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November 9th, 2006

eugeneoregon @ 11:16 pm: Rutgers won. So much for my argument that the Big East was actually really good this year. Now Rutgers will lose to West Virginia and the vicious cycle will leave one Big East team in the BCS when 3 of them have more of a claim than any team from the ACC.

By the way, Ray Rice had better get an invite to the Downtown Athletic Club. Period. If Troy Smith has another off game like last week, Ray Rice should be on the top of a couple of ballots. If Brady Quinn is, you people really have no business participating in any election.

October 29th, 2006

eugeneoregon @ 11:53 pm: Aside from Drew Bledsoe, Ben Roethlisberger might very well be the NFL's least valuable player. He's had two good games, which is the same number that Charlie Batch has had (Batch, however, has only played in two games). Roethlisberger has been at the helm for one victory and five losses and has taken a team that's not really all that changed from last year's title team to be a 2-5 team who has lost to one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Maybe Roethlisberger is just hurt, maybe he never really got over the motorcycle accident, maybe he was still under a concussion from last week, but if I was Bill Cowher, I'm really starting to look at Charlie Batch as my #1 option. I don't buy that Roethlisberger was hurt and that his vision wasn't up to par, because he did complete a great percentage of his passes, it's just that everything was completed, just not always to his receivers. Joey Harrington might be putting up better numbers than Roethlisberger after this game, and Harrington has the excuse of not having Hines Ward or Heath Miller.

October 22nd, 2006

eugeneoregon @ 09:13 am: Here's my picks for this season:
If I was a baseball writer...Collapse )

eugeneoregon @ 12:25 am: Back and more mediocre than ever...The Top 25...Collapse )

An Axe to Grind: Each conference's coach that should be sent packing...
ACC - Larry Coker (Miami) - This guy's headed my list since last year, it wasn't until this year that others seemed to notice.
Big East - No one really warrants it, but my vote would go to Greg Robinson (Syracuse), because I strongly believe he should never have been hired to begin with. Really, all the coaches aside from Randy Edsall at Connecticut are probably overachieving at this point, so Robinson gets fired because Syracuse was once a proud program and has lost a couple of games they could/should have won.
Big Ten - Glen Mason (Minnesota) - Glen Mason was a hot coach once when he was at Kansas. Now he is on the verge of losing to North Dakota State and has wasted some senior leadership on the team. John L. Smith (Michigan State) is a guy who should have been fired for years now, but Glen Mason has earned it more, demonstrating an utter inability to achieve anything despite having a cavalcade NFL-caliber running backs in his backfield in recent years. Pat Fitzgerald might grow into his job at Northwestern and can be excused for a lot of things based solely on the situation he was handed. The 35 point swing is hard to stomach.
Big 12 - Dan McCarney (Iowa State) - I've long been a defender of the guy who brought Iowa State to respectability, but they don't fit into the category anymore. They're a mockery of a team on both sides of the ball when all indications were that this offense could have been one of the best in the country. He has hit his peak and his teams always lose in fashions that implicate coaching. The only honorable mention goes to Bob Stoops, whose teams just don't win big games and haven't for ages, and who has failed to keep even a modicum of discipline in his team.
C-USA - Mark Snyder has had two ugly years at Marshall. Considering the years the Thundering Herd had been having prior to his arrival, it's hard to swallow. Tommy West has an excuse at Memphis, he used to be successful and took the program to new heights (see also Dan McCarney (Iowa State)). George O'Leary (Central Florida) and Mike Price (UTEP) can point to last year's successes.
MAC - Most of the conference fairly fits into this category, but Shane Montgomery (Miami of Ohio) might win out. The school has had a lot of recent success and gets publicity galore in the post-Roethlisberger era. So how on earth do they go out and lose to everyone they can find? Their only win? Against Buffalo, who has already wowed everyone by winning one game this year (Turner Gill should get at least a vote for MAC coach of the year for that achievement). Montgomery might be back on Terry Hoeppner's staff soon.
MWC - Mike Sanford (UNLV) - The turnaround would be too quick, but UNLV had some gifted transfers that should have put up a lot more than a 2-5 record. Shane Steichen/Rocky Hinds + Eric Thomas = 2 wins in the Mountain West? No thanks. Kyle Whittingham might earn his way onto this list, since Utah has no excuse for such mediocrity, but it's still early.
Pac-10 - Dirk Koetter (Arizona State) - I know, I know, he was a spread offense genius at some point. But his teams just don't win games of any significance. Each year, he's got top 25 talent and he parlays it to being the 40th best team in the country. Honorable mention to Walt Harris, who wins the "never should have been hired" award. He just doesn't make sense in Stanford.
SEC - Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State) - It's not fair, but it's a toss-up between Croom and Mississippi's Ed Orgeron. Croom's had three years to do something and Orgeron has at least sniffed success in his tenure. Bringing players to Starkville can't be easy, but the Bulldogs took way too many games to score and they just don't seem competitive.
Sun Belt - Don Strock (Florida International) - They're 0-7 and the brawl should seal his fate on this list, if not in real life.
WAC - Brent Guy (Utah State) - Utah State is a natural breeding grounds for the Mormons that BYU and Utah don't take, so Brent Guy has some ready-made recruits. Jack Bicknell (La. Tech) has a history of success, and Pat Hill (Fresno State) has one more year before any thought should be given to replacing him.

By the way, yes, I am in disbelief that my pick of the Cardinals in the World Series (see Oct. 7, if you didn't make not of it before) now appears prescient.

October 7th, 2006

eugeneoregon @ 11:23 pm: Knee-jerk Top 25:
1) Ohio State - After this week, even if they lost, they probably warrant the #1 spot.
2) Michigan - Who'd have thought? Last year's team was an utter disaster, but this year, they're good enough, and the rest of the potential #2's get less impressive by the hour.
3) Florida - I just don't see that they're going to get through the SEC schedule unscathed. They'll lose in one of the next two weeks.
4) West Virginia - They aren't looking that great anymore, but find someone who will beat them. Next week could be a test if they were playing in the Loud House, but they're playing at home against the Orangemen, so it should be a cakewalk. They play at Louisville in two weeks, and then we'll get a better idea of who the Big East's elite will be.
5) USC - They really are unimpressive, but they're winning through Pac-10 refereeing assistance. They did more tonight to prove that the Pac-10's referees are crooked than a hundred Oregon onside kick recoveries could.
6) Louisville - They'll have Brian Brohm back before that long.
7) Texas - I'm still not sold that this is a top 10 team, but they won't lose again without really earning it. Nebraska won't do it and Texas Tech doesn't stand a chance.
8) Boise State - They won't lose before Fresno State, if then. So they've got the edge and get a huge springboard into the Top 10 since TCU's gone.
9) California - Are they top 10 material? No. But they're there because the other teams aren't either.
10) Notre Dame - They aren't even top 25 material if they had to play top 25 teams. But instead, they get a collection of Stanfords until November.
11) Clemson - They should have lost. They should have lost. They should have lost. They didn't. They're the only team in the ACC that should be feared.
12) Iowa - They suck. Their only loss is to Ohio State. They will play Michigan in two weeks and have a chance to derail Garrett Wolfe's fledgling Heisman campaign a few weeks later.
13) Virginia Tech - They got shellacked so horribly that one has to wonder how they were a top 10 team to begin with. The answer is simple: there are only two or three capable football teams in the country.
14) Tennessee - They've still lost a game.
15) Auburn - Thump. Thump. Thump. You got pounded.
16) Arkansas - Has anyone noticed that their only loss is to USC? Yes, I have. The downside? USC sucks. (See any game USC has played this season since Arkansas).
17) LSU - They've lost two games. They could beat at least 7 of the teams above them. Too bad, they lost twice, and they still have no running game.
18) Missouri - At some point, being undefeated gets you into the top 20 by default. Some point...week 6.
19) Georgia - This just doesn't look like it's a team that can compete in the SEC.
20) Georgia Tech - That Notre Dame loss is looking harder and harder to explain. How did they not win that game, aside from the refereeing? The answer...their QB can barely complete half his passes, is deceptively simple.
21) Oregon - The loss column should really say "2".
22) Nebraska - They beat Iowa State, a feat that Northern Iowa, UNLV, and Toledo could not accomplish. What does this mean? Iowa State cannot play out of conference without sucking ass.
23) Wisconsin - They lost to Michigan. They haven't lost to anyone else, they don't play Ohio State, and their schedule puts them in a place where they could finish out as a 1 or 2 loss team.
24) Rutgers - They're still undefeated.
25) Boston College - The #25 slot is reserved for teams about to lose two straight. Hence, BC's inclusion.

ALso receiving consideration: North Carolina State, UCLA, Wake Forest until the last 15 minutes of the game.

As for the baseball playoffs, everything has gone against the way I picked it in the American League. I figured the Twins in five to become the third worst team to ever win the World Series, finishing behind, of course, the 1991 Minnesota Twins and the 1987 Minnesota Twins, respectively. There's just something magical about bad bad teams that win the World Series playing in Minnesota. Granted, most of the 1980s, you look at the numbers and you sigh with disbelief that they actually had 100 game starters hitting below .200 (god bless Tim Laudner, wherever he is), but still, the Twins stuck out like a rough in the diamond mine.

The Tigers and the A's...I think that the A's will lose in 6. The A's look more like a World Series champion, but I just don't buy it. Scary as it may seem, the worst team in the entire playoffs are now my pick to win the Series. That's right...I suspect the Cardinals might actually win. (Vomits into bag).

Why the Cardinals? 1) They have the one truly great pitcher left in the playoffs. Barry Zito won a Cy Young, but has been utterly inconsistent and unpredictable since. Chris Carpenter has been great for two seasons, and I'm not really sure how. 2) They have the best individual player in the playoffs in Albert Pujols. 3) They have cleansed the system, they lost so much in September that they really looked utterly finished. It's the same reason the Tigers might be a threat. 4) The Mets will win tonight and get a sweep, but they have a whole lot of weak links and haven't played a meaningful game since about June. 5) The Cardinals have a solid AL lineup, because they've got 4 outfielders who should be starting in Chris Duncan, Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion, and Preston Wilson. 6) They're the only remaining team with any playoff experience. The Mets have a few players who have been there, the A's have Barry Zito and...Barry Zito. The Cardinals have largely the same team that got swept in the 2004 World Series, plus David Eckstein, who's won a ring, and Jeff Weaver.

Thus far, the biggest impact player in the playoffs? Easy. Rain. I don't know what happened during that day off due to the rain out in the Bronx, but it really shifted the momentum. The Yankees were rolling in Game 1, but when Game 2 rolled around, the Yankees only mustered a home run from Johnny Damon against a guy who was giving up fifty runs an inning to anyone on the street by September.

So what will happen in the ALCS?Collapse )

September 23rd, 2006


They should be 1-3. Instead, thanks to some gift calls and Drew Stanton's collapse, they're 3-1 and the pollsters will vault them back into the Top 10. They will now proceed to not play anyone, with Purdue, Stanford, UCLA, Navy, North Carolina, Air Force, and Army before USC. Try to find games they could lose. Purdue? I think not. Purdue is undefeated, but could just as easily be 2-2. Navy? They lost to Tulsa. North Carolina? Hm...they did lose by more than 50 today. Air Force? Ha.

I feel ill.

eugeneoregon @ 05:50 pm: If Troy Smith wins the Heisman, which is a big question mark, since he did not have a good game, his TD pass here in the fourth qarter is going to be on that reel. He was going to get sacked, spun around, reversed his course and broke out of the pressure with a great block from the running back...and threw a 40-yard TD that looks like it will be either the deciding score in this game or the one that kept Penn State from making a late charge.

Aside from that, every single call has gone against Ohio State, they're not calling anything against Penn State. They call a face mask on Ohio State even though the play immediately preceding it, the Penn State O-line did the exact same thing. There's been questionable roughing the kicker at the end of the first half, where the call was running into the kicker, which was even overstating the case, since Kevin Kelly simply landed on Malcolm Jenkins, and the only reason they were in position for that was because of a pass interference call made by an official off the play when the official looking right at the receiver didn't even reach for a flag.

eugeneoregon @ 03:43 pm: Georgia is the new Oklahoma. This team just should not be undefeated. They should be booted out of the SEC after losing today's game to Colorado in spite of the final score indicating that they won.

The bad news is that Iowa State might not win more than one more game now, considering that Missouri is undefeated, Iowa State finds a way to lose, Kansas State played with Louisville much of the game, Kansas has a defense, Colorado should have beaten Georgia, and Iowa State only plays the Big 12 South's best. Sigh. That leaves Northern Iowa.

So today's mockery isn't going to be the ACC, it looks like the SEC has a big head start. Auburn is only beating the second worst team in I-A (Buffalo) by 10 at half, Georgia should have lost to a team that's now 0-4, either Alabama or Arkansas are going to lose, and there are potential pitfall non-conference games where UAB could knock off Mississippi State and Wake Forest might beat Ole Miss.

James Laurinaitis is the luckiest player in college football when it comes to interceptions. That said, James Laurinaitis is also one of the five or six best linebackers in college football. 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles in 3 1/4 games.

Most embarrassing performance today? Well, it's going to be Iowa State without a doubt. 10:52 remaining in the first quarter, Iowa State has already handed 9 points to Texas...and Iowa State got the opening kickoff. Unbelievable.

But not as unbelievable as allowing another touchdown in 1:04. 16-0 Texas with 9:48 in the first quarter. Dan McCarney's welcome is officially wearing out.

And now it's 16-14. This is incomprehensible.

eugeneoregon @ 11:16 am: This week's predictions:
-The Big 12 will have only 2 undefeated teams after this week after Oklahoma State loses to Houston and Kansas State is destroyed by Louisville.
-The ACC will have one undefeated team and Virginia Tech hasn't exactly played anyone either (3 opponents have a combined 2 wins, and only 1 division I-A win).
-The Pac-10's insignificance will be maintained by Cal knocking off Arizona State this week, leaving only two actually undefeated team and Oregon. Cal showed their true selves in week 1, so the Pac-10 looks pretty locked up for USC.
-Alabama's under the radar right now, but they'll be off it entirely soon.

-The game that will tell us the most this week: South Florida v. Kansas. Kansas lost at home to Toledo, which made no sense, since they controlled Toledo's offense...and handing five turnovers to a defense that porous is the sign of a much worse team than Kansas could possibly be. South Florida is one of the least worthy undefeated teams in the NCAA. One of these teams will go to a bowl game, and it will be the team that wins this game. If it's Kansas, then there's a chance that Missouri and Nebraska will get surprised by the Jayhawks. If it's South Florida, then Louisville or West Virginia might have a letdown game to watch for. If both teams play like they did last week...then next week's opponents (Nebraska and Rutgers) will sleep well tonight.
-The game you might be willing to watch that will teach you something: Alabama v. Arkansas - Alabama could be 4-0, despite a pedestrian start from Kenneth Darby (169 yards in 3 games) and a passing offense where 19 of 47 passes have been completed to one receiver (the second most frequent target has five catches). Alabama has a joke of a schedule for the SEC, without a single non-conference team of significance. Next week, they have Florida, but then they have a lengthy run of easier games with only Tennessee (who has one win that looked good, one close loss, and one mockery of a win) before the last two weeks. If they can win at Arkansas, Alabama might find themselves in some teams' sights. A loss means they'll be going to Shreveport in December.

My Projected Winners: Michigan, Va. Tech, Clemson, Iowa, Minnesota, Louisville, Georgia, Bowling Green - I was really wrong on this one, Pittsburgh, Navy - But they lost in OT, Missouri, Rutgers, Auburn, BYU, Northern Illinois, Alabama - lost in OT, Connecticut, Ohio State, Texas, California, Florida State, Central Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wyoming, Washington State, UTEP, Louisiana-Lafayette, Cal Poly - To be fair, I picked a I-AA upset, so when I get it wrong, it's not that big a blow, Maryland, Ole Miss, Akron, North Dakota State - I picked this I-AA upset, UAB, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Texas A&M, UCLA - this seems like a huge upset to me, Kansas, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Toledo, Western Michigan, Nebraska, Florida, USC, Utah, Boise State, LSU, Notre Dame, North Carolina State, SMU, Houston, Oregon State

September 17th, 2006

eugeneoregon @ 08:29 am: Knee-Jerk Top 25: Week 4

1) Ohio State - Ohio State looked dreadful in the first half, trailing Cincinnati for most of the game, but even at that, they established that they are probably the best team in the college game. Why? Partly through USC's own ineptitude, but more importantly because Antonio Pittman showed big play potential, Ohio State thrived without a real solid performance from Ted Ginn, James Laurinaitis added to his All-American highlight reel, and most importantly...they have a kicking game. Aaron Pettrey hits two of two fields goals, including one from 47 yards and Ryan Pretorius nails a 52-yarder. The Buckeyes are back, but still have to navigate a schedule of trap games to get to the championship.
2) USC - USC outmatched Nebraska, who kept digging their own grave, but never looked good. Most frighteningly, they were unable to establish big plays against Nebraska's defensive backs, who had proven to be very susceptible against Louisiana Tech. Nebraska played scared, running the ball relentlessly despite a lack of success and the absence of Cody Glenn, but still could have made a play for the game until the closing minutes. Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith made catches consistently, but didn't ever burn the Huskers, and without a consistent running game and reliable workhorse in the backfield, they will need to make those kinds of plays to succeed in games. The defense looked solid, but didn't force turnovers or a real passing attack from Nebraska and its banged-up offensive line. Oregon's victory against Oklahoma establishes them as a possible victor over USC, albeit an unlikely one. That's enough to make me step back from christening USC the automatic champion.
3) West Virginia - They won big on the road and got a huge performance from Steve Slaton, who has established himself as the most dominating player in college football in my mind. The defense needs to do better than they did against Maryland, but they have an easy four weeks before the game against Louisville that will likely determine a BCS berth and maybe a national championship spot.
4) Auburn - They got the win on the basis of a call that I'm not really sure about -- certainly not sure enough to determine an entire game on the basis of a pass being uncatchable off the tip. At first when the flag flew, I thought it was uncatchable because of the tip, but I can't say there aren't Leibnitzian universes where the receiver would have gotten to the ball in the absence of the hit, and that's the kind of certainty you need on that call in that circumstance. In any event, Auburn gets the win and jumps their major hurdle. With a favorable schedule, they're likely to run the table.
5) Louisville - Thump. This team has lost Brian Brohm and Michael Bush and they still destroyed the allegedly superb defense that Miami (fla) puts on the field. That's more than any ACC team will muster. They might just pose a threat to West Virginia, and at the very least, they've established that the Big East is a lot more legitimate than the conference that BC, Miami, and Va. Tech left for.
6) Michigan - It's hard to tell whether Michigan is a really good team or if Notre Dame just sucks. My guess is that it's more B than A, but for now, I'll admit that I think they have more of a shot of playing for a title than Florida or Georgia, since they would only have to top Ohio State. But I don't see a future where Michigan generates five turnovers in a game and gets two defensive touchdowns. If it does happen, it's not likely to be against Ohio State or Penn State. Without those opportunities and Charlie Weis' steadfast refusal to run the ball, Michigan doesn't come out with a blowout win, and without a blowout win, we're not including them in title talk just yet.
7) Florida - They won. That's all that counts. Now it's Georgia that's the concern. They've got to stay at their peak, though, because they've got Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia in the next four weeks. They'll be lucky to come away with only one loss. Chris Leak might face increasing pressure as Florida continues to use Tim Tebow, but he's going to stay on Heisman lists because of the paucity of candidates this season.
8) Georgia - They won. Now it's Florida that's the concern. Next week is an easy game against Colorado, and aside from a game at Tennessee, they face no resistance until October 28.
9) Texas - They pounded Rice, adding another really soft opponent to their non-conference. Aside from Ohio State, the teams they play: North Texas, Rice, Sam Houston State. It's excusable since they at least play Rice in Houston, but it's still a schedule of cowardice. The offense didn't have to do much, with 14 points coming off defense and special teams, and Colt McCoy throwing only 9 passes. They might not have an opportunity to play a team who will make them regret the soft schedule, but if Nebraska or Oklahoma toughens up, Texas might be in trouble because of their inexperience.
10) LSU - There's no excuse for scoring 3 points in an entire game. It looked like a ridiculously stupid penalty cost them any shot at winning the game, but then they got it back and got killed by the aforementioned call in Auburn's favor. Bold statement: The defense is one of the best in the country, without a doubt. But no team who has played three games that doesn't have a single rusher over 100 yards could figure in a title picture. The loss tonight was going to happen somewhere down the road even if it didn't tonight. They've gained yards on the ground, but they don't have a single back that Les Miles can trust to make a play in any circumstance. Considering their first two games were against Arizona and Louisiana-Lafayette, their leading rusher needs more than 92 yards. Bo Pelini will be a head coach at a major conference program next season and should be on Miami's short list.
11) Virginia Tech - Apparently offense doesn't matter. VT wins games in the most bizarre blowouts possible.
12) TCU - They escaped their biggest test. There's no one who can cause much of a threat at this point, even after their inconsistent offensive performance against Texas Tech.
13) Iowa - This team just keeps surviving. They trailed on the scoreboard most of the game and it was an earned loss, but Iowa State's coaching incompetence continues to permit comebacks. It'll be a big test for Iowa next week playing at Illinois, who is one of the worst teams they'll get to see, and if they don't put it together in Champaign, this team will not be ready to look competent against the Buckeyes.
14) Oregon - They lost the game against Oklahoma, but came away with a scoreboard win. There's reason for serious concern, because they had stifled Adrian Peterson for three quarters and then lost control of the game and let it get out of hand. It took several questionable calls and a couple miracles to come away with a win. Inexcusable when you're playing at home against Oklahoma, who just couldn't score in their early weeks.
15) Notre Dame - They won't lose again until USC, because they won't get much of an opportunity. Next week at Michigan State is the only plausible loss, really, and Michigan State hasn't looked great. Brady Quinn is a good quarterback, but he is certainly not a great quarterback. Charlie Weis' stubborn refusal to run the ball makes Brady Quinn a bad quarterback, and Notre Dame's defense was smoke and mirrors in the first couple weeks.
16) Tennessee - They played Florida close and probably could have come away with a win. But they were also playing at home and have had a margin of victory of 1 point and a loss by 1 point. This is not a team that can be depended on for anything, because their games are just too close.
17) Nebraska - They lost, it wasn't pretty, but they didn't get pounded.
18) Clemson - Learn to kick. That's my free advice to you. Florida State's first half points were all due to Clemson's kicking game. Jad Dean and his deep snapper really need to figure out what the problem is.
19) Florida State - Teams with no offense get to lose games.
20) Arizona State - They played Colorado closer than they should have, but they survive and remain undefeated.
21) Georgia Tech - I don't buy that they're this good, since their close game against Notre Dame means a lot less now, but teams around them have lost.
22) Boise State - A tight one against Wyoming this week opens the roughest road of Boise State's schedule with the next two weeks against Hawaii and Utah. With a schedule like that, you can see why they're staying at 22 for a while.
23) Wisconsin - Not a great performance against San Diego State who was without their QB Kevin O'Connell. But the fans at Camp Randall will make a big difference in close games and Wisconsin may just hang around for a while.
24) Boston College - This team sucks. They should be 1-2, but they are 3-0. They should pull out two more wins before the losing begins.
25) Oklahoma - This team looked better in losing than they did in winning their first two games. They're not going to lose a whole lot, so they stay in, rather than notch a team on their way down like Michigan State or Alabama.

Also receiving consideration: Alabama, Michigan State, Rutgers, Missouri, Houston, UCLA

Undefeated, but undeserving of consideration: Colorado State, Kansas State, Navy, Oklahoma State, Purdue, South Florida, Texas A&M, Wake Forest

Dropped out: Pittsburgh, Miami (Fla.)

The Great, the Good, and the AwfulCollapse )

My Heisman BallotCollapse )

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