboys have rescued their season with three consecutive wins following the pinkie injury to Tony Romo. Now they head into the Steel City for a matchup with the Super Bowl contender Steelers. Tough matchup for Dallas. However, this is a Cowboys homer blog. Pick: Dallas

Oakland at San Diego (Thursday): The NFL Network got a dud game this week. It’s a good thing it’s only available to about 30% of the United States. Pick: San Diego

Jacksonville at Chicago: Struggling warm-weather team goes to the Great White North of Chicago in December. Good luck with all that. Pick: Chicago

Minnesota at Detroit: Could this be the week the Lions get a W? Don’t count on it. Pick: Minnesota

Houston at Green Bay: Mediocre warm-weather team goes to the Great White North of Green Bay in December. Good luck with all that. See Jacksonville vs. Chicago. Pick: Green Bay

Cincinnati at Indianapolis: The Colts have righted the ship, and now host the woeful Bengals. Pick: Indy

Atlanta at New Orleans: The Falcons are the surprise of the year in the NFL. They continue to roll in a shootout. Pick: Atlanta

Philadelphia at New York Giants: The Giants’ star receiver literally shoots himself in the foot, but they roll right along. Pick: Giants

Cleveland at Tennessee: The Browns are another disappointing team, and lost their second quarterback of the season last week due to injury. The Titans have a good chance to go to the Super Bowl. Pick: Titans

Miami vs. Buffalo at Toronto: The Bills play the first of a series of regular season home games in Toronto over the next five years. They’ve struggled so much in recent weeks that they had to leave the country. The Dolphins are a pleasant surprise this year. Pick: Miami

Kansas City at Denver: Will there be any defense in this game? Pick: Denver

New York Jets at San Francisco: The 49ers look for their second consecutive win. The Jets are trying to reassume control of the AFC East. The Jets are a better team. Pick: Jets

New England at Seattle: Patriots should roll over this shell of a once-excellent team. Pick: New England

St. Louis at Arizona: Cardinals return home where they are a much better team. Pick: Arizona

Washington at Baltimore: Winner gets bragging rights to the entire state of Maryland. Redskins are walking into a lions’ den. Pick: Baltimore

Tampa Bay at Carolina (Monday): Great game for Monday Night Football. Both teams are tied for the NFC South division lead. Winner will be in good position to win the division. Pick: Carolina

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

College Picks, Week 15

Last week: 16-4 (.800)
Season: 208-72 (.742)

This is Championship Weekend. It is as close as college football gets to playoff competition. Large conferences use this weekend to hold championship games. More importantly to athletic departments, they generate huge sums of cash. Non-revenue sports cost a lot of money, and these championships help pay for them. In addition, the Big East and Pac-10 have moved some games to this weekend for TV exposure. Plus, Army and Navy meet for their annual showdown. If you like college football, this is your weekend.

Just 10 picks this week…

Big XII Championship at Kansas City: Oklahoma vs. Missouri: The Sooners arrive in Kansas City as the beneficiaries of a slight bump in the BCS computers, placing them in this game ahead of Texas. Missouri is the best of a mediocre bunch in the Big 12 North, despite losing a week ago on this same field to archrival Kansas. Strange things can happen in conference championship games, so don’t count Mizzou out, especially on a cold night in Kansas City. Nonetheless, OU is on a gigantic roll. Pick: OU

SEC Championship at Atlanta: Alabama vs. Florida: A virtual national semifinal. Florida has been impressive since a September loss to Ole Miss. Alabama has gone 12-0. Many think it is a foregone conclusion that Florida is going to win going away. Vegas agrees, making the Gators 9 ½ point favorites. However, Alabama is undefeated for a reason. Tide shocks the world once again. Pick: Alabama

ACC Championship at Tampa: Boston College vs. Virginia Tech: The ACC was nothing if not balanced this season. 10 teams are bowl eligible, and every team lost at least three conference games. BC and Tech survived the tiebreakers in the two divisions and make the trip to Tampa. The conference hopes to draw a better crowd in Tampa than they did in Jacksonville last year for the same two teams. Pick: BC

MAC Championship at Detroit (Friday): Ball State vs. Buffalo: The Cardinals are undefeated at 12-0, and have moved up to 12th in the latest BCS standings. They are the real deal. On the opposite sideline are the Buffalo Bulls. Before former Nebraska great Turner Gill arrived as coach, Buffalo was the worst program in college football. It is a miracle that they are bowl eligible within four years of Gill’s arrival. A bigger school needs to hire him. In the meantime, it’s the year of the Cardinals. Ball State should roll again. Pick: Ball State

Conference USA Championship: East Carolina at Tulsa: Both teams made noise earlier in the year, and finished with enough to make it to the championship game. The West division was strongest this year, with similar offensive results to their cousins in the Big 12 South. Tulsa was the best of those teams, and is playing at home. Pick: Tulsa

Army vs. Navy at Philadelphia: The annual classic returns to Philly, and Navy once again has a better team. Both teams will win when fighting terrorists and other enemies of the state. Only one team will win this game, however. Pick: Navy

USC vs. UCLA: The Trojans will wear red jerseys in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. USC coach Pete Carroll is willing to lose a timeout in each half to honor the previous tradition set by the schools when both played at the Coliseum. What a stupid NCAA rule, as teams should be able to wear whatever color they want as long as they are not the same as their opponents. Outside of this, there’s not much else to this game. USC should roll. Pick: SC

Arizona State at Arizona: Both teams would like to be better. The Sun Devils need a win to become bowl eligible, while the Wildcats need a win to achieve a winning season at 7-5. Pick: Arizona

South Florida at West Virginia: The Disappointment Bowl. This game was originally scheduled as a de facto Big East championship game. Instead, these teams are trying to save face. Don’t trust a team from Florida traveling north in December. Pick: West Virginia

Pittsburgh at Connecticut: Two Big East bowl-eligible teams do battle in a season-ender. UConn is tough at home. Pick: UConn

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ugly Uniform of the Day

Last Saturday, the Missouri Tigers broke out these threads in their annual rivalry game against Kansas. The Tigers came out on the short end of a 40-37 loss played in the sleet in Kansas City.

The game was great, but the uniforms are as ugly as the weather they played in. It looks like something my high school wore in the 80's, only Mizzou's has some white trim on it. The only thing worse was when Missouri last broke out gold uniforms, in a 1984 home date with Notre Dame. That day, the Tigers wore gold pants with the gold jerseys. Interestingly enough, they lost that day, too. Maybe the Tigers won't wear these again any time soon.

These uniforms are really bad. We won't be subject to them Saturday night in the Big 12 championship game, since the North team wears white when the championship game is played in the North. These jerseys look like puke.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Breaking Ties Is Hard To Do

There is going to be a Big 12 championship game Saturday night in Kansas City, and Oklahoma is going to be in it. The Sooners used a 61-41 win at Oklahoma State to impress enough of the BCS computers to pass Texas in this week’s BCS ratings, enabling OU to win the league’s 5th tiebreaker over Texas and Texas Tech for the spot in Kansas City against the Missouri Tigers. (Wait, that’s a basketball score! The two schools have scored fewer points in basketball games against each other!)

The involvement of hard drives and statistical formulas provides a fitting end to the greatest season in the short history of the Big 12. OU, Texas, and Tech ran up point totals that would make the best video gamer proud. Not far behind them was Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were the fourth best team in the South division, but would have won the North. Heck, the Cowboys would have won the ACC, the Big East, and a few other conferences.

OU, Texas, and Tech were ESPN and ABC’s dream. The ABC Saturday night crew spent a lot of time this fall in Texas and Oklahoma, as that is where the best matchups were. It’s not that there was a lack of defense here. It’s just that the offenses were so good that nothing could stop them. These four teams gave fans plenty of reason to spend money to attend games and to make time to watch them on TV.

Teeth are gnashing and mouths are wailing tonight in the city of Austin, as the Texas Longhorns came out on the wrong end of this tiebreaker. They have good reason, as Texas beat OU in Dallas, 45-35. The wildcard in this scenario is that there is a third team in this scenario, Texas Tech, that finished with the same record as OU and UT. If the head-to-head result between OU and UT matters, then so does the head-to-head matchup between UT and Tech. By the way, Tech won that game, 39-33 in Lubbock. OU’s later pounding of the Red Raiders does not take away from Tech’s great season or their role in the tiebreaker.

Is there a better way to break the tie? Perhaps. The SEC and ACC drops the third team from the tie if said team is more than 5 places below the higher-ranked team in the BCS standings. That would not happen here, as Tech is ranked 7th behind OU’s 2nd and UT’s 3rd. Maybe the three schools should do what high schools in Florida do: meet at a neutral site on a Tuesday night, play one quarter each against each other, and let the two top teams play a final quarter for all the marbles. Just kidding, as this would be logistically impossible. A more logical solution would be for the three coaches to meet at a truck stop in Wichita Falls and flip coins. Or, draw straws. Or, better yet, play Rock, Paper, Scissors. Ok, with as much money as these teams generate and these coaches make, they could meet at the Grand Hyatt at DFW Airport. The truck stop would make for better TV, though. Kinda like the real story in the book, Friday Night Lights. To sum it up, there’s not a good way to break a tie between three really good teams.

There is hope for the Longhorns. OU could very well lose to Missouri Saturday night in Kansas City. And, the Longhorns could very well stay ahead of Florida if the Gators defeat #1 Alabama in the SEC championship game. Both of these scenarios would give Bevo a trip to Miami for the national championship game.

The BCS is good for nothing but controversy. So is anything involving OU and Texas.