Wednesday, December 19, 2007

bowls previews and reviews

here are my previews of some of the bowl games, with reviews written after the game. all picks were made before the games themselves. check back often as games go final to get the reviews.

poinsettia bowl - utah vs. navy

preview: my first instinct is to say that utah lost to air force, and navy beat air force, so it stands to reason that navy can probably beat utah. so i'll pick navy based on this simple, yet often-times flawed, logic.

final score: 35-32 utah

review: utah had a good game plan. navy looked slightly lost with paul johnson no longer at coach.

new orleans bowl -
florida atlantic vs. memphis

preview: howard schnellenberger has done a pretty good job at a school that did not even have a football program 7 years ago. who would've thought the school at which he once coached, miami, would be absent in bowl season, but a team nicknamed the owls would be in? i think FAU is better coached and will be better prepared thanks to having played a tougher schedule. i pick the owls.

final score: 44-27 fau

review: memphis was simply overmatched. bowl - (20) cincinnati vs. southern miss

preview: cincinnati has made a habit of beating inferior opponents all season. this game will be no different.

final score: 31-21 bearcats

review: this was the type of tough-fought game that southern miss typically has. and also typically, they lost.

las vegas bowl - ucla vs. (19) byu

preview: byu is the better team. they were when they played ucla in september, and they still are now. only bad coaching and/or turnovers will cause their loss. i don't see too much of either of these happening, so i'll take the cougars.

final score: 17-16 byu

review: byu needed a hand of Moroni field goal block to retain victory. i hope the voters will forget about this by january 8th and put byu in the top 15, thus increasing our chances at high preseason placement next season.

hawaii bowl - (24) boise state vs. east carolina

preview: though i will pick the broncos, i will in no way be surprised if east carolina wins this game.

final score: 41-38 pirates

review: i am in no way surprised by this.

holiday bowl - (12) arizona state vs. (17) texas

preview: arizona state is a little overrated heading into this game, and texas is probably getting a little overlooked after laying an egg versus rivals texas a&m. after seeing what usc did to the sun devils, i'll take texas to deliver a similar, though slightly more gentle, beatdown.

final score: 52-34 longhorns

review: there were zero definitive angles that showed that kid on the texas sideline touching the ball. so how was that determined "conclusively" by video review? i may never know the answer to this question.

champs sports bowl - (14) boston college vs. michigan state

preview: this looks like a classic team just happy to be playing in december versus team that's annoyed to be stuck in something called the champs sports bowl. in many of these cases, it's wise to take the underdog, which is what i'll do here. go spartans.

final score: 24-21 eagles

review: michigan state had a chance to win this but boston college's superior talent ultimately won out. i forgot how easy it is to beat a mediocre big 10 team.

liberty bowl - central florida vs. mississippi state

preview: my only question entering this game is how did mississippi state win 7 games this year? seriously, i could spend an entire year thinking about this and still not come up with a good answer. while i honestly do believe sylvester croom is doing an admirable job in starkville, for him to be voted SEC coach of the year over the potential national champion coach les miles of LSU is somewhat ridiculous. still, i will pick the bulldogs here, only because i just know croom will make me rue the day i pick against him (again).

final score: 10-3 mississippi state

review: i think i'm glad i only watched the one highlight of this game.

meineke car care bowl - connecticut vs. wake forest

preview: this is by far the worst name for a bowl. incidentally, i will be attending this game, which is being played in charlotte. i'll pick wake forest in what will be basically a home game for them.

final score: 24-10 wake forest

review: the uconn husky is a humorously plain mascot.

independence bowl - alabama vs. colorado

preview: two 6-6 teams. only one will finish with a winning record. i'm picking saban just because i'm sure his players will play more scared than dan hawkins' players will.

final score: 30-24 alabama

review: john parker wilson somehow played a decent game, while colorado took a good quarter and a half to realize they were not, in fact, playing intramurals.

music city bowl - kentucky vs. florida state

preview: the seminoles will be without like a million players and will basically be fielding the chess team plus local denny's employees. still, they'll play inspired football and keep it close, but lose.

final score: 35-28 kentucky

review: maybe it's just me but bobby bowden just doesn't seem that upset with losing anymore. he's still a legend, and he's certainly earned the privilege of leaving FSU on his own terms, but shouldn't he be a little more passionate?

insight bowl - indiana vs. oklahoma state

preview: oklahoma state head coach mike gundy is both a man and 40 years old. do not bet against him.

final score: 49-33 cowboys

review: i expected indiana to make this more of a game.

chick-fil-a bowl - (15) clemson vs. (23) auburn

preview: this is one of my favorite bowls of this season simply because i can call it a tiger fight. i predict the clemson tigers shall be mighter than the tigers of auburn

final score: 23-20 auburn (o.t.)

review: for this being a game between two teams nicknamed tigers, and for them both having orange in their school colors, i was disappointed with the lack of orange jersey and/or pant in this game. in other news, c.j. spiller is really good.

outback bowl - (16) tennessee vs. (18) wisconsin

preview: though i live in orange country, i am not a volunteer fan. still, i acknowlege they've had a good season, and their tough schedule will prepare them well to beat wisconsin.

final score: 21-17 vols

review: it just wouldn't feel like new year's if tennessee wasn't playing at 11:00 a.m. they improve to 54-47 all time in outback bowls.

cotton bowl - (7) missouri vs. (25) arkansas

preview: i fully expect darren mcfadden to run through the mizzou secondary like a knife through hot butter and for jeremy maclin to have a sub-par day. missouri will still be disappointed to have been snubbed by the bcs. my pick is the hogs.

final score: 38-7 missouri

review: really, i could not have been more wrong in this prediction. arkansas looked very lazy and missouri looked very sharp. i hope bobby petrino goes 0-12 next year.

capital one bowl - michigan vs. (9) florida

preview: florida's spread option attack should overpower and bewilder lloyd carr's bunch.

final score: 41-35 michigan

review: there are many things i could say here for excuses, such as the well-documented post-heisman-winning jinx. but really the michigan players played hard for lloyd carr in his last game. and florida's inexperience on the defensive front really showed. sadly, the michigan seniors did not go 0-4 in their bowl games.

rose bowl - (13) illinois vs. (6) usc

preview: only the most deluded of college football fans really believe illinois is either 13th best in the country or that they'll give usc problems. the trojans have already played and nearly beat oregon. they will have no trouble with oregon jr.

final score: 49-17 usc

review: it looked like the illini had never seen such speed on defense. indeed, it's unlikely they had; as the happy ninja put it, "they don't make teams like this in the big 11."

sugar bowl - (10) hawaii vs. (4) georgia

preview: i look forward to the inevitable.

final score: 41-10 uga

review: "i don't care who you play, going undefeated is impressive."

fiesta bowl - (11) west virginia vs. (3) oklahoma

preview: an interesting conspiracy theory surrounding rich rodriguez has emerged, stating that he intentionally threw the game vs. pittsburgh so that the mountaineers wouldn't be playing in the national title game so that he could take the job at michigan. i'm not sure whether this is actually true, but i do know that oklahoma currently has a better coach and better athletes, so i expect them to win.

final score: 48-28 west virginia

review: "did i say ninja? i meant ninny. i am such a ninny." i should probably start believing more in west virginia. they looked very good and i was surprised how well they played given the uncertain coaching situation. the long runs by pat white and noel devine prompted me to say out loud that they looked like a video game. i'm sorry to say, but once again, bob stoops lays an egg in a bcs game.

orange bowl - (8) kansas vs. (5) virginia tech

preview: kansas has had a good season, and their fans should be happy with their 11-win campaign. they should also probably not watch this game, as the hokies will show no mercy.

final score: 24-21 jayyyyyhawwwwwwks

review: at least for me, this is one of the bigger surprises of the bowl season. va tech drops to 0-3 all time in BCS bowl games. k.u. coach mangino always seemed a step ahead of beamer and the hokies. it also helped that tech QB sean glennon kept throwing passes directly to the opposition.

bcs championship - (2) lsu vs. (1) ohio state

preview: would usc have made a better opponent for the tigers? will ohio state's record in bowl games versus the SEC fall to 0-9? and are there way too many commercials for astrive loans on television? the answer to all of these questions is yes.

final score: 38-24 lsu

review: thankfully, with this second consecutive beatdown of ohio state in a championship game, people are starting to realize that it has nothing to do with "a huge 50-day layoff" and has everything to do with the SEC simply being a stronger and better conference than the Big 11, and this is particularly true when ohio state is the team doing the representing (or lack of). gary crowton had a good offensive game plan to exploit ohio state's lesser speed on defense. on the other side of the ball, lsu was simply too fast and too physical on defense. their db's were able to play man coverage all night, freeing up 7 to 8 players to load the box and, with the exception of one long play by chris wells early, they contained the buckeyes running game.
congratulations to the tigers for playing a great game and winning the national title.

Friday, December 14, 2007

coach weighs in on the mitchell report

what can i say about the mitchell report that hasn't already been said? my guess is probably nothing. so i'll just give my reactions.

1) none of these names surprise me. none. not barry bonds. not brian roberts, despite peter gammons going bananas over that. i'm certainly not surprised by roger clemens. i mean honestly, how do you explain a pitcher with a sub-2.00 era despite being over 40. dis is not right.

2) george mitchell is pretty much 100% right about everything. that's perhaps an over-statement but my point here is that his recommendations are proper, and everyone in baseball who's responsible for the proliferation of the steroids era, which is pretty near everyone, needs to work together to rid the game of PEDs. will they do this?

3) i think bud selig will finally get serious about this. he's likely retiring within the next three or four years. he's already going to remembered for certain things like expanded playoffs and interleague play. he's also going to be remembered, obviously, for the steroids era. he can't really do anything about that, but he can now work to help clean up the game, and be remembered for helping to solve a problem (even though he, through his negligence, helped to create it). however, this also leads me to ask another question.

4) how much does the average fan honestly care about this? i don't mean to diminish things, because i know there are some parents that care, because they see their children in high school using PEDs after seeing the professionals doing it. but MLB did just set attendance and revenue records last year. the NFL is also enjoying an era of unprecented popularity, and despite their relative clean skate through the media, they also aren't free of PED use. i really think the average fan knows that a lot of players do a lot of various things to enhance performance. at some level, we demand bigger, better, faster, more of the athletes in the leagues we actively follow. how much do we all, to one degree or another, turn our collective heads, or just accept certain things as coming with the territory? how much do we even think about it at all?

5) i think the media cares about this stuff a lot more than the average fan. it's fodder for their trade. it helps to sell papers and get website clicks. but if barry bonds wasn't such an enormous jerk, and if he hadn't been chasing the most hallowed record in sports, most americans probably wouldn't have cared nearly as much that he used steroids. in my opinion, this helped further media attention on baseball as a "dirty sport." but as i alluded to in my previous point, i wonder how much the average fan truly worries about this.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

bobby petrino officially resigns 3 months after unofficially resigning

do you want to know how to make the best of a bad situation? don't ask bobby petrino. he'll just quit on you and then inexplicably hate you. bobby, you'll be missed about as much as jeff george was, which was not at all.

go away

Saturday, December 8, 2007

heisman prediction and vote

if i had a vote for heisman, here's how i'd vote it. these are also the same as my predicted order of finish:

1. tim tebow, qb florida
2. darren mcfadden, rb arkansas
3. colt brennan, qb hawaii
4. chase daniel, qb missouri

i think tebow will win by only a handful of votes. more on this after dinner...

i am back. that was a good fajita. tebow won by more than i thought he would. and this is the end of this post.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

hot stove part 1

i have returned from my mini-sabbatical to talk about some of the recent trades and free agent signings in baseball. there have been many so i'll only talk about a few of them, (though i think some of the more under the radar ones will pay big dividends).

tigers get: 3B miguel cabrera and SP dontrelle willis
marlins get: SP andrew miller, OF cameron maybin, and 4 prospects

i like this deal for both clubs, but a little more for the tigers. after having perused the marlins most recent firesale-equse trades, i'm not convinced they always know what prospects to target. for every hanley ramirez there seemed to be more than one grant psomas. meanwhile, the tigers have basically established a modern-day murderer's row with cabrera, sheffield, and ordonez. i view willis for miller at best a tie for the tigers, but dontrelle won't be asked much in the 4th or 5th starter role, and who knows, he actually might improve because most a.l. teams have seen him little, if at all. the tigers go from on the verge to definite contenders. the marlins once again are building for the future. maybin will be a star, miller will probably round out into a good #3. the 4 other guys, it's anyone's guess.

OF andruw jones to dodgers for 2 years $36.2M

it's probably slightly disheartening to dodgers fans that apparently the royals were the only other team after him, for 2 years and $22M (thanks to for the tip). having watched andruw for a lot of years as a braves fan, it's a little tough to see him go. were these still the days of ted turner and big budgets, andruw would still be in a braves uniform. he's still definitely got the talent and physical ability, he just developed far too many bad habits at the plate. these can be fixed, and don mattingly is a good hitting coach. so i can see andruw improving at the plate, that is to say, to a level in the .260 avg 32 hr 105 rbi range. is that worth $18.1M a year? no, but it's better than anyone on the current dodger roster, so in that way it's not a horrible move. plus it is only 2 years, so no huge committment.

OF torii hunter to angels for 5 years $90M

i remember thinking last year that the angels had over-spent by giving $50M over 5 years to gary matthews jr., a guy who has a connection to h.g.h. and still can't hit 20 hr. now they've spent nearly twice that this year. i realize the angels needed a bat, and that there were multiple bidders for torii's services, so they had to spend a lot. but i just think they could've spent more wisely, as in, on another player, even at another position. in my opinion, torii hunter is one of the more consistently overrated players in the game. yes, his defense is really good. but he's also a .270 hitter that doesn't take walks. 5 years $90 million just seems way too high.

OF jose guillen to royals for 3 years $36M

if i were a royals fan, i'd have wanted my team to: a) not be so public about their desires to get guillen, and b) not have given him 3 years guaranteed. the royals had to give guillen more money to get him since they were so obviously going hard after him. anyway, how good this contract will ultimately look hinges on the if's: if guillen can stay healthy, and if guillen can shut his mouth. so far in his career, he's not consistently been able to do either. but if he can in kansas city, this deal will be a super-bargain. the royals could've spent their money in much worse ways.

tigers get: SS edgar renteria
braves get: RHP jair jurrjens and OF gorkys hernandez

another deal i like for both teams. the tigers lineup is simply loaded. as a braves fan, i'll speak more on what this deal means for them. jair jurrjens, i don't know a whole lot about him except that he neither walks nor strikes out many guys. i'd suspect the braves would like for him to make the team out of spring training and be their 5th starter. they will give him every opportunity to do this at least. gorkys hernandez is a great prospect with speed and power, but hasn't played above high A-ball, so it's likely at least mid-2009 before he's up with the big club. this deal also shows the braves are very confident in yunel escobar. escobar's career path projects very much like renteria, but $8M cheaper. so, given that, i can understand this move. i just hope escobar develops more quickly.

francisco cordero to reds for 4 years $44M

i don't even know where to begin. why did they sign this guy? the reds starters' ERA is the worst in the national league. how are they even going to get leads for this guy to save? why didn't they go after a starter? plus, wasn't cordero like on the rangers garbage pile just a year and a half ago? suddenly one good season for milwaukee = $11M a year for 4 years. no, no, no, this doesn't make any sense at all. this is the dumbest move of the offseason by far. it will only be surpassed if someone is actually foolish enough to give aaron rowand 6 years and $100M.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

college football preview: week 14

ACC championship - 1 p.m.
(6) virginia tech vs. (11) boston college

if the question is "sooooooo, how do you like the b.c." my answer is i don't really. boston college has gotten kind of lucky in a few games this year. or at least, they've seemed to need more luck than virginia tech, who lately have just been rolling over teams. the hokies deserved to win that first game against b.c. but allowed matt ryan to make some plays to win it. the question i have is will virginia tech feel a sense of redemption or intimidation? my vote is the former. i think their defense is certainly good enough to hold ryan sufficiently in check, and we already know the eagles can't really run the ball. on the other side of the ball, the hokies will run well enough to set up the play-action for QB sean glennon, who will play better than he did in the first meeting. va tech wins a close rematch and the ACC title, going to the orange bowl.
the pick: virginia tech

SEC championship - 4 p.m.
(14) tennessee vs. (5) lsu

the breaking news that head coach les miles is actually staying at lsu, if you believe it, is pretty big. perhaps it's a posture to get his players to play inspired football, or perhaps it's legitimate. i choose to believe it because i wouldn't be surprised if michigan tried to float him a low ball offer and then miles to simply tell them where to go. in any event, the result will be inspired play by the tigers. this has the potential to get ugly for the volunteers, who have actually been outscored in their 8 conference games despite winning the east division. that says to me that they've won a lot of close games. so i think they're due for a loss, and anyway, there's no question which team is more talented. tigers make the sugar bowl and prepare for the inevitable.
the pick: lsu (big)

battle for the victory bell - 4:30 p.m.
ucla at (8) usc

surely the pac-10 and the rose bowl committee both are rooting for usc in this matchup. they do not want the embarrassment of a 5-loss team representing the pac-10 in the rose bowl. usc has been playing well lately and will look to avenge last season's upset to the bruins. this will probably be one of those games where usc gets ahead early and then slowly lets ucla back into the game, only to step on their necks at the end.
the pick: trojans

the civil war - 4:30 p.m.
oregon state at (18) oregon

somehow the winner of this game will make the holiday bowl. i didn't know oregon state was even in a position to do that. this is a game of two teams going in opposite directions, with the beavers having won their last 2 and oregon losing its last 2 and reeling from the loss of dennis dixon. despite the fact that they will be the road team, i think oregon state will pull the upset, while ryan leaf's brother continues to play mediocre football.
the pick: oregon state

this is not a rivalry - 6:30 p.m.
(21) byu at san diego state

this game will have basically no meaning for byu if usc, tennessee, arizona state, and hawaii don't all lose. still, the cougars will continue to play inspired football because john beck is starting for the dolphins.
the pick: byu

backyard brawl - 7:45 p.m.
pittsburgh at (2) west virginia

why is this rivalry called the backyard brawl? were the first games in this series actually just kids on the intramural squad playing in someone else's backyard? i do not know the answers to these questions. what i do know is that this game could get very ugly, very quickly. lou holtz has said this could be a close game because the wannstache is the coach of pittsburgh. i'm not sure i understand even a portion of this supposed "logic", because pitt is the single most undeniably-awful team. trust me, i've done my research. i know every nooks and cranny. i know them so well, i know their whole...
the pick: mountaineers (huge)

territorial cup - 8:00 p.m.
arizona at (13) arizona st

i don't know why this rivalry is named after a nirvana song but whatever. arizona state needs only to win this home game to get a BCS bowl that would essentially be another home game. i think they'll beat their rivals in a close game and then likely play either oklahoma or kansas in the fiesta bowl.
the pick: sun devils

big xii championship - 8:00 p.m.
(9) oklahoma vs. (1) missouri

once again the game of the week involves missouri. will they have a letdown after their big win over kansas last week? i think there is risk of this, but it will be outweighed by the knowledge that one more win = chance at a national championship. chase daniel and the missouri offense are clicking on all cylinders right now. much has been made this week of how bob stoops has a ton of big game experience, while missouri has virtually none. what has not been said much is that bob stoops also has a lot of experience losing said big games. it's tough to beat a team twice in the same season. oklahoma will likely again have a partisan crowd but not quite to the extent as their first meeting vs. the tiggers in norman. another big question will be if missouri comes out and plays tight as the higher ranked team and oklahoma plays more loose as the team with less to lose. this was less analysis and more a collection of rambling thoughts. anyway my pick here is somewhat influenced by who i'd rather see win.
the pick: missouri

this is also not a rivalry - 11:30 p.m.
washington at (11) hawaii

is hawaii really the 11th best team in the country? i'm not sure anyone outside of polys and delusional rainbow fans actually believe this. still, i will be rooting for them tonight, in their quest of the inevitable.
the pick: warriors