While trying to get my Xmas shopping done early...
Don't forget to check me out on Twitter - @TheOneTrueJay
College hoops season got underway in a big way on Friday night. I'm following five teams this season (4 women's teams and 1 men's team) and they all tipped off on Friday.
Before I inundate you with a variety of stuff recapping those results, I wanted to share a few of other bits of news.
Lauren Hill, the Mount Saint Joseph's player I've been writing about for a few weeks now, has helped raise $176,000 dollars for The Cure Starts Now cancer foundation.
After the tragic deaths of a beloved assistant coach and the team's director of basketball operations, the Richmond women's basketball team had to find a way to move forward. This story link details the process as they prepared for their season debut on Friday, where they beat Providence College 75-59.
Former Purdue men's coach Gene Keady was famous for his really bad comb-over hair piece. Here's the article on why that decision could've killed him.
The USA Today had a good article this week on Tyler Summitt as he prepared for his first season as head coach of the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. You can check it out HERE . By the way, his team won their opening game 76-69 defeating Stephen F. Austin University. Summitt was happy about the win while displeased by his team's 22 turnovers in the game.
Now for the game action news...
Boston College Men - Before I tell you the results of the team's first game, you can get to know more about the team with the following interview links: Coach Jim Christian (pictured below 1st), forward Eddie Odio, guard Dimitri Batten and forward Garland Owens (pictured below 2nd).
The Eagles opened up at home in Conte Forum against New Hampshire and came away with a 58-50 victory. Aaron Brown (pictured below 1st) led the team with 21 points and Olivier Hanlan (pictured 2nd) finished with 17 points. BC led by 10 points at halftime and while UNH outscored them by 2 points in the second half, it wasn't enough to stop the Eagles from gaining their first win of the season. (photos from the BC Facebook gallery)
You can see video highlights of the game below.
Hartford Hawks - The women's team went on the road to open their season and despite trailing by as many as 7 points in each half, came back to defeat Cornell 48-46. Deanna Mayza (pictured below) led the team with 15 points and tied her career high of 7 assists. She was the only player to hit double figures for the Hawks. But that didn't spare her from the general unhappiness Coach Jennifer Rizzotti had with her team's lack of execution in the game.
"It's probably not a good sign when we win and I'm not happy," said head coach Jen Rizzotti. "I thought we played hard but we were unfocused and really struggled to execute over the course of the game. I think Deanna [Mayza] made some big plays for us, but I feel like some of her mistakes could have cost us the game. That's why we keep pushing her to improve. Overall, this game gives us a lot to look at and work on, that's why it's good to play these games early."
The Hawks missed 10 of their 17 free throw attempts and shot just 34% from the floor for the game. The offensive execution is going to determine just how far the team goes in the America East Conference this season so they are going to have to improve in that area and do it quickly. The team did hold a 47-38 edge in rebounds for the game.
Missouri State - The second season under coach Kellie Harper got off to a rough start with the Lady Bears giving up a 16-1 run late in the game as Memphis pulled away to win 79-63. The loss dampened the enthusiasm about the return of Kenzie Williams (pictured below) to the lineup. She was lost for a majority of last season with a knee injury. She had 21 points to lead the team along with 7 rebounds, 4 steals (2 turnovers) and 4 assists. Freshman Liza Fruendt scored 18 points in her first college game action. Missing from the box score was Tyonna Snow. There was no explanation given that I could find, but Snow is a major contributor to the team and her presence might've changed the face of the game.
Tennessee LADY VOLS - You might wonder why I chose to capitalize "Lady Vols". It seems the name came under attack again this week by their own school and their less than popular AD Dave Hart. It was announced this week that with the exception of the women's basketball team, the term "Lady Vols" is being tossed in the trash so that they can extend the brand of their "Power T" logo to the women's teams and have a uniform marketing look.
Dave Hart, who has systematically gone about dismantling the power of the women's programs at Tennessee since he got there, is aided and abetted in this crime by Nike. They want all the teams to be known as "Volunteers". As if somehow, the term "Lady Vols" is holding back the women's teams from advancing into modern day.
I don't understand why referring to the women's teams at Tennessee (or any school really) is seen as denigrating them. At Tennessee, the Lady Vols logo and designation has symbolized a tradition of excellence, and not just with the basketball team either. Meanwhile, the men's teams (with the exception of the basketball team when Bruce Pearl was the coach) have taken that "Power T" logo and made it a joke. They suck. The football team sucks, the men's basketball team sucks and while I can't speak truthfully to the other men's programs at Tennessee, I haven't seen their names mentioned as title contenders in any other sports.
Why would you want to associate the high expectation women's team with a loser logo like the "Power T" when the men's teams have done nothing but trash it?
I used to like reading sports writer Christine Brennan back in the day but lately she has become a thorough bore and a chore to read. If her constant haranguing of the NFL wasn't bad enough (they deserved the initial ration of crap everyone gave them, but she acted like the fact the NFL didn't just close up shop was a mortal sin), her comparison of the Lady Vols name to the Redskins name was farcical (Can you imagine? The idea of trying to tie "Lady" and "Redskins" as slurs?) and her continued writing that the term "Lady" demeans the team and women as a whole is ridiculous. I hold the Lady Vols in the highest esteem. You can't say that about the men's Volunteers teams. You can read Brennan's idiotic ramblings HERE. I was ticked off enough about the article that I tweeted my disagreement with her viewpoint to Brennan on Twitter.
An opposing opinion was written by The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins (full disclosure, she's friends with and has written books with Pat Summitt). However, her piece was far better constructed and comes off far more intelligent in its argument in favor of the "Lady Vols" name. Yes it is an opinion I agree with so I guess I would be a little biased in favor of this article. But since I'm not a total idiot, I can be objective about what I think of the two articles.
I particularly enjoyed this line from the Jenkins article: "If a Lady Vol is wearing a diamond on her finger, odds are she won it."
Sports Illustrated had a good piece on coach Holly Warlick (pictured below from Friday night's season opener) as she enters her third season in charge of the Lady Vols with a sense of comfort in role.
(ALL PHOTOS TAKEN FROM THE TENNESSEE GAME PHOTO GALLERY)
As for the team's first game, Tennessee faced off against Pennsylvania on Friday night and came away with a resounding 97-52 victory. The Lady Vols actually trailed 20-17 halfway through the first half of the game but a 30-5 run to close the half game Tennessee control of the game for good.
Nia Moore had a career high 24 points to lead the Lady Vols. She added 14 rebounds as well.
Bashaara Graves added 16 points and 10 boards while Isabelle Harrison (pictured below) came off the bench for 12 points and 10 boards.
Tennessee's freshman class made an immediate impact as well. Alexa Middleton (pictured below 1st) had 20 points, Kortney Dunbar (pictured 2nd, #13) scored 15 points and Jaime (pictured 3rd) added 10 points. It is only the second time in school history that 3 freshman have hit double figures in their first game.
Boston College Women - The recruiting classes have been announced for all of the teams for next season it seems. While I normally pay little attention to the recruiting wars because I don't care who might show up or who says they will show up, one recruit for Boston College is the 5'7" point guard Stephanie Jones. You can read more about her in this article link. A true point guard that can truly handle the pressure defense that BC will face constantly during the ACC portion of their schedule is a must. They've been lacking it for years now. Here's hoping Jones can be that point guard.
You can see an interview with coach Erik Johnson on what he's looking to see from the team this season below.
The BC women opened up their season on the road against Stanford. Last season, they hosted the Cardinal at Conte Forum and got spanked after taking a lead into the first TV time out. Coming out of that timeout, Stanford went on a 28-0 run that sealed the game.
The team had a morning shootaround before the game (see below) but it didn't end up helping to change the result much.
This time around, Stanford broke out to an early lead, but the Eagles tied it at 32 before trailing 49-40 at halftime. But in the second half players like Kat Cooper couldn't keep up with (see below) Stanford's Kailee Johnson, while Lauren Engeln had no answer (see below 2nd) for stopping Lili Thompson (career high 26 points)
In the end, Stanford blew out the Eagles 96-63. Emilee Daley (pictured below) tied her career high with 13 points to lead the Eagles.
Nicole Boudreau added 11 points (3-3 from 3 pt range). Freshman Ashley Kelsick (see below) scored 10 points in her first college game. Karima Gabriel had 6 points to go with a team high 7 rebounds.
BC's 17 turnovers (6 by Martina Mosetti, pictured below) got turned into 26 points by Stanford.
Stanford shot 64.9% from the for the game which is the fifth best single game shooting performance in the entire history of the game. So the Eagles losing this game was not a surprise to say the least. I don't think an upset was really being thought about but a competitive game should've been the goal. However, when your opponent hits nearly 65 percent of the shots they take, you have to figure it is going to be a LONG night.
The Eagles play St. Mary's at 4pm today so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from the big loss.
By the way, while on this West Coast road trip, the team went to Fisherman's Wharf and took a trip to Alcatraz. You can see the team below before they headed off on the trip to the former prison.
Wisconsin - While the Badgers aren't a team I normally cover, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the record setting day that their running back Melvin Gordon had yesterday. In his team's 59-24 beatdown of Nebraska (Cornhusker coach Bo Pelini has a pathetic record vs. ranked opponents), Gordon ran for 4 touchdowns and new all-time NCAA rushing record 408 yards. He broke the record from 1999 that was held by TCU's (and former San Diego Charger) LaDanian Tomlinson. Even more amazing about Gordon's (see below #25) accomplishment was that he did it in just three quarters of action.
Mass Maritime - The Buccaneers faced off against Bridgewater State in the 36th Annual Cranberry Bowl yesterday. It was the final game of the season for Mass Maritime which means it is the final college game for my former player E.J. Heading into the game, he needed 6 catches to become the school leader in that category.
Mass Maritime had lost the last three times these two teams had played each other. But they rocketed out to a 17-0 first quarter lead, led 24-7 at halftime and then cruised their way to a 31-21 victory that closes their season with a 4-6 record. It is the first time in 30 years that Mass Maritime beat Bridgewater State on BSU's field.
My former player Richie picked up 6 carries for 13 yards, including a 1 yard TD run (his first college TD).
As for E.J., he went out in a blaze of glory. He caught 11 passes for 239 yards and 2 TDS. One of those TDs was a 93 yard pass play! He was named game MVP. He finished his career with 182 catches for 2,568 yards.
Way to go both of you and congratulations to Mass Maritime Academy, the 2013 Cranberry Bowl Champions.
Alabama - I know the haters are going to hate, but after Alabama's 25-20 upset of #1 Mississippi State, there is simply no way anyone can question the now 9-1 Crimson Tide belonging in the 4 team playoff system.
Despite Alabama's offense not fashioning a blowout victory, they scored when they needed to and relied on a defense that came up with one big play after another when they needed it. Despite Mississippi State gaining 427 total yards (to Alabama's 336), the Bama defense picked off Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott (getting leveled in the photo below) three times (including once in the end zone) thus killing potential scoring chances.
Blake Sims threw for 211 yards and a TD (to Amari Cooper, who had 8 catches for 88 yards). Both Derrick Henry (pictured below 1st) and T.J. Yeldon (pictured 2nd) found the end zone on the ground and despite a late TD pass from Prescott to make the final score closer than the game seemed, the Tide rolled and knocked off the #1 team in the country.
Boston College - After last week's rather devasting loss, the Eagles were on a bye week this week. There's not a whole lot to talk about with them as they take time to regroup, re-assess and try to heal up from some of their injuries. In the meantime, you can check out this article on receiver Josh Bordner. He spent four years as a backup QB but came back this year and recast himself as a reliable pass catcher.
You can also check out a video interview with defensive back Justin Simmmons below.
While the Boston Red Sox were one of the teams expected to bid for Miami Marlins player Giancarlo Stanton, news this week about Stanton being close to signing a 325 million dollar 13 year deal broke. This likely means everyone else in baseball will have to look elsewhere for talent upgrades this offseason.
Of course it also means that Stanton and his agent are about to sacrifice any chance of him ever winning a ring.
Speaking of the Boston Red Sox, the more tangible news for them is the talk that the club is talking to pitcher Jon Lester about a return to the team after they traded him this past season to the Oakland A's. And it appears that owner John Henry is amenable to breaking his rule about giving long term deals to pitchers over the age of 30.
The talk I've heard and read about says the two sides are talking about a 6 year deal. Of course, Lester's return to the Red Sox would be welcomed by the fan base. And I think the team knows this. Otherwise, a 6 year deal wouldn't even be a talking point in negotiations. But it does raise the question about why the team didn't just make this kind of deal with Lester in the first place and keep him with the team all along. Yes, I know they got a decent bat in Yoenis Cespedes to help the offense. But a lot of good that did when your pitching staff couldn't get anyone out.
Clay Buchholz is a serviceable pitcher when he's healthy (which isn't often), but he's best as your #3 starter TOPS. He's not the ace of a pitching staff, mostly because he can't stay healthy, but he does have on field issues as well. Lester is a clearly defined #1 starter. And when he was dealt away this past season, it was the biggest example of how the team quit on the season.
Look I know the Red Sox weren't going to go anywhere last season. But you at least like to see the illusion that the team is trying to win. And Red Sox fans didn't get that last year at all. It was hard to do so when the front office traded away so many key players before the deadline.
If the two sides do strike a deal, it will be a welcome sign that the Red Sox are actually going to try and field a competitive/competent team for the 2015 season.
After being on their bye last week, the New England Patriots made a bit of news this week leading up to tonight's game on the road vs. the Indianapolis Colts. It seems they became the first NFL team to have one million followers on Twitter. I don't think it really matters in the scheme of things (despite being on Twitter myself for shameless self promotion purposes), but it is a noteworthy moment considering how much activity these days takes place on that social media site.
But thanks to the ever present danger of automation, the club found themselves in need of making a public apology when their automatic set up for reaching that one million follower mark saw them tweeting out a racial slur based on the Twitter handle of one of their followers. Here's the story.
If you missed my new Celtics Report blog piece that I posted yesterday, you can check it out HERE.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard had a brilliant in-depth piece on New Orleans Pelicans star Ryan Anderson as he deals with and moves forward after the suicide death of his girlfriend last year. The piece was in this week's edition of the SI magazine, but the article link HERE is a longer version of the story.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The Wareham High football team got spanked again on Friday night. They faced off against Norton. The Norton team was on a two game win streak and unfortunately for Wareham, those two teams were the ones that the Vikings had lost two over their previous two games. And it was more of the same kind of beatdown for Wareham vs. Norton.
They were trailing 34-0 at halftime and the younger players got a lot more playing time in the second half on the way to losing 46-6. Josh had five carries for 20 yards in the game.
Now the 1-9 Vikings are off until their Thanksgiving Day game against arch rival Bourne.
Basketball - With just that Turkey Day football left for fall sports interest, my eyes turn towards the high school basketball season. I'll be covering four girls teams and possibly 2 boys teams (Wareham and Upper Cape) this year that have former players of mine.
The girls team's I'll be watching are Upper Cape (JV and varsity), Wareham (JV and varsity), Bristol-Plymouth (varsity) and Sturgis East (varsity). Of course, trying to figure out the various schedules is going to be a headache once I have all of them to coordinate which games I'll go to watch.
Yes, it is going to be a very busy winter of basketball viewing for me.
By now, this should come as no surprise. I had another 0-2 week. I'm 5-5 in one league and 1-9 in the other one. Yes indeed, I'm that putrid this season.
Books - I'm nearly finished with one book after taking a break from novels to catch up on past issues of Sports Illustrated. But while I haven't finished the novel, I did make time to pick up the new Janet Evanovich / Lee Goldberg paperback The Chase. It is the second book in their series about a female FBI agent and a charming rogue thief teaming up to solve cases. Yes, it sounds like a bit like the TV show White Collar but the first book was a decent and pleasant diversion, so I'm looking forward to reading the second book.
I also picked up a copy of the debut thriller from Terry Hayes that I reviewed back in March for inclusion into the Yankee Swap gift basket I'm doing up for the big family Xmas Eve gathering.
Also, be on the lookout for my second annual Top 10 Mystery and Thriller Books list. I'll be trying to get that article done in time for the first of the year.
Thanks to a bargain sale find at a local department store, I added the first two seasons of The Facts of Life to my TV on DVD collection this week.
Meanwhile, this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special is getting some advance hype. There was a teaser trailer released early this week and then during the annual Children in Need telethon they do in England, a scene from the special was aired. You can check out both videos below.
Music - AC/DC found themselves having to deal with the spotlight in an unexpected way this week as drummer Phil Rudd was arrested on a variety of charges in Australia, including a charge of attempting to procure a murder. Yes, trying to buy a hit! That charge was dropped but he is still facing other charges that could land him in prison for seven years. In between releasing statements about the legal status of their drummer, the band released the official video for the song "Play Ball."
Another Australian rock band that caught my attention is the band Massive. I finally heard their 2013 debut CD called Full Throttle. It was given away with an issue of Classic Rock magazine a while back but I've only now gotten to reading that particular issue. Anyway, the CD was fantastic. Pure driving hard rock at its finest. You can check out one of their songs called "Burn The Sun" below.
The final bit of music I have this week centers on former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden. He's got a new solo album out called Shine. I belong to a music board called Classic Rock Bottom and one of the features there is called New Music Corner. The poster Scott featured 5 tracks from the album this week and I took a listen. They were phenomenal and made it so I just had to put the disc on my want list. You can check out the title track (featuring a guest appearance from guitarist Joe Bonamassa) below.
As we watch the NFL today, we may see fads like the read-option come and go, absurd scoring show up and die down, and weird new rules that make even replay useless, but one of the biggest changes goes unnoticed, probably because you can't see it.
A lot of young quarterbacks have come aboard as instant starters in the past few years. Many have fallen or are falling by the wayside. They just weren't that good. So how did they manage to look good (or even play) in Year One? Such a thing was unheard of years ago, and years ago the running game dominated far more than today. You'd think almost anybody could hand off, and in an age of complex playbooks, disguised defenses and the like, it seems impossible that someone could handle an offense that quickly.
Answer: in most cases, they can't. That big difference we've seen is all due not to colleges suddenly turning out pro-calibre QBs by the dozens. It's not due to a flood of running QBs, always anathema to the NFL with its big, fast defenses. It's way simpler than that.
It's that radio in the helmets. Hand signals and shuttling guards may have been the same thing, but it's like comparing smoke signals to walkie-talkies or a compass to a GPS.
In the hands of a good OC, the radio is a powerful tool. But it doesn't make a young quarterback with fast legs and a great arm a great quarterback. It just seems to for a while. Once defenses get a book on the kid, radios don't help much. In fact, the defenses may be getting a book on the system.
First, they have radios too. Second, all they have to do is more disguising and changing up. That forces the kid to have to audible. Imagine trying to call an audible while your OC is barking his audible (and it is audible I'm sure) into your eardrums. Especially if you're either too green to audible well in the first place, or maybe even never were good enough. Suddenly you're exposed. Ever wonder why teams are suddenly using up their timeouts in the middle of halves when nothing seems to justify wasting one?
How many of the young studs that flooded the league a few years ago are still looking good? Not many. Dropping like flies. A few have stuck and some are even prospering. As usual. But the stock of many has dropped through the floor.
The onset of radio created an illusion. One of the illusions was the absurd scoring we suddenly were seeing a few years ago, which died down somewhat. Another was the total dominance of the aerial game and the proclaimed demise of the running game. Last season, suddenly, things turned back, culminating in a Super Bowl win by a team without a high-powered air game but with a big running back and a powerful defense. Another, apparently, was the sudden leap of rookies into starting jobs.
Still, radio is here to stay. It begs the question of whether we're seeing the final round of true quarterbacks now. Eventually, the telecom equipment and the teams' expertise in using it will result in everything being called on time, even call changes. It'll be a chess game with the real players in a skybox. Maybe in a lot of places it is already.
So here's the test: take away the radios. Leave the QBs on their own, maybe with hand signals or replacements carrying in a play. What happens then? Who could react all by himself? Who could run a no-huddle without having the luxury of even getting plays from the sideline? Let's rank today's starters on that basis alone.
Peyton Manning, love him or hate him, has no trouble calling his own plays. He's a genuine throwback, and he has to read defenses more complex (or so we are told) than those his generational predecessors had to face.
Tom Brady didn't burst into the NFL ready to call his own plays, but he's become almost as good as Manning at it. Sometimes better.
Aaron Rodgers seems capable of handling and changing up an offense on the fly. He predates helmet radio, not by too much, but by enough.
Drew Brees has been around long enough to know. He's not going to get lost if his helmet blows a fuse.
Ben Roethlisberger has the benefit of his team's style. He's a play extender. One would think the Steelers run a fairly simple playbook by modern standards. They've been more of a real-time reaction team, a throw-and-catch offense that adjusts to Ben buying time. It's worked. He doesn't need helmet radio.
Phil Rivers is an old pro by helmet radio standards. It probably irritates him. Carson Palmer doesn't need it either. Toss Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler and a number of other veterans into the mix. They'd survive.
That leaves us with young guys on the fence. Who looks like he probably woudn't be able to handle the old way?
The running quarterbacks appear to be the worst off. Even with radios, after a couple of years in the league suddenly Cam Newton, Robert Griffin, even Colin Kaepernick aren't looking like what they once were. Defenses have adjusted.
Guys like Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Sam Bradford and a few more of their contemporaries seem to have faded away largely, some due to injury but also due to diminishing effectiveness.
EJ Manuel and Geno Smith looked somewhat promising as rookies and fell off the earth in their second years.
You have to wonder if some or all of these guys were propped up for a year or two by their helmets.
But even the young guys who are making it --- guys like Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Nick Foles --- how can you tell if they'd be able to handle no radio, if only because they've had it since they first set foot on an NFL field? In a few years, almost everybody will be as lost without it as we'd be without cellphones. Remember 20 years ago when you didn't really need one except to call for a tow? Or 30 years ago when you didn't need one at all? Need it now?
It'll be the same. Even before the radios, Manning was being touted as a throwback, a guy who ran the team like Unitas once did. He and his veteran rivals won't be around forever.
And when they're gone, will the Wonderlic test for quarterbacks be a thing of the past?
Probably not. But they won't be using the gray matter like they once had to, either. It's kind of ironic. As offenses and defenses become vastly more complicated, a dumb-down happens at the position that needs to know the most.
Will the next great QB generation still be the best field generals, or just the best field corporals, with the real generals all looking down from a booth? You have to wonder what the NFL's motivation was in having the sideline do all the thinking, even in real time. Or maybe you don't. Maybe it's all part of turning all players into more of a commodity.
Hey now. Welcme Gabbers & others to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff. Just thought I'd do a public service announcement to all you Gabbers & others out there cleaning the gutters. These critters may be cute and fuzzy to look at but watch out for those teeth. Never seen one before but I hear they're quick. Hide the kids and watch your ankles.
I think I can make it to Monday or Tuesday and I may just have to give in on my "Don't turn the furnace on till Thanksgiving because that oil tank is prescious" Mission. The weatherman says that on Tuesday it will be brutally cold in the 40's and fall to 28 degrees over night. It will be 40's in the day and 28 at night all week. That's pipe freezing weather. Just can't take that chance. The cats will be happy though. They love the heat vents.
KURT BUSCH UPDATE
A letter addressed to NASCAR president Mike Helton and one to SHR was sent by Rep Jackie Speier stating that Kurt should be suspended till the investigation into his alleged domestic violence case against ex girlfriend Patricia Driscoll was completed. She further stated she wanted to be in the internal investigation of this matter and wanted the history of all sanctions levied by NASCAR & race teams in the last 5 years for domestic violence.
Be-otch has balls if you ask me.
However Kurt's lawyer Rusty Hardin had other ideas. He said," If every time somebody made an allegation against a congresswoman or congressman and they were then to be suspended from their office until the investigation was concluded, we'd have an empty capitol building."
He went on to say that her letter was inappropriate and that there is such things as due process and presumption of innocense.
NASCAR says they're waiting for the police report. Haas says he's not taking Kurt out of the car. I say that if the fight was that bad then why wait 6 weeks to file charges? If you waited that long then let it go. Grab your shit and leave.
MOST POPULAR DRIVER VOTING COMING TO AN END
If you're planning to vote for your favorite driver you've got until Monday the 17th @ 8pm to get to www.MostPopularDriver.com. We'll see if Dale Jr gets it again or The Danica rallies her fans to over take him or if the Reddit community rallies to put Josh Wise in the top spot. Oh the suspense Gabbers.
PHOENIX RACE RECAP
Harvick won. Harvick led almost all the laps. Harvick advanced to the final round.
Hamlin had the pole but by lap 45 Harvick took over the lead and never gave it up.
Gordon, Kenseth & Keselowski all did what they had to to advance except win. All were in the top 5 at the end of the race but no cookie or soup for them. On the very last lap coming to the finish line Newman did a bump & run on Larson for the final position he needed to get into the final Chase spot which knocked out Gordon by 1 point.
Larson was asked about that pass which sent him into the wall. He said that Newman called him and explained that he really needed that spot and that he didn't dump him, he just did enough to get by and let Larson finish the race. Larson knew it was important and that he probably would've done the same thing if in the same position. It was a little upsetting and he was mad for about 10 minutes till he thought about it. No hard feelings going forward.
So our 4 Chasers that will be fighting it out at Homestead are Logano, Harvick, Newman & Hamlin.
Top 15 finishers at Phoenix - Harvick - Gordon - Kenseth - Keselowski - Hamlin - Logano - Ku Bu - Dale Jr - Biffle - Ambrose - Newman - Truex Jr - Larson - McMurray - Edwards
HOMESTEAD RACE TO CROWN THE CHASE CHAMPION PREVIEW
Ford unvailed a new trophy. This trophy has an exact replica of the steering wheel in Henry Ford's race car the 1901 Sweepstakes Racer. He won his first and only race in that car on October 10, 1901. That race win helped to get invetors interested so he could start his car company in 1903.
So last years Homestead winner was Hamlin. Last years champ was Johnson with 6 W's. This year Johnson is no where near the Chase or championship form. What a difference a year and Chase format change makes.
Last years Homestead top 10 - Hamlin - Kenseth - Dale Jr - Truex Jr - Bowyer - Keselowski - Ky Bu - Logano - Johnson - Harvick - Gordon - Edwards - Kahne - Sadler - Larson
Chasers : Harvick - Starts 5th. Average finish of 8.1. Has 11 Top 10's. He's been fast this year but plagued with bad luck. Motor issues, tire issues and other stupid stuff. He's the favorite to win. He's my pick too. I say top 10 AND the Championship.
Logano - Starts 9th. Average finish of 20.8 although he finished 8th last year. I'll give him a top 10
Hamlin - Starts 8th. Average finish of 11.2 although he finished 1st last year. He's also been plagued by issues all year and barely made it into the Chase. I just don't see a championship this year either but I'll say top 15
Newman - If there was ever an underdog, it's this guy. He's a tough one too. My hope is that he does win it. I'm hoping all the contenders have issues that keep them on pit road and laps down. Newman comes in 5th, with no win and a championship. It's a fantasy but it could happen. He starts 21st today. He hit debris from somebodies car during practice that broke his splitter. All is fixed and he's no worried. Top 10
Gordon - He's got the pole. That's 200 poles for the HMS organization. He's got 11 top 10's here too. Top 10
Ky Bu - Starts 7th. He's been plagued with the uglies too this year but I'll say top 10
Kenseth - Won the Nationwide race this weekend. That's seat time that could equate to a top 10.
Larson - Got to give a top 10 to the rookie with the mostest.
Truex Jr - Starts 10th. Top 10
Keselowski - Starts 4th. Top 10
Menard - My dark horse pick for a top 10
Race is on at 3pm today. Football all day too. Have a safe weekend folks.
Last Week Bills lost to Chiefs 17-13, Dolphins lost to Lions 20-16
Fast Fact The Bills allowed 405 rushing yards in their first six games but 460 in their last three.
Both teams are coming in the short week off of tough close losses, Ryan Tannehill should be a go for the Fins who need their running game to play light years better than the puny 50 yard output against the Lions if they hope to keep the withering Bills pass rush totally honest. Kyle Orton is playing respectably for the Bills and having a hale Sammy Watkins will help his numbers immensely. As tight as the AFC playoff picture is this may very well be a virtual elimination game. I’m going with the home team here but I’m not the most confident about it
Sunday November 16
Falcons (3-6) @ Panthers (3-6-1)
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Falcons by 1
Last Week Falcons defeated Buccaneers 27-17; Panthers lost to Eagles 45-21
Fast Fact Panthers QB Cam Newton has taken 561 hits (tackles, sacks, pressures) since coming in the league in 2011. The next closest QB has barely half that total in the time frame
What most would say would be a throwaway game is actually a game to stay in the divisional race. Both teams are a mess, though the Falcons are coming off a decently played win over the hapless Bucs while the Panthers are bedeviled by a nonexistent pass rush and a porous offensive line. This game is a tossup but for some reason I trust the Panthers less than I do the equally weak Falcons
Vikings (4-5) @ Bears (3-6)
Soldier Field, Chicago 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Bears by 3
Last Week Vikings were on their bye; Bears lost to Packers 55-14
Fast Fact The Bears are the first team since the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons (yes that was an NFL team) to give up 50 or more points in back to back games
The Bears are imploding badly, their nationally television destructions at the hands of the Pats and Packers are telling a grim story. The well-rested Vikes are no juggernaut but have been slowly improving and while not likely to have the service of Adrian Peterson will have a decent running attack at their disposal and a withering rush to bother an increasingly erratic Jay Cutler. The Vikes are dicey on the road and the Bears are winless at home. But I think the Bears are quitting on themselves and the Vikes are more than happy to help turn the out the lights further.
Texans (4-5) @ Browns (6-3)
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Browns by 3
Last Week Texans were on their bye; Browns defeated Bengals 24-3
Fast Fact Browns run defense has allowed an average of 91.7 yards rushing a game in their 3 game win streak
Fresh off a bye the Texans head to the frosty climes of Northern Ohio to face the Browns who are flying high after a Thursday beatdown of their despised downstate rivals. The Browns stout run defense will face a stern test against the redoubtable running of the Texans Arian Foster. While Brian Hoyer isn’t flashy, he pilots the Browns offense like a grizzled vet and his poised play has kept the Browns steady and win playing well. In a super tough AFC North, that could keep them in the hunt as stakes on these games get higher. This will be a grimy gritty game, I keep waiting for the Browns to take their expected pratfall but with Texans still unsettled at QB, it bodes well for the home team here
Seahawks (6-3) @ Chiefs (6-3)
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Chiefs by 2½
Last Week Seahawks defeated Giants 38-17; Chiefs defeated Bills 17-13
Fast Fact This is matchup of teams that play in the loudest NFL stadiums as Arrowhead and CenturyLink in Seattle have traded the title at least six times over the last three years with Arrowhead holding the current record with an eardrum splitting 142.9 dB…yikes!
This ultra-noisy matchup features two team trying to stay in contention in their respective conferences. The Seahawks are trying to hold on to their champs mantle as long as they can but Russell Wilson is looking quite mortal and while Marshawn Lynch continues to run rugged, the defense is a shadow of its once formidable self. The Chiefs are staying strong with a super tight running game, and Alex Smith playing mostly mistake free ball, The Seahawks are a tough team still but going in to KC is a nightmare even for a noise tested squad like the Hawks. I just think that the Chiefs are a team to reckon with and catching them at their crib is not good
Bengals (5-3-1) @ Saints (4-5)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Saints by 7½
Last Week Bengals lost to Browns 24-3, Saints lost to 49ers 27-24 in OT
Looking at the records you would think that the Bengals are the first place team and the Saints are the 3rd place team scuffling along, when it’s the exact reverse. The Bengals are scrambling after a humiliating home loss to their upstate rivals and the Saints while leading the woefully weak NFC South are scrambling themselves after a heartbreaking OT loss to the Niners. Both team are wildly inconsistent, but I’m just not real sold on the Bengals as of late especially on the road. Had the Saints won last week I would say the Bengals could use this as a real bounce back. But I’m not betting on the Saints to lose back to back at home. And given the Bengals Andy Dalton skittish play as of late, I just can’t call an upset here and despite the records a Bengals win here would be an upset, but it’s not happening here.
Broncos (7-2) @ Rams (3-6)
Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Broncos by 9
Last Week Broncos defeated Raiders 41-17, Rams lost Cardinals 31-14
Fast Fact The Broncos have never won in St. Louis (tied the then St. Louis Cardinals in 1973 and are 0-2 against the Rams)
The Broncos bounced back strong to whip the Raiders while the Rams struggled in the desert. Peyton Manning regained his touch and that really bad news for the Rams who have been up and down as of late, their pattern has been win-loss and are due for a win, but the Broncos look to be in no mood to play niceties here. I think Manning will abuse the Rams suspect secondary while the Rams are turning back to Shaun Hill for the ineffective Austin Davis. It won’t matter much as the Broncos should roll to the win
Pick-Denver (Lock of the week)
49ers (5-4) @ New York Giants (3-6)
MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite 49ers by 3½
Last Week 49ers defeated Saints 27-24 in OT; Giants lost to the Seahawks 38-17
Fast Fact the Niners haven’t won in NYC against the Giants since 2002 (lost last two visits)
The Niners stole a controversial win in the Big Easy and stay on the fringes of the NFC playoff picture while the G-Men are crumbling badly as evidence by the whomping that they got in Seattle last week. I’ve long maintained that west coast teams going east for a 1p kickoff are often in trouble and I would think that the Niners would be in some kind of trouble but I’m thinking that the G-Men’s butter booty soft defense is in no shape to slow down the Niners rugged running game and Colin Kaepernick’s dynamic passing. I think the Niners grind out a tight win
Last Week Buccaneers lost to Falcons 27-17; Washington was on a bye
Fast Fact The Buccaneers are giving up 30.2 points a game only Lovie Smith’s former team in Chicago (30.8) gives up more.
The Bucs are wandering through this long season, while Washington is trying to wake up from this nightmare season after their bye. This is a real who cares game, the Bucs defense is pretty porous and while Washington welcomes back RG3 they lack a real direction and identity. I’m thinking that the Bucs won’t be able to garner anymore road wins this season.
Raiders (0-9) @ Chargers (5-4)
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego 4:05 (CBS)
Favorite Chargers by 10½
Last Week Raiders lost to Broncos 41-17, Chargers were on their bye
Fast Fact The Chargers were shutout in week 9 for the first time since 1999
The Chargers were flying high when they went to the East Bay to face the scuffling Raiders but haven’t won since they pulled out a 31-28 win four weeks ago. The Raiders are trying their best but find a way to come apart at critical junctures. The Broncos toyed with them a while before tearing them up last week while the Chargers have had a week to brood over their 37-0 implosion against the Dolphins before their bye. I want the Raiders to pick up a win since they are seriously looking like a reverse table run. But I can’t find a win here. The Chargers need a bounce back in the worst way and they will get one here.
Lions (7-2) @ Cardinals (8-1)
University of Phoenix; Glendale, AZ 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Cardinals by 1
Last Week Lions defeated Dolphins 20-13; Cardinals defeated Rams 31-14
Fast Fact The Lions haven’t won in Arizona since 1993
The late NFC games are top notch, the Lions are playing like a tough team but have a steep challenge facing the Cards in their desert stronghold. The Lions are looking to follow up their gritty comeback win while the Cards are hoping that Drew Stanton will be able to fill in capably for the injured Carson Palmer. I think that the Lions rugged defense will be too tall a task for the young Stanton
Pick-Detroit (Upset of the Week)
Eagles (7-2) @ Packers (6-3)
Lambeau Field, Green Bay 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Packers by 5½
Last Week Eagles defeated Panthers 45-21, Packers defeated Bears 55--14
Fast Fact Packers have won its games at Lambeau by an average of 25.3 points this season
Both teams are coming off primetime beatdown wins, Mark Sanchez looked especially crisp in his return to starting duties, but the curve gets really steep facing the Packers in Lambeau who are coming off a thrashing of the Bears last Sunday night. Now while I like the Eagles high powered offense and think that Sanchez looks good running, better than he ever did with the Jets the Packers defense isn’t soft like the Panthers and you can believe the likes of Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and AJ Hawk will put more pressure on him. While Aaron Rodgers won’t come close to the 6 TD first half performance he had last week he should be able to get a solid performance enough to get the win.
Patriots (0-0) @ Colts (0-0)
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 8:30 (NBC)
Favorite Colts by 3
Last Week Both teams were on their respective byes
Fast Fact The Pats have averaged 40.2 points during their 5 game win streak.
The Primetime matchup is a doozy both teams rested up for a high scoring shootout, The Pats have been scoring in obscene bunches during their 5 game win streak but aside from a quick run to Buffalo, they haven’t went far on the road during their win streak Tom Brady has been putting rumors of his slide to rest while Andrew Luck is representing the young guns very well with his sharp play. Both teams are strikingly similar but I’m real curious which defense will come out looking better. It’s a tossup to be sure. I’m going to bet on the home team and likely be wrong.
Monday November 16
Steelers (6-3) @ Titans (2-7)
LP Field, Nashville 8:30 (ESPN)
Favorite Steelers by 6½
Last Week Steelers lost to Jets 20-13, Titans lost to Ravens 21-7
Fast Fact Steelers have allowed 36 points on opponents’ first possession this season, league worst
The Steelers are coming in off an embarrassing loss to the lowly Jets and now have to face a Titans team that stood bravely against the Ravens before losing a tight game. The Steelers should be able to get their offense in gear against the Titans soft defensive front and Zach Mettenberger might have a more difficult time against the Steelers defensive rush. The Titans are not the best of teams but the Steelers for some puzzling reason struggle against weaker teams that they should drill. As tempted as I am to call another stunning upset of the Steelers here. I can’t do it.
Well, I see there's an opening, so I think I'll jump in and talk some college football, where a lot of the fog is going to clear today.
SEC. Some absolutely great games on the docket today with Mississippi State traveling to Tuscaloosa. It's more than just a game, a lot of folks will be watching to see exactly how up and up this is gonna be. While I vehemently disagree w/theknightswhosay that the refs took the game from LSU last week, I truly believe that there could be some shenanigans here IF MSU is up and the game is close late.
Auburn is gonna go hang out in Georgia today and this could be an interesting one. Neither are in the chase for the playoffs, but they sure are gonna have a lot to say about who wins the SEC.
Also, for the first time since I can remember, LSU and Arkansas aren't playing on Turkey Day weekend, and Missouri is heading down to College Station for an undervalued game as well.
BIG 12. Uh they took the week off, though Texas at Oklahoma State could be interesting just to see how far Charlie Strong has come. Otherwise, get back to me next week.
PAC 12. This is why I like the PAC 12: On paper, almost every matchup can be considered a pick em. This week Arizona State is at always tough at home Oregon State, Washington is at Arizona, and Utah is at Stanford.
ACC. Florida State and Miami are hooking up in the Night game and while I'm loathe to do it, this could be an upset alert. Meanwhile, Clemson has GA Tech, and for name recognition Virginia Tech is facing 8-1 Duke who needs to upgrade their schedule if anybody is gonna take them seriously from here on out.
BIG 10. As I write this Ohio State and Minnesota are going at it in snow flurries up in the Great White North. Ohio State went up 14-0 got greedy and went for a long bomb, Minny intercepted and marched it down the field so it's now 14-7.
Otherwise, there's Nebraska who is desperate for a win and having to head into Wisky, and Michigan State is heading over to Maryland in a game that could be good as well.
Calling my shots.
Upset of the Week: I like Arkansas over LSU. It's in Fayetteville and LSU at 7-3 and no shot of the SEC Championship is playing for pride, but the Hawgs can pound the ball and ball control is what can beat LSU, well that and mental mistakes and bad coaching calls.
Close but no cigar game of the week: Minnesota will hang with Ohio State for a while. Ohio State plays lethargic in the first half then dominates. But the longer Minny hangs w/Ohio State, the faster Ohio State's playoff chances go down the drain.
Playoff standing: The winner of Miss. St. and Alabama is in. The winner of Oregon/Arizona State is in. The other two? Who the hell knows and the problem with that is it gives the NCAA an opening to run some kind of game. Watch out folks...