Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hello November - Goodbye October ....

It happens every year. Just as the seasons change, so to does the college football calendar. September is about the new beginning, a rebirth of sorts if you will. It's the month we've been waiting for all summer. Most teams are energized about the upcoming campaign. Hopes of contending for the title or just even making it to a bowl game abound from coast to coast. October is all about position and placement. Championships and titles aren't won in Ocotober but they can be lost with one bad snap, a missed tackle, or a blown coverage. Yep, October is about positioning yourself in the tall grass waiting for the water buffalo to make his next move. We get a taste of what could be when the first BCS rankings come out. We also start to learn who's a contender and who's a pretender as conference races heat up.

So why am I so psyched about November? Ah yes, November is about making the move to glory. November is about separation from the field. November is about do or die. Some of the biggest games of each season are played in November. Actually, just about all of the big games in a given year are played in November. I learned tonight that there will be college football on 19 of the next 26 days leading up to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. What else can I ask for? Some of the biggest games of the year will be played: Michigan @ Ohio State, WV @ Louisville, Notre Dame @ USC, Texas @ Texas A&M, and the list goes on and on. November is rivalry month where just about anything can happen and usually does each and every weekend.

Same can be said for PICK EM. You can't win it until November. The rivalry games this month provide fantastic opportunites for separation just about each and every week. It's where we learn about the best from the rest. Knowledge of the game and the best teams is what separates the leaders from the rest of the pack. I don't expect this year to be any different than past campaings. So enjoy November. The best games of the year are played this month. Some folks look forward to bowl season. Not me. If given the choice between the caliber of football played in November versus December / January I'll take the next four weeks over bowl season every time.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Week #9 PICK EM Wrap. Down Goes Troy!

CFB - I love this game. Click Clack. Be here or be nowhere. I hate my picks. Well, it was a wild Saturday in CFB today even with some less than stellar matchups. KUDOS to the men from Corvallis and the BEAVER NATION for taking care of business today against the men of TROY. Sure they had to hold on for dear life at the end, but the BEAVERS beat Carroll's crew today in a BCS buster. The BEAVERS are hot! They beat UW in Seattle a few weeks ago. Last weekend they beat the WILDCATS in Tucson. And today in Corvallis....they beat the men of TROY. Oh my golly......when you play with fire sooner or later you're going to get burned. Case in point today for USC. You have to be sound in the kicking game, and you can't turn it over on the road expecting to win (4 USC turnover today sealed the deal for Oregon State).

Wow, what will this mean for the BCS rankings this week? Most of us thought that USC was going to lose sometime in the regular season. They have been playing on borrowed time most of the year - in my opinion. But, most of us probably didn't think it would happen today in Corvallis. I think the BEAVERS have only beaten the Trojans twice in thirty-something years. And today was one of those days. Lots of records were thrown out today with this loss - the Trojan's first in conference since 2003, wow! 38 consecutive regular-season wins; gone. What a huge upset. Some teams will benefit from this result today (WV/Louisville) and others will lose big-time (Notre Dame). The BEAVERS made the big plays and capitalized on them with TD's when they had to. For the BEAVERS and their nation it probably doesn't get much sweeter than this.

And with their 2nd biggest comeback in history, the HORNS beat the RED RAIDERS in Lubbock tonight in another classic BIG-12 showdown. This just in, Colt McCoy is good. What's even more interesting is that his girlfriend attends Texas Tech. What's going to happen in Lubbock tonight with those two? Give Glory to God Colt for he is indeed Great! And not a shabby comeback either. He's only a freshmen ladies and gentlemen. Give credit to TEXAS and their defense in the 2nd half for completely shutting down TEXAS TECH. This was a big game for TEXAS given the USC loss today. Mac Brown says that Lubbock is one of the hardest places to play and win. And for 4 weeks in a row, TEXAS has comeback for the victory and remains undefeated on TBS. What a great game. Up next for the HORNS? Those Cowboys from Stillwater (Oklahoma State) who spanked Nebraska in the 2nd half of that one (only their 4th win over Nebraska in 41 years). For now, I give thanks for my nine points on TEXAS on this massacre of days.

How about those last four games in PICK EM? I mean every one of them could have gone the other way: Texas beats Texas Tech, Maryland beat FSU on a blocked field goal which would have tied it, ASU over UW in OT on a TD pass from Carpenter, and TN over the other USC coming back in the 4th quarter for the win. So many points were up for the grabbin'. And it looks like I didn't grab too many of them. Ugh! Not a good weekend for Mr. Fightin' Illini or his team from Champaign-Urbana. First my squad threw away a 14 - point lead at Camp Randall (Wisconsin), and then this debacle of debacles. Oh, and by the way we get the BUCKS at home next weekend as a reward. Then again, maybe, just maybe, we'll find a way. The ghost of Red Grange lives on in the halls of Memorial Stadium. Hey, it's college football. Anything can happen. Hunker-down Illini - Oskee Wa Wa!

What happened in Columbia with Missouri against Okalhoma? I'll tell ya. Too many turnovers by the men in black. Three in fact, which cost the TIGERS the game and me 7 points. Ugh! I can't complain too much about the other losses but I will (I had four of them today for a total loss of 15 points - Ugh!). This was not a good day. Looks like I'm 12 points behind Mr. KIWI. Honestly, I had my concerns about it heading into the games today. Too many mediocre teams on the road and too many losses. Although, it can probably be said I got a bit greedy today by putting 7 points on the TIGERS from Columbia against a pretty good Oklahoma squad w/o Adrian Peterson. I just blew the pick on this game (ignoring the SOONER dominant history of late). Ohio and Air Force all over again. Ugh! If I could only have three picks back this year. Time to get serious. I have some ground to make-up over the next month.

Nobody in our group beat GOLIC this week. He's on fire over the past month. This was a tough week - a lot more like last year. Hopefully we'll get more of them like this. KUDOS to Mr. Kiwi and his 45 points this week. He takes over first place for the first time this year. Man, those picks were gutsy: 9 points on Tennessee and 8 points on Maryland. Good for you. Congratulations on the solid week. And for only the 2nd time this season we had another separation Saturday. I'm hoping for 4 more down the stretch with 4 more weeks to go. Other honorable mention winners today: Mr. Grinning Beaver (J. Lang), Red Raider Attack (Cesar), RAS, and SCHOLL. And watchout for the Photonic Cowboy himself, (Patriacca). He posted a 45 this week and maybe, just maybe, just maybe - that will spark his comeback this year. Remember what he did last year coming back from way down to win it all in November. Where have you been Paulie? If you've played every week this year you're in the top 80% in the nation. Strong group.

For only the 5th time ever in BUCKEYE history somebody else dotted the eye other than a bandmember in Columbus today. Yes, that was Jack Nicklaus who did the honors at halftime when the band was on the field forming the script OHIO. This just in, Ohio State is good. Might as well give Troy Smith the Heisman now. I mean come on, is there any doubt anymore? Pretty amazing that today was their first shut-out in something like 10 years. And, of the 6 unbeatens in college football, Ohio State seems to be the most solid. Yes indeed, they are in the driver's seat. It's their title to lose this year.
  • It's all about Ohio State right now. Nobody else really has a prayer, including BIG BLUE.
  • Tennessee is good. Very very good under the leadership of Ainge (Mr. Hillsboro). Big win for the VOLS today in Columbia.
  • Same for Florida. Although, maybe just maybe the VOLS are better than the GATORS right now. They held on today to beat a curious Georgia squad in the world's biggest cocktail party or something like that.
  • Auburn and BIG BLUE both won today, in surprisingly close games. What's up there?
  • Welcome back Notre Dame. Good win today in Annapolis (even though it was NAVY). Something like 43 consecutive wins over the Middies. Yikes! That's a trend. You should move up in the polls this week; don't worry Charlie! Stop whinin'!
  • And for more poetic justice, TEMPLE won today for the first time in twenty tries. And guess whom they beat? Bowling Green. Yes, the very same team that cost me 7 points a few weeks ago against Ohio in PICK EM. Ugh! This world is really chaotic.
  • How about those COWBOYS from Stillwater (OSU). They handed Nebraska it's 2nd straight loss today. BIG-12 SOUTH is a lot better than the NORTH, still.
  • Wow, both FSU and Miami lost today. How about those Jackets from Atlanta? Thank you Georgia Tech. Urban Meyer owns the state of Florida this year, and maybe for years to come. Not sure how much longer Bowden and Coker will remain in the their positions. For FSU, it's their worth start since 1976 - Bowden's first year at FSU. 4 conference losses in one year for the Noles; ouch!
My TOP 20: 1) Ohio State, 2) Jack Nicklaus, 3) All things BUCKEYE RED, 4) Michigan, 5) West Virginia, 6) TEXAS, 7) Florida, 8) Tennessee, 9) Louisville, 10) Notre Dame, 11) CAL, 12) USC, 13) RUTGERS (SUNJ), 14) Arkansas, 15) LSU, 16) BC, 17) Oklahoma, 18) Wisonsin, 19) Georgia Tech, 20) Boise State. AP Poll.

Down go the Badgers....Wait a Minute.

Down go the Badgers. What an upset today by the Young Illini and the Fighting Zookers up at Camp Randall. It's not easy to win up there and we pulled it off. Wait a minute. I'm waking up now. Not feeling well. Flat-out illin'. Oh, very sick. Dizzy. Severe pain. Ugh! It's true. We lost our 4th game in a row with a complete implosion of monumental proportion. My dreams just turned into another nightmare as my Illini did what they do best - lose.

It really was a tale of two halves. We led 24-10 at the break only to NOT SCORE AT ALL in the last 30 minutes of regulation. The Badgers outscored us in each of the last two quarters by 10 points. Ugh - this has got to end. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. When will we figure out how to win? This really could have been our 4th win in a row. Instead of 2-6 we could be 6-2 and on our way to a bowl game.

What else can be said. We're getting better but need to turn the corner and win a game already. It seems like an eternity since the SPARTY game. Same old story, penalties and key turnovers late in the game were the difference today in a hostile environment. In the last 4 losses, two were by last second field-goals with the other two just being choke jobs on the road at Penn State and today in Wisconsin.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Week #8 PICK EM WRAP - Survival Saturday!

Well, let me start out by saying that the POSER was right. Wow, lots of perfect scores this week, and they all made me sick. I took the under at 4 and would have still lost at 17. Ouch man, I was wrong on this one. For sure, I thought there were a few upsets out there this week. Just didn't happen. It was a day to save your season. If you didn't get 55 points today you lost ground to the field and the 18 of us who did. Unbelieveable. It used to be that scoring in the 50's meant something. Not anymore. Not this year. At least my system is working well. If it werent' for a few games turning out the way they did (mostly involving an academy called NAVY) I'd be in a little better rank shape. Weeks like this do nothing to separate the cream from the rest of the pack. We need more tough weeks like we had in WEEK #3 and #5. Most of the games today had no business being there this week: Ohio State and Indiana? LSU and Fresno? Really – give us a challenge. Too many perfect scores to recognize any great achievement this week. Enjoy the mediocrity for now; and let’s just hope it gets tougher soon. This was a ‘gimme’ week if there ever was one. Enjoy the 5’s for now.

PICK EM is a mess after 8 weeks. If you've played all of them you're in the TOP 78% in the nation. It's just all clogged up at the top. We are in desperate need of another separation week of games to showcase the best from the rest. I'm ready. Are you? On to week #9 and the home stretch. I've said it all along that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Well, it's turning into more of a track meet right now with only 5 more weeks to go. Who will win? Who has it within to be the PICK EM champ for 2k6? And Kudos to Jon Lang for his 55 points tonight. Good to see your system is working for you once again.

What another great weekend of college football. This week gave us the greatest comeback in DIV 1A history as SPARTY rebounded in the 2nd half on the road against the WILDCATS for a 41-38 victory. Nothing special here. SPARTY was only down 38-3 in the 2nd half before putting it all together for John L. Smith. Wow – that was an impressive comeback and a monumental choke for Northwestern. Ouch, I feel that pain. Either way, it was the biggest deficit every overcome in CFB DIV1-A. On the banks of the ole red cedar. Unbelieveable. Evanston is devasted tonight. Battered troops won this game. Kudos to the team from East Lansing. Biggest comeback ever. Congratulations SPARTY!

How many 1-loss teams struggled today at home but found ways to win? Let me tell you. CAL, Tennessee, and Notre Dame all had games that were much closer than expected. All won today, but not very impressively at home. TEXAS barely escaped in Lincoln against the Huskers in another classic BIG-12 thriller. Hook 'Em Hard baby! Colt McCoy is the real deal. This guy is going to reak havoc on the BIG - 12 for years to come. Sorry TED, this was a close game that could have gone either way down the stretch. Give credit to Nebraska for hanging tough for 4 full quarters. Lots of trickeration kept it close. It just wasn’t meant to be today. These two teams might see each other again later in the year at the BIG-12 Championship game. Better take ‘em one at a time if you expect to be there at the end of the season. Notre Dame and CAL really had their hands full right down to the wire and then in to OT before the BEARS put the HUSKIES away. Closer than the experts thought. What did you expect from 2 of only 4 teams with 800 wins with their programs? Wow, what a game.

I think one of the best teams in the country right now resides in CLEMSON, SC. Sorry Johnny D with the ACC BIAS, your JACKETS got smaked tonight in CLEMSON by those nasty TIGERS. This team is firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. In Spiller and Davis, I don’t think anybody else in the nation has a more impressive 1-2 punch in thunder and lightening. What's even more scary? One is a freshmen and the other is a sophomore. Ouch! Davis had 216 himself. Touch the rock - you deserve it James. They just ran all over the Jackets tonight in the game of the week. Fear the Clemson TIGERS. They just might be one of a few teams who can beat Ohio State – maybe. Super stud Calvin Johnson was completely shutdown tonight by CLEMSON with zero catches for zero yards. Very impressive.

What happened to the DUCKS today? Bye Bye BCS. Maybe they will bace Oklahoma after all in San Diego come bowl season. Not a good showing by Belotti's boys on the road tonight. I’ll tell you what happened; they lost to the better team today. It’s tough to win on the road, especially in PULLMAN. Looks like Oregon didn’t really wakeup until the 4th quarter. Stewart was shutdown for 28 yards on 11 carries. Dixon had a terrible day throwing too many interceptions. Brink really stuck it to the DUCKS who didn’t even show any interest in him as a QB from Eugene, his hometown university. Kudos to the BEAVERS who found a way win their 2nd consecutive PAC-10 game today on the road in Tucson over the CATS, 17-10. Congratulations on a job well done. And suddenly, USC doesn’t look too bad in the PAC-10 with Oregon losing today and CAL struggling mightily at home against the HUSKIES.

Who looked good today? SUNJ (Rutgers), Wisconsin, LSU, TEXAS, Nebraska, Ohio State, Arkansas, Missouri, Auburn, BYU, BC, A&M, Washington State, Va. Tech, Oklahoma, and Clemson. Who struggled? How about CAL, Oregon, and Notre Dame, and Tennessee? All won, but.....

Several interesting BCS scenarios are developing. What if USC wins out? They're likely going to GLENDALE and the BCS TITLE game. Same for Michigan or Ohio State. One of these two teams is a virtual lock for the January 8th game right now. It gets a little interesting should USC lose? What about WV, Louisville, or Rutgers should they go undefeated in the BIG-EAST? It's a lot better conference than I once thought. Then there is the argument for a team like TEXAS, or FLORIDA, or Clemson, or even Notre Dame should these teams run the table w/o any more losses. Yes, it's getting interesting right now.

My top 10: #1) Ohio State, #2) Michigan, #3) USC, #4) Florida, #5) WV, #6) TEXAS, #7) Tennessee, #8) Clemson, , #9) Louisville, #10) CAL / Notre Dame. And this makes 9 weeks in a row as the #1 team in the land for the Ohio State University -AP Poll. No new teams made it into the TOP-25 this week. And this just in, FSU is in last place in the ACC. Wow! Dating back to 2003, only three teams have topped the list: USC, Texas, and now Ohio State. USC was there a record 33 weeks before being dethrowned by TEJAS. Hook-'Em! And here are your WEEK #2 BCS Rankings. On the Rise: Texas, WV, Rutgers, BC, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, A&M, and yes WAZZU. On the decline: USC (didn't play), Auburn (1 spot), Louisville, (1 spot), Nebraska, Oregon, Gergia Tech, and a host of others. Oregon State actually is showing up in the BCS at #32 behind Va. Tech. Yikes!.

It's looking more and more like a Michigan / Ohio State showdown on November 18th in Columbus between two undefeated squads. They might be #1 and #2 in the nation by then given their respective schedules over the next few weeks. Both are favored to win out until that monster rivalry game of games. Until then, we have 5 more weeks of PICK EM. It's starting to get interesting this time of year. On to week #9.

Your Weekly Illini Update - More Wasted Chances in Unhappy Valley

Another tough ILLINI loss today - this time on the road. We doubled them up on offense (360-180 yards) before we gift-wrapped the Nittany Lions a Homecoming victory. Ugh! It was a lot closer than the final score (26-12). But, a loss is a loss, and that makes three in a row. This was another opportunity that we let slip through our hands. A little better, and we win this game. Penn State had no business walking away with the victory. Their offense was held in check most of the afternoon by the much-improved ILLINI defense which deserved a much better outcome. But yet again, no victory for ILLINOIS in Beaver Stadium. Our offense just couldn't convert the opportunities we had today. We're getting better, but still have a long way to go.

Too many wasted chances for my young ILLINI in the first half of this game. How many dropped passes did we have today when we really needed them? Those were drive enders. We won the field-position in the first 30 minutes but really struggled with it in the 2nd half, including the fumble which was returned against us for six - Ugh! We should have left the field in the first-half leading 17-3. Instead, we just had 3 field goals which is no way to upset a team on the road in the BIG-10. You gotta convert those opportunities by finding ways to put 6 up on the board instead of 3. And, you can't fumble on your 5 and let that go the other way for a defensive TD. Ugh!

Another big moment in the game today was when we came out after the break with the lead and the ball, driving deep into Penn State territory with the running game under Mendenhall and Williams. Then, we got greedy and went for the big play down the middle only to have it picked off to end the drive and change the momentum of the game. CFB is all about momentum - that was big. The option game was working well for us all afternoon. Penn State didn't have an answer for Williams and Mendenhall. 204 yards in just 3 quarters of football on the ground. You gotta stick with what works for ya. Wasted performance.

I've been hard on my ILLINI football team this year, admittedly so. But this team is getting better each and every week, especially on defense. We're 14 points better per game on defense this year compared to last year - big improvement over 40 points / game. The offense is starting to click and we're becoming more competitive with each snap. This team has a long way to go, but I really think we're on the right track under Coach Zook. The team is playing with more passion and excitement on both sides of the ball and special teams. I believe that we'll be much more competitive next year with a full year of growth under our belt. Who knows, a bowl game might not be out of the question in 2k7.

Mark these words: Rashard Mendenhall will make a statement in the BIG-10 and possibly nationally, if not next year then in 2k8. This guy has the potential to be the best RB at ILLINOIS - and that's saying something. He has the size, the power, and the breakaway speed to be a big-time playmaker for the Fighting Zookers for years to come. Same for Juice Williams - true freshen. He's probably the most atheletic QB in the conference and maybe in the nation - including Troy Smith. Don't get me wrong, he's just a freshem QB right now. And, I'm not saying he's as good as Troy Smith or even some of the others. His future is all about potential, especially when his passing game comes around. He needs to learn the college game and better decision making. But the potential is there on offense with McPhearson and Warren on the outside. This team is going to be dangerous next year and should challenge for the BIG-10 crown in 2k8, if not sooner. Okee Wa Wa Illinois. Hail to the chief!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Breaking Down the BCS - Week #1

What does it all mean? The Harris poll, the computer rankings, etc....Is USC overrated at #2 in the BCS? At this point in the season it doesn't matter. USC keeps on winning, and until somebody in the league knocks them off it's going to remain that way. Too many big games remain between now and the end of the year. I think we'll see only 1 or 2 undefeated teams at the end of the year heading into bowl season.

But it is clear that Ohio State, Michigan, and USC all control their own destinies at this point. If they keep winning they go to the BCS title game in GLENDALE, period. And remember that the BCS takes the entire season into consideration - meaning the computer rankings will fluctuate week to week. But for now, it's a 3-horse race.

Fiutak breaks down the TOP-10 and where they might be headed at this point in the year. It's early, I know. But, it's also fun to see how things might shape up with the BCS.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It Sucks to be #2 - Viva La War Eagle! PICK EM WEEK 7.

Lights out, game over! Saturday is the BEST DAY of the year. First it was Texas (#2) going down at home to Ohio State. Then it was Notre Dame (#2) going down at home to Michigan. Tonight, it was Florida (#2) going down on the high plains at Auburn to those nasty Tigers. How about the WAR EAGLE? She's flyin' high tonight in Auburn, AL. It's hard to win a CFB game. It's even harder to win an SEC CFB game. And, it's really tough to win one of those on the road. Did you really think that Auburn would lose two home games in a row? For Florida, it just wasn't meant to be - scoring no points in the 2nd half. Give them credit for taking a 17-11 lead into halftime. They really had Auburn up against the ropes in the 1st half. Too bad for them that they didn't stick to that gameplan, especially running the ball. But when it mattered the most (2nd half) Auburn came through in the clutch with blocked punts, fumble recoveries, and interceptions. Pretty amazing that Auburn won this game tonight w/o scoring an offensive TD. But give credit to Tuberville. He CALLED OUT his team, especially the defense, at halftime by challenging their manhood. They played like little girls in the 1st half. It seemed to work tonight. Auburn's D responded in the 2nd half and shutdown the high-powered GATOR offense. What a game, quite possible the best of the year so far in terms of living up to the hype and advanced bililng. Auburn held the GATORS to 3 turnovers, 90 yards, and zero points in the 2nd half. Yes. Wow, glad I watched this one. It was great! No. 2 goes down again. Wow! Another one bites the dust!

And, I'm sure you're wondering about those ILLINI. I'm not. They lost their 2nd game in a row today at home to OHIO UNIVERSITY. It was a back to back last - second field-goal deal as well. We had the bowl for a game-winnning drive but fumbled on our own 16-yardline with under a minute to go - essentially handing victory to Ohio on our home turf. This one really hurt considering we had 6 fumbles in the game and lost 4 of them. We also outpassed and outrushed Ohio in two to one fashion. Another game we had no business losing. Ugh! How do we beat SPARTY on the road and them come home only to lose two in a row to Indiana and Ohio. Ugh Ugh! Pain, sharp pain. Send more aspirin. I need help. Basketball season can't start soon enough. I'm tired of the agony already. Honestly, I don't see us winning another game this year. It only gets tougher from here.

PICK EM Update for WEEK 7 - Every point counts. Thank you Maryland. I'll take my 3 points the hard way. In case you missed it, the TERPS were down 20-0 in Charlottesville today against Virginia. They won 28-26 for the first time in a long time. And more importantly, they earned me 3 valuable points. Yes! One of these weeks I'm going to post my first 55 of the season. Mark those words. Ugh! Thank you Missouri. Javoski Lane of A&M just killed me today. Gig 'Em Kiss Ya Girl! Congrats Jim. Good win for the Aggies today. Pass the wings please! I'll take my 53 points. Not a bad week. My system seems to be working according to plan. No major changes all year. Some of the games just didn't work out like the should have. All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about how the picks and the points are working out. Competition is tougher than ever this year. 50 points no longer means as much as they used to. KUDOS to Mr. Trecker and the HUSKER NATION for posting his 2nd 55 of the year tonight. Very impressive. Too bad you missed week #4. Honorable mention to Mr. Frey, our WORLD CUP PICK EM champ. 54 is nothing to sneeze at this week. Can't blame him for putting 1 point on his alma mater, Penn State. But for now, it's getting tight at the top after 7 weeks in the books. Very intersting. If you've played every week, you're in the top 75% in the nation. A 3-way tie for 2nd place between the POSER, Mr. TWISTY, and the KIWI from NZ. But for two weeks in a row now REGGIE REDBIRD has the lead into the next week. Here we go! 6 more weeks to go in the regular season of PICK EM. Love this game. Luv it!

Oklahoma wins, but CFB loses. AP went down today for the rest of the year. He might return in December for a bowl game. But really, Adrian Peterson was the only real threat to Troy Smith winning the Heisman this year. He had 180+ yards rushing today before breaking his collarbone late in the game with his dad watching. Yes, his dad. Big deal, so what. Actually, it was a big deal since his dad was just released from a halfway house last week. He hasn't seen his son play a football game in 10 years. Being in jail tends to do that from time to time. But, this is not good news for Oklahoma or CFB. It looks like AP will go pro next year to support his family; and who can blame him. Go to the pros and make your millions AP, you deserve them. You remind me of sweetness, Walter Payton. Nobody runs harder!

And USC escaped tonight after blowing a 21 point lead at home. Wow, USC is getting freaky scary at winning close games. All of those great USC streaks are alive. USC gets a bye week next week. But, this was a scare for the Trojans just barely beating the dangerous SUN DEVILS at home tonight, 28-21. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't an impressive victory. But the TROJANS won. And, until somebody in the PAC-10 can beat them they remain the team to beat in the WEST. Congrats to the BEAVER NATION in their victory over a tough UW squad up in Seattle on Saturday. Very impressive comeback after trailing at the half.

Down goes Georgia, again. 2x in a week. Today at home to Vanderbilt. Congrats to Mr. Dennis and the Commodores. Oh, how Georgia has fallen. If you don't have a QB in the SEC your're done. Stick a fork in it! The DAWGS, like Iowa, are overrated. And congrats to Terry Hoeppner and IU. Big win today at home in Bloomington over the HAWKEYES. I'm very glad for this team and their coach. IU is 3-3 on the season. Bowl? Maybe....more work to be done guys.

My TOP 10: #1) Ohio State, #2) Michigan, #3) Texas, #4) Florida, #5) Tennessee, #6) WV, #7) USC, #8) CAL, #9) Louisville, #10) Clemson. Here is the official AP POLL. Well, this is very interesting - isn't it. With the only guarantee being that either Michigan and/or Ohio State will have at least 1 loss before the end of the season, it's entirely possible that Texas could be playing for another national title this year. Here are the latest CBS Bowl predictions as of today. USC is still a top-10 team for now, although living on borrowed time in my book. I still have them best in the West until somebody like a CAL or Oregon takes them down, maybe even Notre Dame. But the Trojans are barely hanging on right now, ripe for the taking in my opinion. And, I'm just not sold on the BIG EAST this year quite yet. Sure, they have 4 good teams in Rutgers, WV, Louisville, and Pitt. But Louisville and WV both have problems on defense.

And, here are the much-awaited first look at the BCS rankings for the year. Not sure I agree with all of them. USC, Auburn, WV, Louisville, and Notre Dame are all too high in this poll for my liking. I think the big losers so far here are Texas, CAL, Tennessee, and Clemson. Oregon comes in at # 14 right now. But it is close at the top between Ohio State, USC, and Michigan. We'll see how things play and compute out over the next month leading up to rivalry weeks. I'm sure there will be some good swings here.

Teams on the RISE - Wisconsin, Rutgers, Arkansas, CAL, Clemson, Michigan, TEXAS. Teams on the DIVE (or expected to shortly) - USC, Georgia, Florida State, Miami. What happened last night in Miami between FIU and the CANES was disgusting. Big-time suspensions and expulsions are in order. That stuff has no place in our game.

Heisman Race: Troy Smith and everybody else. It's just about over now that AP is out for the year. Don't get me wrong, there are many great players out there. But, this one is just about over. Mail in your ballots now, before Thanksgiving. Mr. Troy is the man!

Only 800 hours until Ohio State hosts Michigan in a likely #1 vs. #2 match-up of the greatest rivalry we know in the game. Could be the first time since 1970 that this has happened. BTW, the blog is still doing well at 15 unique hits / day on average. But it only logged 57 of them last week, 9 week low. I'll have to spice things up a bit going forward. The all-time record week for unique hits is 167.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Week 6 in CFB and PICK EM- Letdown in Champaign...

First, you have to oblige me with an ILLINI update here in WEEK #6. I'll get to the rest of the action in a second. Ugh - this loss hurt (34-32) at home to Indiana on Homecoming. We were up 25-7 in the 2nd quarter only to lose the game on a last second 33-yard field goal. Ouch, not a good way to show-up after the monster win last weekend in East Lansing. But, I knew this was going to be a big challenge for my young ILLNI. And, unfortunately it's part of the growing pains for a young team like ours. We were favored by 7 and should have won by 25 or 30 points. Something happened in the 2nd quarter where we let our guard down and opened the door to a scrappy Indian squad under Terry Hoeppner. But give him and them credit for climbing back into the game and engineering the game-winning drive late in the 4th quarter. Our defense just wasn't up to the task of stopping them to win the game. Last weekend, it was the defense that carried the squad making big play and big stop time and time again. But not today, it was a big letdown for the defense as the offense did more than what it really needed to do to win today. Ugh, on to Ohio next weekend and what should be a bounce-back victory. The Juice had a great game throwing for 190 and rushing for 53 yards. Thomas had another solid game in the backfield with 126 yards on 22 pounding carries. But give credit to Kellen Lewis (freshmen QB at Indiana) who passed for 240 yards including most of the 65 yards on their final drive. On to the next one. Ah, the inconsistency of a young team. Like I said before, this was a tough loss at home - a game we had no business losing in this fashion. Hopefully we'll learn from it.

On to Ronler PICK EM. Well, I guess I can't complain too much about a 49-point week. Not bad, but not great. Air Force (at home) cost me 5 points and a big swing with some of the competition this week. How do they lose at home 24-17 to Navy? Good job by the Midshipmen. KUDOS to REGGIE REDBIRD who logged a perfect 55 this wee - very impressive. And, hey - give it up to Christine Dustin who posted a very strong 52 points this week. A wise man once said that this is a marathon and not a sprint, but nobody seemed to listen to the wiseman until the race was over. PICK EM is tight at the top. But the race doesn't really begin until week #10 once the rivalry games start. So hang in there and hold on. It's hard to stay at 95% and above right now. BTW, the blog captured 95 unique (non-repeat) hits last week. Not bad, but nowhere near the 167 it logged 4 weeks ago. @ 930 unique hits since early August, ~ 16 / day, you'll want to make sure you check back often and pass the word around to your friends and other interested parties. OK, enough of the advertising. On to week #6...

What a great Saturday of CFB. How about the SEC, best conference in the land? Yes, but wow - was it turned upside down today. When was the last time that Georgia, LSU, and Auburn all lost on the same day. At least LSU lost on the road in the SWAMP to Florida. Georgia and Auburn were embarrassed at home by Tennessee and Arkansas, respectively. The Hog upset of the Tigers had to be the biggest upset of the year to date. Beat-down. Two more words - Mitch Mustain of Arkansas (and he's only a freshmen). And the HAWGS can run it! They ran it 45 times and passed only 10. Only once this year was a top-15 team defeated by an unranked team until today. We haven't had one of these so far this year. Arkansas just ran all over the TIGERS in their own backyard. And, some trickeration by Houston didn't hurt either. Maybe next time Tommy should shut up about the BCS in October and focus on playing ball. Arkansas dominated today in Jordan Hare. Clearly, Auburn was not focussed today. Did they overlook those HAWKS today? Probably. They get Florida at home next week. You gotta show up and play 'em one at a time on the field and not behind the microphone, Tommy. Next week you might want to remember that before chomping at the bit in front of the national media. Gameday FINAL has all of the action summarized nicely, including the Arkansas win over Auburn.

Then there were those DAWGS of Georgia. Not a good day to be an animal in the SEC. Georgia was up early, but didn't have the offense at home to keep up with the VOLS who put up 51 points on the vaunted DAWG defense. 6 for 6 inside the red-zone, all touchdowns. This just in, Tennessee is pretty good this year. Eric Ainge (Hillsboro, OR) is looking more and more like a guy named Peyton with each and every snap. he was sharp tonight in shredding the DAWG defense. I guess Auburn and LSU were a bit overrated, but like I said it 's worse to lose at home in the SEC than on the road. Kudos to the Gators who probably play the toughest schedule in the land this year. If they win out it's going to be hard to rank them any lower than #2 in the land, and why not #1? LSU had too many miscues, including 5 turnovers who won their last two trips into the SWAMP. But CFB is all about momentum which can change in a heartbeat or a turnover. Just ask LSU. TEBOW and LEAK are a brutal twosome down in Gainesville. FLORIDA is for real this year under the leadership of Urban Meyer. How about the GATOR defense? Yep - pretty good. LSU just self-destructed today and is in some trouble in the SEC West.

On to CAL and Oregon? Did you see those mustard jerseys for CAL today? They unleashed a mustard-colored can of whoop ass on the DUCKS today in Strawberry Canyon. Nothing but green grass and opportunity for CAL. Did the DUCKS even show up in Berkley tonight? I think not. This was a game of too many miscues by Oregon and too many big plays by CAL. Plain and simple. The Bears dominated the DUCKS in this one from the very first play of the game. Oregon really layed an egg in this one. Ouch - no favors served here. They'll fall big-time in the polls this week, as they should. It's one thing to lose a game, but it's quite another to lose it in the fashion that they did in Strawberry Canyon. I guess they were a bit overrated. CAL is now in the driver's seat as the #1 challenger in the PAC-10 to USC. How about those Bears? Yes, they really are pretty good and have bounced-back nicely after the early loss on the road to the VOLS (see above). Tedford over Bellotti. Oregon needs to return to Eugene and lick its wounds. Maybe next week they'll show-up and play a ball game. Very very very bad on national TV. At least they looked good in defeat. Hopefully this won't be a trend.

How about those HORNS of Texas? I must say that I had my doubts about this one, especially when TEXAS was down early. But give it up to Mr. McCoy and Coach Mack Brown. TEXAS is re-loading this year, not re-building. Watchout for the HORNS in 2007. I don't think they quite have what it takes to contend for the title this year, but next year is a whole new deal. KUDOS to AP who put up 109 yards today. TEXAS only gave up 183 yards rushing all season. Good showing by Adrian. But this game wasn't close and hasn't been since 1997.

How many 4th quarter comebacks were there today? I counted 4 with Texas A&M (Kansas), Tennessee (Georgia), Clemson (WAke), and Georgia Tech (Maryland) all found the way to win late in the game. Who else impressed me today? Michigan and Notre Dame both rolled, as they should have. Clemson should me something on the road against a very game WF Demon Deacon Squad. The TIGERS scored 24 unanswered points after a blown field goal attempt early in the 4th quarter. Wow, this was an impressive bounce-back. Did you see that play by James Adams in the 4th quater? Maybe the play of the year in CFB. He forced the fumble and ran it back for six. CLEMSON is good and could contend for the title if they win out. Watchout for those CLEMSON TIGERS and Terry Bowden. So. Cal just keeps on winning, more evidence of that today in LA against the HUSKIES. USC is not dominant this year, but somehow they find a way to win. But sooner or later their luck and run will run out. I'm not sure how much luck has to do with it in their case. How do you not rank them in the top 2 or 3 in the land? Can anyone in the PAC-10 beat USC this year? Maybe, CAL and OREGON seem to have the inside track there. Hey, welcome back Missouri - 6 wins in a row after beating TEXAS TECH today in LUBBOCK - wow! Very impressive. This is good news for the BIG-12 NORTH.

OK, my TOP-10: #1) Ohio State, #2) Florida, #3) Michigan, #4) USC, #5) WV, #6) TEXAS, #7) Tennessee, #8) Louisville, #9) Notre Dame, #10) CAL. Yes, CAL belongs in the TOP-10 again after beating up on what I thought was a pretty good Oregon squad. What Tennessee loss? Longshore has 17 TD's and only 4 INT's this year. These guys have a great chance to knock-off USC later this year and win a PAC-10 title.

Here's the official coaches' poll for this week. And keep in mind who the voters are. Do you think coaches really watch all the games? I think they have USC and WV too high at #2 and #4, respectively. Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, and CAL are are too low - in my humble opinion. And wow, for the first time since late in 1982 both FSU and Miami are not ranked in the TOP 25 this week. Amazing. How both programs have fallen from greatness. I have one word: parity.

Your Heisman Race: Troy Smith, Adrian Petersen, Garrett Wolfe, Chris Leak, and Brady Quinn.

And ponder this - wouldn't it be great to see the following rematches THIS YEAR? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we ditch the BCS entirely. But, these would make for some interesting TV:

1) Oregon and Oklahoma (both big losers this week) in a Holiday - Bowl with special guest Gordon the replay offical as master of ceremonies.

2) CAL and Tennesse. Heck, with the way that these two treams are playing it could be for the national title. Are there two hotter teams in the country right now? I think not. This would be a great Rose Bowl matchup, and probably a lot closer than their first meeting in Knoxville.

3) USC and Arkansas. Let's face it, the Trojans won't be playing for the National Title again this year, in my humble opinion. So where does a 1 or 2 - loss Trojan team go for the holidays? How about to a place where we could see a rematch between a much - improved HAWG team and the Trojans of USC.

4) Ohio State and Texas. Maybe for all of the marbles again in Glendale. Maybe in the Fiesta Bowl assuming Ohio State goes down to say Michigan. People don't realize how close the first game was in Austin even though the final score would dictate otherwise.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And Now that September is in the books....

Well, what a first month or so of PICK EM. September is now officially in the books. There are 9 winless teams and 13 unbeaten teams in CFB. The best team of the month w/o question has to be Ohio State putting its pre-season critics to bed. Obviously, Miami FL has been a disappointment this year. The BIG EAST is somewhat surprising with WV, Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse, and Rutgers making strong cases that they belong in the TOP-25. This first weekend in October promises to be another great weekend of football with the Red-River Shootout, CAL / OREGON, and LSU / FLORIDA all in action. Enjoy the games this week.

And, with September now in the books it's time to hand-out the first PICK EM grades of the season. Yes, yours truly will breakdown the competition after the first 5 weeks of PICK EM. Keep in mind that it's still early and anything can happen. This is really a marathon and not a sprint. All this being said, some of us performed a little better than others through the first five weeks of the season. And yes, there are some surprises in the standings. So, w/o further hype - here are my early-season grades. And remember, don't hate the game or your relative rank, just your lousy picks. Here we go...

The A's -

Draw a line just under the Kiwi Who Can't Beat! As much as it pains me to say this, those in 4th place on up to the top (Mr. Triton Power) earn the letter A. Congratulations on a good start to Bothwell, Hamilton, Oliver, Rasmussen, and Warddrip. I wish you good luck as you try to hold on to those lofty ranknigs going forward. You'll need it.

The B's -

Tough call here, but I'll go with the 90% rankings. Yes, this barely includes me. I know, I can see the hate mail pouring in right now. But the line has to be drawn somewhere. And for now it starts with Golic and and ends with Reggie Redbird. This group is off to a good start, but nothing spectacular by PICK EM standards. Nontheless, relish in your early-season accomplishments. This group has potential to really make a statement in the coming weeks, one way or another.

The C's -

Don't fret if you find yourself in this group. It's still early and just about anything can and will happen before it's all over. At least it's easier for me to identify this group. Draw a line just under the grinning Beaver (Mr. John Lang). On the high side of this bracket is the Damn Building Quacker himself, Mr. Freiley. This is a good group characterized by relative inconsistency week to week. Some interesting names find themselves in this bracket including our champion from last year who seems to be repeating his losing ways early in the season: The Photonic Cowboy - Paulie P.

The D's -

These folks might need some help. Not that it's over by any means. Stinky Pete leads this group of marginalized entries. Most of these folks have a hard time playing week in and week out. Some have trouble even logging into their picks. :-) This being said, they're not out of the race just yet since the system is designed to help the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, and those left behind. Yes, I'm talking about you if you're not above 70% for the year at this point. Get on it; you have some work to do!

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