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The Pundit’s Power Rankings: Plaxico shoots up the list!

Unlike traditional Power Rankings, which attempt to rank teams on a week-to-week basis, the Pundit’s Power Rankings avoid such arbitrary silliness. Instead, The Pundit wishes only to rank the pertinence, scope, and conversational value of the top sports stories of the week. Extra points for any stories that lend themselves to relentless mockery and high-horse rhetoric. On to the Rankings!

1. Plaxico Burress shoots himself in thigh

A true run-and-shoot offense. Well, shoot and run, I suppose. And I’m not sure if I’d be running after I had shot myself in the thigh. Whatever. I feel as though we need to go over the details of this one more time: Plaxico Burress shoots himself in the thigh after stuffing his handgun, which didn’t have a safety, into his sweatpants while hanging out at a club. A handgun he didn’t have a permit for in New York, a city notoriously strict on illegal possession of firearms. And not only do the Giants lose their best receiver, but one of their top linebackers, Antonio Pierce, might be in some trouble as well. This story speaks for itself.

2. The Juice is no longer on the loose

At this point, anything I say would just be piling on. And that’s what, a 15-year penalty?

3. Sean Avery’s sloppy seconds

Hard to believe he got a six-game suspension for what he said. Classy? Hell no. But worth a six-game suspension? Hardly. Seems to me like the NHL was looking for a reason to crack down on what they felt to be one of their more unsavory characters, and they got their money’s worth. Quick question: on a sloppy-second score, is Avery credited with an assist?

4. NFL players take substance to mask steroids, suspensions suspended

Anybody else think it’s a bit fishy that the Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson, of Minnesota, was the judge who temporarily delayed the suspensions of the 5 players accused of using diuretics to mask steroids? Which, of course, led to a federal judge blocking the suspensions until a further investigation into the matter could take place. Would Judge Larson have taken such a vested interest in the manner if the Williams Wall, and the Vikings playoff hopes, weren’t in jeopardy? I have no idea, but I love a conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, so I’m going to go the paranoid route. Which is why I’m almost positive that Matt Cassel has been taking injections of Tom Brady’s DNA, Tony Sparano is actually Tony Soprano and is involved in a massive point-shaving operation, explaining the Dolphins sudden success, and somebody suddenly changed the overtime rules without telling anyone in week 11, confusing Donovan McNabb and, apparently, a huge contingent of NFL players. Oh, and Plaxico Burress didn’t shoot himself in the thigh – there was another shooter up on the grassy knoll, maaan…

5. Charlie Weis’ future in question

Let’s do some math, ok? Alright, here’s a problem to start with: Unlimited resources + a multitude of highly touted recruits + a lucrative television contract + a huge contract for your head coach + the past four years = 28-21 record and two losses in the Fiesta Bowl. Oh, and the two losses in the Fiesta Bowl were with players almost exclusively recruited by Tyrone Willingham. I despise Notre Dame and their College Football politicking, so seeing them fail doesn’t bother me much – I say, let Charlie work it out. Heh…

(And now, for a commercial break. This has nothing to do with this post at all, but I just saw this TV, and it absolutely cracked me up – they were offering commemorative Barack Obama half-dollars. I mean, seriously? What’s next, the Collector’s Edition Obama Oreo Tin?)

6. Oklahoma or Texas? The BCS again reveals its flaws

Though, after watching Oklahoma absolutely toy with Missouri during four lopsided quarters, its hard to argue that Oklahoma doesn’t deserve to be where they are right now. I mean, if you’re a college football fan, the Oklahoma vs. Florida match-up has to be getting you pretty pumped up.  Plus, Penn State vs. USC, and Texas, Alabama, Utah and Ohio State pairing off should actually make for a decent bowl season. Still, even though I supported Oklahoma being the Big-12 South champion, I can’t help but feel as though Texas got absolutely screwed. Hey, at least ESPN now has the broadcasting rights to the BCS after Fox’s contract runs up – now we’ll get years of the Gameday Crew touting the wonders of the BCS. Hooray!

7. Arbitration, Free Agency in MLB

None of the major moves have happened to this point, so much of this story has simply been speculation. Player X is going here, player Y is going there, Scott Boras is a huge piece of shit, etc. etc. Well, except for that last part – that’s just true. Once Manny and CC are signed, sealed and delivered, the rest will fall like dominoes. As for me, I’d like to see Derek Lowe end up in Philly, as well as a second to third-tier outfielder. What I think will happen?  Jamie Moyer will be back, and we’ll still get a second to third-tier outfielder. Though I have a feeling that Mr. Amaro is going to want to make a splash in his first offseason…

That’s it for this week’s Pundit Power Rankings – be sure to check in tomorrow for some postgame Eagles reactions.

E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!

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Coming down the stretch: NFL predictions for the final quarter of the season and the Playoffs

Rant (with a few blurbs from The Pundit)

At one of the Packers’ recent press conferences, head coach Mike McCarthy made a statement about the Packers dropping games, noting, “It’s November, we need to be winning football games.”  I thought, damn straight man, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. Here’s some insight on how Rant thinks it will all go down. And going down the last quarter stretch of the season, we get to separate the men from the boys, which is always fun, if you ask me. (Editor’s note: Are the men or the boys more fun for you, Rant?)

NFC Playoff Picture

New York Giants  (11-1)

The Giants have hunger and character. They were not, nor will they ever be, satisfied with their Super Bowl win. Eli Manning took a huge step during the 2007 postseason, and has now joined his brother in top-tier QB status. This is the best overall team in the NFL at this juncture, and it just so happens that they play in the toughest division in the league, as well.

Eli Manning is chucking the ball to whomever he wants, and has developed a good rapport with second year man Steve Smith, journeyman Domenik Hixon and the ageless Amani Toomer. (Editor’s note: And now, without Plaxico around, it’s safe once again to use the shotgun. Ahhhh, making fun of Plax really is a blast). Then there’s the powerful running game led by “Earth, Wind, and Fire” as they say in New York, and their ridiculous defense. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnola has the perfect blend of youth and experience on his defense right now. The Giants will continue to execute, and in turn, will win games. They won’t wow anybody with finesse, but they’ll smash people in the jaw during the playoffs.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Philadelphia (W), at Dallas (W), vs. Carolina (W), at Minnesota (L)

The Giants will further assert themselves over the next three games, then Coughlin will rest his starters and allow the Vikings to get into the playoffs by dropping a loss in Minnesota.

Final Record:  14-2

Playoff Spot:  No. 1 Seed; NFC East Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I agree with Rant – the Giants are playing too well right now to doubt them. But are they peaking too soon?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (9-3)

Any winning team led by the always consistent Jeff Garcia is dangerous, especially with that tenacious Tampa D. Look for the Bucs to take their division in the next couple of weeks and head into the playoffs with confidence. Their 4th ranked defense is going to scare some teams, compounded by the fact that Jeff Garcia does not turn the ball over. (Editor’s note: He’s only thrown 3 picks this year, and only 9 in his last 30 games. Impressive. Hey, if it smells like a game-manager, and looks like a game-manager…)

They have a great 1-2 punch in running backs Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn, and Antonio Bryant is probably the best wide receiver nobody knows. (Editor’s note: May be better for him that way – when people know about him, it’s normally for the wrong reasons). But Tampa’s defense will have to step up if their offense starts to struggle in the playoffs, and I think they’ll do it. This is a solid team that will continue to play consistent football into the playoffs.

Remaining Schedule:  at Carolina (W), at Atlanta (W), vs. San Diego (W), vs. Oakland (W)

The Bucs will assert their control on the NFC South with a good win over Carolina on Monday, and win out the rest of this season if Jon Gruden decides he doesn’t need to rest his starters the last game of the season.

Final Record:  13-3

Playoff Spot:  No. 2 Seed; NFC South Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I agree, though I think they lose the last week of the season, resting their starters, as the Giants will already have top seed in the playoffs locked up. They settle for the two-seed at 12-4.

Arizona Cardinals  (7-5)

This team is all about Kurt Warner right now, who is statistically up there with Drew Brees this year. (Editor’s note: And a possible MVP candidate). Ken Wisenhunt decided to go with Warner over Matt Leinart, and it’s paying dividends. By the way, I don’t know what is wrong with Leinart; when he got drafted, I thought he was the most NFL-ready QB I’d ever seen. (Editor’s note: Hmmmm…statue in the pocket, not a very strong arm, came in thinking he was a playboy instead of being a player). Anyway, Warner is having success in large part because of stud receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. That being said, I don’t think the offensive line isn’t getting enough credit, led by second-year tackle Levi Brown out of Penn State (YEAH BOY!).

Despite their pass-blocking abilities, the O-line hasn’t helped the one-dimensional Cardinals support much of a run game.  This and their lack of consistenty on defense will bite this team in the playoffs after they finally win their division after years of people predicting them to do so.  It would be cheap to say that anybody could win the NFC West, because the Cardinals are playing good football, at least offensively. We’ll just ignore their horrible game here in Philly.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. St. Louis (W), vs. Minnesota (W), at New England (L), vs. Seattle (W)

Winning 3 of their last 4 will amp up the Cardinals for the playoffs, allowing this team to bounce back from their reality check this past Thursday in Philly.

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 3 Seed; NFC West Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I agree again. It’s as though we’ve been discussing football a lot lately, or something. St. Louis and Seattle are gimme’s, the Patriots will have too much at stake for the Cardinals to beat them, and they will feast on Minnesota’s 21st ranked pass defense.

Minnesota Vikings  (7-5)

Looking back now, we all know that Tavaris Jackson was a letdown, but what else has kept this team mediocre? They boast arguably the best run-blocking O-line in the NFL and arguably the best runner in Adrian Peterson.  But QB and receiver is a problem for Minnesota’s offense. Gus Frerotte has filled in adequately, but certainly cannot be asked to do much more than manage a game. Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian are decent wideouts, but nothing that will scare defenses. The Vikings will suffer in playoff contention, as defenses will be keying on the run, making it difficult for this team to survive.

Minnesota’s defense is the team’s stronger side, but was just weakened with the loss of DT tandem Pat and brotha-from-anotha-motha Kevin Williams. Unfortunately for Minnesota, that suspension is for the rest of the regular season, all for using a diuretic that masks steroids in urine testing. These two guys are behemoths in the middle of Minnesota’s stifling D-Line, averaging 6’4″ and 314 pounds between them – that’s a lot of man to move (Editor’s note: Two things here: first of all, that’s what she said. Second, I gotta think they were using the diuretics for weight loss, and not to get stronger – each are already gargantuan).  The D’s strongest point has just been broken, but it won’t be enough to stop this team from winning their division.

Vikings Remaining Schedule:  at Detroit (W), at Arizona (L), Atlanta (L), New York (W)

What will help this team is their piss-poor division.  Like the Cardinals in the pathetic NFC West, the Vikings will almost win their division by default, though Chicago will be nipping at their heals.  This will take Brad Childress off the hot seat temporarily. (Editor’s note: Is he on already?)  I see the Vikings beating Detroit (duh) and a resting New York team the last game of the season, but losing at Arizona and against Atlanta because of their losses on the defensive line.

Final Record:  9-7

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 4 Seed; NFC North Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: In agreement once more. Arizona will go pass-happy on them, beating them in a shoot-out, and Atlanta will pound the ball right up the gut, where the Williams Wall used to be.

Carolina Panthers  (9-3)

Next in line, the fake Carolina Panthers.  Fake, you say?  Yeah, because they are faking fans and Vegas betters alike that they’re a semi-legit team, which they really aren’t (Editor’s note: For reference, check their cake schedule: their best wins this year are against Arizona, Atlanta and Chicago. They don’t have one big, signature win).  Jake Delhomme is too inconsistent to lead this team to playoff glory, and though he has put up solid numbers this year, you don’t know what kind of performance he’s gonna give you from one game to the next.

The Panthers have retained a solid defensive unit the past couple of years, led by beast Julius Peppers.  And fortunately for the Panthers, they’ve picked up a great ground game this year, though I seriously doubt it will be enough for this team to make a big playoff run. Still, this season has probably moved John Fox off the hot seat for another year. Don’t get too comfortable though, John – you still need a more consistent QB if you wanna stay in Raleigh.

Remaining Schedule:  Tampa Bay (L), vs. Denver (W), at NY Giants (L), at New Orleans (W)

The Panthers will show their inferiority against Tampa and New York, but will earn a playoff spot with their win at New Orleans the last game of the season.  Some people might think Carolina will lose this game, but I think the Panthers will run the ball effectively against a porous Saints D, keeping the ball out of the hands of the ever-dangerous Drew Brees.

Final Record:  11-5

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 5 Seed; Wild Card Seed No. 1

The Pundit’s take: Agree, though I can’t stop focusing on the Denver game. If they get a hot Denver team, they may be in trouble. A cold Denver team is an easy win for them. I think they make the playoffs at 11-5.

Washington Redskins  (7-5)

The always interesting Redskins; they show dominance, then they come out flat. The only thing I can tell about this team is that they’re good, but don’t have the identity or mentality to win a championship. New head coach Jim Zorn has done well in his first year with Washington, but his team can’t seem to quite put it all together at once. Jason Campbell is playing well, but he still hasn’t gotten to the level where he can lead the team to victory on his own. Clinton Portis has been running all over people, but his multiple injuries are coming to the surface at the wrong time.

The defense is looking good, especially after acquiring castoff CB DeAngelo Hall, adding great depth in the defensive secondary.  I’m still not sure why they went after 34 year-old Jason Taylor, but I’m not calling the shots in Washington, owner Dan Snyder is.  Snyder is still convinced that overspending on free agent players and coaches, along with drafting overrated college receivers, is the quick and easy way to win a championship.  Sorry Dan, but there is no easy button for Super Bowl winners.

Remaining Schedule: at Baltimore (L), at Cincinnati (W), vs. Philadelphia (W), at San Francisco (W)

The Skins will lose this Sunday at Baltimore with or without a banged-up Clinton Portis, but will rattle off 3 straight victories and get into the playoffs.  The Redskins get the nod over Dallas in the Wild Card tiebreaker because they will finish with a better division record:  Washington 3-3, Dallas 2-4. The Redskins then get the spot over Atlanta in the Wild Card tie breaker because they will finish with more wins in conference, 8 to 6.  What a mess of shit my predictions brought along with them!

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 6 Seed; Wild Card Seed No. #2

The Pundit’s Take: This is where I begin to differ with Rant. I don’t see the Redskins beating Baltimore, but the game that will haunt them is their match-up with the Eagles, who I think will exact revenge against the ‘Skins. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t see the Eagles running the table to finish the season. However, they probably should have beat them the first time around, and who knows if Portis will be healthy for round two. That, and the Eagles defense has cranked it up a few notches since their last meeting. I see the ‘Skins finishing at 9-7 and missing the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys  (8-4)

Maybe Terrell Owens is right when he says he needs to get the ball in order for the Cowboys to win.  Regardless, the soon to be 35 year-old shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, a benefit from keeping his body in peak physical condition year round. Oh yeah, and his quarterback isn’t going to be slowing down either. Romo is back to his loose and mobile self once more after returning from a broken finger on his throwing hand. I don’t know if Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones gathered their team together the past couple of weeks to try and rid themselves of the off field crap, but this team is getting some momentum going at the right time.

We all know what the Cowboys are capable of and look for them to make a statement down the stretch.  I don’t think it will be enough to take the division from the Giants, but I do see this team grabbing an NFC Wildcard spot if they can beat the Eagles in Philly the last game of the season; unfortunately for this team, it won’t be able to do that.  Andy Reid will want to give his city something to celebrate and give McNabb a nice sendoff gift before he is kicked out of town.  The Eagles will play fired-up football and knock Dallas out of playoff contention, ending Philly’s season on a high note.

Remaining Schedule:  at Pittsburgh (W), vs. NY Giants (L), vs. Baltimore (W), at Philadelphia (L)

Dallas will beat Pittsburgh convincingly, lose a squeaker to the Giants, then crush Baltimore.  But losing in Philadelphia will drive a steak into their playoff hearts, adding yet another saga to the Cowboys-Eagles rivalry.

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: Again, I can’t agree with Rant. The Cowboys have a BRUTAL finish to their season, but I think they’re about to catch fire. I think they win every game except a battle against the Giants. As much as I despise myself for even thinking it, I think they beat the Eagles with their own playoff spot hanging in the balance, finishing 11-5. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find some rope, a step-ladder and a high ceiling.

Atlanta Falcons  (8-4)

Who would’ve thought we’d be talking about the Atlanta Falcons as a potential playoff team this year?  Billionaire Arthur Blank found a good one in rookie head coach Mike Smith, who captured the trust of his team in a matter of months.  Part of this must be due to players believing in a sound system that Smith has installed in Atlanta.  The other part is probably due to Smith drafting rookie sensation Matt Ryan, who has gotten his team behind him faster than my friend the Pundit likes to get behind good-looking men at the bar. Oh, SNAP! (Editor’s note: Ahahahahahahaha.)

The Pundit’s Take: Alright Rant, I see what you did there. I’m not even going to retaliate. No sir, not my style. I won’t mention that Rant has Barbara Streisand’s entire library of music, or that he tried to mix me an appletini the other night. Nope…not going to stoop to his level.

The Falcons, led by phenom Matt Ryan, road-grader Michael Turner, and rising star receiver Roddy White, are truly this year’s Cinderella team. I’ve been saying even before the draft that Matt Ryan has whatever “it” is to be an NFL quarterback while many of my colleagues dissed me. Now I’m laughing in their faces about it because the kid seems to have his team in position for a playoff run. Oh yeah, and the rook has his team ranked 6th in total offense (9th in scoring). ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS GOOD AT SLINGING THE BALL!!!

But the Falcons fall short on the other side of the ball, with a 24th ranked defense; this will come back to haunt them. Doesn’t matter though, as the football starved fans in Atlanta are glad to move their franchise into a new chapter in Falcons history.

Remaining Schedule:  at New Orleans (L), vs. Tampa Bay (L), at Minnesota (W), vs. St. Louis (W)

The Falcons will drop two straight division losses, with a tight loss to the Saints and a huge defeat against the Bucs. Atlanta will then win its last two games, but it won’t be enough to beat out Washington for the remaining playoff spot.

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: Yup, I see it the same way. New Orleans is tough at home, 5-1 below sea level this year. And Tampa Bay is more experienced and boasts a tough D. Hell of a season, though, especially for a team that is probably about two years ahead of schedule after the Mike Vick debacle and DeAngelo Hall’s unfriendly departure.

Chicago Bears  (6-6)

Oh, da Bears. Another team I could care less about, and you should too.  This team could win the struggling NFC North but are not a playoff team. The Bears still can’t field a consistent offense for 16 games, and it will stay that way until they get a real quarterback and some more playmakers. Matt Forte was a step in the right direction for the Bears’ offense, but quarterback and receiver remain an issue. (Editor’s note: Forte is the truth). Some people are sold on Kyle Orton, but I’m not; he’s not their answer at QB and he showed that against Minnesota this past Sunday.

The Bears will have to ride a heroic defensive effort if they want to make the playoffs, though it’s not as stingy as it has been the past couple of years, ranking 16th in total defense and points allowed. Unfortunately for Chicago, they’ll lose when they can’t score points for their slumping offense. This team seems to have some identity issues after making the Super Bowl two years ago.

Remaining Schedule:  Jacksonville (W), New Orleans (L), Green Bay (W), at Houston (L)

I see the Bears dropping losses to New Orleans and Houston, moving to 8-8 on the season and losing their division and playoff hopes all in one.  The momentum in the NFC North swung in the direction of Minnesota after Chicago’s forgettable performance this past Sunday at the hands of their division rival.

Final Record:  8-8

NFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: I agree with the 8-8 record, though I would swap the Green Bay and Houston results.

Teams not mentioned:

Philadelphia and New Orleans: Each would need to run the table to make the playoffs, and I don’t see it happening.

The Pundit’s Take: Agreed.

Rant’s NFC Playoff Seeds

1. New York Giants

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Arizona Cardinals

4. Minnesota Vikings

5. Carolina Panthers

6. Washington Redskins

The Pundit’s NFC Playoff Seeds

1. Giants

2. Bucs

3. Cardinals

4. Vikings

5. Cowboys

6. Panthers (How did the Cowboys edge the Panthers, each team possessing an identical record? Well, they didn’t play head-to-head, so that got tossed out. And they each finished 7-5 in my prediction. On to like foes: against GB, NYG, and TB, the Cowboys were 2-2, while the Panthers were 1-3).

Rant’s NFC Playoff Predictions

Wildcard Round: Panthers over Vikings, Cardinals over Redskins

Divisional Round: Giants over Panthers, Bucs over Cardinals

NFC Championship: New York over Tampa Bay

The Pundit’s Playoff Predictions

Wildcard Round: Cowboys over Vikings, Panthers over Cardinals

Divisional Round: Cowboys over Tampa Bay, Giants over Panthers

NFC Championship: Cowboys over Giants (The Cowboys will come into this game having won eight of their last nine games, and I don’t think the Giants can beat them three times in the same season. I don’t know, I just have a feeling this team is about to come to life. I really, really want to be wrong, and I’m hoping I’m jixing the living hell out of them).

Look for AFC predictions this evening.

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Combining the BCS, the traditional bowls, and a playoff: The Pundit devises the ultimate system to determine a National Champion

There are many quality arguments for a college football playoff. There are a few supporting the current system. There are many people who say to hell with the tradition of the bowl games, and many more who aren’t so willing to kick them to the curb. There are those who claim that the regular season is far more exciting than it would be with a playoff intact, and those who feel that the playoff would simply be the appropriate resolution to a captivating regular season.

The Pundit is here to bring you all together.

What will follow is my comprehensive plan to combine the BCS ranking system, a college football playoff, and the current bowl structure. If that sounds crazy, bear with me: I think this could work.

First of all, the regular season would have to be limited to 12 games max, including any conference championship games (which means ACC, SEC and Big-12 schools would be limited to 11 games before their conference championship bouts). Don’t want to lose money by losing regular season games, big conferences? Then cut the cream-puff games against puny schools. The conference championship games would take place a week earlier than they currently do. The week after this game, a 16 team playoff would ensue. The first two rounds would take place, leaving only four teams left to play for the National Championship. These first two rounds would be played at the home stadium of the higher-seeded team. After these two playoff rounds, all of the traditional bowl games would make their selections, picking from a pool of all eligible schools, excluding the four schools playing for the National Championship. This would leave around two to three weeks for the players of these schools to take their finals, the coaches to prepare for their next bowl game, and the fans to purchase their tickets.

Deep breath. And continue…

The four remaining teams would play the semifinal games after the New Year’s culmination of bowl games. These semifinal playoff games would take place on neutral fields. All bowl games would be played on or by January 1st. In the event that January 1st fell on a Saturday or Sunday, the semifinals would take place on Monday and Tuesday. Otherwise, the semifinals would take place on the first Saturday after January 1st, and the National Championship Game would take place a week later.

Alright: how would this thing be seeded?

Good question. The winners of the six BCS conferences (ACC, Big-10, Big East, Big-12, Pac-10, ACC) would be given the top six playoff seeds, placed in order of their BCS rankings. After these six teams, the next ten BCS-ranked teams would qualify. Some stipulations: any BCS conference winner that did not finish the season ranked in the top 20 would still automatically qualify, but would be dropped from the top six seeds and automatically seeded ninth. In this scenario, the highest-rated BCS team that did not win a conference would take their place in the top six. As well, if a non-BCS conference winner, such as Utah this year, finished in the top six, they would be given a seeding in the top six according to their BCS rank, unless all of the BCS conference champions placed in the top ten, in which case that BCS non-conference winner would automatically qualify for the seventh seed. If a non-BCS conference team placed in the top six, the BCS conference champion they ousted from the top six would automatically be given the seventh seed, unless they were ranked lower than 20. Also, there would be no limit as to how many teams from one conference could qualify for the playoff – this year, four teams from the Big-12 would make it, while the Pac-10 and Big East would only have one each. Sorry, fellas.

Any questions? Alright, let’s do some predictions to see how this would play out. Based on what I think will happen for the rest of the season, the following will show exactly what would happen if my model were in place for the rest of the season. Since I predict wins for USC, Oklahoma, Florida and Boston College next week, my BCS top 16 after this weekend would be as follows:

1. Oklahoma   2. Florida   3. Texas   4. Alabama   5. USC   6. Utah   7. Texas Tech   8. Penn State   9. Boise State   10. Ohio State.   11. TCU   12. Ball State   13. Cincinnati   14. Oklahoma State   15. Georgia Tech  16. Boston College

Here’s what the first round match-ups would look like:

1. Oklahoma vs.16. Georgia Tech

8.  Texas vs. 9.  Alabama

4. Utah vs. 13. TCU

5.  Penn State vs.12. Ohio State

6.  Cincinnati vs. 11. Boise State

3.  USC vs. 14. Ball State

7.  Boston College vs. 10. Texas Tech

2. Florida vs.  15. Oklahoma State

Obviously, there are some rematches here – Penn State against Ohio State and Utah against TCU. Hey, that’s how playoffs work, people. As well, the one danger in my system occurs when conference winners aren’t necessarily at the top of the rankings, as evidenced by the monster showdown between Texas and Alabama in round one. But that would add a whole new level of drama to conference play – win the conference, guarantee yourself a high seed, and let everyone else sweat out horrific early match-ups. An important note: round two would be re-seeded. Why? Well, imagine this year, where the third and fourth ranked BCS schools ended up as the eight and nine seeds in the playoff – would it really be fair to ask the top-seeded team in the playoff to face one of them in round two, should that team win? I don’t think so, and thus, I would propose the second round, and only the second round, be re-seeded.

1. Oklahoma vs.  11. Boise State

4. Utah vs.  5. Penn State

3. USC vs.  9.  Alabama

2. Florida vs.  10. Texas Tech

Some pretty intriguing games there, right? Let’s whittle it down to four, then figure out the bowls games.

1. Oklahoma vs.  5. Penn State

2. Florida vs.  9.  Alabama

Ah, another rematch – that’s a playoff system for you. Now, the 12 teams that lost in the playoffs would be dropped back into the pool of bowl-eligible teams. An important note: the playoff would not affect the BCS rankings before the bowl game selections. Once the playoff begins, the regular season and BCS rankings are closed. The next, and final BCS rankings, would thus occur after all of the bowls and playoff games were decided.

Here’s how I would project the major New Year’s day bowls based on the results of the playoff, using traditional bowl-selection protocol:

Rose Bowl – Ohio State vs. USC

Orange Bowl – Cincinnati vs. Boston College

Fiesta Bowl – Texas vs. Utah

Sugar Bowl – Georgia vs. Texas Tech

I would predict an Oklahoma win over Penn State, a Florida repeat over a worn and torn Alabama team, and an Oklahoma win over Florida for the National  Championship.The semifinal and championship games would get huge ratings and generate as much (if not more) revenue as the bowls. Everybody wins.

Whew…that’s my system.

See – you get a playoff, and the bowl games are intact. Perhaps there are those that will argue that my system renders the bowls consolation games; isn’t every bowl game except for the National Championship Game a consolation game in the current system? Some may say that the drama and controversy will get sucked out of the regular season. I beg to differ – it will still be huge to win the conference, and now, instead of the top teams sweating a BCS bowl bid, the teams hovering between rankings 10-20 will be battling every week to get into the playoff. The BCS will still generate controversy, as ultimately a few teams will be left out of the playoff. Imagine this year: Would the voters keep Utah at six, automatically giving them a top-six seeding in the playoffs? Or would they bump them down a slot to seven, altering Utah’s playoff seed from the 4th seed all the way down to the 9th or 10th? Imagine the stakes for the showdown between Georgia Tech and Georgia this past weekend – that game would have had a whole new meaning. Certainly, controversy would remain, but we would have a winner determined by the play on the field.

That’s what we really want, right?

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Football has become essential agony: The Pundit dishes on the Birds and the BCS

The Eagles

What exactly was Andy Reid thinking when he sat McNabb down on Sunday? The Birds were only down by three points, after all. Granted, McNabb had been playing an atrocious game, but benching McNabb, at least to me, signaled a move in a new direction, i.e. the Kevin Kolb era. And then Kolb stunk it up, and Andy announced on Monday that McNabb would be his starting QB.

Huh?

So now, not only have you put all of the pressure on McNabb’s shoulders by singling him out and benching him, but you also are refusing to give Kolb a long look to see what you have for next year. ‘Cuz let’s be honest – it doesn’t look like McNabb will be coming back after this year. What kind of message has Andy Reid now sent to his starting quarterback? To me, he’s sent a very simple one: “Better, uh, watch your back there, Donovan, ‘cuz at the next sign of trouble, you’re coming out, and, uh, Kevin Kolb, we’re uh, we’re going to go ahead and give him a shot.”

Because, you know, the quarterback position isn’t already chock full of pressure. Let’s go ahead and put even more pressure on McNabb. Let’s go ahead and bench our franchise quarterack, in a game we are only trailing by three points, while we are still apparentely in a playoff race!

I MEAN, ARE YOU FRICKIN’ SERIOUS?

Kudos to McNabb for toeing the company line and playing it cool on this one. I, personally, would have been pissed the hell off. Don’t tell me that no one’s job is safe, bench a guy, then start him again the next week. Especially in a game they were only trailing by three friggin’ points! To me, Andy simply didn’t evaluate the situation properly. Was McNabb playing horrible football? Absolutely. Can you blame Andy for wanting him out of the game? Maybe not. Should Andy Reid have considered how sensitive the entire quarterback issue is this season, and really has been throughout Donovan McNabb’s career in this town, before he yanked him at halftime? Shouldn’t he have considered how this would be treated by the media and the fans, many of whom are already questioning whether or not McNabb will, or should, be back next season?

DUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHH!!! (Editor’s note: Oh, that’s just obnoxious).

What is going to happen to McNabb? If he isn’t going to return, will we get to see Kolb at some point? Barring a ridiculous hot streak by the Eagles, where they win out, at what point should Kolb get a look? Is Andy Reid’s job safe any longer? Has he lost control of this team? He certainly has lost the public support, but will that matter to Jeffrey Lurie? Who would you want to replace Reid?

I miss the Phillies.

The BCS

Oh, what a tangled web we weave. Now, unless Alabama loses to Auburn or Florida loses to Florida State, the winner of the Alabama – Florida SEC Championship Game will be playing in the BCS Championship Game. Right, that seems simple enough. And it seems likely that somebody from the Big 12 South will be there as well, in all likelihood either Texas or Oklahoma, each with one loss. Ahhhh, let the debating begin.

In one corner, you have Texas, who beat Oklahoma earlier this year, on a neutral field. I mean, honestly, shouldn’t the argument end there? Well, not exactly. After all, if you are going to rank Texas ahead of Oklahoma, shouldn’t you also rank Texas Tech ahead of Texas? Tech also only has one loss, and beat Texas earlier this year.

Ah, but let’s not forget about that neutral field. Texas’ win over Oklahoma has to be slightly more impressive than Oklahoma’s victory over Texas Tech, since Texas beat OU on a neutral field, while OU beat Tech at home.

But hold on, hold on a second: OU absolutely destroyed Tech, 65-21. They beat the number two team in the nation by 44 friggin’ points, for God’s sake. To me, that cancels any advantage that Texas would be given for winning on a neutral field. Still, Texas beat OU.

Alright, but how about this: OU has several impressive non-conference victories. They beat Cincinnati, who will likely win the Big East, 52-26, in week two. Cincy is currently ranked number 16 in the BCS rankings. They also beat TCU, currently ranked 14th in the BCS rankings, 35-10 in week 5. As a matter of fact, in 4 games against opponents currently ranked in the BCS top 25, OU has outscored its opponents 187-92. Very, very impressive stuff, and if they knock off number 12 Oklahoma State this Saturday, it’s hard to imagine they won’t jump ahead of Texas.

But would that be fair? Texas has also played against 4 teams currently in the top 25 of the BCS rankings, and outscored those opponents 162-129. Not as impressive as the margin of victory posted by Oklahoma, but Texas faced those 4 opponents in four consecutive and unbelievably brutal weeks!

To review: if OU beats Oklahoma State, they will have victories over Texas Tech, OU State, TCU and Cincinnati under their belts. Their primetime, utter demolition of Tech will not quickly erase from the minds of the voters. Sam Bradford might be the frontrunner for the Heisman. Oklahoma is certainly the sexy pick.

Texas will have victories over OU, Oklahoma State and Missouri under their belts. Their only loss of the season will have come in an extremely tight game against Texas Tech, which they lost on the last play of the game. Oh yeah, and they already beat Oklahoma this year – on a neutral field. Texas is, by no means, a sexy pick, but they just might be the correct one. Hard to say, and they will be ignored if Oklahoma destroys Oklahoma State like they did to Tech.

Funny thing about that game for Texas: they need OU to win. See, the only reason this discussion is taking place is because, in the Big 12, if there is a three-way tie for first, the tiebreaker goes to whoever has the highest BCS ranking. But in the case of a two-way tie, the tiebreaker is a head-to-head match-up. And Texas Tech beat Texas. So if OU loses, Texas Tech wins the South based on their head-to-head win against Texas. Texas actually needs OU to beat Oklahoma State for them to have a chance, though I doubt they want them to win anything other than a squeaker.

Does your head hurt yet? Mine sure as hell does.

Alright, let me do my BCS predictions. OU is hot right now. They beat Oklahoma State, though not as handily as they beat Texas Tech. Let’s say 38-21. Sorry, Texas, but the sexy chick always gets laid before the bland, practical one does. Florida beats Alabama, Oklahoma beats Missouri, and Florida beats Oklahoma, 56-52, to win their second National Championship in three years. The other bowls? Oregon State will lose to Oregon, meaning an intriguing Rose Bowl between USC and Penn State. I go Penn State over USC, 23-21. (Editor’s note: What a homer!) Alabama will face at-large Utah in the Sugar Bowl, and handle them fairly easily, winning 35-13. The Orange Bowl will be Cincinnati vs. one of the ACC teams. Seriously, I have no friggin’ idea what is going on in the ACC, and quite frankly, I could give a damn. Cincinnati wins the Orange. Finally, poor ‘ol Texas gets a less than appealing match-up against Boise State, who gets a rare second at-large bid for the mid-majors, ousting Ohio State for the final BCS slot. Texas Tech is the highest ranked team to get stiffed, since only two teams from any one conference are eligible for BCS bowls. Texas takes out its rage on Boise State, winning 49-10. Clearly, none of this will happen, and it is only what I am hoping will happen. In all reality, I just want the BCS to explode.

(Editor’s note: God, would a playoff be great this year. Stay tuned – methinks The Pundit is in his linguistic laboratory, concocting the perfect playoff system, one that will please all available parties. Oh, it shall be grand – or not. Either way, stay tuned).

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Why you need to know about Oregon State, what you need to know, and why it should piss you off

Rant Jacobs

Earlier this year, I did an article reviewing the Oregon State vs. USC game, writing about how happy I was that USC had another “fall from grace” game after underestimating an Oregon State team that had a lot to prove.  Much of this came from my anger towards USC’s apparent dynasty. Well, that and I wanted USC to make way for my rising Penn State Nittany Lions in the weekly polls.  Plus, it was great to see the #1 team in the country lose to a team that Penn State had recently pulverized.

Fast forward 8 weeks and now I’m fretting like an old woman over the outcome of that contest. (Editor’s note: And he’s taken up sewing – he nitted me a sweater with my name on it the other day. What the hell am I going to do with a sweater that says “Editor” on it, wear it to the club? Yeah, that should get the ladies hot). Why, you say?  Because since then, Oregon State has miraculously rattled off 5 straight conference wins and quietly taken control of their own destiny after losing their season opener to pathetic conference foe Stanford!  My celebration has come back to bite me in the ass!  With a vengeance! (Editor’s note: You should get a tetanus shot! You don’t know where your celebration has been!)

Oregon State needs only two conference wins (against Arizona and Oregon) to catch the PAC-10 title in their fucking beaver tails and swim southward to the Rose Bowl to face my beloved Nittany Lions, who stomped them in the second week of the season. I can’t believe it!  How has this happened? (Editor’s note: Fate is a cruel temptress, Rant).

Whew…and I’m spent.  I just needed to get that out.

I need to relax when I think about Oregon State though, as both Oregon and Arizona can put points on the board. They are ranked 10th and 11th in the nation in scoring – these games shouldn’t be “gimmes”.  But then I remember that Oregon State’s defense ranks 15th in the country in yards allowed, so I’m not getting too comfortable.

Somehow, Oregon State has morphed into a possible BCS team after their 45-14 drubbing in Happy Valley.  Granted, they play in the pillow-soft PAC-10, but their only other loss was a 31-28 squeaker against Utah, a team currently ranked above PSU in the BCS standings at 7, and looking to make a BCS appearance of their own.  Say what you want about Oregon State (like only having a single quality win this year against USC), but this team has some consistent playmakers that have helped to turn their season around.

The most consistent playmaker responsible for this feat has been freshman sensation Jacquizz Rodgers: the lightning quick, miniaturized 5’6″ halfback from Texas. (Editor’s note: There will be a jacquizz at the end of this post).  Rodgers has sprinted past the century mark in 7 games this season, while piling up 1233 rushing yards and 12 total TDs (averaging 123 yards per game, 10th best in the nation). 

I remember hearing some confused commentator asking his buddies why Rodgers wasn’t as highly recruited by any of the big name schools from his home state of Texas and thinking, Yeah, why is that?  Then I realized that trying to pinpoint ALL of the top high school talent in the entire state of Texas is like trying to staple Jell-O to a wall. (Editor’s note: I’ll bet you Bill Cosby could staple Jell-O to a wall…) 

Rodgers and the rest of his crew are ready to take the PAC-10 in their own hands and head back for a rematch against Penn State in Pasadena, assuming they both win out. That would be an unacceptable end to a Penn State season that broke my heart in Iowa City.  (Editor’s note: That sounds like a folk song I could get down to: Oh, PSU / What did you do? / You left me feeling shitty / When you broke my heart in Iowa City). Oregon State may have morphed into a new beast after their early letdowns, but they are not a worthy team for the Rose Bowl, especially not against my Lions, damnit.

But first things first – Penn State has its hands full this weekend with Javon Ringer and the Michigan State Spartans.  Get past them and at least I can say we have a Big Ten title to celebrate before I start bitching and moaning about Oregon State all over again.

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From the Nosebleeds – The Texas Tech Red Mutants are Freakishly Good

Ryan Jacobs

What a fucking dismal weekend of sporting predictions and results it was. At least it was for me: my beloved Nittany Lions lost a heartbreaker to Iowa, ending their National Championship aspirations; the Eagles lost in usual fashion to the Giants to keep them tied for dead last in the highly competitive NFC East; and my prediction of an Oklahoma State upset became a joke. I could spend this whole time talking about why Penn State lost, but I’m not. I’m too hurt by the poor performance of a team that wasn’t as hungry as it should have been.

No, I think I’ll talk about Texas Tech, instead.

On Saturday night, I had another chance to watch the swarming horde that is the Texas Tech Red Raiders. It was like I was watching the movie Aliens all over again, yet this time the aliens resembled a set of human figures decked out in Black football apparel (instead of giant, black, insect looking creatures). I was almost waiting for a company of futuristic marines led by Sigourney Weaver to storm the field and slaughter the Tech horde in a barrage of gun fire, laser beams, and flamethrowers (Editor’s note: Could you imagine the ratings for that?) I determined that this Texas Tech football team is not human. (Editor’s note: But they are still people, so let’s be sensitive, okay?)

In fact, the players are genetically engineered freaks; mutants created in a lab. Many college football analysts call Mike Leech the “mad scientist” for his extensive input and manipulation of the college spread offense (and also because of his quirky character). But most people don’t realize how literally that name should be taken.

You see, Mike Leech got together with the scientists from the biochemistry and genetics departments at Texas Tech and discovered a way to successfully splice Michael Crabtree’s genes with the DNA of a cheetah. After this discovery, they spawned a whole team of offensive playmakers and then set them loose on the Big 12 conference under the command of Graham Harrell, senior brigadier football general of the Texas Tech mutant squad. (Editor’s note: Wolverine is sooo going to be a first round draft pick). Like his soldiers, Harrell is also a mutant DNA Makeup: one-half Joe Montana, one-half peregrine falcon, as evidenced by his uncanny vision. (Editor’s note: Kind of like how Chris Bosh is one-half person, one-half raptor. And not even because he plays for the Raptors – look at him, man! He looks like a friggin’ raptor!)

This may all sound funny (Editor’s note: Meh) but Tech’s offense certainly is not. Seriously, they are out of fucking control. If you didn’t watch Saturday’s game, I urge you to at least watch the highlights. Texas Tech played very good defense, especially against an Oklahoma State team that ranked 7th in total offense (and 6th in scoring), allowing only 20 points. But it was the offense that stole the show in this game. Graham Harrell was UNSTOPPABLE. He had 5 different receivers with at least 5 catches; 4 of those 5 had at least 77 yards receiving and 3 of those 5 split Harrell’s 6 passing TDs. Everybody was wide open.

Mike Leech spread out the Oklahoma State defense so much that they couldn’t even “bend”; all they did was “break”. (Editor’s note: So much dirty joke potential in there, I went cross-eyed). If receivers were covered downfield, Harrell simply flicked the ball to his safety valve: usually a running back in the flat. So many Tech players were making so many plays across the field that the Cowboys simply could not account for a running back coming out of the backfield.

Harrell always had an exit strategy. Even if he didn’t have a dump off/hot route, he made plays outside the pocket and bought time so that he could telepathically order his mutant receivers (utilizing their mutant abilities) to come back on their routes so that he could throw to them. It didn’t matter what mutant caught the ball, though, because they all ended up juking and/or running away from at least one Cowboy defender after the catch.

Every player who touched the ball for Tech did their best  Reggie Bush impression, especially the player who currently garners the number 5: the man himself, Michael Crabtree. Somebody please give this kid a pass to the NFL right now, I want the Eagles to pick him up. Strength, speed, size, vision, hands, moves…Crabtree has it all. (Editor’s note: Legs that go all day, perky breasts…wait, sorry, I was getting my sexual fantasies mixed up with Jacobs’ sexual fantasies…sorry about that). He was plucking Red Raider bullets out of the air like they were his prey, attacking the Oklahoma State defense with a hunger for success.

Harrell led his team to 8 straight touchdown drives, seven of those consisting of 8 plays or more, averaging over 10 plays per drive in that span. Amazing. He finished 40-50 for 456 yards and 6 TDs. Insane.

NFL Crystal Ball Prediction: Harrell, like Colt Brennan before him, has put up freakish numbers running the spread. Yet NFL scouts will still criticize this amazing QB talent due to the steep learning curve for NFL quarterbacks. (Editor’s note: And for the fact that no NFL team runs the style of offense that he uses, which very well could be masking deficiencies in his mechanics and don’t give NFL coordinators an idea of how he would make his reads in the pros). But those scouts will soon realize that Harrell is a mutant, and we all know the NFL has made a home for many freak/mutant players such as Randy Moss, Deion Sanders, Antonio Cromartie, etc. (Editor’s note: I guess we can start calling Roger Goodell “Professor G?”)

I think I was most impressed with how well Tech was able to grind out drives, mixing in a solid ground game with their video-game passing offense. Speaking of video games, I heard the Texas Tech band playing music from Nintendo’s Mario, the NES version, during the game. I thought that was great. The whole university understands the unreal numbers that their team puts up and supports the whole videogame, slang reference thing going on wholeheartedly. (Editor’s note: That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we in the business call “investigative reporting.” Can’t get that anywhere but here, people).

So I guess I’m buying into the whole Texas Tech thing; or, at the very least, recognizing their talent. They have an endless stable of playmakers and I can’t figure out who would be able to slow them down enough to keep pace with the points they can score. Florida perhaps? Florida’s offense is explosive in its own right and their defense might be able to do just enough to get by. USC? Their defense might be the best in the country, though I don’t know if even they could stop the Texas Tech Mutant Raiders.

I would assume the best defense against Tech would be a really balanced offense that could grind out drives of their own, keeping Harrell and the mutants off the field. But Tech’s defense looks like they can step up and play against some of the best offenses in the country (Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas). That being said, they do have to play against the cyborg-led Sooners next week, featuring an offense that I feel can hang with Tech. If they can survive that game, however, it should be smooth sailing for the Red Raiders. Which is what I said about Penn State after they beat Ohio State, and look what happened there. Damnit. Keeping a high degree of intensity for an entire season is hard to accomplish for any team. Let’s see if Tech has what it takes to keep fighting, because as much as I like them, I’m still not completely convinced.

Texas Tech has one of the best teams in the country; they deserve to be respected. And if they don’t hit any speed bumps in the next couple of weeks, they may cruise right on into a BCS National Championship birth.

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The RJ Report: Previewing the day in College Football

Ryan Jacobs

Penn State is coming into Saturday’s match-up in Iowa City favored by only 8 points, leaving some Penn State fans wondering why the Vegas predictions are so close. Here are two reasons: Iowa’s defense and running back Shonn Green. These two factors alone have helped to keep Iowa a relatively decent team, and despite their underwhelming 5-4 record, they are still Big Ten football team (Big Ten inter-conference play is still way more competitive than people give it credit for). Iowa has lost by a combined total of only 12 points, which tells me something must be going on with this team.

Shonn Green is averaging 6.3 yards per rush and is just shy of 140 yards per games (3rd in the nation). This, however, may be the only offensive weapon that Iowa has to offer, as QB Ricky Stanzi has thrown for only 6 TDs to 9 picks. This kind of stale, one-dimensional offense will not fare well against Penn State’s defense, ranked 11th nationally against the run. The power running game offense utilized by Big Ten teams of the past no longer has a future against the coming storm of the spread offense.

But wait! (Editor’s note: Ohmigod, ok, I’m waiting!) Iowa has another trick up it’s sleeve! (Editor’s note: I’m super excited to find out what it is!) Their defense is ranked 7th nationally in points allowed and 12th against the run. Sounds to me more like an Anthony Morelli led Penn State team than 2008 Iowa (solid ground game; tough defense; shitty quarterback and ho-hum offense that will lose the game for you). Penn State’s running attack will probably encounter some trouble in this game and will have to rely upon Darryl Clark to get them by, as long as he can avoid getting his clock cleaned. (Editor’s note: I’ve been looking for a good clock cleaner around the city – my clocks at home are super gross. Anybody know a place?)

Honestly! (Editor’s note: Who throws a shoe? That really hurt, man.) I’m all about Darryl Clark, but he has gotten DECKED in just about every single game this year. It’s hard to tell a running quarterback (though you should remember from my previous Penn State article that I truly support that Clark is a true passer) to watch out more often, but Clark doesn’t seem to avoid big hits very well. And even though he may be tough, I wouldn’t label Clark as the next coming of Marion Barber.

Penn State will likely have to open up the passing game against Iowa to get down the field. Hopefully all of the cobwebs have cleared during the bye week, as Clark suffered a mild concussion against Ohio State. We’d all like to see…er…check that, all of us Penn State fans would like to see a 42 point win to get some style points factored in with our bullshit BCS computer-equation, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

I see Penn State winning this game because they will shut down Shonn Green like they did P.J. Hill and the similarly one-dimensional Badgers. I see Penn State wearing down Iowa’s defense in the first half and then beating the tired defenders in the second when they can no longer keep up with the Spread HD.

Hawkeyes players spent the last two weeks having Penn State’s national title implications spoon fed to them; and believe me, they’ve gotta be sick of it. (Editor’s note: Vrrrrrroooooommmmmm. Here comes the BCS…vrrrrrroooooommmmmm. Open wide, now, little Hawkeyes). They’re going to be chomping at the bit, but I’m finished fretting over the mental and physical readiness of this Penn State team. They know what they need to do and they’re going to take care of business just like they have all season.

My Pick: Penn State 24 Iowa 14; with the last Iowa touchdown scored when the game has already gotten out of reach in the fourth quarter.

NCAA Football Notes:

– Last Saturday against Texas Tech, Colt McCoy went 20 for 34. That was the first time he threw more than 7 incompletions in one game since his 9 incompletion outing against UTEP in the second game of the season. Fucking incredible. He has still completed 79.0% of his 276 attempts.

NFL Crystal Ball Prediction: Kid will be playing on Sundays.

– Sam Bradford has thrown for 34 TDs and helped the Sooners hang up 42 offensive points in the first half; his play is Godlike. (Editor’s note: After I read that last, Godlike bit, I was struck by lightning. On my couch. In my house.) I think Oklahoma is magnetically attracted to the end zone or something. Somebody will soon discover that Bradford is actually part cyborg and drop him and his team out of the Heisman and national title races.

NFL Crystal Ball Prediction: Cyborg may be playing on Sundays if Roger Goodell approves league rules recognizing and protecting cyborg players. (Editor’s Note: Is “roughing the cyborg” a fair penalty? Is lubricating oil considered a performance-enhancing substance?)

– I hate USC. But dammit, they are going through the same thing as Penn State right now (except with one loss under their belts, of course). Both teams play in a poorly rated conference yet both continue to play outstanding football. Both teams rank in either the top 10 or top 25 nationally in every significant offensive and defensive stat category. And if you ask me, this is the way you should be dominating a softer schedule if you want to be considered a national contender. But then we both get burned in the BCS rankings while simultaneously stirring BCS doomsday talk. What BCS doomsday talk, you say? Why, quite simply that both teams would be denied a national title birth if other schools ranked above them win out due to their weaker schedules. And yet another case is made for D1-A football playoffs. Hooray!

– So everybody loves offense but they say defense wins championships, right? But offenses sell tickets and TV ratings, so defense kinda gets left in the dust. Everybody is busy hyping the Big 12 as the best offensive conference and most fun to watch  in college football. Everybody is also busy getting together and bashing the Big Ten as a very weak conference. But hold on a second, folks. I see the Big Ten as one of the best DEFENSIVE conferences right now, which is something people aren’t giving the conference credit for. The Big Ten has three teams ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense (Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa) and 5 in the top 25 (including Minnesota and Northwestern). Now the SEC is right there with the Big Ten in ranked defenses, but I don’t know how hard those southerners can hit in colder weather. How about some love and respect for hard hitting defensive, cold weather rivalries in the Big Ten? (Editor’s note: Of course, this begs the question – does the Big Ten have great defenses because their offenses leave much to be desired, and similarily, does the Big 12 have “poor” defenses because their offenses are sooooo damn good. Or do the offenses seem so good because the defenses are lacking? If an offense scores 68 points per game in a forest, but there isn’t a defense in their way, did the tree really fall?)

Gameday: #1 Alabama at #15 LSU. Game to watch, indeed. Upset potential for sure. But I’m not biting on this one. LSU isn’t the team they were last year, mostly because of their defense (I’m not gonna get into the whole QB situation). Alabama is just the better team; and even though LSU fans will want to hang Nick Saban from the flagpole Saturday night, the Tide are going to come into Baton Rouge and prove that. I’m not going to say it will be a domination, but Alabama will win by at least a touchdown. I’d put my eyes back on Lubbock, Texas again to see the dark upset clouds brewing there, instead. Oklahoma State is a solid team (perhaps the only big 12 team that has a defense who can hang around with it‘s offense) and they’re going to beat Texas Tech on the road. Last week’s Texas Tech win was certainly no fluke, but I don’t think that Tech’s program has the balls to hang around with all of the big boys. Sorry Mike Leech, but your team runs out of gas in a tough game on Saturday and clears the way for my Penn State Nittany Lions.

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