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College Football Power Rankings: Oklahoma, Stanford, Nebraska and More

It's was an interesting weekend in college football. Powerhouses looked weak, hapless squads looked strong, and rankings shifted on pure perception. Based on everything we've learned over the last week, here are the top 10 teams in the country:

1 – Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners marched into Tallahassee and defeated the fifth ranked Florida State Seminoles 23-13 Saturday night to retain number one team in the country status. They didn’t look pretty at times facing one of the most athletic and talented defenses in the nation, and struggled both on the ground and in the air. Heisman contender QB Landry Jones wasn’t stellar Saturday night throwing 18-for-27 for 199 yards with two interceptions, but became Oklahoma’s passing leader in the process, surpassing 2008 Heisman winner Sam Bradford.  The impressive part about Oklahoma was despite how well the Seminoles defense played, they still came away with the victory. The Sooner defense again outshined the offense, holding Florida State to 246 total yards total offense, and only allowing one touchdown that came in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma will host Missouri in a primetime Big 12 matchup Saturday night. – Dory LeBlanc

AP Rank: 1; Next Game: 9/24 vs. Missouri

2 – Alabama Crimson Tide: The Tide and Tigers continue flip-flopping the second and third spot in the AP Poll depending on the quality of their respective opponents. Not that it really matters all that much, as they’ll have the opportunity to settle it for good (if they’re both still undefeated) on November 5. In the meantime, the Tide and Tigers continue to give us reason to believe they’re the country’s best defenses. – Danny Hobrock

AP Rank: 3; Next Game: 9/24 vs. Arkansas

3.5 – Boise State Broncos: Toledo was coming off a near-upset of Ohio State when they hosted Boise State Friday night, appearing in the beginning like they might pull one off against the fourth-ranked team in the nation; however, the Broncos’ Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore got into a rhythm the Rockets couldn’t counter. Moore passed for 455 yards on 32 of 42 passes, five touchdowns and spread the ball around to nine different receivers as he led Boise State to a 40-15 victory. The win capped off a rough week for the Broncos as they found out Tuesday the NCAA placed Boise State on probation for three years, docked the program three scholarships per year through the 2013-14 season, and are allowed fewer contact practices during spring training. Wednesday, they found out they would only be getting starting safety Cedric Febis back, one of three players suspended two weeks ago by the NCAA for undisclosed reasons. Febis did not start, but did record four tackles and helped force a fumble in the contest. Boise State will face a 1-2 Tulsa team at Bronco Stadium in a Saturday night match up. Dory LeBlanc

AP Rank: 4; Next Game: 9/24 vs. Tulsa

3.5 – LSU Tigers: LSU’s defense has been their strong suit followed by their rushing attack, but Thursday night the Tigers showed they have a passing game as well. QB Jarrett Lee completed 21 of 27 passes for 213 yards and a score. The touchdown came in the fourth quarter and gave LSU a 10-point lead, which they extended on a field goal for the final score of 19-6. The LSU defense held the highly productive Mississippi State ground attack to only 52 yards rushing (193 total yards), sacked QBs Chris Relf and Tyler Russell four times, while grabbing interceptions from both. The Tigers are a well-coached, athletic, and complete team that has one of the toughest schedules in the country thus far. This week, they travel to Morgantown to take on their third-ranked team in four weeks (Oregon and Mississippi St). If they decidedly hand West Virginia their first loss of the season, LSU may dethrone Oklahoma as the top-ranked team in the country. – Dory LeBlanc

AP Rank: 2; Next Game: 9/24 @ West Virginia

5 – Stanford Cardinal: The Cardinal demonstrated their resiliency in the late-night game against Arizona as they put forth a memorable second-half effort down two key players (tight end Coby Fleener and linebacker Shayne Skov) following a close first half. – Danny Hobrock

AP Rank: 5; Next Game: 10/1 vs. UCLA

6 – Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers were dominant on both sides of the ball as they handed the Northern Illinois Huskies a 49-7 loss at Soldier Field. Wisconsin scored just over two minutes in as QB Russell Wilson connected with Nick Toon for the 12-yard touchdown. Wilson finished 23 of 32 for 347 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and rushed for 37 yards, while Toon ended the day with five receptions for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Both Montee Ball and James White rushed for 91 yards and a combined three touchdowns, with Ball picking up two scores. Wisconsin’s defense seems to finally be running on all cylinders, holding the Huskies to 64 yards on the ground, and shutting down Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish to 14 of 24 passing for 164 yards. The Badgers will host South Dakota next week before taking on Nebraska in a much anticipated game that could decide the Big Ten Champion later this season. – Dory LeBlanc

AP Rank: 6; Next Game: 9/24 vs. South Dakota

7 – Texas A&M Aggies: We’re about to find out exactly what this A&M team is made of when they face Oklahoma State at home this weekend and then face Arkansas on a neutral field the next. And that matchup with Texas Tech in Lubbock isn’t anything to sneeze at, and then there’s Baylor. Hey, it’s nice to get into the meaty part of the season. – Danny Hobrock

AP Rank: 8; Next Game: 9/24 vs. Oklahoma State

8 – Nebraska Cornhuskers: The game with the Huskies was close early, but then the Huskers really started to take off, going up 27 early in the fourth quarter before Washington made it a little closer by the end of the game. This marks the second consecutive week that the Huskers had trouble separating from a non-conference opponent early in the game. – Danny Hobrock

AP Rank: 9; Next Game: 9/24 @ Wyoming

9 – Oklahoma State Cowboys: The Cowboys were playing until 3:30 AM local time Sunday morning after their game with Tulsa was delayed. Justin Blackmon‘s record of 14-straight games with 100 yards receiving or more came to an end in the matchup (57 yards). Brandon Weeden threw three touchdowns and surpassed 350 yards passing for the third time this year, while Joseph Randle continues to prove himself a worth replacement for Kendall Hunter in the backfield. The Cowboys get an interesting matchup with Texas A&M this weekend in another battle of the top-tens. – Danny Hobrock

AP Rank: 7; Next Game: 9/24 vs. Texas A&M

10.5 – Oregon Ducks: Since their Week One loss to LSU, nobody’s mentioned Oregon much. They struggled offensively in the opener, but they got it going the last two games, putting up 69 and 56 points against Nevada and Missouri State, respectively. LaMichael James broke through with a 204-yard, three-touchdown performance. We’ll see how they fare as they begin Pac-12 play this weekend in Tucson. -Danny Hobrock

AP Rank: 10; Next Game: 9/24 @ Arizona

10.5 – South Carolina GamecocksMarcus Lattimore ran for a career high 246 yards on 37 carries (6.6  avg) as South Carolina held off Navy 24-21 at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defense looked shaky at times and allowed the Midshipmen to rack up 274 yards rushing split among seven players, but freshman Jadeveon Clowney stepped up late in the fourth quarter keeping pressure on QB Kriss Proctor, and forcing him into throwing an interception. South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia overthrew several receivers and was forced to throw short passes, completing 18 of 25 for 204 yards and an interception. This is the third game South Carolina has had close calls; in the opener against Eastern Carolina, the Gamecocks were down 24-14 at halftime before making a comeback for the 56-37 win and last week, Georgia’s mistakes and poor execution gave South Carolina the 45-42 victory. This week, the undefeated Vanderbilt Commodores travel to Columbia and will try to hand the SEC East favorites their first loss of the season. – Dory LeBlanc

AP Rank: 12; Next Game: 9/24 vs. Vanderbilt

* Boise St. & LSU tied for 3rd, Oregon and South Carolina tied for 10th

More NCAA Football Coverage

Danny Hobrock is our College Football Editor. Danny's writing on College Pigskin has garnered national attention and has been critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DannyHobrock

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2011 NL Cy Young Race: Clayton Kershaw or Roy Halladay?

About a month ago when Justin Verlander had was 19-5 with a 2.28 ERA, 212 Ks and a WHIP of .8800 I made the case for why the Detroit Tigers’ ace should win both the 2011 AL Cy Young Award and also 2011 AL MVP Award. Fast forward to today and given the fact that he’s leading the Tigers to a playoff berth (possibly a #2 seed) at 24-5 with a 2.29, 244 Ks and a WHIP of .9098 and he should be a lock.


In the Senior League, the 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner isn’t as clear cut. Monday night Ian Kennedy moved the Arizona Diamondbacks one step closer to the playoffs becoming the league’s first 20-game winner. 3/5 of the Philadelphia Phillies staff is likely to get votes from sportswriters as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels all have impressive statistics. Atlanta Braves closer Braig Kimbrel deserves to have his hat thrown into the ring. This weekend Kimbrel gave up just his second home run in his 95 1/3 inning major league career (Lucas Duda, NYM). Kimbrel leads the NL in saves with 45, has a 2.031 ERA, 124 Ks in 75 1/3 IP and a WHIP of .9956. And then there’s the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. 45-years after Sandy Koufax last took the mound in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers now have the closest replica to the unhittable lefty they’ve ever had.


It’s easy not to think this through and just give Roy Halladay the award. He’s one of the very best pitchers year in and year out and the best pitcher on a team with the most wins in MLB this season that has three clear number one starters and a 4th number one in Roy Oswalt when he’s healthy. If you spend a moment breaking down the numbers however you’ll see that Clayton Kershaw had a better year.


Let’s take a look at Kershaw’s NL Cy Young candidacy and who will get my votes.


 





2011 NL CY Young Candidates

Player
INN
GS
QS
CG
W
L
S
BS
K
BBI
HA
ERA
WHIP
Vote

Clayton Kershaw, SP LA
218.7
31
23
5
19
5
0
0
236
51
164
2.305
0.9832
1

Roy Halladay, SP PHI
227.7
31
24
8
18
6
0
0
217
34
204
2.411
1.0454
2

Cliff Lee, SP PHI
219.7
30
23
6
16
7
0
0
223
42
181
2.376
1.0152
3

Cole Hamels, SP PHI
206.0
30
23
3
14
9
0
0
186
41
161
2.796
0.9806
4

Ian Kennedy, SP ARI
216.0
32
23
1
20
4
0
0
194
53
181
2.875
1.0833
5

Craig Kimbrel, RP ATL
75.3
0
0
0
4
3
45
7
124
29
46
2.031
0.9956
6

Clayton Kershaw should win the award. He has been the best NL pitcher during the 2011 regular season. We seem to be past the fact that the Cy Young winner has to come from a winning ball club. It’s also important to remember in this instance that this award is a regular season award and post season stats are not supposed to come into play, something that Kershaw will not have the opportunity to participate in. Matt Kemp will have to overcome this same obstacle in his quest for the 2011 NL MVP as there will be those who say, “The Dodgers finished .500 with him, how much worse would it have been without him?” To me, the fact that the Dodgers arguably have both the NL Cy Young and MVP on their team and are still only .500 magnifies how bad the rest of supporting cast is and only makes each candidates production that much more impressive.


Clayton Kershaw simply had the best regular season in 2011 and should win the NL Cy Young Award. It will be pretty hard from me to be convinced otherwise, but I’m willing to listen.




The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.


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MMA Analysis: Will Jake Shields Get Cut After UFC Fight Night 25?

It would be a safe assessment to point out that much of the luster has been tarnished on welterweight contender Jake Shields following TKO loss to Jake Ellenberger this past Saturday night. 


Of course, there are those who would argue that much of Shields’ hype was lost in his life-and-death struggle with Martin Kampmann in Shields’ UFC debut back at UFC 121.  Shields’ subsequent domination at the hands of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre had many wondering aloud why the UFC was so aggressive in pursuing Shields when he became a free agent after his contract with Strikeforce was up. 


To the truly dedicated MMA fan Shields’ signing with the UFC was a no-brainer.  During his reign as Strikeforce middleweight champion, Shields beat some of the promotion’s top 185ers in route to beating a resurging Dan Henderson.  It was little doubt that Shields, who was considered one of Strikeforce’s most talented fighters, would try his hand in the deeper waters of the UFC.  But, to say Shields’ transition to the bright lights of the UFC has been the complete opposite of smooth.


Now, with Shields having suffered the bitterest tasting defeat in his illustrious career the question that begs asking is he in danger of being cut by going 1-2 in his last three fights in the UFC?  After all, it’s not as if Shields has actually fought in an entertaining bout while in the UFC.  His bout with Kampmann was lethargic and uninspiring with many feeling that he did little to deserve the victory. 


Following that listless performance was a white-washing by GSP that again failed to elicit any form of excitement from fans as neither fighter did much to entertain. Now we have a one-minute shellacking by Ellenberger, a fighter who has I would say 95% of UFC fans wouldn’t be able to pick out of a line up (though, that is not a slight to Ellenberger’s considerable talents.)  All in all, it has not been a pleasant run in the UFC for Shields thus far.


But, is Shields in any real danger of being cut by the UFC brass?  The answer would be a resounding no.  Look, whether you love or loath his style of fighting Jake Shields is one of the sport’s premier talented martial artists.  Losing to GSP is nothing to be ashamed of given the fact that “Rush” is one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world right now.  Plus, and most importantly, is the fact that Shields entered into this fight with the highly dangerous Ellenberger after having just buried his father.  Having lost a parent I can tell you that the emotional and mental anguish you go through is debilitating.  It’s a testament to Shields’ warrior mentality that he even went through with the bout.  The vast majority of fighters in the game right now would have not entered the cage under such circumstances yet Shields said that he didn’t even give it a second thought. 


So no, Shields is in no danger of being cut.  The UFC knows they have a legitimate warrior in Shields and despite the recent string of hard luck, the fact remains that he is one of the most accomplished fighters in the sport right now.  What Shields needs to do now is take a break from the emotional grind of fighting for a while and when he’s ready, come back with renewed energy. 


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2011 Heisman Power Rankings: Wilson, Griffin, Moore, Luck, Lattimore

The Heisman race remains quarterback-centric after three weeks as the nation’s top passers continue to explode for big numbers and lead their respective teams wins in the first three weeks. Here are the top five candidates in the country:

1. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin Badgers: This guy just gets it done. Against Northern Illinois, Wilson completed 23 of his 32 passes for 347 yards, and added 37 rushing yards on five carries.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor Bears: Griffin followed his huge performance against TCU with another good one against Stephen F. Austin of the FCS. He completed all but two of his 22 pass attempts for 265 yards, and ran the ball eight times for 78 yards.

3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State Broncos: Moore is scary accurate with the football, and is easily one of the top two passers in the country. He put together a 455-yard performance on 32-for-42 passing with five touchdowns against Toledo.

4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford Cardinal: Luck gives his team a chance to win every single week. Like Moore, he’s very accurate and doesn’t often make mistakes. He put up 325 yards with two touchdowns on 20-for-31 passing against Arizona in the late game from Tucson. He led the Cardinal as they pulled away in the second half without two key players (tight end Coby Fleener and linebacker Shayne Skov) after a close first half.

5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina Gamecocks: Lattimore put together a huge performance against Navy, and came up with the late touchdown to give the Gamecocks the win. He rushed 37 times for 246 yards and scored three touchdowns. He caught four passes for 25 yards. After three weeks he leads the NCAA in rushing yards with 534.

In the hunt:


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Overrated or Underrated: Nebraska and 4 Other Undefeated Teams

There are differing thoughts on scheduling among ADs and coaches. Some prefer to be rested and some prefer to be tested. Sometimes when schedules are made teams end up being better or worse than they were originally projected to be. That being said, there are several teams out there that are undefeated but I still have a bunch of question marks about them. For the purpose of keeping this somewhat brief we will take a look at five teams that fit this criteria this week.

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (3-0)

Cal went just 5-7 last year after starting 2-0. This year they've started 2-0 against a similar schedule to last year except they played Fresno State instead of Nevada with Colin Kaepernick. In 2010, the Golden Bears fell apart once the Pac-10 schedule started as they went just 3-6 in the conference. The game at Washington this weekend is huge for Cal as the Huskies are going to want to put a W on the board after falling the Nebraska this past weekend. After the Washington game, the Golden Bears play at Oregon and the USC. The Washington game could very well be a lynch pin of their season. 4-0 would set them up very nicely but 3-1 could quickly turn into 3-3 and the season could turn much like it did last year.

Are the Golden Bears FACT or FICTON? I'm going to lean toward fiction. Their victories are against two 1-2 teams and Presbyterian.

Next Game: 9/24 Washington (2-1)

Next Ranked Opponent: 10/6 at Oregon (2-1)

GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS (3-0)

Paul Johnson and his troups on the flats have done what they do the best- they have pounded the crap out of the sisters of the poor. They beat Western Carolina 63-21, Middle Tennessee 49-21 and beat up on the ugly football step-sister of the Big 12, the Kansas Jayhawks, by a ridiculous score of 66-24. To me Georgia Tech is a function of who they have played. That being said, they don't play a team currently ranked in the Top 25 until the very end of October so they have a chance to build up a pretty impressive record.

While they don't play Top 25 teams they do have some good competition in UNC, North Carolina State and Maryland coming up. None of those teams will make you shake in your boots but they are all capable of beating you and NC State (with Russell Wilson) put a good hurting on Georgia Tech last year.

Are the Yellow Jackets FACT or FICTON? I think they are fiction but with their schedule I think they could end up being fact. Let's see how they do against the teams from North Carolina and we will re-visit this down the road.

Next Game: 9/24 vs UNC (3-0)

Next Ranked Opponent: 10/29 vs Clemson (3-0)

HOUSTON COUGARS (3-0)

Houston has started out with UCLA, North Texas and Louisiana Tech. They beat North Texas by 21 but their combined margin of victory in the other two games is just 5 points. Houston's record is most definitely a function of their schedule and it only looks to get better as their season goes on. As it stands right now the only teams with winning records left on Houston's schedule are UTEP (lost to SMU by 11), Tulane (lost to Tulsa by 28), and SMU (lost to Texas A&M by 32). Houston has a legitimate chance to go undefeated and beat nobody.

Are the Cougars FACT or FICTON? Their 3-0 is definitely fiction. They could be a good team when it's all said and done but we will ever know based on who they are set to play this year.

Next Game: 9/24 vs Georgia State (1-2)

Next Ranked Opponent: None on the schedule

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (3-0)

Nebraska opened up the season with three home games and won them by an average of 19.6 points per game. Not too bad. If you look at their last two games (Fresno State and Washington) they won both of those by 13 points but gave up an average of 33.5 points per game. The 29 points given up to Fresno State would have been the third most given up on the 2010 schedule had it happened last year and the 38 given up against Washington was surpassed in 2010 only by the 41 that Oklahoma State put up on them (in a 51-41 Nebraska win). Despite being 3-0, the Huskers have not done so impressively. The good news is Wyoming is on the schedule next so they still have a chance to work out some kinks before they go to Camp Randall on October 1st. 

Are the Cornhuskers FACT or FICTON? This is a tough one. I think the Huskers can still be a very good team. In terms of being a contender for the Big Ten title I think they are fiction right now but in terms of being a legit Top 25 team I think they are fact.

Next Game: 9/24 at Wyoming (3-0)

Next Ranked Opponent: at Wisconsin (3-0)

TEXAS LONGHORNS (3-0)

Texas has won big over Rice and UCLA as their combined margin of victory was 27. They also have a 1 point victory over a BYU team that got squashed by Utah by 44 points last week. Texas is a much tougher discussion than the other teams because they overhauled their coaching staff in the off-season and they also made a QB switch just last week. Cae McCoy came in against UCLA and went 12 of 15 for 168 and 2 TD. Texas can be pretty good this year if they can get that type of performance from their QB and true frosh Malcolm Brown runs the way he did last week. The problem with Texas, more so than any other team we've talked about in this article, is that they play a really tough schedule.

Are the Longhorns FACT or FICTION? If we are judging this on improvement over last year then they are fact. They will be better than last year and should hover around the Top 25 all year long. If we are judging based on if they are a Big 12 contender then they are fiction as they simply don't match-up with the top tier of the Big 12 this year.

Next Game: 10/1 at Iowa State (3-0)

Coming Up: 10/8 vs Oklahoma (2-0)


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NFL Analysis: Indianapolis Colts Have Just 1 Problem

The 2011 Colts are virtually indistinguishable from the 2009 Colts.


There have been minor changes, mostly for better, but on offense 7 of the 11 starters are basically the same. Indy swapped out Charlie Johnson, Ryan Lilja, Kyle DeVan and Dan Muir, Kelvin Hayden and Clint Session. Gary Brackett is hurt right now too.

But in essence it's the same team that nearly went undefeated. A couple of guys are a little older, but it's functionally the same team.


Now, they may well go winless.


It's not the front office's fault.


It's not the coaches' fault.


It's all about Peyton, and it always has been.


Take just third downs in 2011. Indy is 5 of 23 (28%). Last year, Indy was 5th in the NFL at 44.6%. From 2005-2009, Indy was first every year always topping out near 50%.


The Colts, missing Addai, Collie, and Clark for much of the year were 156% better on third down than this year.


Yesterday, I saw a team that looked prepared. The Colts came out with a plan, and for the most part executed it. They played hard. Those wanting to blame the coaching staff and front office are taking a shallow and shortsighted position. People will throw out false facts like, "Look at the 2007 draft class!". These people forget that the Patriots, probably the best team in football, has NO ONE left from the 2007 class on their team. This is in part because the 2007 class was one of the worst classes in recent memory, and despite picking last, Indy got middle of the pack production that year.


The Colts front office has treated the media and blogs poorly for years. Now they are reaping what they sow as some see an opportunity to serve themselves. Dumping this regime might be great for bloggers and media guys, but it would be death for the Colts. We've heard for years how Indy has completely integrated the structure of the team with Manning. There is no analog in NFL history for what Indy has done. All the statistical models that claim Manning is worth a handful of wins a year are based around historical precedent.


There is no historical precedent for Peyton Manning.


There's no way to replace him in two weeks or two months.  This is going to be a long season. Indy might not win a game. If Manning was playing, this is still a double-digit win team. What I saw yesterday convinced me of that. Without him, it may not win at all. It's about fit and system as much as it is about talent.  Peyton Manning is like an alien from another planet, and the Colts are his genetically encoded starship.


No one else can pilot the ship. They can't even start the engine.


The payoff was making the playoffs every year but one since 1999 and winning a Super Bowl. The consequence is 2011. 


I'll make that trade every time.


Pre-tape thoughts after the jump:


The Colts desperately missed Brackett and Sims. The middle of the field was open all day for the Browns as Conner and Angerer just aren't there yet in terms of coverage. Either one or both of them might have been enough to put Indy over the top. On Wednesday, I'll break down tape of all the Cleveland 3rd down conversions. I suspect I'll have more to say on this topic.


Lacey and Bullitt were terrible. Bullitt's play is disappointing, but not surprising. He's been the single most overrated Colt by fans for a long time.


Bethea is a great, great player.


Indy played some of the best run defense I've seen in a long time. Conner and Angerer (the same guys I criticized above) played very well.  The Indy DTs clogged up the lanes, and it all worked.  It's too bad that run defense is irrelevant. Now you see why I've never freaked out about it when teams ran on the Colts. Stopping the run does not win games. Stopping the pass does. Overall, the defense is about the same as last year. Maybe a little bit better. They are slightly better than I expected. I figured on a bottom 5 defense, but they are more like a bottom 10 defense, just like last year.


This is the best run blocking line the Colts have had since 2007. There are big holes. It's astounding to see live how much better they are. I'm 100% convinced this offensive line is significantly improved over last year. I know Linkenbach had a rough day, but Ryan Diem had LOTS of rough days last year. Castonzo seems to be doing the job. 


The Colts had clearly talked to Kerry Collins about stepping up in the pocket. He did so on almost every play in the first half and avoided sacks. It was a revelation. He got lax with it later. All in all, Collins was awful. The rest of the team played well enough to win. He did not. No team could win with that performance from the QB position.


Joe Addai. Joe Addai, baby. Man, this team missed him last year.


I thought Indy would win right up until the Reggie Wayne trip/Collins pick. The Colts seemed like the better team for most of the game. They played very well until Collins came unglued late. The pick was all on Wayne, though. Amazing.


The real turning point might have been the previous drive with the two blown PI calls. Both were obvious. The second on Wayne was as easy as calls get. Instead of being in field goal range with a chance to take the lead, Indy punted.


Caldwell's call to kick on 4th and inches was bad, but I don't complain as loudly about field goals as a do about punts.  It didn't cost the Colts the game. As bad as Collins was in the redzone, I doubt Indy was going to get more than 3 points anyway. Still, going for it is almost always the right call there. Caldwell did a great job yesterday, though fans won't see it that way. Indy was ready to play. They had clearly worked with Collins a lot. It just wasn't enough. He's not Peyton Manning. He just isn't, and there's nothing Caldwell or any coach could do to make him be Peyton.


The corners of the Luke are loud. I've never sat there before, but I was impressed with the noise level. Fans wanted to support the team, but there was a lot of realism in the stands.


Stat of the day from Scott Kacsmar: Manning to Collie 2010: 58/71 (81.7%); Collins to Collie 2011: 3/13 (23.1%)


A few weeks ago, I gave an interview in which I said that if Peyton Manning missed the season, I thought the Colts were possibly a 0 to 2 win team. Go back and give it a listen. Take note where I discuss Wayne and Clark. It's so very, very true.


On the bright side, no one will ever, ever again make the "Manning had more weapons" claim. Still, the sad thing is that Wayne has really fallen off. We saw it last year, but the end is closer than the beginning. 2006 Wayne and 2004 Harrison would still be making plays with Collins, I suspect. Then again, going back to 2009, Wayne was completely invisible all playoffs, and his stumble was the end of the Indy hopes, so maybe the decline was already in effect back then.


Indy needs a new special teams coach. This isn't about a lack of healthy bodies or talent. Too many mental errors. No excuse for it.


Tomorrow, I'll examine the Andrew Luck question. The Colts are likely to have the first pick in the draft. It's time to deal with this topic.


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NFL Week 2 Tidbits: Jets, Steelers, Bills, 49ers and More

After a fortunate win last week against Dallas, the Jets yesterday did what championship contenders are supposed to do; soundly beat a bad team at home. They never let the prospect of winning enter into the Jaguars mind by marching 65 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening drive.


The Jets did well by themselves winning the first two games of the season because they embark on a tough three game road trip next week that includes games in Oakland, Baltimore and New England. The season is still very young but two losses on this trip will make it very difficult for Gang Green to win the AFC East crown over what looks to be a vintage Patriots team. No division title means zero chance at a first round bye and the likelihood of once again trying to win three games on the road to get to the Super Bowl.


So let me get this straight; last week the Jaguars beat the Titans and the Ravens dominated the Steelers at home. Then yesterday the Jaguars got run over by the Jets but the Titans comfortably won against the Ravens. It goes to show you to never read too much into Week One and also that the term “any given Sunday” makes a whole lot of sense.


Say what you want about Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the guy can flat out play the quarterback position. Sure he doesn’t have a great arm but he’s smart (he has a Harvard degree to prove it) and he knows how to lead a team. All you need as proof is the way he orchestrated the Bills game winning drive against the Raiders yesterday. He converted two huge fourth downs where a turnover on downs would have ended the game. Even more impressive was the fact that the second fourth down conversion, which ended up being the go ahead score with 14 seconds left, came with his best receiver, Steve Johnson, on the sideline due to a nagging groin injury. Buffalo is a threat to make the playoffs this year due to their underrated yet productive signal caller.


Speaking of the playoffs, the 49ers missed a chance to take control of the woefully weak NFC West by blowing a 10 point fourth quarter lead at home to the Cowboys. On the flip side, the Cowboys got a much-needed win after last week’s Sunday night debacle in New York. Despite the win, let’s not vindicate Tony Romo just because he made a few good passes against a bad San Francisco secondary. The fact that Romo falls apart at the worst possible times is still a major obstacle towards the Cowboys becoming a legitimate contender in the NFC.


It’s been no secret that the Chargers have been a poorly coached team for years under Norv Turner and yesterday was just another example. After the impressive, and equally hysterical, interception by Vince Wilfork gave New England possession at the San Diego 47 with nine seconds left in the first half, all the Chargers needed to do was keep the Patriots, who were out of timeouts, in bounds to run out the clock. Instead they somehow allowed the Pats to gain 18 yards on two completions and easily get out of bounds after each completion. This set up a 47-yard field goal attempt for Stephen Gostkowski, which he made to give the Patriots a 20-7 lead at halftime. A suburban dad coaching his son’s Pee Wee football team could have executed those nine seconds better the Clueless Norv.


Maybe the Chiefs should just pack it up and start preparing for 2012. It looks like Jamaal Charles will join Eric Berry on the season-ending injury list after suffering what is believed to be a torn left ACL yesterday against the Lions. That means that not only have the Chiefs been outscored 89-10 to start the season they have also lost their best offensive and best defensive player’s in back to back weeks. Along with the Colts and Seahawks, Kansas City is in the running for the title of worst team in the NFL. By the way, all three of those teams won their division last year. “Any given year” holds as much truth as “any given Sunday” in today’s NFL.




A Staff Writer for RotoExperts, Tamer Chamma is a two time top 50 Finalist in the WFAN Fantasy Phenom contest as well as a weekly guest on the SiriusXM "RotoExperts" morning show. Tamer is also a fill-in co-host for the show. You may contact Tamer @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RotoExperts_TC


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Minnesota Vikings Still Victims of Unrealistic Expectations

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that there was a delusional aspect to the expectations of the Vikings Offense, coming from the people who should know them best.

So, let's check in the stats of those mentioned by Paul Allen of KFAN (and Voice of  the Vikings).  (Reminder--AP 2500 yds rushing, Harvin 1200 yds receiving + 10 TD, Berrian 900 yards)

Adrian Peterson, who has had a nice start to the season, is falling far off his own stated goal (and one that Allen said was attainable)--Peterson needs to average 163 yards per game the rest of the season (a total he hasn't yet in a single game) to reach that perfectly reasonable, not at all batshit insane number of 2500 yards rushing.

Since Peterson is merely a great running back, and not The Single Best Football Running Entity of All-Time, the defenses are not quite giving the rest of the offense the room the KFAN Guru expected.

To wit: Percy Harvin had a nice day against Tampa Bay, catching 7 balls for 76 yards.  However, with an admittedly small sample size, Harvin is on course to maybe reach 800 yards.  That sounds a little low to me, to be honest.  But not as obscenely low as 1200 yards and 10 TD's sounded obscenely high.

As for Bernard Berrian's 900 yards?  His average of 17 yards every two games isn't going to get that done.  And that's not Berrian's fault.  Anyone expecting Bernard Berrian be as good as he was five years has been purposefully ignoring what Bernard Berrian has looked like for the past three years.  Berrian will be 31 before the end of this season, and even in his prime, he never amassed even 1000 yards in a season.  Expecting what would be his third best season of his career in his eighth year is ridiculous.

Goofy-high expectations lead to a fan base that can't understand why their team isn't better than it is.


 


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Monday Morning NFL Round-Up: Newton, Tebow, Brady and More

One week after throwing for 422 yards against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, Cam Newton out did himself by throwing for 432 yards against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2. In Week 1 Newton completed 24-37 passes with 2 TD’s, I INT and a quarterback rating of 110.4.

This week, however, Newton had a quarterback rating of just 72 as he completed 28-49 to his team and three passes to the other team. Much like last week Newton again ran for a TD in week two, and while Fantasy Football owners have been handsomely rewarded the first two weeks with a 29 point week followed up with a 26 point week, Carolina Panthers fans are left with the reality that Newton has led his team to an 0-2 start. Newton as athletic as they come and will certainly make plays at the position but until he plays the position more at the NFL level the “rookie mistakes” will routinely prevent Carolina from winning. Fantasy owners should enjoy a fantastic year from Newton, Panthers fans, not so much.

Pittsburgh (24) – Seattle (0). You didn’t think the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to lay an egg two weeks in a row did you? Conversely, was there anyone who thought the Seattle Seahawks had the slightest chance before the ball was kicked off? There is a lot of parody in the NFL and on any given Sunday anything can happen EXCEPT this Seattle team with this roster and this coaching staff beating just about anyone outside the NFC West.

With injuries to their wide receiver core, third string quarterback Tim Tebow played some wide receiver Sunday’s 24-22 Denver Broncos win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Tebow did not have any balls thrown his way but did his best to block. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team. If they ask me to go out there and run some routes and block some people, I’ll go do it.” While in some ways this helps “The Legend of Tim Tebow,” it also adds fuel to the fire of a fan base clamoring to see him play by teasing them, placing him out on the field in a position other than quarterback.

If you ever wondered what the Broncos really thought deep down inside about the prospects of Tebow becoming their franchise quarterback, you just found out. Pick any franchise quarterback you can think of. Other than a gimmick play where they spread him out as a wideout, did you ever see them line the guy up as a wide receiver running routes and blocking down field? Who are you going to come up with? These are things they do with the Brad Smith’s of the NFL? Is Tebow’s quarterback ceiling now being viewed as Kordell Stewart?

I’ve been saying for week that CJ2K is at risk of becoming CJ-1K as teams are simply going to focus on stopping him and making Matt Hasselbeck beat them. Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens was a prime example of how teams will approach the Tennessee Titans as Chris Johnson rushed 24 times for just 53-yards. Hasselbeck was up to the challenge however as he was an extremely efficient 30/42 for 358-yards with 1TD and pick. The key in this game though was Tennessee’s defense as the Titans sacked Joe Flacco three times and pummeled him repeatedly while forcing three turnovers, including two interceptions. If the Titans can routinely put pressure on opposing quarterbacks like they did yesterday, they will win significantly more games than anyone thought, regardless of CJ-1K’s performance.

Detroit Lions (48) – Kansas City Chiefs (3). Will this finally be the year that Detroit puts it together? If Matt Stafford can stay healthy it certainly looks that way. As if the Chiefs weren’t putrid enough, Jamal Charles (ouch fantasy owners) is now lost for the season. Christian Okoye, Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, Jamal Charles, next? The Chiefs play the San Diego Chargers in Week 3 and then the Minnesota Vikings Week 4 and Indianapolis Colts in Week 5. Minnesota and Indianapolis are two of the weakest teams in the NFL this year and it’s not a stretch to say that if Kansas City doesn’t beat one of them before their Week 6 bye that they will be at a real risk of not winning a game this season.

Random Musings

Tony Romo should get a pass for at least 24-hours you would think form the Romo haters as playing with a fractured rib he hit Jesse Holly on a 77-yard completion on the Dallas Cowboys’ first play of overtime that set up Dan Bailey’s winning 19-yard field goal. And how about the real life “Rudy story” of Jesse Holley. Read the great article on Holley by our own Jayson Braddock before the season started.

And the highest scoring offense after two weeks in the NFL is… Tom Brady and the New England Patriots? Nope. Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers? Nope. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints? Nope? The Buffalo Bills led by apparent All-Pro quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are averaging a league leading 39.5 points per game and. Who knew?

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The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.


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College Football Week 3 Recap: Realignment, Miami-Ohio State and More

So domino number two comes from the ACC. As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the conference as its 13th and 14th members with speculation ongoing as to who would bring the conference to 16 teams.


Rutgers and Connecticut have been mentioned, and Texas, too. Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seem poised to head west to the Pac-12, but Texas is reportedly in the mix, too. And Iowa State and Baylor have reportedly reached out to the Big East. Oh, Kansas was mentioned as a possible addition to the ACC, too. And they’ve been mentioned with Kansas State as a potential Big East addition.


And the SEC might be interested in Missouri, but the Big Ten might make more sense. And Notre Dame may have to join a conference after all, and head to the Big Ten. And Texas A&M is all set to join the SEC. And, and, and…


With conference realignment updates out of the way (I’m sure I’ll update this a few times before it’s posted), let’s look at what happened on the field.


Recapping the week in 500 words or less, this is what we learned about the season:



  • Is there any question that LSU’s defense is one of the top two or three in the country? In fact, it’s a safe bet that the top two defenses in the country reside within the same division.

  • Kellen Moore is one of the top two passers in the country. He proves it every week. And Boise State continues to prove every week that they belong in the national title discussion.

  • Iowa State has put together a fourth quarter comeback in all three of their games this season. They’ll get a week off before Texas comes to town with an opportunity to really make some waves.

  • Clemson showed us who they are against Auburn. Before all’s said and done, the Tigers will give the Seminoles a run for their money in the ACC Atlantic; they get their first chance to prove it next weekend.

  • Meanwhile, Auburn better get its problems on defense worked out soon with SEC play right around the corner. How much do they miss Nick Fairley up front?

  • Penn State has its problems, most notably at quarterback and the kicking game. A quarterback really needs to step up and take control of the job to give some stability to the offense.

  • Texas Tech may have only faced Texas State and New Mexico thus far, but their offense is off to a great start. They’re probably not going to win the Big 12, but keep an eye on how they fare against some of the better defenses on their schedule.

  • The Longhorns have plenty of talent to beat good teams. Granted they’re relatively inexperienced on offense, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage a win against one of the conference favorites.

  • I hate to think what would have happened if Notre Dame started the year 0-3. College football, and America, would have collapsed in on itself. Would Lou Holtz still pick them the rest of the season?

  • Where was the Michigan State rushing attack? Only once last year did they fail to reach 90 yards rushing and win (-3 yards rushing vs. Wisconsin). They rushed for 29 yards against the Irish on Saturday.

  • When you have athletes and good coaching, you’re usually a very good football team. FIU will crack the top 25 this year.

  • Is FSU not ready for a return to the big time? I’m not sure Saturday night showed they weren’t a top 10-caliber team, but they’re not ready to win any national titles. Would E.J. Manuel have made a difference down the stretch?

  • Lamar Miller. Wow. The defense was bend-but-don’t-break again, as the ‘Canes defense has allowed only 22 points so far this year. A big win for Al Golden and a Miami program facing plenty of negativity.

  • Stanford answered the adversity of a close first half and the loss of two key players with a big second half. A sign of a championship-caliber team.

With 233 total yards in the win over Tennessee, and a total of 563 all-purpose yards on the season, Florida do-everything playmaker Chris Rainey Proved He’s Worth the Hype Saturday afternoon. Rainey put up 108 yards rushing, 104 yards receiving and added 21 yards in the return game against the Vols. He even blocked a punt for good measure, which led to a Florida field goal.


The New Household Name recognition goes to Miami running back Lamar Miller, who was explosive in the win over Ohio State Saturday night. Miller rushed for 184 yards on 26 carries (7.1 yards per carry), including a 54-yarder the first time he touched the ball to set up a three-yard touchdown pass from Jacory Harris to Allen Hurns. Miller first burst onto the scene in the opener against Maryland on Labor Day, but really made his name amongst the nation’s top backs in the win against the Buckeyes.


Check out these games this week and weekend:


Thursday, September 22



  • NC State @ Cincinnati, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN

Friday, September 23



  • UCF @ BYU, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN

Saturday, September 24



  • San Diego State @ Michigan, 12:00 PM ET

  • North Carolina @ Georgia Tech, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN

  • Notre Dame @ Pittsburgh, 12:00 PM ET, ABC

  • Arkansas @ Alabama, 3:30 PM ET, CBS

  • Oklahoma State @ Texas A&M, 3:30 PM ET, ABC

  • Florida State @ Clemson, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN

  • Colorado @ Ohio State, 3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2

  • California @ Washington, 3:30 PM ET

  • Kansas State @ Miami, 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU

  • Florida @ Kentucky, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN

  • Missouri @ Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ET, FX

  • LSU @ West Virginia, 8:00 PM ET, ABC

  • Tulsa @ Boise State, 8:00 PM ET

  • Oregon @ Arizona, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN2

  • USC @ Arizona State, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN

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Danny Hobrock is our College Football Editor. Danny's writing on College Pigskin has garnered national attention and has been critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DannyHobrock


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