Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Get Out of Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s Way

The Ohio State Buckeyes showed the entire country that talent outweighs experience. Prior to the Oklahoma game, it was difficult to envision how Ohio State would perform in their first challenge of the season, with so many young players. For the majority of the starters, it was their first true road game. The Palace on the Prairie in Norman, Oklahoma is not the ideal setting to get your feet wet in a road environment. It is regarded as one of the top-five toughest places to play in college football.

The Buckeyes turned it into their own backyard for one reason. They simply have more talent than Oklahoma, specifically on a defense that isn’t so “basic” after all. Of course, I should also mention that Ohio State has wide receiver Noah Brown, who hauled in four touchdown passes from quarterback J.T. Barrett, and Oklahoma does not.

Talk about making a national statement in primetime. The Buckeyes are arguably the best team in the country, following a win of this magnitude, in such impressive fashion. Ohio State moved up one spot to No. 2 in the latest AP Top 25 rankings and shouldn’t take a backseat to teams like Alabama or Louisville.

With the victory over the Sooners, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer improved to 19-0 in true road games with the Buckeyes. There are two things that are just not supposed to happen in college football. You don’t win every away game you play and you don’t travel to Oklahoma and punk them in their own yard. Well, Ohio State and coach Meyer have managed to complete both tasks.

Getting back to Brown, was his third touchdown reception in the back corner of the endzone just before halftime not one of the best catches you’ve ever seen at any level of football? The man blindly pinned the football with one hand on the defenders back while managing to get not one, but two feet in-bounds. Brown earned a well-deserved Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award with his four touchdown receptions and should receive ESPY consideration for possibly making the catch of the year.

Through three games, the Silver Bullets tied a school record with their fourth interception returned for a touchdown in a season, courtesy of linebacker Jerome Baker’s first quarter pick-six. Not bad for a basic defense.

What does the Oklahoma victory mean going forward? It means Meyer and the Buckeyes are steamrolling like a downhill train into the Big Ten schedule and will be huge favorites for the remainder of the regular season, and potentially beyond. Ohio State enters the bye week feeling great about its playoff chances, but we all know they have accomplished nothing should they slip up when conference play begins.

Prior to their annual showdown with Michigan, the Buckeyes aren’t in the clear just yet. There are still some potential roadblocks with road games at Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State. However, with Meyer 19-0 on the road and the Buckeyes’ pummeling of the Sooners in Norman, should we be scared? While these games will still require a pinpoint focus to come out victorious, the Buckeyes now possess the confidence and dare I say, the experience, to play with a “been there and done that” mentality.

Not only was the Oklahoma game a coming-out party for Brown and all of the young Buckeye players, it was a reminder that a rebuild or an adjustment period is just not the Ohio State way, especially under Meyer.

Without question, the fact that Ohio State is playing with 16 new starters has provided significant motivation for the Buckeyes through the first three games of the season. Just like in 2014, when Ohio State captured a national championship a year ahead of schedule, this group proved on Saturday night that it has a legitimate chance to accomplish the same feat.

The current state of Ohio State football is a machine that you don’t want to cross paths with. It’s a pretty basic observation for anyone who watched the Buckeyes’ domination of the Sooners. Just ask Oklahoma’s backup quarterback.

 

E-mail Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @msilverman25.

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Does Ohio State Have Enough to Take Down Oklahoma?

Following blowout victories over Bowling Green and Tulsa, it’s no shock that the Ohio State football team is 2-0 heading into a pivotal showdown with one-loss Oklahoma on Saturday. Are the first two performances enough to go on the road and take down a Sooners team seeking redemption for a season-opening loss to Houston? A loss to the Buckeyes would certainly remove Oklahoma from the playoff conversation.

Offensively, the first half performance against Tulsa is not going to be the recipe for success in Norman. In fact, it won’t be anywhere close. Thanks to a couple of interceptions returned for touchdowns by Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore, the Buckeyes looked impressive on the scoreboard, but it was the offense that was limited to six points prior to halftime.

However, the lackluster performance in the first half doesn’t concern me one bit. Not that Ohio State was looking ahead, but it’s fairly common to play flat against an inferior opponent with such a significant game upcoming, especially for a young team. Although the two teams reside in the same state, the focus for a team like Tulsa was not be anywhere near the level it will be for Oklahoma. The majority of these new-look Buckeyes will receive their first taste of big-game experience, so don’t think Ohio State won’t be amped and ready to make a statement right out of the tunnel.

When I made my game-by-game predictions for Ohio State back in the spring, I didn’t see Oklahoma as a team the Buckeyes were capable of defeating this early in the season, especially on the road with a lack of experience in a setting like Norman. Unsurprisingly, I think I was wrong. The home field and “backs against the wall” mentality will certainly represent a huge advantage for Oklahoma, but the Buckeyes simply have more talent, particularly on defense.

That’s not a knock on Oklahoma as it is still one of the top teams in the nation despite the loss to Houston. There isn’t a team on Houston’s schedule that is going to knock them off. And who knows, maybe Oklahoma comes out of the gate and lays an old-fashioned whooping on Ohio State en route to a 52-10 pummeling of the Buckeyes. However, the defensive side of the ball is what separates Ohio State from Oklahoma.

Even against lesser competition, I don’t think many expected the Buckeye defense to yield zero touchdowns through the first two games of the season. Granted it was in mop-up time with the game already out of hand and mainly reserves on the field, but the Oklahoma defense allowed multiple touchdowns to the University of Louisiana-Monroe. I realize that has no meaning concerning this matchup, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Oklahoma’s defense is anything but shutdown.

The Sooners possess plenty of playmakers on offense that will put points on the board against any defense, including quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Samaje Perine, but defense wins championships right? Well, it also wins big games on the road, under the lights.

Oklahoma has more than a fair chance to squeak out a top-five victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. As a result, there shall be no couch-burning along High Street or thought that a playoff appearance is out of the question with a loss. I have previously stated that this is as close to a win-win situation as you can get for Ohio State, especially for the magnitude of this game.

Obviously, a win means the Buckeyes remain undefeated and enjoy a week off before beginning conference play. Even with a loss on Saturday night, if you were to tell me that Ohio State runs the table in the Big Ten and ultimately wins the Big Ten Championship with the only blemish on their resume being a loss at Oklahoma, I would say the Buckeyes are still going to be included in the playoff.

Regardless of how the Ohio State-Oklahoma game plays out, the Buckeyes will take to the bye week with their playoff aspirations still intact.

E-mail Mark at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @msilverman25

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Big 12 Links: Bishop, Briles and $1 Billion

On Monday, Baylor hired former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe after firing Art Briles .Grobe resigned from Wake Forest two years ago after spending 13 years there. Following this announcement, Baylor’s athletic director Ian McCaw resigned after he was placed on probation. The president of Baylor Ken Starr has also resigned.

Some people need to learn to keep their mouths closed. Staley Lebby, the daughter of Art Briles and also the wife of Baylor’s running backs coach spoke in her father’s defense via Facebook Thursday. Lebby said that her father’s firing was a “media witch hunt” and said that her father is a “man of incredible character”. It surprises me that her dad let her speak up on this matter and to do it on Facebook seems a little unprofessional to me.

This week it came out why Robert James Castaneda was kicked off of the Texas Tech football team in May. Castaneda told investigators that he took a gun safe with at least seven weapons in it. He also took a television and a camera from a home in Lubbock Texas in December. Castaneda was arrested on Friday and was released on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

After 20 seasons at Texas, Augie Garrido, the winningest coach in college baseball history, is out. Texas had its first losing season since 1998 and will miss the post season for the third time in five years. Augie will still be around the university as a special assistant to the athletic director. Garrido has been honored six times as the national coach of the year and will be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in July.

Michael Bishop, former Kansas State quarterback, is up for the College Football Hall of Fame. Bishop is one of the 75 players and six coaches on the ballot. Bishop led the Wildcats to two 11-win seasons in 1997 and 1998 and led the Wildcats to their first number 1 ranking in history. Bishop has been honored in the Kansas State Ring of Honor, Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. Mark Simoneau and coach Bill Snyder are two Wildcats that have been honored already in the College Football Hall of Fame. Bishop is up against some very tough competition on the 2017 ballot. Eight players who played on Big 12 teams. I am not sure if this year is the year he will be voted in, but hopefully it will happen soon.

Baker Mayfield will not play an extra year at Oklahoma. The Big 12 voted on the walk-on transfer rule for Mayfield this week at the Big 12 meetings. The vote ended in a 5-5 tie that means it did not pass. Bob Stoops was not happy about the decision that was made. Stoops stated “ I’m incredibly disappointed the rule change proposal wasn’t passed today at the big 12 meetings. I hope the conference will reconsider its decision and put the welfare of the student athletes first. It only makes sense for the Big 12’s rules to be consistent with those of the NCAA when it comes to non-scholarship walk-on student-athletes. “ Mayfield could transfer and play at a school in another conference in 2017 as a graduate transfer if he wanted. If he ends up doing this it will not look good for the Big 12. If I were a transfer athlete looking for a school this decision would make me not choose a school in the Big 12. As of yesterday the Big 12 voted to change a transfer rule for walk-ons that would allow them to change schools within the conference and not lose a year of eligibility.

This week the Big 12 administrators are going to be presenting information that will show that the Big 12 Conference can earn at least $1 billion dollars if it decides to expand. This money would come from TV rights contracts they would gain from the expansion. This amount would be if the Big 12 decided to expand by four teams, which I don’t see happening. If it only expanded with two teams then they would gain around $500 million dollars. This won’t help the current Big 12 teams but it would make sure that the conference wouldn’t fall behind the other Power 5 conferences like the direction it is currently going in.

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New Bevo, Old Baylor

On Tuesday Baylor finally responded to the reports that Ken Starr has been fired from Baylor University. As of the latest report they still have not made a decision on whether or not they will fire Starr. The spokeswomen for Baylor, Tonya Lewis, said, “we will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources, but when official news is available, the University will provide it. We expect an announcement by June 3.” It is speculated that President Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw will be losing their jobs, but head football coach Art Briles will not. It will be interesting to see if it was just a rumor, but for the sake of Baylor I hope it isn’t.

The University of Texas has selected a new Longhorn steer mascot. The school had to select a new mascot because Bevo XIV, who was on the Texas sideline since 2004, passed away in October 2015. The mascot will be introduced for the 100th anniversary season of its first appearance. The longhorns will play Notre Dame on September 4, the first appearance of Bevo XV.

Nothing has been made official yet but from the sound of it Wil Grier will be able to play for West Virginia the first game of the 2017 season. Grier is enrolled at West Virginia but due to testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs he may not be able to play until mid season. According to Holgorsen this might change. Holgorsen said, “I fully anticipate him being eligible for the opening game of the 2017 season.” If there is a will there is a way. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow the NCAA waives the rest of his suspension and lets him play the full season with the Mountaineers.

Bev Kearney sued Texas for at least one million dollars in damages in 2013. Kearney was the head track coach and had a romantic relationship with one of her sprinters over a decade earlier. It has taken so long for her to get justice because the University has been appealing the issue. Kearney is saying she was more harshly punished because she is black. A white male football coach did the same thing and was only reprimanded, not fired. Kearney is seeking statements from Mack Brown, former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, former school president Bill Powers and current women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky. The statements they will write are on how exactly they handled the situation at the time it was brought to their attention. This case has been swept under the rug recently due to the Baylor scandal, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Sylvester Turner an alumni of the University of Houston believes that when Oklahoma comes to town on September 3, the Cougars will beat the Sooners by “14, or possibly 21 points.” Did I mention Sylvester Turner is also the mayor of Houston? He has turned a lot of heads by making this statement and has also provided some locker room motivation for the guys in Norman. The Cougars are coming off of a really great season, but I have a feeling the Sooners will be ready for them, especially after that comment.

As the time draws near, it looks less and less likely that the Big 12 presidents are going to vote against the Big 12 expansion. After all of the schools that have sold themselves to try to get into the Big 12 it looks like they will all be disappointed. Apparently, after six years, the Big 12 is not in the “decision-making” stage, so it probably won’t ever be. If no expansion happens I think the Big 12 will fall apart in the next couple of years and Oklahoma will be the first school to leave.

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Big 12 Satellite Camps

The Big 12 has been in the news for one subject the past few months .I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the Big 12 meeting to be over. As we all know there are other subjects in regards to college football but with all Big 12 fans they have been swept under the rug. One of those subjects being satellite camps.

Earlier this year the NCAA banned satellite camps. The Big 12 was not really news about the banned camps because the majority of the schools did not really give their opinion on the matter. The Big Ten was the main conference that spoke up about it. The SEC and ACC banned these years ago. Banning these camps effected the Big 12 more than people think. Satellite amps involved the NCAA football programs and their coaches co-hosting camps with lower division colleges or high schools outside of their home state.

When satellite camps became really popular when coaches found a loophole in the rule the NCAA made. The rule was that the schools were limited to hosting camps within fifty miles of their campus or within their home state. Satellite camps help coaches find players who have yet to be recruited and have some hidden talents that have yet to be discovered.

Many of the Big 12 coaches are glad that the ban was raised. One of the many reasons is that it helps the athletes that don’t necessarily have the means to travel to be seen by coaches at certain schools. Coach Beaty at Kansas stated “If we truly care about kids and what is best for them, and giving them great opportunities, I think (overturning the ban) is something we have to look at. Even though it has been overturned I agree. I really think that satellite camps benefit the kids because it gives them opportunities to show coaches how they play and practice. This is much better than sending them highlight videos, that some of the coaches do not even watch or showing up to camps at the university where there are many other players competing for coaches attention.”

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State host a lot of satellite camps in Texas so when they heard the news about banning them they were one of the most upset schools in the Big 12. Another school that would have been highly upset if the ban stayed was Texas. Texas, the past two years, did not hold camps in Texas. The Longhorns held camps in Florida in 2015 and Louisiana last year. Going to these states helped Strong gain many great recruits for Texas. Strong thinks that gaining strong recruits from different states will help Texas look solid for recruits in the state of Texas. Which is why this year the Longhorns decided to stay in Texas, which could mean major competition for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Texas is trying its hardest to get back on top of the recruiting ladder in their home state, especially since Texas A&M is struggling in many aspects. Strong is really hoping that recruits in Texas will want to stay close to home and go to the more dominant school and not go to the schools who host satellite camps in Texas.

I am very pleased that the NCAA lifted the ban for satellite camps. Nothing will really change since the ban did not last long enough for any effects to really take place. It is good for the student athletes who will not have the opportunity to go to the college football camps that are offered at the Universities. Hopefully schools do not take advantage of these and they will last for a long time.

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Shattered Dreams and Iowa

The phrase “we need Iowa to go undefeated” is one that probably was not uttered by anyone other than Iowa alumni.  Coming into the season, there was a legitimate possibility that Kirk Ferentz was going to get the axe, but his contract, more specifically his buyout clause, was stopping that from happening.  Now, Iowa is undefeated, has a guaranteed spot in the Big Ten championship game, and looks to be the Big Ten’s best chance at being in the College Football Playoff as an undefeated team and eliminating the counter argument of “they just got in because they play in the Big Ten.”

The beauty of the college football playoff is how much scheduling plays a part.  Luckily for Iowa, very few thought that they would be legitimate contenders and did not schedule them into any true primetime, late season matchups. The Hawkeyes finish the season at Nebraska, the team that has managed to lose a surprising number of close games throughout the season and had a season-defining win in which they managed to ruin Michigan States’ title chances by handing them a late season loss.  While Nebraska will view the game against Iowa as their “championship” game, Iowa should be able to win and go into the Big Ten championship undefeated.

In comparison, the other teams around Iowa in the rankings have far tougher matchups.  Notre Dame finishes its year at Stanford without two of its best players, C.J. Prosise and KeiVarae Russel, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State play one another in what should be a high scoring rivalry game that will determine who will be the Big 12’s playoff candidate.  Florida, the 8th ranked team in the Week 12 rankings, ends its year at Florida State.

My bound-to-be-wrong prediction for Iowa

Iowa wins at Nebraska convincingly, but not overwhelmingly with a 31-14 win.  In the Big Ten championship game, they play Michigan State.  The Spartans, coming off a huge win at Ohio State and a win over Penn State win a close, low scoring and what most of the country considers to be an “ugly” game.  In the process, the Big Ten manages to have three 1-loss teams.  Considering the huge media hype that constantly surrounds Notre Dame and the possibility of an undefeated Oklahoma State team, Iowa misses the playoffs and no Big Ten team gets to compete for the championship.

While having no team in the championship would be somewhat embarrassing for the Big Ten, it will not be as horrible as people make it out to be.  Clemson and Alabama are clearly the top teams this year and Iowa does not have the weapons or the personnel to keep pace with teams of that caliber.  Iowa getting into the playoff would probably look at lot like a bowl game featuring an automatic qualifier; it will be obvious from the start which team had a “miracle” year that is coming to an end and which team is entrenched as a top contender year after year.  As fun as it would be to have a team from the Big Ten in the playoff, it will probably be better to not have to endure a 60-minute beatdown at the hands of Clemson or Alabama that loses its suspense after the first quarter when Iowa is down by 21.

Where Does Ohio State Belong?

They say that previous success should have no bearing on the current standing. One would think that this would be especially true in today’s “What have you done for me lately?” world.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that way.

Ohio State continues to sit safely in the top four of the College Football Playoff Committee’s rankings.

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This might be an unpopular opinion, but they don’t deserve to be in that spot.

Yes, the Buckeyes are unblemished this year, coming out on top every time they’ve walked on the field, but as Oklahoma State and Iowa have shown us, that simply isn’t enough.

Why is it that Ohio State’s run through cupcakes and unranked teams is good enough for number three, but Iowa’s two Top 25 wins or Oklahoma State’s Top 25 win isn’t as good a resume as Ohio State’s zero?

The argument is there that Iowa is very overrated due to the eye test, and I could buy that. Iowa might actually be the most overrated team in the top 10 at the moment. That being said, at least they have a few solid wins.

Yes, Oklahoma State’s non-conference schedule is as bad as, if not worse than Ohio State’s, but they still have more wins over ranked teams than the Buckeyes do.

Ohio State will have the time to prove it belongs in the next two weeks with their matchups against Michigan State and at Michigan, but until those happen, what have they really done, other than winning it all last year?

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Looking at their resumes all together, they are very similar. That being the case why does Ohio State get all the love?

Taking out a mediocre Virginia Tech on the road was a solid win, granted Lane Stadium is a tough place to play, especially at night, but is that good enough to be a top four team’s marquee win? If it isn’t that game it surely must’ve been sneaking past Mid-American Conference powerhouse Northern Illinois by seven, inside of the almighty Horseshoe. That one really must’ve impressed the committee.

Ohio State has beaten three bowl eligible teams at this point, and two of them are from the MAC in Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.

After looking at Ohio State’s body of work, I simply cannot find a reason to have them placed inside the top four at the moment.

Call me a hater, call me whatever you want because I’ve heard it all. Facts are facts and right now the Buckeyes don’t have the credentials of a top four team.

Truthfully speaking there are a number of teams with better resumes than Ohio State, even including teams that don’t have perfect seasons.

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Ohio State has an extremely talented team; there is no doubting that. Braxton Miller has made the transition from QB to WR look very smooth, Joey Bosa will play at a high level on Sunday’s for a long time, and Ezekiel Elliott is a special talent.

All of those cannot be denied.

A few other things that cannot be denied this year include the inconsistent quarterback play, the lack of a true deep threat offensively, an offensive line that has struggled, and a team captain pulling the “Do you know who I am?” while being arrested for OVI.

Keep in mind before you throw me to the Twitter wolves, that the Buckeyes still have plenty of time to prove themselves.

It just so happens that their season starts 11 weeks after the rest of the college football world.

Who Should Irish Fans Root For?

UPDATED 11/11

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s that time of year again.

Tuesday night the College Football Playoff Committee released their second Top 25 poll of the season. Now before you read any further, let me remind you that all of this is extremely fluid and is subject to change from week to week. For instance, Ohio State, last year’s eventual national champion was slotted at 16th in the opening poll of the season. Much can change between now and December 31st when the semi-final games are slated to be played.

With all of that said, Irish fans have to be extremely happy with the results that were revealed on November 10.

Notre Dame came in at fourth, the final spot of the playoff.

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The high ranking does hold some weight however. Common thought would be that if Notre Dame is able to win their remaining four games they will not be held out of the Final Four. This is due to the fact that Notre Dame has a resume building win remaining on the schedule at Stanford, and some of the other teams may take care of themselves.

Left in the season are a few elimination games, or at least games that have the potential to strongly affect the Final Four.

Among these are  many of the remaining Big 12 games, a possible matchup between an undefeated #3 Ohio State and an undefeated #5 Iowa in the B1G Championship Game, and Notre Dame’s late season trip to Palo Alto.

Last weekend, LSU was stomped in Tuscaloosa by the Crimson Tide. This caused LSU to fall out of the playoff picture for the time being, and Alabama sliding into the #2 spot that the Tigers briefly held. This, along with another Ole Miss loss, allows Alabama to control their own destiny on the way to an SEC Title Game.

 

Irish fans should root for:

Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeAndrew White (2) catches a touchdown over LSU Tigers safety Jalen Mills (28) during the overtime of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 20-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

 

With Alabama controlling their own destiny, and appearing to have a firm grip on a spot in the playoff, the best chance for a Crimson Tide loss would be this weekend in Starkville against Mississippi State, or in an eventual SEC Championship Game against the Florida Gators. Irish fans should be pulling for the Bulldogs and possibly the Gators as well. Although if Florida runs the table and wins the SEC, I would expect to see them garner a spot in the Final Four. As I said earlier I would be surprised if a two loss team would make the Final Four, but if it does happen, my money would be on it being Alabama.

The Big 12 is currently on the outside looking in as well. Baylor and Oklahoma State are both currently unbeaten, but find themselves sitting at six and eight, respectively. These two programs have played relatively weak schedules thus far, and also don’t play defense really well, if at all. The Cowboys do play much better defense than Baylor, but it is still nothing to write home about. That is just the way of life in the Big 12, and I think that the committee takes offense to that in their rankings. These two teams will square off on November 21st. It is very possible that Baylor could fall this week against the Oklahoma Sooners, a team that already has a loss. The Sooners lone hiccup is to Texas in the Red River Rivalry.

 

Irish fans should root for:

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Oklahoma to win out. This would leave Oklahoma as the one loss Big 12 champion. It just so happens that the Sooners loss would come to a team that Notre Dame beat by 35 points. If there would be an undefeated team left out, my money would be on it coming out of the Big 12.

The Big Ten, or B1G as the cool kids call it these days, has two teams in the top ten in Ohio State (3) and  Iowa (5). Yes, neither of them have been beaten thus far, but both have failed to notch an impressive win thus far.  The Buckeyes have looked extremely average in a few of their games, but they have looked like a top team in a few others. Iowa has played well, however their best win is due to a last second, 57-yard field goal over currently unranked Pitt. A good win, but not a marquee one per se.

 

Irish fans should root for:

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This scenario became a little clearer this past weekend with the loss of Michigan State to Nebraska. The hope is still for Michigan to win the conference, but now that is a little more likely to happen. If Ohio State can manage to defeat Illinois and Michigan State, and Michigan beats Indiana and Penn State, then that would set up a de facto B1G East Title Game on November 28 at the Big House between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines. Irish fans would be pulling for Michigan to upset the Buckeyes and later defeat Iowa to win the B1G. I would be very surprised to see a two loss B1G team sneak into the Final Four.

Out west, teams in the Pac 12 have not done themselves many favors this season. Stanford is the highest ranked team in the conference at seven, up four spots from last week. They are followed by Utah at ten. Every team in the conference has at least one loss at this point in the season. The best chance for a Pac 12 representative in the Final Four would be Stanford winning out.

Irish fans should root for:

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Stanford to win the Pac 12 title, with a loss to Notre Dame along the way. Sounds simple enough, right? It also would not hurt if USC won out, coupled with a Utah loss to set up a Pac-12 title game between two teams that Notre Dame would have defeated, assuring a win over a Power 5 Champion.

In the ACC things are far less complicated for Notre Dame fans. Obviously, the lone Irish loss of the season came in Death Valley to the Clemson Tigers. The hope would be that Clemson is able to finish an undefeated regular season and win the ACC crown. This would ensure that the Tigers reach the Final Four, and likely give Notre Dame the best loss that anyone in the country has. I hate the term best loss, but it would be true in this case. Clemson has a key game against Florida State this weekend. It also wouldn’t hurt Notre Dame if Pitt wins the remainder of their games after their clash with Notre Dame.

 

Irish fans should root for:

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Clemson to win every game, and look good doing it, until a rematch in the semi-finals against the Irish.

Elsewhere, Notre Dame fans should also be rooting strongly for Navy and Temple to continue their winning ways and meet up in the AAC Title Game. Navy has SMU, Tulsa, and Houston left in AAC play, and then the traditional Army-Navy game would be played after a potential AAC Title Game. The Temple Owls have USF, Memphis, and UCONN left on their schedule. Each team should be ranked in each of their remaining games.

Ultimately, none of this matters if Notre Dame is not able to win their next three games. The remaining slate for Notre Dame is Wake Forest at home, Boston College at Fenway Park, and finally a trip to Palo Alto for a showdown with Stanford. If the Irish take care of business, they’ll be playing on New Year’s Eve.

NCAA Tournament: East Region, Day 2

The Beast Of the East turned out to be not so beastly. Villanova seemed to have everyone’s love and then they ran into 8 seed NC State. I had a front row seat on the Nova bandwagon and was just kind of “meh” with NC State. Nova was a team that I considered to be one of the most offensively versatile in the tournament and NC State had to dig out of a hole against LSU. You know the saying, Any Given Sunday. Nova ran into Any Given Saturday.

Michigan St should be expected to be in any game played in March as long as Izzo is their coach. Their game against Virginia was not the exception. Virginia had a great season, but they never truly impressed me. My thought going into the tournament was that they were the second most vulnerable 2 seed behind Kansas. And then they ran into Izzo in March. This Spartan team is poised for at least an Elite 8 run at this point.

Kudos to both Louisville and Oklahoma for taking care of business. Dayton was poised to be this year’s Cinderella and Oklahoma made sure that their clock struck midnight. Lon Kruger has made a Sweet 16 with four different programs. Coaching plus talent is always a deadly combination. Louisville took out a hard nosed Northern Iowa team. Teams that sleep on Missouri Valley teams (ahem…Kansas) tend to regret it. Coach Pitino had his team ready to go and Louisville lives to see another day.

The East Region teams that move to the Sweet 16 are NC State, Louisville , Oklahoma and Michigan St.

Adrian Peterson’s Future in Minnesota, or Somewhere Else

I still remember where I was when I first caught wind of the marks Adrian Peterson put on his child. It was Friday, the last day of an awful week for the National Football League. A night after the Baltimore Ravens and their Ray Rice-loving fan base was showcased on CBS’s Thursday Night Football, the thought was that the worst was behind us. With all respect due Rice as a pretty good football player, he is not and never was the superstar that Peterson was. With Peterson in this mess, sweeping off-field violence under the rug ceased to be an option for Roger Goodell. Since that Friday afternoon, neither Rice nor Peterson has played a down in the NFL, but that’s likely to change in 2015.

Rice, like some other also-rans in the league, was released and suspeneded indefinitely by the league because video surfaced of him striking his girlfriend in an Atlantic City elevator. He was later reinstated, but did not sign with anyone, an inaction you can almost probably attribute more to lack of interest in his football abilities, going forward, more than anything else. He’s clearly not the story, when you look ahead to 2015, not when compared to an all-time great like Peterson. Technically, Adrian Peterson remains a Minnesota Viking, though it’s fair to say, that’s subject to change before training camp.

For the next three seasons, through 2017, Minnesota controls Mr. All-Day, but none of the money is guaranteed. If he wasn’t Adrian Peterson, Vikings owner Mark Wilf would send the troubled star packing, no questions asked. However, there’s at least a conversation to be had, whether he’s the greatest Viking of all-time, though the floor would certainly listen to arguments for Fran Tarkenton and a few other names a die-hard Viking fan might throw out there. On March 21st, he’ll be 30 years old, and for many, that’s when you have to do the sniff test on NFL running backs, to determine if they’re expried or not. Again, with anyone else, that might be enough to cut bait, as if the wounds on his 4 year-old child weren’t enough, but we are talking about Adrian Peterson.

I know we went over all of this last fall, but in the context of the NFL sweeping its problems under the rug, it’s probably worth re-visiting exactly why Peterson wasn’t on the field for 15 of the Vikings’ 16 contests in 2014. On that Thursday, the infamous date of September 11th, a Montomery County (TX) grand jury indicted him on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. Again, the is a 4 year-old we’re talking about, and pictures revealed welts and open wounds on the boy’s back, rear end, legs, ankles and other unmentionables. Our world class athlete used a tree branch to show his pre-schooler who the boss was.

The former Oklahoma running back swore he never intended to harm his son in such a way. Let’s keep in mind, it wasn’t that long ago that Peterson’s biological son was buried after the child’s mother’s boyfriend beat the 2 year-old to death. For most, that would put things in perspective, and not to kick Peterson while he’s down, but many believe that he was far too apathetic about losing his flesh and blood, though he learned of the young man’s existence and that flesh and blood connection just days before the child died. For what it’s worth, I am inclined to believe Peterson’s claim about not wanting to harm his son. The problem is, he did.

Child discipline gone too far, that’s often the claim when it comes to abuse. Though I don’t have children of my own, many who do have asserted that children that age can be a pain in the ass. I’m sure I was that same pain in the ass at that age, and what’s a parent to do when acceptable corporal punishment (if you can believe there is such a thing) meets resistance? If you’re attempting to strike a child in a safe place and they move, you could miss and strike an unsafe area. I honestly buy that, but that buys you the benefit of the doubt on one wound. After that, well, every mark you leave and each inkling of pain you cause a defenseless child is simply a road map to grand juries, public outrage, and Commissioner’s Exempt lists.

How he ended up on that list, that’s something of a focal point, at least from Peterson’s camp. Did Kevin Warren conspire with the NFL to make sure he landed there? Warren is the team’s Vice President of Legal Affairs, and at the time, an exemption was a better alternative than suspension for Peterson’s bankroll. He was initially deactivated for one game, and if this sound familiar, it might be because Goodell only suspended Rice for two games before the public outrage forced his hand into something indefinite (which was justice, but admittedly unfair to Rice). An arbitrator later ruled in the league’s favor to keep Peterson on the Exempt List for the entire season, rendering his 2014 season over.

Now, for avoiding the PR nightmare that would have ensued, had the Vikings and the NFL let this child abuser on the field in Week 3, just days after envoking their new Domestic Violence policy, there is tension between the Vikings and Peterson, at least from where Peterson sits. The Vikings want him back, despite the criminal activity and despite his upcoming 30th birthday, but the running back’s camp is trying to leverage a trade. The problem is, the Vikings hold all of the leverage cards.

We’re going to hear about the Cowboys and it makes sense, DeMarco Murray’s future in Dallas is far from stable and the Cowboys are much closer to the finish line than Minnesota promises to be for the remainder of Peterson’s prime. It would also be a return home to Texas, but he does himself few favors forcing Minnesota’s hand here, as it is up to them to get the right value to trade him, when they could simply ask him to report to camp and play out his contract. And how dare he create problems with the team, when they “have been staunchly loyal to Peterson, probably to a fault,” according to Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press in Minnesota.

They deactivated him for one game after the allegations surfaced but briefly attempted to bring him back the following week, despite the fact that the populace was ready to torch Winter Park. After formal charges were filed, they got him on the commissioner’s exempt list so he could continue to get paid his full salary for doing nothing.

While he was gone, they didn’t badmouth him. They never wavered publicly in their support for him and, often referred to his stellar character — a hard sell at the time.

And they always said they wanted him back. What else were they supposed to do, issue a statement saying that Peterson’s 4-year-old son got what he deserved?

The real question is, does anyone (aside from the Cowboys) want the headache? The shelf-life thing may not pinpoint to a running back’s 30th birthday, but it is real. We’ve seen it too many times to deny the precedent, is Adrian Peterson the exception to the rule? My take: if anyone can defy garden-variety limitations a human being is supposed to encounter, it’s him. So, once you’ve established that the 30 year-old Adrian Peterson is worth the while from a football standpoint, you have to really evaluate if you can handle him in the locker room? In Minnesota, those familiar with him might forgive the actions that put him in Texas courtrooms, but he’s clearly ready for a change of scenery, and if he’s in a new locker room, it will be a direct result of the damage he inflicted on the body of a 4 year-old. He’d be around men who probably don’t know him, men with young children, and men who won’t forgive what he did to that defenseless boy.

Sure, he can help the Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Colts, Chargers, and some NFC teams the Vikings would see on a regular basis, but what would those teams be willing to part with, especially considering his future with his current employer is not tenable? He doesn’t have another 2000 yard season in him, and with the Vikings, he’s due almost $13 million in 2015 alone. Who wants to shell out that type of cash on a gamble. The gamble doesn’t seem to reside with Peterson staying out of trouble with the law, but maybe it does. If he’s upset with anyone other than himself through this entire ordeal, which took nearly a full season from a potentially record-shattering career, maybe he’s learned nothing at all. And as older players go, is he the one you want mentoring your younger players?

It’s possible he’s immune to all of this inside the cloak of Jerry Jones or whichever owner ponies up the ransom Wilf and GM Rick Spielman are going to demand to give Peterson his way, and really, it might work out. However, logic would dictate Peterson and his agent take a step back and realize just how healthy remaining in cold Minnesota might be for Peterson on the whole.