Tag Archives: Will Grier

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.

Image

Big 12 Links: Rudolph Can Find Santa, but not a Catcher

The Big 12 will be represented on the U.S. Collegiate Volleyball Team

A trio of Big 12 volleyball players will represent the Big 12 Conference on the 2016 Collegiate National Team. The three girls selected were Baylor’s Shelly Fanning and K-State’s Brooke Sassin and Bryna Vogel. The Collegiate National Team consists of 36 members so it is a big honor to be selected for this team. Being on this team is considered to be the second tryout for the U.S. Women’s National Team. These girls will play on June 26- 29 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named Texas Tech’s Davis Hitter of the Week

Michael Davis has had a great baseball season so far for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Davis leads all Big 12 players in RBI by accumulating 11 just last week. Davis helped the Red Raiders go on a 4-1 road trip that included a mid-week split with No. 5 Florida State. The Red Raiders also swept No. 16 Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders are having one of the best seasons they have had in a long time. Their record is 12-1 and haven’t swept a ranked team since 2002.  They have completed that already this year and look like they can do it again.

Some Important, and not so Important Date Changes for the 2016 Football Season

The Big 12 has announced two date changes to its 2016 conference football schedule. When the Kansas Jayhawks travel to Lubbock Texas to play Texas Tech their game will be played on Thursday, September 29 instead of October 1. The second game that is being changed is when TCU plays Texas in Austin. This game has been moved to Friday, November 25 instead of Thursday November 24. These have been moved due to television purposes, but I’m not quite sure how many people will tune in to watch the KU vs. Texas Tech game.

Is Tubby Smith leaving Texas Tech?

After Tubby Smith led the Red Raiders to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 it looks like he might be leaving the up-and-coming Red Raiders behind. Rumors are that Coach Smith is on the top of a very short list of candidates that the Memphis Tigers are looking at. Tubby would replace the old Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who took the job at Georgia Tech after the end of last season. Tubby has really improved the Texas Tech basketball team. He has made the Red Raiders relevant again in the Big 12. This would be a huge blow not only to Texas Tech, but also to the Big 12 conference.

Rudolph Needs to Stick to being a QB

You would think that a quarterback who has an over 60 percent completion rate last season would be able to thrown a baseball to a catcher. But Mason Rudolph proves everyone wrong when he threw the baseball way over the catchers head. Make sure you watch the video for this one. It is pretty hilarious.

Gators QB Will Grier to transfer to West Virginia

This announcement came on Wednesday. Will Grier will have to sit out the 2016 season for the Mountaineers due to NCAA rules for transferring. Another problem is Grier was suspended in October after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. West Virginia is trying to argue it, but the earliest Grier can play is the fall of 2017. It will be interesting to see how much he will end up playing at West Virginia.

Seminoles vs Gators: ACC Wrap Up

Florida State defeated Chattanooga 52-13 over the past weekend, in a game that was never really in question. At 9-2, the #13 Seminoles will now turn all of their attention towards the #12 Florida Gators.

Obviously this is a monumental game for both teams, a win for Florida State would be the highlight of their season and would keep the Noles from having their first three-loss season in a couple years. A win for Florida would keep them on track for a playoff berth if they can beat Alabama in the SEC Championship. This game also could mean a lot to the recruiting landscape in Florida, as the winner would have bragging rights within the state as the best program.

These two teams have been pretty similar throughout the season. Neither has gotten a lot of production from their offense, and both rely on their defense to win games. Both teams have their reasons for their offensive woes, but currently both have questions at quarterback. The Gators quarterback situation got sticky when Will Grier got suspended, while the Seminoles have just had a quarterback problem all season between Sean Maguire and Everett Golson. Both offenses rely on their rushing game to gain yards, and that will be no different this weekend.

On the defensive end, Florida’s defense is ranked third in the nation in points allowed per game, and the Seminoles’ defense is ranked 11th in the same category. All signs point towards this game being a low-scoring, defensive showdown that will be decided by which quarterback makes the fewest mistakes.

Whichever back has the better game will most likely determine who wins this game
Whichever back has the better game will most likely determine who wins this game

For the Seminoles, this game will come down to the matchup between their ground game, and Florida’s 8th ranked run defense. Florida State’s offense hinges on the success of their run game, and if Dalvin Cook can continue doing what he’s done all season against Florida that would bode well for their chances of winning. At quarterback, the Seminoles need to get Sean Maguire settled into the game early on with some quick and easy throws that will help him get some confidence in the beginning of the game. Maguire has shown that he can play well when he establishes some confidence and gets into a rhythm. Noles fans are hoping that he can do this early on in the game, opposed to getting into a hole quickly on the road.

The game will be played in the Swamp at night, which provides it’s own set of problems for the Seminoles as they’re 2-2 on the road and 7-0 at home. However their game against Clemson in Death Valley should help prepare this team for the fans they’re about to face in Gainesville.

In a game that will be decided by big plays and the ground game, I’ll take the Seminoles winning this game simply because of Dalvin Cook. If Cook can shred the Gators this weekend he might even find himself in the middle of the Heisman discussion, although no ACC Championship for the Noles will make Cook’s odds very slim. Florida State’s defense should be able to contain the Gator’s offense considering that the Gator’s offense hasn’t really been able to do damage against anyone. In a low scoring game, I think the Seminoles will take this one 20-13.

The game kicks off at 7:30 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Here’s what else is happening in the ACC this weekend:

RIVALRY WEEK

Being that it is rivalry week in college football, there are numerous matchups to watch within the ACC. Georgia Tech could end their season on a positive note when Georgia comes into town to play them. Seeing as Georgia Tech has nothing left to play for, they should show up in this game against a beatable Georgia team. Clemson plays South Carolina in what has been a very disappointing season for South Carolina. Virginia Tech and Virginia face off in an interstate rival that will determine which team has the better season. One of the sneaky good matchups this weekend will be when UNC travels to NC State this weekend. At 7-4, the Wolfpack are a good team in their own right and the Tarheels will have their hands full with their high-powered offense.

 FRANK BEAMER AND VIRGINIA TECH

Virginia Tech’s game this weekend has a lot more on the line than a victory over Virginia, a victory this weekend means that the Hokies will be bowl eligible in Frank Beamer’s final year with the team. At 5-6, the Hokies haven’t had a whole lot of positives from this season, and a win against Virginia would change that. A win would allow Frank Beamer the chance to finish his last season with a winning record, and would boost morale within the program going forward. A loss would be a sad way to end Beamer’s career at Virginia Tech.

ACC NEEDS CLEMSON AND UNC TO WIN

One thing that I don’t think will happen, but would be bad for the ACC is if Clemson or UNC were to lose this weekend. A win by both teams this weekend would mean that the winner of the ACC would most likely be playing in the playoffs. A loss this weekend for either team allows the possibility of the ACC winner not playing in the playoffs. A loss by UNC this weekend would make them 10-2, making it hard for them to advance even if they did beat Clemson, and a loss by Clemson would mean that if they beat UNC they might not make it to the playoff. Even though it is hard to imagine the ACC winner not being in the playoff, a loss by either team this weekend would open up a Pandora’s box of possibilities.

Five You Must See: Week Nine

North Carolina (6-1) at #23 Pittsburgh (6-1) Thursday 7:00 PM on ESPN

First place in the ACC Coastal division is on the line on Thursday night.  The biggest difference between these two teams is found in the time of possession.  Pittsburgh ranks fifteenth in the nation, holding the ball for 32 minutes and 49 seconds per game.  North Carolina, on the other hand, possesses the ball for a tick shy of 25 minutes per game.  Only Mississippi State and Hawaii rank lower.  What does that mean?  Well, clearly the Panthers like hanging onto the ball for the majority of the game, and apparently that doesn’t bother the Tarheels.

My x-factor for this close game is North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams.  If he plays well I like his team’s chances.  If not, I’m not sure they have enough around him to overcome such a formidable opponent.

USC (4-3) at Cal (5-2) Saturday 3:00 PM on Fox

College football is full of up’s and down’s.  You don’t need to tell these two teams.  The Trojans have had a puzzling season that’s been tough to predict from week to week.  They saved it last week with a big win over Utah.  The Bears’ last two times out have resulted in disappointing losses that have them in a similar position to USC last week.

UCLA exposed the Cal offensive line last Thursday.  With little time to sit in the pocket, Jared Goff was quieted relatively easily.  Look for the Trojans to blitz throughout the game in an attempt to keep Goff unsettled.  If the Cal offense isn’t scoring, they’re in trouble.  The Bear defense isn’t terrible, but I imagine they’ll have a hard time containing a USC offense that can put up points in bunches.

Georgia (5-2) at #11 Florida (6-1) Saturday 3:30 PM on CBS

As usual, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will go a long way in deciding who will represent the East division in the SEC championship game.  Florida holds that top spot now, but a loss here would see Georgia take it over.

I want to know if these teams are for real, especially Florida who played much better at LSU than I anticipated.  After this tilt both teams have two winnable conference games, a joke of a non-conference game, and a rivalry game against an ACC foe.  This is likely our last chance to see what the Gators and Bulldogs are really about.

Both have had a bye week to prepare.  Both have lost an important playmaker.  Florida quarterback Will Grier is suspended.  Unfortunately, Georgia running back Nick Chubb has become just another in a long list of future first-round draft picks to suffer a tragic injury.  Of the last eight matchups, each team has won four.  Tune in to find out who will control their own destiny going forward.

#9 Notre Dame (6-1) at #21 Temple (7-0) Saturday 8:00 PM on ABC

This is easily the biggest game in Temple football history.  It’s funny how at the beginning of the season we looked at this game as an easy win for the Irish, and now it’s turned into one of their tougher tests.

How have the Owls ascended to #21 in the nation so inconspicuously?  They play stout defense and haven’t come across a ranked team yet.  They give up 14.6 points per game, good for eighth in the country, sandwiched between Clemson and Ohio State.  They’re one of eleven teams that allow fewer than 100 rushing yards per game.  And they rush the passer well.  Their 23 sacks tie them for eleventh in that category.

That means it’s on DeShone Kizer to keep the Owls honest.  Kizer needs to be an accurate passer and scramble effectively when no one is open.  If he can consistently move the chains the Irish should triumph.  This atmosphere will be nuts and you’ll want to say you saw this game.

#8 Stanford (6-1) at Washington State (5-2) Saturday 10:30 PM on ESPN

You probably had to do a double take to make sure you read this matchup correctly.  Yes, with a win here Wazoo will take control of the Pac-12 North.  Surely, no one saw this coming when the Cougars opened the season by losing to Portland State.

Speaking of turning it around after a week one loss, how about Stanford?  The Cardinal lost to Northwestern in a game that seems like it was ages ago.  Since then they’ve been arguably the best team in college football, scoring 31 points or more every time out.  In that time, quarterback Kevin Hogan and running back Christian McCaffrey have been a deadly combo that no team has been able to stop.

Washington State probably won’t either.  That’s not their game.  In true Mike Leach fashion, the Cougars will air it out in an attempt to roll up enough points that it won’t matter.  Luke Falk holds the keys to the nation’s second best passing attack that averages 415 yards through the air.  Falk’s numbers are mind-blowing.  He throws 55 passes per game, far more than anyone else.  That makes his FBS-leading 72.9 completion percentage that much more impressive.

The Cougars score 36.4 points per game.  The Cardinal put up 37.4.  Assuming the offenses are a wash, look for the Stanford defense to make the difference on Saturday night.

The Game of the Weak

Texas San Antonio (1-6) at North Texas (0-7) Saturday 7:00 PM

It’s the Roadrunners against the Mean Green in the battle for last place in C-USA.  This is the single greatest matchup of nicknames we’ve ever seen.  It gets no better than this.  Football wise, I’m not sure it gets worse.  Math is not my strong suit, but I believe I’m correct when saying these two have been collectively outscored 577-261 this season.  I’d go into more detail, but I think that tells you everything you need to know.  Sparingly, it doesn’t look like this game will be broadcast anywhere.

The Two Biggest Games Left in SEC Football

SEC football is competitive every year, with this year being no exception so far. It seems like you can never accurately predict the divisional standings for neither the East nor the West. Honestly, even though I’m a Gator, I never would’ve guessed that Florida would be atop the East right now and would have such a good chance at actually winning the East. And although I knew LSU was going to be competitive, I probably still would have picked Alabama to be sitting at the top of the West right now. But as we Gator fans recently found out, things can change in a hurry.

That being said, I don’t expect too much to change too quickly in the races for the divisional titles in the SEC. Florida and Georgia both have a bye this week so nothing will change yet there. And LSU plays Western Kentucky so, barring some sort of catastrophic event, nothing will change there either. The only team whose status in the race to get to Atlanta seems to be in and kind of jeopardy is Alabama. Even though I was raised a Vol fan, I still think the idea of the Vols winning in Tuscaloosa this weekend is a bit farfetched. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t enjoy a nice upset down there! But if everything stays the same this week with LSU and Alabama at the top of the West and Florida and Georgia at the top of the East, then the teams making a trip to the SEC Championship Game in December will be decided by two huge games in the next few weeks.

Florida & Georgia

One of those games happens to only be about a week and a half away. It’s a game that every Florida and Georgia fan counts down to every year…The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. This season, it almost ensures a Gator trip to Atlanta if they manage to pull out the victory over Georgia. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this game always seems to be a good matchup regardless of whatever else is going on for the teams during that season. And I doubt this year will be any different. I said it was entirely possible for the Gators to get the upset win last year and they did…in convincing fashion. This year it would actually be an upset for the Bulldogs to win, though.

First, the Bulldogs got absolutely dominated by Alabama at home. And now after losing at Tennessee and suffering an even bigger loss when star RB Nick Chubb went down with an ugly knee injury on the first snap of that game, Georgia looks like they’re in trouble. Last week they barely eked out an ugly 9-6 victory over Missouri. Georgia needs to find some kind of offensive rhythm during their bye week. With the Gators playing how they have been in recent games, I can assure you that nine points and less than 300 yards of total offense just won’t do it when they play Florida in Jacksonville. And the pressure of this game is increasing, as the Bulldogs know very well what is at stake in that game.

The Gators have also recently suffered a couple of big losses when they came up short in a hard-fought game at Death Valley less than a week after learning that QB Will Grier was suspended per NCAA rules. But at this point, the Gators still have a lot to prove. Coming close to beating LSU in their stadium after losing their talented QB doesn’t count as a W in the win-loss column. It may have been a moral victory for the Gators though. They were able to see that they are able to compete at the highest level even without their starting QB. The Gators honestly could have won that game and even though they didn’t win, the team stuck together and fought their way back into what started to feel like a hopeless game. That momentum and that heart can carry the Gators very far as long as they remember to stay humble. Any team is beatable on any given day and the Gators need to remember to play with that in mind if they want to beat Georgia in a week and a half.

LSU & Alabama

In the West it’s looking like it’ll also come down to one big game. But this game isn’t on neutral ground; this game will be played in Tuscaloosa in about two and a half weeks. Less than a month ago I would’ve looked at Ole Miss and expected them to be in the driver’s seat or at least be in close competition with LSU for that SEC West title. But as they did last year, Ole Miss started out strong and has since faded away. That means it’ll come down to the one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide (who lost to formerly strong Ole Miss) or the still undefeated LSU Tigers.

It’s hard to view Alabama as an underdog in any game while Saban is still their head coach. But since they’re ranked lower and they have a loss, I’ll consider them the underdog just this one time. It’s easy to see that Alabama has a complete defense that is more than capable of suffocating offenses this season. Their defense may be good enough to finally slow down LSU RB Leonard Fournette. Even with two interceptions a week and a half ago, the Crimson Tide beat Arkansas by 13. And despite those two interceptions during that game QB Jake Coker has finally seemed to settle in to the offense, which has given their team the extra boost it could have used earlier in the season.

LSU has found their strength in one player more than anything else this season. We should probably just go ahead and hand the Heisman trophy to RB Leonard Fournette right now because unless he gets injured, there is no contest. Last week he still managed to rack up 180 rushing yards against Florida’s tough defense. Those rushing yards combined with some interesting play calls by Les Miles were just enough to lead the Tigers to victory. But now that those plays have been used, what will LSU do when they face another strong defense in two and a half weeks in Tuscaloosa? That game will answer the question once and for all of whether or not Leonard Fournette is stoppable. And if Fournette LSU wins that one, they’re almost certainly headed to Atlanta for what could be a priceless rematch on neutral ground against the Florida Gators.

We may have to wait a few more weeks to find out, but soon enough we’ll know who will be making a trip to Atlanta to fight for the SEC title. Right now all we can do as SEC football fans is anxiously await the two biggest games of the season. In case you missed it, the first of those games will be Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville on the 31st of October. The second game that we’ll be waiting for is LSU at Alabama on November 7th. Until then, I’m actually hoping for things to calm down a little bit as far as all this SEC football drama goes. Tennessee can stop losing games in the last quarter, Florida can stop letting their players shop at wellness stores without supervision, and Spurrier can refrain from breaking our hearts again.

Week 7 Rundown: What. Just. Happened.

 

I struggled to find a place to start the Rundown this week since there wasn’t anything that interesting that happened this past weekend. Oh yeah..except one of the most insane finishes we’ll see in our lifetime. That Michigan State/Michigan finish is an all-timer and had everything you’d look for in an all-time type of finish: rivalry game, uniqueness, improbability, and context. If the game would have ended on a punt return touchdown or even a blocked punt it wouldn’t have been that crazy. We’ve seen those plays before. But a botched snap on the last play of the game? And the way the Spartans were able to take it to the house? As I watched the punter drop the snap I thought, “Well this is a disaster, but at least he can fall on it and Michigan State will still have to try a 50+ yard field goal or hail mary for the win.” Nope, the ball inexplicably floated sideways perfectly into the hands of a Spartans player with no Wolverine in sight. Then throw in the fact that both teams were ranked Top 10 with only one real challenge the rest of the season after Saturday. In 50 years when we’re watching TV in like 5D and kids are asking their parents (grandparents?) how we ever watched television like this, they’ll be showing replays of this finish.

The Michigan State-Michigan game overshadowed a dominant performance from Iowa in which they went into Evanston and beat Northwestern 40-10. On any other Saturday that win may have really put the Hawkeyes on the map, but they’ll still be flying under the radar more than normal. I think that’s fine, since I’m still not convinced they are that good and it’s hard to take any Big 10 West team seriously until we see what they do against Michigan State, Michigan, or Ohio State. And we won’t find that out anytime soon because Iowa avoided all three on the regular season schedule. So that matchup would happen in the Big 10 championship game, one that would have 2014 Ohio State-Wisconsin written all over it.

One team we don’t have to wonder if it’s any good is Stanford. That opening week loss to Northwestern seems like forever ago as the Cardinal have been a completely different team in the last month. Stanford housed UCLA 56-35 in a game that was never in doubt. They’ve scored at least 40 points in their last four games, which seems almost as improbable as the finish we saw in Ann Arbor. That should continue though with the emergence of do-it-all back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey torched the Bruins to the tune of 243 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go alone with 122 kick return yards on just two opportunities. Oh, and this happened. The easy comparison for Stanford is last year’s Ohio State, who unexpectedly lost an early-season game only to roll the rest of the way undefeated. Stanford certainly isn’t as talented as that Buckeyes team (or this year’s for that matter) but the schedule sets them up for a similar run. At 5-1, the Cardinal only have to go on the road for two games the rest of the season, and those two contests are against Washington State and Colorado. In a Pac-12 that isn’t nearly as good as its pre-season projections, they should coast into the Pac-12 title game at no worse than 10-2.

Though the Cardinal may have a conference championship game spot locked up at that point, they’ll have to remain focused if they want to remain in the playoff hunt since they have a fascinating non-conference game the last week of the regular season against Notre Dame. The Irish could still be in the playoff hunt themselves and it may be the only game left the Irish have to impress the committee. The Irish play consecutive ranked opponents the next two weeks, but I don’t think they’ll be soaring into anyone’s Top 4 with wins over Temple and Pitt. And what would’ve been a marquee win over USC before the year started now is just another W. The Irish saved their best for last, outscoring the Trojans 17-0 in the fourth quarter to take a 41-31 victory.

A team that didn’t save their best for last, or their best for the beginning, or even bring it on the bus was the Boise State Broncos. The Broncos committed seven turnovers, in the first half. How does that even happen? I’m not sure teams even get seven possessions in a normal half. Boise State’s 1st half drives ended like this: Field Goal, Punt, Fumble, Fumble, INT, INT, Touchdown, Fumble, Fumble, AND A 90 YARD PICK SIX ON THE LAST PLAY OF THE HALF. That’s how you give up 45 first half points to Utah State. The Broncos weren’t done though. After receiving the second half kickoff, they fumbled the ball away on their second play from scrimmage. Incredible.

Boise State was the favorite to earn the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl spot, a spot that is going to require a lot of luck to fall into now. That’s because there are multiple other candidates who are in prime position to make a run. Houston has been rolling this year behind dual-threat QB Greg Ward Jr. Their success, along with Memphis and Temple’s, has three teams from the American Conference in the Top 25. That should give the eventual conference champ enough of a strength of schedule to waltz into a New Year’s Six bowl game. It’s hard not to make Memphis the favorite out of those teams after the Tigers handily defeated Ole Miss on Saturday. After going down 14-0 early, Memphis outscored the Rebels 37-10 the rest of the way. It would take a miracle for Memphis to find their way to the playoff, but they would have a great chance of beating whatever Power 5 team they played in a possible bowl game behind the arm of future NFL-er Paxton Lynch, who is completing over 70% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just one interception.

The last few weeks make it harder and harder to believe that that Ole Miss team who just lost to Memphis was able to go into Tuscaloosa and defeat the Crimson Tide. The Tide have looked dominant ever since, going into Athens and routing a Top 10 Georgia team and going on the road this past Saturday and beating a ranked Aggie team in a game where the outcome was never really in doubt. Looks like reports of Alabama’s demise were greatly exaggerated. We’re full steam ahead towards another Top 10 showdown between the Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers on November 7th in a game where the winner will be heavily favored to make the playoff. The Tigers did their part as well on Saturday, fighting off a previously undefeated Gators squad who played extremely well considering the shocking news about Will Grier in the week leading up to the game. And this is your weekly reminder that Leonard Fournette is not, in fact, from this planet. Fournette has 1202 yards on just 150 carries (8.0 ypc) and 14 touchdowns in just six games. The cancellation of LSU’s opening week game may be the only thing keeping Fournette from breaking records this year.

Overshadowed by the LSU man-child, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is having nearly as good of a season. The dynamic Seminoles back has been carrying the FSU team while Everett Golson becomes more comfortable in the offense each week. Cook has been the reason the Seminoles have won in half their games and if his hamstring holds up, he should have a spot as a Heisman finalist.

Baylor is a team who has multiple players who could find their way to New York for the Heisman ceremony. WR Corey Coleman has already broken the school’s single-season record for touchdown catches with 16. In six games. Coleman is averaging 21 yards per catch on 41 catches. I would say that TD/catch ratio is unsustainable but with Baylor, you never know. But it’s unlikely Coleman could pass his QB as the team’s leading Heisman candidate. Through six games, Seth Russell has 27 touchdowns and 5 INTs. If that isn’t enough he also has over 300 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground on over 8 yards per carry. The Bears haven’t played much in the way of quality competition thus far, but they’ll have their chances in the last month of the season to make statements.

Finally, the defending champs made a statement of their own on Saturday. Ohio State put together their best game of the season, dominating Penn State on their way to a 38-10 win. The Buckeyes are slowly rounding into form, and they have three more weeks to sharpen their game before finishing the year with Michigan State and Michigan.

Top Four

Baylor

Utah

Clemson

Ohio State

More Than A Friday: Thinking of Lamar Odom During a Busy Week in Sports

Lamar Odom is going to die. We sincerely hope it doesn’t happen today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or even in the next year. For Odom, there is a reality, and doesn’t that word really have some negative connotation to it? The reality is, that I hope he is able to survive from the time between now and whenever this publishes, but only for a life that doesn’t involve suffering.

Why do I care about the mortality of Lamar Odom? As former Arizona Cardinal Darnell Dockett so bluntly stated, he didn’t cross my mind before he was trending, so to speak. I don’t mourn for his situation with a Lakers or Heat flag on my car, and I’m not sympathetic to the character he was presented as to the masses on a show I didn’t watch. I know who he is, because of basketball, and I know how much he loved being a Laker, through the words of his ex-wife during a very brief glimpse of that show that I swear I didn’t watch. I’m sympathetic to his situation, because he is very obviously in the public eye, and it feels like he’s slowly dying in front of all of us.

I don’t feel that he deserves that. He deserves our compassion, but to suffer, with all of those toxins eating away at the very life he’s lived for the past 35 years, 11 months, and change; no one has earned that fate. Everyone in the media seems to be acting appropriately sensitive, walking on egg shells and citing his difficult background, while commending his wildly successful life and hoping for the best. We’re all human enough for that; we should be well wishing Odom for a prolonged life or a merciful death, though most of us don’t know the answers. While we brace ourselves for the inevitable assassination of his character from a few directions, and for various reasons, this is a time to be above the noise and just care.

In Major League Baseball

If you lack a dog in this fight, it’s been an awesome week of watching the field dwindle itself from 8 down to 4. If you had rooting interest in the Division Series, half of you are elated and half of you ain’t.

The Chicago Cubs were the first ones in the clubhouse, waiting to see what the rest of semi-final field would be. They had to win that winner-take-all game, which is always dangerous. It meant burning their best arm, leaving one Jake Arrieta available for just one start in the subsequent best-of-5 series. To survive that do-or-die game in Pittsburgh, it meant taking on baseball’s best regular season team and a long-time arch-rival in what’s been a very lopsided pairing for a very long time.

Give it to the Cubs, for not letting history get the best of them. They were able to bounce back after a poor showing in St. Louis in Game 1, a game that had you thinking the Cubs didn’t have the ammunition to survive the almighty Cardinals, beaten and battered as Mike Matheny’s squad may have been. Lo and behold, they kept hitting the ball out of the park, and when the Cardinals pecked away at a Chicago lead, the Cubs scratched back.

We’ll say good-bye to the Cardinals, and point out that they’re just another great National League team that managed to win at least 100 regular season games on a long list of triple-digit winning National League teams that have failed to win the World Series since the Mets won it all in ’86. The 2015 chapter of the Mets are a little different; they’re not supposed to be here. Blame the Washington Nationals for that, but maybe credit these young Metropolitans for being too dumb to know the stage is too big for them or that they’re not ready yet.

For a while, we’ve known the National League’s chapter of New York baseball was acquiring too much talent to be kept down for long. Remember when Matt Harvey was pretty much the chosen one there? Those days are long gone, with the flowing locks of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard making the Dark Knight (and the Yankees) an afterthought in Gotham. You’ve got Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright earning the headlines for Terry Collins’ team, but it was the efforts of the likes of Michael Conforto and Daniel Murphy that put them in the place they needed to be to host the Cubs on Saturday in Game 1 of the NLCS.

As for the Dodgers, the brilliance of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke for two games apiece wasn’t enough. Chase Utley taking out Ruben Tejada on a questionable double-play breaking slide wasn’t enough. Justin Turner’s .526 batting average wasn’t enough, nor was any other aspect of the roughly $310 million payroll enough to get three wins against these Mets in a best-of-five series. If you’re into math, they were paying about $77 million, per team that advance farther than them in the 2015 Playoffs.

It’s probably not the best of ideas to reduce a best-of-five that goes the distance down to a single inning of an elimination game, but that’s how we’re going to roll with the American League Division Series. The conversation of the day on Wednesday, at around 2:30 PM (Mountain Standard Time) was about whether or not the Astros could rebound from their 8th inning collapse, a few days prior, against the defending AL Champs at home. And maybe the Royals had something to do with that as well, but you had to hold the phone on making Game 5 of Astros-Royals into headline material. Down 6-2 in the eighth inning, on the road, six outs from elimination, the Royals put together one of those innings. They got some bounces and scored enough runs(5) to survive(a 7-6 victory), but needed another win to advance. That was Monday.

Before the Royals could do what they needed to do, back at home on Wednesday evening, there was the issue of settling the other half of the bracket with Game 5 in Toronto. Fast forward to the 7th inning of that one, game tied at 2, with Rougned Odor on 3rd base and Shin-Soo Choo at the plate. On a Russell Martin throw back to Blue Jays’ reliever Aaron Sanchez, the ball hits Choo’s bat and squirts toward the third baseman. Odor scores on the “throwing error”, and all hell breaks loose in Toronto. After a review, the Rangers lead 3-2 and they were 9 outs from another trip to the ALCS. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus wasn’t prepared to help the cause.

It started with a routine ground ball to short, which he mishandled. Then, there was a double play ball, and well, the ball was thrown poorly by Mitch Moreland at first base, and Andrus couldn’t haul it in. Next batter, it’s a sacrifice bunt not executed well, where a good throw to third should eliminate the lead runner, but Andrus can’t handle it. Bases loaded.

Toronto tied the game on a ball that should be described as a Texas Leaguer, and could have invoked the Infield Fly Rule, floats beyond the reach of the Texas second baseman. It ends up being a fielder’s choice at 2nd base, but the tying run scores. Tie game, runners at first and third for Jose Bautista.

What he did was hit the ball, so far that metaphors would be ineffective for those that don’t know much about Canadian geography. It was a three-run job, giving the home team a 6-3 lead that would stick. After he hit it, he tossed his bat about eight feet in the air, and (we assume) it traveled for kilometers before it reached the ground, well after he’d run the bases.

Blue Jays win, and they’re back in the ALCS, for the first time since 1993. That was the year Joe Carter hit baseball’s second (and most recent) World Series clinching walk-off home run. In a lot of ways, regardless of what happens to the Blue Jays the rest of the way, this Bautista shot may have been a bigger deal.

1908, 1985, 1986, 1993. The last time the Cubs, Royals, Mets, and Blue Jays have won it all, respectively. We’re going to get someone new, while the Giants, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees watch from the couch…and I that’s just fine by me.

In Football

Ohio State is going to stay #1 until they lose. It’s just the way it is. I look forward to them playing Penn State under the lights in Columbus, but I’m not looking forward to seeing them wearing all black, for the sake of wearing all black.

Texas A&M will host Alabama, and the Aggies have a legitimate shot to win that game and establish themselves as a legitimate player in the College Football Playoff talk, while Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines host in-state rival Michigan State with a good chance to finally allow some points and to likely get handed their second loss of the season.

Florida will travel to Baton Rouge for a night game with LSU on Saturday. They will be without their starting quarterback, while South Carolina hosts Vanderbilt and USC travels to Notre Dame, both without their head coaches. You might expect an 0-3 run from that group with those voids.

On Sunday, expect plenty of blood in the water, in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. Bruce Arians didn’t even take the Cardinals back home last week, after thumping Detroit; you can be sure he wants to get his pound of flesh from Mike Tomlin and company, after they kicked him to the curb a few years back. TJ Ward said he wanted to remain with the Browns (and presumably his best friend, Joe Haden) two year ago, but Cleveland wasn’t interested, so he’ll surely be interested in ringing some bells with his Broncos visiting the 2-3 Browns. Finally, they say snitches end up with stitches, so go ahead and find your own shitty air/inflation-related pun to describe what Tom Brady and the Patriots might do to the Colts on Sunday night.

In the National Hockey League

Call it a Stanley Cup Hangover, or call it the distraction of one of your top players being accused of sexual assault, but the Chicago Blackhawks have looked anything but Champions…so far.

It’s obviously early, but we haven’t seen an immediate impact from Mike Babcock joining the Maple Leafs or Connor McDavid joining the Oilers. Both will happen in due time.

The Arizona Coyotes are basically left for dead by anyone who knows anything about this game, but they’re off to a promising start under Dave Tippett in Glendale. Rookies Anthony DuClair and Max Domi look like they have something special budding in the desert, making major contributions to the ‘Yotes 3-1 start.

Five You Must See: Week 7

#18 UCLA (4-1) at #15 Stanford (4-1) Thursday at 10:30 PM on ESPN

It’s rare to have a game featuring two teams coming off their bye week, but that’s exactly what we’ve got here.  UCLA badly needed that week off to get healthy and regroup after taking their first loss of the season two weeks ago against Arizona State.  Last time we saw Stanford they were pounding Arizona back into their place and looking more like the team we expect them to be.

I’ll be interested to see how the Bruins plan to stop a Cardinal offense that is unlike any other in the conference.  Being able to run the ball consistently with Christian McCaffrey and Barry Sanders (not THE, but his son) has made life much easier for Kevin Hogan whose completion rate is north of 67 percent.

The Bruins have a whole fleet of backs led by Paul Perkins, whose reliability has been a stabilizer for freshman quarterback Josh Rosen.  The kid came out guns blazing, looking like he was ready to set the world on fire, but has since reminded us that he is less than a year removed from playing high school football.

Tune in to find out which Pac-12 contender will be the first to take its second loss this season.  It’s something to watch late Thursday night, and Fridays seem to take care of themselves anyway.

#17 Iowa (6-0) at #20 Northwestern (5-1) Saturday at 12:00 PM on ABC / ESPN2

(Photo: Leon Halip / Getty Images)
(Photo: Leon Halip / Getty Images)

You’re going to turn this game on for three main reasons.  First of all, like me, you probably haven’t seen Iowa play yet.  And why would we have?  Kirk Ferentz never has what you’d consider an exciting team.  But every few years his Hawkeyes rattle off a bunch of wins and end up factoring into the Big Ten discussion.  This is starting to look like one of those seasons and a second win over a ranked conference opponent would obviously boost their resume.

Secondly, you’ll want to see how Northwestern rebounds from getting shutout by Michigan last week.  The Wildcats’ hopes were high just a week ago, but the 38-0 drubbing sent them crashing back down to earth even faster than you’d expect.  This game is crucial for their morale going forward.

Lastly, as is often the case, there is no better option in the noon timeslot.  I mean, sure, you could watch Baylor roll up another 50-spot, or witness Florida State’s weekly routine of squeaking by an inferior ACC opponent, but those games aren’t real football.  What you need is a hearty helping of Big Ten football, and lucky for you we’ve got that on tap.

#10 Alabama (5-1) at #9 Texas A&M (5-0) Saturday at 3:30 PM on CBS

This game, like so many others, will be won, or lost, in the trenches.  The offensive lines will have to lead the way and here’s why:

Alabama needs to run the ball in order to move down the field consistently.  Derrick Henry is a tank of a running back with a nose for the goal line, having rushed for at least one touchdown in each of the Tide’s six games.  However, most of his big runs come on plays where his offensive line opens up a canyon for him to rumble through.  If that doesn’t happen enough and Alabama has to rely on Jake Coker to convert third and longs, it could be a long day.

(Photo: AP Photo / Bob Levey)
(Photo: AP Photo / Bob Levey)

That’s because one of the nation’s top pass rushes will be lined up on the other side.  Can’t-miss NFL prospect Myles Garrett already has 7.5 sacks on the young season.  He’s the type of player you have to gameplan around or you’ll pay for it.

On the other side, A&M needs to figure out how to occupy the Alabama front seven which has allowed fewer than 78 yards rushing per game, good for fourth in the country.  My guess is that quarterback Kyle Allen, whose shown flashes of being a capable runner, will have an increased role in the rushing attack for the Aggies.

Settle in.  This is going to be quite the clash of SEC titans.

#7 Michigan State (6-0) at #12 Michigan (5-1) Saturday at 3:30 PM on ESPN

You like defense?  Good, cause that’s what we’ve got in the great state of Michigan.  The Wolverines are led by their corners.  Jeremy Clark has three interceptions already.  And Jourdan Lewis, who’s near the top of the leaderboard in passes defended, has a couple picks of his own.  These two have been Michigan’s best players.  They’ve kept opposing receivers on complete lockdown which has allowed the safeties and linebackers to step up and fill the holes to stop the run.  This, more than anything else, has been the key to the Wolverines’ success.

Interestingly, Jim Harbaugh seems to be testing out the same formula the Spartans have been working on perfecting for years now.  Nobody was better at single man coverage with no help over the top than State was the past several years.  Now, whether it’s related to Pat Narduzzi’s departure or not, I don’t know.  But the Spartans are struggling a bit with continuing that tradition.  When they get beat, it’s the corners who’ve failed.  It’s not exactly fair because they’re asked to do the bulk of the work, but that’s the system they play.

Shilique Calhoun has five sacks and is another pass rusher you’ll see playing on Sundays soon enough.  There are only a handful of guys in the country who have racked up more tackles than junior linebacker Riley Bullough so far this fall.  The rest of the defense is still just as ferocious as it’s always been under Mark Dantonio.

So, what’s going to break this game open?  Quarterback play.  Connor Cook and Jake Rudock are going to have to challenge those corners when they see the defense setting up in single man coverage.  Whichever one is more successful doing so will provide his team with a distinct advantage.  You do not want to miss this sibling rivalry.

#8 Florida (6-0) at #6 LSU (5-0) Saturday at 7:00 PM on ESPN

All of a sudden Florida’s promising season is up in the air.  This week the Gators found out they will be without their quarterback Will Grier for a calendar year due to a failed drug test that found some kind of NCAA-banned substance.  There are still questions about whether or not Grier knowingly took this PED, but frankly it doesn’t matter we’re here to talk about the game.

Thankfully, the Gator defense is still intact.  They’ll need to step up and carry an even bigger load now.  Charged with the task of slowing Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette, that’s the last thing the Gator defense needed to hear.  At 14.3 points per game, Florida ranks eleventh in the nation in scoring defense.  Staying true to that mark will be essential to winning this game.

(Photo: Getty Images Sport)
(Photo: Getty Images Sport)

You really can’t say enough about what Fournette has done in five games.  He’s tied for the FBS-lead in rushing scores with 12.  The sophomore (that’s right he’s got one more year before hitting the NFL) has run for almost 150 more yards than anyone else in the country despite playing one less game.  Fournette is averaging 204 yards on the ground per game.  I’ll repeat that.  He is averaging 204 yards per game.  That’s superhuman.  The dude has been incredibly fun to watch and I can’t wait to see how he does against the best defense the Tigers have come across this fall.

LSU loves playing at home in primetime.  For some reason the team gets a major boost when the lights are on.  Florida certainly has their work cut out for them here, but I would not count them out.

Basically, this is as good as it gets in college football.  We’ve got two top ten teams set to beat the tar out of each other until one of them breaks.  As Mike Wilson would say, “Get your popcorn ready.”

The “Better as a Basketball Game” of the Week

Purdue (1-5) at Wisconsin (4-2) Saturday at 12:00 PM on Big Ten Network

You don’t want to watch this game do you?  I didn’t think so.  Wisconsin isn’t a bad team, but they’re not as good as they have been in recent years.  At this point, I think the Badgers are better hoopers than they are footballers.  Purdue, on the other hand, is miserable on the gridiron so their basketball team has no choice but to be better.  Don’t worry Boilermaker fans; it’s almost time to tip-off your favorite season.  Until then, enjoy getting bowled over on a weekly basis.

Two Top Ten Showdowns in SEC Football

This week we get to witness a rare moment in college football. Though it may be rare, it is usually well worth the wait in between occurrences. SEC football fans will be glued to their TVs this weekend with good reason. What’s that good reason? Two games will be played between AP Top Ten football teams from the SEC…one between Alabama and Texas A&M and one between Florida and LSU. Texas A&M, Florida, and LSU are all still unbeaten so far this season. And this week, that’s going to change for at least one of those teams. Who will it be? Will Alabama make a statement in College Station after last week’s early-game struggles? Will the Gators rally around Treon Harris to topple LSU? It’s time to get a better idea of the answers to those questions with a quick preview of the two biggest showdowns in SEC football this week…and arguably so far this season.

Alabama @ Texas A&M

Last year, Texas A&M got their heads handed to them on a platter and then some in Tuscaloosa. It was BAD. Like 59-0 bad. No, that was not a typo. So what makes this year different? Does Texas A&M really stand a chance against Alabama since they are undefeated at this point? Well, about that undefeated thing. Their early season schedule is anything but impressive as far as SEC schedules go. The best team they’ve played so far is Arkansas. And Arkansas only lost to them by a touchdown. So maybe they’ve just had an easy stretch of games so far that’s led them to this point of being undefeated.

But we have to consider something else…we have to consider that maybe Texas A&M is the dark horse playoff team that sports journalists were buzzing about before the season even started. Maybe all the personnel changes that resulted from last year’s embarrassing loss to Alabama and carried over into this season have really transformed the Aggies. Though I expect Alabama to win this game, there is some doubt in my mind because of the momentum Texas A&M seems to have going for them at this point. Sometimes that momentum and playing in your home stadium can make up for some of the shortcomings your team may have.

Florida @ LSU

Last year, Florida very narrowly lost to LSU at home under former head coach Will Muschamp. And after getting his first significant reps in the Tennessee game, QB Treon Harris had to sit this one out due to sexual assault accusations. This year, Florida has even bigger QB drama heading into this game. And this time they also won’t have the advantage of playing in the Swamp. Florida had seemed to finally find an offensive rhythm with new coach Jim McElwain and redshirt freshman QB Will Grier. The Gators finally had a pretty good passing game. But all that came to a screeching halt when the news of Grier’s failed NCAA drug test broke. Grier, at this point, is slated to sit out for the rest of this season and half of next season too. So now this game poses two very intriguing questions as we head into Saturday instead of just one.

First, the newest question…will sophomore QB Treon Harris be able to lead the offense with a well-balanced attack? Harris was in close competition with Grier for the starting position earlier this season. But at the end of the day, Harris is more of a rushing QB while Grier has the better arm. Now the Gators offense will have no choice but to rally around Harris and try to give the offense a chance at doing more than just running the ball all game. Because let’s be honest, there’s no way that’s going to result in a win for the Gators. Especially not with a weapon like Leonard Fournette on LSU’s side. That brings me to the second big question…will the Gators defense be able to contain Fournette? Though I’m a Gator, I have a great amount of respect for Fournette and what he’s done so far this season. In five games, he already has over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. He seems unstoppable on his path to the Heisman Trophy this season. But the Tigers haven’t faced a defense like Florida’s yet. The Gators have a killer secondary led by Hargreaves and Tabor, not to mention an explosive group of linemen ready to come after QB Brandon Harris as well as Fournette himself. The Gators have allowed an average of just below 100 rushing yards per game this season and have yet to allow a touchdown on the road this year. Their defense really does seem like one of the most complete, most suffocating defenses in the country right now. So maybe, just maybe they have a chance at slowing down Forunette enough to get a victory.

All this being said, since nothing seems to be a given in college football this year, I’m not going to even bother speculating as to who will actually win each of these two games. But upon closer examination I can assure you that we’re in for a great weekend of SEC football. May the two best Top Ten teams win.

Rapid Reaction: Alabama Saves its Dynasty; Destroys Georgia 38-10

Disgustingly ugly is the description I’d use to describe today’s game in Athens, Georgia. Georgia lost and it wasn’t close. The score at halftime was 21-3 and if Alabama’s defense doesn’t fall asleep on one play in the third quarter, there’s little doubt the Bulldogs would have scored a touchdown in the game. By the way, Nick Chubb ran 83-yards for Georgia’s single touchdown.

All this is fine, but really this is all about Georgia. Everyone at the beginning of the week was busy speculating how this could be the end of Alabama’s dynasty. That obviously didn’t work out too well. It also isn’t the end of the road for Georgia. The SEC East is absolute garbage.

Next week, Georgia will head to Knoxville, then back home to face Missouri before the bye week. After the bye week – the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida. Those three and the following game versus Kentucky are the only three that matter. Georgia is fine.

Missouri isn’t dead – I just assume I’ll never see Maty Mauk again and we’ll know a lot more about Florida after their game again Ole Miss tonight. Oh, and Will Grier started for Florida. It was nice knowing you too, Treon Harris. Thanks for stopping in.

The road for Alabama is significantly tougher, but after today’s game everything should be a bit clearer. Texas A&M on October 17th, LSU on November 7th in Tuscaloosa, at Mississippi State on November 14th and the Iron Bowl in Auburn on November 28th. You can say whatever you want about Auburn, but the Iron Bowl is no joke.

It never is.

As Bird and I talked about a few weeks ago on the SEC 411, Alabama has never been able to find the stud quarterback who could just walk in and let the world know he’s in charge. I think Jake Coker made the case for himself today. He’s one of the key’s to Alabama’s success. Derrick Henry and Calvin Henry will carry the offense, and if the Tide’s defense continues today’s domination, Alabama won’t have to listen to anyone talk smack about their failing dynasty.

This fan perfectly sums up everyone’s feelings about Mark Richt and his performances in big games. I don’t think there was anything he could have done about today because Alabama had his number from the beginning, but the tweet is appropriate.

I believe tomorrow we’ll find that Alabama makes it way to at least number 7 and Georgia will probably land somewhere in 18-22 range depending on what happens to everyone else. Sure, they could be completely booted from the Associated Press Top 25, but who knows.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.