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SPOOKY'S "THE MORE I DRINK THE MORE I DRINK" CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK COLLEGE FOOTBALL EXPRESS
Just a bad weekend all around after a nice start to the week. Sometimes you are the bug and sometimes you are the windshield. Lets regroup and look forward to bowl season after this weeks express thread.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a busy sports weekend.........
13) Someday soon ESPNews will show the press conference when the Chargers fire Norv Turner, they'll need to show Ray Rice's magnificent run to get a first down on 4th-and-29 when it looked like the Ravens were dead in San Diego Sunday. Great run, abysmal tackling. Time for the coach to go.
12) Auburn fired Gene Chizik, two years after he won the national title; it would be at least a little funny if the Carolina Panthers fired Ron Rivera and replaced him with Chizik, reuniting him with Cam Newton.
11) NC State fired Tom O'Brien after 7-5 season, which doesn't happen a lot in hoop country; O'Brien sealed his own fate when he ran QB Russell Wilson out of Raleigh before his senior season, because the kid was playing minor league baseball in the summers. Wilson's success at Wisconsin and with the Seahawks made O'Brien look foolish.
10) Speaking of Wilson, sprinklers went on during the third quarter of Seattle-Miami game in Florida. Seahawks/Steelers both lost despite scoring a return TD, that doesn't happen much. In Pittsburgh's case.........
9) ...........Steelers turned ball over eight times in a hideous 20-14 to the Browns in Cleveland. Last NFL team to turn ball over eight times in a game was 2001, when the Rams lost to the Saints; St Louis won the NFC that year. Steelers' backup QBs are not NFL-caliber, at least not anymore.
Cleveland scored two TDs in this game, on drives of 31-10 yards. If defenses force turnovers or 3/outs, it makes the offense's job a lot easier.
8) Rams went five straight games with no takeaways; they picked off four Arizona passes Sunday, with Janoris Jenkins taking back two INTs for TDs in the Rams' 31-17 win, their first road win of the season.
7) Six teams were -2 or worse in turnovers this week; Atlanta was only one of the six to win, sneaking past the Bucs 24-23 in Tampa. Falcons gained 10.1 yards/pass attempt, converted 8-13 on 3rd down but somehow still had to sweat it out til the end-- two missed Bryant FGs didn't help.
6) Watching all the NFL games every Sunday, the one thing that strikes me is how teams' performances vary wildly from week to week, even this late in the season.
5) Chiefs went another game without a touchdown; hard to imagine next year coming around with a major housecleaning in Kansas City; thats coach, GM, starting QB.
4) Gonzaga won the Orlando hoop tournament 81-67 over Davidson; Cal Bears beat Pacific to win the event in Anaheim. Gonzaga is really good. Not sure about Cal's big guys yet- their guards are very good.
3) Four weeks ago, Toronto Argonauts were 7-9 and floundering; tonight, they're Grey Cup champs, after upsetting Calgary 35-22 in the 100th Grey Cup game, luckily for them played in the Rogers Centre. Former Jet backup QB Ricky Ray led the Argonauts to their unlikely title. 23rd Grey Cup title for the city of Toronto, most of any city.
2) Bryant beat Boston College, Cal Poly beat UCLA, and LaSalle beat Villanova in OT, as some of the big-name schools continue to take their lumps in early season hoops. UCLA loses to Cal Poly? Yikes.
1) Baltimore ran 91 plays for 443 yards in San Diego; they converted 12-24 on third down- not sure I've ever seen a team have 24 third down plays. It was only game this week with no turnovers; Chargers went 3/out seven times in 12 drives. Hard to win that way; hard to keep your job that way.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but............
13) If your favorite NFL team is 5-6, all isn’t lost; in seven of last eight years, a team that 5-6 at this point of the season wound up making the playoffs. First time Rams made the Super Bowl, in 1979, they were 5-6, so it can happen. Not likely, but still possible.
12) Falcons have led at halftime in only one of their last seven games; they haven’t covered spread in four of 10 wins (0-3-1). Eagles didn’t cover any of their three wins, Ravens failed to cover five of their nine; other 29 teams are covering 84.2% of their wins.
11) If either Louisville or UConn leave the Big East before July, the league could just dissolve and go away, making way for a new, basketball-only league with the seven non-football Big East schools, plus other teams like Butler/Saint Louis/VCU/Xavier. Conference juggling never seems to stop.
10) USC basketball coach Kevin O’Neill let a TV camera inside his locker room at halftime of their game Sunday night; as luck would have it, Trojans were down 12, so his halftime talk was…..passionate.
He told the kids they were going to win, which they didn’t, but at one point they did storm back to take the lead. USC has a lot of talent, but lot of transfers, so not lot of chemistry; how quickly they gel could determine if O’Neill keeps his job next year.
9) University of North Dakota is now in the Big Sky Conference; problem is, they’re 800 miles from their closest conference rival. Can’t even imagine what living out there must be like in the winter.
8) Speaking of which, not sure if I ever knew before I went to Alaska this summer that Alaska is twice as large as Texas, and is actually 20% as big as the contiguous 48 states. Not lot of people there, but lot of frozen spaces.
7) I feel bad for NHL fans, who love the sport and have to watch it wither away during another labor impasse. Not sure how the owners think this is good for their business; lot of people blame the Commissioner, but doesn’t he just do the owners’ bidding for them?
6) Speaking of the NHL, former St Louis Blues coach Jacques Demers is now an elected official, a Senator in Canada; there are debates going on in Canada about whether to legalize sports betting north of the border.
5) Something to think about when the minor bowls start; Conference USA teams are 7-35 SU this season in non-conference games vs other I-A teams, 1-23 vs teams from BCS leagues.
4) San Francisco Giants’ World Series shares are $377,002, not much less than the minimum salary for big leaguers. Posey/Bumgarner combined to make $1,175,000 this season, so thats significant money for them.
3) Tampa Bay Rays signed Evan Longoria to a 10-year contract extension; two thoughts:
a) I wonder where the Rays will call home by time that contract ends and
b) It would be nice if Longoria’s hamstrings stayed in one piece so he could earn the $100M he’s going to make; he had a procedure on his injured hamstring earlier this month.
Interesting note: Longoria does not have a no-trade clause.
2) Kansas City Chiefs are 0-6 at home for the first time since 1976.
1) San Diego Chargers had 10 takeaways in two wins against the Chiefs this year; they’ve had nine takeaways in other nine games (2-7) combined.
How about this as an 8-Team College Football Playoff Proposal
Here are the basics:
1. Use a system similar to the current BCS system, although the coaches poll probably needs to be removed from the equation.
2. If a conference champion is in the top 12 then they are in the playoffs. The remaining spots are filled by the highest ranked teams.
3. The higher ranked team would be the host team in the first round.
4. The semifinals and final matches would be played at neutral sites.
Applying those four rules to the past six years, here is what the seeding would have looked like:
ACC - 2
B1G - 8
Big East - 4
Big 12 - 7
Pac 12 - 8
SEC - 12
Non-BCS - 7
Home team conference totals:
ACC - 1
B1G - 3
Big East - 1
Big 12 - 5
Pac 12 - 3
SEC - 8
Non-BCS - 2
1. The top four BCS teams every year were also the top 4 seeded teams and host teams in the first round. It would take eight conference champions all being in the top 12 to bump a top 4 at large team out. The closest that got to happening was #5 Florida in 2009 being bumped.
2. The strength of the SEC is apparent as is the weakness of both the ACC and the Big East. Notre Dame's decline is also apparent as it would not have made the playoffs in the past 6 years.
3. Out of 7 non-BCS teams to make it, only TCU would have been a first round host team but they would have done it twice.
4. A 3-loss team would not have made the cut. The highest ranked 2-loss team was LSU in 2007 but every team below it except Hawaii also had two losses.
5. Only one non-BCS team made the cut without an undefeated record (Boise 2012).
6. A total of 24 different teams would have made the playoffs in the past 6 years.
Why it could work:
1. The scheduling could be easily implemented. Conference championship games usually happen on the first Saturday in December. Here is how this year's schedule could work:
Quarter games - December 15, 2012. There would be a two-week gap after the conference championships to allow players time to take their finals and fans to make travel arrangements and purchase tickets.
Semifinal games - January 1, 2012. This time the gap would be a little longer so that the games could be played on New Year's Day. It would also allow fans time to purchase tickets (hello, Christmas presents!) and make travel arrangements. In the meantime there would be plenty of bowl games to watch.
Championship game - January 8, 2012. In theory, this game could take place anytime after this date but in the past few years the game has always fallen right around this date.
2. It rewards tough scheduling by giving a first round home game to the higher ranked team. In the past six years, only 4 times would a team outside of the SEC, B1G Big 12 or Pac-12 have been a host team and only once were they not undefeated.
3. The regular season is still relevant. The threshold seems to be 2 losses, as noted earlier, and if you have a weaker schedule then its probably 1 or 0 losses depending on your conference affiliation. And a single loss, even for a team that appears playoff bound, could cost them home field advantage in the first round. Expanding the playoffs any further would probably dilute the regular season because 3 loss teams would be showing up in the playoffs.
4. It is not a perfect solution but it would certainly appease a lot of the concerns that the conferences have. The big four are pretty much guaranteed at least one spot every year in the playoffs and have a good shot at one of their teams hosting a first round game. The Big East and ACC know they have a shot at getting a team in as long as that team is a conference champion and has 2 losses or fewer. The remaining smaller conferences know that, with an undefeated season, they have a good chance of a team make it in as well.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Six Big East teams have already bolted for greener pa$ture$; UConn-Cincinnati-South Florida are jockeying to get the remaining two spots that the ACC seems destined to open up.
Its very possible that the football end of the Big East could be defunct by July, with the non-football Big East teams forming a new basketball league. This is all a high stakes game of musical chairs where no one knows when the music will stop, or if it ever will.
12) Despite 18 consecutive winning football seasons, Southern Mississippi was always on the outside looking in on conference realignment. Now, after Ellis Johnson’s first season as coach ended at 0-12, ending their streak of winning seasons, USM showed him the door. No matter what league you’re in, 0-12 still gets you fired, and it always will.
11) With five weeks to go in the regular season, 95 of 176 NFL games (54%) have been decided by 8 or less points, the highest percentage ever at this point of the season.
10) Tennessee Titans fired OC Chris Palmer with five games left in the season, a definite red flag, especially when you’re playing a QB with almost no experience. Palmer didn’t seem too sad about losing his job, saying the Titans can hire/fire who they want, but firing him didn’t fix any of the problems. Developing a young QB usually takes time, but 86-year old owners don’t tend to look at the big picture. Impatience breeds mistakes.
9) ACC pulled a tremendous coup getting Louisville to replace departed Maryland. Cardinals are better than Maryland in both in both football/ basketball; only thing you lose with Terrapins leaving is tradition, since Maryland was an ACC charter member. No one care$ about that anymore.
8) Speaking of the Cardinals, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is a tough human; he played the second half against UConn last week with a broken left (non-throwing) wrist. He’s very good in addition to being very tough.
7) Conference USA replaced East Carolina/Tulane with Middle Tennessee. Its hard to imagine anyone will miss having Tulane in their league, other than the easy wins and the trips to Bourbon Street.
6) Tonight’s Big East football game on ESPN between Louisville of the ACC and Rutgers of the Big 14 is sold out, the first Rutgers home sellout in three years.
5) I understand that Notre Dame is 12-0 and deserves to play for a national title, but if I’m voting for Coach of the Year, I’m adamant that 10-1 at Kansas State is better than 12-0 almost anywhere else. The job Bill Snyder has done in the Little Apple is truly amazing.
4) Denver Pioneers played in the Sun Belt last year, the WAC this year and will be in the Summit League starting next year.
I’m wondering if they tried to get into the Mountain West as a basketball-only member? Seems like a better fit than the obscure Summit League.
3) CBS showed A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, couple of nights after the Grinch was on. These are classic shows that should be on closer to Christmas; late November? Not good.
2) As it stands right now, a San Diego State-SMU football game next season will be a Big East conference game. Get a map. SMU is in Dallas. San Diego State is in, well, San Diego. How does this make any sense?
1) Big East basketball tournament is a staple of March; lot of great games over the years. Big East final has 8:00 Saturday spot during Championship Week. In 2014, you could get a Tulane-Central Florida championship game; in the Big East, not Conference USA. Want to see how ESPN sells that one, or any of this stuff.
Louisville QB Bridgewater played second half last week with broken left (non-throwing) wrist, is expected to play here, in what amounts to play-in game for trip to Orange Bowl. Cardinals lost last two games after 9-0 start, allowing 45-23 points; they've won three games while giving up 30+ points- they're 3-1 on road, losing at Syracuse on last trip. Game is sold out, first Rutgers sellout in three years. Scarlet Knights are 4-1 here, losing 35-23 to #17 Kent State, allowing total of 25 points in three home wins vs I-A teams. Five of last seven Rutgers games stayed under total. Three of last four Louisville games went over. Home side won/covered five of last seven series games.
Well the great thing is I got a lot of the Bowl Game stuff up and ready to roll. Now comes the fun part of capping and getting the plays together in the next few weeks. But for now we need to find out who is playing in the bowls. So lets roll with these.
RUTGERS/LOUISVILLE UNDER 45 POINTS
Also a rooting interest and lean towards Rutgers winning the game.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend...........
13) Its an amazingly bad NFL card for Week 13; they hitched national TV games to the NFC East this week, but except for the Giants, it’s a down year for that division.
Week is so bad that NBC didn’t flex out of the Eagle-Dallas game, and the Eagles have been in the tank for a while now.
12) BCS people have to be rooting like hell for Alabama to beat Georgia in SEC title game; a Bama-Notre Dame national title game is their best case scenario for good ratings.
11) Patriots have five return TDs in their last two games; Miami hasn’t forced a turnover in its last four games. Trap game for New England which hosts the 10-1 Texans next week.
10) Dome team from desert visiting the New Jersey swamp on December 2? Doesn’t sound good for a 4-7 Cardinal team that was once 4-0. As bad a season as the Jets have had, they’re 3-1 as a favorite this year.
9) Stanford hammered UCLA in Pasadena last week; the two teams meet again in the Pac-12 title game tonight in Palo Alto. Not often college teams meet twice in same season, much less two weeks in a row.
8) I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that BJ Upton got $75M for five years from Atlanta; with the winter meetings starting up, will any other ballplayers get paid stupid-high money?
Upton’s deal has to drive the market up a little.
7) Four of the top five scorers in college basketball are seniors, led by Coastal Carolina’s Anthony Raffa at 26 ppg; leading freshman scorer is Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, scoring 21 ppg. ASU will be a fun team to watch, now that they have a solid PG.
6) I’m predicting that the people who won Powerball Wednesday night will a) hear from a lot of their old friends this weekend and
b) make as many new friends as they want to have in the coming weeks. My advice: Change your phone number!!!!
5) Winner of the Northern Illinois-Kent State MAC championship game is headed to a BCS bowl game. Their game will be fun to watch, but I’m guessing FOX ain’t too happy about it. Not like those Tuesday/Wednesday MAC games on ESPN2 are ratings blockbusters.
4) Patriots-Texans-49ers are all heavy road favorites over divisional rivals; I’m trying to think which of the three underdogs has best chance to pull an upset. Probably Miami. Titans fired their offensive coordinator this week. Rams will have Niners’ full attention after the tie in Candlestick three weeks ago. Dolphins will need to create turnovers to pull the upset.
3) Total on the Oklahoma State-Baylor game is freakin’ 86. That means if game ends 43-42 and you bet over, you lose. I’ve never seen a total that high, that I can remember.
2) First Giant-Redskins game had a dramatic ending, with both teams scoring TDs in last 2:00, as Giants pulled out a 27-23 win. RGIII is worth watching, all by himself. Am thinking this could be a fun game.
1) Ravens-Steelers is only interesting if Roethlisberger is playing; can’t see Steelers winning with Charlie Batch under center. They had 8 turnovers last week in Cleveland, first NFL team in 11 years to do that.