Saturday, September 30, 2006

College Football Week 5 Wrap

There were some pretty exciting games this weekend, especially if you count last night's Rutgers/USF thriller. My predictions fared, mmm, okay at 3-2. I just had my upset special in the wrong place. Let's look back at Week 5.

* Ohio State hacks up Hawkeyes
MY PICK: OSU 27-21 SCORE: OSU, 38-17
So much for the "tough game" the Buckeyes were supposed to get when they travelled to Iowa City and for date with the hungry Hawkeyes. The well-oiled machine that is the Ohio State offense carved up the Hawks for dinner, amassing 400 total yards, 214 on the ground, and the impressive Buckeye defense recorded 3 more interceptions in the 21- point win. All of the OSU playmakers contributed in this one: RB Antonio Pittman, 117 yds & 1TD; Tedd Ginn Jr., 102 total yards; QB Troy Smith, 206 total yards & 4 TD passes, 2 to emerging star receiver Anthony Gonzalez; and stud LB James Laurinaitis continues to make Buckeye fans forget about AJ Hawk & Bobby Carpenter; Laurinaitis intercepted his 4th pass of the season, and the OSU defense has tallied 11 picks in 5 games. Right now the Bucks are in prime shape to run the table until their season-ending date with Michigan on Nov. 18th.

* Gators get by 'Bama thanks to big 2nd half

MY PICK: UF, 31-17 SCORE: UF, 28-13

The Gators continue to win (5-0), but are not the offensive powerhouse many had predicted when the Urban Renewal Plan started. Florida actually trailed 10-7 at the half and it could have been a repeat of last season's humiliating 31-3 beatdown in Tuscaloosa. But the Gators and QB Chris Leak got hot in the 2nd half and the defense made the win easier with 2- fourth quarter INTs. Leak is not the right quarterback for Meyer's system, but freshman stud Tim Tebow is. Tebow can pass and run, and despite Leak's career- long 45 yard rush today, Tebow is the man who will make this offense click. That's why despite Leak's prolific career numbers, I look for Tebow to take over as soon as the Gators start losing games, which WILL happen in the next 3 weeks (LSU, @ AUB, UGA)

* Yellow Jackets sting Hokies at home
MY PICK: V.TECH, 34-31 SCORE: G.TECH, 38-27
Well I had everything pegged for an upset but for some reason still chose to go with the Hokies at home- the reason why I don't gamble. G.Tech QB Reggie Ball was the more poised & experienced player on the field , and he did avenge his two losses to Va. Tech. Ball accounted for 210 yards and 2 TDs, both to WR Calvin Johnson and the Yellow Jackets beat the Hokies at their own game-they blocked a punt to set up a short TD drive and then used a sack/forced fumble to score a backbreaking TD right after the break. That made it 31-13, and if the Hokies don't tack on a couple of cheap scores late this beating would have looked even worse than it was. Hey, I even warned to watch for the blocked kick- just didn't know it would be G.Tech doing the blocking.

* USC escapes Pullman with victory
MY PICK: WSU 24-21 SCORE: USC 28-22
My upset was there for the taking by the pesky Cougars, but they did not follow rule No. 1 of beating a top-ranked team: convert your red zone opportunities into touchdowns, not field goals. Washington State had the Trojans on the ropes early, but an 11 play, 55-yard drive 5 minutes into the game ended at the USC 17 in a FG, and USC countered with a TD just 3 plays later. Then after a John David Booty fumble near the end of the 1st quarter the Cougs drove 31 yards in 8 plays to the Trojan 17, again, and again had to settle for a 35-yd FG. Deja-vu anyone? It was that way all night as USC did not miss star wide out Dwayne Jarret as overlooked receiver The other Steve Smith contributed 186 yards & 2 TDs in his absence. A tough test passed by Booty and the Trojans, and it should be smooth sailing for them until their brutal 3- game stretch in mid-November when Oregon, Cal, and the Irish all travel to LA, ranked and ready.

*Irish down a few Boilermakers
MY PICK: ND, 42-20 SCORE: ND, 35-21
Speaking of The Irish, this was my closest pick of the day as ND took out their frustrations on an overmatched Boilermaker squad in South Bend. QB Brady Quinn continued the hot streak he started in the 4th quarter last week in East Lansing, going 29-38 for 316 yards & 2 TDs. RB Darius Walker ran for 144 yds & a score, and WR Jeff Shark Samardjzija ran for a score on a fake FG attempt in the Irish romp. Underrated senior receiver Rhema McKnight also contributed 120 yards & 2 scores as the Irish used a Boilmaker shot to cure what was ailing them. But a troubling fact for the Irish faithful to consider: they allowed 497 total yards to Purdue, 238 of them on just 8 receptions by Selwyn Lymon. Luckily for the Irish they now enjoy the cake part of their schedule until their finale at USC Novemeber 25th.

*Spartans stunned again, this time by Illini
Obviously Michigan State was still feeling the after effects of the 4th quarter Green storm that blew through East Lansing last Saturday night. How else can you explain them losing to a 1-3 Illinois team, 23-20, once again at home? As if blowing a 16-point 4th Q lead last week to the Irish wasn't bad enough, now the Spartan faithful have to deal with the humiliation of losing to a team that hadn't won a league game since 2004! Coach Jon L. Smith got the dreaded 'vote of confidence' before the season, but that confidence has surely eroded after these 2 disheartening losses. Maybe he should've gone across the sideline and asked Illini coach Ron Zook how to handle the hot seat.

* Indiana wins despite on-field loss
Wisconsin may have bludgeoned the Hoosier team on the scoreboard,52-17, but nothing could replace the feelings that the Indiana players and fans must have had in their hearts when coach Terry Hoeppner ran out on the field with his team to start the game. Hoeppner has made a miraculous recovery after a 2nd brain operation in less than a year, the most recent surgery taking place just 3 weeks ago. So despite the loss, the fact that these kids can look to their coach as a source of inspiration & motivation will help them get through something more important than a football game; as corny as it sounds, Terry Hoeppner is truly an inspiration for these kids lives.

* Georgia escapes again; can you say 'overrated?'
The Bulldogs may be undefeated still, but it's not for lack of trying. One week after squeaking by winless Colorado at home, 14-13 on two 4th Q TDs, they tried to lose to a terrible team again. The beleaguered Bulldogs, rotating 2 freshman QBs due to an injury to senior slinger Joe Tereshinski III, trailed the now 1-4 MSU Rebs 3-0 at the half and needed an early 4th Q TD to seal the win. That's because the D allowed a 49- yard score from Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer to Largo's Dexter McCluster with 6 minutes remaining. Georgia didn't put it away until a late interception of Schaeffer as they were driving for a potential winning score. Number 10? Maybe for now. But if Tereshinski doesn't return soon, with upcoming games at Tennessee (next week) and at Florida(Oct. 28) they won't be there for long.

RB runs for over 300 yards
You may never have heard of Garrett Wolfe; after all he plays in the MAAC for Northern Illinois, so he doesn't get a lot of exposure. You may also have a tough time finding Garrett Wolfe. That's because at 5'7" he is hard to see, and when he's running all over the field he is hard to tackle as well. The diminutive tailback ran for 353 yards in the Huskies 40-28 win over Ball St. He leads the nation in rushing with 1,181 yards in 5 games and has over 4,000 for his career, tops among active players. He's also tied for the NCAA lead in touchdowns, 11, with Rutgers' Ray Rice, another "pocket rocket" back tearing through D-1 defenses this fall. If No.Ill is on TV this year, make sure you try to check this kid out. My guess is that he will be drafted as a kick returner in the NFL, but at his size sticking in the League will be tough.

Faces in the crowd: A-Ben-dicitis & Scandal Sampson discuss their problems during the Indiana/Wisconsin game


Pedro to miss 8 months

New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez has a torn rotator cuff and will undergo surgery that could sideline him for up to 9 months.

Coming on the heels of the news that Martinez would not pitch for the Mets this postseason due to a calf injury this is a shocking & devastating blow to the future of the Mets rotation heading into 2007, not to mention to their title hopes this year. Petey is already 35 and has been hobbled by numerous injuries this season, starting only 23 games for New York. Although he says he will not retire and plans to come back strong next year...

...c'mon, reality check time for Omar, Petey and Metropolitan fans: this is is the reason Theo & his henchmen didn't want to give Petey that extra year on the contract and let him walk after the Series. They and every member of the Nation knew he would never be healthy enough to see the field, at least with any hope of resembling his former self, in that final year. When he went 15-8 w/ a 2.82 ERA last year and then started this season 5-0, it looked like Theo & Co. had made yet another bad decision (see Demon, Judas.) But now that ole Petey is breaking down more than Dick Vermeil the move looks like a stroke of genius. You know, like the Theo of old- pre-gorilla suit.

So for $53 million dollars the Mets got a 24-16 pitcher in 54 starts, which if my horrible math is correct equates to nearly $1 million/start and over $2 mil/win; nice work if you can get it.
My advice to you Petey- take the money and hang it up. You earned it.


Hate to be his mailman

West Virgina high school running back Pat McCoy rushed for 658 yards and 10 TDs in a 64-0 win Friday night.
The rushing total is a new High School record, and the 10 TDs were 2 shy of a record set in 1930.
Boy would I hate to be his mailman next week- he should receive approximately 4,527 letters/scholarship offers from colleges ranging from his home state Mountaineers all the way to the University of Anchorage after a performance like that.
And to think he had a 77-yard TD called back on a penalty!
Nice game, kid. Now hit the Gatorade.


College Football Week 5 Preview

5 games to watch today
1.) Alabama @ 5 Florida 3:30, CBS
'Bama should be 4-0 like UF entering this SEC tilt, but their "idiot kicker" Leigh Tiffin missed 3 FGs & and extra point in the Crimson Tide's 24-23 OT loss to Arkansas last week. This is somewhat of a real test for the Gators, but if they're as good as everyone says they are they should handle Bama fairly easily.
MY PICK: Gators 31-17

2.) 3 USC @ Washington St. 7P EST
UPSET SPECIAL. The Trojans travel to Pullman to face the Cougars today without their top offensive weapon, WR Dwayne Jarret. He had hoped to play despite a sprained shoulder but was not cleared to participate. So USC QB John David Booty will have one of the toughest tests of his starting career to date: travel to a hostile road environment and beat a good (3-1) Wash. St. team without his number one receiver. They struggled with Nebraska at home with Jarrett; look for them to fall out of the title hunt without him.
MY PICK: Wash St. 24-21

3.) 24 Ga Tech vs. 11 Va. Tech
These technical powers clash when the Yellow Jackets take on the Hokies in Blacksburg. Both teams are upstarts in the ACC, but Ga. Tech has the benefit of QB experience with senior playmaker Reggie Ball, out for revenge for last seasons 51-7 Hokie beatdown, also in Blacksburg (don't aske me why.) Plus Va Tech will be without starting WR Josh Morgan who along with starting DE Chris Ellis were arrested early Monday and suspended for the game. Without those 2 the Hokies will have it tougher, but not too many teams win in Lane Stadium. It should be closer but not close enough for The Ramblin' Wreck. Hint: watch for the blocked kick.
MY PICK: Va Tech 34- 31

4.) Purdue @ 12 Notre Dame
At 4-0 Purdue is enjoying a nice season. Now they travel to South Bend to face an Irish squad absorbing a lot of slings and arrows (and pints) after a crushing loss to Michigan and miraculous comeback win at Michigan State. The Irish will be out to prove their detractors wrong when the take on the overmatched Boilermakers today; they may be undefeated going in, but they won't leave the grounds of Touchdown Jesus unblemished.
MY PICK: Irish 42- 20

5.) 1 Ohio State @ 13 Iowa 8P, ABC
The game of the day caps off the entire day as the nation's #1 team travels to Iowa City to battle one of their conference rivals in Kinnick Stadium tonight. Not a place for the feint of heart to play, but if any team can overcome the obstacle of a hostile crowd its the Buckeyes, who only travelled to Austin and beat the #2 team, the defending National Champ Longhorns a few weeks back. If the Hawkeyes try to shut down playmaking WR Tedd Ginn Jr, then QB Troy Smith will burn 'em. If they somehow contain the elusive Smith, then RB Antonio Pittman will gash them on the ground. If those 3 offensive weapons don't do in Iowa then OSU's overachieving defense, led by LB James Laurinitis (3 INTs) will keep the Hawkeyes down. Although the atmosphere will be wild, and Hawkeye QB Drew Tate is a heck of a player, look for this one to come up A.B.C.- Another Buckeye Conquest.
MY PICK: Buckeyes 27-21


Friday, September 29, 2006

Rutgers remains unbeaten

Scarlet Knights will stay ranked after a thrilling 22-20 win over South Florida
It was a tale of two players Friday night at Raymond James Stadium. Rutgers and USF got together and played one hell of an entertaining football game, and one player from each team was largely responsible for all the excitement on the field.

For the Scarlet Knights that player was soph RB Ray Rice, who is quickly making a name for himself and, dare we say it, entering the Heisman race in the process. Rice had 202 yards rushing and 2 TDs in the win, bringing his season totals to 806 yards rushing and 11 TDs. Not bad for a little guy (5'9") from the biggest school in Jersey who was basically unheard of before he started ripping off 150+yard games like it was nothing. His 44-yd romp late in the 4th with the score 22-14 appeared to be the back-breaker for the Bulls, but when the subsequent FG attempt was blocked, USF had another life.

That is when the player responsible for most of USF total yardage on the night took over and guided the Bulls on a near game-tying touchdown drive. Redshirt freshman QB Matt Grothe passed for 241 yards and ran for 69 more, accounting for 310 of USF's 347 total yards- talk about a one-man-show. But this kid is no ordinary player; he has a toughness and fearlessness rare in most athletes, let alone freshmen. After the block Grothe drove the team from their 34 to the Rutgers 16 in just over 2:00 minutes, helped along by 2 huge 15 yard penalties on the Scarlet Knights. When a USF penalty backed the Bulls up to the 16, Grothe calmly stepped up and threw a 16-yd TD pass to Ean Randolph to pull the Bulls to within 2 points, 22-20. All they needed was a 2-pt conversion and they would be headed to OT with the chance for a huge come-from behind victory against a ranked team.

Ah but it was not to be for the Bulls. Grothe's attempt at the conversion found a wide-open Amp Hill in the end zone, but it hit poor Amp in a bad spot-right between the numbers- and he bobbled and then dropped what would have been a gi-normous 2 pointer for a gritty Bulls squad that fought to stay in the game all night.

An entertaining evening at Ray Jay (wish I could have seen it firsthand) with two of college football's most exciting young players showcasing their talents in front of a national TV audience. Rutgers wins its first game as a ranked team in 30 years and at 5-0 have become a force to be reckoned with in the rebuilt super-conference that is the new Big East. Although critics are saying they have yet to play anybody good (no, USF is not good, yet), with home dates against the 2 Beasts of the East, Louisville and West Virginia, still to come they will have the opportunity to silence those critics. Until then they will fatten up on Navy and UConn, and if they get by Pitt on the road (doubtful for the OLD Rutgers, possible for Rutgers 2.0) would be 8-0 going into that date with the No. 8 Cardinals on Nov. 9th. Who would have thought that would be one of the bigger games of the year before the season started? But as long as this team has the Ray Rice wrecking ball rolling, anything's possible.

As for the Bulls, the future looks bright with Grothe at the helm. Pat Julmiste will only see the field again in mop-up or injury situations because Grothe is going to be impossible to remove since he always gives the team a chance to win, either with his arm or his legs. He's still very young and will make mistakes- he had 3 turnovers tonight (2 INTs, 1 fumble)- but he also directed 3 second half touchdown drives that allowed the Bulls to even be in the game.

Rutgers and USF- the new beasts of the Big East? Wow.


Pedro inactive for postseason

Pedro Martinez will not pitch for the Mets in the postseason due to the left calf injury that has plagued him since the All Star Game.

All together now Red Sox Nation: "Awwwwww poor Petey!"
Maybe he can sit back and take comfort in all that extra cash he took to leave Beantown.

For the $14.9 million the Mets are paying him this season they got a 9-8 pitcher with a 4.48 ERA.
Nice investment.

Too bad he wasn't still in Boston; he would've made a nice bookend for Beckett.
But don't worry Petey, you'll be healed up in time to get a new injury in spring training.


Manny article creating Mass hysteria

Manny's talents at the plate have never been questioned
I referenced this article by the Globe's excellent Sox beat writer Gordon Edes in a post I did on Sept. 25 titled "Sox limping to the finish line." In it I stated that reports had surfaced that Manny's agent had requested a trade for his client yet again and that people in Boston were calling out Man-knee for not playing most of the past month due to patella tendinitis in his right knee. Edes had written the scathing article presumably as an angry response to the trade request while Manny was being portrayed as quitting on his team.

Well evidently ManRam's legion of fans in the Nation have responded to Edes' piece, some not too kindly, like the one who called his home while he was with the team in Toronto- talk about crossing the line. Edes may have been out of bounds, or grinding his axe, in his dismantling of Manny by accusing him of not caring about his team and lying about being injured. All the players on the team have always staunchly defended ManRam, especially his good buddy Papi. Are some of the "grinders" (a.k.a. Tek, Trot, Lowell, Loretta) unhappy with Manny's occasional lackadaisical attitude and diva persona? I'm pretty sure the answer is yes. However Edes did not back up any of his statements with facts or quotes, just here say and vindictive words which seemed to stem from Manny's indifference to the Boston media. Why bring up Manny counting his deferred money in 2020? And saying he shut it down at a critical time?- the season was over after BM II, correct? Whenever this guy is at the plate he is always doing what he does best- hitting the ball consistently, hitting it hard, and hitting it very high & far; isn't that what he gets paid (handsomely) to do? Not be nice to sports reporters who can appear to be one step up the food chain from car salesmen at times.

Which begs the bigger question that is swirling around the sports world today, thanks in large part to a certain flaky Cowboys wide receiver- when is a player's talent overshadowed by his attitude? See if Edes had just taken that angle and not accused him of faking injury, quitting on his team, and not caring, then he would have had a valid argument. Because there is no question in my mind that the MannyBeingManny show has 'jumped the shark' in Boston, and it is in the best interest of both sides if the mercurial Hall of Fame-bound slugger has a new place to showcase his talents & eccentricities next year.

But not because he doesn't care, quit on his team, or isn't a "winner" (this is the same guy that was a World Series MVP 2 years ago for crying out loud- how is he not a winner?) No the simple reason is that the distraction has outweighed the attraction, and when that happens, well the circus always moves on to the next town.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A new low for Sox: shut out by D-Rays

Rollover... sit... fetch... beg...
...Now play dead.
Good Sox!

Look, up in the sky, it's a Beckettball!
That's exactly what Boston did Wednesday night as they got steamrolled by the D-Rays, 11-0, Boston's 1st shut-out loss at home in 16 years, to a team that had won only 17 road games all season, 3rd worst of all time. Yes, those D-Rays hung an 11-spot on the once mighty but now just mighty sad Red Sox.
And guess who bore the brunt of the beating? You got it, Josh "I used to love him, but I have to kill him" Beckett, who allowed 8 runs, 8 hits and 2 more HRs in 6.1 IP; his final HR tally came to 36, and it is fitting that his final pitch of the 2006 season was a 3-run jack by Rhode Island Rocco in the 7th.

It really doesn't get any more embarrassing that that, does it? I am at a loss for words other than I, along with the rest of RSN, CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS STINKIN' SEASON TO END!

Of course the Sox brass had to dress up this stinker with yet another pregame tribute to soften the blow of what is happening on the field these days. This time it was a tribute to Johnny Pesky, where they OFFICIALLY renamed the right field foul pole "Pesky's Pole." Is this necessary? I mean do we really need to "officially" name something that EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD already calls it?! We do when the front office is trying to pull the old bait & switch with their sorry squad: hey, don't look at the Beckettballs sailing into the stands or the fact that we can't muster a run off a guy who hadn't won away from home since the Carter Administration (Tim Corcoran), look at our hero Johnny Pesky, or Jimmie Foxx's family, or Papi's banner, OR ANYTHING BUT THIS HORRIBLE EXCUSE FOR A BASEBALL TEAM!

Sorry guys, not buying it. What's it gonna be next, the "official" naming of the Green Monster?

We can't look either, Murph!


Final T.O. Update of 2006

The latest report from Unhappy Valley is that the "allergic reaction/swallowed the whole bottle/I want to kill myself" saga was -wait for it- a misunderstanding. In other words, when T.O.'s publicist found him in an incoherent state on his bed with an empty bottle of pain pills next to him, immediately called 911 when he was unresponsive to her commands, and he was rushed to the emergency room to have his stomach pumped, that was just a misunderstanding.

You see, what had happened wuz he was just chillin at home, you know popping some pain pills for his injured pinkie and swilling ("natural") supplements to keep his already cartoon-like physique pumped to maximum volumetric pressure. Suddenly, due an an unsafe level of air in his huge cranium he felt he just needed to lie down for a while, on account he was feelin' a tad tipsy from the combo of liftin', swillin' & poppin'. Next thing he knew that nosy publicist called 911, he was put in an ambulance and wound up at Baylor Medical Center.
It's quite obvious that this is yet another "look at me" stunt from the Queen of all Media Attention; to prove he is completely fine and sane he reported to the practice facility today, gave an "oops, sorry guys" press conference, and caught a few passes to show everyone how fit he is.
Sorry, T-O.D., but that little schtick ain't gonna cut it. Get yourself checked into a health care facility and step away from the spotlight that you need continually shining on you, you narcissistic, prima dona, egotistical, homophobic, over rated pile of crap.
You don't catch passes with your brain, jackass. Get help and get lost.


T.O. reportedly attempted suicide

This report is just coming in and details are still sketchy but many news organizations are reporting that injured Cowboy wide receiver Terrel Owens has been hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt.
Owens was taken to a local Dallas hospital last night after supposedly having an adverse reaction to painkillers he was taking for his broken finger. But today the police are saying when questioned on the way to the emergency room Owens admitted he had tried to take his life.
As I said details are sketchy- some reports say he didn't do it intentionally, some say he did.
Whatever the case it's yet another ongoing drama being played out all over the nation concerning TO's favorite topic- himself.
A news conference is planned for this afternoon to hopefully clarify some of the murky details...
...stay tuned...


College Football Wrapup

Were coming up on the final Saturday of September and there are plenty of stories making news in the college football world, even if all the games sucked last weekend. Well, almost all...

Amidst the driving rain, swirling winds and clamoring thunder Saturday night in East Lansing, Michigan, a bolt of green lightning touched down at Spartan Stadium and did some serious damage. The Green Machine took a while to get cranked up against the Spartans, spotting them a 37-21 lead after 3 quarters before barrelling through campus like that severe weather that accompanied their miraculous 19-pt 4th quarter comeback. As the stunned Spartan fans & players could only watch with horror as a potential HUGE victory turned into a 40-37 loss, MSU coach John L. Williams was heard asking if the National Weather Center was going to name the system that stalled over the stadium; no word, but I'd go with something fitting- how 'bout Seamus?

Party in Piscataway: Rutgers ranked for 1st time in 30 years
Yes folks, you read that right- The Scarlet Knights have received their first national ranking, at No. 23 in all 3 major polls, for the first time since 1976. That year they finished with an 11-0 record and final ranking of #17. This squad boasts the school's first 4-0 start since 1980, albeit against less-than-quality opponents (No. Car, Ill, Ohio, Howard) and travels to Ray Jay Friday night for a prime time ESPN2 match up with the USF Bulls. I know my good buddy/RU alum Ira would LOVE to attend that tilt but has a prior engagement, so I am going to try to score tix to the game and see what all the fuss is about first hand. Soph RB Ray Rice may be small (5'9") but his numbers aren't (604 yds, 9 TDs), helping RU average 200+ yards rushing and 33.5pts /game. Ironically now that the Knights are garnering national attention, head coach Greg Schiano is being rumored as a replacement for embattled Miami coach Larry Coker. Ah the price of success; let it roll off the tongue- Rutgers is ranked, Rutgers is ranked...

Don't let the final score (28-6) fool you into thinking the Buckeyes rolled the Ninty Lions; it was a 14-6 game with just under 3:00 to go with Penn St driving for a tying TD when OSU's underrated (but not for long) defense intercepted 2 Anthony Morelli passes and returned them for game-ending scores just 90 seconds apart. The Lions shut down Buckeye play maker Tedd Ginn Jr, allowing him only 2 catches for 15 yards, but the other Buckeye studs picked up the slack: QB Troy Smith's Vick-like 37-yd TD to Brian Robiske minutes into the 4th was a decisive and incredible play; RB Antonio Pittman plowed through the Lion D-line for 110 yds and a score; and new Columbus hero LB James Laurinitis intercepted his 3rd ball of the season and is quickly helping Buckeye fans forget all-everything LBs AJ Hawk and Bobby Carpenter. Bottom line, OSU is still good enough to win even on an off day. Bad news for the rest of the nation. UP NEXT: 8P Sat nite @ #13 Iowa, ABC

Now auditioning for Kickstar: Tuscaloosa
Anyone with aspirations of becoming a D-1 placekicker should bring their resumes, and their kicking foot, to the Tuscaloosa campus of the Alabama Crimson Tide and see head coach Mike Shula. He has to be looking for a new kicker after current applicant Leigh Tiffin missed 3 field goals and an extra point in the Tide's 24-23 OT loss to Arkansas Saturday. That PAT would have meant the Razorbacks could have only tied the game in the OT, forcing another extra frame. But Tiffin's ineptitude made it a moot (extra) point.

-Injuries, illness and even death hit campuses
Sad to report that Rice DB Dale Lloyd died after a practice session Sunday, a day after the Owls 55-7 loss to FSU. Lloyd was inactive in that game and had only played in one game this season as the coaches were planning to redshirt the 19-year old. The Owls will play Army this weekend and wear a special patch to commemorate Lloyd's contribution to the school.

In less pressing news, USC WR Dwayne Jarrett was thought to be out for this weeks' contest at Washington St. but has now said he will try to play despite a nasty shoulder sprain. The junior suffered the injury in the Trojans victory over Arizona Saturday; he was expected to miss 4-6 weeks. If he misses time or is hampered by the injury look for the Trojan title hopes to be severely hampered as well.

And just when the Noles were feeling better about themselves (see aforementioned 55-7 win) word came down that defensive stalwart Tony Carter could miss 2-4 weeks after suffering a knee sprain in that win. Remember this is a kid who scored a safety and a TD off 2 blocked kicks in FSU's loss to Clemson. In other words, despite the outburst vs. Rice, the Noles offense could use this cornerback's scoring prowess to get through the rest of their schedule unscathed.

And to end on a good note,
Indiana head coach Terry Hoeppner has made a miraculous recovery
from his second brain surgery in less than a year. Hoeppner has returned to the field a mere 2 weeks after his latest surgery to remove a recurring tumor and has received a clean bill of health to resume coaching; he plans to be on the sideline when the Hoosiers take on Wisconsin Saturday at noon. Can I get an amen?


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Schill gets 15th, Papi 54th in 5-1 win

As the season winds down (ONLY 5 MORE GAMES TILL WINTER!) all Boston fans have left are accomplishments and milestones. Tonight we had two.

It only took 2 months but Curt Schilling finally earned his 15th victory of the season in Boston's 5-1 win over the Rays. It is his 8th season with 15 or more victories. Also, on the night David Ortiz was honored pregame with a banner, honorary bat, and congrats from the family of Jimmie Foxx for breaking his Sox HR record, Big Papi tied the score at 1 in the 3rd with his 54th blast, then added a 2-run single in the 4th to push the cushion to 5-1; he finished the night 3-4.

Although Schill was not sharp (7IP, 6H, 4BBs, 9 Ks)- he walked more men tonight than he did in the entire month of May- he was more than good enough against the roadkill known as the Rays from Tampa Bay; the Rays are now a mind-numbing 2-28 on the road since July 1st. As he went out to the mound for the 8th, Tito came out to remove Schill and let the faithful applaud their beloved warrior for all he did for the team this season. With hints of retirement in the air, it might have been the last chance to thank him for all he has done in a Boston uniform to date. Which is merely rescue a downtrodden, cursed franchise and take it to the very place he promised he would the day he signed- to a World Series Championship.

With the weak performance of the team down the stretch, specifically against the Evil Empire, we know that the roster of this team is going to be significantly altered this winter. But to think that Schill, the anchor of the staff, vocal clubhouse leader and workhorse extraordinaire won't be on that field in Fort Myers in March is a depressing thought for sure. It will be a long winter for all Nation members, but it could be a longer spring if faced with the prospect of going to battle next season without the unquestioned general of this squad.
Thanks for everything, Schill. Just in case I don't get another chance to say it after a game.


Golf legend Byron Nelson dead

Lord Byron Nelson, one of the greatest professional golfers who ever lived passed away today at the age of 94.
Nelson will always be remembered for his 11 consecutive PGA Tour wins, a mark that only Tiger Woods, currently with 5 straight, has approached since he set it in 1945. He also won 5 majors, made 113 consecutive cuts (second to Tiger's 142), and is the only golfer to have a tournament named after him, The Byron Nelson Classic.

His wife found him slumped in his chair and the medical examiner has cited natural causes, thereby fueling rampant rumours that he died after viewing the controversial pictures of Tiger's wife Elin.


NFL Week 3 Review

Three weeks into the NFL season some interesting things have taken place. Let's look at the top stories coming out of the weekend.

*Simms loses spleen after Bucs lose game

All those Chris Simms bashers will have plenty of time to jump back on his bandwagon as the Buc QB had his spleen removed after their heartbreaking 26-24 loss to Carolina. Now rookie Bruce Rocket Gradkowski takes the reigns of Chucky's Mensa-esque offense and he'll have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth: Simms is expected to miss the rest of the season while recovering. Time for Buc fans to focus on who's gonna be the No.1 pick in the 2007 draft.

*Madden curse lives on: Alexander breaks foot
For the 6th consecutive year the cover boy for the mythic-like John Madden video game has been felled by an injury. The latest victim is Seahawks RB & reigning NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, who broke a bone in his foot during Seattle's 42-30 shellacking of the Giants and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. He joins Donovan McNabb, Ray Lewis, Mike Vick, Marshall Faulk and Daunte Culpepper as athletes who have been snake bit by the cover jinx. Let me be the first to nominate T.O. for lifetime appointment, John.

*Saints prove they're no fluke
In a game that was nearly an afterthought to the symbolism it represented the Saints never forgot about what they were there to do- win a football game. And they did just that with an inspired 23-3 destruction of a Falcon squad that had amassed 558 yds rushing in their 2-0 start. New Orleans held Vick, Dunn & Co. to just 117 on the ground and a mere 3 points, stifling one of the league's most potent offenses and proving that the Saints aren't just a symbol, they're a force to be reckoned with as well.

*Bengals, Palmer get revenge on Steelers, 28-20
Although he never admitted as much, Cincy QB Carson Palmer had to want this win badly as payback for the Steelers knocking him out of the game and the Bengals out of the playoffs last January. And thanks to two costly Pittsburgh turnovers in the 4th quarter, both converted into immediate TDs by Palmer to TJ Whosyourmama, the man got his wish. A-Ben-dicitis was worse than his usual mediocre self (18-39, 208, 3 INTs), and the Championship hangover has hit the struggling Steelers, big time. All together now- "awwwwwwww!"

*Suspended Bengal arrested for DUI
Off-field issues have been plaguing the Bengals all season, but this may be an all-time low: LB Odell Thurman was arrested late Sunday night after the Bengal's win over the Steelers when he was pulled over for OVI in downtown Cincy. The catch is he was already on suspension for 4 games for drug offenses and was not even active for the game. But his passenger, WR Chris Henry- himself a 4-time arrestee in the past year- was, and caught 2 TD passes in the win; it was reported that he barfed out the car window as officers questioned Thurman. Supposed disciplinarian coach Marvin Lewis better get a hold of his talented-but-troubled team before these off-field troubles turn into on-field failures.

*Shockey tastes his foot yet again
In a development that surprised exactly no one, boozing, bimbo-loving blowhard Giants TE Jeremy Shockey criticized his embattled coach, Tom Coughlin, after New York's humiliating 42-30 loss to Seattle. "We got outplayed, and out coached. Write that down," Shockey said. Asked what he meant by out coached, Shockey said, "You saw the game." Yeah Jeremy, I also saw you catch 4 passes for 58 yards, bringing your season total to 11 recs for 132 yds & 1 TD in 3 games. Must be the coach's fault, right? When are they going to start making muzzles mandatory gear at 'Da U?'

* Brett Favre passes 400 TD mark
With his 75-yd 1st quarter touchdown pass to Greg Jennings Green Bay QB Brett Favre became only the second quarterback in NFL history to total 400 TD passes; he trails only all-time leader Dan Marino, who has 420. For good measure, and to get a jump on the record, Favre threw 2 more in the Pack's 31-24 win over hapless Detroit. Favre had a Favre-like day, circa 1999: 25-36, 340 yds, 3TDs, no INTs. Maybe he's not done after all. And I'll tell you what, by the end of the season he should be pretty damn close to that record, and you can bet your Limburger Cheesehead that the Packer brass won't let him set that mark in another uniform; he's not Barry Bonds.

*Mark Brunell sets passing record
After a week in which everyone in the DC area but George W. took a turn ridiculing QB Mark Brunell, the ancient warrior went out and silenced everyone with one of the most impressive performances in league history. Brunell completed his first 22 passes of the game in the Redskins 31-15 destruction of the Texans. The mark is a record for a single game; Donovan McNabb holds the overall record of 24 straight, accomplished over 2 games in 2004. Brunell finished an impressive 24-27 for 261 yds & 1 TD. Now get off his back! (it hurts)

*Me-shawn burns old Buc mates
Of all the things that happened this weekend this hurt the most: seeing the self-promoting, under-performing, ultra-egotistical Meyshwan Johnson torch his former team to the tune of 8 plays, 101 yds & 2TDs. His score :59 into the game after a Chris Simms INT set the tempo, then he added another on a 4-yd end-around to start the 2nd Q; it was only the 3rd rushing TD of his career, 1st since 1998. The plays supplied the clubhouse cancer with plenty of ammo for his me-first cannon- hint to Bucs for the Nov. 13th rematch: wear earplugs!

*Patriots a shell of former selves
The memories of 3 Super Bowls in 4 years will never be forgotten (or duplicated) but it looks like memories are all Pats fans will have as the team has reverted back to pre-Dynasty mode. Tom Brady and the "offense" looked helpless and harmless in the 17-7 loss to Denver. Without his 2 top targets from last year, Deion Branch & David Givens, Brady has a collection of has-beens (Troy Brown), never-were's (Doug Gabriel, Reche Caldwell) and may-be's (Chad Jackson) to choose from at wide receiver. But equally as troubling is the fact that the vaunted defense has not played up to snuff: the unit has given up 998 total yards in 3 games to teams that aren't exactly offensive powers (BUF, NYJ, DEN.) Oh, did I mention they can't run the ball either(50 yds vs. Denver)? Up next: Cincy (gulp!)

* New Orleans, 3-0
How can you go against America's team (sorry, Dallas) after that awesome, inspiring homecoming victory Monday?

* Cincy, 3-0
After beating their arch-rival they get a home date with the Pats; come out of that 4-0 and watch out

*Indy, 3-0
Peyton scored his 1st rushing TD since 2002 as the Colts beat the stingy Jags 21-14. Don't quit you're regular gig as Tourette-like signal caller please.

*Atlanta, 2-1
Caught up in the buzzsaw that was the return of football to New Orleans; that rushing attack won't be down for long

*Seattle, 3-0
After CHI this week, a cake schedule and the acquisition of Deion Branch should offset the loss of Alexander- for a little while


Crescent City Crush-Job

Saints ride a tidal wave of emotion to a 23-3 pasting of the Falcons
The Dome was rockin & the unfortunate Falcons came a-knockin'

It was like NFL Opening Night, Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. The Saints came marching back in to New Orleans last night with enough pomp, circumstance and music to have qualified as a giant homecoming parade.

Which of course it was. After 56 weeks of agony and displace-ment, 23 consecutive road games, and millions of tears of pain & anguish, the New Orleans Saints returned to their home turf in grand style last night with a 23-3 pasting of the Atlanta Falcons in front of 69,000+ fans in house and millions more around the country who all had to be rooting for the new America's Team.

It was a magical night all around starting with the grand opening of the renovated former hurricane relief center/symbol of a region in despair, The Superdome. And the organizers of this extravaganza sure kicked it off right. Brought in to be the opening act was none other that two modern titans of the music industry, Green Day & U2. Robin Roberts stated that U2's The Edge had set up a charitable fund called Music Rising and a clip played showing the efforts to bring the life blood of the Bayou country back home- the music. The clip then segued into Green Day's Billy Joe on stage singing their soulful ballad "Wake me up when September Ends". As the song concluded, Joe, channelling Moe Howard with his dark mop, croaked out a little rendition of "House of the Rising Sun"- "there is a house in New Orleans, it's called the Superdome..."; the chills were multiplyin' by now. Then the crowd roared as U2's Bono entered stage right, sensing the real fun was about to begin. The two supergroups combined for a moving piece called, appropriately enough, "The Saints are Coming". By now the gooseflesh was rising and the tears were welling- the sight and sound of two of music's greatest bands of the past 25 years belting out the refrain "the Saints are coming..." over & over while the crowd went wild was a powerful emotional scene that will be etched in my memory for a long time. Bono's melodic voice spoke to the essence of what was going on in the area: "...Lower 9th (Ward) will rise again, above the waters of Lake Pontchartrain..." They capped it off with the uplifting anthem "(It's a) Beautiful Day" as the building rocked & the tears flowed-"... Fats Domino, you're beautiful, Allen Toussaint, you're beautiful, Aaron Neville, you're beautiful"- and it truly was a beautiful day for the millions of hope-starved citizens of New Orleans. The whole clip can be viewed here, and please view it; in a word that opening sequence was FREAKIN' AWESOME!

But wait, was there still a game to be played? Oh yes there was, and whoever said Bono isn't a prophet was lying because after the Saints took the field, their field, for the first time since Dec 26th, 2004 ironically against these very Falcons, the onslaught began. After a short-lived drive in which Mike Vick almost lost a fumble on 3rd down Atlanta was forced to punt from deep in their own end. New punter/old placekicker Michael Koenen didn't fare much better at his new position as New Orleans' Steve "Stevie G" Gleason snuck right up the middle, blocked the punt with his belly and Curtis Deloache fell on the ball in the end zone for a Saint TD a mere 30 seconds into the game; the Saints were indeed coming, and they were going to run right over the helpless Falcon squad right from the get-go. As Deloache reverse-spiked the ball over the goalpost and pointed to the screaming fans in the stands I thought to myself "I hope they repaired that roof real good, 'cause if not it might just cave in from all the noise." The good times continued as the Saints repeatedly stymied Vick, Dunn and Atlanta's vaunted rushing attack. After a Falcon FG the Saints pulled a beautiful double-reverse, using Reggie Bush as a decoy in handing off to former LSU star Devery Henderson, who scampered in for the 11-yard score and a 14-3 lead. Another Saint FG pushed the lead to 17-3 and when Atlanta threatened to add a morale-boosting FG before the half the Saints turned it into a morale-killer: they blocked former Saint kicking legend Morten Anderson's 25-yd attempt, then marched down the field and with help from a foolish late hit penalty on Atlanta CB Kevin Mathis hit a 51-yd FG as time expired for a 20-3 halftime lead. But the game was over then. As I had hoped and predicted (toot toot) the Saints rode the wave of emotion generated by their homecoming to an impressive victory that couldn't have been scripted better by Disney. Thanks to the awesome combined healing power of music, words, and terrific play a devastated area of our country was allowed to let loose, have fun, and forget their troubles for at least one day. It was one of the most powerfully moving sporting events I have ever witnessed, and one that will linger in the minds of fans and Americans for quite a while.

At least until the Bucs come to town in 2 weeks.