Thursday, December 24, 2009
Currently, San Antonio hosts the Alamo Bowl which typically features mid-level Big XII and Big Ten opponents, and takes place on or after January 1. I think they can turn that place around and get an even bigger crowd in the 65,000 seats by featuring a 2nd round matchup the week before the Alamo Bowl.
Rose Bowl, Part 1 (Pasadena, CA) - 12/26
(1) Alabama vs. (8) Ohio State
Avg. Temp - 55 degrees
Avg. Precip. - less than .1 inches (none)
Avg. Wind - 7 mph (light)
Average Result - Alabama def. OSU 95% by score 26 to 6
Random Result - Bama 33 - OSU 10
Story: By the averages and numbers, you can see this one was never in doubt. Bama ran well in the first half, including 3 TDs of 20 yards or more. Ohio State managed to slow the bleeding, but the Tide kept kicking FGs in the 2nd half to put it away. Terrelle Pryor never got things going (8-22, 87 yds, 1INT) and neither did the Buckeyes offense.
POG: Mark Ingram (198 total yards, 1 TD)
Sugar Bowl, Part 1 (New Orleans, LA) - 12/26
(2) Texas vs. (10) Iowa
Avg. Temp. - indoors (70 degrees?)
Avg. Precip. - indoors
Avg. Wind - indoors
Average Result - Texas def. Iowa 100% by score 35 to 7
Random Result - Texas 35 - Iowa 3
Story: You might see this score and think, "Mack Brown and the Longhorns finally won a 'big' game decisively!"...not the case. Adam Robinson rushed for over 100 yards at about 7 per carry, and Iowa scored first on a FG. However, Colt McCoy managed 2 TDs and only 1 INT to ensure Texas made it to the semifinal. So where did the other 21 points come from? 7 field goals!
POG: Hunter Lawrence (7-7 FGs: 21,36,37,41,41,48, & 49 yds - 23 points)
*NEW* Lone Star Bowl (San Antonio, TX) - 12/26
(3) TCU vs. (11) Virginia Tech
Avg. Temp. - indoors (70 degrees?)
Avg. Precip. - indoors
Avg. Wind - indoors
Average Result - TCU def. VT 90% by score 33 to 13
Random Result - TCU 37 - VaTech 3
Story: TCU dominated every facet other than the passing game while the Horned Frogs D made Tyrod Taylor look awful. Hokies are usually a rushing team, and they managed just 91 yards on 2.3 per carry. TCU had 4 times as many rushing yards, with Tucker and Turner combining for 4 TDs on the ground.
POG: Joseph Turner (22 car, 152 yds, 3TDs)
Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ) - 12/27
(4) Cincinnati vs. (5) Florida
Avg. Temp. - 53 degrees
Avg. Precip. - nearly 0
Avg. Wind - 5 mpg (light)
Average Result - Florida def. Cinci 95% by score 35 to 17
Random Result - Cincinnati 9 - Florida 30
Story: Florida's defense regains its form by shutting down Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. Apparently the Bearcats had a few too many coaching changes going into this one. Gilyard did provide a spark returning kicks with a 32-yard average, but offensively, Cincinnati didn't get on the board until the 4th quarter. Meanwhile, Florida rushed for 360 yards, with Tim Tebow out-rushing AND out-passing Tony Pike.
POG: Tim Tebow (204 pass yds, 2 TDs, 0 INT; 54 yards rushing)
Based on the blowouts in the Quarterfinal round, it seems to make more sense to run a 6-team playoff, I suppose. Iowa and Virginia Tech did manage 1st round upsets, but both lost by an average of more than 20 in this round (to be fair, so did Ohio State). I imagine Boise State and Oregon wouldn't lose quite as badly in the same matchups since both are known for high-scoring offenses, but that's not the way the cards fell.
Next week I'll finish this tournament up with the semifinals and finals. So far, not a whole lot of room to argue about the final 4...unless you're a die hard Blue Bronco!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
|4||Purdue||10-0||N-Tenn, Wake Forest, @Alabama|
|5||Duke||9-1||N-Uconn, St. John's, N-Gonzaga|
|6||Syracuse||11-0||N-Cal, N-UNC, N-Florida|
|7||West Virginia||8-0||N-Texas A&M|
|8||Villanova||10-1||N-Dayton, N-Maryland, Mississippi|
|9||New Mexico||12-0||Cal, N-Texas A&M|
|10||Wisconsin||8-2||N-Maryland, Duke, Marquette|
|11||Mississippi||10-1||N-Kansas St., So. Miss|
|12||Kansas St.||10-1||N-Dayton, Xavier, @UNLV|
|15||Georgetown||8-1||Temple, N-Butler, N-Washington|
|16||Temple||9-2||Siena, Villanova, @Seton Hall|
Comments are welcomed
Saturday, December 19, 2009
c: Brian McCann L
2b: Martin Prado R
3b: Chipper Jones B
ss: Yunel Escobar R
lf: Matt Diaz R
cf: Nate McLouth L
Bench: David Ross c, Diory Hernandez inf, Gregor Blanco of, Omar Infante inf/of
If/when Atlanta trades Derek Lowe they will have anywhere from $10-15 million coming off the books plus another $5-7 to spend. Here is what I recommend:
1. Sign Vladimir Guerrero. Just do it. Pay him what he wants, seriously. Vlad was hoping to be somebody's designated hitter but it seems those spots are all taken. Even Milton Bradley was traded to the AL to take up another DH spot. Sign Guerrero and put him at 1b. I don't care if he sucks over there. The Braves are desperate for a right-handed power hitter and Guerrero fits the bill. Guerrero would probably demand a 2-3 year deal for $9-12 million annually.
2. Sign Randy Winn to a two-year deal. Randy Winn would be a perfect fit in right field and it's doubtful he would demand more than two years. Atlanta could probably get him for $3-4 million also. Winn also gives Atlanta leverage in 2011 on what to do with Matt Diaz and his arbitration case.
3. Give Jason Heyward an extended look in spring training. Heyward is the #1 hitting prospect in baseball and deserves a shot to make the team. If he does make it he would form the left-handed side of a platoon with Winn/Diaz in the outfield and give the team added depth when Guerrero goes down.
If these moves are successful here's what Atlanta's batting lineup would look like in 2010:
1. Nate McLouth cf
2. Martin Prado 2b
3. Chipper Jones 3b
4. Vladimir Guerrero 1b
5. Brian McCann c
6. Yunel Escobar ss
7. Randy Winn rf
8. Matt Diaz lf
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
To accommodate for the extra games needed in a tournament, I say no more .500 schools get a bowl game. When you play 12 regular season games, 6-6 is not bowl worthy. My final stipulation is no more than 2 teams from any conference make the tournament. I am using whatifsports.com's SimMatchup program, and I have set the field preferences to the average conditions for each of the stadiums involved (various websites).
- Wyoming (6-6) - New Mexico Bowl (12/19)
- Marshall (6-6) - Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (12/26)
- Texas A&M (6-6) - Independence Bowl (12/28)
- UCLA (6-6) - EagleBank Bowl (12/29)
- Minnesota (6-6) - Insight Bowl (12/31)
- Iowa State (6-6) - Insight Bowl (12/31)
- Florida State (6-6) - Gator Bowl (1/1)
- Michigan State (6-6) - Alamo Bowl (1/2)
Fortunately, there are an even number of teams above and no team that went 7-5 or better was left out of a bowl. If we can combine the widowed opponents from the above dismissals and use the vacated bowls at early rounds in the BCS Tournament.
BCS Tournament Seeds
6. Boise State
8. Ohio State
9. Georgia Tech
11. Virginia Tech
12. BYU (LSU & PSU would be 3rd from their conference)
New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM) - 12/19
(5) Florida Gators vs. (12) BYU Cougars
Ave. Temp. - 35 degrees
Ave. Precip. - less than .1 inches (none)
Ave. Wind - 8 mph (light)
Average result - UF def. BYU 75% by score 30.3 to 14.6
Random result: Florida 30 - BYU 23
Story: The Cougars defense held Tebow to 39 yards rushing and took a 23-13 lead into the 4th quarter. However, Tebow tossed two TDs in the 4th, including the go-ahead with just over a minute to play.
Player of the Game: Tim Tebow (39 yds rushing; 10-14 for 136, 2TDs, 1INT)
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA) - 12/19
(6) Boise State vs. (11) Virginia Tech
Ave. Temp. - 58 degrees
Ave. Precip. - less than .2 inches (none)
Ave. Wind - 9 mph (light)
Average result - VT def. Boise 55% by score 31.8 to 33.1
Random result - Boise 37 - VTech 38
Story: Back and forth game featuring LOTS of offense for both teams. Avery rushed for 3TDs for Boise, but Brotzman missed 2 long FGs for the Broncos. Meanwhile, Ryan Williams had almost 300 yards rushing alone. Down 6 with 11 seconds to go, Tyrod Taylor threw the game-winning TD.
POG: Ryan Williams (24 carries, 297 yds, 2TDs)
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Detroit, MI) - 12/19
(7) Oregon vs. (10) Iowa
Ave. Temp. - indoors (70 degrees?)
Ave. Precip. - indoors
Ave. Wind - indoors
Average result - Oregon def. Iowa 65% by score 26.8 to 22.9
Random result - (UPSET) Ore 14 - Iowa 47
Story: Not representative of the average result, but that's why there are upsets. Ducks ran like crazy, but couldn't get any passing from Masoli. Meanwhile, Adam Robinson & Brandon Wegher combined for 5 TDs. Oregon scored first, but Iowa outscored them 31-7 in the 2nd half.
POG: Adam Robinson (25 rush for 143, 3TDs; 2 rec for 14 yds)
EagleBank Bowl (Washington, D.C.) - 12/19
(8) Ohio State vs. (9) Georgia Tech
Ave. Temp. - 46 degrees
Ave. Precip. - less than .1 inches (none)
Ave. Wind - 10 mph (medium)
Average result - OSU def. GT 95% by score 43.5 to 18.5
Random result -Ohio State 58 - Georgia Tech 27
Story: I'm a bit shocked by the number of points the Buckeyes put up in all the games! Georgia Tech was still in this one for a while, only down 8 entering the 4th quarter. Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 3 TDs for the Yellow Jackets, but 4 different Buckeyes combined for 7 touchdowns on the ground. OSU rubbed it in by kicking a FG with 7 seconds left to make up for the missed PAT on the previous possession.
POG: Terrelle Pryor (18 car, 67 yds, 2TDs; 9/18 passing, 168 yds, 1TD)
Round 2 Next Week!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Verdict: The Tigers are probably the big winners here. Picking up four players who can step in and help the team contend for a division crown for a combined 22 years is an impressive haul. The fact that the team is saving almost $15 million makes this a huge win for the franchise.
With free agents Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui questionable to return, the Yankees get the missing piece to their outfield while giving up only #1 prospect and fringe arm. The only negative is if Granderson's production begins to tail off as he ages, it could become a bit of an albatross. Either way I think this move propels them back to the World Series.
Arizona gets a solid mid-rotation starter who last season threw harder than everyone else in the AL and a finesse pitcher whose skills were once overrated. I don't think we'll be able to properly analyze this trade for the Diamondbacks for several years. I'm not ready to call them the big loser just yet, but it would not be surprising if they end up that way.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
1. Alabama - I didn't want to believe it, but Bama played good and hard and did what they had to, including making Tebow cry!
2. Texas - This game was exactly what I expected. Texas plays down in "big" games, and this was no different.
3. Boise State - Another meaningless ripping of a conference opponent. Can the MWC at least offer them a spot?
4. TCU - Had to think they were cheering pretty hard for a Husker upset as that might have put the Horned Frogs into a Title shot.
5. Cincinnati - Never expected a score that high. Weather hurt the Bearcats some, but helped them near the end when Pitt missed a PAT and only went up 6. Tony Pike saves the day and the BCS Bowl berth.
6. Florida - Didn't want to drop them this far, but they played bad and there are still 5 other undefeated teams.
7. Ohio State - bye week...now they know for sure its Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl.
8. Oregon - Shootout for 3 quarters turned to a defensive battle in the 4th. I wish these guys could play Georgia Tech instead. That would be a highly entertaining bowl game I think.
9. Virginia Tech - It may not make sense that the Hokies are ahead of the Yellow Jackets since GaTech won the matchup earlier this year, but timing of losses is huge.
10. Penn State - Probably won't get a BCS Bowl since it will likely go to Iowa, but I think PSU is better right now anyway.
12. Georgia Tech
18. Central Michigan
24. Oregon State
BCS Tournament...the "better" option.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
1. Florida - Turns out, that Tebow guy is still pretty good. He's like a Tommy Frazier though...no real NFL impact in my eyes.
2. Texas - A&M gave them a run most of the game, but McCoy and the Horns just didn't make many mistakes and the Aggies did.
3. Alabama - Hopefully, Ingram is healthy for the SEC Title game, otherwise the Tide will not roll.
4. Boise State - Nevada turned out to be no challenge, but other losses have all but guaranteed them their deserved BCS game.
5. TCU - Apparently they've beaten their spread 9 staight weeks before running into New Mexico. 44 points was just too much to cover as they sneaked out a 41 point win.
6. Cincinnati - Tony Pike returns to lead the Bearcats over an awful Illinois team. I still think Pitt has a shot to ruin their party.
7. Ohio State - bye week bliss
8. Oregon - Civil War for the Rose Bowl against OSU staring them down.
9. Virginia Tech - I guess timing is everything. Haven't lost in 4 weeks and now climb into my top 10 again.
10. Penn State - Despite losing to Iowa, the AP and Coach's Polls have them ahead of the Hawkeyes. So who gets the at-large bid?
13. Georgia Tech
21. Oregon State
23. Central Michigan
(Just out: Oklahoma State, Ohio)
Special Upset BCS Bowl Projections
Championship - Alabama vs. TCU
Orange - Clemson vs. Texas
Fiesta - Nebraska vs. Boise State
Sugar - Florida vs. Pitt
Rose - Oregon State vs. Ohio State
Sunday, November 22, 2009
1. Florida - Arguably played a tougher opponent than Alabama, since FIU is at least Div-1, and beat them more convincingly.
2. Texas - Handled Mangini's Jayhawks and have a snoozer next week against A&M; Horns play down in big games...maybe Nebraska has a shot in the Title
3. Alabama - Mark Ingram or Dan LeFevour (Central Michigan) for Heisman?
4. Boise State - Another big win Friday night; hard to say who's better between Boise and TCU, but Nevada next Friday is no gimme for the Broncos...fortunately, it's on the blue turf
5. TCU - Wyoming was no test...neither will be New Mexico...I think they should play Alabama in the Sugar, but it sounds like Orange gets 1st pick?
6. Cincinnati - bye week...no news is good news for Bearcats? Really only Pitt stands in their way.
7. Georgia Tech - Same as Cinci...both have big rivalries coming up that could spell disaster, and Bulldogs need redemption
8. Ohio State - The Maize and Blue made it interesting, but Buckeyes make it 6 straight, they're longest streak against the Wolverines ever.
9. Pitt - bye week also...watched UConn take down Notre Dame making 2 straight wins for Big East over Domers
10. Oregon - This was quite a game as I understand it...I only watched the 1st quarter, but the final score tells me it was a dogfight
11. Penn State
12. Oklahoma State
14. Virginia Tech
22. Oregon State
25. Central Michigan
(Just out: Ole Miss, Arizona)
BCS Bowl Projections
Championship - Texas vs. Florida
Orange - Georgia Tech vs. TCU
Fiesta - Penn State vs. Boise State
Sugar - Alabama vs. Cincinnati
Rose - Ohio State vs. Oregon
Saturday, November 14, 2009
1. Florida - Knew Spurrier would have something for his old crew, but as expected, it was not enough. Tebow becomes alone atop SEC TDs list.
2. Texas - Beat Baylor Bears beyond betting odds...had to go for as many consecutive B's as possible once I got started :)
3. Alabama - Slow start but they literally ran away with it in the 2nd half. I'm naming my kid Mark Ingram Taege because apparently that's a good name for future NFLers.
4. Boise State - Reminds Idaho that their surprising season does NOT mean they are a formidable opponent for their rival.
5. TCU - DESTROYS Utah!!! I watched the first half and was amazed at all aspects of this team. Too bad Texas will be playing Bama/Gators for the Title, cuz Boise vs. TCU would probably be more entertaining.
6. Cincinnati - Wins a battle vs. West Virginia. Another team that probably deserves title consideration...if they beat Pitt in the season finale. Nice to see the Big East title work itself out that way.
7. Georgia Tech - Locked themselves into the ACC title vs. BC or Clemson. I'd prefer BC since Clemson already had their shot...though Clemson holds the tie-break AND is playing good football right now AND has only 1 ACC game left vs. Virginia while BC still has to play the up-and-down Tar Heels and then Maryland.
8. Ohio State - Even without Stanzi, the Hawkeyes D kept it close and took OSU to overtime to earn their spot in the Rose Bowl.
9. Pitt - Seemed to be in control the whole game over ND, but Jimmy Clausen keeps his team in it. Did anyone predict the Panthers to be in this position? Pitt or Cinci in the Orange Bowl.
10. LSU - This is the worst 2-loss team imaginable. They haven't won an impressive game all year, but with everyone around them losing, they keep finding a way into my top-10.
12. Penn State
13. Oklahoma State
16. Virginia Tech
(Just out: Temple, Central Michigan)
BCS Bowl Projections
BCS Title - Texas vs. Florida
Sugar Bowl - Bama vs. TCU
Orange Bowl - Ga Tech vs. Cincinnati
Fiesta Bowl - Penn State vs. Boise State
Rose Bowl - Ohio State vs. Oregon
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Doesn't speak well of my beloved 'Skers, especially after their outstanding defensive performance for the 3rd straight week. Although it's obviously not JUST Nebraska that looks scared of the Blue Broncos. I hope this article reaches the voters and gets Boise into the title game...if Florida, Texas, Alabama, TCU, and Cinci all lose.
1. Florida - Vandy proves to be no problem. Gators looking good for Pasadena.
2. Texas - See above...swap "UCF" in place of "Vandy" and "Horns" for "Gators".
3. Bama - Truth is, I wanted them to beat LSU, but it was kind of nice watching the Tide struggled for 3 quarters.
4. Boise - I'm singing a new song after the article above. I didn't realize Boise has tried to make a harder schedule and can't get an opponent. I'm hard-pressed to put a WAC team in the big game over and undefeated Big East or even MWC school.
5. TCU - next...
6. Cincinnati - Yikes! The offense is fine without Pike...the D needs to really step it up or Bearcats will lose to Noel Divine and West Va on Friday.
7. Georgia Tech - Wake gives top talent in ACC a real scare for the second week in a row. Meanwhile, 3 top-10s go down and Yellow Jackets move up!
8. Ohio State - This team WOULD beat USC now anyway.
9. USC - This USC team is not looking good. They started the year with impressive wins but have been about 3rd or 4th best in the Pac-10 for the past month.
10. Utah - Sets up a nice Saturday night battle of Top 10 teams from the Mountain West this week with their battle against TCU.
16. Penn State
18. Oklahoma State
21. Virginia Tech
23. South Florida
(Just out: Clemson, Nebraska)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
1. Florida - Defeated Georgia in the way they should have been playing all year long. Poised to finish this out and repeat as Champs?
2. Texas - Also back to their winning ways after recent scares again Oklahoma and Colorado.
3. Alabama - A good week for the bye, as they weren't going to move up anyway.
4. Boise State - Another blowout of a terrible WAC opponent. That Oregon win is all they've got to hang their blue-turf hats on.
5. TCU - Blowout city. Next week should be more of the same at SDSU. But look out for Utah in 2 weeks.
6. Cincinnati - Doing it with a backup QB...Connecticut next week hasn't really shown the kind of talent to stop the Bearcats.
7. Iowa - Definitely a 2nd half team. Trailed the Hoosiers going into the 4th before lighting up the scoreboard with 4 straight TDs.
8. Oregon - Excellent performance against USC, but they can't stop now with games at Stanford, at Arizona, and the Civil War against OSU.
9. LSU - I'm not a believer in the Bayou Bengals...beat Alabama next week and I'll believe.
10. Georgia Tech - Another top 10 team that struggled to get going...finally put Vandy away in the 4th.
11. Penn State
13. Ohio State
19. Notre Dame
21. Oklahoma State
23. Virginia Tech
24. South Florida
(Just out: Idaho, Troy)
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Today's race was 500 laps at the half-mile, paperclip-shaped track known as Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. It marked race 6 in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson fought most of the race, but Hamlin prevailed. Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon also had strong runs to keep their Chase hopes alive.
So I name-dropped a few people in my last post. Here's an update on each:
Jimmie Johnson - Started the Chase in a tie for 2nd with 3 wins...he's doubled that number with wins in races 2, 4, and 5 of the Chase. Winning is king in NASCAR, and it doesn't hurt that all his Chase finishes are top 10s. Jimmie has an average finish of 3.0 in these 6 races. He came home 2nd to Denny Hamlin today and now has a 118 point lead over....
Mark Martin - Started the Chase in 1st and won the first race of NASCAR's playoffs. He's run well, but with only 1 win and an average finish of 6.5, he's fallen back a bit. The real problem came last week in Charlotte where Martin finished 17. Points drop off if you miss the top 5, and they plummet outside the top 10.
Tony Stewart - Won Chase race #3 at Texas Motor Speedway, a track that's been good to Tony before. He's been a bit inconsistent, but still has some fight left. Talladega is a track Tony has historically run well. He needs another big day next week to get back in the Chase. Currently, Tony sits 4th, 192 points back of Jimmie.
Carl Edwards - Carl broke his foot right before the Chase started. Whether or not that accounts for his poor performance, I can't say for certain. Nonetheless, Carl's average finish has been 17.167...not worthy of Chase status. He did have a blown engine a few weeks back resulting in a 39th, but without that he's still averaging 12.8 which isn't good enough. Carl is now 413 points back of JJ in 10th.
As I mentioned, next week is Talladega...the wildcard/crapshoot/lottery racetrack of NASCAR. I usually end my NASCAR blogs with endorsements to watch a certain race. I don't blog about NASCAR much, but if I do, you know a big event is coming. 'Dega is always nerve-wracking for the drivers and fans, because at any moment, a tiny mistake can result in a 10 to 20 car pile-up, known affectionately as "The Big One."
Though some drivers in the Chase have had problems that have pretty much eliminated all hopes of a Championship, a bad crash by Jimmie Johnson at Talladega would likely cost him 150 points off his lead over any other Chasers who finish up front. Drivers still alive for the Championship and looking to capitalize on possible mistakes are Martin, Gordon, Stewart, Montoya, and Kurt Busch. However it all goes down, we should have a clear picture of who's Chase is over, and who still has a shot at stopping Jimmie from 4-in-a-row!
1. Florida - Another unpretty victory. Really hope they can pull it together for games at South Carolina and the SEC title...
2. Texas - Just when I thought the North was catching up in the Big XII...Missouri makes Texas look studly again.
3. Alabama - Maybe Al Davis was right, cuz that was the worst managed final 45 seconds by Lane Kiffin...I think Tennessee had 'em.
4. Boise State - Big blowout of Hawaii...not the easiest place to play. Remaining games aren't difficult, but can the Broncos stay focused?
5. TCU - Impressive over BYU. They can be this year's version of Boise State...if Boise State isn't.
6. USC - Next, at Oregon...I will be watching this one.
7. Cincinnati - Won easily with their backup. Still have 2 BIG Big East games versus West Virginia and Pitt to finish out their season.
8. Iowa - I was in the shower and Anderson was giving me updates through the door. I still can't believe the final drives by both teams in this one.
9. LSU - Kinda thought Auburn would be a spoiler here. I hate the Bayou Bengals, and now ESPN says they're in position to control their own destiny to the BCS title....that sucks.
10. Georgia Tech - Survived the unpredictable Mountaineers. I like this GaTech team.
12. Virginia Tech
13. Penn State
14. Oklahoma State
15. Ohio State
17. Central Michigan
20. Miami (FL)
21. West Virginia
23. South Carolina
25. Notre Dame
(Just out: Cal, Ole Miss)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
1. Florida - As I said before, I'm not taking away their spot at #1 until somebody beats them...I don't care how bad they look.
2. Texas - I don't understand how they couldn't put up more against Oklahoma after all the Sooners have given up to others.
3. Alabama - Maybe the AP has them #1, but they've got to play Florida at the end of the year anyway, so stop complaining.
4. Boise State - Not a pretty victory, but that's how it works sometimes. I'm not sure they can win out, so you won't have the BCS-Buster title shot that many think they will get.
5. TCU - I'm amazed that they put up so many points this week. What will happen against BYU?
6. USC - I am not impressed by the win over Notre Dame. I understand the Irish are decent this year and Clausen is pretty good, but I really expected a double-digit victory.
7. Cincinnati - I watched a good part of this game, and I thought South Florida would win. Now that I've seen them in action, I think the Bearcats are legit and deserving of this spot.
8. Iowa - Struggled early, but put Wisconsin away in the 2nd half. Road wins are not easy to come by in the Big Ten...see Purdue.
9. Miami - I know they lost to VaTech and are now ahead of them in my poll, but weather was a factor and I always consider how highly ranked the opponent was.
10. LSU - Bye week pays dividends. 2 spots? I'm breaking my own rules.
11. Georgia Tech
12. Virginia Tech
14. Penn State
15. Oklahoma State
17. Ohio State
19. Central Michigan
23. West Virginia
24. Texas Tech
(Just out: South Florida, South Carolina)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
1. Florida - We all knew Florida's defense was good and LSU's offense was bad, but could they have won without Tebow???
2. Texas - First half was scary for the Horns, but eventually they pulled away like they should.
3. Alabama - I see the AP has jumped you over Texas...I cannot do this until you beat someone of significance by a lot or Texas loses. Next 3 games are at home, so you don't want to lose focus now.
4. VaTech - Another stomping handed out by Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies...jump the idle Broncos.
5. Boise State - Put yourselves in the Mountain West or schedule harder non-conf opponents...this is why you keep missing out on BCS Title games!
6. Ohio State - Made Wisconsin look bad...3 weeks of "gimmes" before heading to Happy Valley.
7. TCU - That was close...I just don't see them continuing to win every game when they're this close.
8. USC - Will probably destroy Notre Dame because, that's just what they do to Notre Dame now.
9. Cincinnati - I'll give them the bump because they are still undefeated and LSU is still overrated, but watch out Thursday at South Florida!
10. Iowa - Sure, they were at home, but Michigan is still good and I honestly thought the Hawkeyes would lose that one.
15. Penn State
18. Oklahoma State
19. South Florida
20. Georgia Tech
21. South Carolina
25. Central Michigan
(Just out: Notre Dame, Idaho)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
1. Florida - Bye week for a recovering Tebow. Up next: LSU that will NOT look good two weeks in a row.
2. Texas - Bye week for the Longhorns as well. Up next: Guaranteeing Dan Hawkins gets fired after Colorado loses their worst game in school history (please?)
3. Alabama - The only team with a shot at Florida right now. Easily took care of Kentucky to keep this spot.
4. LSU - Finally proved they deserve a top ranking with a tough road win against a decent Georgia team.
5. Boise State - Should have won by more against a Division 1-AA school, but they'll keep 5 because...
6. Virginia Tech - After making Miami look silly, Tech should have done much worse to Duke...but they didn't.
7. Ohio State - Another strong defensive performance against the Hoosiers, holding them to 18 yards rushing.
8. TCU - Rolls SMU...surprised they scored 39, but still didn't cover that huge spread. Getting ready for BYU in a few weeks.
9. USC - Destroyed Cal to prove who is best in the Pac-10. Can Oregon give them a run for their money?
10. Cincinnati - Easily handled Miami (OH). Now Anderson can stop saying they're ranked too low. Lets see them back it up at South Florida next Thursday.
13. Miami (FL)
15 . Missouri
16. Penn State
18. Oklahoma State
19. South Florida
23. Georgia Tech
24. South Carolina
(Just out: BYU, Ole Miss)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
1. Florida - Tebow looked good with his flu-like symptoms until the concussion. Lucky for Gators they get an extra week for his recovery.
2. Texas - Trying to prove a point after the struggle with Tech last week.
3. Alabama - They finally proved to me they deserve this ranking.
4. LSU - Watch these guys make it 5 weeks in a row a top-5 team falls.
5. Boise State - They really need to increase the difficulty of their schedule. When the BCS rankings come out in a few weeks, watch Boise be 3-5 spots lower than their AP & Coaches poll rankings.
6. VaTech - I predicted they'd be trashed by Miami. They were a completely different team than the one that almost lost to Nebraska...or is Nebraska that good?
7. Ohio State - So the defense is good...I could go for some more offense.
8. TCU - Clemson on the road was a real test, and these guys are for real.
9. USC - I didn't see this game, but the box score tells me they shut it down after the 1st.
10. Oklahoma - Bye weeks mean you don't get to move up THAT much.
19. Oklahoma State
20. Penn State
22. South Florida
24. Georgia Tech
25. South Carolina
Sunday, September 20, 2009
1. Florida - Gators can't claim they destroyed everyone this year...nice try Vols.
2. Texas - Survived the scare of repeating last year's loss to Crabtree, er, Texas Tech.
3. Alabama - Fine, you can have 3rd place.
4. Penn State - I wanted to jump them to 3, but they haven't played anyone yet.
5. Cal - Got a little dicey vs. the Gophers, but Best was best and got it done.
6. Ole Miss - [snore] I guess Sneed played well...I wasn't watching.
7. LSU - Almost every SEC team on here is worse than their ranking, but I stick to my rules.
8. Boise State - Friday night shootout and the Broncos keep rolling.
9. Virginia Tech - F&%$-ing Hokies
10. Ohio State - I know you're thinking, "but USC already beat them"....but OSU's loss is to a legitimate team and USC's isn't.
14. North Carolina
20. Oklahoma State
24. Florida State
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The race began with only 4 drivers locked into the Chase by points earned in the first 25 races. Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson, and Denny Hamlin had performed well enough to guarantee a chance at the title, no matter how they finished. The other 8 playoff spots were up for grabs with 11 drivers vying for those roles. Actually, David Reutimann was practically eliminated by the race's start anyway. He basically would have needed a win and with the next 3 drivers ahead of him all finishing near the back to qualify - very unlikely. I'll save you the drama...he didn't win and the guys in front all raced better than him anyway. The real drama centered around 3 drivers tyring to lock up the final spot.
Matt Kenseth - Kenseth has qualified for the Chase every year since it's inception in 2004 (Jimmie Johnson is the only other driver to do this). He started the year with back to back wins at Daytona and California and saw reasonable success over the first half of the year. In the most recent weeks leading up to Richmond, Kenseth and his team were really struggling and falling each week in the overall points race. Before the race, Kenseth was even quoted as saying, "If we don't make the Chase, I'll be disappointed...but I won't be surprised" seemingly foreshadowing his own fate. He entered the race with a 20-point lead over 13th place Brian Vickers.
Brian Vickers - Prior to the 2009 season, Vickers's only win came in controversial fashion at Talladega Superspeedway in 2006. (If you read my article about this season's Spring Talladega race, you will see that it basically takes patience and luck to win there.) Vickers had a consistent season, often running in the top 5 and finishing an average of 15th. He's also been the fastest in qualifying 6 times, leading all drivers this year. He won just his second career race at the Sprint Cup level this year by appropriately beating the rest of the field in a fuel-mileage race at Michigan International Speedway (Vickers drives a Toyota and Michigan is often referred to as the big 3 auto-makers backyard). Hopes were high, but cautious, at Richmond because Vickers is not necessarily known for his short-track skills, and Richmond measure only .75 miles around.
Kyle Busch - Trailing Brian Vickers by 17 points and Matt Kenseth by 37, Kyle would need to beat Vickers by 4 or more spots and Kenseth by about 13 spots to earn his place in NASCAR's playoff. If everything fell into place, Busch would then get a boosted to a tie for 1st place with Mark Martin, as each has won 4 races this season (regular season victories counts as 10 bonus points to start the Chase). Something else working in Kyle's favor was the memory of the Spring Richmond race 4 months ago which he won.
No need for specifics, so here's a fast rundown of the 400 laps last Saturday night. Kenseth started near the back of the pack after a poor qualifying effort. He spent most of the race around 25th-30th, all but sealing his fate. His last-ditch effort was to stay on the track when caution flew with 25 laps to go. He was one lap down, and visiting pit road would guarantee him no better than 28 place...he finished 25th instead. The door was wide open for Kyle and Brian, and they provided some great action.
At various points throughout the night, Busch and Vickers swapped spots for the final place in the playoffs. During that last caution, Kyle left pit road a few spots ahead of Brian. But as the final laps ticked away, Busch crossed 6th and Vickers 8th, allowing Brian to hold onto an 8 point lead and a shot at the title.
The other big story of the night was hometown hero Denny Hamlin. Hamlin is from Chesterfield, Virginia which is about 30 minutes Southwest of Richmond. In a half-dozen previous races at Richmond International Raceway, Denny had seen successful runs falter in the final laps. This weekend he was able to put together a complete performance, earning his 2nd win of the season and an additional 10 bonus points to his Chase effort.
What's to come:
Tomorrow (probably "today" by the time I finalize this post) is race 1 of the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The race will be run at the flat, 1-mile oval known as New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson looks to continue his amazing playoff performance by going for a record-breaking 4th straight Sprint Cup Championship. The most impressive drivers during the regular season in '09 all drive Hendrik Motorsports (think New York Yankees) engines in their Chevrolets...a recurring theme for a sport that is supposed to have an even playing field. One of these 4 contenders (Stewart, Gordon, Johnson, and Martin) probably accounts for 99% of experts' picks to win it all. Though I can't disagree, I'm hoping for more parity than is expected.
So if you are a sometimes watcher of NASCAR, Sunday is a good time to tune in. I know the football season is young and exciting, but for the local Bears fans that might be reading this, I promise you will find more surprises and entertainment here than the Steelers blowout looming on the horizon. In the past few seasons, a driver that quietly made the playoffs usually asserts himself early in the Chase.
Last year Greg Biffle immediately moved from 8th to 2nd (and only 10 points out of first) by winning the first 2 Chase races at New Hampshire and Dover. These were Biffle's first two wins of the year. Tomorrow, Juan Pablo Montoya looks to follow suit as he won no races during the regular season and currently sits tied for 9th in Chase points. Montoya won the poll in qualifying Friday afternoon and also had the fastest lap in final practice today.
1 - Mark Martin - 5040 (4 wins)
2 - Tony Stewart & Jimmie Johnson - 5030 (3 wins each)
4 - Denny Hamlin & Kasey Kahne - 5020 (2 wins each)
6 - Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers - 5010 (1 win each)
9 - Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman - 5000
Though it's far too early to make any quality guesses, I will still throw out mine below. I swear NASCAR is a sport you can really get behind, and I hope some of you skeptics will give it a chance.
Likely Winner Based on Recent History - Jimmie Johnson - #48 Lowes Chevrolet
Likely Winner Based on Season Performance - Tony Stewart - #14 Office Depot Chevrolet
Fan-Favorite (and my pick) - Mark Martin - #5 Kellogs Chevrolet
Sleeper Pick to Watch Out For - Carl Edwards - #99 Aflac Ford
Gentlemen, start your engines!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
1. Florida - Tebow must continue his college legacy, cuz he won't have a pro legacy.
2. Texas - Trailed Wyoming long enough for Colt McCoy to pull his head out.
3. USC - Happy to see Ohio State played well, but this team is loaded with talent.
4. Alabama - Struggled for a bit vs. FIU...FIU? Come on Tide, man up.
5. Penn State - JoePa jumps into the top 5.
6. Cal - Big win over nobody. Stay healthy for the USC game.
7. Ole Miss - Don't like to bump teams on the bye week, but Okie State gave a gift.
8. LSU - Another sloppy win...please lose already.
9. Boise State - Looked much better on offense this week.
10. Virginia Tech - A win vs. Nebraska next week will justify this ranking.
11. Ohio State
15. Georgia Tech
17. North Carolina
23. Oklahoma State
Thursday, September 10, 2009
1. Florida - Defending champs won't lose this spot unless they lose.
2. Texas - With or without Oklahoma's loss, they'll play Florida in Pasedena.
3. USC - Always worthy of a top 5 this early.
4. Ohio State - Makes this weekend's matchup more interesting I'd say.
5. Alabama - Not sold on them. I like Saban, but these guys find a way to lose.
6. Penn State - PSU returns to glory...soon to be Top 5!
7. Oklahoma State - This year's Texas Tech?
8. Ole Miss - Make me think the SEC might be overrated.
9. Cal - Soft schedule may bite them in polls...may equal Rose Bowl in mine.
10. LSU - Sloppy win, but recent success and talent on the team justifies this spot.
(The rest are based off pre-season rankings and week 1 results...not subjectivity)
11. Boise State
12. Virginia Tech
15. Georgian Tech
18. North Carolina
20. Notre Dame
25. Miami (FL)
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I follow sports maybe 20% more than the average sports fan overall, but a big chunk of that is covered by sports that are not so gripping in the Chicago area, and in some cases, America as a whole. So today, you get a dose of sports you might otherwise not know or care about.
Tour de Lance - Despite his best effort and the hopes of a Cinderella story across the pond, Lance will finish up bicycle's #1 event in not-first for the first time in his last 8 tries. Since Lance's last win in 2005, we had an American win (Floyd Landis) who appeared to be ready to carry on the Lance tradition for a few more years. Instead he became the first winner to ever be stripped of his yellow jersey. This awarded the win to 2nd place finisher Oscar Pereiro, and set of a run of Spaniards claiming the title...a streak that will continue this year, just a few hours after I finish posting this blog. Pereiro is not now, and was not then considered a top contender for the win. He was involved in a breakaway that stretched too far one day, and the main field gave up too much time to recover in the final days...enough to retain what would have been a 2nd-place finish. Pereiro got the win, but not the respect of a winner.
In 2007, Alberto Contador raced for American sponsored Team Discovery. In cycling, specifically stage-racing like the Tour de France, teams are composed of 9 riders, each playing varying roles. (Come to think of it, the similarities to baseball go beyond the 9-man team, but I'll talk more about that later.) Typically each team has a sprinter racing for the green jersey, a climber racing for the polka-dot jersey, a young rider chasing the white jersey, a general classification rider vying for the yellow jersey as best overall time, and the remaining racers playing varying support roles. Contador was Discovery's young rider competing for the white jersey; American Levi Leipheimer was the team's yellow jersey hopeful. However, once they hit the big mountains, Contador proved he could not only stay with the leaders, but accelerate away from them at any moment. Although more riders were probably dismissed and suspended for illegal activities in 2007 than all other years combined, Contador showed me he would be a contender for years to come...not just a fluke winner like Pereiro the year before. He won convincingly, and he had the respect of the other riders.
One team in particular that was ravaged by cheating in the 2007 TDF was Team Astana. Following their expulsion halfway through the '07 Tour, nearly all the riders and trainers were fired in the offseason. Astana then went out and signed both Contador and Leipheimer since Discovery opted not to sponsor a team for '08. Despite the Astana facelift, Tour organizers prohibited them from entering the race in 2008. Therefore, Contador didn't have the opportunity to defend his title. While being kept out of last year's race, Contador instead went on to win the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana, cycling's other two Grand Tours. He became only the 6th rider to win all 3, and the youngest to do so by far. Carlos Sastre went on to win the 2008 Tour de France as the 3rd different Spaniard in a row...then Lance came out of retirement, and that pretty much brings us to the start of the '09 Tour de France.
Contador was the major favorite headed into this year's July race in France, and Lance was the ultimate wild card, racing for the same team (Astana) as Contador and Leipheimer. Rather than take you stage by stage, all you need to know is Lance kept it close until the final week or so of the race, even being tied for the lead for a few days early in the Tour. Contador finally claimed yellow one week ago after winning a major mountain stage by a significant margin, and then proceeding to win the individual time trial a few days later. He now holds a 4+ minute advantage over 2nd place, and about 5 and a half minutes over 3rd-place Lance with only tomorrow's "parade" stage to go. Unless Contador falls and breaks something, he will have won his 2nd TDF in as many tries, and he's only 26. Maybe he won't win 5 or 6 more in a row like Armstrong accomplished, but he will probably finish with at least as many wins as Lance, if not more.
The best thing to look forward to in next year's race is that Lance has already announced his return (unlike some star athletes that drag the retirement decision out over months and months of speculation), and he'll be riding for an America sponsor again. Will he beat Contador? Almost certainly not, but his odds a 9th straight podium finish look pretty good.
I could go on about Lance's near-death battle with cancer which became a global campaign known as LiveStrong, and Lance's dual purpose for this year's race, but that story is old. If you want to know more, there are probably a dozen best-selling books on Lance's fight with cancer.
I could write about Armstong's recent womanizing ways, but that is better suited for gossip magazines. Besides, it would diminish the pride and glory he brings to Americans watching his nearly impossible feat this year.
I used to think that Lance was another performance enhancer. For all those that have been caught, how could he have possibly won seven years in a row without cheating somewhere along the way? This is probably the first 100% clean Tour in years and year, and after the show he put on at 37, suddenly I'm not so sure he ever did cheat. Go Lance, go!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
This being my first post on SportsTemps...I better act like I know what I'm talking about. If you only watch one NASCAR race in your entire life, this was the race to watch.
A few things you need to know first:
- The NASCAR race season is comprised of 36 points-races, plus a few other races that don't count in the overall standings.
- This weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway was the 9th of the season.
- Talladega is a restrictor-plate track, meaning a special plate is put over the engine's carburetor to restrict the air/fuel intake and limit overall horsepower and speed of the cars.
Talladega and Daytona are the only restrictor-plate tracks in the NASCAR circuit. These tracks are huge (2.66 and 2.5 miles per lap, respectively) with extremely steep banking through the turns, and allowing a car to run without a restricted engine would result in speeds of well over 210 miles per hour. Since the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona Superspeedway in the 2001 Daytona 500, NASCAR has come up with many safety innovations to help protect the fans and drivers. However, the restrictor-plate was made mandatory at these two tracks a few years earlier in 1998.
The fastest official qualifying lap at Talladega had an average speed of just over 212 miles per hour by Bill Elliot in 1987. The fastest speed ever recorded on that track was a test-run without a restrictor-plate by retired NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace in 2004. He reached 228 at one point on the back straightaway and ran an average of 221 mph for the full lap.
The restrictor-plate now allows cars to top out around 190 in their qualifying laps. Once multiple cars get together in a group, they can push or "bump-draft" each other to get up to speeds in the 199-201 range. Though still dangerous, this apparently keeps the engineers and physicists happy as cars shouldn't be able to catch any real air when crashing at these speeds.
Restrictor plates also have a huge down-side. Cars grouped together drive faster than a lone car on a breakaway. Much like the peloton in the Tour de France, breakaways are quickly caught as the group cuts through the wind resistance better and sucks the leaders back in. Drivers never touch the brake pedal and spend more time looking in the rear view mirror than out the windshield. Just letting off the gas for a split-second will get you slammed from behind. With 30+ cars grouped together, one small mistake can result in dozens of cars wrecking because there's no room to stop or swerve at 190 miles per hour when you're surrounded. Talladega is even more notorious for this than Daytona, and therefore, every Talladega race brings the threat of the "Big One"...a wreck wiping out a huge chunk of the field. This happens at least once in nearly every race on NASCAR's biggest track. No amount of skill can save you when everyone around you is wrecking. You can try to stay towards the front of the pack, but you run the risk of being the one who starts the wreck. Or you can hang around at the back of the pack to give yourself stopping room if a wreck does occur, but you run the risk of losing the draft and falling waaaaay back in the race, and even possibly getting lapped.
Usually, races at Talladega are exciting at the begging, then the drivers settle down during the middle, then wild at the end again. This year's Aaron's 499 at Talladega was really no different. Just 7 laps into the 188-lap race, Jeff Gordon, one of the best drivers in the sport, and maybe the best active driver in restrictor-plate races, got bumped in the middle of a turn by this year's Daytona 500 winner, Matt Kenseth. At the time, Gordon was running about 10th and near the front of a 40-car pack. Gordon wobbled up the track a little, then down into Kenseth again, then back up into David Gilliland, and the subsequent smashup left about 20 cars with damage. 5 cars never returned to the race, and another 4 had to make serious repairs before returning just to limp around and salvage a few extra points.
The next 165 laps were mostly uneventful. A few cautions for debris on the track, the occasional single-car spin, but no real casualties. Then, with 8 laps to go, someone let off the gas, and when the trickle-down effect reached Juan Pablo Montoya, he took a shot to the rear from Denny Hamlin's FedEx Toyota Camry that sent ten cars near the back of the pack crashing into the walls and each other.
After the cleanup, 24 cars restarted on the lead lap for a shot at the win. Carl Edwards has become a championship threat over the last 2 seasons, but he has always had a black cloud over his head at restrictor-plate tracks. He's never finished in the top 5 and wrecks without finishing the race about half the time. Today he spent most of the race near the back, trying to avoid getting caught up in another big wreck.
When the green flag dropped with 4 laps to go, Edwards was running in 9th. Ryan Newman was leading, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was in 2nd. Newman and Junior immediately hooked up, and pulled out to a big lead over the pack. With a little over 1 lap to go, Brad Keselowski got behind Edwards and started pushing him toward the leading duo. The trick with Talladega is to make the final pass early enough to have a run on the leader and get by him to win, but not so early that you get hung out alone and someone else comes blazing by you just before the finish. Earnhardt Jr. couldn't get around Newman coming off the final turn while the Edwards/Keselowski train was steaming by them both on the outside. Keselowski ducked below Edwards, and Edwards tried to slide down in front of him to block, but Keselowski had already cleared Carl's rear bumper. The result was Edwards's car spun hard left and the rear wheels lifted off the track as Brad drove high for the win. Meanwhile, Newman and Earnhardt were still fighting for 3rd, and Carl's driver-side rear wheels came down right on Ryan Newman's hood. The shock lifted Carl's car completely off the track and into an upside down helicopter spin which slammed the outside wall and safety fence in what is a top 3 most ferocious wreck I've seen watching NASCAR live (all at Talladega, and 2nd involving Carl...).
Keselowski went on to win, Earnhardt Junior 2nd, and Newman skidded mostly sideways across the finish line for 3rd. Carl's car came to a rest about a football field short of the finish line while the rest of the field safely drove by. I thought he was surely unconscious and probably hurt, but he unhooked his window-net and climbed out of his still burning wreck. He then jogged past the rescue crew to the finish line, helmet and all.
Carl is not one of my favorite drivers, but he has the best TV personality of all NASCAR drivers by far, and I'm certain he's seen the Will Farrell movie named for this track. Of course, none of Carl's post-race antics mattered as his car has to cross the line to technically finish the race, but he earned the same finishing position as he would have if his car had crawled across last on the lead lap. In the post race interview, Carl simply said, "...I want my wife and mom to know I'm okay...its pretty scary when you're upside down...I've never hit the wall with anything other than the side of my car before...I guess we'll just keep doing this for NASCAR until somebody gets killed [in a restrictor-plate race]."