If you claim to be a college football fan and aren’t excited about some of the match ups this week, you may want to do yourself (and everyone around you) a favor and stick to watching Teen Mom, Real Housewives of [insert one of 493 cities], or Maury, and leave the football watching to the rest of us.
Starting Thursday with LSU at Mississippi State and going straight through to Stanford at Arizona, the weekend is packed with rivalries, conference openers, and games of BCS implications. Some players may emerge as legitimate Heisman frontrunners, but be sure to check out Danny Holbrock’s 2011 Dark Horseman, Conference Title and Championship Contenders for names to keep your eye on. Also, take a look at The XLogs.com’s Top Ten Teams for more thoughts on the best team in the country. Be safe and enjoy your football-filled weekend.
#21 Auburn Tigers at Clemson Tigers
September 17th 12:00 pm ET – Memorial Stadium, Clemson SC
Auburn has claimed victories in the last 14 games against Clemson dating back to 1951, but the last two have gone into overtime. Last year’s meeting between the two Tigers was dramatic to epic proportions as Clemson had a 17-0 point lead entering the second half, and Cam Newton came storming back to lead Auburn to three scores in the third quarter. Clemson, led by RB Andre Ellington, tied it 24-all with a 2-yard touchdown run to cap off a 77-yard drive that began in the last minute of the third and extended into the fourth quarter. Wes Byrum kicked a 39 yard field goal to end the game 27-24 in overtime to preserve Auburn’s win-streak.
The reining BCS National Champions’ run defense has been vulnerable in both games, allowing Utah State to run for 227 yards and five touchdowns and Mississippi State to gain 333 rushing yards with two scores. Auburn’s ground attack improved from the opener against the Aggies where they rushed for 78 total yards to 235 yards led by Michael Dyer with 150 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulldogs.
Clemson’s rushing defense has also appeared suspect last week after a solid week one performance against the Troy Trojans that only allowed 165 total yards and one touchdown on the ground. However, the Wofford Terriers of the FCS ran for 272 yards and 2 TDs.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will look to attack Auburn’s defense with Ellington, who has 254 yards in two games with an average of 6.4 yards per carry. Gene Chizik will attempt the same with Dyer, who has 207 yards and 4 TDs in his two games. Whoever can win the battle on the ground will claim victory, but I give the edge to the hosts who definitely have a score to settle.
Key Matchups: Michael Dyer vs. Clemson rush defense
Andre Ellington vs. Auburn rush defense
#15 Michigan State Spartans at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
September 17th 3:30 pm ET – Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend IN
Two weeks in a row, the Fighting Irish have beaten themselves. Poor decisions and turnovers in both contests are just two of the reasons for the 0-2 record. In the season opener, head coach Brian Kelly chose to start Dayne Crist over Tommy Rees. The decision would prove costly as Notre Dame was down to South Florida 16-0 at halftime. When the second half began over two hours later (weather delay) Rees was in as the signal caller. Rees, who went 4-0 as a starter in 2010, led a noble second half effort scoring 13 fourth quarter points, but the Irish could not recover an onside kick with 21 seconds left on the clock and fell to USF 23-20.
In the first primetime game at The Big House, Notre Dame was in better shape with Rees as the starter facing a rejuvenated Wolverine squad led by first year head coach Brady Hoke, but poor decisions and turnovers cost them again. Leading 24-7 as they headed into the fourth quarter, the Irish could not stop Michigan’s offense led by QB Denard Robinson who put up 28 points in the quarter, defeating Notre Dame 35-31. Notre Dame is a very talented team who should be much more disciplined under Kelly than they have shown thus far. Kelly, an intense coach, was caught on TV screaming expletives at some players during the USF game, and may be on the hot seat if his explosiveness can’t translate to a victory. I believe this is a do or die game for the Irish, and a win is the only option for the team – even this early in the season.
From the Michigan State side, they are coming off a 44-0 FAU shutout, the first since defeating the Owls 17-0 in 2008. On both sides of the ball, the Spartans looked far more focused than they did in the opener against Youngstown State but the defense looked especially sharp. Michigan State’s defense allowed the first Owl first down with three minutes left in the first half, and held them to 48 total yards of offense. They did not record and INT and sacked starting QB Graham Wilbert once, but that is largely due in part to lack of possession time by FAU who was only controlled 17:34 of the clock.
If Notre Dame continues to turn the ball over, the “do or die” could quickly turn to the latter.
Key Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Notre Dame
#23 Texas Longhorns at UCLA Bruins
September 17th 3:30 pm ET – Rose Bowl, Pasadena CA
The phrase “McCoy to Shipley” has a familiarity amongst college football fans, but we’re not talking about “Colt to Jordan” this year. Down 16-10 after three quarters last Saturday, Texas pulled off a fourth quarter comeback against a solid BYU squad led by Longhorn QB Case McCoy who threw two passes to Jaxon Shipley for key gains that led up to a 4 yard run by Cody Johnson to put Texas in the lead. Another subpar performance by starting QB Garrett Gilbert, who went 2-for-8 for eight yards with two interceptions, sparked a change at the position and according to head coach Mack Brown, McCoy will share time with David Ash, who completed 2 of his 3 passes for 35 yards and rushed for 36 last Saturday. The defense held BYU to 235 yards of total offense with 43 on the ground and 192 in the air and grabbed two interceptions.
The Bruins bounced back from a 38-34 road loss at Houston in the season opener to defeat San Jose State last week 27-17. Led by Derrick Coleman, who gained 135 rushing yards in the second half, UCLA had a total of 272 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against the Spartans. Last season, Texas was 3-0 and ranked third nationally when UCLA upset the Longhorns 34-12 at home. The loss triggered a downward spiral resulting in a 2-7 record to end the season for Texas. This year Texas has appeared shaky on both sides of the ball at times, and may be in for another Bruin upset, this time on the road.
Key Matchup: UCLA running backs vs. Texas rush defense
Virginia Cavaliers at North Carolina Tar Heels
September 17th 3:30 pm ET – Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill NC
The South’s Oldest Rivalry is the annual football game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the North Carolina Tar Heels that dates back to 1892 and has been played continuously since 1919. In 115 meetings, the Tar Heels edge out the Cavaliers 57-54-4, and won last year’s contest 44-10 in Charlottesville. Neither school is favorites to win the ACC, but the matchup’s history alone makes this game worth watching.
This week the two bitter rivals will meet in Chapel Hill, with North Carolina being favored by 10 points after a 24-22 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights last week. QB Bryn Renner wasn’t as sharp as he was in the season opener against James Madison, when he set the ACC record for completion percentage in his first career start by completing 22 of 23 passes for 277 yards, two touchdowns, while rushing for another in the 42-10 win. Against Rutgers, Renner got off to a quick start throwing a 66 yards touchdown pass to Dwight Jones on the first possession, and finished 20-for-26 with 273 yards and a touchdown, but three of his incompletions resulted in interceptions. The ‘Heels defense lost key members to the 2011 NFL draft, but the talent and depth are still prevalent in the rushing defensive, holding Rutgers to 1 yard of rushing despite the lack of turnovers and big plays. North Carolina struggled containing the Scarlet Knight’s air attack, allowing 243 yards and two scores by QB Chas Dodd, and was unable to get a pick.
Virginia also enters the contest 2-0 after holding off a 20 point rally by the Indiana Hoosiers last week in Bloomington, giving second year head coach Mike London his first road victory. QB Michael Rocco threw for 191 yards completing 15 of 29 passes and two interceptions. All of the Cavalier touchdowns were scored on the ground, with Kevin Parks recording two and Perry Jones scoring one while leading the team with 85 rushing yards. Virginia’s defense allowed 21 Hooiser first downs, and 319 yards of total offense.
Players to Watch: The Trio of Tar Heel Linebackers – Kevin Reddick, Zack Brown, and Ebel Okakpu
#1 Oklahoma Sooners at #5 Florida State Seminoles
September 17th 8:00 pm ET – Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee FL
The marquee match-up must see game of the week had BCS National Championship implications. This is the first meeting we will be able to gauge how good each team really is. The two schools met last year in Jimbo Fisher’s second game as the Florida State head coach, when the Seminoles were ranked 17th and were crushed 47-17 by the then 10th ranked Sooners. In 2010, QB Landry Jones went 30-for-40 for 380 yards with four touchdowns as Oklahoma amassed 487 yards of total offense, a season high for a Seminoles opponent.
Oklahoma had last week off to prepare for the trip to Tallahassee after routing Tulsa in week one 47-17, gaining 663 yards of total offense. Jones completed 35 of his 47 passes for 375 yards and a touchdown and Dominique Whaley led the ground attack with 131 yards and four touchdowns, and gained 34 first downs. The Sooner defense allowed Tulsa to put up 400 yards of total offense, but only 129 on the ground on 31 attempts by four ball carriers, including Golden Hurricane QB GJ Kinnie who had 46 rushing yards.
Florida State is coming off two lop-sided victories; the first a 34-0 shutout of UL-Monroe and last week a 62-10 blowout against Charleston Southern. The Seminoles held UL-Monroe to less than 200 total yards, 99 yards rushing and 92 passing while forcing three fumbles and sacking QBs Kolton Browning and Cody Wells two times each. Against Charleston Southern, Florida State’s defense was even more dominating, holding the Buccaneers to 84 total yards (21 yards rushing) and three first downs.
Both teams are lethal enough on either side of the ball to take control of the scoreboard, but I think Jones is too much for even a defense as stingy as Florida State.
Key Matchup: Landry Jones vs. Florida State defense
#6 Stanford Cardinal at Arizona Wildcats
September 17th 10:45 pm ET – Arizona Stadium, Tucson AZ
This game is late for the East-coasters, but if you can make it through all four quarters, you should be in for quite a contest from the Cardinal offense. Stanford has the one of the best quarterbacks in the country and a consensus pre-season overall number one draft pick in the 2012 draft in Andrew Luck, and has shown it can compliment Luck with a running game. Last week against Duke, Luck matched a career-high with four touchdowns and completed 20 of 28 passes for 290 yards for a 44-14 rout of the Blue Devils, denying them their first win against a ranked opponent since 1994. Stanford gained 205 total rushing yards with five players hitting double-digit yardage, and allowed 30 total yards on the ground from Duke. The Cardinal passing defense showed some weakness, allowing four separate passers to throw for 28 of 39 for 305 yards combined.
Arizona fell 37-14 to a very good Oklahoma State team ranked ninth in the country last week, but did show positives despite the loss. Wildcats QB Nick Foles completed 37 of 51 attempts for 398 yards and a touchdown, bringing his total yards to 810 in the two games played so far. The offensive line did not allow a sack against a solid Cowboys defense, who only allowed Arizona 41 yards on the ground. Despite allowing only 259 yards of total offense in the opener to the North Arizona Lumberjacks of the Big Sky Conference, Arizona’s defense was pounded by Oklahoma State who racked up 594 yards of total offense.
Andrew Luck has an excellent chance of breaking his four touchdown record against an Arizona defense that will have a difficult time containing him.
Player to watch: Andrew Luck
Other games worth watching:
- #3 LSU at #24 Mississippi State – September 15, 8:00 pm ET
- #4 Boise State at Toledo – September 16, 8:00 pm ET
- Pittsburgh at Iowa – September 17, 12:00 pm ET
- West Virginia at Maryland – September 17, 12:00 pm ET
- Kansas at Georgia Tech – September 17, 12:30 pm ET
- #7 Wisconsin vs. Northern Illinois (at Soldier Field, Chicago) – September 17, 3:30 pm ET
- Washington at #11 Nebraska – September 17, 3:30 pm ET
- Navy at #10 South Carolina – September 17, 6:00 pm ET
- UCF at FIU – September 17, 6:00 pm ET
- Louisville at Kentucky – September 17, 7:00 pm ET
- #22 Arizona State at Illinois – September 17, 7:00 pm ET
- #17 Ohio State at Miami (FL) – September 17, 7:30 pm ET
- Syracuse at USC – September 17, 8:00 pm ET
Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc
Even to the most optimistic of people, it doesn’t look likely that the 2011-12 NBA season is going to get underway on time. Things looked pretty gloomy after talks were held between the league and players association on Sept. 13 and there wasn’t any progress made during them. Training camps are scheduled to start in three weeks time, but it’s going to take a miracle for that to happen.
The way the salary cap is structured is still the biggest stumbling block and the players and owners don’t have any other meetings scheduled in the near future. NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted that the talks were unproductive and opening night on Nov. 1 seems to be nothing but a dream at this moment.
Stern said the players union won’t discuss anything else until the salary cap issue is solved first and it’s becoming frustrating. He felt it was better for the two sides to meet among themselves after the meeting than to try and work out a deal again just a day or two later.
Franchise owners said they lost a total of $300 million this past season and hundreds of millions in previous years and they’re looking for the NBA’s financial system to be overhauled because of it. The present salary cap system enables clubs to go over the limit as long as they pay what is known as a luxury tax. This means the rich clubs, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, can pay more for their players and have a decided edge over clubs that aren’t as well of financially.
This is known as a soft salary cap and the league is pushing for a hard cap. The players don’t agree, but all of the owners say it’s needed if all 30 of the league’s teams are to be competitive and they feel it should also be the goal of the players.
While the recent meetings were pretty cordial, the players who were present looked dejected as they realized they may now have to find jobs elsewhere this season. It became apparent to them that a deal is going to be reached later rather than sooner.
Along with the salary cap issue, there are still some other things that need to be ironed out, including the splitting of revenues. Under the old collective bargaining agreement the player’s share was 57 per cent and they offered to lower it to 54.3 per cent, but the owners locked them out on July 1 instead as they were thinking of a percentage in the high 40s. The players association say if they are given 65 per cent of the revenues then they’ll settle on the hard salary cap issue.
It looks like there’s too large of a gap right now and unless somebody has a change of heart, literally overnight, don’t count on watching any NBA basketball games anytime soon, unless you happen to catch a classic on TV.
You knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of time.
On Tuesday Milwaukee Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez expressed displeasure that he was not getting any closing opportunities to CBS Sportsline‘s Scott Miller. Although this is something he’s hinted at before, he hadn’t really said anything print worthy. On Wednesday Rodriguez reiterated his displeasure to the team’s regular beat reporters.
“There’s been plenty of save opportunities,” Rodriguez said. “And I’ve only pitched once in the ninth inning, and it was not even a save opportunity. I’m not happy. It’s simple. That’s the bottom line. They told me one thing, they haven’t done it, and that’s pretty much what I said. I stand by what I said.”
Let’s take a look back to what I wrote on July 13 when K-Rod was traded.
The bottom line is that the Mets wanted out of K-Rod’s contract, particularly the $17.5 million vesting option for 2012 that kicks in at 55 games finished. He was at 34, on pace for 61. Interestingly, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel beat writer, Tom Haudricourt, believes there’s no way Milwaukee can let the contract vest at $17.5 million either and the Brewers may use K-Rod more to set up and use John Axford more as the closer to ensure K-Rod doesn’t hit the vesting trigger.
Personally I think an arrangement like that will spell disaster as they would be going out of the way to take money out of K-Rod’s pocket. Undoubtedly he will pout (if not rant and file a grievance) and he will not pitch effectively in the eighth inning.
MEMO TO FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: The guy they have closing (John Axford) is 19 for 19 for saves and your team has the best record in all of baseball since you arrived! What the hell are you complaining about! You are going to close for someone else next year anyway because the Brewers are not picking up your $17.4 million option. No one cares if you get outs 22, 23 and 24 or outs 25, 26, and 27. Just get the outs and win the games!
In terms of K-Rod not pitching effectively in the 8th inning, I was wrong (at least to date.) Rodriguez has pitched well for Milwaukee, with a 2.31 ERA in 25 appearances. Let’s hope for Milwaukee’s sake however that this doesn’t turn into a bigger problem and K-Rod doesn’t undermine things down the stretch or in the playoffs. Milwaukee has a legitimate shot to win the 2011 World Series as they match up very well against the Phillies and as we know, in a short series anything can happen. The Brewers will need a focused and effective K-Rod shutting down teams in the 8th innings of playoff games if they are going to do any damage this year, and right now that’s a topic of concern.
K-Rod’s comments come at an inopportune time for the Brewers. Milwaukee has cooled off since building a 10½-game lead in the division, losing six of the last eight games while the St. Louis Cardinals have won seven of the last eight. The Brewers entered Wednesday with a 6 1/2-game lead in the National League Central and a magic number of eight to clinch the division. Wednesday Milwaukee’s lead in the NL Central dropped to 5½ games over St. Louis, which beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2. The Brewers have Thursday off before a six-game road trip against division rivals Cincinnati and Chicago.
The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays both lost Wednesday, so Boston’s four game AL Wild Card lead remains. The Rays and Sox meet in an all important four-game series at Fenway Park starting Thursday.
The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels and both won on Wednesday leaving the Rangers three game margin intact. These two teams play each other the last three games of the season for what looks like all the marbles.
* While not the most likely scenario, it’s not mathematically out of the question that the Angels can lose the AL West but still sneak in the back door for the AL Wild Card as Wednesday results place them only 4.5 games back of Boston.
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.
By Nick Tylwalk
We knew this day was likely to arrive at some point, but last Saturday may have been when it finally arrived.
I'm talking about the day when Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko ran out of legitimate challengers to their heavyweight titles. That's assuming they won't fight each other, and even if the story about them promising their mother they wouldn't is apocryphal, I'm not holding my breath.
Oh, sure, there are still guys out there. Teddy Atlas still has hopes of getting Alexander Povetkin ready to take on one of the brothers. Vitali apparently wants to fight David Haye, but there's little reason to think that would be any more interesting than when Wladimir beat Haye earlier this year.
Maybe it's time to just stop sending smaller men to battle the Klitschkos. Because as the old saying goes, size does matter. Wladimir and Vitali are both smart, well-trained boxers, but it's the marriage of those smarts and skills to their huge frames that has proven such a difficult nut to crack.
There are undefeated heavyweights like Robert Helenius and Tyson Fury that could look either Klitschko in the eye (or even look down on one, in Fury's case). That seems like cheating though - simply looking for someone bigger. To me, the fun exercise is trying to figure out what it would take for a smaller heavyweight to take down one of the brothers.
If I could combine the DNA of numerous men (like Serpentor!) to create the ultimate smaller challenger for the Klitschkos, here's what I'd be throwing into the mix:
* Crazy defensive skills
Good defense isn't enough against the Brothers Klitschko. You need something really special to be able to avoid those piston-like right hands.
Think Floyd Mayweather-caliber defensive skills don't exist at the heavyweight level? Well you're right, but it's possible to get close. I was in attendance at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City back in 2002 when Chris Byrd defeated Evander Holyfield. There were times during that fight that Byrd simply left Holyfield flailing at air after dancing out of the way.
Without evasiveness like that, the Klitschkos will simply wear you down over time. Thus, our mythical challenger is going to be an escape artist par excellence.
* A good jab
Both of the brothers have excellent jabs and are wise enough to put them to good use. You don't have to look any further than that to understand why the likes of Haye and Adamek were unable to get inside and do any damage.
Yet it's possible to fight fire with fire when it comes to the jab, and it's probably essential to do just that to have a chance against the Klitschkos. Even though the brothers will still have a reach advantage on our little Frankenstein's monster, he'll still be willing and able to commit to his own jab.
He needs to give Wlad or Vitali something to think about and give yourself a shot at closing the distance without just wading in. Get that jab pumping.
* Some kind of reliable inside weapon
Assuming that his defense and jab can get our boy inside without having his head handed to him, he's going to need a way to do some damage once he gets there. He needs a money punch. something he knows will hurt the guy it hits.
It doesn't matter exactly what kind of punch fulfills this requirement, but in the spirit of playfulness, I'll prescribe something different for each brother. For Wladimir and his once-and-possibly-still shaky chin, a devastating uppercut a la Mike Tyson (the video game version of Tyson would be even better). And for Vitali, I'm looking at a left hook to the body, Micky Ward style.
Thanks to his close range weapons, our smaller challenger is armed and ready to pull off the upset.
* A sturdy chin
Even with the attributes listed above, it's time to face an unpleasant fact: Our guy is going to get hit, and he's going to get hit hard.
Hey, the Klitschkos didn't attain their stranglehold on the division by being slappers. Both men have knocked out a high percentage of their opponents, and even though the stoppages generally come from cumulative damage instead of single-shot bombs, does that really matter when you're being punched by someone the size of Wladimir or Vitali?
When all else fails - and it surely will, at some point in the fight - my imaginary warrior will be able to take some flush shots without fading. Maybe it will even give him a psychological edge when the lucky Klitschko sees he's not going anywhere.
So basically I'm looking for a combination of Byrd, Tyson, Ward, Arturo Gatti and Sonny Liston, all wrapped in a package that is less than 6-foot-6 and between 200 and 240 pounds. I'm fairly certain that man doesn't exist, but we can always dream, right?
Get more great boxing news, recaps adn analysis over at Boxing Watchers.
Third Saturday in September, otherwise known as the Florida-Tennessee game, isn’t as historical as some of the other matchups this week, but its intensity is one of the fiercest in college football. This year, the dynamic is different than it has been since the rivalry started in 1992 when the Southeastern Conference expanded to twelve universities and split into two divisions putting both schools in the Eastern division.
First-year Gators head coach Will Muschamp has been friends with Volunteers skipper Derek Dooley since they were assistants under Nick Saban at LSU. Both coaches followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins; Muschamp returned to the SEC in 2006 when he became the defensive coordinator at Auburn, and Dooley headed back to college ball in 2007 as head coach of Louisiana Tech. The University of Georgia also boasts ties to both as Muschamp played football for the Bulldogs and Derek’s father, Vince Dooley, was a longtime head coach and Athletic Director afterwards.
Muschamp has been careful to avoid controversy with fellow SEC coaches since taking the position at Florida, and that mentality continues as the Gators prepare for their game against Tennessee this Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. Gone are the days when Urban Meyer thrived on the rivalry games; using inspirational posters and videos, even playing Rocky Top during Tennessee week. Muschamp doesn’t use that kind of motivation and instead instills in his players that every week they are up against just a faceless, nameless opponent.
As for Dooley, he acknowledges the friendship between him and Muschamp, and added during his press conference Monday, “We are good friends and professional competitors. He is going to want to whip me pretty good and I’m going to want to whip him pretty good – that’s how it goes.”
Both teams enter SEC play undefeated at 2-0, with Florida being ranked at 16 by the AP. The Gators are tied for first in the nation in scoring defense (1.5/gm) and sixth in total defense (174.5/gm), while the Vols have 970 total yards of offense and rank ninth in the country in passing yards per game (358.0/gm).
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray leads the SEC with a 204.2 passer rating and has racked up 698 passing yards, 7 TDs without an interception. His top targets, Jason Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers have combined for 502 receiving yards and rank one and two in the SEC in receptions, respectfully.
Last week, Tennessee defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 45-23 with Bray completing 34-of-41 passes for 405 yards and 4 TDs. Florida faced University of Alabama-Birmingham in week two and came out with a 39-0 victory, their first shutout since defeating Western Carolina 62-0 in 2006. The Gators held Florida Atlantic to three points in the season opener; the last time the Gators gave up three or fewer points over the first two games of a season was in 1933.
Florida will have DE Sharrif Floyd playing for the first time this season after an NCAA Investigation determined he had received impermissible benefits to finance unofficial college visits during his recruitment. Floyd will help a pass rush that failed to record a sack last week against a Tennessee offensive line that did not allow a sack.
The Volunteers are uncertain as to the sturdiness of their most experienced lineman, LT Dallas Thomas, who suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter of last week’s contest. He is expected to play against Florida, but if he is sidelined, LG Alex Bullard will move over to tackle and freshman Marcus Jackson will replace him at the guard position.
Florida has won the last six meetings, and leads the all time series at 21-19. The coaches may want to keep the team focused and the rivalry more civilized than previous coaches have in the past, but the already intimidating crowd at The Swamp will be sure to remind the Volunteers they are not a faceless, nameless opponent.
Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc
Just a few days before the decision of the 2018 World Cup host was made, the BBC released a Panorama documentary detailing the pitfalls of bidding for a competition that is run by a potentially corrupt organisation.
Criticised at the time for being ill-timed and potentially bid-threatening, the documentary raised some points that in one way or another have been revealed as the truthful. Jack Warner has finally been implemented and removed from the organisation, which can be considered a win, but catching Warner was like catching a child with his hand in the cookie jar, it was always going to happen.
As football becomes more front page news than back page, newspapers and television will sell anything related to football scandal. Whether it be affairs, corruption, greed or disturbance of the public order, everyone loves to hate a footballer. It is this desire to draw in viewers that has led to documentaries shining a light on the game, appearing to suggest everything, yet actually saying nothing of the misdemeanours in the game.
Whilst the Panorama documentary should certainly have been saved until after the World Cup it didn’t cost England the bid. What it did do was give Fifa an excuse not to award it. The accusations made were largely repeats from a previous documentary at the end of the last century and the show was mostly comprised of footage of Jeremy Vine looking through ‘documents’ he had been handed with almost everything blanked out for the camera, broken up by the presenter standing outside car park gates shouting questions towards the FIFA delegates, with any contacted directly choosing ‘not to comment’.
It is this format that has been continued into the Dispatches documentaries, which seem intent on casting a shadow over the beautiful game. A game, which any hardcore fan can see, is heading down the wrong path and begs the question, what can you say that’s new?
Apparently, nothing. On the surface, the first big reveal by Channel 4 entitled ‘How to buy a football club’ seemed as though it was opening a door to a seedy world of business negotiations at the top level, whilst enlightening the world of the fall in ethics of the once great England international Bryan Robson. I myself sat with my mouth open watching ‘Robbo’ negotiate his way into a top position of a club whilst wondering, as he is United’s ‘Global Ambassador’, whether our good name would be dragged down too.
It wasn’t long before I realised, however, that this program showcased a typical example that you can make anything sound bad if you add a sinister tone to it. Whilst what was was going on was quite seedy, and not everything done 100% by the book, all Dispatches revealed was that to buy a football club you need good contacts who are willing to negotiate for you, people who understand the rules and how to bend them for potential gain and that businessmen like to let you know they are important. I’m confused as to how Channel 4 thinks any other large business is acquired. If I gave a running commentary on someone stroking a kitten with an inquisitive and threatening tone in my voice it may sound like the person is mistreating the animal, this is the tone in which Dispatches have chosen to sensationalise their documentaries.
This Monday’s programme, ‘The truth about drugs in football’, had all the makings of a scandal that the papers would imaginatively label ‘Dopegate’ or something similar. As the advert played throughout the week on Channel 4, speculation arose as to what would be revealed, with the Sun reporting that a top Premier League player who tested positive for illegal drug use would be announced to the public for the first time. Twitter suggested it may be Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, already subject to speculation about his private life on Merseyside. I had my fears that it would be Rooney or Rio after claims the player in question had sealed a big money move to another Premier League club without them knowing of his misgivings.
In reality it could have been any one of the England or Manchester United team, as it normally isn’t considered news unless one of them is involved. As I sat watching and waiting, Antony Barnett reeled off a list of Football League players found guilty of drug offences, most of which had been identified already. He insinuated that an England striker ‘may’ have been taking steroids, but the case had been dismissed. Also, a football league player was taking pills that were subsequently banned, to which the club he played for stopped providing the pills, therefore not breaking the rules. Finally, that there was one Premier League footballer that was addicted to steroids, once. Yet no big name, unless you count Gary O’Connor, who is not a big name and is not a reveal, he even has a song dedicated to his extra curricular activities.
The only thing the documentary did reveal is that 240 odd players had missed drugs test in the past few year and only received fines to be paid by the club. This will irk any United or Rio Ferdinand fan, including the player himself, but is unlikely to trouble any of the rest of the league.
Channel 4 should be highly embarrassed at this standard of programming. Not only was the presenting needlessly biased, it was also inaccurate and overly sceptical of jovial issues. The lowest point of the program? The interview with Leon Knight. Twitter arse and serial waste of good talent, he has not played for a team in 4 years but was very vocal about the current state of drugs in football compared to when he started out. However, he then referred to his time with Chelsea suggesting that drugs were bad then too, completely contradicting himself within the space of 20 minutes.
I have no doubt in my mind that there are people evading the system, just as they have done in cycling, athletics and various other sports. A proper journalist would actually find them, and not re-administer old news with the promise of a great headline. There are bigger issues in football. Fans being priced out of games, players who have become completely removed from reality and from fans. Can we please see a documentary about how £40 a game ticket prices have all but killed the loyal support of the working class?
If it isn’t scandal or gossip then it won’t get ratings, and after the hype that surrounded a baseless documentary it’s clear that Channel 4 aren’t interested unless it puts figures on the viewing card.
Tim Tebow has quickly become one of the most polarizing figures in the world of professional sports. Tebow has been thrust front and center as the focus of one of the more strange cases in the world of professional sports; certainly in the NFL.
Here we have a young man that appeared in a Super Bowl commercial before he even played a snap in the NFL. In fact at the time the commercial aired, Tim Tebow wasn’t even drafted yet. The sale of Tim Tebow jerseys around the league (not just in Denver) are as popular as they come, and in general, the fans and media all seem to be in love with the wonder boy.
Tebow is currently the third string NFL quarterback on the depth chart behind both Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. While third string quarterbacks aren’t usually the focus of anything other than running the scout team’s offense during practice, that was not the case in Week 1 of the NFL season. As noticeable and memorable as anything else that happened Sunday night’s Denver Broncos’ 23-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders, fans and TV viewers around the nation were all left with the overwhelming lasting impression of chants for Tim Tebow to replace Kyle Orton.
This week we find out from the Denver Post that that a group of eight Broncos fans have decided to pool their money and rent two billboards to implore Denver coach John Fox to start Tebow over the incumbent Orton.
“We believe in Coach Fox, we’re just tired of Kyle Orton,” Jesse Oaks told the newspaper. “We were sitting around after Fox said he didn’t hear the chants for Tebow, and we figured if he’s deaf, we hope he’s not blind.”
What’s going to happen in Denver if Orton plays well and doesn’t get replaced? What happens if Orton does get replaced but it’s by the next guy on the depth chart, Brady Quinn? Certainly both the fans and media are going to go bonkers and turn the event into a national circus if that happens. At the moment there doesn’t appear to be anyone in America other that Fox or Quinn’s parents who want him to play. And what will happen in the Broncos’ locker room if Fox passes Quinn over for Tebow? What kind of message would it send to the team if a player who won a head-to-head battle based on merit during training camp gets passed over when the opportunity for playing time presents itself? That can’t be a good thing.
This situation is headed for disaster one way or another if Denver doesn’t do something about it quickly. The longer the situation remains this way, the bigger the problem will get. If the Broncos have no intention of starting him, he needs to be traded because this is something that will undermine the team. If they do have intentions of starting him, they need to do that.
No matter how this works out one thing is clear; Brady Quinn was left standing at the altar on draft day, and it’s going to happen again.
- Listen to Dr. Roto on ESPN’s @ RotoExperts Fantasy Football GameDay Sunday mornings from 10am to 12 noon ET.
Ray Lewis entered the league in 1996, and 15 years later at age 36 he's still producing.
Last Sunday, all Lewis did was notch 7 tackles (for a 1.3 TF) , a forced fumble, an interception, and two passes defended, all good for 8.5 points of +EPA. That's all.
As a Baltimore guy, I fear the day the day when Ray hangs up his cleats. So I plotted his performance by year (since 2000 for regular season games) in terms of +WPA per game, +EPA per game, and Success Count (SC) per game, expecting to find some sort of noticeable decline.
And that's exactly not what I found.
The graph is plotted on 2 different axes. The red line is +EPA/G and the green line is SC/G, both of which are plotted with the primary (left) vertical axis. The blue line is +WPA/G and is plotted on the secondary (right) axis.
If the graph ended at 2005, you'd think that Lewis was in the twilight of his career, but he's been making plays at a very high level since. He peaked somewhere between '01 and '03, but there's been no lasting decline to speak of.
Additionally, aside from Lewis' consistency, the fact that +EPA/G and SC/G appear to move in lockstep suggests each 'success' play may be roughly equivalent to about 0.7 net points.
When the owners decided to lock out the players on July 1 after the two sides failed to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA imposed a set of rules on its teams and owners. Chief among them: don’t talk about the lockout, and don’t ever mention any players by name.
Seeing as owning an NBA team is a huge responsibility and that most of the NBA’s 29 ownership groups take that responsibility quite seriously (remember, the NBA owns the Hornets), I would imagine it’s quite difficult to avoid talking about those things for several months.
Yet the NBA sent out a memo to its owners in July stating that any talk of the lockout or the league’s players could result in a fine of up to $1 million. For a month-and-a-half, the league’s owners kept pretty mum on the issues at hand, but news broke this week that Michael Jordan was “caught” discussing the NBA’s need for revenue sharing, even mentioning Bucks’ center Andrew Bogut as an example. Here are a couple excerpts from Jordan’s heinous crime (via ESPN):
"We have stars like Bogut who are entitled to certain type of demands. But for us to be profitable in small markets, we have to be able to win ballgames and build a better basketball team."
"I love Bogut's game. He's made a very good start and he's definitely gonna be a star. His big problem is that he's been dealing with that elbow injury. But he is a star to be reckoned with (and) will be a star for some time."
“We have 22 or 23 teams losing money, (so) I think we have gotta come to some kind of understanding in this partnership that we have to realign."
Truly disturbing. And Jordan’s penalty for letting those words slip? $100,000, according to ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Broussard. If you think that’s silly, also consider the extenuating circumstances:
-Jordan made the comments to The Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper, back on August 19. The story’s been on the internet for almost a month now, but I’m betting that, outside of Australia, almost no one read Jordan’s words until news of his fine broke. (Here’s the full article if you want to check it out.)
-Everything Jordan said was already known by any casual NBA fan. Of course Jordan is going to be in favor of revenue sharing—he’s in a small market that has already lost one NBA franchise. And, compared to most NBA owners, Jordan isn’t actually that rich. Guys like Bogut deserve to get paid? Duh. Jordan’s not exactly opening Pandora’s box by making a few basic lockout comments to some Australian tabloid.
-Most of Jordan’s comments focused on revenue sharing or Bogut, not the lockout itself. In fact, there is no guarantee that revenue sharing will even be part of a new CBA, as that is an issue between owners and other owners, not owners and players. To fine Jordan 100 grand for a couple offhand comments about the lockout is lunacy. It’s the same sort of thing that got Dawson and Downey in trouble in A Few Good Men—by fining Jordan, the NBA is showing that it’s just following orders on how to handle the lockout rather than considering the reasons behind their actions.
-Jordan is the NBA’s greatest-ever player. He’s a man that helped usher David Stern’s NBA to new heights in the 1990s, and a man whose shadow has hung over the league ever since he retired in 2003. And now Stern is fining him (a guy who is supposedly on his side) for saying that Andrew Bogut is a good player. To me, this sends a poor message to the public and the players’ union. If I’m a player I’m thinking: If that’s how he treats MJ, then how is he going to treat me?
What’s the point of this public silence? Is it simply a case of see no evil, hear no evil? Do the NBA owners truly think that by refusing to comment on the lockout publicly that it will be any less of a deal when the season doesn’t get started on November 1? No, the answer is simpler than all that—it’s just another dumb move in a lockout full of them.
Johnny Damon’s second-inning steal in Tuesday’s game vs. the Orioles placed him in some rarified air.
With his swiped of second base Damon became only the ninth player in Major League history to accumulate 200 homers and 400 stolen bases. The others are Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Joe Morgan, Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Rickey Henderson, Marquis Grissom and Paul Molitor.
The steal also made Damon only the second player with 100 triples, 200 homers and 400 steals. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor is the only other player with that distinction.
Given his accomplishments and the company he’s associated with, the question begs to be asked, “Is Johnny Damon a Hall of Famer?”
Here’s Damon’s career stats. Let me know what you think.
Tough loss for the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday letting a late lead slip away. With the 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles the Rays fell to 82-65, now four games behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL Wild Card spot. Meanwhile, the Red Sox pounded the Toronto Blue Jays 18-6. Tampa is now 10-2 in their last 12 games and they have 15 games remaining on their schedule. The Rays and Sox meet in a four-game series at Fenway Park starting Thursday.
In the AL West race, the Los Angels Angels remain three games behind the Texas Rangers and they play each other the last three games of the season. Pennant race baseball, the way it should be.[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.