Tag Archives: college football

Big 12 Teams Primed to Make a Run at the College Football Playoff in 2016

The Big 12 made its first appearance in the College Football Playoff last year, but Oklahoma wasn’t supposed to be the team representing the conference. Media and fans predicted that the winner of the TCU-Baylor game would represent the conference. Since that didn’t happen, it seems like the conference is wide open again this season.

Does that mean the Big 12 will have a team worthy of playing in the College Football Playoff? Here are the contenders in our way-too-early predictions:

1. Oklahoma Sooners

We have to start with the Sooners, since they are the defending Big 12 Champions, and they return a lot of their main playmakers from last year. Oklahoma has historically overachieved when the expectations were low, and underachieved when the expectations were high. They will enter the season with national championship aspirations, so it will be interesting to see if they can avoid a letdown. Their opening game against Houston will tell us a lot about what this team is capable of.

2. Baylor Bears

Baylor would have arguably won the conference if quarterback Seth Russell didn’t get injured during the season. The Bears were rolling up until that point, but then the injuries kept piling on. Assuming Russell is healthy coming into the fall, Baylor may actually be favored to win the conference in 2016. They should roll through their soft non-conference schedule again, so Baylor will be set up for a College Football Playoff berth if they run the table in the Big 12.

3. Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys had an up-and-down season last year. At times, they looked like they could win the conference. Other times they looked like any team could beat them. With Mason Rudolph having a couple years of experience as the quarterback, Oklahoma State could be a team that surprises some people this year. Their defense has always been overshadowed by the offense, but now they could have a mixture of both.

4. TCU Horned Frogs

TCU also dealt with a mirage of injuries last season, which put a pretty big damper on its chances of winning the conference and advancing to the College Football Playoff. The Horned Frogs lose a ton of talent from last year, especially on offense, so we would have to expect some growing pains early in the season. Credit Gary Patterson for putting together consecutive strong recruiting classes, so TCU may not fall as much as people think. The quarterback competition is largely made up of inexperienced players, so that will be the one key factor in how far they can go this year.

Dark Horses

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders started developing an identity at some points last season, which should carry over into this season. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked like a Heisman Trophy contender at times, and he quit playing baseball to focus solely on football. The only question is the rest of the team, and the defense. We know that Tech can score points, but they can also give up a lot of points. If the defense decides to play on a weekly basis this year, Tech could make things interesting in the conference race.

West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia is slowly beginning to gain footing in the Big 12, but its time may be running short with head coach Dana Holgorsen. Last year was the first year that Holgorsen’s team looked balanced. If they improve on what they started on both sides of the ball last year, then West Virginia could surprise some teams.

Texas Longhorns

The only reason why the Longhorns are on this list is because they beat two of the top teams in the conference last season (Oklahoma and Baylor). They are probably the team with the most talent in the conference, but they have underachieved the most. That starts with the quarterback position, which still hasn’t been decided. Most people think that Texas is a good quarterback away from contending for a conference championship.

Who Will Make It?

With seven potential Big 12 contenders, in my opinion, the conference is wide open. Last year proved that anything can happen within the conference, and I’m expecting a lot of the same this year. Despite the injuries, TCU and Baylor played with targets on their backs all season, and it showed. Oklahoma will now do the same, which could make things pretty interesting for the pre-season favorites. It may be too early to tell for sure, but I’m going to go with Oklahoma State having the best chance to get through the conference slate and into the College Football Playoff.

E-mail Chase at chase [dot] holik [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikipedia

How Do College Football Recruits Choose Their Schools?

We are less than one week from national signing day, where hundreds of student athletes will sign their letters of intent to play football at a school for the next four (or so) years. While this may be un-newsworthy for some, I happen to find it one of the most incredibly entertaining days of the year.

Actually, let me backtrack a little bit. Recruiting in general, leading up to signing day, is entertaining to follow. National signing day is just the result of all the recruiting tactics that players and coaches use up until that day.

Most casual college football fans, and even a lot of experts and die-hards, don’t follow recruiting closely.

And I get it.

Championships aren’t won in February. A star ranking means nothing on the field. Players are only as good as their coach develops them. I understand it all.

But what makes the recruiting cycle fun to observe is the constant battles amongst coaches and players. It is more transparent now than ever with Twitter blowing up every time a recruit talks to a coach.

So here’s what I’ve observed on Twitter and other outlets about how these high school kids choose their college.

The days of growing up being a fan of a team and playing for that team are over. Yes, there are still some kids that are die-hard fans and have dreamed of playing for that school ever since they were little. But nowadays, it’s not unusual for a Longhorn fan to commit to play for the Aggies and vice versa.

Relationships with the head coach and the coaching staff outweigh the fandom that comes into play, in most cases.

Momentum in the program also plays a role. Kids that normally would commit to Texas are now looking at Baylor, TCU and other programs in the state since they are in a better position to win immediately. You can’t really blame them for that, especially if they have NFL aspirations.

But what makes the players commit to a school? It may not be the reasons that you’re thinking.

Some players flip a coin when they are down to two teams. Some choose based on the restaurants available near campus. Some choose based on the attractiveness of the females they saw during their visits. Some may not like the weather that a city gets.

I’m not joking about these, but these are obviously not the only factors that kids take into consideration.

Just like with regular relationships, sometimes the pursuit works, and sometimes it doesn’t. In fact, one player is committed to another school currently and said he wouldn’t listen to anyone else. Charlie Strong called anyway. The player came to Austin for an official visit, and now he may flip his commitment to the Longhorns.

What’s hilarious is what coaches will do to sway the minds of their recruits. Jim Harbaugh has been on a roll this year. He has reportedly slept over at a recruit’s house and met with another at 12:01am after the dead period ended. Some recruits appreciate that, some don’t.

Going back to relationships, you shouldn’t use college coaches or recruits as examples for good relationships. Think about how many players “commit” to a school, only to “decommit” and play elsewhere. It’s pretty much like dating to a point, but to a different extreme.

“Committed” players still talk to other coaches from other schools. How would you feel if your significant other was committed to you, but talked to other guys or gals?

I think players shouldn’t be allowed to officially commit until they sign their name on papers. All the talks of committing and decommitting are just for attention and really mean nothing. We’ve seen players be committed to a school for over a year, only to change their mind on signing day. That leads to conspiracy theories, but we will leave that for another day.

When I take a step back and really wonder why I like following recruiting so much, I can laugh and make fun of myself. It’s ridiculous to follow Twitter feeds of high school kids in hopes that they come to my school. But I like to read into things way too much anyway, so it’s right up my alley.

Fortunately, recruits do the same thing, which makes following them even more entertaining. With all the outside noise and social media, recruits are having a harder time than ever trying to nail down a school to go to.

I would like to say there’s a formula to figuring out why kids choose to play for a particular school. But there’s not.

But at least we can try to figure it out, right?

New Year Breeze: Hope Frees, CFB Semis & NFL Regular Finale

We’re in the singularly scintillating time of season for college foot-bowl semifinals (blowouts), NFL playoff-slot finalization, the carnage of NFL coach elimination, and the eternally springing hope of a New Year’s clear determination to do different, better: thinner, happier, more productive. Filled with the freshly-fallen inspiration of life enchantment , still untainted by time’s gritty-truth-cycle, I’d like to offer this re-working (ruining) of New Year’s classic tune as a gift from hope’s fleeting seat, or a garish gargle of peril to come, depending on if you feel the beat, sung: *(To the tune of “Auld Lang Syne“)* Should bubbly bottles be full-bought, as fizz post-pop floats on; Ice trays refilling drinks all night, some drunks last long past dawn; Thy Chicken Breasts be microwav’d, skat jazz speak best left behind; And friendly faces to deflect, from jocks Time thought divine. *(If you don’t like this rhyme-mime let Mr. Tom Waits tell you what’s fine and divine between New Year grime)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Link Dinks and Dunks https://twitter.com/nickbreezus/status/683435887506644992 No surprise, OSU’s sometimes QB Cardale going proA look at ‘Bama’s stud in the fading fullback field…Who will watch the playoff on New Year’s fricking Eve?…Auburn tops Memphis in Birmingham Bowl…Nice video on the world of East St. Louis (MO.) High School football

CFB Game of the Week: $$$2 Alabama 38 vs. #3 Michigan State 0 (Cotton Bowl – CFB Semi) If you didn’t know the final score and only saw the first couple drives for each team, you might’ve thought this game played out as a low-scoring, grind-it-out, defensive affair. Of course, you’d be wronger than ketchup on cereal as Alabama quickly adjusted to Sparty’s D mostly suffocating stud RB Derrick Henry by countering with QB Coker to flossy-Freshman WR Calvin Ridley, opening the floodgates from a weapons-grade warehouse of whoop-ass. I weep for East Lansing a bit, as the “little-brother” tag they’d seemed to have shed by (barely) beating Michigan, Ohio State, winning the Big Ten title and making the Playoff has now come creeping back since being so thoroughly outclassed against ‘Bama.

The same tired (but partially true) storylines of “Vastly superior SEC line play stomps Spartan hopes” and “Alabama’s stockpile of seasoned 5-star recruits smashes MSU’s overachievers” have already begun to spin out of control, and I just hope we can all remember how great Alabama is and how no one can take away the massive step Michigan State’s program has taken recently, now sitting comfortably among college football’s elite. Perhaps some teams are just perpetual media underdogs, no matter how consistently excellent they are.

Perhaps the Carolina Panthers would’ve gotten smashed by this Crimson Tide machine, which now appears enroute to its 4th national championship title in the past 7 years, once those pesky Clemson Tigers get out of the way.

One Play From the Game, My Way: Derrick Henry trucks Shilique Calhoun to end Sparty’s evening, season THIS IS WHAT I’M DOING TO DEPRESSION, DISTRACTION, AND INACTION IN 2016 https://vine.co/v/iqln6AYMeqL MSU’s outstanding DE, Shilique Calhoun is the player Derrick Henry so effortlessly flings to the field in the Vine above. Shilique Calhoun will likely be a 1st or 2nd-Round pick in this April’s NFL Draft, was a 2nd-team All-American this past year, and is “oh-by-the-way” 24 years old. In other words, he’s a bona-fide beast with age and size on his side.

However, Derrick Henry is this year’s Heisman winner, touting a mutant stregth-size-speed combination and a left-handed stiff-arm made of malice and built to bust egos. This is just one play from many, and things happen so fast in games that it’s terribly unfair to slow them down, slap ’em on a repeating Vine, and have the outstanding player quickly beaten in a singular instance seem as though his soul was stolen and smashed by a superior. I hope this is understood.

Having said that, it’s impossible to ignore the synchronicity captured in this moment of ill-will Bama’s RB visits upon Calhoun and the overall terror the Crimson Tide forced down Sparty’s throats all day long. Bama didn’t just beat MSU, they flippantly tossed them aside, just as Henry does here. Calhoun’s attempt to tackle here isn’t even a minor annoyance to Henry, who’s seemingly considering what he’ll do with his NFL millions as he trucks through the air toward pay-dirt.

One of the most amazing feats exhibited in this burst of beasting, is how Henry not only shoves Calhoun to the ground via his face while running at full speed, but how he manages to u-turn the entire trajectory of an explosive, 6’5″, 250-pound athlete trying with everything he has to impede the runner’s progress. At the end of the tackling attempt, Henry displays once again the amazingly-casual brutishness (with which he seems to always play) in this scoring run, while Calhoun’s moving the opposite way of whence he came, exemplary of these teams’ opposing trajectories after the trouncing.

3 Joke-thoughts Inspired by the Above Vine: 1. If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthy, this is how strictly you must treat sweets and fast food 2. Public Service Announcement for Children: This is how to treat strangers with candy 3. This is what my mind does to the occasional desire for self-improvement

One other nice play from the game: Calvin Ridley TD catch vs. tight coverage exemplifying the fight ever-present, natural within football, competition

Let the Bowls Continue! (Selected Bowl Roundup)

#1 Clemson vs. #4 Oklahoma (Orange Bowl – CFB Semifinal)
Watson makes Sooners scheme seem an elementary education, as Tigers roll on to Tide and ‘O-homa takes a forced vacation

Navy vs. Pittsburgh (Military)
Cadets’ QB K. Reynolds makes Narduzzi’s new nuts rusty with NCAA TD record in hand and victory glad

Baylor vs. UNC (Russell Athletic)
Baylor beats the Tar outta Academic Heels

LSU vs. Texas Tech (Texas)
Lenny F. jets Tech back to rec specs, Tigers spoil oil money fun

Houston vs. FSU (Peach)
Cougars luger cold pie to Seminoles, Herman on path to Holy Role

Michigan vs. Florida (Citrus)
First-year coaches bowl shows Harbaugh shoulders above, Wolverines give Gators the glove

Notre Dame vs. Ohio State (Fiesta)
Battle of dissed playoff misses confirms Buckeyes better than most that matter, splatter Irish

Stanford vs. Iowa (Rose)
Ed did good in spurting Christian (McCaffrey), as old Bronco seed produces current Cardinal deeds destroying Hawkeye’s needs

Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma St. (Sugar)
Rebels Freeze Gundy’s Monday Morning Men, send Cowboys back to poking cows

NFL WEEK 17 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

NFL Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week https://twitter.com/nickbreezus/status/683129804204412928 Chip Kelly somewhat surprisingly canned in Philly…The rest of the “Black Monday” coaching firesManziel out at Cleveland, lusts for Jerry-dome…Steve Smith Sr. coming back to the Ravens in ‘16…How will ‘Bama’s Heisman-winning workhorse RB Derrick Henry…A look at the future of virtual reality in football

NFL Game of the Week

Seahawks 36 vs. Cardinals 6 With Arizona already earning the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs, it wouldn’t have shocked anyone for them to come out a little flat against Seattle on Sunday night. It was surprising, however, to see the team in red appear limper than a soggy tater-tot, slogging (apparently) through thick soup (dry heat?) while Seattle soared in, over, and around the Cardinals to a dominating win. Russel Wilson was his recently-unstoppable self, completing 19 of 28 passes for three scores, 4 kittens saved from trees, 2 robberies thwarted, and 650 hope-filled inspirations instilled throughout the United States. Tyler Lockett jitter-bugged past would-be special team heroes in the return game, the Seahawks stifled Carson Palmer’s aerial attack, and that fearsome Seattle defense shut down impressive ‘Zona RB David Johnson from the get-go, leading to a wire-to-wire destruction of a team that just last week looked like the best team in the NFL. What this says for the playoff hopes of both teams is anyone’s guess. Was Seattle just working its way through a typically tough regular season, honing, tinkering, just trying to stay healthy, and now in prime form for a thrice-repeat run to the Super Bowl? Was Arizona really just sleepwalking through this game with their immediate playoff fate already sealed, resting their excellence until it matters most? More importantly, do they have the transcendent and fleeting ability of very few to “turn it on” when they want and need to? Only time will tell those of us lucky to live to see it all unfold.

One Game-Defining Play, My Way: Sherman Waxes Poetic Given this game was such a thorough Cardinal ass-kicking by the Seahawks, and reflective of those pesky CFB semifinal blowouts , I’m just gonna leave this right here as a symbol of what played out in many parts of the country this past week. Despite some lopsided scores, it was still thrilling brilliance.

https://vine.co/v/ibP30plQiwq

 

NFL Results Roundup

Jets @ Bills
Rexy Bison Boar ruins the hopes of Jersey Shore, eats more than lap band prefers in celebre

Patriots @ Dolphins
Tannehill thrills South Beach with Fins win and Belichick encouraged to suck a Peach

Saints @ Falcons
Brees keeps saying “Suck deez” too late, but berates ATL on boards of score

Ravens @ Bengals
Ray-J McKieran leads the B’s past the B’s, AJ to AJ mentions refuse to end

Steelers @ Browns
Big Knee Braced-Ben beats Browns, then Cleveland fires everyone

Jags @ Texans
Texas Open-carries and tea-bags Jags, we all wear paper face-bags

Titans @ Colts
Pagano’s (supposedly) fiery-seat beats Tennessee dreams of avoiding defeat

Washington @ Cowboys
Cousins crew keeps rolling, apparently Saban’s Crimson Tide have won more in the Jerry-dome this year than the ‘Boys, true story

Eagles @ Giants
Coughlin set to resign? Eagles lose Chip on shoulder but push win boulder uphill, sneak thrill over NYG

Lions @ Bears
Deeeeeetroiiiiiit fooooootballll beats Chi-town’s blustery bullshit

Bucs @ Panthers
Cam-town recovers from last week’s surprising upset and smokes Tampa, ample

Raiders @ Chiefs
Close contest but Reid knows best with KC beating Oakland’s tease

Chargers @ Broncos
The Return of Peyton brings Broncos to beat electric-&-soon-to-be-LA Chargers

Seahawks @ Cardinals
Carroll’s curmudgeons put Palmer in the defeat dungeon, beat the hell outta AZ

Rams @ 49ers
San Fran takes Tomsula from also ran to run Saint Louis to South Cali egregiously

Vikings @ Packers
Peterson wins rushing crown, powers Teddy and the Gang past the Artist Formerly Known as Aaron Rodgers

Selfishly Sprayed Tweets from the Peak

Monday Morning Breeze: NFL Week 16, Bowl Scenes, & Leaping Dreams

Merry Holidays! This week we go stream-of-c swimming for most efficient information absorption, in a land where it’s 70 degrees on Christmas East and snowing tornadoes in Texas’ Sun Bowl. A land where Duke Football finally gets karmic bliss from their ref-stained, 8-lateral-last-second loss to the Hurricanes by controversially beating Indiana in Pinstripes because the kick was too high. Most importantly, we’ll soon get to see the beauty of couples across the country being torn apart because the College Football Playoff begins New Year’s Eve. The answer to, “Are you in or are you out?” could mean the difference between loving hugs and sleeping in the dumpster for a while.

The Professionals of Football’s National League witnessed some questionably reported and shocking/not-so shocking allegations tossed Peyton’s way, Carolina’s loss-column get filled with 1, William Belichick stealing a page from Marty Morninwheg’s Detroit Overtime Playbook forcing A.C. Slater’s coin-flop, Cousins kneeling for no one, Oakland and San Diego in the battle of who could care Less Angeles, Arizona Juggernauting, Minnesota rolling, Mallett winning(!) as a Raven(!), Weeden winning(!) as a Texan(!), and much more.

Come on in, the fire’s frozen and there’s a pitcher of “egg nog” that’ll put you on the floor, sky-bound Gurley Jones and Twitter flame galore as we reflect on “Dab” and “Dabo” now and forever being a part of the national consciousness.

What mysterious beauty will 2016 bring to thee?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

College Football Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

SI’s Campus Rush has cultivated some great CFB content over the year, so this one’s all theirs: What does the NFL think of Clemson’s Watson?…VA Tech’s Beamer coaches his final game…Powerful piece from a college student that also happens to be one of the best LB’s in the country, Oklahoma’s E. Striker on why he’s more than a helmeted headWhen Saban was respected but not loved as a Spartan head coach

Let the Bowls Continue! (CFB Roundup)

duke indiana

Duke vs. Indiana (Pinstripe Bowl)

School that produces rich NY’ers beats Hoosiers thanks to Karma Bowl in Yankee Palladium

UCLA vs. Nebraska (Foster Farms Bowl)

‘Huskers truck Uck-LA’s luck, Nebraska wins game, UCLA wins better place to exist

Miami (Fl.) vs. Washington State (Sun Bowl)

Mike Leach’s Reach tops Mark Richt’s Future Fellas in Snowy Texas Tornado

NFL WEEK 16 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

NFL Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

Touching moment as Charles Woodson says farewell to Oakland post-game…Shaky report links Peyton Manning to HGH, BS or not?…ODB’s college teammate at LSU and best friend kinnnnda replicates That CatchPeter King’s MMQB, a direct breach of creative license in stealing the format and idea from us 🙂

NFL Game of the Week

camice

Atlanta 20 vs Carolina 13

The basics: As everyone on God’s green Earth knows, the Panthers have been on one of those “14-week beat the hell out of most everyone you play” tears through the NFL, riding an undefeated record and making sure nobody tugged on their likely league MVP Super-Cam’s cape. The Falcons, have endured the rollercoaster roadshow of a Brand New Head Coach in Year 1 of the Dan Quinn regime, recently suffering through one of those “6-game losing streaks my God must we keep playing maybe the Hawks are on TV” streaks of suckitude, before getting a win last week over the Jags to chin-up to .500 on the year. Most would tune in to this game only to see how quickly Mr. Newton would get his 5 TD’s and how the Josh Norman vs. Julio Jones battle would turn out.

What’s that? You’ve been hearing alot about Carolina’s Eternally Innocent CB lately? Me too. In case you actually have loved ones and/or fulfilling things to do with your time besides swallow the never-ending sports swirly that is Media and missed last week’s ODB Jr vs. Josh Normal catfight, basically it goes “Norman and Beckham Jr. fight all game, Beckham Jr. loses his damn mind and spears a defenseless Norman in the jaw, Beckham Jr. gets 3(!) personal foul penalties, Beckham Jr. scores lovely game-tying TD on Norman late, Carolina wins on last-second FG, National media crucifies Beckham Jr. as Worst Human Conceived and he gets 1-game suspension from the league.” Phew.

This week offered Norman no rest in facing yet another top-tier receiver, maybe even the toppest of tiers in Atlanta’s juggernaut Julio Jones. How would Norman respond to being in that white-hot spotlight all week? Could Julio keep his league-leading receiving romp rolling against the best corner in the league?

Turns out Norman played like normal, which means excellent. Unfortunately for him and the Panthers undefeated streak, J. Jones decided to leap and tickle the bottom of God’s feet before providing one of the plays of the year sparking the Falcons to a (semi-) shocking upset win. In a solid nod to Dan Quinn’s first draft class Atlanta’s top pick in 2015, DE Vic Beasley, displayed his pass-rushing prowess in stripping Cam on Carolina’s last-gasp drive for the tie, as Atlanta recovered and knelt out the game.

So dowwwwwn goeeees Carolina from the unbeatens, the Old Dolphins can celebrate, Atlanta’s on the uptick and a game above even, and everyone involved is likely better off for this game going exactly as it did.

Most importantly Jah Jones gave us this play, which deserves more words…

One Game-Defining Play, My Way

https://vine.co/v/iqB0b6nraxK

I meeeeaaaan, if you can watch that play any less than 13 (thirteen) times you might not be a human capable of feeling. To begin, QB Matt Ryan rolled left to avoid pressure from the Panther’s seeking to eat his neck, re-established his feet for proper pigskin projection, and then unleashed a heaving prayer into double-coverage, well-behind his intended receiver, which would normally be a pretty terrible throw EXCEPT this time his intended receiver is from another planet, better than anyone else, and regularly answers prayers.

Watch how effortlessly Julio adjusts his route to come back for the ball, running at well over 175 MPH, listlessly shrugs off a falling Carolina player that’s trying in vain to keep up, and in an instant verticals himself to just beneath the light fixtures atop Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As he continues rising, I imagine at least the tiniest of smiles must’ve crossed his mouth as he saw Luke Keuchly (a great player in his own right but well out of his spatial comfort zone out here in the land of balletic leopards) white man jump for the descending pass. I imagine Keuchly’s mind raced, screaming: “Oh man, what the hell am I doing out here? Whoa! There’s the ball! It’s coming to me! I got it! I got it! Wait? Do they allow planes with arms in here? What the hell!? Dammit, I’m falling. There he goes.” Jones, at the peak of his ascent, calmly, gently, softly allows the ball into his perfectly placed hands like saving a baby tossed from a burning building, or how (I’m certain) he plucks groceries off the top shelves in stores for needy old people. In this case Keuchly thought he was about to get the last box of Wheaties, only he’s not Julio Jones, as are none of us, so we’re thankful for eyes and Vines.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this play is how easily it seems Jones is able to keep his balance throughout, the difficulty of this relative to the speed and explosive moments on display here evidenced by the fact the other two world-class athletes in the frame tumble to the ground in succession. Only Jones, after ball-jacking Luke’s hopeful heart, sticks the landing (damn W. German judge even gave him a 10) and within 5 pitter-patter, backwards-sideways-forwards re-routing steps has turned himself completely around and continues his plan toward the touchdown. There are no wasted steps, no wasted motion, each fiber of Jones’ form seems to have been built for this one play. As he 0-to-60’s his way into the end zone, he even has the wherewithal to cross the plane of the goal line doing one of the few celebrations I find to be creative and fun, the track-and-field inspired “breaking the tape” lean-in to secure the fastest time and edge out any parallel opponents. Only on this play, because it’s Julio, there’s nobody else to be found, nobody else anywhere near him to challenge as his opponents lie in carnage behind and beneath him. Out here, it’s Just Julio Jones, and we all get to bear witness.

Bonus Bit of Beastly Beauty

Oh ya, by the way, ummm…Todd Gurley’s amazing too. I don’t care if he fumbles on this play (Rams recovered and he wound up scoring shortly after), I do care that Gurley’s coming off ACL surgery and is able to jackrabbit at full speed over a soaring Seahawk that just happens to be All-Forever Level Earl Thomas, one of the better tacklers in the NFL. Thank you, Todd.

NFL Results Roundup

Chargers vs. Raiders (Thursday Night)

Oaktown prevails in battle of future LA, Woodson tells crowd “Hey”, both teams’ futures sway

Washington vs. Eagles

So Kirk Cousins might become Uncle Kirkle after this lovely display, winning games against Chips Kids

Panthers vs. Falcons

Dowwwwn goes the Dab as Matty Ice gets Hotlanta again to end Panther unbeaten hopes

Texans vs. Titans

Titans are bad with Mariota and reprehensible without, as evidenced in today’s Texans fillet of Tenn. tons

Steelers vs. Ravens

Ryan Mallett somehow beats Ben’s Pitts after being on Baltimore for half an hour

Patriots vs. Jets

Controversial coin flip call by Belichick lets Jets De-Fleet and give shingles to New Era

Bears vs. Buccaneers

Jay Cutler somehow remains married to F-list celebrity woman, more amazingly beats Winston’s Bucs

Colts vs. Dolphins

Indy survives injury to their Geriatric backup QB to drown Dolphins already filled with frowns

49ers vs. Lions

Deeeeeeeettttroiiiiiiiit Foooootballllll tops Tomsula’s Tattered Tonsils

Cowboys vs. Bills

Rexy Flexy beats star-less yet still TV sexy Dallas, Jerry Jones stomps his foot and nobody cares about any of this

Browns vs. Chiefs

Hey whattttya know? Andy Reid’s got his team in surprising position for a playoff birth, beating Browns’ Johnny spot

Jaguars vs. Saints

Brees rebounds from Lions licking and stick it to other cat crowd, jack those Jags

Rams vs. Seahawks

Fisher wears his hat backwards but points Saint Louis forward in shocking toppling of Seacarrols

Packers vs. Cardinals

Arizona appears geared for an NFC showdown with Carolina, Cards’ d-line batters Rodgers in desert swarm route

Giants vs. Vikings

Men of Soda monster mash Big City Boys, give ’em all purple nurples

Bengals vs. Broncos (Monday Night Football Prediction)

Peyton Manning accidentally sends an HGH shipment to Nick Saban’s Crimson House, and the McCarron’s receive word, win the press game but these Broncos tame the striped cats no question

Selfish Tweet Promotion (So sue me) (But please don’t)

Monday Morning Breeze: Transcendent Travel, Fights, & Cycles Sing

Movement, everywhere, all around and within us. Internal body motions and external Earth rotations. Cycles and surges are everywhere, whether or not we’re aware. Conor McGregor got the “movement” movement, well, moving last week with his blink-and-you-miss-it UFC knockout, and perhaps that subconsciously inspired my own travel as I up and left lovely Austin, TX for a 24-hour trek to Frederick, MD where I now lay my head. Apart from an hour-long nap in a beautiful Sears parking lot in even more beautiful Texarkana, it was just me, my 1999 Ford Escort, the same four songs playing in between radio fuzz, and the promise of knowing if I keep pushing the pedal eventually I’d reach my destination.

Though football seasons always feel to fans like they fly, they’re also a long slog just like driving alone through the night, with the promise of playoffs providing hope at the slowly approaching end of the tunnel. We’re nearing that cycle of the season for both college and the pros. College bowl season kicks off this week and the Big Playoffs draw near on New Year’s Eve while the NFL’s pretenders are sifting out, leaving the real contenders standing at the doorstep of the Shield’s field-tourney in just a couple weeks.

This week I learned Memphis has a big pyramid, driving solo for distance makes road reality seem a video game, and change’s cyclical ways do wonders for a weary head. Where does this season lead? What does it all mean? Who the hell knows? But it sure is fun to watch everything play out, on the field and in the day’s yield.

Happy Celebration Times to all!

COLLEGE FOOTBOWL PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

footbowl

Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

QB’s Gone Wild! Stud Texas A&M QB’s Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray both to transfer from Sumlin’s kingdom…Suspended stud Florida QB Will Grier to transfer as well…Michigan State remains the Rodney Dangerfield (“No respect!”) of CFB as Sports Freaking Illustrated misidentifies HC Mark Dantonio on THE COVER…Speaking of MSU, here’s a great look at their next-level AD Mark HollisBig recruiting win for Georgia’s fresh HC Kirby Smart, keeping the pledge of highly-rated QB Jacob Eason…SI’s top 10 CFB moments of 2015 in video form…Clemson’s Dabo continues to seem like the most fun coach to play for, renting an entire amusement park for his team…Surprising early end to dominant Ole Miss DE’s college career…Nasty Arizona LB Scooby going proBaylor’s bowl be a little more boring without freakish WR Coleman, RB Shock

Let the Bowls Begin! (CFB Roundup)

Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

North Carolina A&T 41, Alcorn State34

Non-Tarheels topple the place known as “McNair went there”

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Arizona 45, New Mexico 37

Anu ‘Zona was gonna make the Lobos loss hobos in their home bowl

byu

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

Utah 35, BYU 28

Holy War produces close score, but Utes do a bit more to evade those Cougars’ lusty eyes

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Appalachian State 31, Ohio 29

The team that beat Michigan once beats Peter King’s alma mater, the (Bobcat) Goldthwaits

Cure Bowl

San Jose State 27, Georgia State 16

Pretty amazing an 80’s emo-ish band has a bowl game named after it, houses SJSU’s big FU to peaches

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Louisiana Tech 47, Arkansas State 28

The place where Troy Edwards broke all those records once upon a time smokes a team that states it can saw the Ark

NFL WEEK 11 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

Great look at the unique friendship between the NFL and NBA’s best, Cam and Steph…More shade thrown the Patriots Way….Future NFL’ers to watch during Bowl Season…Would Gronk still be Gronk without Belichick’s touch?…Remember the Raiders’ Robbins fleeing the scene pre-Super Bowl?…Richard Sherman’s idea to fix officiating…

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NFL Game of the Week

Panthers vs. Giants

Carolina’s been steamrolling through their schedule this year, maintaining their perch atop the league as the final unbeaten still standing being led by Superman Himself (or Global Media Brand or something like that) Cam Newton, the clear-cut MVP of the Panthers and probably the entire NFL. New York’s Football Giants have been their typical uncertain selves, playing up and down to the competition and everywhere in between while somehow remaining in the playoff race due to the NFC East being a steaming pile of dog mess this season. Are they underachieving? Dangerous? The team nobody wants to see in the playoffs? Is Eli done? Coughlin too old? Does Pierre-Paul now have the answer to the eternal questions posed in this Cake song? It’s tough to tell with this team, but no matter what it felt like the G-men would stand and deliver in this game, and they didn’t disappoint.

This matchup would also allow for the popcorn movie magic of seeing the game’s best CB (Carolina’s Josh Norman) and (arguably) the best WR (Giants’ Odell Beckam Jr.) go head to head for most of the day. They’re both incredibly intense, fiercely competitive, and the Alpha-est of Alpha dogs so the day’s most certain thing was both would show ready to perform, and with an animosity that was almost palpable through my 10-year old television, perform they did. However, their performance was both athletic, brilliant, and of the WWE-style as there were many instances of shared-facemask-grabbing and “punches” thrown and tussling after the play. Of course, there was that one play which will certainly be the focus of mainstream media today, along with a million “Is ODB out of control?” and “How could Coughlin not reign him in?” think-pieces for which we have no concern or interest, but that one vital play in which ODB really behaved like the dirty bastard he shares an acro-name with we must dive deeper, so we shall just below.

In the end New York showed up as we all hoped and turned this game into a heavyweight slugfest, with Carolina doing most of the slugging for much of the game until those Giants chose to sleep no longer and began a furious comeback down 28 points in the 2nd half, capped by a lovely Beckham Jr. TD catch (against Norman) to tie the game late, only to see hope vanish and Carolina continue to vanquish with a clutch 43-yard FG by Graham Gano as time expired to seal the Panther victory.

Carolina Panthers 38 – New York Giants 35

One Game-Defining Play, My Way: Norman vs. Beckham Jr.

To set proper context, please head here to see the Norman/ODB fisticuffs and the spear heard ‘round the world all in one cozy place.

Let me begin by saying this: Beckham’s attempted decapitation of a relatively defenseless Norman was dirty as hell and kinda gross. Having said that, it didn’t feel as completely out of nowhere as everyone seems to think in the post-game reflection dance. Norman and ODB Jr. are both incredibly dominant athletes, both arguably the best in the world at what they do, and their positions just happened to match them head-to-head in this great game, forcing them to compete directly with each for Sunday’s superiority. Wide receivers are notorious prima-donna’s, all balletic brilliance bounding between the boundaries, and cornerbacks their defensive counterpart, famously “living on the island” alone in the secondary with attention coming in droves due to their duty, only the attention forever skewing between the hot fame of shutting down an offensive attack or the shame of being victimized by passing fancy.

Imagine for 5 seconds the mindset one must have to succeed in those positions, in an already ruthless sport and league and fame-fishbowl that is the NFL’s glorious Sunday parade. The brightest of bright spotlights burn eternally on great WR’s and CB’s, and pitting the (likely) defensive player of the year against one of the league’s most transcendently talented athletes, a player who seems to seek and relish the mania of media more than most with American fawning over the explosion of ODB after just his rookie year (“He’s invited to fashion shows! He’s taking over Polamalu’s Head n’ Shoulders ‘poo Crown! His TD hurdler celebration was creative and better form than Olympian Lolo! He’s having the best offseason EVER!”) was certain to be a comedy of intimidation and exciting athletic genius, a figurative fist fight that became literal.

Seeing these two tussle and eventually ODB cross the line in attempting to concuss the entirety of Norman’s being reminded me of Mike Tyson quote talking to an apoplectic public about how he could be so crazy outside of the ring. I’ll have to completely paraphrase but his response was basically: “What do you expect? You celebrated me for being an animal in the ring, for instilling fear in the world while leaving carnage in my wake. This behavior made me rich and famous so long as it was confined to boxing but it’s impossible to foster that hungry maniac for heavyweight dominance and expect a human to be able to keep it confined to the agreed upon battleground inside the arena.” Of course the ugliness and raw energy so apparent in the raging, excellent Tyson would spill out in other displays, and of course the slithery media narrative that helped build Tyson into “Iron Mike” would turn its back, wring its hands and say “What a monster! He must be caged/stopped/laughed at!”

The Norman/Beckham Jr. matchup was a streetfight to be sure, and we shouldn’t be surprised it turned out that way and I’m not even surprised at Beckham’s spear-job. It was a punky play, definitely, but it was born out of a competition and desire to dominate so great I can’t even imagine the fire burning within both men. Norman did a better job of keeping his cool, but ODB’s explosive ways are what he’s celebrated for. Watch how he plays, how he runs with the ball, it’s always intense as hell  and explosive. Of course he’s also amazingly graceful, perhaps the most agile player in the league and the beauty of his ability to receive the ball (those hands!) in every form and fashion possible may deceivingly put a shiny sheen over the fiery rage so evident in his approach to the game. Let’s keep in mind Norman is no angel either; check out this story on how he proudly promotes his pre-game prep, talks about going to his “dark place”. Also, from that piece:

When you talk me up, get me going, I get to another place,” Norman said. “I feel disrespected, like that must mean I suck, which I don’t.”

Knowing a bit about the mindset of these two helps remove the mystery of their display yesterday. In the end Beckham Jr. lost his cool and Norman was able to maintain, and while Beckham Jr. was clutch in beating Norman for the game-tying TD late, Norman’s Panthers got the win which will certainly singe ODB even more. I’m definitely not mad at either, not even Beckham Jr. for what happened yesterday, because the furious pool those punches and punkiness came from is the same one which drives him to excellence. I’m just happy to be able to watch two elite athletes at their best inside the brightest boiler room. But, ODB, next time stick to face-to-face fighting amid football fun, ok?

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NFL Results Roundup

Buccaneers vs. Rams (Thursday)

Future Angeleno Rams slam Tampa, make Bucs stank as Winston walks the plank

Jets vs. Cowboys (Saturday)

Dallas continues to play like dirty doody with backup QB’s, fall once more to Jersey Shore

Panthers vs. Giants

G-men scare de cats, but Cam’s kicker man Graham wins it for Charlotte in the end

Chiefs vs. Ravens

Reid’s steeds smoke Poe’s punks

Titans vs. Patriots

Gronk keeps gronking and New England proves mightier than sinking Titanics

Bills vs. Washington

Snyder’s skin may be oily and gross, but his team toasts the Bills with the boastful coach

Texans vs. Colts

Boy O’Brien keeps fledgling oil boys trending right as Houston tops the Colts who seem to’ve no fight

Falcons vs. Jags

Luke-warm-lanta wins the battle of crapitude, being slightly less crappy than the Jax-holes

Bears vs. Vikings

Vikes strike early and often to stomp the Butkus bros

Browns vs. Seahawks

Seattle rains points on the Brown stains, stay hot, clinch playoff spot

Packers vs. Raiders

Are Rodgers and the Pack back? Don’t know about that, but they best Oaktown clowns

Bengals vs. 49ers

Dalton-less cats make clear the 9ers need a counsela for Tomsula

Dolphins vs. Chargers

Rivers makes the fins cry him, as Burgundy’s boys belittle the Ace Venturas

Broncos vs. Steelers

Ben’s better than Brock in the battle of the B-boys and Pit gives Denver fits

Cardinals vs. Eagles

Palmer’s pigeons were itchin’ for an ass-kickin’, and they hand-deliver one to Kelly’s bumbling Balboas

Lions vs. Saints (Monday Night Football Prediction)

Stafford smooches stellar stats and smokes Brees like trees, Cats stump slumping Saints leave coal lump in their throats

How Win Friends and Influence Christmas

Sants

 

PS: This week’s release of Star Wars seems to have permeated each bit of reality, as these road signs were all over Nashville (forgive the crappy picture, I was driving at the time). If you can’t read it, the sign says “Drinking & Driving is the Path to the Dark Side.”

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Monday Morning Breeze: Football is a Phenomenon

This weekend college football is nearly asleep, apart from the Heisman ceremony (Derrick Henry) and our military homage with the always entertaining Army – Navy game. While the playoff is set with incredible matchups soon to come, we must wait for New Year’s Eve to learn what is the final sum.

However, the NFL takes no such break as these players are professionals and actually (ideally), properly compensated for their efforts. I love watching these amazing dudes smash their precious, fragile brains and bodies weekly for our entertainment, because there’s nothing else in the world like witnessing it, as a fan, as a movement, as a television phenomenon. We watched to see if Cam’s cats would stay unbeaten, if the Seahawks are really on the up-and-up, if all that 3rd-string action made Johnny Football a better QB, and much more. Let’s dive in to the weekend that was…

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Great games to come soon once bowling begins, for for this week we turned our attention to the nation’s servicemen and servicewomen.

College Football Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

Alabama RB Derrick Henry wins this year’s Heisman in close vote over Stanford’s Christian McCaffery, headlines 2015 All-American team…Ole Miss’ stud DE falls 4 floors and is ok!?…Navy’s electric QB Keenan Reynolds sets all-time CFB rushing TD record in win over Army…Coaching carousel updates, including DUKE’s own Scottie Montgomery in at ECU and Greg Schiano’s return (D-coord.) to CFB at Ohio State…

The Only College Game This Week

keenan

Navy 21 – Army 17

85 rush TD’s is hard to conceive, even with option-3, but Keenan is one to believe, Navy nips Cadets

NFL WEEK 11 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

The umpteenth week where everything went crazy, and things were difficult to predict again.

NFL Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

The rise of Allen Robinson…Great look at what it was like screening the “Concussion” movie with ex-NFL’ersColts’ Punter pays for local powerGiant DE released for fight over headphones, more…Nice interview, retrospective with Raiders’ CB Charles WoodsonRussell Wilson’s sister is good at sports too

NFL Game of the Week

red rifle

Steelers 33 – Bengals 20

Here’s One Play that Defined the Game, My Way: AJ Green Toasts Punk DB: So, yayaya the Bengals got smoked and Andy Dalton busted his thumb trying to tackle a huge player that’d just intercepted his pass and AJ (McCarron) to AJ (Green) is a fun but probably unsustainable sideshow endangering the Bengals for a bit, but I’m going to focus on a karmic turn of events irrelevant of the final score, because it’s that important. The lesson, rule, Law of Nature: Don’t talk shit and mess with someone that’s way better than you, because (God-willing) they’ll quickly smite you and make you look stupid on national TV. Case in point: #41 Antown Blake, Pittsburgh’s corner covering AJ Green for part of the day was clearly caught up in the chippy-ness of this game. PIT’s Vontaze Burfict, no stranger to breaking the rules of being a sportsman, got things heated up pregame by eyeing-down and trash-talking the Bengals during warm-ups, and there were slap-fights and extra-hits galore in this game, as would be expected in this contest between two of the tougher towns and teams in the good ol’ U Ess of A. Basically, they don’t like each other. So, it wasn’t completely out of context when Blake power-slammed Green after a short catch with extra oomph along the sideline, garnering an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and (more importantly) Green’s full attention and ire. Nor was it totally out of the question (but a shady play) for Blake to thump a defenseless Bengals receiver over the middle on a clearly impossible to catch incompletion shortly thereafter. But not too much later,  a clearly fired up Green got revenge for all things holy and righteous in the world (Watch it again, look for the concealed revenge rage clearly powering Green’s steam as he looks back just before crossing the goal line, though nary a gloat to find in the esteemed receiver). Filed under “Thank Powers Greater than Us” Karma Police, in the form of AJ Green, went ahead and arrested that Blake man, beating him badly for the gorgeous 66-yard catch-and-run TD witnessed above. There was no chance in the world AJ was not catching that ball and getting tackled before scoring. It was as certain and natural as gravity. Green caught, he shamed, he conquered, and pirouetted around Blake’s assisted-yet-feeble attempt at stopping inevitability then waltzed into the end zone for a TD that mattered more in the reputation rankings than NFL standings. Either way, AJ Green, I applaud you for punking punky play, keeping hope alive, and providing us with the redeeming sight of a buster solemnly, silently watching his opponent score at his expense.

NFL Results Roundup

Vikings @ Cardinals (Thursday)

‘Zona busts Peterson’s bonah, continue winning with the world in Palmer’s hand

Saints @ Bucs

New Orleans remembers what it’s like to win, pin Winston as Brees leads to V

Chargers @ Chiefs

Alex’s Apaches win late to defeat Rivers’ DIsciples

Falcons @ Panthers

So, Cam’s great, the Panthers seem purrrty great, smash the hell outta ATL and stay unbeaten

Seahawks @ Ravens

Pete’s peeps keep rolling along with their annual Resurgence campaign, smoke Poe

Redskins @ Bears

Cousins keeps cruising, bruising Bears and Cutler’s sluts in Washington’s win

Lions @ Rams

Detroit loses this one in more traditional fashion, Rams blam Lions (lambs)

Bills @ Eagles

Shady vs. Chip yields a great game, but Rexy falls short and Sammy slams a win for Philly

49ers @ Browns

The City hits a new Brown note as Cleveland’s Johnnies stomp San Fran

Titans @ Jets

New Yorkers’ Snark trumps Nashville’s Charm, shaved Fitz smacks Marcus Hawaii

Colts @ Jaguars

Bortles bestows gift of shame upon Indy, tosses trillions of TD’s and obliterates the Horseshoes

Raiders @ Broncos

(Sings) “Return of the Mack” or perhaps debut, as Khalil makes (5 sacks!) do-do of Brock’s Broncos

Cowboys @ Packers

“Discount Double-Check this dick” shouts (thought) Rodgers while helping Dez drop ‘Boys Club

Patriots @ Texans

Gronk clonks back, stomps Billy’s boys as Pats regain Super-form

Giants @ Dolphins (Monday Night Football Prediction)

Eli’s face and Ricky Three-Fingers defeat ‘Fins as Tannehill continues to sin

PM to Donald Trump’s Central Nervous System

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Monday Morning Breeze: College ‘Chips and NFL Winter Dips

Sometimes the parallels between life and these splendid sport displays are too loud to ignore.

Yesterday, when walking around the city (Austin) I came across a couple random dudes that’d just jumped (illegally) off the main (Congress) bridge into the frigid Colorado River which bisects the downtown portion of the city. It was a random moment in a rapidly-changing town that I just happened to catch, yet it contextualized the city and the day in its own special way. Two bike-kids popping off their wheels to flee the scene of cement and soar into unknown waters far beneath, for glee. It reminded me of this weekend’s football significance, with college teams hopefully plunging into waters of uncertain depth and temperature, hoping to return to the surface as league champions and playoff participants. Similarly, the NFL action called for the consistent competition that comes with our beloved professional game; pitting healthy, hot teams against the those lurking in the coldest waters, always looking to strike despite what the record beside their nickname might say.

‘Tis the season for organizational heathens leaving pink slips on the desks of disappointing coaches country-wide, and championship pursuit pictures getting clearer with Time’s guide. Regardless of the ugly sides of this football guide, we thankfully sigh knowing entertainment lies once again on the full weekend’s tide with Saturday, Sunday, and Monday offering welcome rides to the truths turf-tussling provides.

In the college ranks, we’ve already seen the coaching turnstile spinning round and round, with massive shake-ups at schools big and small. We’ve also heavily anticipated this championship weekend, as if the weeks leading to this Saturday were conjecture-filled opening/closing arguments for who belonged in the College Football Playoffs, this weekend would provide the jury’s decision, finally offering the truest clarity of the Four-tunate teams that’d go on to compete for college football’s holiest grail.

In the NFL, games continue chugging along with each week promising the delight and defiance showcased in a league built on the ideal of parity, in loud contrast to College Football’s “Mostly Big, Old Powers Rule” system. Post Sunday-Monday-smashing we’d learn if the Seahawks or Vikings were more for real, if the Panthers could remain the NFL’s sole undefeated in New Orleans, if Philadelphia is as bad as they seem facing the Super Patriots, and more and more and more.

So here’s what happened…

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Championship Saturday’s here! The conjectured smoke we’ve made will finally clear. On. The. Field.

College Football Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

The College Football Playoff is set…HEAD COACHING TURNSTILE UPDATE: Mark Richt heads to Miami, where I think he’ll dominate…Alabama’s DC Kirby Smart off to replace Richt in Georgia…Nice SI (Staples’) piece on Smart’s potential at UGA…Will Muschamp gets another HC shot at South Carolina…DJ Durkin leaving UofM(ichigan) for another UofM(aryland)…BYU’s Mendenhall off to mend Virginia…Syracuse to hire Bowling Green’s Dino BabersRutgers to hire OSU DC Chris Ash?…LSU to hire the coach they already had, Les Miles (great article)…Standout PITT RB James Conner, already out for the season w/a knee injury, diagnosed with Lymphoma

CFB Game of the Week

#4 Iowa vs. #5 MSU (B1G Championship Game)

Of all the championship games taking place Saturday, this one was the only clear-cut “win and you’re in the playoff” scenario for both teams participating. MSU, coming off a massive win over at-that-time-undefeated for 23-games Ohio State and a pummeling of Penn State, was rolling strong and appeared to be on a warpath to the Playoff. Meanwhile, Iowa’s been humming along in relative obscurity all year, except for those taking potshots at the Hawkeyes’ mediocre schedule and claiming they lack proof for being counted among the nation’s elite. For each, this game was a chance to quiet naysayers. In MSU’s case, forever playing second-fiddle to the University of Michigan in its own state (even as MSU’s been superior for years) has created a little-brother complex the Spartans seem ready to shed, and this game’s potential for granting MSU a spot in the CFP would lift any lingering question marks about their legitimacy as a national power. On the other hand, Iowa’s vanilla offense and vanilla schedule have created a mostly vanilla reception from the national audience relative to their elite status. If they could beat a mostly-proven opponent in MSU, on the Big Ten championship stage, it’d quiet almost each (but not all) negative Nancy and push them into the even brighter lights of the College Football Playoff.

LJ Use

#5 MSU 16 – #4 Iowa 13

Here’s One Play that Defined the Game, My Way:

  1. Sparty’s Longest Drive, Longest Yard, Long-Awaited Playoff Berth:

Click here to watch the play of the game.

We could talk all about the defensive slugfest this game predictably turned out to be. We could talk all about the resilience of Michigan State all year exhibited again here, the toughness of Iowa showing up on the big stage proving they belong listed among the nation’s elite, but we should only talk about one play. This play capped the one drive that mattered in this evening’s contest: Michigan State’s game-ending, 22-play, 82-yard drive that took 9 minutes and 42 seconds off the 4th-quarter clock, finishing with a battle comprised within a run that exemplified the entire game up to that point. Two teams playing disciplined, defensive, program-identity-laden football eventually being decided by this amazing gasp of human exertion by MSU’s Freshman RB LJ Scott.

For an outsider, this was the perfect play-nugget to decide and explain this B1G championship contest between two defensive-centric, heavyweight-slugging teams. This running play, given to Scott heading off the right tackle, into a swarm of Iowa defenders, appeared to have been smothered behind the coveted goal line. However, just like Michelangelo’s depiction of spiritual swine Divine and Man touching digits in the “Hand of God”, LJ Scott would not be denied a connection with his fate, with his Ultimate Understanding. Just like Man must twist and collide and pivot and spin and eventually strive to stretch past His hurdles in Life, LJ managed to do so past the Hawkeye’s defensive contingent, reaching the rock over the blessed white line into the end zone, Heaven, Enlightenment, and all that’s holy in the B1G’s championship dossier. Watch it once and you’ll probably see a hard-nosed football play. Watch it twice, perhaps your eyes can catch the human pursuit of peace and perfection, hope’s resurrection, time’s exalted collection of the homo-sapien struggle, all contained within one foray of this funny football snuggle.

At the End of the Day: CFB’s Top 25 Went this Way (Rankings via Official College Football Playoff Poll)

#4 Iowa vs. #5 MSU (B1G Championship)

Spartans strong, win with one loooong final drive and outstretched RB arm, on to the Playoff

#12 Baylor vs. Texas

Charlie makes strong, season-ending statement besting beat up Bears in Koresh’s House

#19 Houston vs. #22 Temple (AAC Championship)

Herman’s Coug’s run Owls back east, clinch ‘ship and hopeful future with new 5-year HC deal

#1 Clemson vs. #10 UNC (ACC Championship)

Tigers remain undefeated, decleating Carolina, Dabo dances finah than Fedora

#2 Alabama vs. #18 Florida (SEC Championship)

Bama whamma’s Gators gains, screams victory from Mobile plains enroute to Playoff

#7 Stanford vs. #20 USC (Pac-12 Championship)

Card’s ride McCaffery’s record-setting (all-time yardage) son, may’ve won himself the Heisman

NFL WEEK 11 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Teams Keep Smashing Each Other in Fast, Fun, Frightening Ways

NFL Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

God-damned Lions lose on this crazy play to the Pack…We know JJ Watt’s good, but outperforming Buffalo’s entire D-Line good?…Great look at how the NFL’s money train keep rolling, no matter what…Rams’ WR Stedman Bailey recovering miraculously from gunshot wounds to the head…Panthers’ CB Josh Norman on how he gets his game face on…

NFL Game of the Week

Seahawks @ Vikings

Minnesota red-carpeted to this game on a roll, winning 6 of their last 8 games, leading the NFC North and riding a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson fresh off his massive suspension last year to a dominant season thus far. Meanwhile, Seattle has struggled to regain the form that saw them to the last two Super Bowls, missing out on a repeat chance due to one (very) questionable goal-line offensive play call against New England. The Seahawks had rebounded from a rough 0-2 start to the season to 2-3, and now regaining their championship form on a 2-game winning streak. Who’s momentum would continue after this meeting of two of the warmer teams in the League? Could the ‘Hawks D slow down the Peterson train (yes)? Could Minnesota contain Russell Wilson (no)?

WILSON YES

Seattle 38 – Minnesoooootaahhh 7

One Play that Defined the Game, My Way:

  1. Russell Wilson Spins the Game, Vikings, on His Fingers:

Click here to watch the play of the game.

Much has been (rightfully) made of Steph Curry’s dominance of the NBA recently, including this glowing NY Times’ piece getting the similarly glowing reviews from professional ballet dancers on Steph’s footwork and exploits. If there’s anyone in the NFL that can offer such a consistently entertaining, fleet of foot viewing experience it’s Seattle’s QB Russell Wilson. On a key 3rd down play during SEA’s first scoring drive against the Vikings, Wilson’s Curry-like ways were on full display as he rolled left and was rudely confronted by Minnesota’s DE, #99 Danielle Hunter. Wilson, in response to potentially being mauled, chose to feign a quick cut right, seemingly planning to return whence he came for greener pastures. His juke so convincing the ultra-athletic (and jacked) Hunter sought to cut Russell off at the pass, for a likely sack, glory, and end of the Seahawks’ potential TD drive. Unfortunately for Hunter, and Viking fans worldwide, Wilson was merely setting him up, like Reggie Miller getting free for another open 3 or a mark getting took by the Vegas shark that’s lurked longer, better, and quickly spun back to his left, revealing a wide-open patchwork of turf he’d quickly sprint across, gaining a valuable first down and ultimately a Seahawks touchdown. It appeared effortless, perfect balance maintained throughout, as though Wilson was Kasparov playing chess with a beginner, knowing all along the trap he needed to set for a quick victory. This is just one play, but it resembled the entire afternoon of this Seattle blowout victory, as Wilson was at his best all day, controlling the pace of the game, distributing the ball effectively, and being electric when he had to. Don’t count out the ‘Hawks just yet, thanks to Wilson’s balletic brilliance, that’s a play I won’t soon forget.

NFL Results Roundup

Packers vs. Lions (Thursday Night)

McCarthyism wins in miracle fashion, Pack smack Lions back down with shocking Hail Aaron

Texans @ Bills

Rexy’s boys finally get win machine turned on, top Texans and turn tons of pressure on Billy’s butt

Falcons @ Buccaneers

Rookie QB’s rule today, with Winston rolling once more to a win over Matt “Not Good” Ice

Jaguars @ Titans

Mr. Mariota runs looooong past Jacksonville, cast Jags in a losing suit once more

Jets @ Giants

Despite another lovely ODB Jr. long TD, Jets with the battle of New York, see?

Cardinals @ Rams

If you haven’t noticed yet, ‘Zona’s good and they pull the hood over Rams’ heads again

49ers @ Bears

Gabbert shows he’s a fast white dude, excludes Cutler from that category & the one named WIN

Bengals @ Browns

How’s that Manziel punishment going? Dalton’s smash baby Browns, make clowns of CLE frowns

Ravens @ Dolphins

Will Smith’s win over the Poe’s in the city of Southern Sin

Broncos @ Chargers

Brock bowls a nice game again, smacks Future Los Angeles Chargers hard

Chiefs @ Raiders

Reid’s steeds beat Al’s young pals, KC craters Raiders

Panthers @ Saints

Cam’s Cats stay undefeated, gut-punch hope-depleted Stains du Nu Orlosin’s

Eagles @ Patriots

Chip shows college football how much he loves NFL by bringing hell to 2-loss-in-a-row Belichicks

Colts @ Steelers

Big Ben busts Hasselbeck’s butt so bad, the Colts can’t remember Luck ever feeling so bad

Cowboys @ Washington (Monday Night Football Prediction)

(EDIT) Cousins continues climb to kiddie-Canton1Editor’s Note: We realize Drew Stanton plays in Arizona, but we tend not to bother The Breeze when he’s rolling, a la Brother Bluto, leads Terrible Name past the Collarbone’d Cowboys

Follow This to Finish Fantasy Fantasy Football Finer than Foes

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1. Editor’s Note: We realize Drew Stanton plays in Arizona, but we tend not to bother The Breeze when he’s rolling, a la Brother Bluto

More Than A Friday: Nothing Has Mattered In College Football Until Now

Every game counts, except for the ones we determine don’t matter, under the guise of not evaluating losses.  The end of the College Football season has always had its ways of frustrating us on one level or another.  Bowl games were set up in a weird way, where the best teams didn’t necessarily play each other, and everyone was proud to play on January 1st.

I know, I know.  This New Years Eve is going to be so awesome, watching College Football through confetti…but really, is it?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back to the old days of split-titles and what-not, but the more we try to solve the problem, the more we realize there’s no perfect solution.  I mean, it’s nice.  We reward four regular season achievers with a playoff, distinguish four other games as very important, and spend our December and early January evenings watching games of waning importance that feature slightly above average to fairly good teams.

That seems cool, but the undercard action is borderline fatiguing, and there’s such a gap between the motivation you’re going to have for a National Semifinal versus an “Access Bowl”.  Ask Nick Saban about his Alabama team sleepwalking into those consultation games.  There’s gap between the Access Bowls and kicking off in Orlando at 11 AM on the first day of the year, but being left out of the Peach Bowl isn’t quite the same as being five and wondering why a committee thought four was better than you.

That might be a problem.  For the second year in a row, I’d have to assume we’re going to see some sort of subjective cut line, and there will be a solid argument for a team playing in Pasadena1Or one of those other prestigious non-championship participating games.  I’m assuming a Big Ten team or Stanford to be competing for a title.  Ohio State and Notre Dame have only lost close games to top opponents, Stanford dropped one to an Oregon team that’s much better than their record and one hard-to-forgive road contest at Northwestern, and North Carolina is begging forgiveness for their season opening loss to South Carolina and the Ole Ball Coach2That’s Steve Spurrier, who resigned in-season this year..

There’s a few ways to look at this.  Chalk makes it easy and chaos makes it chaotic.

ACC Championship

It’s undefeated Clemson and once-defeated North Carolina.  Clemson finally cleared the hurdles created by Florida State and South Carolina in the past, and find themselves in the ACC Championship game for the first time in a while.  Quarterback DeShaun Watson will take the stage with an outside chance at the Heisman Trophy, so head coach Dabo Swinney will set him up to shine.  North Carolina has Marquis Williams, and he’s been nothing short of sensational behind center for Larry Fedora’s team, who enters the weekend on an 11-game winning streak of their own.

Chalk: Clemson wins and they’re in.  Wins over Notre Dame, Florida State, and North Carolina will make the fact they schedule Wofford as meaningless as Alabama’s loss at home to Ole Miss.

Chaos: North Carolina wins, and you start comparing them to teams on the couch this weekend.  Ohio State was underwhelming, despite holding the top spot until we recognized the committee’s rankings over the AP’s.  The Tar Heels didn’t play Florida State this season, and schedule two FCS opponents.  This might come down to style points, and while most would have to think simply taking down Clemson would do the trick, we know the aforementioned Buckeyes made an “All Sales Final” pitch to the committee in the Big Ten title game a year ago.

Big Ten Championship

With all due respect to their recent success, it will be a battle of little brothers in Indianapolis to crown a Big Ten Champion.  Iowa is unbeaten, but no one believes they are what it says they are on paper.  They’re hanging their hat on a non-conference win over Pitt and victories over a few decent intra division rivals.  Michigan State, on the other hand, has been the best team on the field in every game they’ve played this season.  They were better than the Cornhuskers, who won on a very controversial play, and they were better than the Buckeyes, who they dominated in their own building, despite the game coming down to a walk-off field goal.

Chalk: The winner goes to the College Football Playoff.  Few would argue that.

Chaos:  Enough people might get it in their head that if Iowa wins, do you automatically deem them better than all of the 1-loss teams.  Undefeated should eliminate that noise.  You could hold the Nebraska loss against Michigan State, but wins at Michigan, Ohio State, and Oregon3You could mitigate this victory a little bit by suggesting they didn’t play the same Oregon that knocked off Stanford, but it was still a good win for Michigan State., not to mention Iowa on the big stage should quiet all of that noise.  The only chaos here would be an ugly game, and an ugly game didn’t keep Texas out of the 2010 BCS Championship, in the era known as that of The BCS.

Pac 12 Championship

USC has four losses, and they fired their head coach earlier this season, but bounced back under interim-turned-full-time head coach Clay Helton.  Stanford has some momentum after the big win in their season finale over Notre Dame, and they’ll be playing close to home this weekend.

Chalk:  I’m not sure it matters, but if Stanford loses, they are out.  If they win, they are scoreboard watching.

Chaos:  The top teams bottom out in their conference championship games, and the committee has three teams locked in, Oklahoma and the champions from the Big Ten and ACC.  Fourth spot is up for grabs, with 2-loss Alabama, 1-loss Ohio State, and the 2-loss Cardinal reaching for it.

SEC Championship

Alabama was able to convincingly beat Wisconsin on a neutral field to start the year and lost early to Ole Miss at home.  They took care of business versus the rest of the SEC, but the jury is really deliberating hard on just how good the conference was in 2015.  Florida has had a good run under first-year coach Jim McElwain, surviving an unexpected year-long suspension for their opening day starting quarterback to win the SEC East, but a poor showing versus Florida State last week does not inspire anyone into believing they’ll best Alabama in Atlanta on Saturday.

Chalk: Alabama is very likely on the top line with a win and all the way out with a loss to the Gators.

Chaos:  There promises to be a lot of Gator fans in Columbus.  Realistically, a Florida win is the only obvious route for Ohio State (or Stanford) to reach the College Football Playoff, but then what do you make of a 2-loss Florida team.

Actual Predictions

Basically, because rarely does anyone ever find themselves held accountable for being wrong, I’m going to take a stab at slotting the Semis and the Access Bowls.

Orange Bowl (National Semifinal)

Michigan State vs. Clemson

Cotton Bowl (National Semifinal)

Oklahoma vs. Alabama

Rose Bowl

Ohio State vs. Stanford

Sugar Bowl

Baylor vs. Florida

Fiesta Bowl

Iowa vs. Notre Dame

Peach Bowl

Houston vs. Florida State

 

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1. Or one of those other prestigious non-championship participating games.  I’m assuming a Big Ten team or Stanford
2. That’s Steve Spurrier, who resigned in-season this year.
3. You could mitigate this victory a little bit by suggesting they didn’t play the same Oregon that knocked off Stanford, but it was still a good win for Michigan State.

College Football Live Blog: The Third Saturday in November

Welcome to the first Live Blog of 2015 at More Than A Fan. Join Nick Brzezinski, Heath Gould, and Jeff Rich for College Football talk, as we approach the end of the season and a lot of things are revealed.

Perhaps the NCAA Needs to Intervene: J.T. Barrett and Ohio State

The title of this article is something no one says.  When the NCAA gets involved, things get botched.  It happens time and time again.  But with the way the J.T. Barrett case is being handled, it seems that the punishment won’t fit the crime unless the NCAA does something.

J.T. Barrett is 20.  He consumed alcohol as a minor and then got into a car and began driving around.  He was stopped by the police and arrested for OVI, a misdemeanor, after trying to avoid a DUI checkpoint.  So far, the primary story has involved his suspension, how it will impact the team, and if the suspension is too long/short.  Yet, the fact that nothing is being said about his underage drinking speaks volumes about where college sports stands on the matter.

College students engage in underage drinking as a matter of routine.  That is a fact that isn’t disputable.  In many ways, it has become accepted to the point where underage drinking is no longer prosecuted.  The same can be said for DUI.  Regardless of the way that society views underage drinking and DUIs, student-athletes are held to a different standard, the NCAA has made this abundantly clear.  No promoting businesses in any way, no getting any sum of money, no getting free meals, no trading autographs for tattoos, no getting family members paid, the list is endless.  But, based on the reaction to the Barrett news, drink underage, and then drive, and no one cares.  The media says nothing.  The analysts say nothing.  And, so far, Ohio State’s stance basically is, for getting caught while driving drunk:  sit out a game.  A one game suspension should be long enough for everyone to think there was a “tough” stance on the issue without jeopardizing a college football playoff run.

At this time, Barrett will miss the Minnesota game.  And then he will return to play out the rest of the season.  The drinking and driving incident will be a small blemish on his record while everyone praises (or criticizes) him for plays that he did or did not make.

Since the incident happened so recently, it makes sense that the NCAA hasn’t commented or handed out punishments.  However, in other incidents such as autograph signings or “working” at jobs that didn’t exist, the NCAA swooped in and doled out swift justice.  Hopefully, in a case where an individual drove drunk and turned his car into a potential life-altering battering ram, the NCAA takes action.   Doing nothing would send the message that autograph signings, receiving free meals, and taking money from boosters and coaches is unacceptable and worthy of a season ending or even college-career ending punishment while drunk driving is worth only a single game suspension against a team that Ohio State should beat handily.  Regardless of what team you cheer for, that’s a stance that cannot be supported.