BCS Bowl Picks

NOTE: (This post was meant to be published on December 29th but due to problems with posting I was unable to get it up until today enjoy !)

Hey everyone ! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!! I apologize for not posting anything in ages but like all of you I have been busy. Anyway the BCS games are here and I as you can imagine am all pumped up not only cause Virginia Tech found their way into the Sugar Bowl with Michigan but also for the rest of the games. From the Orange Bowl, Clemson vs West Virginia to the Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma State vs Stanford nearly every BCS game has the potential to be an instant classic! In addition to the 4 BCS Bowls there is also a game I am calling the “Snub Bowl”… aka the Cotton Bowl featuring Kansas State and Arkansas, two teams that could easily compete with any of the 8 teams in BCS Bowls.

We’ll pick the games in order of when they will be played so it’ll start with the “Grand Daddy of them all” the Rose Bowl with Wisconsin taking on Oregon.

Rose Bowl:Oregon vs Wisconsin, January 2nd 2012 @ 5pm:

The ultimate contrast in styles. You get a classic Big 10 power vs PAC 12 speed matchup. For Wisconsin it’s going to be all about running the ball down Oregon’s throat. They should be able to this against Oregon’s 45th ranked rush defense allowing 137 ypg on the ground. For Oregon its going to be their quickness and athleticism on offense. But more specifically the Ducks will have to capitalize on early opportunities, moving the ball shouldn’t be a problem with their 5th ranked offense that moves for an average of 515 ypg. I believe this game will be high scoring but will go to an overall better Wisconsin team. WISCONSIN

Fiesta Bowl:Stanford vs Oklahoma State,Janurary 2nd 2012 @ 8:30 pm :

The 3rd and 4th ranked teams in the BCS Standings. Oklahoma State was 6 points away from playing LSU in the National Championship game. However they will settle for the tough challenge of facing the highly regarded Stanford Cardinal and their QB Andrew Luck. I expect Stanford to win simply because of the weakness of Oklahoma State’s defense. With that said the Cowboys brilliant tandem of QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon will be tested like never before with a tough and experienced Cardinal defense. So the pick from me is the Cardinal in Andrew Luck’s final collegiate game. STANFORD

Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Michigan,January 3rd 2012 @ 8:30 pm:

On Selection Sunday for the BCS bowls I like many members of Hokie Nation was glued to the message boards on TSL (Techsideline.com) for the latest news. Once wind off the Sugar Bowl came out I felt two things.. 1. Holy crap is this really happening? 2. YES a BCS Bowl ! But what the “Experts” on ESPN are saying about VT not being worthy or deserving let me ask you What the Hell has Michigan done ??? They lost to a weak Iowa team and a decent/ above average Michigan State. Sure they beat Nebraska but the Hokies only lost to one team all season. As a VT fan I am loving the role of the Underdog simply because in recent years Tech has been listed as the favorite and been embarrassed. This year I believe Tech will rain on the Wolverines parade in what will likely be RB David Wilson and CB Jayron Hosley’s last game in the Maroon and Orange Tech will triumph in the national spotlight. VIRGINIA TECH

Orange Bowl: Clemson vs West Virginia,January 4th 2012 @ 8:30 pm:

The classic ACC vs Big “Least” matchup. Clemson started and finished the year strong but had a few crucial mishaps in the middle portion of the season. West Virginia on the other hand is the best of the losers that currently make up the Big East.  The Mountaineers had a tough matchup with LSU early in the year and went on to fall 2 more times over the coarse of the season. I like Clemson big time in this matchup even though WVU is 7th in passing yards per game (341.8 yards) I feel that the Tigers rushing attack and speed will just dominate the weak Mountaineers. CLEMSON

Cotton Bowl:Kansas State vs Arkansas,January 6th 2012 @ 8 pm:

Two teams that should be in the BCS will square off in the legendary Cotton Bowl. Both schools will bring busloads of people to nearby Cowboys Stadium in Dallas making for a very loud and hectic environment. The game will come down to the 3rd phase… not offense nor defense but each team special units. And the clear advantage in that category goes in the way of the Razorbacks with WR Joe Adams returning punts for the Hogs look for him to get his 4th Return for a TD.It also helps that Arkansas lost to the two titans playing for the crystal ball (Bama and LSU). ARKANSAS

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama vs LSU, January 9th 2012 @ 8:30 pm:

The epic and highly anticipated rematch of the game many referred to as the “Game of the Century”, Bama and LSY finally meet again. What people took away from this amazing battle the 1st time around was that Defense does indeed win games and championships. Both LSU and Alabama are ranked either 1st or 2nd in nearly every defensive category in the country. This stalemate between defenses and the shutting down of the opposing offense the game came down to the special teams units of the 1st and 2nd ranked teams. The advantage fell in the favor of the Bayou Bengals who went on the win the game after kicking woes from the Tide. I expect a very similar game the 2nd time around but I do see one difference… A TD will be scored maybe not by the offense but perhaps by one of the incredible punt returners. Between the Tigers’ Tyrann “Honeybadger” Mathieu and the Tide’s Marquis Maze don’t be surprised if you see multiple TD’s in the return game by either team. Now for the moment of truth; and THE PICK is LSU! LSU

2011 College Football Awards

Before I get started with this post I would like to take the time to address to things. 1. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the recent shooting at Virginia Tech. and 2. I have nothing to say about Tech’s awful loss to Clemson but I can say that for the 1st time ever a team has won by losing.

The annual college football awards settle all the arguments… Whose the best QB? RB? WR? DB? LB? OL/DL? and outstanding player? These answers will be addressed tonight when the college football universe declares its best at each individual position.Today we’re gonna run through the many awards and give our predictions. Let’s start with the Bednarik Award

Chuck Bednarik Award (Best defensive player): There are 3 finalists for the award: Tyrann Mathieu,LSU; Donta’ Hightower,Bama; Devon Still,Penn State. In other words there is only 1 Finalist for the award…. THE HONEY BADGER. Mathieu has not only been the best defensive player in the country but also is in the race for the Heisman Trophy ! Honey Badger should win by a landslide.

Biletnikoff Award (Best WR): Comes down to 3 awesome play makers who will all be major impacts in the pros. You’ve got Justin Blackmon from Ok. State, Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma and Robert Woods from USC. Look at it this way… Broyles is hurt so he is out for me, Woods plays for USC who is under serious NCAA probation and they are not able to be ranked knocking him out leaving only 1 superstar, Justin Blackmon. If he doesn’t declare for the draft (Highly unlikely) will be Heisman frontrunner in 2012.

Davey O’Brien Award (Best QB): Like the Biletnikoff it features 3 absolute monsters. Andrew Luck out of Stanford, Case Keenum from Houston and my personal favorite RG III, Robert Griffin III from Baylor. All 3 are straight up gunslingers that want to throw until their arms fall off. This will come down to numbers not all time (Keenum would win 18,312 career passing yards) but this season. The stats are Completion %,TD’s and passer rating. All of the numbers point to Griffin. Sure Luck is going to be the number 1 overall pick in the draft and people love him but Griffin had better numbers and won. Also he showed up in the tight situations that Luck failed in.

RG III

Doak Walker Award (Best RB) Again 3 finalists but all 3 bring very different styles to the table. There’s power with Wisconsin’s big back Monte Ball who has rushed for an astounding 32 TD’s this season with over 1,700 yards gained. On the lopsided theres

Joe Pa out, Cardinal vs Ducks and Logan Thomas is the BIG man on Campus

There is so much to talk about in the college football universe. Between the firing of the legendary Joe Paterno to this weeks monster matchup in the PAC 12 this week, 4 Stanford vs 7 Oregon and even the Hokies win on Thursday night and the career nights of RB David Wilson and QB Logan Thomas. We’ll start with the hot button topic of Joe Pa’s exit at Penn State.

Paterno and Sandusky

For 46 years Joe Paterno has not only been the face of Penn State football but also one of the great figureheads in college football. He is up there with Bear Bryant ,Bobby Bowden, and Woody Hayes on the Mount Rushmore of College Football coaches. He has 409 wins overall as head coach and has built  a  prestigious program out of nothing. But it has all been overshadowed by one bad decision that he made or one that he didn’t make when he knew of longtime assistant coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s behaviors and horrific actions with little boys no older than 10 years of age. I won’t go into detail with the story because it seems to be changing every minute and it is also known by everyone. But the real question with the whole mess lies with the board of trustees’ (Who were appointed by Paterno) decision to relieve Joe Pa of his duties is justified. There are two ways to look at it… He did do the right thing according top the law by reporting it to his superior but morally he failed miserably and is now paying the price for it, granted that Paterno was close to retirement anyways being 84 years old and having to coach from the press box over looking the field of play. This incident will have an impact on the athletics of Penn State and the university as a whole this whole event deeply saddens everyone. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this horrific event.

On a happier not we now move to the monster game tonight in the PAC 12 between the only 2 teams of relevance in the conference, the Stanford Cardinal and the Oregon Ducks. These two teams are complete opposites of each other in the way they play the game, the types of players that they recruit and in their mentalities. The Ducks are a fast paced team that runs the spread offense. Everything from their erratic style to their endless number of uniform combinations makes them an exciting team to watch especially with QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James in the backfield. The team in the opposite side , Stanford is based on power and traditional football. The star power of QB Andrew Luck (who will be a future 1st overall selection in the NFL draft either this year or next) and the use of big physical TE ‘s  like Coby Fleener who measures up at 6’6 244lbs has 8 TD’s this season. This game will be close (tonight on ABC @  8pm eastern time) but like Lee Corso I think that Stanford’s experience and leadership will payoff and get them a home victory over the Ducks.

Fear the Tree

 

And now for the Hokie topic of the post… Coming into the season people of Hokie natoin didn’t know what to expect from 1st year starting QB Logan Thomas. Would he live up to his 5 star recruit hype ? or would he be a total bust and be forced back to a TE or WR role ? The answer has been yes to the 1st statement has Thomas has passed all tests (with the exception of Clemson) with flying colors. throwing for over 2000 yards and having a QB rating of 140.3 Thomas is showing why I made suck a big deal about him back when I used to do “Hokie Updates” in 2008 (https://mattburrill.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/hokie-update/). Lets look at Thomas from a defense players perspective. He stands at 6’6 weighs 260 lbs and runs a 4.6 40 ?!?! Impossible is usually the explanation when these stats or attributes get put together but not for Thomas who is only in his Sophomore year giving him up to 2 more years as a Hokie! His size and speed has made him a running threat an automatic go to guy in 3rd or 4th and short situations. To back it up Logan has rushed for 335 yards (3.4 yard average) and scored 8 times by using his legs this season .The other reason for Thomas’ success is the other guys around especially RB David Wilson who like Thomas had a career night in Atlanta.  Wilson who got virtually no carries a season ago splitting time with now NFL players Ryan Williams and Darren Evans has shown that he belongs here. Rushing for 1360 yards so far (175 on Thursday). David Wilson is getting some Heisman Trophy looks as maybe a 3rd or 4th candidate, his chances will depend on the Hokies success moving into critical matchups with ACC opponents UNC and UVA to end the season. The Hokies will next play on Thursday Night Football this week on ESPN @ 8 pm in the Hell Hole they call Lane Stadium.

I have found highlights of Tech’s Triumph over the Yellow Jackets courtesy of thePhreakofVT on youtube… enjoy !

 

 

The never ending trend of conference expansion

Back in the early days of college football everything was simple. Students formed clubs that eventually became teams formed by students in the same class (such as “Bloody Monday” at Harvard, a game between the Sophomore and Freshman classes). This trend also hit the university of Dartmouth and continued spreading throughout the Northeast region of the country. Meanwhile similar games were being played in the south in places like Auburn, Georgia and Virginia.

As the game developed around the country schools got tired of playing against themselves and decided to expand their horizons and start playing against other schools with football teams in the region/area. The 1st ever game between two schools took place in the state of New Jersey on November 6th 1869 when Rutgers and Princeton Universities. The two schools located just 37. 1 miles away from each other developed a series and became rivals. The following year Columbia University joined the series which prompted Yale University and Stevens Institute of Technology to form a league or  an early type of conference.

As time went on  football expanded to the west to the University of Michigan in 1879. What started in Ann Arbor quickly spread to places like Chicago (Chicago University and Northwestern University) and Minnesota (Minnesota University). These for schools along with Illinois , Wisconsin and Purdue formed the earliest conference, the “Western Conference”  in 1896 . The conference lasted 3 years before it accepted Iowa and Indiana changing its name to the Big 9 and later the Big 10 once Ohio State joined in 1912.  After a few changes like the swapping of Chicago University and Michigan State in 1949 and the addition of Penn State in 1990 the BIG 10 looked like it was done expanding until last season when they added Nebraska.

My reasoning for going into that much detail over the Big 10 is that all of the teams are in reasonable distance from each other. This not only makes it easier for the fans but also easier for the teams and it helps develop the great rivalries of today. Look at Michigan vs Ohio State for example … The states border each other which provides an automatic rivalry and with conference play it guarantees that they will always play each other every year. Here’s a look at an updated map of how conferences break down by region.

FBS Wiki Map

As you can see the colors are keys for the conference the particular school is affiliated with. For those who can’t see well here are the color codes for the conferences… ACC , Big 10 , Big 12 ,Big East , Pac 12 ,SEC , Independents, Mountain West, WAC , MAC , C-USA and Sun Belt.

Now for some more analysis… In the past weeks the talks of more conference expansion in the FBS Universe have really picked up. From the ACC to the SEC to even the idea that the BIG 12 may be coming to an end. We’ll start with the most recent report of an expansion to the Atlantic Coastal Conference and the likely acceptance of Pittsburgh and Syracuse …

Can anyone tell me where Syracuse and Pittsburgh are located ? If you said ACC Country or near other ACC schools you couldn’t have been more incorrect. Sure they’re both on the east coast but still they geographically belong where they are in the Big East conference. This wouldn’t be the 1st conference expansion move that the ACC would screw up. Back in July of 2005 the brilliant scholars who head the ACC committee/ board accepted an application from a team that wanted to join their conference. This team is located just 752 MILES away from the HQ in Greensboro, NC. That team is none other than Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The school qualifies for the ACC by level of competition, Academics and school size but is not in ACC Country. Although it does open up the ACC to the New England market I don’t think that the fans in the Northeast wanna see Virginia Tech play UNC or any team below or near the Mason Dixon line for that matter. I know that there are plenty of arguments for the ACC to accept Pitt and Syracuse, I mean as a fan of  an ACC team like the Hokies that lives in a Syracuse market (NY) I should be loving this move but as a fan of College Football as a whole and a writer I don’t like where this whole expansion thing is headed. Which leads me to my next point the possibility of losing the BIG 12.  

ACC Map

 
The BIG 12 conference had been a major power in College Football for as long as I can remember. With teams like Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. But now all 4 of those powerhouse teams may be jumping on board with the other teams who are swapping conferences. The conference has already lost 2 teams (Colorado to PAC 12 and Nebraska to BIG 10) and may be losing up to 5 or 6 more teams depending on upcoming meetings. This could mean the addition of smaller level teams like Houston,SMU , UTEP or even Tulsa. This whole thing in a way has a whole ironic twist to it ; Because the BIG 12, the conference that may be destroyed as a result of conference expansion was actually built by the falling of two major conferences in the southwest and midwest regions that it is currently made up of. All of the BIG 12’s current members either belonged to the BIG 8 conference (Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Kansas State) and the Southwest Conference (Texas,Baylor,Texas A&M and Texas Tech). So I guess it is true that what comes around does come around.
 
Overall as you can tell I am not the biggest supporter of Conference Expansion. I firmly believe that conferences , leagues and divisions should be based on the region/location of the school. Look at the names of conferences…  PAC 12 (Pacific Athletic Conference), ACC (Atlantic Coastal Conference), BIG East (Eastern Conference). It is that reason and that reason only that I am opposed to teams joining and forming super conferences. Now that you’ve heard my side I wanna hear yours so comment and tell me if I’m right or wrong and vote in the poll provided.  
 

HIS NAME IS DAN UGGLA!!!

AH!  The famous homerun call by the Marlins announcers for any time Mr. Dan Uggla hits a homerun
 
Generally, when I think of Dan Uggla, I think of a guy who will absolutely slug you to death.  A 90-30-100 guy who is going to hit around .250.  This season up to about a month ago, was not the same.  The power numbers were still there, but he was hitting about .170.  Which is below that good ol’ Mendoza Line.

However something magical is happening now.  He is on something of a tear.  He is hitting in the middle of a 32 game hitting streak.  Over this hitting streak, he is looking a lot more like the Yankee Clipper!  Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio and his 56 game hitting streak appears to be a record that will stand for the foreseeable future.  I’m not gonna say anything about Mr. Uggla, but I will say that I am enjoying seeing him in such good company.

Moving on to some big names on the DL, such as Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, and my guy, Stephen Strasburg!

Strasburg made his second rehab start on Friday, going 3.0 innings, striking out 5 and walking 0.  While I don’t why the Nationals organization is doing this, I’m certainly in favor of it.  I love seeing this guy Pitch.  He just had Tommy John Surgery and he comes back throwing 99 mph.  Another reason I’m so excited about his return, is that in Mr. Matt’s fantasy league, Matt Deblasio, Matt’s cousin, was about to pick him up, but he said he would do it after he went to his baseball game.  Meanwhile, in the Nation Moze, I decided to add him approximately when Matt got to the field.  He came home to look for him on the waiver wire, and POOF!  He was gone and on my DL!!

Steven Strasburg

 
 Alex Rodriguez made his first rehab start the other day.  In his first AB, he smashed a homer to left.  This is good news for the Yankees, getting back their star third baseman.  However, it’s not going to help out in the long run.  The AL East title as well as the American League Pennant is firmly in the hands of the BOSTON REDSOX!

As I sit here, watching the fine programming on MLB Network, I think about just how AWFUL the New York Mets are.  I see former Yankee REJECT, Ian Kennedy, pitching seven strong innings of 1 run baseball against them.  I can NOT stand being a Mets fan…

Mr. Met

With that I leave you fellow baseball nuts!  Remember, always believe and enjoy in the magic of “It aint over till it’s over”

And to close, Imagine a single player winning all three major awards of the 2011 season.With no SP standing out in the NL, a possible candidate for the RoY, Cy Young, and if his team wins the WS, possibly the MVP, Mr. Craig Kimbrel!!!!

Craig Kimbrel

randy moss

Randy moss one of the greatest wide receivers of all time announced his retirement several days ago.  now the question is will he come back or does he mean that he is done for good?

Great players in all sports have a tendency to make comebacks after they have retired two of the most famous are Brett Favre we all know how that story goes. Also, Michael Jordan who retired the first time to play baseball then came back with the bulls then retired again then came back with the wizards.

But getting back to Randy Moss he has done some ridiculous things in his career such as screaming at his coaches and teammates mooning the fans at lambeau field or squirting water on a referee.  it would not surprise me if he did come back for a year or two, and it would also not surprise me if he has a great season if he comes back.

Look Its a Full Moon !!

Randy has had one of the best careers as a wide receiver ever.  he is second in touchdown catches only to Jerry Rice I mean a guy with 954 receptions  14858 career yards 15.6 yards per reception and 153 career TD catches.  despite his shenanigans he is a great player and i hope he comes back and does great. 

Either way best of luck to Randy Moss !

Winners and Losers of NFL Free Agent Frenzy

Usually NFL Free Agency is a period of time that occurs in late March to early April but this year was an unusual offseason that included a lockout that kept football fans everywhere on the edges of the seats wondering if there would be a season in 2011. Fortunately the conflict dubbed “Millionaires vs Billionaires” came to end. The end of the lockout meant an immediate overflow of transactions by all 32 teams in the National Football League. After just one week after the CBA agreement had been made  around 1600 transactions were made around the NFL. Today we’re gonna look at the best and worst signings , cuts and trades around the league in the 1st week of Post Lockout football.
Because everyone loves a winner we’ll start with the teams and owners who put one in the W column before the preseason has even begun.

 WINNERS 

  1. Philladelphia Eagles– The Eagles are the clear number 1 winners of the NFL FA Frenzy because of one bigtime player. Nnamdi Asomugha (Picture below) the guy that the average football fan has never heard of because QB ‘s just don’t throw his way. He was the top target of teams like the Jets, Ravens and Texans (Who answered their need but would’ve liked to get the big guy) but chose the Eagles who gave him the contract he deserved and a solid defense that already included CB Asante Samuel and acquired pro bowl corner Dominque Rodgers- Cromartie from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for back up QB Kevin Kolb. Which brings to my next point…. Back up QB. The Eagles also picked up Vince Young from Tennessee who has been having problems with the QB for nearly 2 years. So look for another troubled QB like (Mike Vick) to get an intervention and work in a system that needs a running QB that can make plays on both the ground and through the air.The Eagles also picked up two big boys up front (DT Cullen Jenkins and DE Jason Babin) who should both have major impacts in the trenches.

Nnamdi Asomugha

 2. New England Patriots The Pats are always winners but they really stepped up to the plate this past week with two of the most surprising moves of the last few years. What the boys from New England were able to do was get great talent with HUGE egos for nearly nothing. They started with the acquisition of Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth who had a miserable time in DC to say the least. The Pats sent a 5th round pick to the skins for the hefty DT who has a problems his size if not bigger. The 2nd move made by the Patriots was one that they had made nearly 3 years ago (acquiring Randy Moss ) only with a new team and a new receiver. Chad Ochocinco who had been begging top get out of Cincinnati for what seems like 3 years now and has landed himself in probably the best situation possible for any aging receiver with some talent… A trip to work with QB Tom Brady and a great system under coach Bill Belichick. So we’ll see what the Pats can do with these troubled minded players who posses major talent.

Ochocinco and Brady

3.  New York Jets– The Jets over the last 3 years have been the biggest trun around team in the NFL. With a young solid QB (Mark Sanchez) , a strong smashmouth defense and the coach that every player in the league wants as their coach (Rex Ryan) Gang Green is just entertaining to watch and even better to root for. Even as a Giants fan you gotta love the passion of the Jets on the field and in the stands. This offseason they had some key recievers on the market and signed the biggest one (Santanio Holmes). Even though they came up short on the Nnamdi sweepstakes the Jets still made a splash by signing WR Plaxico Burress who will be a HUGE target for “The Sanchise” all over his field but especially in the red zone. The Jets were a team that didn’t need to go out and make a splash because they have all the pieces right in front of them. But still managed to make their presence felt on the market.

Plaxico Burress

 LOSERS

1. Seattle Seahawks– They lose their franchise QB Matt Hasselback to the Tennessee Titans and brought in QB Tavaris Jackson to take the reigns of the franchise and compete for the job. But the seahawks who still have RB Marshawn Lynch who is fresh off is amazing run the produced earthquake like energy from the 12th Man in seattle but for another year the Seahawks will be in another rebuilding year and may be win the weakest division in football (NFC West).

2. Dallas Cowboys– Get no one big for another year and are just getting older year by year. They also traded away WR Roy Williams and dropped veterans like RB Marion Barber and OT Marc Colombo who were both leaders in the locker room and on the field. America’s most hated team will have to work hard for a spot this year but I don’t see any success for them in Big D.

3. New York Giants– The Giants once again have done NOTHING! They have released their left side of the offensive line (including Rich Seubert who is Coach Tom Coughlin’s son-in-law) and center Shaun O’Hara. They also have yet to sign RB Ahmad Bradshaw who if not signed will be missed greatly in the backfield for big blue. But by far the biggest failure for the Gints was their loss in the pursuit of WR Plaxico Burress who is wearing the wrong color jersey in East Rutherford. Plus they may get stuck with an angry and selfish DE in Osi Umenyiora

Upset Osi