What No One Tells You About #Winning: College Football Week 8

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No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14

AP Photo-Karl B DeBlaker

1. Temple of Doom?

Temple is 7-0.  Just let that sink in for a minute……7-0.  Last night, Temple had to rally in the 4th qtr and you could say that ECU gave it to them with horrible QB play, but that’s what a team ranked in the top 25 for the first time does right? Rally?!  The Temple D is good and if they can throw it like they did in the 4th, they could be even more dangerous.  Getting a road-win, while being ranked is another big step for the Owls.  Setting up a huge test against Notre Dame.  Now maybe you aren’t impressed yet with Temple and maybe you have no idea where they are, and that’s ok.  But you will if they beat Notre Dame – Kali-Mah!

  • No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14 – No. 22 Temple finally cracked the Top 25 because of its defense and its ground game. Some timely passing will help the Owls stay there.  P.J. Walker threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, and Temple scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to rally past East Carolina 24-14 on Thursday night.  Walker finished 19 of 35 for 250 yards for the Owls (7-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference).  Anderson caught eight passes for 126 yards, with five of those grabs coming in the fourth quarter……(continue reading)

  • Rosen leads UCLA past No. 20 California, 40-24 – With UCLA’s season seemingly teetering on the brink of collapse, Josh Rosen calmly propped it back up with a passing performance that put the freshman’s name in the Bruins’ record book.  Rosen completed a school-record 34 passes and threw two of his three touchdown passes to Devin Fuller, and UCLA got back on track with a 40-24 victory over No. 20 California on Thursday night.  Rosen passed for 399 yards in another splendid game for the standout rookie, and Thomas Duarte had career highs of 10 catches for 141 yards for the Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12). UCLA rebounded from consecutive losses to……(continue reading)

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2. On With The Show This It…

It’s the second-half of the season and pretenders will separate from the contenders in an unappealing Saturday march to the playoff.  You know there aren’t any pivotal games when #GameDay travels to James Madison.  It doesn’t mean there couldn’t be chaos, because there could and we all saw it happen in 2007, in weeks just like this.  So with the Greatest Cyclone ever measured by humans, bears down on Mexico – Let’s brace ourselves and hope it all works out. (h/t Matt Brown)

Early Afternoon

No. 6 Clemson at Miami(+7)
Noon, ABC

Before we get to the Nov. 7 game that everyone has circled on their calendar, when Florida State visits Death Valley, Clemson has two tricky road games to deal with: at Miami and at N.C. State. This is only the second Clemson road trip of the season — the Tigers survived Louisville on a Thursday night in Week 3 — although Sun Life Stadium for an afternoon game isn’t necessarily the most imposing venue. Miami does pose a test for Clemson’s revamped defense, which has played at a high level through the first half of the season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown just one interception, and Miami averages a solid 6.4 yards per play. However, the Hurricanes do have questions about a rebuild offensive line — even if they’ve allowed just seven sacks — which could spell trouble against Shaq Lawson and a disruptive Clemson front. Saturday can be both a showcase game for them, as well as quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will look to pick apart a struggling Hurricanes defense that ranks 93rd in yards per play allowed. This is by no means a guaranteed win for a Clemson team with playoff aspirations, but the Tigers are quite simply a better all-around team, equipped to exploit Miami’s issues.

Clemson 34.7  –  17.85  83.85%


Iowa State at No. 2 Baylor(-37)
Noon, ESPN

On a Saturday that isn’t looking like the most appealing day of football, you might as well watch Baylor do its Baylor thing and score over 60 points again. The Bears average 63.8 points per game, with wide receiver Corey Coleman’s 16 receiving touchdowns out-pacing the touchdown output of 16 entire teams. Iowa State has nine passing touchdowns in six games and has given up 16, and that trend will surely continue. The last time Iowa State visited Waco, Baylor scored 71. After giving TCU trouble for a quarter with three touchdowns last week, Iowa State went on to get shut out the rest of the game. Baylor will take care of business, get a week off and then move on to its much more difficult November schedule

Baylor 51.35  –  20.35  95.8%


Auburn at Arkansas(-6)
Noon, SEC Network

Part of the reason that this Saturday’s slate doesn’t look great is because games that looked important in the preseason suddenly look depressing. Exhibit A: Auburn at Arkansas, featuring two of the most disappointing teams in the country. Auburn is actually 4-2, but it barely beat Jacksonville State, barely got a hand on Leonard Fournette, switched quarterbacks in September and has dropped from 76th to 83rd in defensive yards per play under Will Muschamp. Arkansas lost to Toledo and Texas Tech in nonconference play, and while it did win at Tennessee, it is 2-4 and is going to need multiple upsets to get to a bowl. It can at least start getting on track here by running the ball at home against a vulnerable Auburn defense.

Arkansas 36.65  –  23.65  78.75%


Kansas State at Texas(-4)
Noon, Fox Sports 1

Both the Wildcats and Longhorns, in seasons expected to be struggles, have now faced embarrassments. Texas got steamrolled by both Notre Dame and TCU, while Kansas State — after two near-upsets of Oklahoma State and TCU — lost 55-0 to Oklahoma. After an off week, this is the first time we’ve seen the Longhorns since their jubilant win over rival Oklahoma. Whether it’s a turning point for Charlie Strong and Texas remains to be seen. The win over Oklahoma was huge, but it’s also a rivalry in which unexpected results have happened in the past. Texas’ offense does, at least, have better big-play capability than Kansas State, who may have been exposed by the Sooners in a clear rebuilding season.

Texas 28.9  –  KState 27.6  59.9%


Northwestern at Nebraska(-7.5)
Noon, ESPN2

Remember what happened the last time Northwestern played in Lincoln?:

Since then, this year, Nebraska has suffered a Hail Mary loss in nearly the exact same spot … in addition to three other horrifying, heartbreaking losses. Nebraska has lost four games by a total of 11 points, while Northwestern — who started 5-0 — has lost two games by 68. The Wildcats defense has struggled two weeks in a row, giving up over 200 yards last week to a backup Iowa running back, while the struggling offense hasn’t made much progress, ranking 126th in yards per play. Nebraska may have the nation’s worst pass defense, but Northwestern isn’t the team to exploit that weakness.

Nebraska 25.1  –  Northwestern 18.8  66.55%


No. 25 Pittsburgh at Syracuse(+7)
Noon, ESPN2

Did you know that Pitt is ranked in the AP poll? Or that Pitt has only one loss, on a 57-yard field goal by Iowa as time expired? Every season has these types of out-of-nowhere records that sneak up on you, but Pat Narduzzi has done a fine job in his first season as a head coach, despite a season-ending injury to star tailback James Conner. This weekend should bring another win to get Pitt to bowl eligibility already after four straight seasons in which it has finished 6-7 or 7-6. It has done this despite playing only two home games so far this season, with four of the last five at home. The bad news is that the last five games feature North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville and Miami, so the run in the top 25 might not last too long after Saturday’s visit to the Carrier Dome.

Pitt 31.7  –  ‘cuse 21.5  71.85%


Late Afternoon

Tennessee at No. 8 Alabama(-15.5)
3:30 p.m., CBS

The rivalry known as the Third Saturday of October will once again taken place on the month’s fourth Saturday, and it hasn’t been much of a rivalry lately either. Alabama has won eight in a row, covering the entire Nick Saban era, with only one game staying within one score. Tennessee was hoping to AltX.Logo.whitefinally turn things around and compete with the Crimson Tide again, but it enters Saturday just 3-3, thanks to three blown leads against Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee. The Vols have been inconsistent on offense under new coordinator Mike DeBord, and the defense ranks 88th in yards per play allowed. Neither is good news against Alabama, which has possibly the most terrifying defense in the country, and one of the most terrifying offensive players in tailback Derrick Henry. Alabama’s defensive front should dominate the game, and Henry can wear down what has been a beatable Vols defense. There still isn’t a good reason to pick Tennessee to win in this series.

‘Bama 31.5  –  UT 17.3  81.75%


Texas Tech at No. 17 Oklahoma(-14)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Baker Mayfield walked on and started right away at Texas Tech as a freshman in 2013, and now, in his debut season at Oklahoma, few quarterbacks are playing better. Oklahoma bounced back from its loss to Texas by blowing away Kansas State 55-0, behind a five-touchdown outing from Mayfield. He’s fourth in the nation in passer rating, and he has a solid core of skill players at his disposal, led by receiver Sterling Shepard. We know Oklahoma will be able to score here. The big test is its defense, which ranks ninth in yards per play and is coming off a shutout. The Sooners have yet to be tested by an offense like the Red Raiders’ unit, and this will be an interesting measuring stick before we get to November with their back-to-back games against Baylor and TCU.

OU 43.35  –  TT 24.05  87.35%


Indiana at No. 7 Michigan State(-16.5)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Every game feels like a trap for Michigan State, who beat Purdue by three and Rutgers by seven. Now, it has to re-focus after one of the most improbable wins in football history, against its archrival, hosting an Indiana team that nearly upset Ohio State. The Hoosiers are still waiting on the return of tailback Jordan Howard from an ankle injury, and on Saturday they’ll surely be relying plenty on the arm of quarterback Nate Sudfeld against a somewhat depleted Michigan State back seven. The Spartans are mediocre defensively, compared with past seasons, and thus Indiana is the type of team that can put a scare into them. The problem, as always, is that Indiana can’t cover anyone. Connor Cook and receiver Aaron Burbridge have formed a fantastic pairing this year, and they’ll keep rolling against the Hoosiers, even if it won’t be surprising if the Spartans get off to a slow start.

MichSt 37.9  –  Indiana 21.5  83.25%


Washington State at Arizona(-7.5)
4 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Washington State has back-to-back Pac-12 wins after sweeping the state of Oregon, as Luke Falk has hit his stride in Mike Leach’s offense. Falk is averaging 395.2 yards per game, leading the Cougars to 45 points against Oregon and 52 against Oregon State. Arizona’s defense is certainly beatable, as the Wildcats continue to play without star linebacker Scooby Wright. Of course, it works both ways. Washington State’s defense has issues, like always, and Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon has yet to throw an interception. While Arizona is at home, injuries could shift this one in Wazzu’s favor. Wright is out, and tailback Nick Wilson, cornerback DaVonte’ Neal and safety Tellas Jones are all questionable.

Wazzu 35.1  –  ‘Zona 29.65  67.25%


No. 23 Duke at Virginia Tech(-2.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPNU

Virginia Tech was supposed to rebound this year and perhaps take control of the ACC Coastal again — it dominated the division most of last decade — but instead the Blue Devils go to Blacksburg with a 5-1 record, while the Hokies are just 3-4, with questions swirling about Frank Beamer’s future. Virginia Tech does at least get back quarterback Michael Brewer, who has been out since his injury in the opener against Ohio State. Duke has been excellent defensively, but the question is whether its passing game can do enough on the road against Virginia Tech’s pass rush. This feels like a game that comes down to whichever team makes a big play on defense or special teams.

Duke 23.3  –  VaTech 17.85  62.5%


Virginia at North Carolina(-17.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPN3

North Carolina joins Duke and Pitt in the ACC Coastal’s surprising one-loss club. The Tar Heels blew their opening game vs. South Carolina with red-zone turnovers, but the offense has started to roll behind a stout offensive line and the running game, led by Elijah Hood. And while Will Muschamp’s presence at Auburn hasn’t made an immediate difference in the Tigers’ defense, North Carolina has improved from 117th to 32nd in yards per play allowed under Gene Chizik. UNC’s best wins right now are Illinois and a struggling Georgia Tech, but this team may be the best in the division.

UNC 41.25  –  18.15  90.75%


Penn State vs. Maryland(+6.5) (at Baltimore)
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Congratulations to Randy Edsall, who at least finished his tenure as Maryland coach with a perfect 1-0 record against Penn State. Every other Maryland coach in history has a combined record of 1-35-1 against the Nittany Lions. This is the debut of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as interim coach, but we have seen Locksley as a head coach before: He went 2-26 at New Mexico. So, Locksley has two career wins as a head coach, and Maryland has two wins against Penn State in the history of what the Terrapins really want to be a rivalry — see the refusal to shake hands last year. Penn State has plenty of issues, but its defensive line may dominate this game, and the Terps will have to slow down star Nittany Lions freshman Saquon Barkley, who has 389 rushing yards in two games against Big Ten opponents.

PennSt 31.55  –  Maryland 16.2  82.55%


Wisconsin at Illinois(+6.5)
3:30 p.m., BTN

Iowa controls the Big Ten West with a perfect record, while Wisconsin and Illinois are tying to keep pace at one loss each. The Fighting Illini have had a solid season under interim coach Bill Cubit, and they need only two more wins to get to bowl eligibility. There’s a good chance they’ll do it, although Saturday will be a tough challenge to consistently move the ball against the Badgers defense. Wisconsin is still waiting for the return of running back Corey Clement from sports hernia surgery, but here it might be able to keep winning with that defense, led by linebacker Joe Schobert, who has 9 ½ sacks.

Illinois 21.3  – Wiscy 20.05  52.45%


Prime Time

No. 3 Utah at USC(-3.5)
7:30 p.m., Fox

USC began the season ranked eighth in the AP poll. Now it’s 3-3 with an interim coach. And yet… the Trojans are three-point favorites against the undefeated, third-ranked Utes, who have beaten Michigan, California, Oregon and Arizona State. Utah has played better football than USC this year, but it’s not surprising to see the Trojans considered favorites. They’re still talented, especially on offense, where they actually rank fifth in yards per play. They actually averaged over seven yards per play in the losses to Notre Dame and Stanford, which means defense has been the problem — run defense in particular. Utah will attack the Trojans as much as possible with versatile tailback Devontae Booker, who continues to be the overwhelming focal point of the Utes offense. It might be enough, especially if the Utes can continue to force turnovers. But despite the disappointment it has faced this year, this is the type of game where USC might be able to re-group and pull of a much-needed win, because it still has the individual talent to compete with anybody.

Utah 29.75  –  SoCal 26.05  71%


No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 24 Ole Miss(-6)
7 p.m., ESPN

This is Week 8’s only game between ranked opponents, but it lost its luster last week thanks to losses by both teams: Texas A&M to Alabama and Ole Miss to Memphis. Both stand at one loss within the SEC, meaning this might as well be considered an SEC West elimination game. It AltX.Logo.whitewill feature one of the best matchups of the season, as Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett — arguably the nation’s best defensive player — squares off against Ole Miss offensive tackle — arguably the nation’s best offensive lineman — who returns at just the right time after sitting out the first half of the season for improper benefits. While the Rebels get one star back, they might be without defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who suffered a concussion while playing running back against Memphis. This game will be won on the perimeter, as neither team cares much about establishing the run and both are loaded with weapons at receiver, headlined by Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk. Ole Miss has the better defense, so it’s tough to pick against the Rebels at home, but last Saturday’s loss to Memphis didn’t look like an accident. Look for a bounce-back game from Texas A&M Kyle Allen.

OleMiss 28.15  –  Texas a+m 27.5  68.5%


No. 9 Florida State at Georgia Tech(+6.5)
7 p.m., ESPN2

This looked like a potential ACC title game preview in the preseason. Now, Georgia Tech is desperately trying to stop the bleeding. The Yellow Jackets won last year’s Orange Bowl and began this season with two blowouts of overmatched opponents, but now they’ve dropped five straight games, plummeting to 2-5. Even with a difficult schedule, this team was hoping for another major bowl bid. Now it’s just trying to get to the postseason, which is an unlikely proposition. Florida State continues to quietly roll along undefeated, with Everett Golson committing zero turnovers and Dalvin Cook averaging 8.7 yards per carry as he tries to make a case for the Heisman. Maybe Georgia Tech can finally turn things around. Maybe it can start converting third downs (it has dropped from first to 114th in that category) and get the option moving against a team it ran well against last year. It is a bit of a trap possibility for Florida State. But as long as Cook stays healthy (he’s battled a hamstring injury), the Seminoles should be fine against a team that has struggled to replicate last year’s offensive efficiency.

FSU 34.4  –  GaTech 23.4  74.5%


No. 1 Ohio State at Rutgers(-21)
8 p.m., ABC

Rutgers finally has something going for itself, as Kyle Flood returned from suspension in time for the Scarlet Knights to beat Indiana 55-52, erasing a 52-27 second-half deficit, tying the game with 6:29 left but having the extra point blocked and the winning on a field goal as time expired. It was a nice comeback for Rutgers, who is now 3-3, but reality is about to hit. Last year, the Buckeyes beat the Knights 56-17, and this starts a tough string of games with Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska next for Rutgers. Ohio State is turning to J.T. Barrett as starting quarterback, a wise decision, and Barrett should keep the Buckeyes rolling against one of the nation’s worst defenses. To make matters worse for Rutgers, standout receiver Leonte Carroo is questionable with an ankle injury.

OhSt 38.5  –  Rutgers 18.25  89.05%


Western Kentucky at No. 5 LSU(-17)
7 p.m., ESPNU

There is a high probability that Leonard Fournette trounces the Hilltoppers for 200 yards, and that this isn’t much of a game. Safety Jalen Mills is returning to the LSU secondary after missing the first half of the season, re-joining a talented group led by Tre’Davious White, and while Western Kentucky has a ridiculously prolific passing offense, it was held to 14 points (in a win) at Vanderbilt. Western Kentucky is a fun team, and this matchup does have some intrigue, because the Hilltoppers are capable of scaring anyone. Since the Vandy game, Brandon Doughty has thrown for at least 350 yards every week, completing 74 percent for 2,709 yards and 24 touchdowns overall. So perhaps the Hilltoppers can put a scare into LSU after its tight win vs. Florida last week. But this WKU defense can’t slow down Fournette.

LSU 39.05  –  WKU 26.55  76.7%


Kentucky at Mississippi State(-11.5)
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Kentucky had not won an SEC road game since 2009, until it won at South Carolina on Sept. 12. This is actually its first road game since then, as the Wildcats continue to push for their first bowl bid since 2010. They’re 4-2, with their only losses coming by a total of eight points to Florida and Auburn. Winning in Starkville is a steep challenge, though. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott isn’t the national superstar he was a year ago — Mississippi State was No. 1 when these teams met last October — but he has yet to throw an interception and continues to produce for a team that’s flying under the radar because of its two SEC losses. Mississippi State isn’t the team it was last year, but it’s still a competitive squad that will be chasing eight or nine wins.

MissSt 35.55  –  ‘Tucky 19.25  84.3%


Late Night

Washington at No. 10 Stanford(-1)
10:30 p.m., ESPN

Back in Week 1, this would have looked like a possible 6-3 struggle in which both teams struggled to cross midfield. Now, Stanford is playing the best football in the country. The Cardinal offense has looked terrific, with Christian McCaffrey emerging as one of the nation’s top playmakers behind a sturdy line, while Kevin Hogan has made strides at quarterback. The Stanford offense is actually well ahead of the defense, which bucks recent trends. The opposite is true for the Huskies, who have played really well on defense despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL. Freshman quarterback Jake Browning — who may not be 100 percent with a shoulder injury — has struggled against top competition, and the Huskies are going to need the hot streak of freshman running back Myles Gaskin to continue to hang with the Cardinal on the road. Stanford’s playing too well right now for it to happen.

Stanford 31  –  UW 21.6  72.05%

pablo (10)

 

What You Need To Know To #win: #CollegeGameDay

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Wanna watch the best catch of 2015 so far?!

1. Shades of Prothro

Sure Auburn played Kentucky earlier on Thursday Night and we’ll get to that…but…wow.  What a beat down Stanford dished out to UCLA.  The game was over at halftime and this catch was the highlight of the game in the third quarter, on a trick play from mid-field.  The story is Stanford and Christian McCaffrey – Stanford for reeling off 8 in a row, making a case for a playoff spot and having us all wonder what happened at Northwestern – Christian McCaffrey for gaining 369 total yards and 4 TD’s!  If you watched it live, then you saw one of the best performances of the year by ANY college football player.  It’s just too bad no one really did.

  • RB McCaffrey’s historic night powers Stanford past UCLA, into playoff mix: When Andrew Luck returns to Stanford in the summer, he likes to tease strength coach Shannon Turley about making sure the Cardinal program remains a meritocracy. For those of us who didn’t score high enough on the SAT verbal, Luck essentially means that the essence of the Stanford program is rooted in the belief that opportunities should be earned as opposed to gifted. In short, production trumps hype……(continue reading)

  • Game Recap | Auburn 30, Kentucky 27:  It was right there for Kentucky. Down three at home to Auburn, a little more than a minute to go, first down near midfield after a 23-yard Garrett Johnson catch. But then it was over, a 30-27 Tigers win at Commonwealth Stadium.  Seemingly sitting pretty in those final moments……(continue reading)


cfb_week7

2. Battle of Midway

It’s the middle of the season and big conference matchups dot the landscape of college football.  Several undefeated teams take on huge tasks to stay unbeaten this Saturday and DC*3PO has chosen these games to see if we can do better than last week’s 70% ATS – so Let’s Get It On!         (h/t Matt Brown)

Morning

  • No. 17 Iowa(-2.5) at No. 20 Northwestern – Noon, ABC/ESPN2 – It is possible that nobody has a better path to an undefeated season than Iowa. The Hawkeyes managed to beat rival Iowa State this year, they beat Pitt on a 57-yard field goal and they beat Wisconsin in a 10-6 Big Ten slugfest. They are 6-0, with the remaining schedule featuring Northwestern, Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska. This week they get the Wildcats, who just lost 38-0 to Michigan and rank 118th in yards per play on offense. Everything seems to be setting up perfectly for an Iowa team that has been mired in mediocrity for the last five years.  Still scratching my head on Northwestern beat Stanford.
    • Iowa 17.25  –  Northwestern 23.35  –  65.95%

  • West Virginia at No. 2 Baylor(-21) – Noon, Fox – TCU is Baylor’s chief rival now, and beating the other Texas schools is also hugely important to the Bears. But West Virginia has become something of a pseudo-rival since joining the Big 12. In 2012, West Virginia famously beat Baylor 70-63 in a game that featured 1,507 total yards. In 2013, Baylor won 73-42. Last year, West Virginia stunned the No. 4 Bears 41-27, finding a way to limit the prolific Baylor passing offense — something nobody has done this season. West Virginia is the best defense Baylor has faced, by far, and yet the Mountaineers still rank a pedestrian 48th in yards per play allowed, and they’re missing their best player, safety Karl Joseph, who is out for the rest of the season.
    • West Virginia 26.65  –  Baylor 36.55  –  71.75%

  • No. 13 Ole Miss(-10.5) at Memphis – Noon, ABC/ESPN2  Say hello to the biggest home AltX.Logo.whitegame in Memphis history. Then Tigers are a perfect 5-0, they still have coach Justin Fuente before he inevitably ends up taking a bigger job and they have a terrific quarterback in Paxton Lynch. On Saturday afternoon, on national TV, they host a nearby SEC “rival” that they’ve defeated only 10 of 60 times. Memphis last beat Ole Miss in 2004, and now both teams are as good as they’ve been in a while. This was the case last year too, though, when Ole Miss took care of the Tigers 24-3.
    • Ole Miss 34.45  –  Memphis 25.05  –  72.3%

  • Louisville at No. 11 Florida State(-7) – Noon, ESPN  Last year, Louisville — like many other teams — came so close to ending Florida State’s unbeaten run. At home on a Thursday night, Louisville built a 21-0 lead but lost, thanks in part to the play of running back Dalvin Cook. With Jameis Winston gone, Florida State is more reliant on Cook now, and it’s paying off. He just has to stay healthy as he deals with hamstring issues. Cook has rushed for 792 yards on just 88 carries, becoming a big-play machine. The one concern is that Louisville has the best defense that he’s seen thus far, with a sturdy defensive front that can give FSU’s offensive line trouble — and perhaps finally force an interception from the formerly turnover-prone Everett Golson.
    • L’ville 18.35  –  FSU 30.1  –  76.55%

Afternoon

  • No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan(-8) – 3:30 p.m., ESPN  The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has long been a series of streaks. Michigan has dominated the series for the most part, but Michigan State took control in the ’50s and ’60s, and it’s taken control again since Mark Dantonio’s arrival. It’s a new era, however. While Michigan State is undefeated, it has not looked as sharp as its 6-0 record indicates, with close wins over Purdue and Rutgers the last two weeks. So while the Spartans are undefeated and ranked seventh, they are an underdog in the Big House, against a Michigan team that is exceeding all expectations in Jim Harbaugh’s first season.
    • MichiganSt 17.25  –  Michigan 30.4  –  76.3%

  • No. 10 Alabama(-4) at No. 9 Texas A&M – 3:30 p.m., CBS  For two years, Texas A&M harassed Alabama like nobody else with Johnny Manziel at quarterback. The Aggies stunned the Crimson Tide 29-24 in 2012, and they scored six touchdowns in a 49-42 loss in 2013. Then the bottom fell out: Texas A&M’s fast start in 2014 was erased by a three-game midseason losing streak, which ended with a 59-0 humiliation at Alabama. Much of the past year has been spent trying to rebound from the embarrassment, and now the Aggies find themselves unbeaten, 2-0 in the SEC, while Alabama has a loss to Ole Miss on its resume.
    • Alabama 28.95  –  Texas A+M 23.05  –  64%

  • No. 19 Oklahoma(-5) at Kansas State – 3:30 p.m., ABC  In a perfect world, Oklahoma would be able to try to bounce back from its devastating loss to underdog Texas by beating up on, say, Kansas in Norman. Instead it has to travel to Manhattan to face Kansas State, which came so, so close to taking down TCU last week at home. Oklahoma has not lost back-to-back regular-season games since 1999, but Bill Snyder’s teams are always capable of upsets, especially at home. This year’s team appears likely going to pull one off at some point despite entering the season with lowered expectations and then running into quarterback injury problems. The last two weeks, the Wildcats have lost to undefeated Oklahoma State and TCU by a total of 11 points.
    • Oklahoma 28.2  –  KState 28.45  –  53.9%
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  • Virginia Tech at Miami(-6) – 3:30 p.m., ESPNU  Neither team has been impressive this season, but this old Big East matchup still comes with some importance attached: 1) Every game in the ACC Coastal is important because it’s so wide-open, 2) Al Golden is trying to save his job, 3) Frank Beamer is trying to avoid retirement. Virginia Tech may get QB Michael Brewer back after he broke his collarbone against Ohio State in the opener, but the Hokies are still dealing with the absence of star cornerback Kendall Fuller. Both of these teams are a bit unpredictable right now. Virginia Tech took care of N.C. State after back-to-back losses to East Carolina and Pitt; Miami has lost back-to-back games to Cincinnati and Florida State and has had a recent tendency to collapse after getting beat by the Seminoles.
    • VaTech 25.65  –  Miami 27.5  –  54.05%

  • Nebraska at Minnesota(-2) – 3:30 p.m., ESPN2  Melvin Gordon’s 400-yard game probably could not be survived by Bo Pelini, but a game later Minnesota sealed his fate with a 28-24 win in Lincoln. It’s one of many close losses that have plagued the Cornhuskers, regardless of head coach. They lost by four to the Golden Gophers late in the 2014 season under Pelini. They lost by three in the Holiday Bowl to USC under interim coach Barney Cotton. And now, under Mike Riley, they’ve lost four games by 11 points, on a Hail Mary, an overtime interception, a last-minute touchdown after poor clock management and a last-second field goal. A 2-4 start is horrifying for a Nebraska team that has lost exactly four games seven years in a row, and it comes with both positives and negatives.
    • Nebraska 23.15  –  Minnesota 23.75  –  63.95%

Prime Time

  • No. 8 FU at No. 6 LSU(-9.5) – 7 p.m., ESPN – Florida lost its starting quarterback to a one-year suspension, but Will Grier’s absence doesn’t necessarily take the Gators out of the SEC title hunt. They still hold a two-game advantage over Georgia and Tennessee in the East, and they still have one of the nation’s best defenses. In fact, if anybody can finally slow down Leonard Fournette, it’s Florida, with players like end Jonathan Bullard and linebacker Antonio Morrison leading an impressive front.
    • FU 23.55  –  LSU 28.85  –  66.05%

  • Penn State at No. 1 Ohio State(-17) – 8 p.m., ABC  Conventional wisdom would say that Ohio State’s defensive line will dominate this game, and the Buckeyes will win relatively comfortably in a night game at home. Conventional wisdom is probably accurate. Penn State’s offensive line has yet to have a repeat of its meltdown in the Sept. 5 loss to Temple, but it’s still up and down, and quarterback Christian Hackenberg still has issues handling pressure. Given the presence of players like Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washington and Darron Lee, among many others, in Ohio State’s front seven, there’s a good chance that the Buckeyes stifle the Nittany Lions, force mistakes and win going away.
    • Penn St 16.6  –  OhioSt 30.4  –  76.75%

  • USC at No. 14 Notre Dame(-7) – 7:30 p.m., NBC  It’s been a tumultuous week for USC,AltX.Logo.white to say the least. A preseason top-10 team, USC lost at home to Washington 17-12 last Thursday. On Sunday, Steve Sarkisian reportedly showed up for work drunk and was placed on leave. On Monday, he was fired while on his way to check into a treatment facility,according to ESPN. Now, USC is trying to move forward under interim coach Clay Helton, the offensive coordinator. It must do so against its cross-country nemesis, going to South Bend to visit a one-loss Notre Dame team still clinging to playoff hopes. Notre Dame has had its own issues with a bad run of injury luck, but it has held together nicely, staving off Navy’s option attack last week after a heartbreaking loss at Clemson.
    • USC 27.75  –  NotreDame 32.95  –  64.1%

  • Missouri at Georgia(-16) – 7:30 p.m., SEC Network  Florida has built a two-game cushion in the SEC East, and thus Georgia desperately needs to stop the bleeding at home against a struggling Missouri offense. The Bulldogs will have to move on without injured running back Nick Chubb, which is a huge loss, although Sony Michel is a budding star who is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and was a highly regarded recruit. This will be a stiff test, as Missouri continues to play terrific defense, giving up very little on the ground this season.
    • Mizzou 16.3  –  Georgia 29.6  –  79.8%

  • No. 3 TCU(-21) at Iowa State – 7 p.m., ESPN2  There is no reason to expect Iowa State to actually win this game, beyond memories of that one time Iowa State upset a national title contender at home. But there is hope for keeping it close, because TCU’s issues on defense — attrition from last year and several key injuries — have turned both Big 12 road games into shootouts so far. The Horned Frogs beat Texas Tech 55-52, and they beat Kansas State 52-45. Both of those teams are better than Iowa State, of course. The Cyclones just lost to Texas Tech 66-31, and while they may point up a similar point total against TCU, they have little hope of slowing down Trevone Boykin, Josh Doctson and the rest of an explosive offense.
    • TCU 40.75  –  IaState 21.45  –  82.95%

  • Boston College at No. 5 Clemson(-15.5) – 7 p.m., ESPNU  Boston College is going to have to actually score points in an ACC game before we predict the Eagles to do so. After losing quarterback Tyler Murphy and their entire offensive line from last season, Boston College has now lost quarterback Darius Wade and running back Jon Hilliman to injuries. In three conference games against Florida State, Duke and Wake Forest, Boston College has allowed two touchdowns. And yet it’s 0-3, because it has scored only seven points. It has already wrapped up the honor of ugliest game of the season after it failed to score on four red zone trips in a 3-0 home loss to Wake Forest.
    • BC 1.8  –  Clemson 33  –  97%

Late Night

  • Arizona State at No. 4 Utah(-6.5) – 10 p.m., ESPN  Utah has moved up to No. 4 in the AP poll, and you can still frame its resume however you’d like. On one hand, Utah beat Michigan (who is much better than expected), California and Oregon (by 42 in Eugene). On the other hand, Michigan was in its first game under a new coach, Cal committed six turnovers and still had a chance to win on the final drive and Oregon is clearly a shell of its former self. Utah has a resume that makes it look like one of the best teams in the country, but a couple losses still feel inevitable. This is a very good team, but it has an average 247Sports recruiting ranking of 47.2 over the last five years. The defense is physical and forcing mistakes, but there’s also a chance that positive turnover luck will even out.
    • ASU 21.2  –  Utah 31.7  –  73.85%

  • Oregon at Washington(-2.5) – 10:30 p.m., ESPN2  Last year’s national runner-up, Oregon is just 3-3 to open the 2015 season, conjuring memories of the 2010 Texas Longhorns, who went 5-7 after losing the BCS title game to Alabama. Last week, Oregon lost to Washington State for the first time since 2006. This week, Oregon will attempt to avoid losing to rival Washington for the first time since 2003. It appears that the 2015 season may give a chance to several teams to exorcise demons against the Ducks, who have run roughshod over most of the Pac-12 for so long. Washington is coming off its 17-12 road upset of USC, and its defense has played really well. Oregon’s running game is still dangerous behind Royce Freeman, but its ability to win depends on quarterback play and whether its secondary can stop anybody. Washington quarterback Jake Browning has potential, but so far the Huskies offense hasn’t scared anyone. Oregon might be able to run the ball to win and regain some confidence.
    • Oregon 20.75  –  UW 32.15  –  75.85%

 

 

What do I have to do for you to make me a sandwich Wednesday…

larrybrown_smu

No Larry, it’s now 3x’s

Good coach? Sure.  Only guy to win a NCAA and NBA Title – says so right here on the label.  Yet, it seems to also come with a warning – may be hazardous to your postseason.  He is the king of implosion.  Just ask UCLA and Kansas.  UCLA’s 1980 Final Four was vacated because of the use of ineligible players – at Kansas it was recruiting violations – and now SMU.  Word is the 76ers are also banned from the postseason because of the association with Larry Brown.

Is Larry the only guy? No.  While I am sure he is being taken to task for his latest indescretion, he is not the only one.  Let’s not forget Calipari also has left programs on the sanctions-alter, and UNC seems to have a different scandal every recruiting class.  It appeared to me to be inevitable.  SMU has a history and SMU president R. Gerald Turner pushed hard to hire Larry Brown to make basketball relevant, where they have not before – Irony is Mr.Turner being the co-chair of the Knight Commission on Athletic Reform.

In other words, same ol’story for SMU, Larry Brown and college athletics – maybe we should stop pretending that collegiate sports are not big-business.


For the last #StrikeZone Tuesday of the season, here is the #DraftKings PERFECT LINEUP:

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RavensSaintsLions

Going from winless to winning is a thing.  It can happen.  Let me take you back to a time when Lifehouse was “Hanging by a Moment” – Harry Potter was looking for his Sorcerer’s Stone – and the professional football club from our Nation’s Capital was becoming the butt of late-nite jokes.  It was Schottenheimer’s only year in Washington and they had started 0-5 – then they beat the Panthers and rolled off 5 straight, before finishing the season 8-8.

That is mediocre, but let’s also remember the NFC West a few years ago and the NFC South last year – 8-8 could get you into the playoffs.  So, here’s to you – Lions, Ravens and Saints, because we have also seen teams get off to fast starts and blow it down the stretch – so keep your head up and gosh-darn-it you guys aren’t the 49ers, go out and win one!


This is the new Red-Menace and should also be the number 1 team in the country.  Crazy, maybe, but remember that is just a term of Art – Did you watch what Michigan did to BYU Saturday?  These same Utes beat those guys and also did something I have not seen in a long, long, long, time in Eugene – hammering Oregon 62-20!  62! In Oregon!  Show me another team in the country that has two wins that look that good.  I’ll accept the season is early, as long as you accept that pre-season polls are stupid.  The rest of my, would be top 4, if the season ended today for the playoffs are in order: UCLA, OleMiss and Notre dame.

Speaking of Michigan – We all believed that Harbaugh might have a little Miracle-Max in him.  He turned Stanford around.  He made the 49ers contenders.  We just all gave him a pass this year, because the Wolverines were not supposed to be any good, etc…It might be time to stop assuming Michigan will lose to Michigan State and Ohio State. These Wolverines are much, much better than last year’s group. The Wolverines still need to prove they can play at this level consistently – but if they keep improving, they could make things very interesting in the Big Ten East.

You have to admire Charlie Strong and what he is doing at Texas.  You see, Texas has been close to a breakthrough since making redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard the quarterback and Jay Norvell the primary play-caller, but another special teams gaffe cost the Longhorns on Saturday. Against Cal on Sept. 19, a missed extra point that would have forced overtime, resulted in a 45–44 loss. Against Oklahoma State, a dropped punt snap allowed the Cowboys to kick a game-winning field goal and escape Austin with a 30–27 victory.

Longhorns fans can complain about the officials—and yes, we all appreciate the irony of Texas fans complaining about the Longhorns not getting calls—but if they can clean up their special teams, it may not matter which calls Texas gets or doesn’t. At some point, Texas has to break through with a win—doing that this week against TCU would obviously be huge, but will be terribly difficult—but the Longhorns are on the correct path.


We can count all the instances of happenstance
and bad luck and rule that a coach and team ultimately had as good a chance of winning as they did of losing. But eventually we must draw the line somewhere. We have chosen as a society to draw that line at the final score. Bill Parcells certainly understood all of the factors that decide the outcome of a football game, and he still spoke the words that ring true in football and in life. “You are,” Parcells famously said, “what your record says you are.”

tnsad2For Tennessee fan – the answer lies in something Jones said a few minutes after the question about the two-point conversion chart. (Jones said the Volunteers have a standard chart, but if they do use the one made famous by Dick Vermeil, they ignored it at Florida.) Jones was trying to explain how his team would bounce back from the loss when he said this: “It doesn’t define who we are.”

Yeah it does, unfortunately.

Football final scores are the results of thousands of small decisions and the outcomes of those decisions. Sometimes those decisions are out of a coach’s control, and sometimes teams are plain unlucky. Jones didn’t send a 12th player out with the field goal unit Saturday. Somebody just got excited and ran onto the field at the wrong time. If that doesn’t happen, Medley kicks a 50-yarder. Maybe he makes it, and the honeymoon for Jones continues in Knoxville. Jones probably couldn’t have known that two timeouts called before fourth downs Saturday to get the desired personnel on the field would cause Florida counterpart Jim McElwain to rethink kicking and put his offense back in. Both decisions led to Florida first downs, and the second—late in the third quarter—led to a Florida touchdown.  It must be painful for Vols fans to always be looking to next year for their breakout game – to make a statement – maybe they will find a smarter coach…

In honor of all sad fans across the country – may these pictures say a 1,000 words of sadness:

ausad2

aubsadness

arksad

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name of site - hunter thompson style

Road to the College Football Playoff – The First 6 Weeks

Today we make it College Football Day! With 2 weeks left before the pageantry and tradition resume, we’re gonna give you the first 6 weeks of a week-to-week glance, at the games that could decide who makes the 2nd College Football Playoff!  The season kicks off on Thursday, September 3rd, with 19 games (all times are EASTERN).

Week 1

Ohio St(-11.5) @ Virginia Tech, 8p (Monday<9-7>) – Anyone know who starts for Ohio State? How will the 4 suspensions of Ohio St players impact the game?  Does VaTech repeat last year’s upset at home? – we’ll see

Wisconsin v Alabama(-10.5), 8p in Arlington – In neutral site openers under Nick Saban, Alabama iscropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png 5-0 – with an average margin of victory of 19pts.  Does Alabama have a QB?  What does new coach Paul Chryst have prepared for another re-loaded Crimson Tide?

Michigan @ Utah(-6), 8:30p (Thursday) – Jim Harbaugh returns to his Alma-Mater and will be a heavily watched game.  The problem could be that despite all the pre-season pub Harbaugh got, this is still a good Utah team that beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor last year 26-10.

  • TCU(-14) @ Minnesota, 9p (Thursday)
  • UNC v SCAR(-2.5) in Charlotte (Thursday) 6p
  • Washington @ Boise St(-10.5), 10:15p (Friday)
  • BYU @ Nebraska(-6.5), 3:30p
  • Louisville  v Auburn(-11) in Atlanta, 3:30p
  • ASU v Texas a+m(-3) in Houston, 7p
  • Texas @ Notre Dame(-9.5), 7:30p

Week 2

Oregon @ Michigan St, 8p – Just like last year this will be the first top 10 matchup of the year and it could be cray in East Lansing.  Also like last year the winner could have an inside track to the ‘offs.

LSU @ Mississippi St, 9:15p – Last year the bulldawgs took it to the Tigers in Death Valley.  Look for payback in Stark-Vegas.

Oklahoma @ Tennessee, 6p – Oklahoma is always over-rated and Tennessee has been on the comeback for 10years – someone has to break.  Could it be any different than OU duplicating last year’s 34-10 win?

  • Utah St @ Utah, 9p (Friday)
  • Houston @ Louisville, noon
  • Oregon St @ Michigan, noon
  • Notre Dame @ Virginia, 3:30p
  • Iowa @ Iowa St, 4:30p
  • Kentucky @ SCAR, 7:30p
  • Boise St @ BYU, 10:15p

Week 3

Auburn @ LSU, 3:30p – Another September SEC West battle that could decide the who goes to Atlanta.  LSU got whooped last year 41-7, but Auburn has not won in RED STICK since 1999 – too bad this game is not at night, where it belongs – either way FUQ Auburn!

Stanford @ USC, 8p – If the Trojans are the preseason pick to win the PAC 12 then they have to get by the Cardinal.  The last two meeting have been decided by a Trojan field goal.

Ole Miss @ Alabama, 9:15p – Revenge is a dish served….um….anyway Saban is 9-1 in these types of games since arriving in Tuscaloosa – we’ll know enough about both teams after this game and their prospects of being in Atlanta.

  • Clemson @ Louisville, 7:30p (Thursday)
  • Georgia Tech @ Notre Dame, 3:30p
  • Nebraska @ Miami, 3:30p
  • SCAR @ Georgia, 6p
  • TexasTech @ Arkansas, 7p
  • Cal @ Texas, 7:30p
  • BYU @ UCLA, 10:30p

Week 4

UCLA @ Arizona – If Arizona is the defending PAC 12 South champion then this game could see two undefeated teams meet in week 4 for the inside track.  Under Rich-Rod the ‘cats are 0-3 against the Bruins.

MissSt @ Auburn – Both teams could be licking their wounds after losses to LSU – or it could be an early SEC West triangle of nonsense.  MissSt has won the last two out of three – but at home, Auburn has won the last three.  Either way, so is life in the SEC West meat-grinder.

Tennessee @ Florida – remember when this game meant anything.  There are children who have been born, that have no idea what this meant.  If Tennessee is truly the dark-horse everyone is making them, they have to beat Florida.  For Florida’s Jim McElwain, it is a must win!

  •  Cincy @ Memphis, 7:30p (Thursday)
  • OklahomaSt @ Texas
  • BYU @ Michigan
  • Texas a+m @ Arkansas
  • USC @ ASU
  • Utah @ Oregon
  • GaTech @ Duke

Week 5

Alabama @ Georgia – this game will be a Running Back battle featuring ‘Bama’s Derrick Henry and UGA’s Nick Chubb.  The last time these two played in Athens – it was a funeral for Georgia in their “blackout” game, as Alabama took a 31-0 lead at halftime.  The final score was 41-30 and was never that close.

Notre Dame @ Clemson – Notre Dame has not been to Clemson since 1979, so expect a raucous crowd in Memorial Stadium.  It should provide plenty of fireworks if Deshaun Watson and Malik Zaire put on a show.

Texas @ TCU – the Horned Frogs took the Longhorns behind the woodshed last year, 48-10.  Charlie Strong needs this game or he could be finding himself on the hot seat.

  • Miami @ Cincy, 7:30p (Thursday)
  • Iowa @ Wisconsin
  • Ole Miss @ Florida
  • SCAR @ Mizzou
  • Arkansas @ Tennessee
  • ASU @ UCLA
  • West Virginia @ Oklahoma

Week 6

Oklahoma v Texas – the Red River Rivalry is still a spectacle – for Charlie Strong, many misgivings can be forgiven if the Longhorns take down the Sooners.  These teams have split the last 10 meetings and for Strong, it is a crucial two weeks.

Miami @ FSU – FSU has one of the easiest schedules – get by the ‘Canes and their next toughest opponent in September is @ Boston College.  Al Golden is 0-4 against FSU, but they do have Brad Kaaya.  Jimbo is a nice 5-0 against the Hurricanes.  The biggest question mark is who will be FSU’s QB for this game?

Wisconsin @ Nebraska – this has leader in the clubhouse for the winner, for the BIG (not)10 West Division.  Dominance is spelled B-U-C-K-Y – as the Badgers have won 3-of-the-last-4 meetings by an average of 35pts – but Wisconsin did lose their last trip to Lincoln…

  • Washington @ USC, 9p (Thursday)
  • GaTech @ Clemson
  • Arkansas @ Alabama
  • TCU @ KSTATE
  • Florida @ Mizzou
  • LSU @ SCAR
  • Georgia @ Tennessee

 

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42 – the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything

Today in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color-line held by Major League Baseball.  At 28, he played his first MLB game in front of 26,000 spectators at Ebbets Field, and on that day he would fail to get a hit, but would score a run that led to the Dodgers wining, 5-3 over the Braves.  His achievement was one year before Harry Truman desegregated the military.  Jackie would became an example of non-violence and his talent helped challenge the foundations of what a man could do, not just the color of their skin.  He became the first athlete at UCLA to letter in four sports, (Baseball, Football, Basketball and Track).  Jackie would play in 6 World Series and win one in 1955.  He was the MLB Rookie of the Year in ’47 and won the NL Batting Title and NL MVP in ’49.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962 and owns a career batting average of .311.  But baseball was just part of the man – He became the first black television analyst in MLB, as well as the first black vice-president of a major corporation, Chock full O’Nuts.  He would help establish the Freedon National Bank in Harlem, a black owned financial institution.  Also on this day, eleven years later the first MLB game is played on the West Coast between the Dodgers and the GiantsToday is Jackie Robinson Day, and everyone wears 42!


 

After tonight, the real season begins in the NBA and we will know a few more things about what kind of heart these teams possess.  Everyone seems to have the will to win, it’s the will to prepare that separates champions, from the rest of the s’posed-ta’s.  With a big slate of games tonight, only two provide any drama and that is OKC and New Orleans.  Sure there is still the matter of Brooklyn and Indiana, but neither team will finish near .500 – real drama demands winning records.

The only way OKC makes the ‘offs is IF they win and the Pelicans lose – every other combination favors the Pelicans.  For my money, it’s a changing of the guard scenario I’m hoping for – sure, it might be the last time we see Durant and Westbrook play together, but it’s not like we haven’t seen what it is already with the injuries inflicted on each other.  Golden State v New Orleans seems more entertaining for my NBA dollar than does OKC.  Yes, Westbrook is a dynamo, but his one-man-band approach is tiresome and he loses as many games it seems, than he wins.

If none of that floats your boat as much as it should than consider this:  Minnesota, who currently has the leagues worst record, could easily maintain that mark by losing to OKC tonight – selling the drama.  Even more so, if you have watched the T-puppies, you would have noticed they have a nice young team and if they got the first pick – they could use it for something other than wing type players (they need a dynamic PG or Big) – making the selection either Okafor, or Towns.  Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, about who’s number 1 – it makes the ‘Wolves a potential contender.  Marinate on that for a bit.

Irony would be the Knicks, again creating conspiracy theories, by getting the 1st pick – like they did with Ewing.  This league has migrated to wing players, and if your a Knicks fan – do you trust a man who puts as much time in evaluation, as he does a cup of coffee?

But while we are talking about the strange and ironic – I’d like to give a shout out to Brad Stevens.  Sure Steve Kerr will likely take Coach of the Year honors, but consider the job that Stevens did with the Celtics.  Besides you Jon Beckwith, could any of you name 3 guys on the Celtics?  The Celtics will make the playoffs after trading their best player and using a boat-load of Duct-Tape to keep the roster together.  They will play the Cavaliers, whom they just beat recently by 39 – not that it means anything – but how sweet would that be for Celtics fan, who also suffers having a guy named Isiah Thomas on their team…


 

click to watch

 

That is the catch that Nolan Arenado made last night against the Giants in the bottom of the 8th – even better than the catch would have been the throw he made from the tarp for a double play.  There is a reason he is two years in and is also a two-time gold glove winner – it’s early, but he might have just sewed up his third with that play.  Even Baseball Tonight had to end their Web Gems with this play – the defacto #1.

However, as impressive as this catch is, the Rockies on the road have been more so.  Last year they won a paltry 21 games – they have 5 road-wins already.  Yes, it’s a long season, and they are still terrible at home (1-2), it’s a long season – and they are still in first place of the NL West all by themselves (tied for first overall with the Braves in the NL), again it’s a long season.  Most Rockies fans, use Coors Field as an occupier of time until the Broncos season starts, it’s a long season – The Giants were the only team the Rockies had a winning record against last year and it seems that they have no fear again, but it’s a long season.  We’ve seen this picture show before and we need to wait until the dog-days begin for meaningful baseball in September – but for the moment it is fun to watch and when the wheels fall off, we’ll forget all about the hope that sprung eternal in April.  Until then, BUY THE TICKET, TAKE THE RIDE!


 

Riddick Bowe, former Heavyweight Champion, guy who beat Evander Holyfield twice – a 43-1 record with 33 knockouts.  He is either a flash-mob genius or is so far down on his luck that he actually needs the $20 to tweet whatever you want him to, to anyone.  Riddick Bowe has 450,000 followers so even if 1% of his followers deposit $20 into his paypal account – he will earn $90,000social media genius.  You got to respect that hustle – what are followers for if you cannot monetize them?  It appears that some are already willing to pay for that luxury, as witnessed by the tweet below, yesterday.  So, What will @riddickbowe tweet for you?

I tell you all now @JakeLeeYes is twice the fighter I ever was. Thats whats up. Bowe

— Riddick Bowe (@riddickbowe) April 14, 2015

 


 

…in closing, this is your tax dollars at work – so clearly the answer is to play more daily fantasy games with us – check the RotoCanon Page for updates.

Monday Dregs

Nietzsche said, “out of chaos, comes order.” Or maybe he didn’t.  The infamous Howard Johnson of Rock-Ridge had quoted him, in a town meeting to discuss the new sheriff – so maybe it’s true.  But maybe chaos theory explains it just as well as Nietzsche – the more complex system, the faster and easier it breaks down.  That could apply to climate-change, governments and our bracket(s).  There is a morbid Bedouin proverb that says: “As the camel falls to its knees, more knives are drawn.”  A Proverb is a proverb because it speaks to a permanent truth…which may or may not be exactly how we felt when we saw what happened in the opening rounds.  All those 1 possession games, upsets…Seppuku

That is the word I was looking for when the Tigers of LSU missed 20 consecutive shots to lose the game against NC State.  There wasn’t much to expect this year, but to lose that way was a terrible shock to every fiber of my body.  It’s like your heart goes limp and the air is kicked out of your lungs for 20-30 seconds after seeing the final score and how it came to be – I fell sideways into a plate of tacos, like I was whacked in the head with a baseball bat.  Momentarily, I might have blacked out, but the room had already emptied except for two girls who were snickering at me as they walked out the door.  I was so swollen with shame that I felt like a fat kid after halloween – and that was when I thought about reaching for my gold-handled sword, as Dean Martin sang about kicks in the head  – it was the only honorable way out.  Just then I got a text message, taunting me and my thoughts moved from melancholy ceremony to vendetta.  A feeling I’m sure is shared with any fan of Virginia, Kansas, Iowa St or Villanova.

In our attempt to breakdown the bracket and build us all a better mousetrap – it appears we accomplished that.  If only we actually listened to what the tea leaves told us.  What we built, ended up getting 28 out of 32 correct on Thursday and Friday – 13 out of 16 for the weekend – that’s 84.4% overall!  Now if we had only listened to our own model…but that’s the trick isn’t it?  Just because you got UCLA correct and the system got it wrong – you blame the minor flaw for the whole – like Seinfeld and the numerous women he dumps because they are a low-talker, has man hands, or eats peas one at a time – and it all seems justifiable.  We chose poorly – the game is rigged, it knows you need the 12/5 upset, there was none.  It knows you have to find two #10 seed upsets and it gave one, Ohio St.  It counts on you selecting a #15 seed beating a #2 because the last 3 years it has happened, becoming a trend – but shuts that door on you as well.  Much like it knew the record of the #3 seeds, and yet the game crushed you with UAB over Iowa St (also a double-digit favorite), Georgia St over Baylor and almost gave you Northeastern over Notre Dame.  Only 3 times has 2 #14 seeds won a game in the same tournament – 1986 and 1995, and the last time a 12 did not beat a 5 was in 2007.  Hell, #8 seeds only win 53% of the time in the tournament the last 16 years and that did not stop all of them winning this year.  She’s a cruel mistress.

The system says Villanova and Virginia and your brain says they will fall – you know this, but when do you switch your faith in the design, to what is rationally dependent.  Is there any bigger set of teams that consistently choke away their chances more than Villanova and Kansas?  Of course you could be an entire state, like Texas, who failed to show up.  Even when the advice tells you to pick with the cruel logic over the bleeding heart, you still line up and get slaughtered.  The NCAA fattens us up so Vegas can eat well in the Spring.  But I digress, our bracket is hanging on and is tied with several other prognosticators having more final four teams than most and being the only one out of 8 that has Arizona and Duke in the title game.  If only we had listened to our own March-Madness Frankenstein – who says this is how the next round shakes out:

  • Notre Dame close
  • Wisconsin close
  • Kentucky
  • Arizona
  • Gonzaga
  • Louisville
  • Duke
  • Oklahoma

Further advancing Oklahoma over Louisville, Duke over Gonzaga, Arizona over Wisconsin and ‘Tucky over Notre Dame.

Aside from our DiRT Canon Analyzer, here are other “entertainment purposes only” trends in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8:

Sweet 16

  1. the Sweet 16 is usually where double digit seeds go down like a soccer player.  Better seeds have won 50 of the past 72 games SU (69%) the last nine years, but are only 29% ATS since 2012 (7-17)
  2. From 2003-2010 favorites of at least 5.5 were 22-1 SU in the Sweet 16.  However, 4 big upsets have occurred since: Arizona (+9.5) over Duke in 2011, Kentucky (+5.5) over Ohio St in 2011, Louisville (+5.5) over Michigan St in 2012 and Marquette (+5.5) over Miami in 2013.  These big favorites are only 17-18-1 ATS since 2003.
  3. Last year’s Sweet 16 featured six teams seeded 6th or worse, and three advanced to the Elite Eight, including #11 Dayton beating #10 Stanford.  That makes the lesser seed 8-2 SU and ATS (80%) in the last 10 situations when two teams seeded #6 or worse met in the Sweet 16. (none this year)
  4. Double-digit seeds are just 4-24 SU in the Sweet 16 round since 2003, with the only such win coming when #11 Dayton beat #10 Stanford, 82-72.  (UCLA is the only double digit seed remaining).
  5. In games where the total is 128 points or less, the UNDER is 14-5-1 (74%) since 1999.

Elite 8

  1. Since 1998, lesser seeds hold an overall advantage in the Elite 8, going 44-22-3 ATS (66%), including 3-0-1 in 2014.
  2. Lesser seeds in the Elite 8 had been 7-9 ATS (6-10 SU) from 2007-2010 before a 12-3-1 ATS run (11-5 SU) overthe past four tournaments with #8 Kentucky, #7 UConn and #2 Wisconsin all advancing as lesser seeds in 2014.
  3. Teams favored by 8+ points in this round have won 12 of the last 15 games, but are just 4-10-1 (29%).  Florida beat Dayton last year 62-52, giving up 10 points.
  4. When the difference in the seeds was five or more from 1998-2010, the better seeds were 12-1 SU, 4-8-1 ATS (33%).  But since then, #11 VCU beat #1 Kansas, #8 Butler beat #2 Florida, #8 Kentucky beat #2 Michigan and #9 Wichita St beat Ohio St.
  5. In games with the total is less than 145, the OVER has won 73% of the time (33-12).  However was just 1-3 last year with only Kentucky/Michigan surpassing the total.

continue to follow us @TheDiRTCanon for updates and sign up and win money with us on FanDuel+DraftKings – if you’ve been playing, you’d be up several hundreds of dollars from our suggestions last week, in just the $2 tournaments.  It’s been an amazing week of basketball both college and pro – regardless of what happens in Vegas – because we are all damn fine Americans!

 

 

 

3rd Stone From the Sun

Animals! Anarchy! I have always hated kids, especially at this time of year. They wander in and out of the house, babbling and drooling on each other, and when it snows, piling up, up, up, then flooding with filth when it melts. … Yes sir, haven’t I been telling you all along that March is a horrible month? It sucks in nine-thousand ways.  Especially in Texas.  The whole state went 0’fer.

But not all ways, as it turns out. No. Shaquille O’Neal was born in March, along with my son and other sons I’m related too, and the bastard child of Charles Manson. How many more games can be decided by a single point?

Hot damn! I could go on and on about this, but that would drive us all mad. Justin Bieber was spawned in March, along with Jack Kerouac, Queen Latifah, Albert Einstein and Osama bin Laden.

So let’s get back to basketball and the looming UCLA-UAB game. Even the president is worried about it.

We live in downhill times, in basketball and everywhere else. By this time next year, we will all be arrested for something, whether we’re guilty or not. “Terrorism” has many, many faces. Frankly, I will not be shocked to see the NCAA basketball tournament being played in a titanium cage at Guantanamo Bay, with defrocked priests as Referees calling goal-tending.

But the LSU situation haunts me more than the others, right now, if only because I watched upset after upset yesterday – and the beloved Tigers missing 20 consecutive shots. My heart is heavy, my mood is glum.  How is that goal-tending?! Bracket Destruction is a horrible pig. It is sort of like texting a lady late at night after washing down your tears with Jameson and Miller Lite.

Yeah. Suck on that one for a minute.

As for my quasi-flaky Tigers, professional circumstance has already spared me the agony of deciding where to put my money today. Right, no more of this s***-eating grief. I have finally grown up, I have matured — the Office Pool bracket sheet says I have already picked Northern Iowa in the Elite 8.

Indeed. I did it Monday, when I thought I was still thinking clearly. You bet: The Bruins are a No. 11 seed. And UAB is the No. 14.

It’s easy: Just bet the higher-seeded team in every game, and forget that amateur crap about “Personal Loyalties” and Home Team hunches that reveal themselves to you just before dawn on game day. You are probably an Alcoholic, anyway, and you are prone to Doubling Up/down, so what? Pay no attention to any yo-yo who tells you that Wisconsin is going to win. That is nonsense, that is impossible, nobody in basketball would bet Wisconsin over Kentucky. It would be 33-1 or 44-1, if you thought about monetizing it.

And some people will, at any odds. What the hell? I would bet heavily on my people at 22-1, and a bit less heavily at 15-1, or even 11-1. Why not? Big Risk is what this ball-busting March Madness is all about, right? Go long, get weird, kick ass — and if we Lose, get really Weird.

Yes sir, that is exactly what we do around here in March, folks. We load up on everything we can get our hands on, then crawl into a huge vat of ice water and bet gigantic money with jokers on both coasts.

It is not much different from that giggly, blind-dumb limbo that a gambler will get into when he knows in his heart that he finally has a Sure Thing, a sleeping dog who can’t lose, etc. etc.

But let me tell you for sure, people, that Gonzaga can lose, and the ‘Zags probably will. It is actually about a 57-1 shot, which is not for your everyday hometown beer drunk. … NoDakSt might be simply Bigger, Faster, Smarter, Tougher and on most days just a little more adventurous than this Gonzaga team, which is not even as good as the one that lost to UConn in the Elite Eight in 1999. They have the shooters, but do they have the muscle or the depth to play 40 minutes with the Bison?

The final spread will be at least two digits. Try 18, as in 89-71. I have already predicted this with my blind-dog-smokin-bracket-sheet, which was strictly impersonal.

Or almost impersonal, anyway: In a fit of stupid loyalty or love or maybe just a pimp’s lust for melodrama, I fell for crowd-pleasing Cinderella-teams like Iowa St, Baylor and Eastern Washington, which all got busted early. Screw them. All of my Final Four picks are still alive, and that is more than some people can say.

My attorney will almost certainly live to be 122 years old, when he will still be the amazing all-time champion of sports and literature that he is today, and has been for the past 12 years. Whatever it is that he eats after midnight, we should all eat more of it. Take it from me: I know how it feels to run at top speed for years and still believe in Santa Claus.

Whoops, maybe not Santa, but definitely Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July. It was my attorney, in fact, who told me to bet Arizona even, with no points at all, at 13-1 odds to win it all. Got it? That means Wisconsin, Villanova and Duke, too.

So I will, and nevermind what I really think — which is that Northern Iowa will knock off ‘Nova and Wichita St will somehow beat Kansas. Right, and that’s about it for my ramblings of an insane gambler, for now. I hear the gong, and I must have whiskey.