Thoughts on #SuperBowl50 in #Murica

name of site - hunter thompson style

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If you consider all the things about football, it’s the simple mistakes that might be the difference between winning or losing, particularly a Big game — read Playoffs, read esp. Super Bowl. We are talking about small failures, here — basic mechanical failures, mental errors and blind spots of memory. Foolish laziness that nobody noticed in the first three games of the year will loom gigantic in the playoffs. A simple dropped pass in the fourth quarter will haunt a football player for the rest of his life and cause him to scream in his sleep. Those things will never be forgotten.

Indeed. There are many cruel Rooms in the mansion, and many deep holes in the Road. Keep alert or get stabbed. Of all the shocks and pains that every football season brings, the worst of all is the ending of it. And that is what we face now — two Sunday’s from now, in fact, before the bell tolls. There will be no appeal, no extension, no replay. That will be the end of the football season, no matter who complains.

A few geeks will, of course. A few swine always do. No barrel is utterly clean. That would be atmospherically impossible, right? And rest assured that nothing on this Earth is 100 percent clean. Nothing…. Maybe you are one of those people who honestly believes that Cats are clean? I hope not, because you are saddling up for a serious fall. Cats are filthy, and they don’t mind passing it around. The smell of a large cat (as in Lion or Panther) at room temperature in a sea-level house is so powerful and so disorienting as to derail the human brain. The odor of a mountain lion in the wild is far more terrifying than the sight of the beast, even on a frozen night in the snow. It will literally “take your breath away” at 10 or even 20 yards. Your whole nervous system will seize up and be paralyzed, even your lungs. So stay away from all animals that are bigger than you are, especially at night when they are nervous. A brown bear will eat your whole body in 24 hours. Beware.

What? Why are we worrying about bears and cats at this time of year, days before the Super Bowl? I’ll tell you why: Because every time I think about Denver in the Superbowl and Football and Patriotism all at once, I think of Nixon and dangerous wild animals and his lust for power. Nixon was a football fan — and so am I, as it happens, and I can tell you from years of keen observation that us football fans have a way of getting together, no matter where we are.

There is nothing supernatural about it, but I have witnessed it happen over and over. Football fans share a universal language that cuts across many cultures and many personality types. A serious football fan is never alone. We are legion, and Football is often the only thing we have in common. We recognize each other instantly, even if we have to speak in sign language, or raised eyebrows. No doubt it has something to do with the gambling instinct, which is also universal.

The next time you find yourself in need of conversation in some backwoods foreign airport, as I have from time to time, take this tip and look around for the nearest public TV set that is tuned to a football game. That will be your oasis, no matter how long your layover may. You will get your questions answered.

Gaming is another universal language, along with simple mathematics, cold beer, and wild sex. Any traveler who is conversant in these tongues and football too will find friends in any town. Take my word for it.

It goes without saying, of course, that extreme behavior in all these lines is not recommended. Heavy drinking and berserk gambling among strangers will usually lead to trouble on the road, and you want to keep in mind that airport bars are no longer as tolerant as they used to be. Last year’s fun is today’s crime. Even tying your shoes in an airport could get you locked up.

It will not be long before all major airlines will require all passengers to disrobe and change into standard Hospital gowns before they board a plane. This is already in the planning stage, according to a lawyer from Albuquerque who also assures me that sleeping gas will be introduced later this year on flights of 40 minutes or longer. “The gas has already been market tested,” he said. “Passengers are heavily in favor of it.”

“What passengers?” I asked him. “Not football fans on their way to Santa Clara, I bet, or people who have to write speeches on airplanes.”

“There will be no exceptions,” he assured me. “Only uniformed soldiers and police officials licensed to carry concealed weapons.”

“That’s good,” I said. “I have a machine gun license.”

“Very funny,” he said. “Don’t push your luck these days. That’s why we have these new secret prisons.”

I hung up and crossed his name off my guest list for the Super Bowl. Nazis are not welcome at this party. They can’t be trusted.

So how about the Big Game, sport? Who is going to win?

Who indeed?! But if I were a betting man I would go with…Find out later,  I might even go double on it. Why not? It’s the last game of the year. I won’t lose….


The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released over nearly 400 prop bets for wagering. Click on the picture for a PDF with all of them, and enjoy.

Click for all PROP-BETS

“I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4” – OR – “Pair up in threes” – #RIPYogi

It’s Deja-Vu all over again…

It is inevitable.  The older I get, the more heaven seems to load up on talent – it’s a helluva team up there.  Yogi, went from Northern Italy, to St.Louis, to New York, to one of the best catchers of all time.  For my money, it is him and Roy Campanella for the title, to quote Casey Stengel: “you can look it up.”  Need more proof – how many baseball players have a cartoon character named after them?

With that said, Yogi Berra passed at the age of 90, Tuesday evening. Yogi died 69 years to the day after he had made his major-league debut, on Sept. 22, 1946; against the Philadelphia Athletics, Yogi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in a 4-3 Yankees win. Yogi won 10 World Series titles as a player.  That is an all-time record, and one more than the great Joe DiMaggio.Logo_alt#2

Berra’s record of 75 World Series games played may never be threatened, much less actually broken. Consider Derek Jeter, who played 20 years for maybe the best team of his era, wound up playing 38 World Series games, barely half of Berra’s total. The only active players who have appeared in more than 15 World Series games are Yadier Molina (21), Matt Holliday (16), Buster Posey (16) and Albert Pujols (16). Furthermore, if the 28-year-old Posey (the only one of them not yet 30 years old) plays in the next eight World Series (through 2022), and all of them extend to seven games, he would still be three games shy of Berra’s record.

Not everyone makes the Hall of Fame, fewer still become icons – Lawrence Peter Berra’s legacy transcends baseball.  He was one of the greatest players, for one of the greatest teams, in all of sports, and for the lucky ones who knew him, they say he was a better person.  Beyond his success on the field, was the quality of the man.  So, when you come to the fork in the road, take it, because if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.


In memoriam – more Baseball

Here is last night’s #DraftKings Perfect Lineup – 9-22-15…maybe I should have took the other side of the Mets v. Braves game for the #sleeper pick.

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Baseball’s first 20-game winner

Jake Arrieta became baseball’s first 20-game winner and he did it with style, tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout and striking out 11 in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory over the Brewers. He became the first major-leaguer whose 20th victory of a season was a shutout with double-digit strikeouts since 1993, when Jack McDowell’s 20th win met those parameters.

Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to become the majors’ first 20-game winner in a season, with all the victories coming for the Cubs, since Larry Jackson did that back in 1964. (In 1984, Rick Sutcliffnulle was the first big-leaguer to reach 20 wins, and he won his 20th while pitching for the Cubs; but Sut had won his first four games that season while pitching for the Indians.)

Arrieta lowered his season ERA to 1.88, second-lowest in the majors to Zack Greinke’s 1.65. But Arrieta is putting some pressure on the Dodgers’ right-hander: in each of Arrieta’s last five starts, he has thrown at least eight innings and has allowed no more than one run. The last major-league pitcher who strung together five straight games like that was Roger Clemens in 1997; the last to do so this late in a season was Orel Hershiser in 1988, when he tossed five straight shutouts and then a 10-inning scoreless outing in his last six starts of the season, fashioning the major-league -record 59-inning scoreless streak that Greinke had challenged earlier this season.

It’s a Bird in Toronto

Greg Bird’s line-drive three-run homer in the 10th inning cut through the tension at Rogers Centre and lifted the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the 10th home run of the season for the Yankees rookie, who replaced the injured Mark Teixeira down the stretch. Bird became the first Yankees rookie to hit an extra-inning home run in a road victory since July 14, 1962, when Tom Tresh belted a two-run homer in the 10th inning off Angels rookie (and future Cy Young Award winner) Dean Chance in New York’s 9-8 win at nullDodger Stadium. (The Angels were the Dodgers tenants for four years in the early 1960s.) Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek that year when Kubek, the Yankees regular shortstop, spent most of the season in military service.

Bird has now hit eight home runs in September, tying Chris Davis for the highest total by any American League player this month. Bryce Harper leads the majors with 10, while Nolan Arenadoand Yoenis Cespedes have smashed nine.

Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the tenth, his 35th of the season, joining teammates Josh Donaldson (39) and Jose Bautista (36) at that level. Prior to this season, the last big-league team that featured three players with at least 35 home runs was the 2006 White Sox, with Jermaine Dye (44), Jim Thome (42) and Paul Konerko (35). The lone previous season in which a Toronto trio achieved that feat came in 1998; the three players were Jose Canseco(46), Carlos Delgado (38), and Shawn Green (35).

Crazy-ness in Detroit

Fans leaving Comerica Park on Tuesday night must have been thinking of that old adage: there’s a chance at the ballpark you’ll see something that you may not have seen before. Here’s the recap of the Tigers-White Sox game:

Detroit starter Daniel Norris, in his second game since returning from a recent injury, was removed from the game after he retired Chicago’s first 15 batters of the game. His was the first perfect-through-five start by a Tigers rookie since Armando Galarraga did it – no, not in his 8.2-perfect-innings effort against Cleveland in 2010 – but in 2008 against the Royals. The last major-leaguer to be taken out after at least five innings with a potential perfect game still intact was Houston’s Bob Knepper in the final game of the 1986 season, as the Astros readied their starters for that year’s postseason.single logo_small

After four relievers extended the potential no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning, Tyler Saladino ruined the bid with a triple. He became only the second major-leaguer in the last 20 years to spoil a potential no-hitter with a ninth-inning (or extra-inning) triple, the other being Baltimore’s Jerry Hairston, Jr., against the Rangers in 2002. The odd thing: Hairston’s blow leading off the ninth also ruined a potential combination no-hitter in a game in which Texas starter Aaron Myette was ejected after throwing two pitches, Todd Van Poppel pitched two innings, and then Joaquin Benoit threw no-hit ball until Hairston’s triple.

The Tigers won, 2-1, in the 10th inning, on a walkoff triple by Rajai Davis, the second walkoff triple in the majors this season (Pittsburgh’s Pedro Florimon had the other on August 18). The last Tigers player with a walkoff triple was Ramon Santiago in 2011, but prior to him you have to go back to Mickey Stanley in 1968.

Mike and Albert

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, in a gripping 4-3 victory in Houston. The home runs were the 40th of the season for Trout and the 36th for Pujols – it was the first time that baseball had seen back-to-back homers by a pair of players, each of whom had already belted 35 homers that season, since 2006 – when Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome of the White Sox did it.

Jimenez with the bat

Ubaldo Jimenez lifted his September record to 3-0 (he had previously beaten both the Blue Jays and the Yankees) and added a nice little cherry with an RBI single as the Orioles shut down the Nationals, 4-1, and, coupled with the Astros’ loss, shaved a game off Houston’s Wild Card lead. Jimenez’s single produced the first run of the game, and Baltimore never relinquished the lead. He became the second American League pitcher this season to be credited with both a victory and a game-winning RBI in the same game; back on July 21, Tampa Bay rookie Nathan Karns hit a home run for the game’s only run in his victory over the nullPhillies.

Jimenez became the 25th American League pitcher in 19 years of interleague play to achieve that daily double – but the amazing thing is that of the 25 pitchers who did it, seven of them have at least one Cy Young Award on their mantles: David Cone, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana,Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and R.A. Dickey. Even more remarkably, among the other guys who did it was Jon Lester. As we all know, Lester didn’t get his first major-league hit until this season, but in a game at San Francisco in 2010, he was credited with the game-winning RBI in his victory for the Red Sox with a sacrifice fly.

The RBI was the second of the season for Jimenez, who knocked in a run in a game at Philadelphia on June 17. Since the designated-hitter rule was enacted in 1973, severely limiting their opportunities to hit, only eight other American League pitchers have driven in a run in two different games in the same season. But three of those eight others also pitched for the Orioles -Mike Mussina in 1999, Kris Benson in 2006 and Zach Britton in 2011.

Rangers perform sacrifices

Mitch Moreland hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning, but other than that, it was mostly a rat-a-tat-tat attack of sacrifice bunts (three), sacrifice flies (four) and heads-nullup base-running that allowed the Rangers to beat the A’s, 8-6. Sacrifice flies have been recorded as a category separate from sacrifice bunts since 1954, and over those 62 seasons, there have been only two other major-league games in which a team had at least three sacrifice bunts and at least four sacrifice flies. The Astros used that combination to help beat the Braves, 7-5, in 2009, while the Braves found that four sac flies and three sac bunts weren’t enough to win in a 12-inning contest that was won by the Padres, 11-10, in 1991.

Goldschmidt’s has 30 HRs include 7 vs. Dodgers

A. J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back home runs off two different Dodgers pitchers in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks went on to rout the Dodgers, 8-0. Pollock’s home run chased starter Alex Wood, and Goldy’s greeted reliever Chris nullHatcher. It was the 30th boundary belt of the season for Goldschmidt, who also has 21 steals. He became the fourth player in Arizona’s 18-year major-league history to be admitted into that 30/20 club, joining Chris Young(2007), Mark Reynolds (2009) and Justin Upton (2011). It was Goldschmidt’s seventh home run against the Dodgers this season, the most by any Dodgers opponent in a season since 2004, when Barry Bonds and Vinny Castilla each hit eight and Jeromy Burnitz seven. Still some distance away from the record of 13 home runs hit against the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, by the Milwaukee Braves’ Joe Adcock in 1956.

Iwakuma brings it in K.C.

Hisashi Iwakuma blanked the Royals and struck out 10 batters over seven innings in the nullMariners’ 11-2 win at Kansas City. Iwakuma became the third different Mariners pitcher this season, joining Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno, to win a game in which he did not allow a run and had a double-digit strikeout total. Only two other major-league teams have had three different pitchers provide such victories this season-the Indians (Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber) and the Nationals (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez).

Cardinals win another low-scoring game

The Cardinals took a 3-1 decision from the Reds on Tuesday, marking the 31st time this season that they have won a game in which they scored no more than three runs. Only one other major-league team in the last 20 seasons has won as many games of that type (the Giants won 31 such games four years ago). And in the long history of the Cardinals’ franchise, the only other year in which they won as many as 30 games in which they scored three-or-fewer runs was 1968. In that season – the one in which Bob Gibson fashioned his other-worldly 1.12 ERA – St. Louis won 41 games in which they scored no more than three runs (with Gibson having started 14 of those games).

Mahtook(LSU) blasts Fenway

Rookie Mikie Mahtook belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the icing on the Rays’ 5-2 victory at Fenway Park. Mahtook has now hit five home runs this season; his previous blasts came in games at Toronto, Seattle, Chicago (against the White Sox) and nullDetroit. Mahtook, Washington’s Denard Span and San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco are the only players this season who have hit at least five home runs, all on the road.

By the way, among the players from the past whose first five major-league homers came away from home are Hall-of-Famers Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Frank Thomas, Willie Stargell (first six) and Hank Aaron (nine). But none of those Hall-of-Famers holds a candle to the all-time major-league record-holder for home runs, all on the road, from the start of a career. That would be Johnny Hodapp, an infielder who, while playing with the Indians, hit 22 home runs, all on the road, from 1927 to 1931. The streak ended when, after being traded to the White Sox in 1932, his first home run with his new team was hit at Comiskey Park.

Marte + Ramirez and 75 RBIs

Starling Marte knocked in two runs and Aramis Ramirez one, lifting the season total of nullRBIs for each player to 75, in the Pirates’ 6-3 win over the Rockies in Denver.  Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates with 95 RBIs, and though Ramirez has not produced all of his RBIs for the Pirates, Pittsburgh is one of the two National League teams that have at their disposal three players who have 75 RBIs this season. The other such team is Cincinnati, with Todd Frazier (88), Jay Bruce (83) and Joey Votto (75).

nullErvin = Johan

Ervin Santana came through again for the Twins on Tuesday night, holding the Indians to one run over seven innings and earning well-deserved credit for Minnesota’s 3-1 victory. Santana is now 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last five starts, with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Old minor-leaguer clocks home run, sends Mets to defeat

Hector Olivera clocked a three-run, go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth inning and the Braves went on to defeat the Mets, 6-2. Olivera, a 30-year-old rookie, became the second 30-year-old rookie in the last 11 days to smash a home run against the Mets; on September 12, Olivera’s teammate Adonis Garcia connected. Prior to the last two weeks, only four rookies on the far side of 30 have homered against the Mets over their 54-year existence, the oldest being the Phillies’ Chris Coste, at 33, in 2006.

Here it is – The Best College Football DiRT

It is almost college football time and below you will find the DiRT you need – my apologies if your favorite team plays in the Sunbelt – I only have so much time...No post tomorrow as I will be watching as much college football as I can and making sure I #win some fresh lettuce for Labor Day.  I have put together a schedule of games and the ACTION on them – message me if you have some questions on where to LEAN – I like to TEASE, so think about that when you look it over:

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Yesterday’s #DraftKings #MLB perfect lineup was posted earlier on twitter today – here it is if you don’t follow us  – but really, what are you waiting for?!

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Thank you to all of you for the enormous response we have received on our new site – if you have yet to sign up, do it here: http://www.thedirtcanon.com/promo.php and enter to win 1 of 5, $100 VISA Gift Cards, if you sign up before Sept. 13, 2015 – Stay tuned!


INDEPENDENTS

ARMY Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 4 There will be plenty of new faces in the triple option this season. Senior QB A.J. Schurr (8.6 YPA; 7.1 YPC) is the likely starter with QB Angel Santiago gone, and will operate behind a senior-laden O-Line. Five-foot-6 FB Aaron Kemper (6.3 YPC) and T-Back Joe Walker (4.2 YPC) are the main rushers. WLB Jeremy Timpf (117 tackles, 3 INT) and MLB Andrew King (5 sacks) shine in a weak front seven, while CB Josh Jenkins (4 INT) is the unit’s playmaker.

BRIGHAM YOUNG Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The Cougars will be much more effective on the ground with RB Jamaal Williams (518 rush yds, 4.8 YPC, 4 TD) and QB Taysom Hill (460 rush yds, 5.3 YPC, 8 TD) back from knee and leg injuries, respectively. Hill (7.4 cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.pngYPA) also has his No. 1 target back in 6-foot-6 WR Mitch Mathews (922 rec yds, 9 TD). BYU stuffed the run effectively last year (121.8 rush YPG, 20th in FBS) and returns DE Bronson Kaufusi (7 sacks) and WLB Sione Takitaki (3 sacks) to pressure QBs. BYU allowed 6.7 YPA (26th in FBS) and has high hopes for sophomore CBs Jordan Preator (9 PBU) and Michael Davis (43 tackles).

NOTRE DAME Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 10 QB Everett Golson is gone, but new Irish offensive coordinator Mike Sanford (Boise State OC) loves the skillset of new starting QB Malik Zaire (21- 35, 266 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT). With a 6-foot-2, 222-pound frame, the left-handed signal caller can produce yards in bunches with both his arm and his legs. Zaire tallied 192 total yards and 2 TD in the Music City Bowl win versus LSU, and has plenty of weapons with WRs William Fuller (1,094 rec yds, 15 TD), Chris Brown (548 rec yds, 1 TD) and 6-foot-4 Corey Robinson (539 rec yds, 5 TD), who are all upperclassmen. The ground game is in great shape with RB Tarean Folston (889 rush yds, 5.1 YPC, 6 TD). After surrendering a robust 29.2 PPG last year (82nd in nation) and 404.2 total YPG (71st in FBS), the Irish expect to respond in a big way with 10 defensive starters returning. LB Jaylon Smith (112 tackles) anchors the front seven that needs to produce more than its 2.0 sacks per game from last season (T-74th in nation). The secondary will be stronger with CB KeiVarae Russell (51 tackles in 2013) back from suspension to join playmaker CB Cole Luke (4 INT).


ACC

BOSTON COLLEGE Offense: Starters returning – 3; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Sophomore QB Darius Wade is tasked with replacing Tyler Murphy, and will frequently hand off to RB Jon Hilliman (860 rush yds, 13 TD). BC will again be hard to run on with a front seven featuring MLB Steven Daniels (72 tackles, 7 TFL).

CLEMSON Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB DeShaun Watson (14 TD, 2 INT) has recovered from his torn ACL and will heavily target WRs Mike Williams (1,030 rec yds) and Artavis Scott (965 rec yds). The defense lost a ton of top-notch starters, including Vic Beasley.

DUKE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Duke’s passing game has all new starters, most notably QB Thomas Sirk (10- 14, 67 yds, 3 TD). But the rushing attack is in great shape, as are the secondary and special teams. The depleted front seven is questionable though.

FLORIDA STATE Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Jameis Winston’s old job should go to QB Everett Golson (29 TD at N.D.), who has a deep receiving corps. RB Dalvin Cook (1,008 rush yds) shined as a freshman. The secondary is the strength of yet another elite FSU defense.

GA TECH Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 The triple-option will remain lethal with QB Justin Thomas (1,086 rush yds) and A-back Broderick Snoddy (10.1 YPC). The defense should improve with LB P.J. Davis (119 tackles), S Jamal Golden (3 FF) and CB D.J. White (4 INT) returning.

LOUISVILLE Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 4 Junior RB Brandon Radcliff (12 rush TD) should take the pressure off QB Will Gardner (12 TD, 3 INT), who has a lingering knee injury. The defense lost a boatload of players, but returning DE Sheldon Rankins (9 sacks) is a star.

MIAMI Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The ‘Canes will miss Duke Johnson, but RB Joseph Yearby (509 rush yds) can fly. QB Brad Kaaya (26 TD, 12 INT) doesn’t have a true go-to receiver. S Deon Bush (5 FF) leads a top-notch secondary, but the front seven is green.

north carolina Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 7 This nearly-intact offense revolves around dual-threat QB Marquise Williams (3,856 total yds, 34 total TD). New DC Gene Chizik’s 4-3 set should allow LB Jeff Schoettmer (74 tackles) and CB Des Lawrence (71 tackles) to shine.

NC STATE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Talent abounds with QB Jacoby Brissett (23 TD, 5 INT) and RB Shadrach Thornton (907 rush yds) pacing the offense. MLB Jerod Fernandez (78 tackles) and FS Hakim Jones (80 tackles) shine brightest in this quality NC State defense.

PITT Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New head coach Pat Narduzzi (MSU DC) inherits stars RB James Conner (1,765 rush yds, 26 TD) and WR Tyler Boyd (1,261 rec yds), and reliable QB Chad Voytik (16 TD, 7 INT). New DC Josh Conklin (FIU) is tasked with forcing more turnovers.

SYRACUSE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 3 The inept Orange offense should improve with senior QB Terrell Hunt (6.8 YPA) back from injury, but the best skill player is WR Steve Ishmael (415 rec yds). The defense was strong in 2014, but needs to replace eight starters.

VIRIGINIA Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 7 QBs Greyson Lambert (6.3 YPA) and Matt Johns (6.9 YPA) will compete to orchestrate a talent-deficient offense. The defense is also suspect with all three starting linebackers leaving, but FS Quin Blanding (122 tackles, 3 INT) is excellent.

VA TECH Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Key components remain with QB Michael Brewer (18 TD, 15 INT), RB J.C. Coleman (533 rush yds) and WR Isaiah Ford (709 rec yds). DEs Ken Ekanem (9.5 sacks) and Dadi Lhomme Nicolas (9 sacks) lead a top-notch defense.

WAKE FOREST Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Wake has a QB controversy and a ground game that posted an FBS-low 1.3 YPC last year. LBs Marquel Lee (101 tackles) and Brandon Chubb (109 tackles) excel, but Ryan Janvion (115 tackles) is the lone returning DB starter.


BIG 12

BAYLOR Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 The likely replacement for departed Bryce Petty is 6-foot-3 junior QB Seth Russell (804 pass yds, 9.5 YPA, 8 TD, 1 INT) who has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers at his disposal in WR Corey Coleman (1,119 rec yds) and WR KD Cannon (1,030 rec yds). Baylor also runs well with RB Shock Linwood (1,252 rush yds, 16 TD). The 4-2-5 defensive set is loaded with stars like DE Shawn Oakman (11 sacks), DS Orion Stewart and CB Xavien Howard (4 INT each).

IA STATE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 ISU will be pass-happy again with inconsistent QB Sam B. Richardson (2,669 pass yds, 5.9 YPA, 18 TD, 9 INT) as the team’s best rusher (421 yds). He has a trio of experienced receivers in WRs Quenton Bundrage (676 rec yds, 9 TD), D’Vario Montgomery (605 rec yds) and Allen Lazard (593 rec yds). Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year FS Kamari Cotton-Moya (77 tackles, 8 PBU) is the lone standout in a pathetic defense (FBS-worst 528.9 YPG allowed).

KANSAS Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 2 The Jayhawks will struggle again with some potentially devastating absences. It’s not clear when top QB Michael Cummings (1,715 pass yds, 7.0 YPA, 9 TD, 6 INT) will return from a knee injury suffered in the spring game, while top RB Corey Avery (631 rush yds) and top WR Rodriguez Coleman were both dismissed from the team in June. DE Ben Goodman (1 sack) and WLB Courtney Arnick (45 tackles) are the only returning defensive starters.

K-STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Junior QB Joe Hubener (9-17, 235 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) and explosive WR Deante Burton (171 rec yds) have large shoes to fill with QB Jake Waters and WRs Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton gone. RB Charles Jones (540 rush yds, 13 TD) fizzled in Big 12 play, but has four senior O-Linemen to run behind. Seniors SS Dante Barnett and CB Morgan Burns (3 INT each) lead a talented secondary, while DE Jordan Willis (4 sacks) and OLB Elijah Lee (4.5 sacks) are standouts on a front seven that will miss leading tackler Jonathan Truman.

OKLAHOMA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The Sooners have a well-balanced offense with stud RB Semaje Perine (1,713 rush yds, 21 TD) and a stacked receiving corps led by WR Sterling Shepard (970 rec yds, 5 TD). QB Baker Mayfield (2,315 pass yds, 6.8 YPC, 12 TD, 9 INT in 2013 at Texas Tech) is expected to beat out fellow junior QB Trevor Knight (2,300 pass yds, 7.3 YPA, 14 TD, 12 INT). Oklahoma’s stout defense is headlined by LBs Eric Striker (9 sacks, 17 TFL) and Dominique Alexander (107 tackles). CB Zack Sanchez (6 INT) is an incredible athlete.

OK STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 The Cowboys offense has a shoddy running game (3.51 YPC, 106th in nation) and green QB Mason Rudolph (853 pass yds, 9.9 YPA, 6 TD, 4 INT), but three quality receivers remain with WRs Brandon Sheperd (737 rec yds), David Glidden (598 rec yds) and James Washington (6 rec TD). OSU’s front seven is fierce — especially DE Emmanuel Ogbah (11 sacks) and LB Ryan Simmons (96 tackles) — but the secondary is awful (269.2 passing YPG, 110th in FBS).

TCU Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 5 TCU’s national title aspirations start with do-it-all QB Trevone Boykin (4,608 total yds, 41 total TD) and WR Josh Doctson (1,018 rec yds, 11 TD). Senior RB Aaron Green (922 rush yds, 7.1 YPC, 9 TD) is also outstanding. The Frogs were nasty up front (FBS-low 2.78 YPC; 8.6 TFL per game, 2nd in nation) and return DEs James McFarland and Terrell Lathan (12.5 sacks combined). The secondary still needs work, but FS Derrick Kindred (4 INT) can play.

TEXAS Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Athletic QB Tyrone Swoopes (13 TD, 11 INT) will run an up-tempo offense to boost scoring (21.4 PPG, 106th in FBS). Senior WR Marcus Johnson (313 rec yds) is a so-so top target, but RB Jonathan Gray (637 rush yds, 7 TD) is a capable No. 1 back. The front seven lost a ton, but 320-pound DT Hassan Ridgeway (6 sacks) and freshman LB Malik Jefferson are emerging stars. CB Duke Thomas (3 INT) and S Dylan Haines (4 INT) lead a strong secondary.

TEXAS TECH Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Whoever wins the starting job between QB Davis Webb (7.4 YPA, 24 TD, 13 INT) and QB Patrick Mahomes (8.4 YPA, 16 TD, 4 INT) will have plenty of weapons in the Air Raid offense, such as WRs Jakeem Grant (938 rec yds) and Devin Lauderdale (7 rec TD). RB DeAndre Washington (1,103 rush yds) also oozes with talent. New DC David Gibbs is tasked with producing more takeaways, and has the personnel to do so in DE Pete Robertson (12 sacks), Ohio State transfer WLB Mike Mitchell and CB Justis Nelson (16 PBU).

WEST VIRGINIA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Clint Trickett and Kevin White are gone, but junior QB Skyler Howard (7.5 YPA, 8 TD, 0 INT) still has WR Jordan Thompson (598 rec yds) and Kevin White’s brother, freshman WR Ka’Raun White. Junior RBs Rushel Shell (788 rush yds, 7 TD) and Wendell Smallwood (722 rush yds) could also have a bigger role. The D-Line will likely struggle again, but SAM Nick Kwiatkoski (103 tackles) is one of four senior starters at linebacker. The secondary is excellent, headlined by S Karl Joseph (92 tackles) and CB Daryl Worley (3 INT).


BIG (not)10

ILLINOIS Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 QB Wes Lunt (7.3 YPA, 14 TD, 3 INT) will be without top WR Mike Dudek (1,036 rec yds) until October, but RB Josh Ferguson (735 rush yds) remains. LBs Mason Monheim (111 tackles) and T.J. Neal (98 tackles) lead a subpar Illini defense.

INDIANA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 QB Nate Sudfeld (6.9 YPA) is back healthy to run the spread, but with a green receiving corps. UAB transfer RB Jordan Howard (1,587 rush yds) is the offensive key. The defense is too generous, especially through the air.

IOWA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Junior QB C.J. Beathard (7.0 YPA) will often target WR Tevaun Smith (596 rec yds), because the Iowa ground game is so weak. DE Drew Ott (8 sacks) is the line leader, while FS Jordan Lomax (92 tackles) highlights an elite secondary.

MARYLAND Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 4 The Terps will miss WR Stefon Diggs, WR Deon Long and QB C.J. Brown, but really like 6-foot-3 senior QB Caleb Rowe (9.1 YPA). A thin O-Line won’t help RB Brandon Ross (419 rush yds). New DC Keith Dudzinski has little to work with.

MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Once new head coach Jim Harbaugh chooses a starter between QBs Jake Rudock (16 TD, 5 INT), Shane Morris (0 TD, 3 INT) and freshman Alex Malzone, the pro-style offense should flourish. New DC D.J. Durkin has an experienced unit.

MICHIGAN STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Senior QB Connor Cook (24 TD, 8 INT) is outstanding, but the team’s top two skill players are gone (RB Jeremy Langford, WR Tony Lippett). DE Shilique Calhoun (8 sacks) and LB Ed Davis (7 sacks) lead an ultra-stingy defense.

MINNESOTA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 More is needed from QB Mitch Leidner (11 TD, 8 INT) now that star RB David Cobb is gone. All five starting O-Linemen return. CB Eric Murray (69 tackles) paces an uber-talented secondary, and the front seven is above average.

NEBRASKA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. (7.8 YPA, 53% comp.) must improve for new head coach Mike Riley’s pro-style offense to work. New DC Mark Banker will implore DE Greg McMullen (4 sacks) and S Nate Gerry (5 INT) to increase takeaways.

NORTHWESTERN Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 One of three players will replace QB Trevor Siemian, but RB Justin Jackson (1,187 rush yds) is the offensive star. The front seven needs work, but two top-flight CBs remain in Matthew Harris and Nick VanHoose (2 INT each).

OHIO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The starting stud QB (Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett) will frequently feed RB Ezekiel Elliott (1,878 rush yds). This defense is loaded with DE Joey Bosa (13.5 sacks), LB Darron Lee (2 TD) and S Vonn Bell (6 INT).

PENN STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 7 QB Christian Hackenberg (6.2 YPA, 12 TD, 15 INT) needs a bounce-back season and has a veteran WR corps and RB Akeel Lynch (678 rush yds) at his disposal. DT Anthony Zettel (8 sacks) shines brightest in a stellar defense.

PURDUE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The offense lacks stars, but will play an up-tempo style in 2015. Either QB Austin Appleby (5.3 YPA) or freshman QB David Blough will target top WR Danny Anthrop (616 rec yds). CB Frankie Williams (3 INT) leads a mediocre defense.

RUTGERS Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Stud WR Leonte Carroo (1,086 rec yds) will catch passes from LSU transfer Hayden Rettig or Chris Laviano. RB Paul James (5.8 YPC) will carry the mail. The defense has stars DT Darius Hamilton (6 sacks) and LB Steve Longa (102 tackles).

WISCONSIN Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 New head coach Paul Chryst will rely heavily upon RB Corey Clement (949 rush yds) and QB Joel Stave (9 TD, 10 INT). The defense should remain topnotch with LB Vince Biegel (16.5 TFL) and S Michael Caputo (106 tackles).


CONFERENCE USA

CHARLOTTE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 The success of Charlotte’s first FBS season will be due largely to QB Matt Johnson (8.6 YPA), WR Austin Duke (1,373 rec yds) and RB Kalif Phillips (1,436 rush yds). The 49ers have a tough run defense, but their secondary is poor.

FAU Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The Owls should put up points with heady QB Jaquez Johnson (17 TD, 5 INT) and a productive ground game. But their defense is awful (34.4 PPG, 108th in nation), especially the run-stop unit (5.5 YPC allowed, 116th in FBS).

FIU Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 FIU struggles to score (23.0 PPG) with QB Alex McGough (50.4% comp.), but TE Jonnu Smith (710 rec yds) and RB Anthon Samuel (582 rush yds) are solid. FIU’s defense features CB Richard Leonard (3 TD) and DE Michael Wakefield (8 sacks).

LA TECH Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Florida transfer QB Jeff Driskel (5.4 YPA) has great skill players in RB Kenneth Dixon (1,299 rush yds, 22 TD) and WR Trent Taylor (834 rec yds). The Bulldogs led the nation with 42 takeaways, but no starting linebackers return on defense.

MARSHALL Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 JMU transfer QB Michael Birdsong takes over for Rakeem Cato and has a deep receiving corps. TE-turned-RB Devon Johnson (1,767 rush yds) is huge. The defense is thin up front but S Taj Letman and S A.J. Leggett (4 INT each) can play.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Junior QB Austin Grammer (7.6 YPA) has a decent supporting cast with WR Ed’Marques Batties (474 rec yds) and RB Jordan Parker (546 rush yds). However, the defense is subpar, especially its 269.7 passing YPG allowed last year.

NORTH TEXAS Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 UNT’s offense had only 326 total YPG (12th-worst in FBS) with QB Andrew McNulty (6 TD, 7 INT) underachieving. WR Carlos Harris (863 rec yds) is a quality top target. The green defense poses a major problem in 2015.

OLD DOMINION Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Taylor Heinicke will be replaced by either freshman QB Shuler Bentley or JUCO transfer QB Joey Verhaegh. RB Ray Lawry (947 rush yds) and WR Zach Pascal (743 rec yds) will touch the pigskin most often. The Monarchs’ D-Line is weak, but LB TJ Ricks (4 FF) and SS Fellonte Misher (79 tackles) make plenty of plays.

RICE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 3 The Owls don’t have elite receivers, but underrated QB Driphus Jackson (24 TD, 8 INT) will find a way to score. Handing off to junior RBs Jowan Davis (956 rush yds) and Darik Dillard (11 rush TD) are great options. The defense is pretty lackluster other than SLB Alex Lyons (71 tackles, 3 sacks).

SOUTHERN MISS Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB Nick Mullens (12 TD, 9 INT) made great strides last year and has two quality targets with WRs Michael Thomas (592 rec yds) and Casey Martin (531 rec yds). USM also has all five starting O-Linemen back. Expect another dismal season on defense in all aspects (35.4 PPG, 451 YPG, 14 sacks).

UTSA Offense: Starters returning – 2; Defense: Starters returning – 4 UTSA’s atrocious offense (17.1 PPG and 298 YPG allowed, both 7th-worst in FBS) has to replace nine offensive starters. The defense also lost a lot, but still has key remaining pieces to be respectable again in DE Jason Neill (4 sacks), LB Drew Douglas (71 tackles) and S Mauricio Sanchez (46 tackles).

UTEP Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Stud RB Aaron Jones (1,231 rush yds, 14 total TD) will get 30 touches per game behind a stout O-Line. But opponents will stack the box to force UTEP to throw with one of three unproven QBs. The defense has many holes, but WLB Alvin Jones (9 TFL) and DB Devin Cockrell (52 tackles) are productive.

WESTERN KENTUCKY Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 WKU’s offense has no equal in C-USA with QB Brandon Doughty (4,830 pass yds, 49 TD, 10 INT) through the air and RB Leon Allen (1,542 rush yds, 13 TD) on the ground. Although the defense allowed 39.9 PPG and 6.66 yards per play last year (both 5th-worst in nation), most starters return, including standouts LB Nick Holt (111 tackles) and CB Wonderful Terry (3 def. TD).


MAC

AKRON Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The offense struggled to score in 2014 (22.6 PPG, 101st in FBS), but still has seniors QB Kyle Pohl (5.7 YPA) and RB Conor Hundley (540 rush yds). The Zips make up for an average secondary with an excellent run defense.

BALL STATE Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 8 QBs Ozzie Mann (10 TD, 2 INT) and Jack Milas (9 TD, 5 INT) will again battle for the right to throw to WR Jordan Williams (753 rec yds). The defense isn’t good, but LBs Zack Ryan and Ben Ingle (178 tackles combined) are solid.

BOWLING GREEN Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB Matt Johnson (25 TD, 7 INT in 2013) returns healthy to join star WR Roger Lewis (1,093 rec yds) and RB Travis Greene (949 rush yds). The defense is in dire straits, especially if top CB Nick Johnson (5 INT) stays suspended.

BUFFALO Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 4 New head coach Lance Leipold inherits great talents in QB Joe Licata (2,647 pass yds, 29 TD, 11 INT), RB Anthone Taylor (1,403 rush yds, 12 TD) and WR Ron Willoughby (771 rec yds, 9 TD). The Bulls defense is fast, but lacks experience and productivity, tallying a pathetic two interceptions in 2014.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Junior QB Cooper Rush (3,157 pass yds, 27 TD, 13 INT) has added pressure with the losses of RB Thomas Rawls and WR Titus Young. The defense also lost its two best players (NG Leterrius Walton and LB Justin Cherocci), but DE Blake Serpa (4 sacks) and S Tony Annese (3 INT) are both productive.

EASTERN MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Dual-threat QB Reggie Bell (7.0 YPA, 562 rush yds) is not surrounded by proven skill players. The defense stunk (40.9 PPG, 4th-most in FBS) despite the efforts of DT Pat O’Connor (7.5 sacks) and LB Great Ibe (133 tackles).

KENT STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 New OC Don Treadwell hopes RB Trayion Durham (766 rush yds in 2013) is healthy after missing 2014 (foot injury). QB Colin Reardon (16 INT) needs to improve. S Nate Holley (137 tackles) headlines a subpar KSU defense.

UMASS Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 9 All-MAC first teamers QB Blake Frohnapel (23 TD, 10 INT) and WR Tajae Sharpe (1,281 rec yds) are tough to slow down. ILB Jovan Santos-Knox (143 tackles, 3 FF) and CB Randall Jette (4 INT) star in an improving defense.

MIAMI-OH Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Senior QB Drew Kummer (5.5 YPA career) and freshman Gus Ragland will compete for the starting job working with WR Rokeem Williams (682 rec yds). Talented CB Quinten Rollins (7 INT) makes the defense respectable.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Dual-threat QB Drew Hare (18 pass TD; 900 rush yds, 8 TD) shines among NIU’s deep offensive skill positions. The D-Line needs work, but LB Boomer Mays (9 TFL) and CB Paris Logan (15 PBU) propel a solid back seven.

OHIO Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 RB A.J. Ouellette (785 rush yds) will take handoffs from both dual-threat QBs Derrius Vick (7.2 YPA) and JD Sprague (6.1 YPA). The defense is strong, with LB Jovon Johnson (10.5 TFL) and CB Ian Wells (12 PBU) leading the way.

TOLEDO Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Toledo has two able QBs (Phillip Ely, Logan Woodside) but prefer to run with RBs Kareem Hunt (1,631 rush yds, 16 TD) and Terry Swanson (732 rush yds). The defense remains a work in progress, most notably the secondary.

WESTERN MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 RB Jarvion Franklin (1,551 rush yds, 24 TD) is explosive and QB Zach Terrell (26 TD, 10 INT) and WR Corey Davis (1,408 rec yds, 15 TD) are a lethal duo. The defense can also play, especially CB Ronald Zamort (4 INT, 17 PBU).


MOUNTAIN WEST

AIR FORCE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 4 Junior QB Nate Romine (6.9 YPA; 205 rush yds, 3 TD) takes over for Kale Pearson in the potent triple-option (273.1 rush YPG, 6th in FBS). Top RB Jacobi Owens (1,054 rush yds in 10 G) remains the focal point of the attack. The defense lost seven starters, but DE Alex Hansen (3.5 sacks) and S Weston Steelhammer (6 INT) will mentor a young unit with considerable talent.

BOISE STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Departed RB Jay Ajayi and QB Grant Hedrick are not easy to replace. But RB Devin Demas (6.9 YPC) is elusive and sophomore QB Ryan Finley (6.0 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT) can operate the spread effectively with WR Thomas Sperbeck (877 rec yds) and TE Jake Roh (408 rec yds). The defense should be excellent with stars OLB Kamalei Correa (12 sacks) and S Darian Thompson (7 INT).

COLORADO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 New head coach Mike Bobo will likely pick sophomore QB Nick Stevens to replace departed star Garrett Grayson in his up-tempo offense. Top RB Dee Hart is also gone, setting up a committee running approach. New DC Tyson Summers (UCF DC) will run a 4-3 set headlined by LBs Aaron Davis (118 tackles) and Max Morgan (105 tackles) and athletic S Trent Matthews (3 INT).

FRESNO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 With senior RB Marteze Waller (1,368 rush yds, 11 TD) as the bell-cow back, the biggest concern for the Bulldogs is whether QB Zack Greenlee (5.2 YPA) will improve with a green, but deep, receiving corps. The defense has holes after losing its five best defenders, but a lot of young talent exists.

HAWAII Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New OC Don Bailey (Idaho St.) is bringing back the run-and-shoot to allow likely starting QB Max Wittek (USC transfer) and WRs Marcus Kemp (797 rec yds) and Quinton Pedroza (674 rec yds) to thrive. New DC Tom Mason (SMU) inherits a lean front seven, but has a top-notch secondary to work with.

NEVADA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 5 The race to replace Cody Fajardo is wide open between junior QB Tyler Stewart, sophomore QB Dante Mayes and freshman QB Hunter Fralick. RB Don Jackson (957 rush yds, 7 TD) will be the offensive focal point. Plenty of experience returns to the front seven, including DE Ian Seau (8.5 sacks) and LB Jordan Dobrich (85 tackles), to help out Nevada’s subpar secondary.

NEW MEXICO Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 UNM’s powerful triple option (310.4 rush YPG, 4th in nation) will thrive again with RBs Jhurell Pressley (1,083 rush yds, 9.5 YPC, 12 TD) and Teriyon Gipson (809 rush yds, 8 TD). QB Lamar Jordan (8.0 YPA; 612 rush yds) can also run. The woeful defense (519 YPG, 2nd-most in FBS) hopes a new 3-3-5 set will greatly help. MLB Dakota Cox (116 tackles) is the lone standout.

SAN DIEGO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 New OC Jeff Horton (RB coach) will run a pro-style offense around stud RB Donnel Pumphrey (1,867 rush yds, 20 TD). Kentucky transfer QB Maxwell Smith or Oregon transfer QB Jake Rodrigues will get to throw to WR Eric Judge (19.6 rec. avg.). Do-it-all OLB Calvin Munson (78 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 INT) and S Damontae Kazee (13 PBU) lead an above-average Aztecs defense.

SAN JOSE STATEe Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New OC Al Borges (Michigan) prefers a West Coast offense, but senior QB Joe Gray (7.0 YPA, 11 TD, 9 INT) could lose his job to JUCO QBs Kenny Potter or Malik Watson. RB Tyler Ervin (888 rush yds) and WR Tyler Winston (694 rec yds) are top-notch skill players. The secondary will shine again (FBS-best 111.8 pass YPG allowed), but the front seven remains a work in progress.

UNLV Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 New head coach Tony Sanchez makes the jump from high school and inherits an offense with only one star (WR Devonte Boyd 980 rec yds), an erratic QB Blake Decker (15 TD, 18 INT) and RB committee. New DC Kent Baer (Colorado) has little to be excited about besides S Peni Vea (88 tackles).

UTAH STATE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New OC Josh Heupel (Oklahoma) inherits great skill players in oft-injured QB Chuckie Keeton (58 TD, 17 INT career), WR Hunter Sharp (939 rec yds) and RB LaJuan Hunt (540 rush yds). New DC Kevin Clune (Hawaii) has a strong front seven, but S Devin Centers (11 PBU) is the only returning DB starter.

WYOMING Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 The offense should improve with Indiana transfer QB Cameron Coffman (6.6 YPA, 15 TD, 12 INT career) throwing to a solid group of receivers and handing off to RB Brian Hill (796 rush yds, 7 TD) and Shaun Wick (753 rush yds, 6 TD). The defense could struggle again with no returning LBs, a suspect secondary and only one decent pass rusher in DE Eddie Yarbrough (4 sacks).


PAC 12

ARIZONA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The Wildcats are loaded with young and talented skill players, namely junior WR Cayleb Jones (1,019 rec yds) and sophomores QB Anu Solomon (28 TD, 9 INT) and RB Nick Wilson (1,375 rush yds, 16 TD). The defense took its lumps last year, but stud LB Scooby Wright (6 FF, 14 sacks, 29 TFL) returns.

ARIZONA STATE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 9 With a stacked backfield, former RB D.J. Foster (1,081 rush yds, 9 TD; 688 rec yds, 3 TD) will now wreak havoc as a slot receiver catching passes from senior QB Mike Bercovici (7.8 YPA, 12 TD, 4 INT). ASU lost its two best defensive players, but still have LB Antonio Longino (94 tackles) and CB Kweishi Brown (3 INT).

CALIFORNIA Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 Cal may improve its 38.3 PPG (10th in FBS) with QB Jared Goff (35 TD, 7 INT), WR Kenny Lawler (9 rec TD), TE Stephen Anderson (661 rec yds) and RB Daniel Lasco (1,115 rush yds). The front seven is serviceable, but the secondary allowed an FBS-worst 367.2 passing YPG and 42 passing TD last year.

COLORADO Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 9 Colorado’s offense is on the rise with QB Sefo Liufau (28 TD, 15 INT), WR Nelson Spruce (106 rec, 1,198 yds, 12 TD) and a slew of capable ball carriers. New DC Jim Leavitt (49ers) has a complex defense that will blitz early and often to take pressure off a weak Buffs secondary.

OREGON Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Heisman QB Marcus Mariota is gone, but the Ducks are loaded with talent like RB Royce Freeman (1,365 rush yds, 18 TD) and WRs Byron Marshall (1,003 rec yds, 6 TD) and Devin Allen (684 rec yds, 7 TD). DE DeForest Buckner (4 sacks, 12.5 TFL), OLB Christian French (6.5 sacks) and S Reggie Daniels (83 tackles, 9 PBU) are the heart and soul of an above-average defense.

OREGON STATE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 2 New head coach Gary Andersen will run a spread, and often utilize RB Storm Woods (766 rush yds) and WR Victor Bolden (798 rec yds). It’s not clear which freshman QB (Nick Mitchell or Seth Collins) will replace Sean Mannion. New DC Kalani Sitake’s 3-4 set will break in nine new starters.

southern california Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Star QB Cody Kessler (3,826 pass yds, 39 TD, 5 INT) has playmakers like WR JuJu Smith (724 rec yds), RB Justin Davis (595 rush yds) and now-healthy RB Tre Madden (703 rush yds in 2013). The ultra-talented defense is strongest in the back seven with OLB Su’a Cravens (5 sacks) and CB Kevon Seymour (13 PBU).

STANFORD Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 3 The Cardinal will continue to pound the football with a gaggle of backs, including RB Remound Wright (601 rush yds, 11 TD) and Barry Sanders (315 rush yds). QB Kevin Hogan (19 TD, 8 INT) rarely makes mistakes. Other than ILB Blake Martinez (102 tackles), not much remains from this elite defense.

UCLA Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Brett Hundley’s replacement — QBs Jerry Neuheisel (5.0 YPA) or freshman Josh Rosen — will work with 10 returning starters, including RB Paul Perkins (1,575 rush yds) and WR Jordan Payton (954 rec yds). New DC Tom Bradley inherits a talent-rich unit with LBs Deon Hollins (9 sacks) and Myles Jack (88 tackles).

UTAH Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The offense revolves around senior RB Devontae Booker (1,512 rush yds, 10 TD), especially due to a subpar air attack with QB Travis Wilson (18 TD, 5 INT). New DC John Pease will need DE Hunter Dimick (10 sacks), NT Lowe Lotulelei (4 sacks) and LB Jared Norris (116 tackles) to seriously help a weak secondary.

WASHINGTON Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 4 The Huskies need to find a starter between junior QB Jeff Lindquist (5.4 YPA) and freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels, but still have WR Jaydon Mickens (617 rec yds) and RBs Dwayne Washington (697 rush yds, 9 TD) and Lavon Coleman (565 rush yds). The defense lost 43 senior sacks, and returns little experience around LB Travis Feeney (60 tackles) and S Budda Baker (80 tackles).

WAZZU Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Either sophomore QB Luke Falk (7.7 YPA) or freshman Peyton Bender will run the Air Raid offense with a deep receiving corps led by WR River Cracraft (771 rec yds in 9 G). The defense (38.6 PPG allowed) can only improve with LB Jeremiah Allison (78 tackles) and CB Charleston White (13 PBU) back.


SEC

ALABAMA Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The top three skill players left, but QB Jake Coker (6.8 YPA) and RB Derrick Henry (990 rush yds, 11 TD) will make this offense thrive. The defense is loaded with stars like NT A’Shawn Robinson (49 tackles) and ILB Reggie Ragland (10.5 TFL).

ARKANSAS Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The power run game returns two 1,000-yard backs (RBs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) and QB Brandon Allen (20 TD, 5 INT) is solid. Many stars departed the front seven, and the secondary struggled in SEC play (226 pass YPG).

AUBURN Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Nick Marshall left, but QB Jeremy Johnson (9 TD, 2 INT career) is a better passer in the spread offense. The RB stable is deep. New DC Will Muschamp has tackling machine LB Cassanova McKinzy (91) and star CB Jonathan Jones (6 INT).

FLORIDA Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New head coach Jim McElwain is leaning towards freshman QB Will Grier to start. WR Demarcus Robinson (821 rec yds) and RB Kelvin Taylor (565 rush yds) are productive. New DC Geoff Collins (Miss St) inherits an excellent defense.

GEORGIA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 QB Brice Ramsey (8.5 YPA) should start for new OC Brian Schottenheimer, who will rely heavily on RB Nick Chubb (1,547 rush yds, 14 TD). OLB Leonard Floyd (6 sacks) and S Quincy Mauger (4 INT) headline a strong defense.

KENTUCKY Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 New OC Shannon Dawson (WVU) will keep the offense pass-happy with QB Patrick Towles (6.9 YPA). RB Boom Williams (6.6 YPC) is a future star. Despite LB Josh Forrest (110 tackles) and S A.J. Stamps (4 INT), the defense needs work.

LSU Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 LSU’s offense will go only as far as RB Leonard Fournette (1,034 rush yds, 10 TD) goes. New DC Kevin Steele (Alabama) isn’t blessed with front-seven stars, but the depth is excellent. CB Tre’Davious White (2 INT) leads a stellar secondary.

OLE MISS Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The starting QB job will be one of three players (Ryan Buchanan, DeVante Kincade, Chad Kelly) to target now-healthy WR Laquon Treadwell (632 rec yds). DT Robert Nkemdiche (35 tackles) leads an outstanding 4-2-5 defense.

MISS STATE Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB Dak Prescott (3,449 pass yds, 27 TD; 986 rush yds, 14 TD) is the star of an offense stacked with capable skill players. The front seven lost plenty, but shutdown CBs Taveze Calhoun (9 PBU) and Will Redmond (3 INT) remain.

MIZZOU Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Inconsistent QB Maty Mauk (6.4 YPA) lost his top four receivers, but has RB Russell Hansbrough (1,084 rush yds) to rush the ball. Missouri’s D-Line is weak, but the back seven is strong, headlined by LB Kentrell Brothers (122 tackles).

SOUTH CAROLINA Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 8 WR Pharoh Cooper (1,136 rec yds) will likely catch balls from sophomore QB Connor Mitch. RB Brandon Wilds (5.4 YPC) will carry the mail. LB Skai Moore (93 tackles) and 325-pound DT Gerald Dixon propel a rising defense.

TENNESSEE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Dual-threat QB Joshua Dobbs (1,675 total yds in 6 G) loves WR Pig Howard (618 rec yds) and RB Jalen Hurd (1,120 total yds). The defense will be tough again with LB/DL Curt Maggitt (11 sacks) and CB Cameron Sutton (13 PBU) returning.

TEXAS A+M Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Whoever starts between QBs Kyle Allen (16 TD, 7 INT) and Kyler Murray will have great weapons like WR Josh Reynolds (842 rec yds, 13 TD) and RB Tra Carson (4.7 YPC). New DC John Chavis (LSU) inherits a defense with plenty of upside.

VANDERBILT Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 9 RB Ralph Webb (907 rush yds) and TE Steven Scheu (525 rec yds) shine within a putrid offense (288 YPG, 4th-worst in FBS) led by subpar QBs Patton Robinette and Johnny McCray. The 3-4 defense (33.3 PPG) is void of stars.

Teaching you how to #win since like…Right Now!

Logo_Snap#2

Hello Friends,

I wanted to share some exciting news with you. After months of closely examining oceanic wave patterns, nuanced statistics and the certain angles UV light refracts upon balls in flight – We are days away from launching The DiRT Canon Virtual Sports Engine. We have just put up our prelaunch site, you can check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/of7cpyt

Our full site will be up in a few days and I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s live!  In the meantime, I would love your help spreading the word!

Here’s how:

  1. Go to our website www.TheDiRTCanon.com/promo.php
  2. On the site, enter your email to join our mailing list
  3. Pass it on to anyone you think might appreciate it – as we are giving away 5 $100 VISA Gift Cards at random to anyone who signs up before September 13th, 2015

Thank you so much for all your help and support.  I cannot tell you how much we appreciate it.  I’m looking forward to sharing The DiRT Canon with you and appreciate you telling the world!

All the Best,

Logan 

p.s. We are having a LAUNCH PARTY, Sept.13, 2015 – follow us for more info:

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Logo_Snap#1

Hit the DiRT

We live in a country where “The Pursuit of Happiness” is written into the Declaration of Independence – the pursuit of, not a guarantee.  So the pursuit of one man, who at one point, was the epitome of masculinity, decided to change genders.  I do not  have a problem with it – I do have a problem with the righteous police ordering me how I’m supposed to feel about it.  The world is hard enough.  More than ever, tragedy, violence, mayhem and injustice seem to be the order of the day.  It gets to be impossible to enjoy with a clear conscience whatever little piece of tranquility you’ve carved out for yourself, without being told how to feel about something that is medically possible.  Just because it is possible does not make it natural and just because it is unnatural does not make it unethical – or maybe to some, it does…

What makes us happy anyway?  Maybe the conclusion is that most people are only really happy when something bad doesn’t happen to them – schadenfreude.  Like when the Broncos get blown out of the Superbowl.  Maybe the next time we feel shitty for not feeling shitty about someone feeling shitty is to remember that schadenfreude cancels itself out – because other people feel the same way about our problems.  It’s human nature, it’s our DNA and maybe we aren’t in the first class cabin – we can still take a little joy in knowing those in steerage have to wait for us to get into our lifeboat, before they are even allowed up on the deck of the Titanic.  So who cares how someone chooses to pee.  Let’s stop politicizing everything all the time (ESPN) – happiness is not settling for less, just not being miserable with what is – learn to love the simple things – maybe the point is, happiness does not always require a resolution.


Joey Votto Walked On Three Balls; Everything Is A Lie

Joey Votto Walked On Three Balls; Everything Is A Lie

Yup, that’s a three-ball walk in the 7th inning yesterday – Is there no justice?  Is everything a lie?

Holliday’s continues streak

Matt Holliday, walked and singled in four plate-appearances Monday night.  He has reached base (by hit, walk or HBP) in in all 45 games he’s played this year, the fifth-longest streak to start a season by any major-league player since 1900. The four longer season-starting streaks of that kind in the modern era were fashioned by Derek Jeter (53 games in 1999), Frank Thomas (52 in 1996), Mark McGwire (48 in 1996) and Alvin Davis (47 in 1984).

Brewers side-step Cardinals, 1-0

The Brewers’ victory over the Cardinals Monday night, is only the third time in the expansion era (1961 to present) that a team with the outright worst record in the major leagues had a 1-0 win over the club with the majors’ outright best record entering that game. The other two decisions of that kind were earned by Tampa Bay in September 2007 at Fenway Park (Scott Kazmir struck out 10 Red Sox batters in seven innings) and the Marlins in October 1999 at Atlanta (Cliff Floyd‘s solo homer accounted for the game’s only run.)

nullCashner strikes out 12 on 11 hits

Andrew Cashner struck out 12 batters but allowed 11 hits while pitching only 4 2/3 innings on Monday. No other pitcher in the modern era (1900 to date) allowed at least 10 hits and struck out 10 or more batters while throwing fewer than five innings in one game.

 

nulldeGrom-ming

Jacob deGrom has struck out at least eight batters without allowing a walk in each of his last three games, including Monday’s win over the Padres. The only other pitchers in the modern era (1900 to date) with eight or more strikeouts and no walks in three straight appearances are Cliff Lee (2013) and Ferguson Jenkins (1976, including a four-inning relief stint).

nullDodgers blow up in the 6th vs Rockies

Clayton Kershaw stroked a double and two singles in the Dodgers’ 11-4 victory over the Rockies, becoming the fourth pitcher this season to record a win and three hits in the same game. (The others were Josh Collmenter, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.) That equals the total number of such performances in the majors all of last season.

If you think the reigning Cy Young Award recipient is a certain winner when he gets at least 10 runs of support….well you’re almost correct. Those pitchers are now 140-1 all-time in that situation, with the lone defeat suffered by the Blue Jays’ Pat Hentgen in 1997 – thanks Pat. Hentgen allowed 11 runs in eight innings in a 13-12 loss to the Red Sox.

Springer + Gattis = Astros rally

The Astros had their major-league leading 16th comeback win of the season on Monday against the Orioles. George Springer‘s single on a 3-0 pitch tied the game at 2-2, and after Jose Altuve‘s sacrifice fly, Evan Gattis singled on an 0-2 pitch to drive in the final two runs. No other major-league team has had RBI hits on 3-0 and 0-2 pitches in the same inning this season.

Yung’ns lead Chicago to win

The Cubs beat the Marlins on Monday, 5-1, with all five runs being driven in by players age 25 or younger: Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler. The Cubs hadn’t had five different players age 25 or younger drive in runs in the same game since September 14, 1974 (Ron Dunn, Jerry Morales, Rob Sperring, Andre Thornton, Jim Tyrone).

Pujols and Trout slug it out

Albert Pujols and Mike Trout each homered for the Angels on Monday, for the 20th time since they became teammates in 2012 – but Pujols sez the Angels are still more than just Trout. The only other major-league teammates to homer in the same game 20 times over that span are Chris Davis and Adam Jones (also 20).

nullTeixeira slams King Felix

The Yankees scored all seven of their runs off Felix Hernandez in Monday night’s win, highlighted by Mark Teixeira‘s grand slam. It’s was only the fifth home game for Hernandez in which he found himself facing a deficit of seven or more runs.

Teixeira has now hit six home runs off Hernandez, the highest total for any player, now one more than Hernandez’s current teammate, Nelson Cruz.

nullWood helps himself

Alex Wood‘s two-run single gave the Braves an early 2-0 lead and Atlanta went on to defeat the Diamondbacks, 8-1. Braves pitchers have driven in eight runs this season, the most for any team’s pitching staff in 2015.

Greatest DiRT – Top 10

In honor of the 100th post – we decided to look back and re-post our 10 most read.  But before we get to that – How do the Clippers allow the Rockets to win the series and why all the confetti Houston?  It was a second round series – you’ve been there before, act like it.  Is this youth soccer and everyone gets a trophy, with a side of orange slices?  Our Republic could be caught in a vortex of dumb that we may never pull out of – at least we get the fight we wanted to see – Ali v Frazier=Curry v Harden – right?


Sediment-al 12-16-4

Sediment-al 1. Satchmo the Great called it The game was billed, the Pope v President, Jazz v Blues, The Ditka Bowl, etc…and the men of the BigEasy held onto their hopes for the glorious tournament, too serve Beignets+Gumbeaux to weary travelers in the 1st round.  Aside from marching up and down Soldier Field, the real…Read more

Clear as Mud 1-27-15

A spiraling helix that rockets downward at godless velocity is called a Vortex.  One that helixes straight up is a Tornado.  They may appear different, but to philosophers of Physics and Quantum Mechanics, they are both the same thing. Both will kill you instantaneously.  The contrast between being inhaled by a bottomless sinkhole and getting…Read more

Rub some DiRT on it! 1-7-15

Getting DiRTy Congratulations to the newest inductees of Major League Baseball’s HOF, ((as diagnosed by the patronizing Baseball Writers of America (BBWA – isn’t baseball just one word – thus making it BWA – Ballers with Attitude)), Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.  A worthy class and the largest inducted since 1955…Read more

DiRTy Gras 2-17-15

Fear and Loathing at Carnival… When the going get weird the weird turn pro, as Raoul Duke famously said, and I am a 7-time gold medalist on this caravan.  Still awake and doing my damndest to earn another shot at the medal-stand; I have yet to sleep from properly marking Lundi Gras with a Red…Read more

1931From the DiRT…2-9-15

A Lion never roars after a kill… The American Dream is a national ethos, it is a set of ideals that include the pursuit of happiness, life and liberty.  It is said that life should be better, richer and fuller for everyone with the opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social…Read more

Clear as Mud 3-11-15

The Past is a statement, the Future a question.  Hopes rise and dreams flicker and die.  Love plans for tomorrow and the widowed think of yesterday.  Life is beautiful and living is hardship.  The sound of music flows down a dark street.  Like a tornado ripping thru your home and granting passage to a whole new world…Read more

3rd Stone from the Sun 3-27-15

Justice, is supposed to be blind.  It seems like it has been a awhile since we have seen the scales tip as they should.  Life’s virtuous dance is a comedy of errors, frequently performed with you walking home one night; and a young derelict asks you for a smoke – you don’t, so you apologize…Read more

Diamonds in the DiRT 4-2-15

It was April 2nd, 1996 and a peppy kid dreamed to be exactly where he was now – except no one really dreams of being in Cleveland.  The city by the lake isn’t the kind of place where dreams come true in sports – hell, nothing good in Cleveland has occurred in the form of championship…Read more

3rd Stone from the Sun 4-3-15

There are many hard lessons to be learned from the “degenerate” experience, but the harshest one of them all is the difference between having Fun and being Smart.  It is the difference between Winning and Losing, on most days, and on Saturday the Final Four will be a lesson for fun-loving Losers.  It does not…Read more

Soil’d Principles 5-13-15

Let’s do the time-warp again… A good craftsmen never blames his tools and a league should never blame theirs.  Much as a violin can not play a concerto by itself, a ball cannot do anything but sit there until the laws of physics apply to an object at rest. So the NFL, in the midst…Read more

3rd Stone from the Sun

It’s wonderful.  It came in the nick of time.  The whole nation getting jittery from too much riot-news and the sporting public is demanding wilder and wilder sport-spectacles, to blot out the dark horizon…and then it happens, everywhere and all at once this Saturday.  The Sheriff and I start our day off with a bowling tournament of champions for our kids and that got me thinking about something my friend La-A (pronunced Ladasha, not kidding) said.  La-A lives up the road from the bunker and says she wants to open a chain of national bowling alleys where house rules require that you check your clothes at the door.

“It keeps them from stealing,” she told me.  “A naked person is an honest person.  We have low operating costs – free labor, no taxes, new friends in strange places and extremely addictive behavior five times a week.”  Hundreds of thousands of otherwise decent people could already be hopelessly addicted to naked bowling, which renders them useless for normal work.  Not too mention the chicken-choking-freaks that’ll hang around – you’ll notice them by the stains on their jeans.

They are the wetheads, a plague of leeches on the body politic.  They’ll dim the brain as well as the body and eventually the victim gets sucked dry and dies.  That is dead weight – which is fatal to a fast-moving economy.  Could any sane person even tolerate naked bowling – think of the tragic encounters and everything it stands for – the sound of the heavy black ball crashing down on anything made of wood-polymer in a contortionist ballet of the body, could make anyone disordered.

But if they succeed and make it a recognized sport in this country with proper rules and regulations of appearance – I am after-all, a professional sportswriter – it says so right here on my credentials – and I would have to report on what I see for you, the public, watching real-life naked bowling.  It would be televised on some Canadian HBO, late at night, pitting two teams of extremely naked women with huge breast implants and fake lips going head-to-head – that no doubt would be wearing Hooters T-shirts if this were anything else but organized recess – and let me tell you, they’d be going for it – locked in a scoreless tie after 13 frames of pretty frantic bowling.

Sounds about right…Let’s all get naked and go bowling.  Why not?  Where can you watch this stuff?  Where is one, right?  It’s still better than going to the Derby.

If you have ever been to Churchill Downs, then you know how truly heinous an experience it can be.  I can tell you that Derby Week in Louisville is a white-knuckle orgy of booze, sex and violence that, 99 times out of 100, swamps anybody who goes near it in a hurricane of fear, pain and mind-numbing disasters that will haunt you for the rest of your life.  The behavior of the crowd on race day is like 100,000+ vicious hyenas going berserk all at once in a space the size of 787 or a basketball arena.  Going is worse than volunteering to join Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, and just as fun.  I still have recurring nightmares that cause me to wake up sweating and screaming like someone pulling a tape-worm out thru my nose.  My memories are extremely clear and far too obscene to describe here – some involve jails, insane asylums, trials, beatings, police-brutality and private graveyards filled with victims of tragic medical experiments.  You’ll come back with stories of people being deliberately set on fire and tortured by drunken rich people who then hurl their bodies off a cliff into the Ohio river and laugh about it later.  Only to have their families be told by the authorities that they must have ran off to Hollywood to get famous with a band of Turkish horse-gamblers.

Things like that happen every year when the Derby comes around – some simply disappear into thin air or come back with horrible disfigurements and no memory.  Others end up in “hospitals down south” and never mentioned again by people who knew them.  You’d like to think Eyes Wide Shut was just a movie, but Omerta is the code of the South, especially when weird shit is committed by rich people.  Horse people have very small attention spans for anything involving humans – you can read it in the obituary of some head on collision, with an unidentified truck far out on the River road and a private cremation ceremony for close family members only, who wish to remain anonymous.

Thankfully the Derby itself is only 2 minutes long – in sports few things last that long, a Rousey knockout, Sumo wrestling and drag racing are the only tings that come to mind. I have a soft spot for betting the Derby, regardless of the scars from being a witness.  So I’ll bet from a far and begin to enjoy one of the greatest Saturdays of all time.  If you’re wondering, No horse has ever won the Derby from the 17th position and that is where American Pharaoh, the favorite, starts.  With that information, these are the horses that will finish 1-4 in any order: International Star, Frosted, Firing Line, and Dortmund – I have not yet settled on Win, Place, Show, but will definitely Box these four.

Rarely can you find this much action in one day outside of a cockfight in rural Arkansas, but thankfully we have a Game 7 with the Spurs/Clippers and the night finishes off with Pacquiao/Mayweather.  It is more rare that a main event in Las Vegas starts before midnight on the East coast – and considering a NBA game is usually 2.5 hours, you’ll get to watch all 3 events on a Saturday night – just remember who owns Saturday night and the possibility of long lines at the ATM.

We all have a vice and tomorrow night indulges most of them, even for the most ardent opponent of affluent clemency.  It’s all decadent and depraved.  It will satiate our blood-lust as we circle the drain of Dante’s toilet-bowl – It’s what happens when it all accumulates on TV making long-distance hunch bets on a horse named Dortmund.  I’m starting to feel a bit decadent and depraved myself, maybe it’s all true and too much of this causes brain cancer – I will do some more research and report back later – I’ve got some bets to make and some friends to fleece.  Buy the Ticket, take the Ride!