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Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Cal Bears stupidly fired football coach Jeff Tedford, who leaves the program in much better shape than he found it. If I knew Coach Tedford, I’d tell him that George Seifert won two Super Bowls in the NFL, 12-15 years after he was fired as head coach at Cornell.
Sometimes a bad day can actually be a good day in disguise.
12) Dallas Cowboys had 30 first downs in their OT win Sunday, 10 of them via Cleveland penalties; I’d never seen that before, a team getting 10 first downs via penalty in one game. Am guessing the Browns’ coaches weren’t too happy, especially when you add in a close call on a fumble in OT led to the Dallas winning FG.
11) John Gibbons went 305-305 as skipper of the Blue Jays from 2003-08, now he gets a second chance in Toronto, only this time with a much better team. I wonder if Ozzie Guillen applied for the job, seeing as he managed 20% of Toronto’s team this past summer with the Marlins.
10) ESPN upgraded their college basketball studio crew by adding Bruce Pearl/Seth Greenberg; Pearl is a natural for TV, great talker. He’ll be back in coaching soon if he wants to be; the stuff that got him fired at Tennessee seems like child’s play with everything that’s gone on since then. Greenberg didn’t win enough, so he could be on TV for a while, but he’s good at it.
9) If Mark Turgeon had stayed at Texas A&M, he’d be coaching basketball in the SEC, but he went to Maryland, to what he thought was an ACC job, but now he finds himself in the Big 14 (previously Big 10, Big Dozen). Wonder if he could do over again, if he would’ve stayed where he was?
8) USC’s hoop team has 10 kids who started their college career either in JC or at another 4-year school. That’s an awful lot of transfers.
7) The conspiracy theorist in me says the NASCAR post-race “brawl” two weeks ago was staged for TV, to try and create interest in the last race of the season. Then you say no, it can’t be, until you notice that TV ratings for the last race were down 27% from LY, then you realize it very well could’ve been an attempt to jumpstart ratings.
Going up against the NFL on Sundays is deadly; they’d be better off running the last race on a Friday or Saturday night, or even a Tuesday, since it’s the last race. Make it a spectacle, like the BCS title game.
6) Air Force beat Hawai’I last Friday without throwing one pass; not sure I've seen that before. Seen teams not complete a pass, not sure I’d seen a team not even try one, and still win.
5) Steelers were working out free agent QBs Brian Hoyer (Michigan State/ Patriots) and Mike Kafka (Northwestern/Eagles) since they’ll need a backup for Charlie Batch this weekend in Cleveland.
Might wind up signing/dressing both guys Sunday.
4) I’m adamant that it hurts the NFL product not to have each team dress three QB’s for every game, just in case. Teams with two QBs dressed go into a shell as soon as the first guy gets hurt.
3) When they set up this year's Maui Classic, ESPN probably envisioned a Texas-North Carolina final. Longhorns are playing in 7th place game, and Carolina will play Chaminade in the 3rd place game, as upsets have ruled the day in Maui this year. Butler beat the Tar Heels decisively Tuesday night.
2) A lawyer in Toronto paid $5,300 for a toilet that was once in the home dressing room at old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto; said hes going to put it in his home. Imagine what he would’ve paid for it if the Maple Leafs were ever any good?
1) I carry a marble and a small compass with me at all times, because I never want to lose my direction, and when the world gets crazy, as it often does, I’m reminded to just roll with it. Corny, but true. You pay $5,300 for a toilet, you know sometimes its a crazy world.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend........
13) Freshman QB Max Wittek makes his first college start in a game that will help decide who plays for the national title; first instinct is to dismiss him and his inexperience, but remember that Matt Cassel starts in the NFL, and he never started a game at USC, so there is talent sitting on the bench at the LA Coliseum, just not much experience.
12) How will the Colts bounce back from getting pasted in Foxboro? If they’re a playoff team, they need to beat the Bills at home.
11) There are 8-team basketball tournaments in Orlando-Anaheim-Atlantis, made-for-TV events. Good stuff. Results of these games will help decide who goes where when the brackets are announced in mid-March.
10) This might be the most meaningful Oregon-Oregon State game ever; both teams are very good. Curious to see how the Ducks bounce back from their first loss.
9) Knicks play the Brooklyn Nets for the first time Monday night, in a game rescheduled because of the hurricane. Both teams are off to hot starts; this figures to be a good rivalry.
8) Can Ohio State finish unbeaten in Urban Meyer’s first season in Columbus? Seems like OSU-Michigan has been a noon Saturday game in late November for as long as I can remember, going back 40+ years.
7) 37-year old 3rd-stringer Charlie Batch is starting at QB for the Steelers in Cleveland, backed up by a guy who was unemployed at noon on Tuesday. If Pittsburgh can’t run the ball, how will they score?
6) Michigan State is favored by 8.5 points in Minnesota; their last seven games have all been decided by 4 or less points, the longest such streak since 1971. Minnesota’s leading WR just quit the team and publicly ripped the coach on his way out the door.
5) 49ers-Saints, Packers-Giants are rematches from last season’s playoffs; both should be excellent games.
4) If USC beats Notre Dame and Florida State beats the Gators, Les Miles might be coaching in another national title game. FSU-Florida will be fun to watch.
3) Carson Palmer was going to retire rather than play for Cincinnati anymore; this week he plays against the Bengals, who’ve allowed only one TD in their last two games.
2) If Stanford beats UCLA, Oregon doesn’t even get to the Pac-12 title game, which seems odd. Cardinals and Bruins both had huge wins last week, tough wins to come down to earth from. Then again, if Stanford wins, these teams play again next weekend in the Pac-12 championship game.
1) Back in May, who thought Falcons-Bucs would be a big game this week? You’re right, no one did, but Tampa Bay has become a contender by finding different ways to win.
West Virginia lost last five games despite scoring 38-34-49 points in last three; Mountaineers ran ball for 458 yards last week and still lost, you don't see that a lot. Iowa State lost three of its last four home games; its only win was over Baylor. Cyclones are 2-4 in last six games, but are 5-1 vs spread this season in games with a single digit spread. Five of last seven West Virginia games went over total. Big X home teams are 15-20 in conference play.
Underdogs are 6-1-1 vs spread in last eight Arizona-ASU games; five of last seven series games were decided by 4 or less points. Sun Devils won four of last six visits here; dogs covered five of last seven series games in Tucson. Arizona won four of last five games; they're 6-1 at home, 1-3 as home favorites, with only loss to Oregon State. ASU snapped its 4-game skid last week; they're 0-4 as dogs this year. Five of last six Arizona games went over the total. Pac-12 home favorites are 13-11 vs spread.
11-0 Ohio State won in OT at Wisconsin last week, its 4th win this year by 3 or less points or in OT; Buckeyes are 3-4 as home favorites, can go undefeated in Meyer's first year with win, since they can't go to a bowl, this is their bowl game. OSU lost to Michigan LY for first time in eight years; Wolverines lost last five visits here, losing 37-7/42-7 in last couple trips here. Michigan has been invigorated with Gardner at QB, winning last three games while scoring 35-38-42 points. Big Dozen favorites are 20-16 vs spread this season, 13-12 at home.
Mississippi State won last three Egg Bowls, beating Ole Miss by 28-8-14 points; favorites are 4-0-1 vs spread in Bulldogs' last five visits here, with State's 31-23 win in Oxford in '10 its first in last six tries. Rebels lost last three games overall, losing tough 41-35 game at LSU last week; Ole Miss outgained Tigers 463-427. Bulldogs snapped 3-game skid with win over Arkansas last week; they're 2-2 on road this year, 4-1 in games with single digit spread. Ole Miss lost three of its last four home games.
Michigan State is first team since 1971 to play seven games in row that were decided by 4 or less points; underdogs are 9-2 vs spread in State's last 11 games with Minnesota. Spartans lost four of last five visits here, but they did beat Gophers 31-24/31-8 last two years. Spartans lost four of last five games overall; they're 3-1 on road, with last three road games decided by total of 9 points. Minnesota lost five of last seven games, as four of five losses were by 18+ points. Big Dozen home dogs are 4-7.
Favorites covered last seven Wisconsin-Penn State games, as last three were all decided by 31+ points; Badgers lost last three visits to Happy Valley, 38-7/35-14. Wisconsin is bully team; they're 1-3 in games won by 3 or less points, but they've also covered four of last five games as an underdog. Penn State is 3-1 as a home favorite this year. Five of last six Penn State games went over total, as did last three Badger road games. Last home game for Penn State seniors who have been through a lot.
9-1 Rutgers covered seven of last eight games, winning at Arkansas and Cincinnati SU as dogs; Scarlet Knights won two of last three visits to Pitt, in series where underdogs are 8-3 vs spread in last 11 meetings, 5-2 in last seven played here. Pitt is 3-5 vs D-I teams; they need to win this game and at USF next week to go to bowl. Panthers had last week off, an edge as Rutgers played, plus had distractions earlier this week of school announcing move to Big Dozen. Big East hosts are 10-11 vs spread.
Stanford/UCLA both had huge wins last week, Cardinal beating Oregon in Eugene, Bruins clinching Pac-12 South by upsetting USC, a gigantic win for Mora's rebuilding program. Favorites covered five of last six in this series; Stanford's 35-0 win in '10 was its first in last six tries in Rose Bowl. Pac-12 home underdogs are 11-10 vs spread. Seven of last nine Cardinal games stayed under total, five of last six UCLA games went over. If Stanford wins, these teams play next week in Pac-12 title game.
Oregon won last four Civil Wars with Oregon State, with three of four by 17+ points; they won 37-20/65-38 in two visits here, but Beavers are much better this year, despite splitting four games after 7-0 start. State is 5-0 at home, allowing 16 or less points in all five games. Oregon covered five games in row before last week's 17-14 home loss to Stanford; Ducks hadn't scored less than 42 points before that. Five of last seven Oregon games went over total, as did Beavers' last three games. Oregon State is 5-0 against the spread as an underdog this season.
Oklahoma State (-3.5) beat Oklahoma 44-10 LY, after losing previous five series games by average score of 46-25; favorites were 4-1 vs spread in those games. Sooners were held to 19-13 points in its losses to Notre Dame/K-State; they won last three games, scoring 35-42-50 points last three games, winning wild 50-49 game at West Virginia last week, even though WVU ran ball for 458 yards. State won five of its last six games, scoring 55-59 points in last two games- they scored special teams TD in each of last three games. Big X home favorites are 10-12 vs spread.
Florida had lackluster 23-0 win over I-AA team last week, after nipping ULL on last play week before; they were better team in first half of year. Florida State won its last five games, with wins at Miami/Va Tech mixed in with three beatings of stiffs. Faves covered last five Florida-FSU tilts. with Seminoles winning last two 31-7/21-7; favorites covered six of lst seven series games in Tallahassee. Five of last seven games stayed under total for both sides. SEC non-conference underdogs are 1-3. ACC faves are 7-9-1 vs spread out of conference, 6-6 at home.
South Carolina beat Clemson last three years by average score of 32-11; favorites covered six of last nine in series. Gamecocks won two of its last three visits to Clemson, where Tigers are 3-2 as home favorites this year. Last week's 62-48 (-16.5) win over NC State snapped Clemson's streak of seven straight covers. Tigers had 754 TY last week, 338 running, 426 passing. Gamecocks had only 293 TY in last weeks' win over Wofford; 7-7 game at half wound up 24-7. Carolina is 1-2-1 vs spread away from home, losing last two road games, 23-21 at LSU, 44-11 at Florida.
USC senior QB Barkley (shoulder) is out here; redshirt freshman Wittek makes first college start for Trojan club that lost three of last four games, giving up 38+ points in all three losses. USC won nine of last 10 games vs Notre Dame, but lost 20-16 (-4.5) last time Irish visited here. Notre Dame hasn't lost, but they've played only three true road games; 20-3 (+6) at Michigan State, 30-13 (+11) at Oklahoma, 21-6 (-18) at Boston College. You look at teams USC has beaten this year; they're not good, but Pac-12 non-conference underdogs are 7-3 vs spread this season.
-- Underdogs covered six of last seven Buffalo-Bowling Green games.
-- Ball State won last three visits to Miami; 31-16/20-17/35-10.
-- Northern Illinois won last four games over Eastern Michigan by 49-5 average score- they covered last five visits hgere.
-- Underdogs five of last six USF-Cincinnati games SU.
-- Marshall lost last three trips to East Carolina by 27-3-13 points.
-- Knicks ran into old friend Jeremy Lin and got bamboozled by his new team, 131-103 in Houston. Harden/Parsons both had 30+ points.
-- Clippers, Lakers, Thunder also all lost on the road Friday night.
-- Oregon got a big win at UNLV, 83-79; that'll look good in March.
-- So will Creighton's 84-74 win over Wisconsin at Orleans Arena.
-- Michigan won the preseason NIT, 71-57 over Kansas State.
-- Mike Leach won his first Apple Cup as coach of Washington State; his Coogs upset Washington 31-28 in OT.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) If you’re making couple million bucks to coach an NFL team, would be nice if you knew the rules regarding replay challenges, even if they are stupid rules. Lions lost in OT Thursday because their coach got mad and threw a challenge flag, which nullified a potential review which would’ve easily negated a Houston TD. That’s called losing your poise. Fuck me.
12) That said, the stupid rule about not reviewing a play if a challenge flag is thrown illegally should be done away with soon. No way Houston’s long TD should’ve been allowed Thursday; would’ve been an easy overturn. It is a terrible rule that somehow got put in.
11) Since 1980, Lions have had only two starting kickers; Eddie Murray and Jason Hanson; during that same time, Cowboys have had 18.
10) Weird score of the week, so weird that I checked to see if it was a girls’ score: Columbia 75, Villanova 57.
Jay Wright could have a sinking ship on his hands.
9) If you’re a basketball coach in the Big West, and your team is playing in the Alaskan Shootout, and getting 4 points from host, Division II Alaska-Anchorage, your assistant coaches should be on the road recruiting, because you need better players, brother.
That’s Cal-Riverside I’m talking about, by the way; they lost by a point to Anchorage Friday night. Could be a long winter in Riverside.
8) Thought it was unusual that Houston Texans’ owner Bob McNair watches the first quarter of games down on the field, then goes upstairs to his box. Usually the owner comes down on the field late in the game if his team is going to win, so he can be seen on TV.
7) Cowboys have floundered under Jason Garrett, but at least he’s good (8 of 11) with replay challenges.
6) Red Sox are stressing clubhouse chemistry by signing free agents David Ross/Jonny Gomes. If they continue that trend, Nick Swisher should be their next signee. Gomes was an excellent leader with the A’s, set a tone of selflessness and team play.
5) Apparently the Jets don’t think much of 3rd string QB Greg McElroy; Tim Tebow was active Thursday, despite having two broken ribs. Doesn’t bode well for McElroy’s future in the Swamp.
4) Going into Friday’s games, Jamal Crawford led the NBA in 4th quarter scoring average, with 7.8 ppg; Kobe Bryant was next, at 7.3.
3) Kent State’s ranked in top 25 in football? Wow. Their most famous sports alumnus in last 25 years is Chargers’ TE Antonio Gates, who played basketball, not football at Kent. Have to go back to Jack Lambert/Nick Saban to find prominent football alums.
2) You could make a convincing argument that this is the best sports weekend of the year; so much stuff going on, lot of keep track of.
1) Hey, the genius Mets sold 4% of their team to a guy who has had seven employees implicated for insider trading, three of whom have been arrested; sound familiar? When is former used car salesman Alan R. Selig going to get rid of these hideous people the way he got rid of Frank McCourt? The Wilpons are rotten apples, simple as that. Kick ‘em to the curb, Bud.