Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get Excited!

Next weekend looks to be a good one in college football, so I put together viewing recommendations. You're welcome!

Thursday, 6:30 CDT, ESPN (and ESPN 3, for those without cable and with the right internet provider): Texas A&M at Oklahoma State

The Aggies are finally televised, you guys! (Of course, we know how badly that has gone in recent history, but I'm stubbornly excited anyway.) Both of these teams have been tough to figure out. Each one has a potentially explosive offense, but each also has had a too-close win over a poor opponent. This game is important not just for both teams, but for the Big 12 South as a whole. As I will gleefully expand upon below, the division's pecking order is more uncertain than usual. The winner of this game will become the best darkhorse candidate to go to the conference championship game.

I still like the Ags in this one. My hope is that the offense will recovery from the temporary insanity displayed in the FIU game, and I have an unaccustomed faith in the A&M defense.

Saturday, 11:00 AM CDT, ESPN2: Miami at Clemson
By default, the most interesting morning game is between teams that are, by default, two of the favorites to win the ACC. (My personal favorite, NC State, plays an intriguing game against Va Tech in the afternoon.)

2:30 PM CDT, ABC/ESPN (depending on region): texas vs. Oklahoma
It's the Red River Shootout, suckas! Which of these teams is better? Is either really good? One of these questions will be answered on Saturday. The second question will remain open, because we'll be watching a one-loss team (that lost to UCLA--and pray remember that K-State beat them) playing an undefeated team with exactly one impressive win. The winner of this game will still be the favorite to win the Big 12 South, but unless that team does well in the eyeball test, will not be the favorite to win the Big 12.

Now, the mirror game (ABC/ESPN, depending on region) is Wisconsin-Michigan State, which will go a long way to showing how good Wisconsin is. As a UW fan, I'm bracing myself for a loss.

7:00 PM CDT, ABC: Stanford at Oregon
The more obvious answer at 7:00 may be Florida at Alabama on CBS, but I expect that to be a much less interesting game. Alabama ought to take care of business against Florida. Meanwhile, with Stanford and Oregon, who knows? They're two teams that are better than almost anybody thought they'd be, they have very different styles, and the Pac-10 championship may well be on the line. I predict craziness.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some Picks: NFL Week 3

I'm gonna keep plugging away at the ol' picks. I know they're going to get good at some point. One change I will make: no more shots at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, since they are the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I won't make fun of them anymore. Until they finally start losing.

Kansas City (+2.5) over San Francisco
I really shouldn't be picking the 49ers to go 0-3, because they're better than that. But I'm still not over how well the crowd did at the Chiefs' last home game. Sigh. I wish the spread was bigger, so I could pick the Chiefs without having to believe they would win.

Detroit (+11) over Minnesota
I hope, although I do not believe, that the Lions will win this game. I'm plain old sure they'll keep it closer than 11 points, though.

New England (-14) over Buffalo
It remains a good idea to pick the Bills to lose by two touchdowns.

New Orleans (-4) over Atlanta
I can't dig up a qualm to feel about this one.

New York Giants (-3) over Tennessee
I don't think any of us knows how good either of these teams are. Each has had one dominant win and one embarrassing loss. The Giants are the more stable team (although I think pulling Vince Young last week reflects more on Jeff Fisher than on Vince) and they're at home, so let's assume they'll get it done.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) over Tampa Bay
Here's a matchup of extremely unlikely 2-0 teams. I didn't expect Pittsburgh to beat Atlanta or Tennessee; I didn't expect Tampa to beat Cleveland or Carolina. Even so--before the season, I expected the Steelers to beat the Bucs, and I'm going to stick with it.

Cincinnati (-3) over Carolina
Apparently, the Panthers are just bad. The Bengals aren't as good as they should be, but they're not as bad as Carolina (especially a Carolina starting a rookie QB).

Cleveland (+10.5) over Baltimore
I'd fall right over if the Browns won this game, but the Ravens do not seem to be a team built for blowouts. Also, Joe Flacco: not actually good? Discuss.

Houston (-3) over Dallas
Besides the Colts, I can't think of another team the Texans would want to beat more than the Cowboys. I mean, you'd want to beat the Cowboys if you were the Texans, right? That and Dallas's two abysmal performances outweigh Dallas's terrible desperation to win a game.

Washington (-3.5) over St. Louis
I'm not going to start buying Sam Bradford, Franchise Savior until and unless I absolutely have to. Also, I know the Redskins haven't looked great getting to 1-1, but isn't that spread pretty small?

Philadelphia (-3) over Jacksonville
I'm probably underestimating Jacksonville because I get them confused with Carolina. I really can't keep those teams straight. It's a real problem.

Indianapolis (-5.5) over Denver
Indy is still good; they just lost their first game to a team that cared much more than they did. (And is also good.) Denver is, at best, mediocre.

Oakland (+4) over Arizona
We officially have to put Jason Campbell in the Matt Leinart drawer, don't we? I had thought he had some untapped potential, maybe just needed to build some confidence--but no. The Raiders look to get a little better by starting Gradkowski, and I truly believe the Cardinals are terrible. I am not giving up on the Raiders, at least not this week.

Seattle (+5.5) over San Diego
Here I go again, putting a lot of stock in a really good Week 1 home performance. It's not just that, though--San Diego still has more losses to go to have one of their trademark bad beginnings of the season. I think it's in Norv's contract or something.

New York Jets (+2.5) over Miami
This is another hard one to get a feel for. It's equally easy to imagine the Jets playing sharply and the Jets falling on their faces (because we've seen both happen already this season). Miami, meanwhile, has won both their games--on the road--but not by impressive margins. I think the Jets have higher potential, though.

Chicago (+3) over Green Bay
As a Packer fan, I am super super nervous about this game, and the pick reflects that. My reasons for taking Chicago/points: the Packers, despite their obvious strengths, also have obvious weaknesses (the o-line and the run game), and the Bears have enough game tape to realize that. This new Chicago offense is still riding high, and while I think they'll crash/burn sooner or later, it will probably at least be later than Week 3. Finally, the Packers started last season badly, and I've been worried overall that they'll be shaky for the first several weeks of this season. Even a close win by the Packers will be hard on already frayed football nerves, so I hope this pick is wrong. (Looking at my record, the odds of that are good!)

Last week's record: 6-9-1
Season to date: 13-15-4

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Second Week of Fantasy Football

It went better! I now know what it feels like to win at fantasy football.

I really do think I made a mistake in signing up for three different leagues. It's hard for me to keep straight all the guys I have (and how much I care about them, based on how much I like the league I own them in) and all the guys I'm playing against, so I get confused about who I'm rooting for. The only time I can really keep straight who I need to do well and who I need to do badly is on Monday, when there's only one game left to go. This Monday was particularly nice and neat: Frank Gore and Drew Brees were playing each other. I needed both to do well because I have Brees in one league, Gore in another, and Brees and Gore in the third. And they both came through for me.

The Fightin' AJ Hawks (FPL League)
If it were so rude, I'd just drop out of this league, not least because it's done through ESPN, and their interface is terrible. I don't care what Matthew Berry tells you; play fantasy football through Yahoo instead. Anyhoo.

My weak-on-paper team did very nicely for me this week, giving me the second-highest point total in the league. Going into Monday, I was up ten with Drew Brees to go; my opponent had San Francisco's defense. I felt comfortable with it, and that turned out to be justified. Victory!

Helmet sticker: Jahvid Best, 40 points. Forty!
Helmet un-sticker: Felix Jones, 1 point. But hey, that's on me for starting--and drafting--him.

The Bubby Bristers (People I Know League)
This is the league where I own Brees and Gore so I triumphed easily over my husband. In the interest of martial harmony, I have kept the "In your FACE"s to a minimum.

Helmet sticker: Just to spread them around, Knowshon Moreno, 17.8 points.
Helmet un-sticker: Greg Jennings, 3.6 points. Why does Rodgers keep throwing to this "James Jones" character?

The Larry Fitzjerries (Girl League)
Going into Monday, I had Gore left to play, and a virtually insurmountable 31.38 point deficit. Then Frank Gore had a huge game--almost huge enough. I lost by (roughly) three. If only MNF had gone to overtime, I would have been undefeated in Week 2. Oh well.

Helmet stickers: Frank Gore, 28.8 points and Jay Cutler, 29.83 points. Oh, did I mention that I went crawling back to Jay Cutler after Kolb got concussed? I did. Had to.
Helmet un-stickers: Legedu Naanee, 1.4 points, and Devin Aromashodu, 0.0 points. C'mon Jay, you couldn't throw it to Aromashodu once?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Post-Mortem: Texas A&M vs. Florida International

One of the many articles I read about last Saturday's Aggie game included the observation that "Aggie fans [are] seemingly in a perpetual state of angst about football." Now, while that sentence is a little rich from someone who covers life-or-death Cornhusker football, I'm not going to argue with it. I know I'm perpetually angsty about Aggie football. So about Saturday . . .

Glass Half Full (GHF): Hey, they won, right? 3-0, right on schedule.

Glass Half Empty (GHE): Why, WHY did Texas A&M ever get down 20-6 to a team that's only played Division 1 football for five years?!?

There's one easy answer to this, although there are two ways to put it. The nice way is "turnovers." The mean way is "Jerrod sucked."

Let's look at ESPN's handy scoring summary:

Now with my handy annotations:

I have not turned on Jerrod. However, it's impossible to put a positive spin on an 11-completion (out of 31 passes), six sack, 1 TD/4INT outing.

I forgive you, sweetie. I forgive you.

GHF: Jerrod just had a bad game. That happens to everybody sometimes, right? From the same article I quoted at top: '"I was trying to do too much,'' Johnson said. "I don't really know what I was doing."' He was just in a bad head space--nothing permanent.

GHE: That quote is followed by, "Wow! That's not what you want to hear from a fifth-year senior who is in his third year as a starter" and preceded by, "So much for the Heisman Trophy talk." Maybe Jerrod is not who we thought he was. Or maybe he's not who he actually was last year--it can't be a good sign that he threw half the number of interceptions he threw all of last year in one quarter last week. Maybe, despite what he says, his shoulder isn't fully recovered from surgery.

GHF: But despite Jerrod playing so badly, the Aggies still won. The defense was genuinely good--Robert Cessna gave them an A, for goodness' sake! Check it: "A&M bailed out the offense time after time. Because of turnovers, FIU had to go only 51 yards to score its 13 points on offense, but the Golden Panthers needed 16 plays to accomplish that against the improving Aggie defense." Nice, right? (Also, Cessna clearly has a mad man-crush on Tim DeRuyter, which I find encouraging.)

GHE: Yet last season's sack leader--of the country, not the team--Von Miller hasn't recorded a sack (depending who you ask--Richard Croome credits him with one). When is his sprained ankle going to get better?

GHF: It wasn't just the defense that came through; the run game also came up big. Jerrod is not the Ags' only offensive weapon. Thanks, Christine and Cyrus!

GHE: So why didn't they turn it on until the fourth quarter? Three quarters of nightmarishly awful play will not cut it in conference play, not even against Baylor.

GHF: Theoretically, they--the entire team--will learn from that fourth quarter. In David Ubben's opinion, "The Aggies seem to know what went wrong and managed to fix it in time to salvage an ugly win. They're willing to chalk it up to a bad day when a lot went wrong and they had too many 2nd and 3rd-and-longs. But until a Thursday night date with the Cowboys on Sept. 30, they won't be able to prove it." Aggie receiver Terrance McCoy thinks the team played so badly because they were overconfident. Those first three quarters have assuredly cured them of that.

And . . . believe it or not, I'm going to end on that glass-half-full note. I won't give you the gory details, but I was pretty distraught about the Aggies' performance while the game was going on. (All right, fine. I cried some. Look, it had been a long day and I thought my team's possible at-long-last-maybe-good-season was going down the toilet.) However, after the game and after doing this post-mortem, I am, to my surprise, feeling OK (not great, but OK) about the Ags going forward.

I'm looking at the FIU game like I looked at the K-State game last year--really, really, really horrible, but with much of the horribleness caused by one-off hideous performances and some plain old bad luck. As you may recall, the Ags came back from the jaw-droppingly bad K-State loss with their first win in Lubbock since the mid-90's. I believe they can--can--come back from the FIU near-loss with a win over Oke State next Thursday.

I've still got angst, though. I'm extremely worried that I'm not worried enough.


Programming note: I won't be doing a college football wrap-up this week, since I didn't get to see any of the games. If only I didn't have to work for a living!

Programming note II: I have barely begun to comb through the coverage of the Aggies' disastrous game on Saturday. Rest assured, I'm going to write it its own post.

Now on to the links!

Hear ye, hear ye! Colorado's going to the Pac-10 (Pac-12? When do we do the name changeover?) next year after all! (Probably!) I would like to speak for all of us remaining in the Big 12 when I say, "Good riddance!" (And I already re-tweeted this, but I wanted to re-reiterate Stewart Mandel's point that "No one should be more thrilled about the Colorado/2011 news than Washington State." That's as true as it is hilarious!) (And, and, here's an unrelated but delightful quote from the linked article: Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told Orangebloods.com he'd like to see Notre Dame's sports - other than football - move from the Big East to the Big 12 if the Irish were ever unsatisfied with their current situation. Dodds has said Notre Dame could maintain its independence in football. Sources say that continues to be "a longshot." Gee, "sources," really? Thanks for that inside info.)

Speaking of Stewart Mandel, he does the college football equivalent of Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com. I'm elevating it to Required Reading, and giving you the link here.

And to go back to conference news: I've been too busy ragging on the ACC to remember that the Big East is still even lamer than they are. The computers remembered, though! After factoring in both the computer numbers and the poll numbers, ESPN's current conference rankings have (no surprise) the SEC at the top; the Big 12, Pac-10, and Big Ten closely packed at 2, 3, and 4; and the Mountain West and the WAC comfortably ahead of, respectively, the ACC and Big East. It's mostly because the WAC has Boise State and the ACC has . . . . But the point is, don't forget that the Big East has even less.

If you thirst for more mid-major coverage, visit Dr. Saturday's column here. The part I liked best was his "Somewhat Arbitrary Mid-Major Top 10." A teaser: Boise State comes in at #2.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love Robbie Caldwell? Consider that a mention. Also, here's a video of him getting the game ball after Vandy's win over Ole Miss. Go Vandy! I *heart* your coach!

And now for NFL links!

Are the Texans now finally for real? Mike Lombardi thinks so, and I think I believe him. He also points out that Cleveland's upcoming slate of games is a murder schedule. He does not ask how many games Eric Mangini will last, but I'm asking.

If you only read one Brett Favre article this season (and I wouldn't blame you), read this one by Jason Whitlock. It poses the question of whether Favre will even finish out this season, and makes a fairly convincing case for "no." I still think Favre's biggest motivating factor at the moment is his iron man streak, but Whitlock makes some excellent points about the Vikings this season.

Those are my only NFL links. I feel like there should be more, but I get most of my articles through Twitter, and I have a very high college-to-NFL follow ratio. Does anybody have any recommendations for NFL writers I should follow on Twitter? (Note: I've tried Chris Mortenson and Peter King before, but I've found them both to tweet with more quantity than quality.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Some Picks: NFL Week 2

Week 2's picks: in which I try not to put too much stock in Week 1's results, because it's only one week, but may have a hard time avoiding.

Atlanta (-6.5) over Arizona
The Falcons let me down in Week 1, but at least they have a moderately competent quarterback.

Baltimore (-2.5) over Cincinnati
Maybe (maybe) it was just the Jets' jaw-droppingly awful offense that made the Ravens' D look so good on Monday, but I can't believe it was just the Patriots' D that made the Bengals' offense look so terrible. Yes, Palmer and Ocho put up good fantasy stats last week, but since all those passes and points came in garbage time, the stats are just that: garbage.

Kansas City (+1.5) over Cleveland
I know KC had some lucky things going in their favor last week (weather that was worse for San Diego's offense than theirs, raucous home crowd, a special teams touchdown), but I saw some things I liked. Meanwhile, Cleveland lost to Tampa Bay. If you can't beat Tampa, who can you beat? (Please forget for a moment that Green Bay lost to Tampa last season. Thank you.)

Dallas (-7.5) over Chicago
I certainly don't think Dallas is a Super Bowl team, but if they can clean up even half the mistakes they made against the Redskins, they can beat Chicago. The Bears stink.

Philadephia (-6) over Detroit
Like everyone else, I'd be tempted to pick Detroit . . . if Matthew Stafford were going to play. Since he isn't, the Lions have no offense whatsoever; although Detroit's defense is good, Philadelphia's going to score someway, somehow (read: Michael Vick will run it in at some point). I don't know if that's true for Detroit.

Green Bay (-13) over Buffalo
I can't in good conscience not pick the Packers to beat the Bills by two touchdowns. It's just common sense.

Tennessee (-5) over Pittsburgh
Despite the Steelers' (overtime) win last week, I'm still not buying them--even once they get their QB back. In other news, Tennessee might be really good. (I was going to type "really, really good" but one can only give out so many modifiers for a win over the Raiders.)

Miami (+5.5) over Minnesota
I have to admit, I think Bill Simmons talked me into this one. He's been talking all offseason about Minny having to open against the Saints and then having this "tough matchup" against the Dolphins and very possibly starting 0-2. Rightly or wrongly, I'm buying it.

Carolina (-3.5) over Tampa Bay
Tampa may have already gotten their one win of the season.

Seattle (+3.5) over Denver
I got into a debate at a bar last night over this game; I was arguing that Denver can pull it off at home; she thought The Weasel Pete Carroll would sneak out another win, particularly since Denver is terrible. Imagine my surprise when I looked up my picks this morning and found that I'd taken Seattle. Or maybe I was just taking the points? Yes, I think that's where I was coming from when I made the picks: Denver may well win (I don't like Seattle to win away from home this season), but I like their odds to win by a field goal or less. There you have it: I trust my judgment from the day I made the picks more than from when I got into a debate at a bar.

Oakland (-3.5) over St. Louis
At this point, I can't forsee ever picking the Rams this season. Well, maybe when they play Tampa.

New England (-2.5) over New York Jets
So on the one hand, I don't want to put too much stock into Week 1. On the other hand, I don't want to overthink it. One of these teams is in all likelihood better than the other, and I am picking that team.

San Diego (-7) over Jacksonville
I feel like there are no good options here. San Diego looked plain old bad last week; they have a history of starting the season poorly; and the size of the spread makes me a little nervous. But then Jacksonville is a team I expect to be, during the season overall, worse than San Diego, and I am told they're a bad road team--which has to be exacerbated by travelling that far west. San Diego: the less bad choice.

Washington (+3) over Houston
I am basing this pick on exactly one thing: Houston will have a letdown from their huge win over the Colts last week. I believe that very strongly.

Indianapolis (-5.5) over New York Giants
I'm not at ease over this pick, but if I have to make a decision between Peyton and Eli . . . .

New Orleans (-5.5) over San Francisco
Both Peter King (who I think is OK) and Adam Schefter (who I think is a genius) are picking the 49ers to upset. This surprises me, because . . . really? The Saints' last game was so long ago, I barely even remember it. They've had all that time to prepare for a team that's in total disarray. I can't come up with one believable reason to pick San Francisco. I don't get it, Peter King and Adam Schefter. I just don't get it.

Last week's record: 7-6-3 (Over .500! Yeah! Woo!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


First of all, something that is not annoying: a blog written by Tony Barnhart. You may recognize Barnhart from his role as sometime-studio-analyst/sometime-man-on-the-field reporter from CBS's college football coverage. (He's the white guy with dark hair and a real thick accent.) It turns out he has A) a Twitter account (@MrCFB) B) a weekly TV show on CBS College Sports (which is one of the first shows I've gotten attached to since getting cable last week) and C) a blog on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I like them all, so I want to link you to today's blog entry. My favorite point is where he gives props to Duke for keeping their game with Alabama at home, instead of going to a "neutral" site, where they'd get more cash but also many more 'Bama fans.

Now for one of this week's most annoying sports stories: not Reggie Bush vacating his Heisman, but the idea that Bush's Heisman to Vince Young. The only reason some sportswriters are yelling for that to happen is because they regret that they voted for Bush in the first place, when Vince Young owned him in the national championship after the award was given. Shut up, sportswriters. You don't get to use this as an excuse for a do-over. These points and many other good ones are made by "Dr. Saturday" in "Vince Young won't get Reggie Bush's Heisman, thank god". One last thing about this issue: it has always driven my dad crazy when sportscasters refer to "former Heisman trophy winners," because anyone who has won the Heisman trophy is still a Heisman trophy winner. But now, at least when people refer to Reggie Bush, "former Heisman trophy winner" will make logical sense. Hooray?

In a tie for this week's most annoying sports story is the thing about how a female TV reporter was (maybe) harrassed (for an unidentified value of harrassed) by Jets players in the Jets' locker room. This has turned into a whole deal about well, did she deserve it because she dresses scantily (it sounds like she was wearing a tight shirt and jeans, which doesn't sound professional, but doesn't sound pole-ready either), or should there even be female reporters in the locker room, and blah blah blah. Since she's not even formally complaining, it's all a mountain being made from a molehill. That's why I liked this article about what reporting from a locker room is actually like. To summarize: not sexy.

Some Picks: CFB Week 3

How badly did I do in my picks last week? Joke answer: so badly that President Obama is considering declaring them a federal disaster area. Real answer: so badly that I got fewer points than the person who forgot to pick the first twelve games.

The real one is sadder, isn't it?

In more Real Testimonials, here's a screenshot of my early-Saturday picks:
It got a little better later in the day, but things still aren't looking good for the returning champion. I'll just have to come roaring back! COMEBACK STARTS NOW!

Kansas (+5.5) over Southern Miss
Of course, the problems are A) that I'm doubting myself left and right and B) that a lot of the teams have been giving me mixed signals. Who's going to Southern Miss? Is it the KU team that lost to a team from a Dakota, or is it the one that beat Georgia Tech? I'm picking the second one, barely, because if Turner Gill could get his team over the North Dakota State loss, he can get them to accomplish this, too.


North Carolina (-1.5) over Georgia Tech
I was all set to pick Georgia Tech, but then I started my little write-up in defense of it and realized I didn't believe myself. UNC has lost an assistant coach since they played LSU close, but they're gaining back at least one of their players. And it's at home. It looks like things are going to get worse for UNC before they get better, but I think they've still got some fight left in them.


(OK, I'll stop.)

Maryland (+10) over West Virginia
I think West Virginia stinks, so Maryland should at least give them a close game.

Kansas State (-4) over Iowa State
Farmageddon! (No, they really call it that.) In the opening game of Big 12 conference play, I'll take the team that's won twice this season.

Georgia (-2.5) over Arkansas
Make that 12th-ranked Arkansas. But I don't think they'll hang onto that ranking after visiting the Bulldogs.

East Carolina (+19.5) over Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech: now there's a team that might not have fight left in them. It's good that they actually got a whole week off between games this time, but Ruffin McNeil's squad has the goods to keep it closer than three touchdowns.

BYU (+9) over Florida State
In a battle of confusing 1-1 teams, I feel like I should like the home team, but I don't.

Hawaii (+11) over Colorado
Hawaii played much better than expected against USC and Army; meanwhile, Colorado continues to be coached by Dan Hawkins.

Oklahoma (-17) over Air Force
OU's pantsing of Florida State has temporarily silenced this critic. Landry Jones is apparently good at passing the football and stuff.

USC (-12.5) over Minnesota
Both teams have underachieved, but Minnesota's expectations were already very, very low.

Wisconsin (-14) over Arizona State
The Badgers have had sloppy play at times, but they're a good football team. I doubt Arizona State is.

Nebraska (-3) over Washington
I can't see the Huskers losing this game (despite the travel/time zone difference), and I doubt they'd win by just one or two.

Florida (-14) over Tennessee
Well, when I said Florida would be in trouble in conference play, I didn't mean this game specifically. (Or the Vandy game. Or the Kentucky game. And we all know that South Carolina is prone to late-season swoons. So, basically, Florida should cruise to the conference championship game. But boy then they'll be in trouble.) As in last week's UT game (one that I picked correctly), there just couldn't be a spread high enough for me to pick them. Sorry, Mr. Football Gal.

TCU (-21.5) over Baylor
I do think Baylor is better than usual this year, but I have a rule that has in the past served me well when doing college picks: when picking games where a non-AQ team is involved and is favored, always take the over. When a team isn't in a BCS conference but wants to get to a BCS bowl, they can't just win their games, they have to throttle their opponents. Look for TCU to do so to Baylor.

Louisville (+19.5) over Oregon State
Because the universe hates Boise State.

Missouri (-14) over San Diego State
Yeah, I feel pretty good about this one.

Oklahoma State (-7) over Tulsa
After Oke State's too-close win over Troy last week, I do not feel that good about this one. What's your deal, Oke State?

Clemson (+7) over Auburn
It's the stank of the ACC vs. the stank of Gene Chizik. This is my "I know it's wrong, but I'm going with it" pick of the week, because I know in my heart that Auburn's poor choice of coach will win out eventually, even while I realize it probably won't be this week.

Mississippi State (+8) over LSU
I think I'm just going to keep picking against LSU. In my defense, Mississippi State is scrappy.

Texas A&M (off) over Florida International
And once it's over, the Aggies will finally start playing games that might be worth broadcasting!

Michigan State (-3.5) over Notre Dame
I don't know anything about MSU yet, but they're at home and Notre Dame still has some work to do, so why not?

Texas Tech (+3) over texas
I know I'm going out on a limb, but hear me out: Lubbock is a tough place to play. The 'Horns have shown some weakness so far. And can't you just see Tommy Tuberville all over ESPN, etc. on Monday, getting lauded for his first big upset at Tech? Can't you just see it? I can.

Iowa (-1.5) over Arizona
I think Iowa is a very good team this year.

Houston (-3) over UCLA
And it shouldn't even be close. I wonder how long Rick Neuheisel will have that job. 'Til December?

Last week's record: 10-15-1
Season so far: 20-31-2

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My First Fantasy Football Week

I won't keep you in suspense: it did not go well.

The Larry Fitzjerries (Girl League)
This was the worst one. I started Kevin Kolb, and he earned one point before getting all concussed and stuff. What hurts is that my opponent was so weak that if I had started Dexter McCluster, who ended up having a big game for the Chiefs, I would have won anyway. In my defense, though, I don't think I could have known what a huge mistake starting C. J. Spiller instead of McCluster would be.

Helmet sticker: Antonio Gates, 13.6 points
Helmet un-sticker: Michael Crabtree, 1.2 points. C'mon.

The Fightin' AJ Hawks (FPL League)
This was the second worst one. I think my team might just stink, since I am bad at auctioning; I ended up with the second-least amount of points in the whole league, without the injury excuse I had in the aforementioned Girl League. Going into the last game last night, I was down by six and, in my game, had the only player left to go. I only needed six points from him. Unfortunately, that guy was Darren Sproles, whom I was apparently an idiot to start, since they constantly handed it off to Ryan Mathews instead.

Helmet sticker: Jahvid Best, 15 points
Helmet un-sticker: Darren Sproles, 0 points

The Bubby Bristers (People I Know League)
This was the least worst one. I ended up with the second-most points in the league, which gives me hope for the future, but was playing the person who had--by far--the most points in the league. His lead was so staggering by the end of Sunday that I gave all hope, totally demoralized. But then Antonio Gates and Jamaal Charles came up big on Monday night, briefly giving me hope of coming back. That hope didn't materialize, but the smaller margin of defeat softened the blow.

Helmet sticker: Jamaal Charles, 16 points
Helmet un-sticker*: Calvin Johnson, 4.5 points

*Since this is the IDP league, there were defensive guys with fewer points but who were still less disappointing. Darelle Revis scored me nothing, but that's the nature of how he plays and was a risk I took by playing him. "Megatron," however, made me sad.

NFL: Week 1

The Cowboys losing! And it was embarassing too. It wasn't like the Redskins' offense was good--it wasn't--or that their defense was awesome--it wasn't--or even that Tony Romo single-handedly ruined everything--which has its upside, but frankly has happened so often that it's started to get a little sad. No, Dallas's offense as a whole just kept screwing stuff up. The egregious holding call that wiped the game-winning touchdown off the board has gotten the most attention, but that was really just emblematic of the whole game.

Not Hilarious:
The Lions losing. All the media and internet attention has been focused on Calvin Johnson's controversial non-TD catch at the end of the game, and that was sad. (I would really like my moment of celebration back, please.) Even if he had plain old dropped the ball, though, it still would have been depressing for a team that hasn't won on the road in years to lose a game their defense hung on to so doggedly for so long. And the saddest thing of all is losing Matthew Stafford, again, for who knows how long. And with three injuries in his first 17 games, I think it's time to start worrying about his career. I just wish something would go right for the Lions.

Philip Rivers throwing a hissy at New Arrowhead in the rain. I know this video will be taken down soon, but it's too perfect:

Not Hilarious:
The Triumphant (?) Return of Michael Vick/the Non-Triumphant Debut of Kevin Kolb. Check out this anti-hilarious series of events:
  • Despite having a promising young quarterback for whom he ditched Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid starts the game Kolb and Vick frequently, allowing neither one to get into a rhythm.
  • Either because of the rhythm thing or because he's just not ready for the big stage, the vaunted Kolb looks like a deer in the headlights, and passes like one too.
  • Clay Mathews slams Kolb into the ground face-first. He leaves the game, and it turns out he's concussed. (Note: Clay Mathews is awesome and was just doing his job. It's a just a shame that Kolb's arms weren't free to cushion his face.)
  • The odious Michael Vick becomes the unquestioned leader of the team, and does not-totally-awful, setting up what is sure to be an endless and annoying QB debate.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy the Packers won (for the first time in Philadelphia since 1962), but it would have been nice if they'd done it by being the better team instead of the less-bad team.

The total offensive ineptitude of the massively overhyped Jets. At the end of last season, I kind of liked the Jets. They have a big ol' loudmouth coach, which is a dying breed, and I felt Mark Sanchez redeemed his lousy regular season performance with a solid playoff run. But this summer, it was too much Jets, all the time. So I was pretty satisfied that they couldn't make anything happen in their game last night. (Their defense still looks fairly scary, though.) The only downside is that they got put in their place by the Ravens, who aren't super likable either.

Less Hilarious Than I Would Have Thought:
The decline of Brett Favre. I am a decided Brett Favre un-fan, but the realization that it's going to be a long and painful season for the Vikings and Favre in particular has not brought me the schadenfreude I would have expected. Don't get me wrong; I want the Vikings to lose a lot of games. It's just that Favre is already in a bad way physically, and because of his iron man streak, he's never going to take a week or two off to heal. He's going to play until he literally can't anymore, and I just worry it's all going to end with him not just too injured for football, but too injured for aspects of real life.

And that was Week 1! What did you all find hilarious or not hilarious?

Monday, September 13, 2010

College Football: Week 2

There's lots to say about the most recent weekend of college football, but let's see if I can round this up in three main points.

The ACC and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Saturday
In the preseason coaches' poll, Florida State was ranked #20. On Saturday, they lost to Oklahoma (a team that struggled against Utah State--not Utah, Utah State--in Week 1) by a score of 47-17. And seven of FSU's points came in garbage time. They are now "receiving votes" in the polls.

In preseason, North Carolina was ranked #18, and it seemed like this might really be Butch Davis's year. UNC is now under very serious investigation by the NCAA, and it might really be Butch Davis's year to get fired. They're 0-1 and receiving fewer votes than FSU.

In preseason, Georgia Tech was ranked #17. Then they got beaten by a KU team that had opened the season getting beaten by a team from a Dakota. They're now receiving three more votes than UNC.

In preseason, Miami was ranked #13. They just got beaten by Ohio State, although to be fair, OSU is regarded as the second-best team in the country, and Miami was expected to lose. They probably weren't expected to have their QB throw four interceptions or to score over half their points on kick returns, though. They've only dropped to #17.

In preseason, Virginia Tech was ranked #6. In Week 1, they lost a great game to Boise State, which dropped them a bit, but hey, Boise State is good. This week, they lost to James Madison, an FCS team, and became only the second ranked team ever to lose to an opponent from that level (the first was of course Michigan losing to Appalachian State in 2007). It's an utter disaster for A) Virginia Tech, which is now 0-2 to start the season and totally embarrassed B) the ACC, which has seen its most likely national title contender go down in flames and C) Boise State, whose supposed "quality" win might now count for very little. Virginia Tech is now receiving exactly four votes in the coaches' poll (none in the AP), and keep in mind that Frank Beamer gets to vote and may well have put his team at #22 on his ballot.

I'm not even joking. I sincerely think that's what happened.

"Monster" Saturday: the Wrong Kind of Monster
ESPN promoted Saturday heavily as a day of clashes between titans (and presumably, good, close games). But Florida State got stomped by Oklahoma. Miami-Ohio State wasn't as close as the final score would make you think. Alabama throttled Penn State and perhaps would have throttled harder if not for Nick Saban's respect for Joe Pa. In other blowout news, I was pleasantly surprised when Tennessee and Oregon were tied at the end of the first half, and then unpleasantly unsurprised when UT did nothing in the second half, unless you count allowing Oregon to score 35 points "something." (Fun* fact: Oregon has scored 120 points in 120 minutes of play.)

*Fun, depending whether your team of choice plays Oregon or not.

On the other hand, there were plenty of games that should have been blow-outs that were not. I already told you my feelings about West Virginia's near-loss to Marshall, so suffice it to say it's ridiculous that they climbed a spot in both polls, regardless of who else lost this week. Florida's final score against South Florida looks OK, but they looked bad in the first half. Conference play will not be kind. Similarly, Wisconsin's victory margin over San Jose State doesn't seem too bad, but the Badgers had some sloppy play that would not go unpunished in Big Ten games.

This was another week with two FCS upsets over BCS-conference opponents, for besides the James Madison takedown of Va Tech, Minnesota managed to lose to a team from a Dakota. This is the second time Tim Brewster has done that, so don't expect him to keep his job for long. Oh, and speaking of coaches who will soon be fired, with a 52-7 (fifty-two to seven!) loss to Cal, Dan Hawkins. Per usual.

How 'bout them Aggies?
Apparently, the Ags started sloppy, but I'm not going to complain about a score of 48-16. (If I were going to complain, I'd ask why La Tech scored double digits, or why the Ags turned it over so many times, but I'm not going to.)

And in an interesting development, as Stuart Mandel has pointed out, Arkansas is now WILDLY overrated. They've beaten Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe by 41 and 24, which is absolutely nothing to get excited about, considering it was Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. Considering their mediocre performance last year, rankings in the low teens are just stupid. It's really too bad they play Georgia and Alabama before they play the Aggies, because if you lose to a highly ranked team, oh well, they were highly ranked. If you beat them, which is easier if they shouldn't be ranked, it gets you ranked. Hopefully, enough luster will stay on Arkansas through Week 5 that the Ags can benefit from it.

LeachWatch 2010: Mike Leach, Analyst

As I warned you, Mike Leach made his broadcast debut on Saturday--although I thought for some reason he'd be a pre-game studio analyst, he actually gave color commentary throughout the NC State-UCF game. Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the whole game (it's kind of hard to justify keeping the TV on the UCF game when you've invited people over to watch Alabama-Penn State), but the parts I saw were pretty great.

Here's the thing: he didn't say anything particularly crazy. Really, he gave some pretty good insights. But he says fairly normal, intelligent things while sounding like he's drunk and looking like he's blind. (I hate to make it sound like I'm ragging on the blind here. That's not my intention. It's just that, instead of looking at the camera or his broadcast partner, Leach consistently looked at nothing. Nothing at all.)

For posterity, I'll post a screencap of the tweets I tweeted re: Mike Leach (and also one about my picks this week which, believe me, I'll elaborate on later.)

I will also refer you to this nice write-up from Sports by Brooks, which also includes a highlight video. Again, it's certainly not wacky, laugh-a-minute stuff, but it is authentic, unmistakeable Mike Leach.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thoughts On: West Virginia at Marshall

By way of breaking in my brand new cable, I watched the West Virginia-Marshall game tonight. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much more than background noise, but it sucked me in. I can't resist a scrappy underdog.

For those of you who didn't watch the game, the final score (West Virginia 24, Marshall 21 in OT) belies just how much Marshall dominated their in-state rivals. Well, not rivals since (as the announcers told us somewhere between 13 and 400,000 times) they've played 10 times and Marshall has never won. But you know what I mean.

The weird thing was that when I say Marshall dominated West Virginia, I mean they physically dominated them. The Mountaineer offensive line kept getting ploughed over by the Herd's defensive line. For three quarters, West Virginia looked totally inept.

Unfortunately, by the fourth quarter, Marshall was just plain tired. They got up to a 21-6 lead, but that's not enough for a rebuilding C-USA team to be safe against a fairly consistently successful BCS conference team. A team with smaller, less talented recruits; lower-paid coaches; and shabbier facilities can fight just as hard as a team with all the advatages, but it's hard to keep it up for four quarters.

This is why we should cherish college football upsets. My heart broke a little when I watched a team and a school get tantalizingly close to a landmark victory and then watch that lovely dream disappear. I guess this near-miss will make them appreciate victory over West Virginia even more when it finally does happen . . . although that's probably not much of a silver lining for them right now.

In other Marshall news, their coach is named Doc Holliday. And that's a victory for everyone.

Oh, and in other West Virginia news, they looked awful (except for their one good running back, Noel Devine). Dear poll-voters: do not keep them ranked. There's no way they're one of the 25 best teams in the country.


Some random guy is now making a living selling custom cowbells for fans to use at football games. The internet is pretty great sometimes.

Don't forget! This weekend is the breathlessly anticipated debut of Mike Leach, studio analyst! I would put a link here, but the channel on which he is (at least supposedly) appearing, CBS College Sports, has a shockingly lackluster internet presence. (Way worse than that cowbell guy, I'm sure.) I'm not even going to link to their website, as a protest against how bad it is. I have tried to find any trace of promotion, anywhere on the internet, for Mike Leach on their channel, but nada. I wouldn't know about it if not for this tweet from SI's Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples):

Mike Lombardi almost always has interesting things to say, and this column is no exception. There's no particular theme to the article; it's more a string of intriguing tidbits. Plus, it's not every day you get to read "I am excited to see the Lions," unless of course someone is talking about actual lions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some Picks: CFB Week 2

Again picking against the spread because it's more fun; again using Yahoo's numbers. I'm also relying on the Yahoo picks contest for the slate. My contest commissioner chose Yahoo standard + Big 12, since we're all a bunch of Kansans. Home team in italics.

Duke (+5.5) over Wake Forest
Look, I don't know anything about the ACC except that Duke is even more terrible than the rest of them, but I like their coach, David Cutcliffe. (This is the first of this week's "Why not?" picks.)

Georgia Tech (-14) over Kansas
After last week's performance by KU, this point spread could be 35 and I'd still take Georgia Tech.

Georgia (+3) over South Carolina
South Carolina under Steve Spurrier disappoints every year. Every year. (I know the same applies to Georgia under Mark Richt, but to a lesser extent.)

Army (-2.5) over Hawaii
It'll be hard for Hawaii's players to pull it out, considering the jet lag.

South Florida (+15.5) over Florida
I know, I know--I'm buying too much into Florida's Keystone Kops-like performance in Week 1. But I'm not picking USF to win, just to beat the spread. Although it would be hilarious if they also won.

Nebraska (-28.5) over Idaho
I picked Nebraska not to overcome the spread against Western Kentucky, since I have little faith in the Huskers' offense. I'm not making that mistake in any more of their games against The Weak Sisters of the Poor.

Florida State (+7.5) over Oklahoma
Sure, Florida State has a new coach, but I don't think Oklahoma has the chops this season. Even if Oklahoma's home field magic holds up, I could see FSU playing them close.

Iowa State (+13.5) over Iowa
Again, I'm picturing this as a close game, not an upset. Iowa State will want this pretty bad, and Iowa isn't a scoring machine.

Miami (+9) over Ohio State
Broken record time here, but I think Miami will play them closer than that. Ohio State should win, but by more than a touchdown? I don't see it.

Cal (-9) over Colorado
I will bet against Dan Hawkins at all opportunities.

Notre Dame (-4) over Michigan
If the Fighting Brian Kellys can stop shiny new Michigan QB Denard Robinson (idea 1: hit 'im), they're set. I don't think Michigan has anything else.

BYU (+1) over Air Force

Missouri (off) over McNeese State
Because duh.

Oklahoma State (-13.5) over Troy
The Lesser Okies proved last week that they can score some points. They should do so again.

Washington (-13.5) over Syracuse
Wait, Syracuse is still in a major conference? . . . Wait, the Big East is still a "major" conference? Wonders never cease. Also, can someone explain to me why Jake Locker is a Heisman candidate? It's fine if NFL scouts want to lose their minds over some lackluster QB, just because he's big and has a strong arm. That's their business. But a college award ought to be based on college performance.

Oregon (-12) over Tennessee
This is another one where the spread just couldn't be high enough for me to pick against Oregon. This should be the week that the horrors begin for the Vols.

Vanderbilt (+9.5) over LSU
This pick is wrong. I know that. It's just that I love Robbie Caldwell (who is, by the way, on Twitter (@RobbieCaldwell, fittingly) and is adorable) and I can't stand Les Miles and I want to believe! When (and if?) Vandy gets blown out on Saturday, I will start picking their games sensibly, I promise.

Alabama (-12) over Penn State
I went back and forth on this one. On the one hand, Alabama isn't really a blow-out kind of team. Will they really beat a Big Ten opponent by two touchdowns? On the other hand, Penn State looked a little shaky against Youngstown State, which is never good. In the end, I let 'Bama's homefield advantage swing it for me.

Baylor (+16.5) over Buffalo
Baylor should really let Robert Griffin go nuts on as many teams as possible. Buffalo's a nice soft target.

Wyoming (+29.5) over texas
Wyoming played texas tough last year and, while I don't want to trivialize the death of Wyoming player Ruben Narcisse, but I feel like his teammates will play harder to honor his memory. Tragedy seems to galvanize teams.

Texas A&M (-19.5) over Louisiana Tech
If Jerrod and co. can't hang 30 or 40 points on La Tech, then they're not who I thought they were.

Kansas State (off) over Missouri State
A classic Bill Snyder matchup!

UCF (-3.5) over N. C. State
I have no strong feelings about this. (Does anyone?)

New Mexico (+24.5) over Texas Tech
Not only does Tech have a couple of kinks in their offense to work out, but New Mexico will be playing with Hurt Feelings. They should take those out on Tech (to the tune of losing by only a touchdown or two).

Ole Miss (-20.5) over Tulane
Speaking of taking out Hurt Feelings . . . .

USC (-19.5) over Virginia
Because it's Virginia.

Stanford (-6) over UCLA
If Stanford can't beat a team that K-State beat, they don't deserve to be ranked #25, that's for sure.

Record to date (in my picks contest, even though I didn't post them here): 10-15-1. (Week 1 was not good to me.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Picks: NFL Week 1

I'm going to pick against the spread, because it's more fun. And I'm using Yahoo's picks competition numbers instead of ESPN's, because they get more frequently updated. Home team in italics.

Saints (-5) over Vikings
The Vikings have problems; the Saints don't.

Dolphins (-3) over Bills
Miami should be at least OK, while Buffalo is my pre-season pick for Worst Team in the NFL.

Lions (+6.5) over Bears
Detroit should be better this season. Chicago should be better, but won't be.

Titans (-6.5) over Raiders
At first, I was going with the Oakland, but then I realized I couldn't justify it here in writing. And if I can't make the case ("Jason Campbell" still sounds like an argument for the Raiders improving to mediocrity over the entire season, but doesn't really fly for this particular game.)

Patriots (-4.5) over Bengals
I just don't believe in the Bengals.

Panthers (+6.5) over Giants
This was my trickiest pick. At first glance, Giants by a touchdown over Carolina at home seems like a pretty easy bet. At second glance, you remember that this, the Giants' first opponent at their new stadium, was their last opponent at their old stadium, and the Panthers embarrassed them (though less than they embarrassed themselves). It should follow that the Giants will try not just to beat, but destroy them. Third glance! If the Giants were capable of doling out an important, emotional, meaningful beatdown, why didn't they do it last year against Carolina? I don't think the Giants will necessarily lose, but I'm thinking it might at least be embarrassingly close.

Falcons (-2.5) over Steelers
I am buying the Bill Simmons argument that Atlanta's going to be genuinely good this year, while the Steelers--I'm calling it--are still going to be lost even once Roethelisberger gets back. In related news, watching Roethelisberger in the pre-season finally gave me some more insight into how dog lovers feel about Michael Vick. I can barely stand to look at him.

Browns (+3) over Buccaneers
I don't know why Tampa is even favored here. Yes, Cleveland will be very bad, but Tampa will be very, very bad.

Broncos (+2.5) over Jaguars
The wild card: Bronco third-string quarterback/Jacksonville native Tim Tebow. If I were coaching the Broncos, well, I wouldn't have lobbied to draft Tim Tebow in the first place. But let's ignore that! If I were coaching the Broncos, I'd put Tim Tebow in (even just in specialty packages) early and often, to get the crowd on my side. Because it would totally work! Nobody cares about the Jags, and as we know, lots of people care very much about Tim Tebow.

Colts (-2.5) over Texans
Because it's the Colts playing the Texans. We can pretend it will be different this time, but I think we all know it won't.

Cardinals (-4) over Rams
I'm interested to see how Sam Bradford does, but I don't think he's winning his first start.

Packers (-3) over Eagles
Go Packers! Yeah! Woo!

49ers (-3) over Seahawks
I'll put it this way: I have three fantasy teams, one of them in an IDP league, and not one player for Seattle. In my IDP league, there is only one Seattle player owned, DT Craig Terrill.

Redskins (+3.5) over Cowboys
Go Mike Shanahan! Yeah! Woo!

Ravens (+2.5) over Jets
This is part wishful thinking, admittedly, but I also think the Ravens are going to be better than the Jets this year.

Chargers (-4.5) over Chiefs
It may sound crazy, but gee, I just think San Diego will be able to put up a lot of points at Kansas City.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Is it the world's most incisive NFL pre-season analysis? Perhaps. It's The Onion's NFL Preview, and it's hilarious. I especially recommend the team-by-team guide.

I really wish George Lucas had let Ole Miss use Admiral Ackbar as their new Rebel mascot. That would have been delightful. Also, do you think Ackbar would have let them lose to Jacksonville State? Of course not.

Bromance: The Talk Show is coming soon to a low-rent cable station near you! I just worry that filming a show together will put a strain on their relationship.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bubby, Larry, and A.J.

As of last night, all three of my fantasy drafts are over. I think I did OK? Possibly?

The Larry Fitzjerries
As I shared with you, my all-girl autopick-draft league got off to a rough start. Luckily, one of my co-league members (the girl I'm playing in Week 1, no less) dropped the Eagles' new QB, Kevin Kolb, for Mark Sanchez. I questioned that decision, but without looking a gift horse in the mouth. I, in turn, dropped Jay Cutler and picked up Kolb. He's a little risky, since he's inexperienced, but he should throw quite a bit in the Eagles' offense without throwing it to the other team as much as some quarterback frat daddies I could name.

The Bubby Bristers
This one had a real draft, with people I actually know, and is easily my favorite league. Also, I think we're going to play for money. ($10 apiece, because we are high rollers.) I was pleased with how my draft went. I got Drew Brees at QB and Frank Gore at RB. My receivers are kind of in the high-risk/high-reward vein (Calvin Johnson and less so, Greg Jennings), but I think they'll work out. The toughest part about this league is that we're doing Individual Defensive Players, and nobody knows defensive guys that well. We all knew enough to avoid taking Darrell Revis while he was holding out for a better contract . . . and then I plucked him off the waiver wire this morning after I saw that he's signing on Monday. I'm crafty!

The Fightin' AJ Hawks
This one was the auction draft with dudes from the message boards at Football Pros Live. I have heard over and over that auction drafts are way more fun, interesting, and creative than regular drafts and in short, that once you go auction, you never go back. Based on my experience, these are all filthy lies.

I'm not blaming the people I did the auction with at all--they're all strangers, but they were perfectly nice and even helpful, since I mentioned I hadn't done an auction before. And to be fair, I should have studied more and done some mock drafts. Bidding on each player went too fast for me to feel like I was keeping up, but the entire auction collectively took forever. It didn't help that (I think?) I spent to much money early on some guys (particularly Drew Brees and Andre Johnson), so then I had to sit around for round after round, waiting for prices to come down to where I could afford the rest of my roster. The end result looks OK, I think (although I haven't looked very hard at everybody else's teams), but actually doing the auction was some of the least fun I have ever had. I am now going to tell you something sincerely: I can only think of one dentist's appointment I've ever been to that was less enjoyable than that draft. Never again will I do a fantasy football auction.

I was going to put my rosters (as they stand now) at the end of this post, after a break, but then HTML and I got into an ugly screaming match and I gave up on that notion. My rosters are now, therefore, on their very own page--Fantasy Stuff. I guess I could keep my win/loss records and such updated over there, too. Why not?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

College Football: Week 1

For the most part, Week 1 went the way Week 1 is supposed to go: cupcakes got smashed. My teams did what they needed to do: A&M crushed Stephen F. Austin 48-7 (as broken down in Robert Cessna's ever-essential grading of the Aggies), Wisconsin went to UNLV and beat them 41-21 (which would have been more lopsided if not for some opening-night mistakes by the Badgers) and Tennessee walloped Tennessee-Martin by the extremely fake-sounding score of 50-0. Oh, and Minnesota defied my expectations and did not lose to Middle Tennessee State . . . although they were trailing MTSU as late as the fourth quarter.

Some cupcakes got smashed beyond all recognition, as in Oregon's 72-0 murder of New Mexico; some cupcakes got smashed not as much as expected--both texas and especially Oklahoma turned in surprisingly small margins of victory. This increases my suspicion that they haven't reloaded as easily as the pollsters think. Florida, which apparently looked clumsy and ridiculous against Miami Ohio, also falls into this category.
There were two embarrassing upsets, one funnier than the other. The unlikeable Houston Nutt and his Ole Miss Rebels got taken down in double overtime by Jacksonville State. The nice little story you'll find in the recaps of the game: Jacksonville State's head coach was ignominiously fired as head coach of Arkansas after losing his season opener to the Citadel, a I-AA team. Now, as the coach of FCS (ex-I-AA) Jacksonville State, he embarrassed somebody else in their opener! Aww. It's the circle of life.

A bigger downer is Kansas's loss to North Dakota State, 6-3. Leaving aside how it was Turner Gill's first game as head coach and how he seems like a very nice man who wants to run a nice program . . . what a horrible game that must have been to watch. Imagine being in the stands for three or four hours and not just watching your team lose to what should have been a far inferior opponent, but only seeing three field goals scored all game. Ugh. Well, I guess everybody in Lawrence can just go back to pretending football doesn't exist.

Meanwhile, some teams played real teams this weekend. Daring!

The Big East should maybe start scheduling themselves easier games on opening weekend. After all, it's hard to keep up the facade that you deserve an automatic BCS bid when you collectively lose to Utah, Fresno State, Kentucky, and Rich Rod's Michigan team, right off the bat. (Seriously, can somebody explain to me why the Big East is a BCS conference?)

LSU managed to barely beat a severely depleted UNC (as Pat Forde dubs them, the University of Non-Compliance), because, as always, Les Miles is a bad coach. Also, those of you who watched this game, who were you rooting for? I like an underdog (and dislike Les Miles), but UNC only was one because so many of their guys are apparently rule-breakers. I don't see the feel-good story here that I'm apparently supposed to.

TCU, getting their BCS-buster-bid off to a good start, beat Oregon State (and by doing so proved what good luck it is to have Lee Corso pick against you). This is bad news for Boise State's own BCS-buster-bid, since they also play Oregon State. When you're an outsider team, your few insider opponents need to have as much luster as possible.

Of course, the weekend isn't over yet. We still get to get a glimpse of whether Tommy Tuberville can mesh with Texas Tech's players at all. And of course, the biggest game of the week doesn't happen until tomorrow, when Boise State takes on Virginia Tech. Get--or, at least in my case, continue to be--excited!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Big Ten, Divided

OK, I lied about not having anymore off-season posts. There's more to say about the Big Ten divisions than I anticipated.

They're a little different than was speculated:

I can't say I'm a fan. I don't like that they split up the Illinois schools and Wisconsin/Minnesota, and beyond that, I just don't get it. It bothers me that Wisconsin and Michigan aren't switched--the divisions are just barely not geographically contiguous. It's the almost-but-not-quite that gets me.

Related to the not-getting why these groups make sense: what are they possibly going to call these things? They can't do directions or Lakes vs. Plains. Maybe they should keep with the conference's numbers that don't make sense policy and call them Five and Seven. Or Nine and One. Or Eighteen and Pi. Next suggestion: acronyms by state name. The one I put in yellow would be NIMM and the blue would be WIIPO! The preceding exclamation point is not a sign of enthusiasm, but rather an acknowledgement that you'd have to say WIIPO! like a happy sound effect. WIIPO!

The other dimension to this whole thing is that each school will have precisely one "protected rivalry;" a game they play each year against an opponent in the other division. Presented visually:

My first question was whether Michigan State-Indiana is a real rivalry, or whether those two are just the sad leftovers. For the answer, I turned to your friend and mine, Wikipedia. The game does have a traveling trophy, The Old Brass Spittoon. (Awesome?) That being said, there are lots of traveling trophies in the Big Ten, and judging by nothing else but the length of the Wikipedia entry, The Old Brass Spittoon is not particularly storied. However, the one I should have questioned was Iowa-Purdue. It seemed plausible to me that it was a thing, but it turns out that one has nothing to recommend it. Sorry, Iowa, Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan State--your real rivals all love somebody else more than you.

The one thing the Big Ten front office did that I can't argue with: they left the Michigan-Ohio State game in the same place on the calendar. You can't please all of the people all of the time, but you can avoid all of the people getting super, super angry at you. . . .Some of the time.

The Final Off-Season Post

College football starts tomorrow, you guys! Tomorrow!

Admittedly, I won't be watching any powerhouse matchups such as North Dakota at Idaho, Towson at Indiana, or perennial favorite Florida Atlantic at UAB. In all seriousness, the most interesting game on the opening night docket is Minnesota at Middle Tennessee. I stand by my prediction that Middle Tennessee will triumph.

A few more thoughts to chew on before we actually get to watch some games:

Stewart Mandel at SI wonders why Texas A&M is getting all the dark horse attention in the Big 12 instead of Texas Tech. Now, I stand by my optimism about A&M's upcoming season; however, I have to concede his point that Tommy Tuberville being better than Mike Sherman. I think the jury's still out on Sherman, but that's probably the optimism talking again.

It may be that official word on future Big Ten divisions comes down today. It will probably be stupid.

People can't stop talking about Boise State's national title merits. I still think all of the attention is going to jinx them, and they'll lose this weekend to Virginia Tech. Not because they're a worse team. Just because it's the universe's little joke to immediately make all this summer's speculation pointless.

I forgot to share this when it came out, but apparently Dan "Ten Wins and No Excuses" Hawkins (who went 3-9 last year and only avoided being fired because the University of Colorado has no money to buy out his contract) wants a contract extension. If I may share my gut reaction to this story: BWAAAAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA [gasp] HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

Finally, Jerrod Johnson isn't just probably the best quarterback in the Big 12, he's probably the best singing quarterback in the Big 12 (or perhaps all major conferences):