Tag Archives: College Football

From Sportsonearth.xin

NitPicks Week 11: The Good Stuff

  1. This is it. These are the weekends that we wait for. Sure, we have had a couple of huge college football weekends already (the state of Mississippi coming out party when they beat Alabama and LSU comes to mind) and there were some crazy ‘elimination’ games the past couple of weeks (Ole Miss last week), but it’s November now (technically was last weekend but whatever), and it is about to get real.  There are 6 games featuring two ranked teams this weekend.  SIX. Of those, four are clear cut de facto playoff games where the loser is done and the winner has an inside track to the playoff: TCU-K-State, Ohio State-Michigan State, Notre Dame-Arizona State and LSU-Alabama.  Utah and Oklahoma are likely on the outside looking in even with wins (already having two losses), but for Oregon and Baylor, this week represents an elimination game against a top 15 opponent.
  2. I got a bit of a pushback when running the “playoff game” thing by some friends, so I’ll explain. Obviously the four teams above aren’t going to be in the playoff just by winning, but it looks like they have at least a good chance to control their own destiny. Sure, Notre Dame, TCU or Ohio State may still need help to end up in the top 4 with a win, but if they get one and win out, it they maintain a very good shot at the playoff. As for the lowest ranked team that I’m including on the inside track category, LSU, a win against Bama will still have them two games behind MSU, but that’s a team that still has to go through Alabama and Ole Miss. If they lose those two, and Alabama wins the Iron Bowl, we have ourselves a good old fashioned 5 way tie. They need some help, but it isn’t the craziest thing in the world, so I’m still including LSU in the picture.
  3. That bears repeating. Let’s make this a scenario ‘If LSU beats Alabama.’ Tell me which of these things seems that unlikely:

Bama beats Miss St.

Ole Miss beats Miss. St.

Bama beats Auburn

All five of the teams above take care of whatever business they have against Arkansas and A&M.

The result of that would be a FIVE WAY TIE with two losses atop the SEC West, with none of the teams having lost a game to a team outside of the five way tie.

The result of THAT would be something along the lines of heads exploding, a fourth or fifth tie breaker being used, and a possible civil war.

Granted, if you make all four of those games an absolute toss up (I’d say LSU over Bama would be an upset-only slightly in Baton Rouge, but an upset- the Egg Bowl is a toss-up and the other two are more likely to go the way I have them above, so  let’s just call it a wash and say they are 50/50 games), there is only a 1/16 chance of all four games going the way they need to, but still.

This is college football.  There are plenty of times when the long odds that lead to chaos have a way of working themselves out. Please let this be one of those times.

  1. So the NFL has floated a proposal that would mandate that if an NFL team is going to host a Super Bowl, they have to play one of their eight home games in London. Now, I don’t want to make this an “and now everyone is outraged” thing, because I don’t know for sure that it is, but there does seem to be at least a small amount of negative treatment of the story. Putting aside any opinion on whether or not an increased number of games in the UK is a positive thing (seeing as it has pretty much been determined that there will be), this seems like a no brainer. I haven’t read any revenue distribution details at this point, but you are trading a regular season home date for a guaranteed home date that happens to be one of the biggest events in the world. Sure, you give up a home game for season ticket holders and from a competitive perspective, but any owner would be a FOOL not to go for that.  If the NFL is going to look for an increased presence overseas, this seems like a no brainer win-win.
  2. It looks like the Cowboys could be a Brandon Weeden loss in London away from being off the rails just a couple of weeks removed from being atop the NFC. And that is how you go 8-8 every year.
  3. The first rankings came out last week (and the second this week). Here are my top 4s, the first being “if the season ended today,” and the second being what I think it will look like when said and done:

Snapshot:

Snapshot.  Get it?

Snapshot. Get it?

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Florida State
  3. Auburn
  4. Alabama

Last Out: TCU, Oregon, Michigan State

Playoff Projections:

  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. Michigan State
  4. Kansas State

Last Out: Notre Dame, Florida State, Baylor

I don’t even think I believe that, but that is what came out and so I’m sticking with it.  I guess I’m predicting K-State pulls off wins against perhaps the three (other) best teams in the Big12. And that Florida State is going to lose to Duke or Miami. I’m probably wrong about both of those things but whatever. I do think that Mississippi State has 2 losses left on their schedule, though.

Couple of notes on games that are worth talking about, but I don’t feel strongly enough to put my name to:

  1. I would take the points (6.5) in the Alabama-LSU matchup. I think that LSU is firing on as many cylinders as they have right now, and I think that it will be a single possession game. BUT, I think that Alabama wins the game, and I hate picking a dog getting less than a score, when I don’t think they are going to win outright. So, push comes to shove give me the charity, but I think that the Tide roll in the game.
  2. I think Oregon probably beats Utah handily, probably by double digits. I really don’t want them to, though, so I’m not going to put my name to the Ducks (-8.5) and force myself to root for Oregon (that, and 8.5 is just enough that I wouldn’t feel good about it at all.
  3. Last week, I basically forgot to do NitPicks (or didn’t get a chance, anyways) and churned out ten potential moneymakers in about 5 minutes. This will surprise nobody, but it could have gone better, and half way through Saturday afternoon, I knew that it wasn’t going to be an awesome weekend for your boy picks wise.

It actually bounced back nicely in the late games, and with a split on the Sunday two, I broke .500, but looking back on some picks that were out there and a couple of the teams that I threw weight behind, it could have been way better.

At any rate, 5-5 has me at 55-46.

10. THE PICKS!

I. Georgia (-10) over Kentucky

Georgia had everything that possibly could go wrong last week. They will 1000% bounce back and rip apart the Wildcats.

II. Baylor (+5.5) over Oklahoma

Is Oklanoma good?

III. Duke (-3.5) over Syracuse

Duke sneaky only has 1 loss.  Seriously.  Look it up. Cuse is awful.

IV. West Virginia (-3.5) over Texas

I know that Texas’s D has been good, but they are no match for Trickett’s hair and Holgerson’s whole persona.

V. Washington (+6) over UCLA

Pete with points at home.  Gimme.

VI. Boise State (-19) over New Mexico

I figured I must be a homer because I pick Boise to cover pretty much every week, which gave me pause, even though I think they win big this weekend.  So I went back, and it turns out I’m 4-2 picking as a homer this year.  I’m going for 5-2.

VII. Kansas State (+6) over TCU

Game’s a toss up. Take the points.

VIII. Michigan State (-3.5) over Ohio State

I think that Michigan State is the better team.  I think that it is clear cut.  I don’t think it is by a wide margin, though, so I can’t say I feel great about this, but ultimately I would lay the 3.5.

IX. Steelers (-6) over Jets

X. Chiefs (-2) over Bills

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NitPicks Week 9: Getting Some

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  1. This is a comparative down week in college football. There are just two matchups between top 25 teams, and one of those four teams probably shouldn’t be ranked. Having said that Ole Miss going down to the Bayou to take on the Tigers at night is the toughest test on the schedule for any of the contenders. USC/Utah is the other one and…I mean….great, I guess. Whatever.  Other than that, if there is going to be any movement in the playoff picture in advance of the first rankings, it is going to have to come from a rival stepping up, like Penn State against Ohio State, Michigan against Michigan State, any of the SEC games (Kentucky? South Carolina?) I’m sure it will be great, and that college football will happen (upsets, basically), but it lacks the marquee matchups that we had the past few weekends.
  2. I don’t trust the Champions’ League. I enjoy picking the Premier League games, and even some other domestic league games, but for whatever reason (I’d like to think it isn’t just because I don’t really know soccer, although it’s definitely because I don’t really know soccer), the Champions League games seem like a crapshoot for me. It’s too bad, since it gives you some mid-weekday action to work with, but it just isn’t worth it because I always lose, so I stay away.
  3. It is time for your weekly “OHMIGODTHECOWBOYSAREGOOD!’ post. This week: we have a chance to go to 7-1, and we get to do it against…Colt McCoy! That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s going to suck when we go 1-7 for the rest of the season after that to inevitably finish at 8-8, because even when they look like the best team in the league, that’s what the Cowboys do. Still, though, may as well enjoy it while it lasts! HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!
  4. I had my laptop fall off a table and break this week, and now I need to find a way to transfer content from the old hard drive to my new computer. I don’t even have a joke/point/complaint here. I just desperately need my school outlines, and I’m hoping someone can tell me how to do this. Okaythanks.
  5. So out of AJ McCarron, Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw. I, for one am excited to see all four of them get a shot in the pros and to see how many can make it. So with that in mind, the first rookie SEC quarterback to start an NFL game in 2014 will be…oh goddammit. It’s Zach Mettenberger. Was he even good at LSU? His biggest career win was 6-3 against Bama in 2012. Sick job dude. Seriously, the SEC sent four STUDS into the NFL last year, and we end up with the Cajun (but not really because I guess he is from Georgia) Curt Cousins under center before any of them. The lesson here is clear: projecting rookie quarterbacks first year performance is basically pointless.
  6. I miss Johnny. Not even so much in that I wish they would put him in in Cleveland. I miss Saturday Johnny.  I knew I would and I wrote about it last year, but yeah.  I do. I miss this Johnny:

  1. Ever since I wrote about how college is where the logical picks are, and that there is no real advantage to any of the NFL lines, I have been crushing NFL games. I’m petrified to even type this, as it inevitably means that my NFL picks will now go to hell, but that’s a hit that I will have to take in the name of content for you, the reader. For instance, last week I got crushed in college (see below), but doubled down on the Cowboys and Cardinals (favorites, what’s up), and ended up breaking even. The lesson, as always: fickle bunch, the gambling gods.
  2. I was ready to pick the Chargers (+9) on the road tonight. That’s a ton of points for a really good team, and I’m still tempted to do it, but when I started to write it up, my justification was ‘but really they probably lose by 30.’ I think it’s fair to say that I am in my own head. Either way, I’m picking the Chargers tonight for monopoly money purposes, but I’m not going to throw it in the picks, mainly because these Thursday night games are so sloppy that a 9 point cover feels like a field goal.
  3. I got killed last week, which is what I get for making 10 college football picks while I was riding a stationary bike at 8:00 AM after being out late the night before. At least I got them in, though. This week, I need to bounce back, so I’m putting more time in the picks, and actually including some NFL games. 4-6 last week, but still 43-38 on the year.

The PICKS!

I. UConn (+28) over ECU

We have reached the saturation point with ECU.  Their offense is great, but they are getting a little more love than they probably deserve, and UConn is just notterrible enough to keep it within a few scores.

II. Cal (+19) over Oregon

Cal has the offense to be competitive in every game.  Oregon has been great with a healthy line, but I think that Cal will push them.

III. Boise State (-7) over BYU

BYU’s intimidation factor minus Taysom Hill is approximately zero. 

IV. TCU (-23) over Texas Tech

Hey, Kliff Kingsbury is awesome and charismatic and we love him! His team couldn’t stop a nosebleed.  They suck.  Lay the points.

V.  West Virginia (+1) over Oklahoma State

Call your guy and tell him you don’t need his charity. West Virginia wins outright. Not that this is a bold prediction what with a 1 point line but still.

VI. Arizona (-2.5) over Washington State

Arizona is a missed field goal away from being undefeated. Washington State is 2-5/Washington State.  This line is nonsense.  Book it while you can.

VII. South Carolina (-19) over Auburn

I don’t see SC getting an upset at Jordan-Haare, but that’s a ton of wiggle room.

VIII. Oregon State (+13) over Stanford

13 points is a big ask of an offense that has been downright inept at times. 

IX. Seahawks (-6) over Panthers

I’ve said many times that Seattle isn’t the same team away from Seattle, but I will take the defending champs with (one would think) a fire lit under them over a supremely average Carolina team.

X. Packers (Pick) over Saints

Saints are 2-0 at home but the Packers are rolling.

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Nit Picks Week 5: 60% of the Time, It Works…Every Time

  1. Another week is in the books, and we have another NitPicks coming at you right now, meaning that I need to choose whether to start with an NFL point or a college point. The verdict? Neither. I’m going to start with my favorite subject: ME.

We are officially into the portion of the season where it’s getting weird.  The picks overall record has climbed to 24 and 16.  Obviously, I’m happy with that record, and if you are going 66% against the spread you’re making money, but to do it with four consecutive 6-4 weeks is getting weird.  I even tweeted this after I dropped to 1-1 on Thursday night:

Which isn’t relevant to what I’m talking about but I thought was funny (although my subsequent 0-3 fantasy weekend was not).  I also tweeted this, which was more on point:

When I can call my own record based on a 1-1 Thursday, you know it’s getting weird.

The most important takeaway from this whole episode is this: Nit Picks needs a new subtitle.  I don’t know how you can give a subtitle to a weekly column, but there is one that is simply too not to use. You probably know where I’m going, since it is right above, but here it is:

Nit Picks: 60% of the time they work…every time.

  1. The disadvantage of writing a once a week column on what are essentially viral topics is that a lot of times, I can be a bit late to something. That’s the case here, but it’s still worth mentioning that this is Steve Adazzio’s world and it’s only by his good graces that the rest of us don’t have to pay him rent.

 

Man, I wanna be a dude.

  1. I don’t know if this is a controversial take or not, because the backlash against Goodell has been so strong, but I think it is okay to root for Ray Rice to win his appeal. He is an aging player with declining production at a position that has come to be viewed as interchangeable, and he comes with a PR CIRCUIS. There really won’t be any harm done if he wins, and it would be nice to see the arbitrary and reactionary way in which Goodell dished out the ban get called out.
  2. I swear I looked up when Nashville was going to come back like 3 days ago and it said that it was mid-October, but turns out it was last night. I take no shame in saying WOOOHOO! I’m a little pissed that I didn’t know before hand, but I’m way more fired up that with that and South Park back in the fold, you can add Wednesdays to Thursdays through Sunday (football) when I get to ignore the world and watch TV.

Two top 4 (playoff team) lists.  One based on what teams have done this year, the other based on where I think we will be at the end of the year:

  1. If the playoffs started today:

1. Alabama

2. Oklahoma

3. Oregon

4. (wait for it…) the Duke Blue Devils

Alabama and Oklahoma are more or less no-brainers. I wanted to punish Oregon for playing Wazzu close, but they are undefeated and they might have the best win on the board. Tough to pass on A&M but they have only played 1 good team, and I’m not sure the Gamecocks are any good anyways. Tie break goes to not wanting two teams from one conference.

  1. When it’s all said and done:

1. Alabama

2. Oklahoma

3. Oregon

4. Florida State

Ultimately, I think that Bama gets by Auburn and A&M to win the SEC.  Too many weapons.  Too deep.  To well coached. Oregon has at least two tough ones left, but it’s hard to say they aren’t the favorite if you’re making projections. Oklahoma I believe, will get past Baylor (more on them in a sec) which leaves Florida State.  I don’t want to see it, but I’m just not sure I see a loss on their schedule, and even a 1 loss ACC Championship probably gets them in.

  1. Speaking of Baylor, I can’t tell if I love or hate what Coach Briles and that program does down there with regards to scheduling. I definitely respect it though They are just playing the game.  They know that if they win the Big 12 and run the table, they are going to make the playoff, so you know who they are going to play non-conference? CUPCAKES. They are going to steadfastly refuse to play anyone who even has a chance to challenge them. It sucks for fans, but you can’t claim that it isn’t smart. (I would include Duke in this category, but it isn’t really their fault that Kansas is as bad as they are.  At least they scheduled Big 12.)

 

  1. This is me not saying anything about a quarterback that may or may not play for an NFL franchise in the bay area and who may or may not have gone to a school that frequently plays Boise State, and who I may or may not hate, because he may or may not be in the process of being exposed and I may or may not be afraid that if I say anything about him (which is NOT what I’m doing right now) I could end up jinxing it.
  2. Don’t look now, but while everyone is talking about BYU busting the New Year’s Party (despite their fact that they have a late October game that could be problematic), Marshall is sitting at 3-0. They have scored 40+ in every game and have only given up 20+ once (a 44-27 win over Miami-OH). What’s more, their toughest test remaining is…actually I have no idea how to end that sentence. Based solely on record, its 3-1 OLD DOMINION (based on power rankings it’s probably Western Kentucky at 79 according to CBS, but they were as low as 94 in some rankings). Basically all they have to do is get off the bus to run the tables (on the 126th hardest schedule in D1-A), so watch out for a BIG strength of schedule, provided they don’t trip on a stray cupcake.

10. THE PICKS!

Best of luck choosing which 6 you should follow.

(Also, I’m probably going to get this up on Friday, that’s fine though because as I look at it/write this on Thursday, all of the Thursday lines are hot garbage. Now watch my bets go 3-0 and me regret not throwing in Arizona to win outright.)

I. Wyoming (+28) over Michigan State

Pokes are 3-1, and while they lost to Oregon by more than this 28, Michigan State doesn’t have the ability to run it up the way the Ducks do.

II. Penn State (-10) over Northwestern

Christian Hackenberg is the real.

III. Georgia (-17) over Tennessee

Georgia had a hiccup against South Carolina.  It was a really bad day and it will hurt if not kill them in the playoff picture, but you can’t convince me that they aren’t one of the best teams in the nation. Tennessee has a ton of true freshman getting playing time, look for them to struggle between the hedges.

4. Texas A&M (-10) over Arkansas

Arkansas is hot in the streets, but I’m pretty sure that as much as we all love Kliff Kingsbury, I’m pretty sure that TexTech isn’t very good. I like Kenny Hill to run it up on the Hogs.

V. Duke (+7) over Miami

This line is downright insanity. 100% reputation based..  Miami has been shaky at best, and looks every bit like the .500 team that they are.  Duke, on the other hand, won their division last year and has blown everyone out getting to 4-0.  When I glanced at it, I thought that this line was Duke (-7)…and I still loved it. Lock of the century of the year of the week right here.

VI. Boise State (-13) over Air Force

I’m not a homer, it just works every.  Time.

VII. Notre Dame (-10) over Syracuse

Everett Goldston has this Irish team looking legit, and I have no reason to believe that Syracuse isn’t a dumpster fire.

VIII. Lions (-2) over Jets

Jets have yet to look impressive, or really even competent. Not going to touch them against a good team getting less than a score.

IX. Steelers (-7.5) over Buccaneers

Write this down. In pen. The Bucs are BAD. REALLY, REALLY bad. Please do yourself a favor and bet against them.

X. Falcons (-3) over Vikings

Rookie quarterback, no AD and a team that dropped like 80 last week? Yeah I’ll let you have the three.

cfbfb

Staying True to Tradition…Of Nonsense

cfbfbEditorial Note: This is an expanded version of a column I wrote for ‘The Advocate,’ the Santa Clara Law newspaper. The original, abridged version can be found here.

It is as true as it is clichéd. College football is about tradition. Unfortunately one of the long and storied traditions of college football is that of a champion in a way that makes absolutely no sense. For now, unlike the rivalries of Michigan-Notre Dame or Texas-Texas A&M, the tradition of nonsense appears not to be going anywhere.

Not long ago there were two types of college football fans.  There was the type that didn’t see a problem with the at best under-inclusive and at worst arbitrary BCS system, and the type with a brain and the ability to reason. Now, the system that everyone agreed was broken has been replaced, but with one that when implemented may seem just as broken, and is likely leave at least a fifth of the nation dissatisfied.

Here is what’s happening: The BCS, which used a number of polls and computer generated rankings to choose the best two teams to play for the national championship is gone, and it has been replaced by a four team playoff that will be chosen by a committee of 13 former and current coaches, athletic directors, conference commissioners, and for some reason, Condoleezza Rice (I’m not saying she won’t do a good job, I’m just not sure how she ended up there, but I digress). On the surface, the new system looks pretty good.

The main problem stems from the fact that while the playoff is the biggest change to the system of college football, it isn’t the only one.  The playoff system comes on the heels of a decade plus of realignment which saw a number of traditional rivalries disrupted as power schools moved around, but more pertinently, saw the number of “major” conferences (which barring an extraordinarily chaotic season will be the ones considered for the playoff) drop from six (Pac-12, Big-12 SEC, ACC, Big-10 and Big East) to five, with the Big East losing its best football schools, renaming itself the AAC, and being relegated to the ranks of the “other 5” (Mountain West, Sun Belt, MAC, C-USA and the AAC).

So there you have it.  College football moved to five power conferences.  The same year they went to a FOUR team playoff.  They went to a more inclusive system while making sure that one power conference champion is left out of the playoff.

Actually, some of you were out before we even started. I’m looking at you, Iowa, Minnesota and Tulane

It’s just another example of college football being the best thing in the world (rivalries, tailgates, 50 games a Saturday etc) but also managing to be the absolute worst.

Leaving out a power conference may not seem like the worst thing in the world (it’s not like college football fans are territorial or anything…oh, wait), except that a premium will be placed on conference championships when choosing the four playoff participants.

Now, this may not be an issue this year, and it may not be an issue next year.  It may in fact turn out that there are four conference winners that go 12-0/11-1, and one that is 8-4, making the decision easy.  If that’s the case, the system will be said to have worked, and you probably won’t hear much about it.  The first year that the committee has to choose between two seemingly similar conference champions, or has to consider a second team from a strong conference, though, chaos will no doubt ensue.

Last year, for instance, at the end of the season, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama and Michigan State were one through four, with Baylor and Stanford at five and six. That means a four team playoff without a team from the Pac-12, perhaps the second strongest conference, or the Big 12.  Either that, or an Alabama team that lost one game on a 109 last second field goal return , to the number two team in the nation, would be left out (and 11-1 Baylor or Pac-12 Champ Stanford is still out of luck).  How would that go over in ‘Roll Tide’ country?

The playoff could so easily have been made much better with the simple step of one more round.  When I first started thinking about this, six seemed to be the magic number: the five conference champions, and one wild card from either the other five, or the strongest non-conference-champion (top two seeds get a bye).  That creates a major problem, though, in that teams have now been strongly disincentivized to schedule any sort of meaningful non-conference games. There is little to no reason to schedule a strong non-conference when there is just one wild card up for grabs, and you are better off focusing on your conference schedule.

There is already some (steadfastly denied) speculation that it is coming, but an eight team playoff is much more logical. An eight team playoff allows for a clean three round tournament, with the five conference champions included. The committee then seeds the teams and determines three at large bids for the best non-conference-champions (or a non-power-5 team, if worthy).

The committee insists that they don’t want to take meaning away from the regular season, and as someone who can’t remember a single moment from the past ten college basketball regular seasons, I understand that. At the same time, expanding the playoff to eight teams carries exactly zero chance of rendering games from September through December meaningless.  To say that it will shows an ignorance of what college football is, and what it means culturally, one which the esteemed members of the committee should be above.  It is such an embedded part of these schools’ and conferences’ culture and pride that games don’t need National Championship implications to be profoundly meaningful to the fan bases involved.

For evidence of this, you need look no further than mid majors across the country.   For years, even undefeated seasons carried little hope of a national championship opportunity, yet the passion and excitement endure.  The same can be said for a Tennessee or a Texas, down and out of title contention in recent years, but with game-days that still mark the biggest days on the campus calendar. College football games exist in a larger sphere of the National Title picture, sure, but they also exist as events unto themselves. When a season consists of just twelve games, scarcity and passion will keep the college football season as meaningful as ever with an eight team playoff.MACtion-Hashtag_1

Apart from that, in the context of an eight team playoff, a conference loss will be no less meaningful with a playoff berth going to the conference champion.  With just three at large games, and a team’s non-conference schedule set long before they know if they will get an automatic bid, the incentive to schedule and win strong non-conference games is also unblemished.

There are, of course other concerns.  The bowl season is one, but the cold reality is that the bowl season has been made more and more arbitrary as time has progressed.  The national champion used to be elected via poll after playing the bowl of its choice.  The BCS brought in the 1 versus 2 championship game, but it was still played in a traditional bowl.  The championship game was then given a bowl unto itself in addition to the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls that had hosted the championship.

Now, the bowls are further relegated, with the top four teams going to a different system. Nobody who loves college football wants to see the non-championship post-season go away, but it is impossible to make a coherent argument that going from a four to an eight team playoff will be the undoing of the bowls.

Another so called setback comes from the problems associated with filling a neutral site stadium for four extra games, as championship game attendance has been less than stellar in recent years.  By playing the first round at home stadiums, though, not only is this problem significantly mitigated, but it adds a massive incentive to earn a top four seed (lending weight to the regular season, and incentivizing non-conference strength of schedule.

One of the more common fallacies regarding the shift to a playoff was that it will lessen bickering about teams that were snubbed, or reduce the need for lobbying on behalf of coaches and ADs trying to get into championship position.  Instead, the opposite will likely be true.  Twice as many spots likely means more teams feeling that they are deserving of a shot at the title.

In fact, there is a good chance that the fifth team, left out of the championship playoff, has a legitimate argument that they would have been a legitimate champion.  With eight playoff teams and 3 wildcards, though, while the 9th team will surely feel as though they should have been included, they have a much weaker case that they were a legitimate title contender than the fifth ranked team would (once again, taking last year as an example, you get South Carolina, Baylor and Michigan State contending for the final spot, all of whom had multiple losses and none of whom won a conference, none of whom seemed to be legitimate title contenders. Much more palatable than choosing between Alabama and Stanford). To get that without sacrificing anything, really, is worth the extra round of games.

The BCS is gone, and that’s great. The new system though, is one with an obvious flaw.  In a way, that’s perfect for the institution of college football, which continues to specialize in tradition, rivalry, excitement, and giving those who care about it something more to complain about.

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NitPicks Week 4: I’M DONE!

I’m done.  I’m officially done.  I am like a girl at a Beyonce concert, in that I can’t even.  I have lost my ability to even.  I may even die.  Because I’m out of outrage.  If you came here looking for talk about suspensions, coverups or arrests, go somewhere else. This is probably going to be a shorter NitPicks, but my promise to you is that the names of NFL running backs that are not playing this weekend will not be brought up.

Let’s get into it. Continue reading

Jags1

Nit Picks Week 3: Drama, Drama, Drama

Neither Johnny Chase, nor Kevin Dillon are mentioned here, but I called this post 'Drama, Drama, Drama,' and Entourage was awesome.

Neither Johnny Chase, nor Kevin Dillon are mentioned here, but I called this post ‘Drama, Drama, Drama,’ and Entourage was awesome.

I changed the default settings on my Microsoft Word this week so that when I open a new document I’m automatically in Times New Roman.  Absolute game changer.  I tell you that because I never know what to say in these intros and that’s as good a way as any to break the silence

  1. The thing that stuck out the most to me this past weekend is this: Every team wants to go to an up tempo game where you air it out, stretch the field and make big plays. There is talk about how the game is changing, about how the hurry up, big play, offensive juggernaut style is the way of the future, and it isn’t wrong.  The problem is, when teams get inside the 10, they look absolutely lost trying to punch it in, because their style of play just doesn’t work in short yardage situations.

    Guess what, offensive coordinators of America? Unless you have like 1 of 4 receivers in the pros (maybe a few more in college), a corner fade is a REALLY EFFING LOW percentage play.  Stop trying it on first and second down every time you are trying to punch it in for 6.

    The most obvious reason is simple.  Teams are running offenses inside of scoring territory that have little resemblance to what they’re running between the 20s, and when your entire scheme changes trying to end a drive, the results aren’t likely to be great.

    I was tempted to dig into this even deeper, and raise questions about a general move away from the run (I do think that the abilities of D-linemen are moving away from the abilities of O-lines to run block), but I’ll wait to see if it continues before I get into that. Suffice for now to say that it looked extraordinarily sloppy in both the college and the pro game this far.

    Lastly, I will say that it’s possible that this is an early season thing; that is a result of defenses being ahead of offenses schematically. That’s entirely possible, but there are other factors that could explain it, so we will have to wait and see.

  2. I’m so sick of the Ray Rice thing so I am going to make this as fast as I possibly can.  It isn’t incumbent upon the NFL or the Ravens to investigate one of their players.  That is 100% on the Atlantic City Police and the District Attorney, who had subpoena power to see the video and the authority to press charge. In not doing so, they put the other organizations in the position of having to punish a player who was not charged and prosecuted, or risk looking extraordinarily bad, which they do now.

    I’m not saying that they didn’t mess up (what happened could reasonably have been inferred from the available video), but I place 99% of my scorn on the authorities whose job it actually is to enforce this sort of thing.

    There is a Pandora’s box of issues that I could get into, because a million things about this make me angry, but one is the incessant coverage of it completely overshadowing what is taking place in the sports world, so I will recuse from the issue here and get back to sports

  3. HOOOLLLYYYY JUMPIN, Big 10.  That is what could fairly be considered a worst case scenario.  If you were following the blog this weekend, you saw me post a .gif of a flaming dumpster, titled ‘live look at the Big10,’ which I thought summed it up nicely.  It looked for a moment like Sparty may be up to the task of bailing the conference out, but that was rendered unrealistic when Oregon pulled away.

    The conference was 7-6, which doesn’t sound that bad, but it was…oh it so was.  The top of the conference got killed in the three “prove it” games, looking simply overmatched in prime time national slots.  The contenders in the conference got embarrassed, and the perception of the conference was destroyed. For purposes of a national picture, that’s what is important.  On top of that, though, the lower half of the conference got just as embarrassed, if not more so.  It took a miracle play for Nebraska to get by McNeese State, Iowa squeaked by Ball State by just 4, and Illinois was in a 1 score game with Western Kentucky.  The bottom part of the conference then saw two non-power 5 losses, with Northern Illinois taking down Northwestern and Central Michigan knocking off Purdue. Only Wisconsin and Penn State took business as you would expect from a power conference (perhaps the third most impressive win on the day was Rutgers, who gave up 25 points to an 0-2 1-AA Howard).

    The “power 5 want to pull away and play each other, but the Big 10 is doing a bang up job of knocking down that argument.

  4. Just for kicks, and since everyone else seems to be doing it, here are my 4 playoff teams:

    Georgia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Florida State

    I’m not convinced that Florida State will get it done but it’s hard to find a loss on their schedule, and if they run the table they will be in.  Georgia looks stronger than Alabama right now, but that may as well just say ‘SEC Champion.’

  5. I started writing and working as for the Santa Clara Law School paper, The Advocate, as sports editor this week.  I will post a link to my first column (surprise! I’m complaining about college football) as well as an extended version of it here after they post the online version (which is just a .PDF).

    I will be writing in every issue, so you can expect 10/12 column links there.  If it is worthwhile, I will also post extended versions on the site. Just an update.

  6. Dammit. So I wrote the whole Ray Rice thing on Tuesday evening, and while not much has changed from that perspective, with the news coming out that the League received video, I now have a big issue with Goodell.  Can you see that video, suspend the guy 2 games, and still keep your job? Maybe. Can you see that video, suspend the guy 2 games, claim you never saw the video then suspend him indefinitely and then have it come out that you were given the video despite your claims that you tried and failed to get it? Absolutely not.  Later, Rog.

    For what it’s worth, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t actually see it.  The lie is just as bad, because you claimed to have done due diligence in trying to get the video.  In what universe do the police say they sent it, you say you didn’t got it, and the conversation just stops there?

  7. The more I think about it, the worse it gets.  I really did want to talk about other things this week, but Wednesday’s events have my mind working, so I put together a timeline of more or less what happened, in my suspicion, in the NFL office.

    That timeline was going to appear here, but as it approached 1000 words, I decided to break it off, so even though I wanted to avoid the story, I guess you should be on the lookout for a Ray Rice column

  8. This hasn’t been particularly light hearted thus far, so I may as well take this opportunity to point something out: there is a song out there, a reasonably popular one at that, called Donkey, and it’s about riding a donkey to a party.  I don’t really have anything to add to that, other than  that maybe typing it out will make it seem less ridiculous and…nope.  It didn’t.

    Not a terrible song, though.

  9. Look this has been a brutal week.  The Ray Rice story has dominated the news cycle to the extent that discrimination suits with the Mets and possible racism in Atlanta have been more or less pushed aside. The start of the football season and the MLB playoff race have been completely ignored the past few days

    This stuff is all important and with the way the story has gone down, I get it. Still though, as I said above, I am SO sick of the attention this is getting.  That’s why I’m so happy the weekend is here. Thank god we ca finally get back to what we enjoy about sports, the SPORTS themselves.

    So go out there this weekend, enjoy the football, have a few adult beverages if that is your style (collectively as sports fans we earned them), and hopefully next week we can come back and talk about what happened on the field.

  10. Bonus: Go read my sister’s stuff. You probably don’t care  about BC football, not many people do, but this one was a good read. http://bcheights.com/sports/2014/even-in-futile-situations-football-can-inspire-hope/

AAAAAANDDDD THE PICKS

6-4 LAST WEEK, 12-8 ON THE SEASON

I’ll take 60% all day every day, but I think we have a breakthrough week coming here.

It’s actually a tough week for college.  You’re either giving a TON of points, or betting on a team that you probably don’t think is very good, in most cases.

BYU vs. Houston UNDER 58

This was a push, so since I picked it before the column posted, I’m going to exclude it and pick 10 for the weekend.

Boise State (- 16) over UConn

‘Hey Jack, you’re such a homer.  You pick Boise every week.  You have no credibility.’

Yeah no kidding.  Don’t care. Like the Broncos on the road giving the points. Minus another 4th quarter meltdown this should be easy.

West Virginia (+4) over Maryland

This week is phase 1 of my ‘bet against the B1G and get rich’ scheme, and even though it feels weird to call Maryland a Big10 team, WV looked good against Bama, and even on the road I’m not sure why they’re getting points here.

Wyoming (+44) over Oregon

The first couple of weeks suggest that the Pokes may not be all that bad.  Oregon, obviously, is really good, but I think that they will give up a few points, and without getting to 65 or so, 44 is going to be a tough cover.

Georgia (-7) over South Carolina

I don’t think that this is going to be a rout, but Georgia’s running attack is formidable enough that if they get a lead, they can keep scoring by running the ball.  Giving up a single score seems like a great deal here.

Washington (-13) over Illinois

The Dawgs have NOT looked good thus far under Chris Peterson, with narrow wins over Hawai’i and Eastern Washington (THE RED!), which doesn’t seem to bode well heading into the hellscape that is the Pac12 North. Having said that I think they get it going in Cyler Miles’s second game under center. Also, Big10, bet against, rake money…you know.

UCLA (-8) over Texas

Texas has looked downright shaky thus far, and at a certain point the conclusion has to be that Mac Brown just left the cupboard bare for Coach Strong.

Texas A&M (-33) over Rice

Notre Dame beat Rice by 31, so it can be run up on them, and while 33 is a big number, it isn’t as daunting with an offense like A&M’s.

Arizona State (-16) over Colorado

Colorado is terrible, right? They got gashed by a CSU rushing game that couldn’t get anywhere in Boise, and as much as I would like to think that was all our rush D being impenetrable, I think the Buff’s D is just pretty bad. They also had trouble with the powerhouse that is UMass. Arizona State, on the other hand has 103 points in 2 games. This one could get ugly.

Cowboys (+3.5) over Titans

The Titans looked better than they are last week, and the Cowboys had a disastrous first quarter that caused everyone (myself included to an extent) to count them out.  A week ago they would have been favored, so I’m going against this overreaction line.

Cardinals (-2.5) over Giants

The Cardinals’ passing game looked pretty decent last week, which is all it should need to be against the Giants. Start Larry Fitzgerald if you’ve got him.

5319fbe34be373c1a3e0639c1f9300ca

LIVE LOOK AT THE BIG 10:

dumpster-fire-o

Or B1G, or whatever.  No matter what they are calling themselves or how they are spelling it, they are an absolute dumpster fire.  Looked for a second like Sparty was going to bail them out, but no such luck.

This guy on Twitter really nailed it:

 

College football helmets - July 11, 2013

Nit Picks Week 2: Rolling along

College football helmets - July 11, 2013

1. It isn’t a football topic exactly, but Adam Silver (NBA commish) was asked about gambling this week, and in the biggest upset of the season thus far, he answered like a reasonable adult, rather than pretending that gambling doesn’t exist.  He actually went even further than that, saying “It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that.”

No idea if the part about states going broke leading to the legalization of gambling is true (haven’t heard that elsewhere) but it would be nice to see, and while they obviously need to avoid getting too involved, but it’s good to see the head of a league not have his head in the sand.

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