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Higher Learning Week 6

Saturday was too much fun for Oklahoma.

So here’s what we learned this week:

  1. Either Oklahoma is being undervalued or Texas was overrated. Either way last Saturday’s Red River beat down was very telling any way you look at it. after being leapfrogged in the polls by both LSU and Alabama Oklahoma had its nerve tested as people began touting the two SEC powers as the best in the land, then the Sooner defense made life a living hell for Case McCoy and Connor Ash by forcing five turnovers and scoring three touchdowns. Add  on Landry Jones typical monster day and Texas never stood a chance in their 55-17 loss. The Longhorns close wins over Rice and BYU may have gotten them a little more hype than they deserved and this loss puts their accomplishments into a more realistic perspective. They are a young team still trying to grow into a contender. As for Oklahoma? They are a contender, one that LSU or Alabama should keep a close eye on.
  2. Nebraska had their nerve tested. They were on the verge of starting 0-2 in the Big Ten and their two losses would have been disastrous. Then they received a blessing in the form of a Braxton Miller ankle injury and stormed back from a 27-6 deficit and added to Ohio State’s  awful season by beating them 34-27. Once Miller went down and Joe Bauserman entered the tide turned for the Huskers. Taylor Martinez rebounded from a miserable week in Madison by throwing two scores and racking up 300 yards of offense and the Husker defense buckled down and stopped the OSU offense in their tracks. Instead of looking at an embarrassing start to their Big Ten tenure the Huskers can now look at beginning their trek to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
  3. To say that Steve Spurrier’s decision to start Connor Shaw over embattled Stephen Garcia is an understatement. The fun-n-gun days of Florida came back in a big way for Spurrier as his Gamecocks ran up 639 total yards and pounded Kentucky 54-3. Shaw chopped up the Wildcats for 311 yards and 4 td’s. Maybe Spurrier has found the cure for his ailing offense. We shall see over the next few weeks.
  4. Wake Forest is 4-1 after a 35-30 win over Florida State and is looking to return back to the glory days of Riley Skinner from a few years ago (yep I just wrote that… just keep reading). Head coach Jim Grobe has his Demon Deacons back in contention for the ACC title but this time instead of being lead by a stout defense it is a potent offense lead by running back Josh Harris  who ran for 136 yards against the Noles and QB Tanner Price who threw three scores. Save for a close loss to Syracuse the Deacons would be 5-0 right now and ranked. If they beat Virginia Tech at home this week they might be.
  5. Kansas has the worst defense in the FBS. You can throw on them, pass on them, anything you do will get you a ton of yardage. After getting mangled by Oklahoma State 70-28 the Jayhawks now hold the crown for allowing the most points per game in college at 45 a game… and they still have to play Oklahoma coming up. Maybe Turner Gill should’ve stayed at Buffalo.

THE GOOD

Connor Shaw might make Steve Spurrier's Qb quandry and non-issue.

 

Boise State sent a message to Fresno State by forcing 4 turnovers and stomping them 57-7. So much for a tough trip to California.

THE BAD

The state of Florida has no teams in the top 25 for the first time since 1982 after the Gators 41-11 loss to LSU and Florida State’s 35-30 downer in Winston-Salem.

THE UGLY

Texas A&M beat Texas Tech 45-40 then the Red Raider faithful smeared their bus with manure. Sore losers much?

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

The Oklahoma defense. They allowed 256 yards had 8 sacks, forced five fumbles, five turnovers and scored three touchdowns versus Texas.

EMBARASSMENT OF THE WEEK

How disappointing has Arizona’s year been so far? They lost to Oregon State on Saturday (who hadn’t won all year including a loss to FCS Sacramento State) and that cost Mike Stoops his job Monday. Yikes.

TOP 5

  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Boise State

HEISMAN TOP 5

  1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
  2. Kellen Moore, Boise State
  3. LaMichael James, Oregon
  4. Andrew Luck, Stanford
  5. Trent Richardson, Alabama

Lots of big games this weekend including #11 Michigan vs. #23 Michigan State, #20 Baylor vs. #21 Texas A&M, #6 Oklahoma State vs. #22 Texas, and #18 Arizona State vs. #9 Oregon.


Higher Learning Week 3

It wasn't pretty but Oklahoma is still perfect.

So it’s been a hectic work week, sorry for the delay but here we go!

What did we learn this weekend?

  1. Oklahoma deserves to be number 1 after a hard-earned victory in Tallahassee this past weekend. Oklahoma’s 23-13 victory was brutal for the normally offensive minded Sooners as they struggled to move the ball past a Seminole defense that was looking for payback from a brutal 49-17 drubbing in Norman last year. Landry Jones overcame two interceptions to find Kenny Stills for the go ahead score while the Sooners defense did the rest including 2 interceptions by Javon Harris. The Sooners defense evoked memories of their national title days a decade earlier as Florida State had trouble moving the ball with or without E.J. Manuel who left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. 3 of the next four games should be pieces of cake for the Sooners except their annual Red River Shootout with Texas in three weeks. If they get past that matchup then the Sooners have nothing to worry about until Texas A&M and Oklahoma State come calling.
  2. Stanford is the forgotten team amongst the top 10 and they seem just fine with that title. After an efficient 37-10 win in Arizona the Cardinal sit at #6 in the rankings and are patiently waiting for the crowd to get smaller. Andrew Luck has been his normal spectacular self and he’s been aided by Stepfan Taylor who emerged last week as a threat running the ball adding a new dimension for the Cardinal. Their next five games should be winnable even a matchup in L.A. versus USC. Their true challenge comes November 12th when Oregon comes to Palo Alto.
  3. Staying in the Pac-10 its starting to look like Rick Neuheisel will be out of a job at the end of this year. His UCLA Bruins lost 49-20 to Texas a team that hadn’t scored 20 points in a game this season and looked like a mess. That is until Case McCoy ran on to the field and Texas ran up almost 500 total yards of offense. These are virtually the same two teams from last year’s game at Austin that saw UCLA come away with a victory. Ever since that game the Bruins are 3-8 and it looks like Neuheisel is headed for the chopping block.
  4. It doesn’t matter who is under center for the Ohio State Buckeyes, they just aren’t good. Their 24-6 loss to Miami was embarrassing as Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller combined to go 4-18 for 38 yards… yep, that’s the entire game total. Even when they get all of their suspended players it’s hard to see the Buckeyes playing for anything more than 4th in the Big Ten.
  5. This conference realignment stuff is going to get messy. With Syracuse and Pitt going to the ACC, West Virginia and UCONN looking to move and the entire Big 12 in limbo it’s hard to tell just what the landscape will look like soon. The worst part of all of this is that it makes no sense geographically. Syracuse in the ACC? Texas in the Pac-16? TCU in the Big East? Can’t we just bring back the Big 8, SWC and leave tradition alone?

THE GOOD

South Florida racked up 745 total yards and dropped 70 on FAMU including B.J. Daniels 382 and 4 TD tosses.

BYU and Jake Heaps would like to forget about this weekend.

THE BAD

Maryland’s black uniforms… yeah they’ll be on here all year trust me.

THE UGLY

You expect a FCS team to have a BCS team run it up on them like FAMU, BUT KANSAS ALLOWING 738 YARDS INCLUDING 600 ON THE GROUND IN A 66-24 LOSS TO GEORGIA TECH? C’MON SON!!

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

The Brooklyn Buckeye favorite Kellen Moore. He went 32-42 for 455 yards and 4 TD’s in Boise’s 40-15 win over Toledo.

EMBARASSMENT OF THE WEEK

On their third play from scrimmage versus Utah, BYU center Terence Brown snapped the ball high over QB Jake Heaps head. Heaps then tried to throw the ball away but lost it. Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby recovered it and Utah led 7-0… you figure out the rest of the game.

The top 5 remains the same as last week while Andrew Luck jumps ahead of Landry Jones in the Heisman top 5.

Big games next week include LSU traveling to Morgantown to take on West Virginia, Florida State taking on Clemson coming off of a big win over Auburn, Arkansas takes on Alabama, and the game of the week features Oklahoma State taking on Texas A&M.


Your Scandal-Free College Football Preview

Way to continue the trend Jordan.

You know why I started to watch sports as a kid? Because every time I watched the regular news all I saw was murder, poverty and scandal. After a while you get sick of looking at poor kids starving in Africa, someone shot in Brooklyn or some greedy CEO going to jail for screwing over his company.

In my head sports was simple and true. Just guys scoring goals, touchdowns and making shots. There was no greed in athletics, no horrible occurrences and no death. Was I naïve? Of course I was but I hadn’t hit 10 yet.

The harsh reality of sports hit me in 1992 when Mike Tyson went to jail for rape. I couldn’t really fathom how it happened and even today still can’t. How can an athlete do something wrong I thought? All he does is box. What does rape have to do with sports and who would do something like that?

Once Tyson went to jail Michael Irvin got caught with cocaine, Rae Carruth killed his baby mother and hid in his trunk and the steroid scandal began. Naivety went out of the window, sports is no different than any other thing in life. Athletes and institutions screw up just as much as the guy that robbed the 7-11 last night and looked into the camera, that’s just a reality.

The worst culprit of all I’ve come to realize is college sports in particular college football. As much as I love the pageantry and craziness of football on Saturdays it might be the most corrupt association in all of sports.

I’ve given the notion that no school is clean and everyone cheats. With all that’s at stake in job security, getting the best players and getting to a BCS game AD’s, boosters, coaches and players do what they can to make sure that they win whether it’s pay for play, turning the other cheek when your players commit crimes, taking benefits or whatever. You have to win, winning keeps you employed, winning makes recruits want to come there, then when they get there they have to be happy hence the benefits of cars, tattoos and free bar tabs.

I’ve come to accept this in the last ten years or so, but honestly after this year it is getting out of control.

Even without the guy on the right Luck has Stanford ready to compete.

How many scandals can the NCAA have in one year? dating back to October of 2010 Auburn has had a pay for play scandal with Cam Newton, Georgia and Florida have had issues with arrests, USC was sanctioned for the Reggie Bush scandal, Tennessee has had ongoing investigations due to violations under Lane Kiffin, Ohio State… (I won’t get into this any further 5 blogs on them is enough), Oregon suspended its top corner Cliff Harris after an arrest, North Carolina is still awaiting its punishment for its players receiving improper benefits, Miami’s scandal looks like an episode of Miami Vice and now LSU is in hot water after Jordan Jefferson and company got into a huge bar far in Baton Rouge and he’ll miss time including opening night versus Oregon…

AND THIS IS IN ONE YEAR!!!

College football is at its opening weekend and there is barely any talk of the games being played but the scandal that surrounds it. Big time matchups will not have marquee names, the eye of the NCAA is fixed everywhere and honestly, I’m watching ESPN everyday to see who slips up next.

This year could be a wide open year as far as the race for a national champion goes and you wouldn’t even know it. Florida State is back in the top 10, Nebraska is in the Big Ten, Utah is in the Pac-12, Texas A&M is acting like a spoiled child, Syracuse might be back, Oklahoma could run the table and it’s all about scandal.

Well I’m sick of it. let’s talk about the football people because that’s all that matters. this is a scandal-free college football preview where football is the only discussion. let’s talk about who’s number one, who can contend and who can take down the SEC (hopefully someone because I’m sick of the SEC.)

ACC

The conference is the worst of the big 6 (yes worse than the Big East), however it looks to get better this season.

Florida State is back in the top 5 coming off of a 10-3 season and has high hopes for a run at the national title behind QB E.J. Manuel. Once mainstays in title hunt the Seminoles have had it rough in the last ten few seasons but clearly have the edge in the conference this year.

One team to look out for is Maryland. Returning QB Danny O’ Brian is a beast under center and new head coach Randy Edsall should whip this defense into shape.

It’s still a weak conference (hi Wake Forest and Duke) but Florida State’s returning star power should give the conference something to hang its hat on

Non-conference game of the year: FSU-OKLAHOMA

Conference game of the year: Conf Champ. Game VT-FSU

Conference winner: FSU

Player of the Year: Danny O’ Brian

BIG EAST

You all know I’m overly geeked that Syracuse is good again (and you especially know this after they came back to beat Wake Forest last night) but the conference is on its way up again with TCU entering next season.

Yeah, I'm excited for SYracuse football too.

West Virginia returns QB Geno Smith, who is a dark horse candidate for the Heisman trophy and Louisville may finally have a defense that can keep up with its offense.

The key to the success of the conference this year lies in its top 4 though. West Virginia, Pittsburgh, South Florida and Syracuse have big non-conference games that can showcase whether or not this conference is truly worth being a BCS conference.

However… THE CUSE IS BACK!!!

Give me reason to have hope after a 8-5 season, a huge win last night and the possibility that Ryan Nassib can have some magic in that arm of his. In a conference that has been mired in mediocrity it needs Syracuse to be good again. The Orange may be neck and neck with West Virginia for best football history in the conference and it needs to rekindle its rivalries with WVU and Penn State. You have to cheer for the Cuse to come back the conference needs it.

Non conference game of the year: Syracuse-USC, South Florida-Notre Dame, West Virginia-LSU, Pitt-Iowa

Conference game of the year: Pitt-WVU

Conference winner: WVU

Best Player: Geno Smith

BIG 12

The best team in the country resides in Norman, Oklahoma; the best offense resides in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The team that could make noise more than any school is in College Station, Texas. Sure the conference cut two teams, but it made the conference better.

Oklahoma at number one followed by Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, combined with an underrated Missouri, a comeback year for Texas and a growing threat in Texas Tech makes this the second best conference in the country.

They have the best arms in the nation in Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden, a great hybrid QB in Robert Griffin and don’t forget about Kansas State getting Bryce Brown, who transferred from Tennessee.

The question is can anybody in the conference finally play some defense?

Texas A&M lost standout linebacker Von Miller, Oklahoma won’t have its leading tackler Travis Lewis for Florida State and the Cowboys (and every other team in the conference for that matter) can’t stop anyone.

Catch us if you can.

If the Big 12 wants to climb past the SEC and be the big dog on Saturdays then one of these teams has to allow less than 35 points a game and get physical up front. Until that happens, as much as I like this Oklahoma team, I can’t pick them to win the national title… but I can pick them to get there.

Non-conference game of the year: FSU-Oklahoma, Texas A&M-Arkansas

Conference game of the year: Texas A&M-Oklahoma

Conference winner: Oklahoma

Best player: Landry Jones

BIG 10

The Big Ten has been Ohio State’s personal punching bag for the last ten years… not anymore.

With Nebraska and monster defensive tackle Jared Crick coming to the conference it’s a new day in the Midwest. Nebraska comes off a disappointing finish to last year where it looked like the Cornhuskers were going to ride Taylor Martinez to the Fiesta Bowl. However, as with most freshmen QB’s he faded.

This year however he and the Huskers are reloaded and ready to contend for a national title… if they can get by Wisconsin.

After watching last night’s beat down of UNLV it looks like new QB Russell Wilson will fit right in at Madison. Behind a monster offensive line and Monte Ball in the backfield the Badgers, if they don’t make it to New Orleans, could still find themselves in Pasadena.

Watch out for Northwestern too (yes, Northwestern) they are primed to make a run to the top with Dan Persa returning from an Achilles injury. Also, Michigan might be making a comeback with new coach Brady Hoke at the helm. The days of a punch less Michigan defense might be over.

(Ok so I have to say a few words about Ohio State. This year is such a disappointment already even though there hasn’t been a game played yet. when Joe Bauserman was named the starter yesterday it hit me that this is what’s left at Ohio State.

The scandal has left the team spinning and it hasn’t stopped. Three more players were suspended for the opener against Akron for accepting improper benefits adding to the four suspended starters from the tattoo scandal and Terrelle Pryor going AWOL to the NFL. All that’s left is Carlos Hyde, Bauserman and Block O.

It’s been such an embarrassing turn of events leading into what was supposed to be a legendary new beginning to the Big Ten. The Buckeyes were supposed to collide head on with the Huskers for supremacy of the conference early on. It was supposed to be a new rivalry brewing that would decide the Big Ten for the next however many years. Now Ohio State is a non-factor., an afterthought, and it’s hard to swallow.

College scandals were way easier to deal with when it wasn’t the school that you went to.)

Non-conference game of the year: Penn State-Alabama

Conference game of the year: Wisconsin-Nebraska

Conference winner: Nebraska

Best player: Jared Crick

PAC-12

LaHeisman?

 

Welcome to the conference Colorado and Utah… now watch Oregon blow by all of you.

Much to the contrary belief that this is a two team race I highly disagree. Stanford is highly overrated thanks in part to Andrew Luck (though it is a good reason because Luck is a beast). Stanford lost a lot on both sides of the ball and they may need Luck to throw up 40 points a game to have a chance at winning 10 games…

And 40 won’t be enough to beat Oregon.

They only lose Jeff Maehl on the outside  and Casey Matthews on defense, however LaMichael James, Chip Kelly’s silly cards and the most high octane offense in the NCAA is all back. Getting through the Pac-12 will be a little bit of a problem, but just a little problem.

Non-conference game of the year: Oregon-LSU

Conference game of the year: Oregon-Stanford

Conference winner: Oregon

Best player: Andrew Luck

THE MIGHTY MIGHTY SEC

Were the 2 mighty’s necessary? Um… they’ve won the last five national titles so yes. I’ve finally given in and given the SEC its props and rightfully so. It’s the best conference in the country by a mile, no one recruits as good as them, is as fast them or as tough on defense as them.

Their top 6 teams year in and out could win any conference by a game or two, they routinely run over competition and make the best in another conference look bad (hi, Big 10 and Big 12) and they are bigger and faster than anyone in the nation.

However there are some concerns all over the conference. Besides the LSU hiccups there are issues in Georgia as they come off of their first losing season since the 80’s, Florida adjusts to a new coach in Will Muschamp and people in Gainesville are still skeptical of John  Brantley, Auburn and Alabama have to replace national champion QB’s and Tennessee is still trying to climb its way back to respectability.

However the news is all rosy in Starkville, Mississippi and Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Bulldogs are looking to build on a 9-4 season as Dan Mullen enters his third year as coach, and the Razorbacks are a dark horse national title pick. Bobby Petrino has to reload at QB after losing Ryan Mallett but Tyler Wilson should ease some concern for fans of the Hogs if his year mirrors his 332 yard 4 TD performance versus Auburn last year.

The wildcard here is South Carolina. Steve Spurrier after 6 years finally has the Gamecocks in position to win the SEC and make a claim as one of the best teams in the conference as well as the nation. Troubled QB Stephen Garcia looks like he’s getting his last shot at redemption and with the help of the best defense in the SEC (which gets better with the freakish Jadeveon Clowney coming to Columbia, SC) and Marcus Lattimore who is gaining buzz for a run at the Heisman.

If South Carolina can survive road tests “Between the Hedges” and at Arkansas then they should be dancing to Atlanta for the SEC title game and to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.

Non-conference game of the year: Arkansas-Texas A&M, LSU-Oregon, Florida-Florida State

Conference game of the year: LSU-Arkansas

Conference winner: South Carolina

Best player: Marcus Lattimore

South Carolina may finally be the cream of the SEC crop.

 

As for the Non-AQ schools it’s all about Boise State. TCU is in its last year in the Mountain West before runs through the Big East and Boise looks like the only challenger to a BCS bowl game. However, a number 5 ranking after losing Titus Young, Austin Pettis and half of your defense is tough. As much as I like the Broncos (and Kellen Moore especially) I don’t see them getting to the BCS this year even if they beat Georgia this Saturday. TCU even without Andy Dalton is still no slouch and they have to travel to Fresno to take on a always frisky Bulldog team. it looks like this will be the first year without a BCS buster in sometime.

So with all that said who plays in the national title game? Oregon and Oklahoma.

Yeah I know the SEC is the best conference and that they’ve won the last five titles but it’s got to end at some point. Last year while watching Oregon-Auburn I saw Oregon not only keep up with the Tigers but they beat them in certain areas. If that game were played a week or two after the end of the season then the Ducks would’ve been national champs.

I like the Sooners but I don’t know if they can stop anybody outside of their conference on defense. Landry Jones will have a huge year and look like a first round draft pick under center, but do they have the speed to keep up with a team from the SEC or Oregon? I don’t think so.

So there it is the Oregon Ducks will win the national title and Puddles the Duck will be doing celebratory pushups in New Orleans. Hopefully that’s what we’ll remember this season for is the action that takes place on the field and not the calamity and chaos that happens off of it.

ACC- FLORIDA STATE (DARK HORSE- MARYLAND)

BIG EAST- WEST VIRGINIA (SYRACUSE)

BIG 12- OKLAHOMA (OKLAHOMA STATE)

BIG 10- NEBRASKA (NORTHWESTERN)

PAC 12- OREGON (UTAH)

SEC- SOUTH CAROLINA (FLORIDA)

HEISMAN- LAMICHAEL JAMES

BCS CHAMP GAME- OREGON VS. OKLAHOMA

ROSE BOWL- NEBRASKA VS. STANFORD

SUGAR BOWL-  SOUTH CAROLINA VS. WEST VIRGINIA

ORANGE BOWL- FLORIDA STATE VS. WISCONSIN

FIESTA BOWL- TEXAS A&M VS. FLORIDA


The Birthday Confessions Of A Sports Writer

Nothing will ever beat this game.

So I turned —- today (you’ll never get my age ever in life), and I’m currently nursing a hangover thanks to the normal heavy dosage of liquor consumption made possible by my friends (raspberry rum and soda and raspberry vodka and soda are two totally different entities, ugh).

This is hardly the condition I should be in to write a blog especially when there isn’t much to discuss right now.

However, in this silly mind of mine I decided to give you some of my sports confessions.

We as sports writers get our favoritism, views and beliefs in sports at a young age and two things happen; either you stick to your guns or you switch up sides.

I’m the latter of this. Truth is my New York sports bias is a recent thing. I used to…

Wait, let’s do this in a proper numerical style. I mean why give you a drawn out explanation then get into the confessions? I think we’ll do 24 facts, not my age but the number I wanted to wear if I ever got to play with Michael Jordan as a kid because 23 was sort of taken.

1. I hated New York sports teams growing up

Giants, hated them. Yankees, they sucked. Mets, them too. Knicks, yuck. Rangers… That’ll be number two.

My mom forged my sports life as a kid. I loved who she loved because she was a sports nut. She loved Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and the Mets. All I knew was the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, baseball cards and that NY sucked.

I actually cried when the 49ers lost to the Giants in 1991 when they were trying to three-peat. That seems so weird now especially now that I scream at Eli Manning every two seconds and own 8 giants jerseys.

This is how I got into hockey.

(my favorite sports moment is still Super Bowl 23. Me and my mom watched that game on the couch together with me curled up underneath her. As Montana led the 49ers up the field on that last late fourth quarter drive my mom and I slowly pulled away from each other and moved closer to the TV until Montana hit John Taylor for the winning score. You should’ve seen us scream and parade around our house like we had won the Super Bowl. That will never be beat.)

2. I used to hate hockey.

I mean I’m black and from the projects in Brooklyn, NY. My mom hated hockey and so did I. She always thought it was a dumb sport and there were no black players so there was no point for it. Since I followed her lead with everything (except the mets, I wasn’t that dumb) I followed that philosophy.

Then the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup and I watched it all. That hooked me.

I was in Washington D.C. when it happened but I felt the energy of New York. I learned about the 54 year curse, how much of a hockey city New York actually is and how truly bad ass Mark Messier truly was.

After that run you couldn’t pull me away from a hockey game. Even when the New Jersey Devils killed hockey in the late 90’s I was still into it heavy.

(I guess you could say the Rangers made me a New York fan. After that run in 94 I felt that I had to like all New York teams because how could I like teams from other cities when I was a true New Yorker?)

3. I was a Michigan fan growing up. (Florida State too.)

In New York there was no college team team in the area that drew attention. Every Saturday the TV selections were Notre Dame, Florida State on ESPN and the Big Ten on ABC with Michigan on every single week.

Truth is I always wanted to go to Michigan. I loved the colors, the fight song, Brian Griese, Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson… And the fab five… And Glen Rice’s performance against Seton Hall in 1989….

I still have more great Michigan memories than Ohio State memories… AND I WENT TO OHIO STATE!!!

I could point out moments in great games like the Rose Bowl in 1997 versus Washington State, I cried when Kordell Stewart’s hail Mary beat Michigan in the Big House, I was so happy when we got revenge in Boulder some years later…

I should probably stop there before all of my Ohio State buddies kill me.

4. I never truly liked Tiger Woods

HELLLLOOOO HEISMAN!

There was always something off about him to me. He was too pristine, too clean. Me being from the projects I felt as though with black men there had to be some nasty streak in you somewhere. Jordan had one, Michael Irvin too, Jerry Rice was a prick at times but Tiger was too perfect.

I didn’t like how he always won and how everyone jumped on his bandwagon. I didn’t like how black people crowned him as our king of the moment when he didn’t seem interested in being black (whatever that means) I just never liked him.

When this scandal tore him down I laughed at him, but it didn’t bother me too much. It was just another athlete taking a nose dive. I don’t feel bad for him, I don’t care that he’s not playing well and honestly I dont care if he ever does again.

5. Maryland made me love Duke

I used to be the biggest Duke hater alive… They beat UNLV when I loved Larry Johnson, they prevented the Fab Five from winning a title, The Laettner shot that beat Kentucky made me want to stab myself… and I couldn’t believe that this many white guys were good at basketball and that they kept beating brothers.

(side note 2: for Grant Hill and coach K to criticize Jalen Rose for saying that Hill was an Uncle Tom because he played at Duke was silly. Everyone in the projects felt like that. We liked Kenny Anderson, baggy shorts and baldies. Hill and any other Dukie was a sellout to us. How could they play with all of these white boys and not there own people? Do I think like that now? Of course not. I understand what coaching can do and that you can ball no matter the color. But still you can’t criticize a guy for saying something that the majority of people like him felt was true.)

Then I moved to Maryland where they hate anything New York; Yankees, Jets, Metrostars it didn’t matter. I didn’t understand the hatred because one, New York wasn’t their rival in anything and two, because it didn’t make sense. It got to the point where I kept hearing Yankees this, Giants that, blah blah blah that I got angry and said that I would hate the Terrapins just out if spite.

And who do Terps fans hate more than anything?… Duke.

So there I was cheering for Duke, the team I always hated but because I wanted to piss Marylanders off I was forcing myself to like.

That’s when I fell in love with Jay Williams, Shane Battier and Carlos Boozer and they had me hooked.

It was Williams especially because he was a Jersey kid and I always liked guys from my neck of the woods. I loved his game, fearlessness and how he ate the Terps for lunch. His ten points in 58 seconds still makes me laugh.

Watching Maryland fans whine and cry more than made up for the Yankees not winning a World Series for ten years.

6. I didn’t care that Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease.

The skate had nothing to do with the goal. Get over it Buffalo.

Dumbest… Rule… Ever!!! So many goals were disallowed because of that dumb rule that never should have been made because half of the time the skates never interfered with the goalie.

Did Hull affect Hasek’s angle? No. Did Hull interfere with Hasek? No. Did he skate in late and come up on the side if Hasek an nothing to do with the goal? Yes.

Ok then. Sorry Buffalo deal with it.

7. My least favorite sports moment as a kid was watching my Oakland A’s get swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

How did Eck, Dave Stewart, Rickey Henderson and my favorite player Mark McGwire not only lose but look awful against the Reds? Was Jose Rijo that good? How about Chris Sabo and Eric Davis? That was the first time in my life where I went to school the next day after a game and couldn’t stop thinking how in the hell that just happened.

The A’s were so much better, they had the pitching, the hitting and the power and they lost to The Nasty Boys?

I need a juice box.

8. Syracuse-Georgetown is the best basketball rivalry in college basketball

John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Billy Owens, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, technical fouls, physical basketball, a loud Carrier Dome and an even louder Capital Center… God I love the Big East.

9. I will always hate Texas A&M football

Why? Because they screwed Michael Bishop out of everything.

A title, a Heisman, and a pro career.

I only watched Kansas State because of Bishop and his speed, arm and instinct. I couldn’t name another Wildcat from that team but I just loved Bishop.

I didn’t care that he was six feet tall or needed some fine tuning. I just knew that once K-State got to the National Championship all the world would see his skill…

And Sirr Parker killed that.

I’m glad the SEC said no to you.

10. I really don’t care who did steroids in baseball

It was legal and it brought the game back.

Where would baseball be if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t have their home run chase?

Steroids or not that was a magical summer where everyone sat in front if the television and their lives hinged on every at bat. It was awesome; McGwire found the fountain of youth, Sosa emerged as a superstar and the game was popular again.

As much as everyone hides it we love baseball. We all played it, watched it live and have fun at the yard whenever go. The game was suffering well after the strike of 1994 it needed a boost and this was it.

Yeah he did steroids... he also saved baseball.

Did the use get out of control? Yes, but to me it was worth it and I’ll always remember the summer of 1998 as the summer that baseball truly came back.

11. Steffi Graf is my least favorite athlete ever.

She beat Monica Seles who was my favorite women’s player at the time, she beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, she won seemingly every tournament she played and won with ease.

She wasn’t snooty, had no mean strike, no off the court issues… nothing.

She was just a machine, a well-oiled wrecking ball that made Saturday’s at Roland Garros and Wimbledon no fun to watch because you knew she was going to win.

She was the Bulls before the Jordan, golf before Tiger and Yankees before their rise…

And she was a total class act. That’s why I hated her I guess.

12. The only reason why I hate The Pittsburgh Steelers is Super Bowl 40

The Seahawks played against 17 men at a time, the Steelers and the refs. Quite honestly the worst called game ever and the Steelers acted like nothing happened. I still want Mike Holmgren to body slam Bill Cowher.

13. If Ohio State plays Syracuse in anything… I’m cheering for Syracuse

Buckeye Nation is really going to kill me.

Now I was a Michigan fan and I loved the Seminoles but I always wanted to be an Orangeman (and I would’ve if tuition wasn’t $42,000 a year).

Of course in basketball I loved the Orange and always will, however I like Syracuse football as much as I love OSU football.

Those were the Donovan McNabb days when he was slinging it to Marvin Harrison. I had a man crush on McNabb because he was just a beast. He could run it, throw it and make a three pointer every once in awhile. He was the first in the era of the scrambling QB and he made it work.

Harrison I thought was going to be the next Jerry Rice, and he almost was. He made everything look easy and could catch any ball thrown at him. With those two guys I thought it was the beginning if a dynasty at The Cuse on the field…

But we know how that went.

Fast forward to this year and The Cuse is on its way back. Coming off of an 8-5 year Syracuse has an outside shot at the Big East and could win 9 games. I’m honestly more excited for Orange football than Buckeye football.

Maybe it was the scandal, the tats, the selling of rings but I’m over it. I want to cheer for something I can believe in and right now my childhood favorites are trending up. I’m not totally abandoning Ohio State, but if they square off against the Orange I might be in a Syracuse Marathon Men shirt.

I’m looking so bad to the alumni right now.

My man Donovan.

14. I laughed at The Knicks when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 17 seconds

I mean it was funny.

15. I still think the Ravens fixed Super Bowl 34

THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT BALTIMORE CAN SCORE 34 POINTS!!!! ESPECIALLY AGAINST A TOP FIVE DEFENSE!!! AND I’M STICKING WITH THAT!!!!

16. My first pair of basketball kicks weren’t Jordan’s… They were Ewing’s

That orange and blue with the basketball hanging off the side… C’mon son! They were way fresher than the Jordans.

17. As much as I loved Mark Messier my favorite Ranger is Adam Graves

You ever date a girl who isn’t prettier than other girls that you’ve dated, doesn’t have big boobs, doesn’t have a great body, but makes you happy and does all the little things? That’s Adam Graves. He wasn’t as well known as Messier or Brian Leetch, he wasn’t as rough as Jeff Beukeboom and he wasn’t Mike Gartner fast.

But he always scored goals when you needed them, always killed penalties well and always laid it out in the ice. I was more upset when we traded him to San Jose than when Wayne Gretzky retired… true story.

18. The first game that made me throw a violent tantrum and had me cursing up a storm was the Mariners-Yankees ALDS game 5 in 1995.

Literally cursed so loud that my mom barged into my room and caught me about to tear into my book bag.

I hate that the M’s got into the playlets in the first place with that late season run (I was cheering for then to make it at first because I loved Ken Griffey Jr… Learned that lesson) I hate that Randy Johnson was so unhittable and I hate Jack McDowell because he had no business being out there amongst other reasons for hating him.

When we fired Buck Showalter at the end of the year I was part pissed and part happy. I was happy he was gone but mad that he cost us so many games including that one.

19. Pete Sampras- Andre Agassi is still my favorite sports rivalry.

This was the first sports thing that me and my mom went at each others throats about. She loved Agassi, the image, the hair, the return game and that he seemed like a down to earth guy. I liked Sampras’s nerve, his serve, the way that he played the game. He was the first cerebral athlete that I admired because he always seemed in control.

She called Sampras snooty, I called Agassi a punk, yeah a tennis rivalry broke up our house, weird I know.

It was the tennis that was so great. They were constantly gunning for each other and only measured themselves against each other. Jim Courier, Boris Becker. Stefan Edberg, none of them mattered. Sure they were good competition but Sampras only cared about Agassi and vice versa

You know these Roger Federer- Rafael Nadal matches? Those were three to four times a year for Sampras and Agassi or so it seemed. They were epic and just had you sitting on your hands past the third set.

Man did they hate each other.

They wanted to kill each other I thought. It was the perfect match if wits; Sampras and his finesse versus Agassi and his power. The series never tilted too far in one way. Sampras won his titles as did Agassi but Each has their own bragging point; Sampras won 7 Wimbledon crowns the most ever while Agassi has the career slam.

(side note 3: you know how I know this rivalry was really nasty? Last year in a charity match Sampras teamed with Federer to take on Agassi and Nadal. Agassi and Sampras traded barbs that were more than just smack talk. The crowd and Federer and Nadal just stood there with the crackers looks on there faces. I guess time doesn’t heal all wounds.)

20. The biggest choke job I ever saw was at the 1994 World Cup when Roberto Baggio missed a wide open net in penalty kicks costing Italy a chance at beating Brazil

I didn’t understand soccer at the time and didn’t like it… But even I was saying to myself “how did he miss that?”

21. As much as I hate the SEC, Nebraska is still my least favorite college team

They are still the most overrated program ever. They never threw the ball and no one could stop them. I remember watching the 1996 National Title game against Florida (who I also hated thanks to my allegiance to Florida State) and watch them beat down a team that beat down everyone and I couldnt understand it.

That Tommie Frazier run was the perfect example. You know option right was their bread and butter, they were in position had him stopped, yet 65 yards later the Huskers were up 62-24.

I can’t believe in 1994 that Nebraska and Penn State both finished undefeated but Nebraska won the outright title. PENN STATE WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM!!! Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter and Kyle Brady along with that defense would’ve stopped that option I guarantee it.

Same with the split tile in 1997 with Michigan. Michigan was definitely the better team and had a better defense. However, everyone loved Nebraska, the loved Tom Osbourne a his gimmick offense. It ticks me off and I hope Ohio State beats them by 80 this year.

(by the way, you know what could’ve solved the issues of 1994 and 1997? A playoff… Just saying)

22. I still get nervous when I see a Florida state kicker kick

Wide right… Wide right 2… Wide left… That’ll do it to you.

Ugh!

23. I used to love Cal Ripken Jr an thought he was the greatest shortstop ever…

Then I moved to Maryland and heard about Cal so much that I wanted to puke… oh and Derek Jeter happened.

Cal made me want to be a shortstop. He hit for power, drove in runs and was great defensively. He had the iron man streak and everything pulled me in.

I had a serious collection of Cal Ripken cards that I wouldn’t sell for anything…

Then I got older and studied the game more and realized that he was alright.

One, that streak is the most overrated streak ever in sports. Of those 2600+ games only 200 of them were meaningful. He trotted out for so many bad teams and bad years that really the streak took on it’s own life because that’s all there was in Baltimore.

When you look at Brett Favre’s streak in the NFL it is way more impressive because Favre played in title games, won 3 MVP’s, went to the playoff in all but 3 or 4 years and carried his team to victory. Ripken wasn’t even close.

Then there was the fact that he wasn’t a great hitter. He always hovered around .275 and once his power went so did he.

Then there’s this fact… for all of the mess about Derek Jeter’s defense did you know that Ripken has more career errors, more 20+ error seasons and a lower fielding percentage than Jeter.

Maybe we should steer some of this overrated talk in Cal’s direction.

Ripken was good but he isn’t Jeter. Jeter has played in way more important games, come through in the clutch too many times and has made more ridiculous plays than Ripken ever did.

It’s not even close as to who’s better. Jeter is hitting almost .300 and playing decent defense at shortstop at age 37, Ripken was already tanking.

I’m sorry Maryland and baseball critics, Ripken was highly overrated. It just took me a few years to figure it out.

24. My middle school teacher Ms Rodriguez first put it in my head that I should be a sports writer.

We had a project where we had to write something and put it into summary form for class. I used the NHL all-star game for my project. I watched the entire thing took notes, wrote a three page report and talked about in threw minutes or less highlighting Owen Nolan’s hat trick (I still don’t know how he didn’t win MVP that year, the game was in San Jose… He was a Shark… silly voters),

Needless to say I got an A and she, as well as my classmates were really impressed. She told me to stick with it and that I would be a really good writer one day.

Overrated.

I hope she’s right. Writing a blog hungover while spilling your sports guts isn’t fun. However it may be worth it in the end and I might have many more happy birthdays in my future.

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog so far and letting me spew my ridiculousness for all the world to see. Now if you’ll excuse me my hangover is gone and I’m going to try to get a new one.

I might need a few drinks once I hear it from Buckeye fans about what I said.

Sometimes confessions should stay secret.


Tough Day To Be In The ACC

This is Florida State's and the ACC's day in a nutshell.

The good news for the ACC from yesterday is that Virginia hung in with USC and almost upset them in Los Angeles and the conference the most exciting game from yesterday with a 54-48 shootout between Duke and Wake Forest… yeah that’s right Duke and Wake Forest combined for 102 points and 1000 yards of offense.

The bad news… well… just about everything else. Two high profile nationally televised games, a team coming off of a highly publicized game faced an FCS opponent, and a road test against an inferior BCS conference opponent all went wrong for the so called power conference and went wrong in horrifying ways.

Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, the big 4 in their conference got shelled in each of their games. Miami got careless with the ball versus a hungry Ohio State team, Florida State got run off the field against Oklahoma, Georgia Tech had its secondary exposed by Kansas and Virginia Tech lost a home game against James Madison—of the FCS—a team that went 6-5 in the FCS last year—THE FCS!!!

This season is so not going how we planned it.

The ACC has been talked about in recent years as being the weakest of the power conferences and yesterday’s poor showings did absolutely nothing to curb those feelings. What’s interesting about these games is their poor showings in big matchups in recent years.

The ACC is 1-9 in BCS bowl games including Georgia Tech getting beat-up by Iowa in the Orange Bowl last year. Then look at their games against big game competition. Florida State hasn’t beaten Florida in 5 years; Tech has beaten 8 out of nine times by Georgia. The conferences season kick-off classic versus the SEC has been a joke with Alabama and LSU stomping out Clemson, Virginia Tech and UNC. Then Boise State had a virtual road game with the Hokies and jumped out to a 17-0 lead eventually beating Virginia Tech in the last minute 33-30.

Then there was yesterday. There was no excuse for Miami or Florida State to play as poor as they did on the national stage with all of that talent like they did.

Miami came into Columbus, Ohio talking about revenge over the 2003 National Championship game where a controversial pass interference call cost them their sixth national championship. They left with their so-called swagger slapped right out of them.

The Buckeyes caused four turnovers thanks to Jacory Harris’s poor play and if not for two special teams scores or the stalling of the OSU offense the score would’ve been a lot worse. Miami was pushed around on both sides of the ball and Terrelle Pryor strengthened his Heisman Candidacy with an all-around impressive performance. “Feeling good doesn’t always end up good,” Harris said after the game. No kidding. For all of the hype about the game it all came crashing to a halt when Cameron Heyward picked off a Harris pass on Miami’s opening drive in the third quarter and returned it the OSU red zone. So much for that swagger.

Hey this is better than throwing another interception.

At least Miami hung around. Florida State got a Boomer Sooner smack down. Traveling half-way across the country just to get destroyed defeats the purpose of scheduling such a game, unfortunately the Noles didn’t see it that way. Landry Jones and the Sooners offense got rolling and the Noles could only watch and not be willing participants. The Sooners rebounded from a poor performance against Utah State to easily handle Florida State and put themselves back in the national title talk. The Seminoles have nothing to do but more tweaking. “When you play good football teams and they get hot you have to match them, and you have to match them in all three phases,” said Jimbo Fisher, Florida State’s head coach. ” We matched them one time on offense and then we got pushed back on field position and didn’t execute.” His aforementioned statement is something the whole conference should take heed to.

For Georgia Tech it was a matter of taking a team for granted. After a humiliating 6-3 loss to North Dakota State the Kansas Jayhawks scored their biggest win since a Orange Bowl victory over (you guessed it, an ACC team) Virginia Tech.

“They came out mad,” said Yellow Jacket quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. “You could tell that they came out mad from losing their last game and they came out hungry.” Unfortunately for Georgia Tech they couldn’t match the intensity and couldn’t overcome a late 11 point deficit. The relatively young Jackets defense struggled in some instances to stop Kansas even though they only allowed 320 yards of offense. They routinely missed tackles and it showed on Daymond Patterson’s game clinching 32 yard touchdown reception to put the Jayhawks up 28-17 in the fourth quarter. The defense gave Kansas QB Joe Webb too much time to throw the ball and make plays and he burned them.

Meanwhile on the other side of the ball the Jackets normal running game was superb as they ran for 291 yards out of Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. However, when they needed to get back in the game throwing the ball Josh Nesbitt once again showed why he is a one-trick pony. Nesbitt was 5-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown, however he is not accurate at all and the offense if ever in a hole will suffer time and time again. Johnson has to figure out a way to get something out of the passing game going down the road or else the Jackets will see this same result over and over again.

Maybe we should start throwing the ball.

Lastly there’s Virginia Tech… yikes. Coming off of a huge showcase game versus Boise State, you go out onto your actual home field and get pushed around by James Madison? An FCS school?

You couldn’t score more than 16 points against a team that allowed 38 to Maryland last year? Three turnovers all in the red zone versus a 6-5 team… FROM THE FCS!!?? REALLY?!?! Dude I know Mississippi and Minnesota just lost to FCS opponents, but at least they dropped 49 and 38 points respectively.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” tailback Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech running back said. “I really don’t.” I’ll give you a hint… TURNOVERS AND MISCUES ARE KILLING YOU!

If it wasn’t the special teams miscues from Monday’s thriller it was the Darren Evans fumble on the Dukes 19 yard line that sealed their fate. The offensive line couldn’t create holes for Ryan Williams who finished with 91 rushing yards. Tyrod Taylor looked nothing like the monster that he was versus the Broncos as he threw a costly interception and under threw Jarrett Boykin on a 4th down play that could’ve put the Hokies up early in the fourth quarter.

For a team that was seriously considered as a national title contender, this lost may put them in the back of the ACC title race.

Not that the ACC title would be anything to brag about. This Saturday put the ACC in the afterthought of the minds of college football when talking about the big names in the game. An ACC team will not play for the national championship, hell they won’t even be favored in the Orange Bowl against whoever they play. Right now the ACC is an inferior conference that needs to improve on its regular season results against bigger competition before we start talking about revivals in Tallahassee and Coral Gables, and national titles in Blacksburg and Atlanta.

For now let’s see if they can handle Pittsburgh, Rutgers, East Carolina and BYU in the next two weeks. If it’s anything like this past weekend’s results, it won’t be pretty.