Monday, January 31, 2011

Links of the Day 1/31/11

Well, things are coming to a close for January, and things are about to go to hell with the weather. Been nice knowing you, Indianapolis.

If you have a gambling problem, then this is for you!

The Rays are getting quite the steal with their contract with Evan Longoria.

Just who is Jimmer Fredette?

Nothin'! Everyone was off yesterday.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Is this the worst weekend of the year?

All other weekends, you will find a Sunday full of sports that matter.Today? It's two meaningless All Star games. And they are in contact sports, which means there will be no contact, making them all the worse.
There was an awesome basketball game earlier today (St. John's topped Duke), but now if you don't want to watch the meaningless all star competitions, your options are: golf, the Winter X Games, Women's Basketball bull riding, bowling, the NBA or Corky Romano. I have no interest in any of that (disregard this post if you like any of that stuff. Stop reading if you really enjoyed Corky Romano)
In the fall and winter, it's the NFL, in the spring you can fill it watching basketball and all through the summer, there will be baseball games to take in. None of that this weekend. They even scheduled the Pro Bowl in the evening so I can't watch the Simpsons.
So, in the interest of keeping you all amused with really no sports related conversation, I have decided to find a video of an adorable lion attacking a purse.

Of course, the funny part about this video is that the lion will grow up and maul the hell out of the purse owner. Hilarious!


Links of the Day 1/30/11

Worst Sunday of the year, in my opinion. Pro Bowl Sunday.

The Marlins will get a home series in Seattle, and it's all Bono's fault.

This is a pretty good goal celebration, especially if you have ever played NHL 94.

It would be like T-Jack all over again!

Purdue 73, Minnesota 61 - I mentioned this earlier. Good result for me.
Vermont 63, Albany 54 - Big road win against a traditionally tough conference foe for the Catamounts
Kansas 90, Kansas State 66 - Kansas is coming out of that funk, it appears. Or Kansas State is wildly overrated. Probably both.
North Dakota State 89, Missouri-Kansas City 88 - This game went to double OT in Fargo. Makes sense, given how the Bison and the Kangaroo are nature's fiercest rivals


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The best result possible

Well, for me, anyways. I am talking about the Minnesota - Purdue game that played this afternoon. It couldn't have turned out better by my estimation, with Purdue winning by 12, 73-61.
As a fan of both teams, I want what is best for both teams. In this case, Purdue stood to win the most by winning this game. With Michigan State falling apart lately, and Purdue's huge loss to Ohio State, Purdue suddenly had no big wins. They needed to get things back on track, and playing a Minnesota team (ranked in the top 20) was just the ticket.
As for Minnesota, they were in exactly the opposite boat. They have been playing everyone strong, including Northwestern who the beat on Wednesday. In addition, they are recently without Al Nolen, who broke his foot. The Gophers can certainly be forgiven a road conference loss in such circumstances. And having watched them, I know they can overcome the injury eventually.
So, I guess where I am going with all this is that Purdue winning, and winning by 10+ proved Purdue's strength and didn't really hurt Minnesota.

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Links of the Day 1/29/11

I hope you are enjoying the weekend. Haha! What am I saying? You're at the Times, OF COURSE you are enjoying your weekend!

A look at the most valuable teams in the NBA. I don't know what the NBA is.

Storm of the American Gladiators is homeless.

The Miami Heat are now getting into real estate. Wait.. 2 NBA posts and something on the American Gladiators?!

FA Cup
Aston Villa 3, Blackburn 1 - The Rovers have been eliminated now from both the FA and Carling Cups by Villa by a 3-1 score.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Before anyone panics....

I just wanted to point out that this is the bullpen that the Twins have listed for next year
Matt Capps
Joe Nathan
Jose Mijares
Alex Burnett
Jeff Manship
Glenn Perkins
Pat Neshek
Anthony Slama
Scott Diamond
Eric Hacker

And don't forget the Twins also have Jim Hoey and Dusty Hughes waiting on the 40 man as well. There are two good arms, Capps and Nathan. with a couple of guys that have been there for a while in Mijares, Perkins and Neshek (even if they haven't really been reliable or healthy) and a whole lot of guys jockeying for a spot. Many people have been panicked about the state of the bullpen going into the offseason, but do you know what this looks like to me? This looks like what a bullpen usually looks like.
Make no doubt about it, we lost some arms in the offseason, but the Twins have never been made or broken by their pen. Not only that, but Bill Smith has traded for multiple relievers every year he has been in town. If the Twins need an arm, the Twins will add an arm. But that's hardly what is going to put the Twins over the edge.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka runs really, really fast. That's what puts us over the edge.


Links of the Day 1/28/11

What games are on the docket this week? The Pro Bowl? Oh, great. I guess I'm going to be reconnecting with my family...

What was the worst baseball move, the Vernon Wells trade or Barry Zito's contract?

What will the Wild do at the trade deadline? Here are some thoughts.

Miniature golf is a sport too.

North Dakota State 87, Southern Utah 75 - Ah yes, always nice to work SUU into the program.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Super Bowl Prediction

As you are well aware, I have been dreadful with my picks so far this post season, but I'm not going to let things die.No no, I am going to pick a winner in the Super Bowl.

Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers: I am pretty proud of myself on the Packers. I picked them to make it to the Super Bowl before the season began, which is great. That said, they are definitely not the best team in this game. I have heard Steelers fans state that they worry about the Packers, but I assure you, they have nothing to be worried about. Sure, the Packers can score with alacrity, but unlike some teams, they can be cowed by a good defense. Their Championship game victory demonstrated that. They needed a BJ Raji touchdown to win against Chicago because, after the first drive of the game, the Packers were slowed by the Bears defense.
As for the defense of the Packers, it consists of a good linebacking corps, a thin defensive line and mediocre defensive backs. Those talented linebackers are good against teams that rely on edge running or passes to linebackers, and thereby can help shut down the remainder of an opponent's offense. Rashard Mendenhall is a powerful runner that can go to the heart of an opposing defense, and isn't really known for being a major threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. In a game of matchups, Ben Roethlisberger's tendency to go to wide receivers and their bulldozer like running game plays well against the Packers. And frankly, Roethlisberger is a better quarterback than Caleb Hanie, and Hanie did pretty well last weekend.
Not only that, but the Steelers are good at holding onto the ball. This keeps the ball out of the Packers' hands. In this case, the best defense may be a good offense. I have a feeling that this will be a close game, but at the same time one of those games that never seems as close as it actually is.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 24, Packers 13

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Links of the Day 1/27/11

I feel like we should be making a killing with readers from the east coast on days like today. Buried again. Especially Connecticut. Oh, sorry, I got a little carried away meteorlogically.

Dusty Hughes. Folk hero or new bullpen arm?

And here I thought sexism was openly lauded in England.

In honor of the Carolina Panthers being added to the Scoreboard, here is a look at their coming draft.

Minnesota 81, Northwestern 70 - The Gophers should be happy they won, but very worried they gave up 70 to Northwestern

Copa Del Sol
Rosenborg 0, Rapid Bucharest 0 - Rosenborg through on penalty kicks (5-3) to face the winner of Malmo (from Sweden) and Spartak Moscow.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jay Cutler is a mopey douche

OK, I got that out of the way. This could be the second installment of my "sports are too important" series. It was going to be about the concussion theme that played out across the season, and how many people were frustrated that it became such a big deal. To many people, the idea of a player ending up with brain damage that would affect that person later in life was far less important than staying in a game and gutting it out. To many people, a GAME is more important than someone's long term health. There are still people in denial about the science that goes into concussion evaluation, which means guys like Justin Morneau are branded as soft, simply because medicine has advanced far enough to grasp the severity of his injury.
That brings us to Cutler. Rather than waiting for news to spill out on the severity of Cutler's injury, he was immediately branded as soft. When it was revealed that he had a torn MCL (Grade 2 sprain, in medical parlance) people then jumped on his case with examples of players who have played with knee injuries, like Drew Brees and Maurice Jones-Drew. People wanted to excoriate Cutler for his lack of dedication.
These arguments are on the surface legitimate, but on closer inspection mostly unfounded. Most players that gut out injuries in their joints gut it out with the help of an injection in the area of the injury. Due to his diabetes, Cutler is unable to receive such injections. MJD played on a torn meniscus, but the meniscus isn't a load bearing stretch of tissue, as it is there to hold the kneecap in place. Drew Brees also had a sprain of his MCL and played on it for an entire season, however Brees sprain was low grade (Grade 1, as it were) and decidedly playable. A Grade 2 sprain, such as Cutlers, threatens the structural integrity of the knee. Other ligaments, like the ACL affect it's stability with lateral movement, but the MCL is load bearing. While it hurts to put weight on it with a Grade 1 sprain, a Grade 2 sprain could lead to permanent damage to the knee if someone plants hard on the knee, as a quarterback would do, especially since more strain would be placed on the other ligaments.
So, aside from the fact that keeping Cutler out of the lineup was the medically correct thing to do, whether Cutler haters feel the same or not. Cutler and the Bears decided to preserve his ability to play next season, or even to walk normally in 20 years rather than to keep him in the game and risk further injury. If one takes a look at all the facts, this is the logical conclusion.
The idea that, since Cutler makes millions of dollars, he should be willing to suffer life altering injuries for his fans is appalling to me, especially when you see how many former players still struggle to pay their medical expenses.

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Links of the Day 1/26/11

Happy Birthday to my baby brother Kyle! He is 25 today, which.... oh God, I'm so old.

This is very close to the funniest thing I have seen all week.

Things... not going well for UCONN Football

Numbers are fun, and this injury graphic is incredibly specific

We have had a request to add a few teams, and I will start reporting Kansas and North Dakota State basketball, and the Carolina Panthers to this little adventure.
Vermont 72, Hartford 51 - Vermont continues their run at hte America East throne. Two years in a row with a team I visit in the Big Dance?
Kansas 82, Colorado 78 - Kansas is scuffling a bit
Ohio State 87, Purdue 64 - I'm not surprised Purdue lost, I am surprised they didn't even bother to show up
Wild 4, Blackhawks 2 - If they aren't careful, at this pace the Wild could end up in the playoffs


Is it half time?

I often have the ESPN all sports game feed going in the background (Australian soccer on now!). I can't watch every game, but it's fun to see what's going on around the world. It's like the bottom line ticker but for scores, and not quite as pervasive. Good stuff. Anyways, this is what happened with it last night. Tell me, can anyone tell me what's going on in Connecticut with their game against Marquette?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Links of the Day 1/25/11

We're almost done with January, which is good. That much closer to May.

Peter King had the Steelers and Packers in the Super Bowl... in the preseason.

With Manny Ramirez and Kyle Farnsworth in Tampa, things for the Dugout just got easier.

A check in on Justin Morneau

Daily Scoreboard:
Nothing last night! But I found out that the Carnegie Elite Tournament that Rosenborg was in is a Junior tournament. Aha! But they will be starting the La Manga tournament (for the grown ups!) in Spain on Thursday..


Monday, January 24, 2011

An update to the Daily Links

This is something I have been kicking around for a while, and I think I will really enjoy it. Maybe you will too. I don't care though, this is my blog.
I am a big fan of a lot of sports and a lot of teams, and I don't always get to cover them, so now, every day in the links I will start having the daily scoreboard for teams that I feel are likely of the most interest to me, Steve and my readers here. Hopefully I will be able to have a better commentary on the teams as their seasons progress.
I will just be starting out with these teams, but please let me know in the comments or via e-mail if there is any team you would like me to show in the daily Scoreboard. And that's what I'll call it until I start forgetting to put the title on it.
Here is a list of teams as I have them now:
Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox
Indianapolis Colts
San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Wild
Professional Soccer
Rosenborg BK (Norway)
Blackburn Rovers (England)
NCAA (football and basketball)

And additionally, I think I will also have the two teams I draw every year show up in the scoreboard as well. This means Vermont basketball and Wyoming football.  So let's get it started right now! Last nights scores:
Blackburn 2, West Brom 0 - Blackburn moves to 7th in the EPL, which is surprising, because they have had such a tumultuous season with so few wins.
Carnegie Elite Tournament
Rosenborg 0, Brann 1 - I have no idea what this tournament is about. It's the Norwegian offseason.
NCAA Basketball
Vermont 70, Binghamton 52 - Vermont is now 5-2 in the America East


Links of the Day 1/24/11

Good morning, is everyone excited for the Super Bowl? You have two weeks to endure the media barrage!

I find this post funny, because the Steelers fans that I had to have around me during the game thought that this was clearly a fumble. I disagreed. Also, they claim that the Steelers NEVER get any calls. I have grown to hate the Steelers with a white hot passion.

The Tigers appear to have exactly the opposite problem the Twins do.

Oh, back to the Steelers. This happened.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Steve's 2010 College Football Sim

Unlike last year, when I didn't manage to post the the results of my college football blowup sim until late February, this year I'm doing it a month earlier, on January 23, only 13 days after the end of the actual season. Ryan did a sim as well and posted it on the date of the BCS Championship. I'll take the liberty of letting you follow the link to his post where he links to the origin of the college football reorganization that we came up with and how our sim is structured. Here are some fun facts from my sim this year, then I'll get into the conference breakdowns:

- 7 of my conference champs went 9-0 in conference, while 3 were 8-1 and 2 were 7-2. Tiebreakers were only needed in the 2 conferences where the conference champ was 7-2. 7 teams won their conference by 2 games.
- My strongest conference was the Dixie, who went 66-54 overall.
- The worst conference was a 3 way tie between New England, Tobacco Road, and Mountain West, who went 57-63.
- 3 of my 12 playoff teams from last year returned: Alabama, Boise State, and defending champs, TCU
- Only 2 of the real-life 10 BCS teams made my tournament: Wisconsin and TCU, but 4 of them finished 2nd in their conference. Virginia Tech was only 5-7 (and also had the hardest fall of any 2009 conference champ)
- 3 teams had a losing record last year and won the conference this year: Temple (5-7), Florida State (4-8), and Hawaii (2-10)
- A MAC or Sun Belt team finished in last in 8 of a possible 9 conferences that have a team from 1 of those 2 conferences.
- The Pac-10 was shut out of the tournament
- I had 5 12-0 teams overall, Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Alabama
- I had 2 0-12 teams overall, Ball State and New Mexico

Here are the results, conference by conference by conference.

New England - Champion: Temple
What a shock! Believe it or not, this was not my first MAC team to win a conference. Akron won the Great Lakes in 2008. Things didn't start well for Temple, losing to 4-8 Wyoming and 3-9 UCLA in non-conference, and then to Boston College, but they turned it around and finished the season with 8 straight wins, including a 48-44 2 OT win at Maryland in the final week after being down 24-0.
Order of finish: Temple, Penn State, Maryland, Syracuse, Boston College, UConn, Rutgers, Navy, Buffalo, Army

Appalachian - Champion: Pittsburgh
The Panthers pulled off one of the 5 12-0 seasons, but did not receive a first round bye due to playing in a 59-61 conference and having a weaker non-conference schedule than Michigan State. Other than a scare at Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh gave everyone a pretty good beatdown while there was a lot of parity throughout the rest of the conference
Order of Finish: Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ohio, Marshall, Miami (OH)

Great Lakes - Champion: Michigan State
The Spartans won their pivotal game over Ohio State in this not-so-competitive conference to finish 12-0 and get the #4 seed. The Buckeyes also suffered an embarrassing loss to Central Michigan. Michigan finished 3-9 and in 9th place in a conference that only has 3 real life Big Ten and 7 MAC teams.
Order of Finish: Michigan State, Ohio State, Central Michigan, Toledo, Kent State, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Akron, Michigan, Eastern Michigan

Tobacco Road - Champion: North Carolina
Last year, Tennessee won this conference by only going 8-4 but held a tiebreaker over North Carolina, who they beat in Knoxville. This year, North Carolina had its revenge, beating Tennessee in Chapel Hill in the final week of the regular season to win the conference title, finish 10-2, and get the #10 seed in the tourney.
Order of Finish: North Carolina, Tennessee, Duke, Vanderbilt, East Carolina, Memphis, NC State, Middle Tennessee, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky

Midwest - Champion: Wisconsin
The Badgers blew through this conference, going 9-0 and 11-1 overall, with their only loss at Oklahoma. The rest of the conference had a decent amount of parity, with some surprises, like Notre Dame finishing 9-3 (7-2) with that one non-conference loss at home to Florida International, or Indiana finishing 7-5 (5-4) somehow. Things didn't go so well for Purdue and Minnesota who finished (3-6) 4-8 and (2-7) 3-9 for 7th and 9th, respectively. What was Purdue's reward for that 7th place finish? A trip to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech next year!
Order of Finish: Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Iowa, Indiana, Northern Illinois, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, Ball State

Florida - Champion: Florida State
Whatifsports must not like Bobby Bowden, because after a 4-8 season last year and his retirement, they finish a perfect 12-0 this year. They did seem pretty beatable though, barely winning most games and went relatively unchallenged non-conference, beating 0-12 Ball State and 1-11 Arkansas State.
Order of Finish: Florida State, Florida, Southern Miss, Miami (FL), Central Florida, Tulane, South Florida, Florida International, Troy, Florida Atlantic

Great Plains - Champion: Oklahoma State
The Great Plains had 6 great teams and 4 terrible teams. Nebraska seemed to be in the driver's seat early in the year, starting 6-0 until they got blown out by Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State 3 weeks in a row. This set up Oklahoma-Oklahoma State as the showdown of the season, which was won by the Cowboys at home, 48-45.
Order of Finish: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State, Tulsa, Iowa State, Kansas, Arkansas State

Dixie - Champion: Alabama
The Crimson Tide, who disappointed a little in real life this year, dominated this conference, and went 12-0 and got the #1 seed in the tournament. They beat real life national champs Auburn 61-7 (who only finished 7-5) and got big wins over Boise State and Ohio State in non-conference play. This was the strongest conference this year by win-loss record.
Order of Finish: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Clemson, UAB, Mississippi State, Louisiana-Monroe

Gulf Coast - Champion: TCU
TCU won this conference by 2 games, but it wasn't without its share of crazy upsets. TCU lost to Rice. LSU, who looked to be in good shape after that TCU loss, lost 3 absolute blowouts in a row to Texas A&M, TCU, and Texas. A&M couldn't capitalize on the TCU loss either, losing to TCU, Houston, and SMU. SMU is overcoming the "Death Penalty" in the sim, just like in real life, finishing 8-4 and in 3rd place this year.
Order of Finish: TCU, LSU, SMU, Texas A&M, Rice, Houston, Texas, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas

Mountain West - Champion: Air Force
This crazy, parity filled conference has no real national powerhouses, so it was only natural that someone like Air Force could pull it out. One of the 3 weakest conferences, only Baylor went 3-0 in the non-conference schedule, but only went 4-5 in conference play. Colorado, Texas Tech, and BYU all held the lead at some point, but in the end it was Air Force who barely squeaked by Colorado, Texas Tech, and BYU to clinch the conference title with a week to play. Had BYU beaten Air Force, Colorado would have won. Since Air Force did not need to win in the final week, they didn't, losing to UTEP to finish 8-4.
Order of Finish: Air Force, Colorado, BYU, UTEP, Texas Tech, Baylor, Colorado State, New Mexico State, Wyoming, New Mexico

Great Basin - Champion: Boise State
This conference came down to one game, Oregon at Boise State, which Boise won 38-27. Boise pretty much dominated conference play, capped by the biggest blowout of the year, a 94-3 win over Utah State. However, both Boise State and Oregon finished 10-2, with Boise losing to Alabama and Ohio State in non-conference play and Oregon losing to old QB Jeremiah Masoli and Ole Miss in week 1.
Order of Finish: Boise State, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Oregon State, Washington, Idaho, Washington State, Utah State, UNLV

California - Champion: Hawaii
This may have been the biggest surprise of them all, considering that Stanford won the national title in Ryan's sim. This was the craziest conference for parity, with a 5-way tie for first place with 2 games to go between the top 6 finishers listed below, minus California. In the end it was Stanford and Hawaii who finished tied with a 10-2 (7-2) record, but it was Hawaii who got the critical 27-20 win at Stanford in Week 9 that put the Warriors in the tournament. Hawaii's conference losses were to Arizona and San Diego State, while Stanford blew their chance at winning it by also losing to Arizona State at home
Order of Finish: Hawaii, Stanford, California, San Diego State, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, San Jose State, Fresno State

Well the tournament is set here are the results:
First Round
#8 Hawaii vs. #9 Boise State - Hawaii wins 37-33 in 2 OT. Boise State took a low scoring 13-9 lead into the 4th quarter. In the 4th, Austin Pettis scored on a touchdown pass with 3:24 to go, only to have Hawaii answer with a touchdown by Kealoha Pilares with 44 seconds to go, sending thegame into OT at 23-23. Each team scored a TD in the 1st OT, and in the 2nd OT, Boise opened with a field goal, but Alex Green scored on a 25 yard run to send Hawaii to the 2nd round. The 2 teams combined for 853 passing yards and 6 TD passes.
#5 Pittsburgh vs. #12 Air Force - Pittsburgh wins 24-17. Pittsburgh opened up an early 17-0 from touchdowns by Ray Graham and Mike Shanahan (probably not the Redskins coach). Air Force fought back, tying the game at 17 in the 4th, but Pittsburgh sealed the win with a Devin Street TD with 5:36 to go.
#6 TCU vs. #11 Temple - TCU wins 53-10 - TCU dominated this game in every way imaginable, taking a 34-3 lead into the 4th. After a Temple TD at the very beginning of the 4th, things got ugly. TCU kicked a field goal, scored on a safety, scored another offensive TD, and to top it off, scored on a 71 yard interception return for a TD by Jurell Thompson. TCU didn't need to do much on offense, because Temple QB Mike Gerardi threw 5 interceptions, giving the Horned Frogs good field position.
#7 Wisconsin vs. #10 North Carolina - Wisconsin wins 41-34 - Both teams traded scoring throughout the entire game, with Wisconsin taking the biggest lead of the game, 11 points, into half time. North Carolina fought back and took a 27-24 lead early in the 4th. Wisconsin recaptured the lead, thanks to a field goal and a Montee Ball 62 yard TD run. North Carolina tied the game at 34 with 1:51 to go, seemingly sending it to Overtime. But on the first play of their next posession, John Clay scored on a 58 yard TD run to put Wisconsin in the lead for good. The Tar Heels had no answer for Ball and Clay, who ran for 299 yards and 3 TDs

Quater Finals
#1 Alabama vs. #8 Hawaii - Alabama wins 45-30 - Alabama jumped to an early 24-7 lead, fueld by 3 Mark Ingram TDs, but Hawaii fought back, tying the game at 24 in the 3rd quarter. After that point, Alabama scored 3 more TDs while Hawaii could only muster up 2 more field goals. Greg McElroy was on target for the Crimson Tide, completing 21 of 28 passes for 367 yards and 2 TDs.
#4 Michigan State vs. #5 Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh wins 41-27 - Michigan State entered the 4th quater with a 20-17 lead, and even had a 27-24 lead with 8 minutes to go, but then everything fell apart. The Panthers retaliated with a TD to take a 31-27 lead. On the following drive, Kirk Cousins threw an INT which led to another Pittsburgh TD, and Edwin Baker fumbled the ball on the first play of Michigan State's final drive to seal the win for Pittsburgh. Dion Lewis ran for 218 yards and 2 TDs for Pittsburgh
#3 Florida State vs. #6 TCU - TCU wins 45-13 - The Horned Frogs had their way with the previously undefeated Seminoles. Florida State QB Christian Ponder only completed 20 of 42 passes as the TCU defense dominated again. Ed Wesley went crazy for TCU as well, running for 161 yards and 4 TDs
#2 Oklahoma State vs. #7 Wisconsin - Oklahoma State wins 31-23 - The Badgers dominated the first half and early into the 2nd half, but kicked more field goals than TDs to take a 23-10 lead. After that, it was all Oklahoma State. Kendall Hunter scored on a 53 yard TD run to cut the game to 23-17, and in the 4th quarter, Brandon Weeden connected with Justin Blackmon for 2 TD passes to give the Cowboys the win. Ball and Clay, who ran like crazy on North Carolina in the first round, were held to only 63 yards rushing (Clay did have both Wisconsin TDs though)

#1 Alabama vs. #5 Pittsburgh - Alabama wins 30-6 - Pittsburgh's highlight reel ended in the 1st quarter, as they took a 3-0 lead into the 2nd. Alabama went crazy in the 2nd, Scoring 23 points on 3 TDs (with a missed PAT) and a field goal, two of those TDs scored by Mark Ingram. Both teams added their final points in the 3rd and went scoreless in the 4th. McElroy threw for 313 yards and 3 TDs for the Tide.
#2 Oklahoma State vs. #6 TCU - Oklahoma State wins 40-16 - OKLAHOMA STATE ARE MEN!! THEY SCORED 40!! Much like the other semifinal, the Cowboys entered the 2nd quater with a 6-3 lead, then scored 24 points in the 2nd to take a 30-6 lead into half time. Andy Dalton's 3rd consecutive below average playoff game finally cost the Horned Frogs, and Oklahoma State's offensive stars exploded: 193 yards and 2 TDs for Kendall Hunter, 120 yards receiving for Justin Blackmon, and 321 yards and 2 TDs for QB Brandon Weeden.

The Championship Game
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Oklahoma State - Oklahoma State wins 41-33 - The semi-finals set up an interesting #1 vs. #2 national championship between 2 14-0 teams. Kendall Hunter scored on a goaline rush to give the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead, which was answered by Mark Ingram to tie it at 7. Bo Bowling scored on a TD catch for Oklahoma State, which as also answered by Alabama, in the form of a Darius Hanks TD catch from McElroy, tying the game at 14 heading into the 2nd. Each team kicked a field goal in the 2nd, giving us a 17-17 tie at half time. In the 3rd, Trent Richardson ran in a TD for Alabama, which was answered by another Cowboy field goal, giving the Tide a 24-20 lead heading into the 4th. Oklahoma State wasted no time taking the lead back, as Weeden connected to Michael Harrison. Alabama retalliated, scoring on a 33 yard TD catch by Marquis Maze (missing the PAT) and kicking a field goal to go up 33-27 with 5:45 to go. Oklahoma State answered wtih a Weeden to Blackmon TD to give the Cowboys a 34-33 lead (thanks to that missed PAT). Alabama went 4 and out, setting up a final Kendall Hunter TD run to give the Cowboys and crazy Mike Gundy a National Championship!

So, just like last year, these sims are time consuming, but a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to doing this again next year.

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Links of the Day 1/23/11

The last NFL weekend with more than one game, then it's just garbage winter. Great.

This is such a salient point that it's funniest part is that it was first mentioned by the Onion.

Here's a look at a fun Willie Mays story.

I think I am almost more impressed when people move outside of their comfort zone. Comedians do drama, or in this case, sports writers do telling social commentary.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Divisional Playoffs

So last week was a pretty rough week for the power rankings making predictions. Also, the Patriots' loss after dominating the NFL for the previous 9 weeks or so really screwed things up. I'm hoping that somebody could actually mathematically unseat them with a win this week so we at least have the #1 ranked team in the Super Bowl. The rankings only predicted 1 game right in the divisional playoffs after going 3/4 in the wild card round. The only one it got right was the Bears, the obvious pick. My dog outpicked me, picking the Bears and Packers but missing the Ravens and Patriots.

With each of the previously top 3 ranked teams losing last week, we were in for a shakeup this week. The Patriots are barely holding on to the #1 spot still, despite being out of the playoffs. The team who beat them, the Jets, moved up to #4. The Steelers moved up to #3 with their win, while the Ravens fell 3 spots to #5. The Packers moved up 3 spots to #2, while Falcons fell 3 spots to #6. The Bears, who are still kind of on the outside looking in, only moved up 2 spots to #7 by beating Seattle. The Seahawks stayed at #22. All of the movement this week involved the playoff teams, with the exception of San Diego and Tampa, who dropped a spot because of the Bears' win. Usually a strength of schedule change causes some other eliminated teams to flip around. Not this week.

So without further ado, here are the power ranks (4-4) and my dog's (5-3) picks for this week:
Power Ranks:
#2 Packers over #7 Bears
#3 Steelers over #4 Jets

Jake the Golden Retriever:
Packers over Bears
Jets over Steelers

A Jets and Bears win would be devastating for the power ranks. They would not only be 4-6 at picking playoff winners, but the Patriots would probably be #1 heading into the Super Bowl. Wins by the Packers and Steelers will probably be enough to jump New England.

Full Ranks - All teams from #10 down stayed even so I'm not going to type the change this week for them:
1. Patriots - 78.76 - Even
2. Packers - 78.01 - +3
3. Steelers - 74.47 - +1
4. Jets - 71.44 - +2
5. Ravens - 70.92 - -3
6. Falcons - 69.69 - -3
7. Bears - 66.17 - +2
8. Buccaneers - 64.44 - -1
9. Chargers - 61.31 - -1
10. Lions - 58.75
11. Colts - 58.29
12. Giants - 54.91
13. Chiefs - 54.33
14. Eagles - 53.18
15. Saints - 52.48
16. Raiders - 51.69
17. Cowboys - 45.06
18. 49ers - 42.63
19. Rams - 42.01
20. Titans - 40.15
21. Texans - 39.66
22. Seahawks - 38.76
23. Dolphins - 37.36
24. Bengals - 36.32
25. Jaguars - 35.93
26. Redskins - 35.61
27. Vikings - 33.69
28. Cardinals - 33.09
29. Browns - 32.60
30. Bills - 32.27
31. Broncos - 27.39
32. Panthers - 24.62

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Links of the Day 1/22/11

A good weekend morning to you. I hope things are well.

Purdue is doing the Pro Combat uniform thing next season too. I thought this was only for good teams.

When you put it like this, keeping Carl Pavano is less exciting. Good for having a mustache though.

I am a blogger, and I don't have this much time on my hands.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Nick Punto, sliding into St. Louis

I will be gracious in the departure of Nick Punto. He was a good clubhouse presence. He had a good work ethic. He was a good guy to have in the Twin Cities community. 
If I had one gripe about Punto, it's that he did a LOT of stupid stuff, from diving into first, having a bad approach at the plate, making bad reads on ground balls (so he would have to dive for them) and would somehow get applauded for it. 
Well, he's doing it in Saint Louis. Welcome, Matt Tolbert, to the new role of Twins scapegoat, following in the legacy of Denny Hocking and Punto.

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Links of the Day 1/21/11

Good morning. I am in a sleeping in rut. I apologize.

I also apologize for this picture. Egad, Al Davis is the leader of the zombies.

It's not just baseball managers that completely lose it.

I didn't think they had cell phones or crocodiles in the Ukraine.


Cooking with Ryan: Sesame Chicken

This was a little more involved than last week's soup. This recipe came to me from my friend Mike and was probably the messiest I have ever got my kitchen. Why? Well here is the ingredient list:
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Brown Sugar
Corn Starch
Red Pepper
Chinees 5 Spice
Chicken broth
Green Onions
Sesame Seeds
And of course oil for cooking in. That's a lot of ingredients and they all had their own pans and pots. Mistakes were bound to happen. For the most part they all had their own pot and skillet or whatever, which meant a lot of pouring and mixing and everything. Still, it's insanely satisfying to pick something like sesame oil or 5 Spice at the grocery store. You feel like you know what you're doing in there. Anyways, here is a look. Looks tasty, doesn't it? It was very satisfying, because it was such a pain to put together.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Links of the Day 1/20/11

I totally overslept today, and now everything is thrown off in my world. Here are some links.

Money means nothing to the Steinbrenners!

Just for Men ads are weird, not unlike Randy Johnson's beard,

Speaking of beards.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A look at the Championship Round

I have done such a bang up job with all these predictions so far, I have decided to follow through with the Championship games. I was 50/50 last week, and frankly, there's only one way to go from here.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears: I picked the Packers to go to the Super Bowl at the very beginning of the season, and it would be hypocritical to bail on them now (even though I picked the Falcons last week). The Packers have the hottest QB in the game right now and solid linebackers, the QBs of the defense. The Bears have a great defense. I think the Packers' possession of players that can direct traffic on both sides of the ball will overcome Chicago's most obvious strength, which resides on only one side of the ball The Packers have overcome their early season injury problems and are now unbeatable.... in the NFC


New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers: It says a lot that there is a reasonable chance that this game could be the higher scoring of the two games this weekend. The Steelers have been impressive all season, whereas the Jets came on late. The Jets beat the Steelers in a game that Pittsburgh was missing key components like Troy Polamalu. If you look at the course of the season, the Steelers have been obviously better. That said, every round so far has included a game where the "obvious winner" ended up losing (I'm talking, of course, about the Saints and Patriots). No real in depth analysis here. The Steelers seem like the most obvious pick this week, which means I am picking the Jets.

That's right, I am picking a Favre Bowl. Wouldn't it be fitting? A game in which Brett Favre gets all the attention, even when he's not playing? Overshadowing Aaron Rodgers and both his former teams. Yep, this one is bound to happen.

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Links of the Day 1/19/11

How about I post links earlier today than I did yesterday?

The Twins and Carl Pavano remain close to a deal. This is the same headline I have seen for the past 4 weeks, it seems.

Former Golden Gopher Laurence Moroney was arrested recently, perhaps for wearing pigtails.

Over at Barry Melrose Rocks, I tried to figure out exactly what Mike Commodore reminded me of.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Really, Andy Roddick?

Here tennis is, trying to make itself more marketable for the little guy, making tennis out to be for everyone, not just the aristocratic d-bags of yore. I played tennis in high school I may be an aristocratic d-bag. Well, that aside, you are screwing things up by getting sponsored by IZOD/LaCoste! Nobody wants to root for the gator on the hat!

(photo by Andrew Brownbill of the AP)

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Links of the Day 1/18/11

Are you ready for some links? Because it's about time I posted them.

Well good, at least the Twins are spending money on the bullpen, even though Rauch, Guerrier and Crain are gone.

Yep, it's a New Zealand lawnmower race fight. If I have posted one of these stories, I've posted them a thousand times.

Now with Brett Favre done, the Vikings replenished their supply of dudes that will take their pants off.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Is Jim Thome Brett Favre?

Well no, of course not. He isn't an arrogant, egotistical attention whore like Favre, but there is a chance, in my opinion, of his presence detracting from the team in his own way this season, just like Favre did in his second year back with a Minnesota team after a very successful first campaign in the Twin Cities.
Think back to last season, before the dreadful Morneau injury.  Delmon Young struggled. Jim Thome wasn't much. Then Morneau got hurt and they both took off for the rest of the year. I assert that it was because of the regular playing time each player suddenly started to get. With Morneau in the lineup again, that means someone is going to be left on the bench. Who will it be?
I say it should be Michael Cuddyer. Cuddy is the logical choice, because he has so much versatility, but at the same time lacks so many components that his teammates excel at. If Thome is to be platooned, that would take out Young or Cuddyer, logically, when Thome is played. After Young's season last year, it will be hard to sit him (for most people, but this is the Twins we are talking about). The other option is the same handed Jason Kubel who on the surface looks like the weakest of the three players.
Strange though it may sound, he isn't. Cuddyer's defense has been going downhill steadily, to the point that he and Kubel are approximately the same value in right field (that's not a good thing) and both are less valuable than the faster Young (that's definitely not a good thing). Kubel is also younger and has a better power bat than Cuddyer, who again is retrograding in that category. Despite Kubel's low batting average, he is a better hitter overall with more potential.
Additionally, Cuddyer has a history of playing the three infield positions. If Gardenhire wanted to get creative and keep Cuddyer in the lineup, he could theoretically replace Danny Valencia or Tsuyoshi Nishioka as well and bring Cuddyer into the infield. This way, despite the detriment to the infield defense, nobody truly gets rusty.
Still, the best idea would be to have Thome platoon with Cuddyer and wait for someone to get hurt so everyone could get their regular playing time. I worry, though, that Thome's return may be a problem, since it forces the team to get creative with the daily lineup. Thome's return this year might just Favre up things for the Twins.

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Links of the Day 1/17/11

It's MLK day. You may have the day off, but there is still a lot of work to do.

I don't know if Kyle Singler will  be redy for the NBA, as delicate as he is.

Retirement in baseball and what it means to the Hall of Fame ballot.

Kyle Farnsworth was in the news, so a new Dugout was created.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

What did the 5 fingers say to the face?

True story from Saturday night. I went out for a few drinks with a coworker from Real Job Inc. last night. It was 2 for 1 and the music was good, so me and my buddy were standing near the dance floor, available to dance, but not really busting out the moves. I'm sure you now the mindset. At one point, a girl gets my attention and begins to gesticulate wildly. It's loud and I couldn't tell what she was saying. Her posture said either "hey, I'm here to have a good time, act like a fool with me" or "what the f*k was that?"
The message being conveyed was the latter. Seconds later, she wound up and smacked me right in the face. And she was wearing rings.  I felt every one of them.
Now, this is a pretty funny happenstance, getting smacked in the face for no reason. But then she went and found the bouncers claiming that I had touched her ass (I think, I don't know for sure. Like I said, it was loud). So then the bouncers come over and say "You can't be doing that man"
Doing WHAT?!
"Just don't let it happen again."
WHAT?!?! (Sidebar... the bouncer looked like Knowshon Moreno, mohawk and all)
So, from my perspective, this is what happened. A girl tried to move past me and brushed against me. Instead of saying excuse me, she slapped me in the damn face. From the perspective of everyone else in the bar, I was the dipsh!t that pissed a girl off enough to get slapped and bring out Bouncer Moreno. My night was over.
It was a pretty good allegory for the weekend. 2/4 on my picks. Seth Davis almost nailed the score on the Purdue game. I was getting slapped around all weekend.
Bitches be crazy.


Links of the Day 1/16/11

I got slapped in the face last night. How are you?

A look at racial equity in sports, if you haven't seen these results on SportsCenter yet.

This girl is crazy lucky.

How much does defense matter? A look at the Brewers for next season.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Links of the Day 1/15/11

Happy weekend, here are some links

Teehee. Bimbo!

When streaking goes wrong

It just occurred to me that this is the second year in a row that the National Championship went to the state of Alabama..


NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Wild Card Playoffs

Just like in previous years, the power ranks live on in the playoffs. Obviously, since only 8 out of the 32 NFL teams played last week, almost everyone stayed ranked exactly where they were. The Patriots are still #1, but the Ravens dominant win over Kansas City helped them jump over Atlanta for the #2 spot. The Steelers, Packers, and Jets remain at #4, #5, and #6. The other 2 playoff teams (that happen to be playing each other) are the Bears, who are #9 behind 2 non-playoff teams, and the Seahawks, who moved out of the bottom 5 and up to #22 after getting one of the most shocking playoff wins ever.

Last week's playoff losers all dropped some spots. the Colts fell to #11, Chiefs to #13, Eagles to #14, and Saints #15. All of those teams dropping moves the Lions, yes the Lions, who finished the season as one of the hottest teams into the top 10.

Last week, the power ranks nailed 3 out of the 4 games. It obviously missed the Seahawks beating the Saints, but got the Ravens, Packers, and Jets correct. That might sound impressive, but my dog also went 3/4 last week as well. He only missed the Eagles over the Packers.

So without further ado, here are the power rank predictions for this week:
#3 Falcons over #5 Packers
#9 Bears over #22 Seahawks
#1 Patriots over #6 Jets
#2 Ravens over #4 Steelers

Since the Eagles loss screwed up the divisional playoff pairings for my dog, I also let him make picks this week. Here they are:
Packers over Falcons
Bears over Seahawks
Patriots over Jets
Ravens over Steelers

Here are the full ranks:
1. Patriots - 85.47 - Even
2. Ravens - 77.39 - +1
3. Falcons - 76.82 - -1
4. Steelers - 74.00 - Even
5. Packers - 70.49 - Even
6. Jets - 69.53 - Even
7. Buccaneers - 64.35 - Even
8. Chargers - 61.03 - +1
9. Bears - 60.11 - +2
10. Lions - 58.85 - +4
11. Colts - 58.31 - -3
12. Giants - 55.22 - +3
13. Chiefs - 54.37 - -1
14. Eagles - 53.50 - -4
15. Saints - 53.05 - -2
16. Raiders - 54.37 - Even
17. Cowboys - 45.36 - Even
18. 49ers - 42.76 - Even
19. Rams - 42.15 - Even
20. Titans - 40.14 - Even
21. Texans - 40.00 - Even
22. Seahawks - 39.20 - +6
23. Dolphins - 37.40 - -1
24. Bengals - 36.41 - -1
25. Jaguars - 35.60 - Even
26. Redskins - 35.58 - -2
27. Vikings - 33.45 - -1
28. Cardinals - 33.24 - -1
29. Browns - 32.68 - Even
30. Bills - 31.98 - Even
31. Broncos - 28.07 - Even
32. Panthers - 24.84 - Even

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Friday, January 14, 2011

What does this prove?

So last night, Minnesota nipped Purdue in Williams Arena. Minnesota has had a brutal schedule to begin the Big Ten season, losing to Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State on the road. They didn't really have a bad game in the bunch, and it came after the Gophers had a non conference schedule that included wins against North Carolina, West Virginia and 10 other teams. They are a good team that got dealt a bad card with a tough schedule to start the conference schedule.
Purdue has one loss on the season, an admittedly bad loss on a neutral court against Richmond. Other than that game, they had been taking care of business, not just winning, but crushing every opponent on their schedule. They ripped Penn State in Happy Valley before the Nittany Lions went on to beat Michigan State and Illinois there. Up until that point, they had earned a #8 ranking with only one loss.
So, what does this mean, Minnesota beating Purdue by 3 in Williams Arena? I say it means that the Big Ten is a difficult conference, and Minnesota, despite the tough schedule, is still fighting and is still a good team. I think it proves that Purdue is a very good team, staying in a tough battle on the road, despite one of their top players not playing well. It shows a well rounded team that will contend for the Big Ten crown, especially now that they have had their wake up call.
Oh. Wait. Nope, I was wrong. According to basketball expert Seth Davis, it just means that Purdue was overrated. They will probably lose to a mediocre Big East team this weekend (one that Minnesota already beat).

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Links of the Day 1/14/11

Are you like me? Still writing on '10 on your Links of the Day posts? Haha! Crazy!

The Twins have agreed to terms with Jim Thome. Well good.

Outstanding stiff-arms through the years.

Well, by golly it looks like Albert Pujols should stay in St. Louis too.a


The Divisional Round; A preview

Last week, I gave a quick little blurb about every game for the wild card weekend. I thought it might be nice if I carried that through to the Super Bowl. I should note that I went 1/4 last weekend. Oops.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers: I have been extraordinarily impressed by the Steelers this year. Even without a quarterback for the first quarter of the season, the Steelers just kept winning. They have had injuries on the line and in the secondary, and they keep plugging away. In short, they are just a complete team that can recover from a weakness in a major area of team Barring a complete collapse, they should win this game. Of course, when  they do lose, it's because a team-wide collapse. They won't do that at home against the Ravens.

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons: I know how hard it can be for teams to overcome injuries. Some of them struggle for a little while to come back and then it seems like they aren't missing anyone.The Packers are that team. They really languished as someone new every week went down,  but now they are strong, playing as a cohesive unit once again. It's the team that I picked to go to the Super Bowl early on this year. That said, I think the Falcons will win, but if the Packers DO win, I think they go to the Super Bowl.

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears: I am going to take that as a personal victory, picking the Seahawks to put up a fight against the Saints. That said, I am just as adamantly picking the Seahawks to not put up much fight against the Bears. I think it will be like, 20-6 with a Hester touchdown and a defensive touchdown. Or something like that. I don't trust Cutler in a big spot, but I do trust the defense and special teams for the Bears.

New York Jets at New England Patriots: This is the week's Chiefs/Ravens. I expect an absolute bloodbath. The Jets were handed victory by the Colts, and are simply no match for a far superior team on the road. The Jets are doing a lot of talking, while the Pats are doing a lot of preparing. The Pats could probably do a little film study on the Steelers or Ravens if they wanted to, if the game is going to go as I expect. There is no facet of the game where I think the Jets are a better team.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Links of the Day 1/13/11

Happy Thursday. It's donut day!

Let's see, constant injury problems, can only rush for about 500 yards a season.... sounds like a perfect fit for the Colts!

Trevor Mbakwe of the Gophers was arrested, just in time for the game against Purdue!

Yes, Brett Musberger said that thing during the game.


Cooking with Ryan: Toucan Soup

See, it's a joke, because toucan... two can... get it? It's simply cream of chicken and broccoli cheese soup. You slop in a little salsa and cover it with chedder cheese and you have a tangy, cheesy soup. I toasted some kaiser rolls (I couldn't find any sourdough) and that is what you see perched atop the bowl. It was a good meal, wasn't exactly restaurant quality, but it was good on a cold day.
The question I have is, how the heck do you have soup as a leftover? It takes forever to warm up in the microwave, and you can't easily bring it to work anyways (I worry it will spill in the car) You pretty much have to put it back in the saucepan and warm it up again right? Lame.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Links of the Day 1/12/11

Middle of the week. Welcome if you are snowed in in the south or along the east coast!

Call me crazy, but I think this Guardian thing the NGL is doing is sort of cool. No practical purpose, but kind of cool. For the kids.

So what's the deal on Jim Thome?

Bunting is stupid, but here are the 5 best bunts of the year


They're a maniac

A maniac that's for suuure! (I don't think anyone really expected me to break down the Auburn, Oregon game, did they?)

I don't feel bad that the Oregon Ducks lost last night. I mean, really, the legwarmer look? And didn't their primary color used to be green? What happened to green?

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Links of the Day 1/11/11

IT'S ALL 1'S AGAIN!!!!!!!


Here is the world's most famous voice over guy's first voice over.

"Best shape of their lives"... how did all that turn out?


Monday, January 10, 2011

The Victoria Times National Championship

With the actual college football season wrapping up tonight, I also wrapped up the Victoria Times NCAA football simulation (well, my version anyways. Steve is in Week 10 of his version). Please read this or this to see how the simulation is done, not to mention the motivations behind everything. There was another, three part post that consumed a more detailed rationale behind the idea of our simulation, and you can read that here. I would read the shorter stuff.
So let's get into this recap. Let me start with a few points of interest.
- This year, only 2 teams (Boise State and Tennessee) went undefeated in conference, while there were 4 two loss conference champs. Lots of tiebreakers this year.
- There were 11 different teams from last year's tournament, with the only holdover Boise State.
- The best conference was the California conference (first time it wasn't the Dixie), with the worst, far and away, the Mountain West
- A grand total of TWO BCS teams made the tournament, Stanford and TCU
- There was only one undefeated team, Boise State. Also, there were no winless teams. A lot more parity this season.

Now, the conference summaries. These are listed in an order so that the first 4 were in the same pod, the next 4 in the same, and the last 4 in the same, meaning they played each other in their non conference schedule. Here we go.

Dixie: 2010 champion - Alabama
2011: Georgia. Yes, the Bulldogs were certainly one of the strangest teams to become conference champion in a while, particularly when you consider that the conference they came from also is home to tonight's BCS title contender Auburn and Alabama, a team some people call one of the best teams in the country, even with their losses this year. It came down to a last minute field goal against Alabama to give Georgia the conference championship. Clemson is an interesting team to note, because they played both Auburn and Oregon... and won both games. They also lost at home to Kent State. Whatifsports is strange. Also, the engine at Whatif still doesn't like Georgia Tech.
Order of Finish: Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Clemson, Mississippi State, Mississippi, UAB, Georgia Tech, Louisiana-Monroe

Great Basin: 2010 - Boise State
2011: Boise State - Oregon is the national title contender out of this conference, but in this simulation, they lost on the road at Clemson to start the season, and then at home against Boise State late in the year, but still ended up in second. The bottom of the conference was very weak, with three 1-8 (2-10 overall) teams, helping sap the strength of this conference after sneaking past the top two.
Order of Finish: Boise State, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Utah State, Washington State, UNLV

Appalachian: 2010 - Virginia Tech
2011: Louisville. Yeah, in a year that the Georgia Bulldogs unseated the powers from Alabama, the Louisville Cardinals made it to the tournament, as a team that ended up with a first round bye no less. Virginia Tech, the traditional favorite here, was abysmal, losing their three non conference games, followed by three more in conference. Pitt looked to have the conference locked up, before falling by 1 at home to West Virginia in the last week of the season. Virginia managed to be one of the final undefeateds in the country as well. Kentucky was surprisingly bad.
Order of finish: Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami (OH), Cincinnati, Marshall, Ohio, Kentucky

Great Lakes: 2010 - Ohio State
2011: Michigan State. This was another conference that saw it's fate decided in the last week of the season Ohio State lost at Michigan State (MSU had lost earlier in the season to Central Michigan). Michigan continues to be a resounding disappointment in this conference, finishing 7th, behind such luminaries as Central Michigan, Kent State, Western Michigan and Bowling Green.
Order of Finish - Michigan State, Ohio State, Central Michigan, Kent State, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Michigan, Toledo, Akron, Eastern Michigan.

New England: 2010 - Penn State
2011 - Maryland. Worst to first! Another odd qualifier for the post season, but they defeated real life BCS competitor UCONN. All in all, though, this was a very weak conference, with nobody from the conference entering the conference schedule undefeated.
Order of Finish: Maryland, Connecticut, Syracuse, Temple, Navy, Boston College, Penn State, Rutgers, Buffalo, Army

Florida: 2010 - Florida
2011 - Florida State. The Seminoles went winless last year. WINLESS, and now they won the conference that Florida has dominated all year. The Gators lost their final contest of the season against Miami, as well as their contest with the Seminoles earlier in the season, which gave Florida State a better head to head record, and entrance into the post season for the first time.
Order of Finish: Florida State, Florida, Florida International, Central Florida, Miami (FL), Southern Miss, Tulane, South Florida, Troy, Florida Atlantic

Gulf Coast: 2010 - Texas
2011: TCU. Finally, a conference that makes sense. Texas A&M made a charge for the top spot, but a head to head loss against the Horned Frogs was all the difference. There were a lot of strange upsets in this conference, including LSU losing to both Louisiana-Lafayette AND North Texas. TCU's one loss was to Houston.
Order of Finish: TCU, Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech, Houston, Texas, LSU, SMU, North Texas, Louisiana-Lafayette, Rice

Midwest: 2010 - Wisconsin
2011: Iowa. The conference that is nearest and dearest to our hearts at the Victoria Times was tumultuous and nonsensical. It was a strong conference, second strongest, in fact, in the country. At the end of various weeks, there were 5 different conference leaders at various points in the year, with Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Illinois, Northwestern and the eventual champ, Iowa all having the top spot at some point. Iowa defeated Wisconsin in the final week of the season to get a trip to the tournament. Purdue and Minnesota, schools of note here, ended up in 8th and 10th, respectively. Yes, that's out of 10.
Order of Finish: Iowa, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue, Ball State, Minnesota

Tobacco Road: 2010 - North Carolina
2011: Tennessee. Looking at the teams involved in this conference, one could only label it one thing... a Dumpster fire. Tennessee won the conference by a greater margin than any other conference champ, with the next placed teams, North and East Carolina, a full three games back of the undefeated (in conference) Volunteers. 5 teams ended the season 3-9. Dreadful.
Order of Finish: Tennessee, East Carolina, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, Memphis, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest

California: 2010 - USC
2011: Stanford. This was the first time USC didn't win this conference, and they were deplorable this year. Stanford was the last team to lose their first game during the regular season, a stunner at home to Fresno. They had the conference pretty well managed, though, impressive given that this was the top conference in all the land.
Order of Finish: Stanford, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Arizona State, San Diego State, Fresno State, USC, UCLA, San Jose State

Great Plains: 2010 - Oklahoma
2011: Oklahoma State. This conference was pretty wild. It ended with a three way tie at the top that had to be broken by point differential, leaving Oklahoma State at the top, over Arkansas and Oklahoma. This wouldn't have been an issue had Missouri not upset the Cowboys in the final week of the season. Every team that was involved in the final tiebreak ended the season 9-3, making the Cowboys one of the lower seeds in the tournament. Nebraska had a surprisingly poor season
Order of Finish: Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Tulsa, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa State, Arkansas State

Mountain West: 2010: Texas Tech
2010: Baylor. The Mountain West in real life is an upstart conference with strong teams (that are now pretty much scattering across the country). In the sim, it has been one of the weakest conferences the past couple of years. Texas Tech, who won the conference last year were susceptible to big home losses, including one to the eventual champs Baylor, who also lost their fair share of bad games, including conference contests against Colorado and Wyoming. It was just a strange conference.
Order of Finish:  Baylor, BYU, Texas Tech, Colorado, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, UTEP, New Mexico State, New Mexico

And now on to the National Championship tournament, which is played using various bowl games (the oldest of them get playoff games, the older (or BCS) games get contests later on down the line) with the National Championship game being hosted by the Appalachian conference, and played in Washington, DC this year. On to the games.

Peach Bowl: #8 Michigan State 24, #9 Iowa 14. The Big Ten placed a team in the quarterfinals! Not so bad after all! Despite Ricky Stanzi's 227yds through the air, the Spartans dominated this one.

Gator Bowl: #5 TCU 37, #12 Florida State 34: This game was a lot closer than I think anyone would have anticipated, coming down to a late touchdown for the Horned Frogs to overcome a fierce performance for Florida State.

Citrus (Capital One) Bowl: #11 Baylor 45, #6 Tennessee 20: So much for that dominant conference record, Tennessee. Baylor got a huge day from QB Robert Griffin and surprisingly moved on to the quarters.

Liberty Bowl: #10 Oklahoma State 37, #7 Maryland 13. The two "upsets" were also the biggest blowouts. Maryland couldn't keep up with the Cowboys, getting their only touchdown on a punt return, but not forcing enough punts to be competetive.

This of course led to the quarterfinals.
Orange Bowl: #1 Boise State 54, #8 Michigan State 10. So much for the strength of the Big Ten. Kellen Moor threw for 5 touchdowns and threw for almost 500 yards.

Cotton Bowl: #5 TCU 38, #4 Louisville 7. All is right with the world after this whitewashing. Ed Wesley ran for 155 yards and had a rushing and receiving touchdown

Sun Bowl: #3 Georgia 30, #11 Baylor 17. This game was tied going into the 4th quarter, with Baylor looking to run through both of the SEC teams. It was not to be as Aaron threw for all three Bulldog touchdowns. And Georgia was one of the Final 4 teams in the tournament.

Fiesta Bowl: #2 Stanford 56, #10 Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State jumped out to a huge lead in this contest, but through the game Stanford picked their way back into it. With 2 minutes left, the Cowboys returned a punt to the 5 to tie the game again in the 4th quarter. Stanford marched it back down the field, however, for a last second, game winning TD.

And with that, the final four was set, one game away from the National Championship in Washington

Rose Bowl: #1 Boise State 55, #5 TCU 21. It looked like nobody could stop the Broncos, especially Doug Martin who ran for 240 yards. Ridiculous numbers from Boise State.

Sugar Bowl #2 Stanford 47 #3 Georgia 41 (OT). It was another nail biter, with the Cardinal coming back late again to send the game to overtime. They got the ball first, but missed the extra point. Georgia got it down to the 4 yard line but were stopped short on the final play of the game to send Stanford to a date with Boise State.
Stanford fell behind again, with Boise going up 21-0 early, looking as though they were going to destroy their opponent once again, despite this being the first 1-2 matchup in the history of the tournament. Stanford, just like in every other one of their games, came charging back, and it came down to the last drive of the game, down by 2. With three seconds left, they kicked one through the uprights to win the national title 41-40

Here is the link to the game if you wanted to click through it, because it really was dramatic, in a simulated kind of way.
There is usually a lesson in these sims, and I think I have one for this year's adventure... It's a razor thin wire between success and failure. There were a lot of last second wins and losses, not only for Stanford, but say, for Alabama against Georgia to stay out of the tournament. It takes not only skill but a little bit of luck every season.
I can't tell you how much I enjoy this exercise every year, and I can't wait until the 2012 champion will be crowned.

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Links of the Day 1/10/11

Monday again. Let's go

In light of the tragedy in Arizona, congressman Heath Shuler has said that he will be carrying a gun with him. Knowing how accurate he was as a quarterback, I can only hope that his skills with a firearm are much better.

You remember Tecmo Bowl?

A deeper look at players who received one vote to the Hall of Fame.


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Do people really actually like underdogs?

Yesterday's games really underscored something for me. People don't really want to pull for the little guy in the NFL. I have two specific examples that make me think this. First, think of the Seattle Seahawks who won the NFC West and are decidedly the underdogs in these playoffs, then think of the Indianapolis Colts against the New York Jets.
Ever since it was learned that the Seahawks were going to be in the playoffs, gnashing of teeth and lamentations abound at the idea that a 7-9 team was going to make the playoffs. They won their conference, they represent the NFC West, but they did what was required of them by the rules of the game to make the post season. They ended up playing last year's Super Bowl Champion on Wild Card weekend, the definition of an underdog. When the Seahawks won, the airwaves weren't filled with plaudits for the winners, but rather outcry and the near unanimous declaration that changes should prevent something like this from ever happening again.
The Colts/Jets game is another story. For whatever reason, the Twins are still the little guy that most people outside of the AL Central like, but for whatever reason Indianapolis has earned the scorn of many in the league. Purveyors of NFL related hate, Kissing Suzy Kolber, are among the most anti-Colts sites out there, and they simply can't put a good label on the rationale. In most other walks of life, Indianapolis the city is barely a blip on the radar of the East Ciast, and New York teams (and fans) are typically the ones thought of as overbearing and unlikable, but no, when the Jets won last night, everyone seemed happy with that result (outside of Colts fans like me, of course).
The NFL is the only sport I can think of where this applies. It doesn't even apply in college football, where the popular opinion is that Boise State and TCU deserve shots at the title. Why is the NFL different?

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Links of the Day 1/9/11

Thoughts and prayers go out to the state of Arizona and those affected by yesterday's assassination attempt, among them former Mets manager Dallas Green and his family.

I don't know how sports fandom works in England.

Dear Colts.... Nnamdi Asomugha is a free agent. Please sign him.


Football is stupid

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Links of the Day 1/8/11

Yeah, it's a 2 hours after the 8th. This is my site. Go F yourself.

It got to the point that there were so few people picking them, you had to know that Seattle was probably going to win. This is the best play of the game, and perhaps of the season.

In other news, Roscoe Smith's full court shot... with 10 seconds left.... might be the weirdest thing I have ever seen in a basketball game.

Also strange, Penn State beat Michigan State?


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Mom Jeans have been rebranded

I mentioned this earlier on Twitter (follow us on Twitter), but it's become apparent that Mom Jeans are now trying to rebrand themselves as something called "Pajama Jeans". Seriously, which one of these adds is a joke?

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Links of the Day 1/7/11

Welcome to Friday.

In the battle of owners vs players, I think I am siding with NFL players on this one.

Former Twin Matt Garza is going to the Cubs.

The sports losers of the year.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 17

The NFL regular season is all wrapped up and the final regular season power rankings are in, but just like in previous years, they will continue to be updated throughout the playoffs.

The Patriots, who could have rested some starters in their final week, decided instead to kill Miami to further tighten their death grip on the #1 spot. The Falcons, who wrapped up home field in the NFC, remain at #2. Somehow, the Ravens' narrow win over Cincinnati was more impressive than the Steelers destroying Cleveland, and the Ravens jumped them for the #3 spot. The Packers moved up to the #5 spot for getting into the playoffs by beating the Bears (who fell to #11).

On the bottom side, Carolina and Denver stayed in their usual spots on the bottom, while Buffalo moved down to #30 for losing to the Jets. The Browns completely tanked at the end of the year, costing Eric Mangini his job and sending the Browns plummeting to #29. And yes, even though they won this week and moved up 2 spots, your NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks are heading into a home playoff game ranked in the bottom 5 at #28. How great (and accurate) is that?

We had a few big swings this week. The biggest gainers were the 49ers, who stomped the Cardinals for the 2nd time this year and moved up 9 spots to finish at their season high #18. The Texans jumped 8 spots for finally getting a win, and the Jets moved up 7 as they got a nice win for their confidence over Buffalo. The biggest losers were the above mentioned Browns, followed by the above mentioned Bears, and the Jaguars, who did everything in their power to lose the AFC South over the past few weeks.

The power ranks could be a useful tool for picking playoff winners, so let's see what the rankings picked this week:
#5 Packers over #10 Eagles
#13 Saints over #28 Seahawks
#3 Ravens over #12 Chiefs
#6 Jets over #8 Colts

That's right. The rankings are predicting that all 4 road teams will win this week, though the Jets/Colts and Packers/Eagles are pretty close so the lower ranked team could get a home field advantage bump.

Before getting to the full ranks, you are probably wondering why I have a picture of a dog wearing a Broncos bandanna as my picture this week. Since I am using a scientific formula to rank the football teams all season, and using it to pick the winners this week, I decided to also make some low tech picks. I have some mini plastic helmets so I let my 2 year-old male Golden Retriever, Jake, pick the winner by putting the 2 helmets on the floor and seeing which one he takes the most interest in. Kind of like Paul the World Cup octopus minus the suckers. Here were his playoff picks. I'm surprised he turned his back on his pick from 2 years ago, the Ravens:

Jake's picks:
Eagles over Packers
Seahawks over Saints
Jets over Colts
Ravens over Chiefs

Eagles over Bears
Falcons over Seahawks
Patriots over Jets
Steelers over Ravens

Eagles over Falcons
Steelers over Patriots

Steelers over Eagles

Yep, I'm surprised he picked Michael Vick to go so far too. Guess there are no hard feelings from the dog community.

Here are the full ranks:
1. Patriots - 85.03 - Even
2. Falcons - 76.99 - Even
3. Ravens - 74.53 - +1
4. Steelers - 73.88 - -1
5. Packers - 65.00 - +4
6. Jets - 64.77 - +1
7. Buccaneers - 64.52 - +4
8. Colts - 64.11 - +2
9. Chargers - 60.87 - +3
10. Eagles - 60.28 - -4
11. Bears - 59.96 - -6
12. Chiefs - 59.25 - -5
13. Saints - 59.05 - -5
14. Lions - 58.38 - Even
15. Giants - 55.70 - Even
16. Raiders - 51.53 - Even
17. Cowboys - 45.88 - +1
18. 49ers - 42.61 - +9
19. Rams - 41.35 - -2
20. Titans - 40.67 - Even
21. Texans - 40.50 - +8
22. Dolphins - 36.94 - +2
23. Bengals - 36.63 - +2
24. Redskins - 36.41 - -1
25. Jaguars - 35.45 - -6
26. Vikings - 33.34 - -4
27. Cardinals - 33.08 - -1
28. Seahawks - 32.99 - +2
29. Browns - 32.26 - -8
30. Bills - 31.86 - -2
31. Broncos - 28.21 - Even
32. Panthers - 24.69 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/6/11

In honor of Bert Blyleven, let's do this right, so we don't have to do the f*in' thing over again.

After winning the Juniors in Buffalo, the Russians couldn't fly home, because they were too drunk. Your vodka must be nice, but it's no match for American hooch.

Another look at the 2011 Walter Football Mock draft, Michael Floyd not included.

Congrats to Benito Santiago and Brett Boone, for their hall of fame vote.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A look at the Wild Card round

There is still football coming up this weekend, and it's the post season! In honor of that, I thought I would change course and do something I rarely do... provide insightful game analysis for the 4 games being played this weekend. Let's take a look at the 4 games to enjoy this weekend.

New Orleans at Seattle: Much has been made about the Seahawks 7-9 record, and how they will only be afterthoughts in the postseason this year, just a team for the Saints to roll over. I couldn't disagree more! I know the Seahwaks haven't done much this season, but they do have a few of the components that may make this an interesting game. First off, it is in Seattle, and the Seahawks are notoriously difficult to play in Washington. Second, they have a young, aggressive defense which, if they get the scheme right, could end up causing Drew Brees and his receivers some problems. Third, they have about 19 running backs, all of which could help keep the ball out of the hands of the Saints. And lastly, they have Matt Hasselbeck, a Super Bowl veteran guiding the way. All that said, I still expect the Saints to win, but I don't think it's going to be the bloodbath many are picking.

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts: Going into the playoffs, I desperately wanted the Colts to play the Jets in what I expected to be a much more winnable contest. Peyton Manning doesn't struggle against good defenses. He can out think them and beat them with little problem. This is why the Ravens never seem to beat Indianapolis. The problem the Colts have is with methodical offenses that move the ball down the field. It takes the ball out of the offense's hands, and the Colts have to score. There is added pressure, and it takes the team out of rhythm. The Jets don't have a good methodical offense. Despite the defense, I expect the Colts, and especially Peyton Manning, to be relaxed enough to be successful this weekend.

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs: I know I picked the Chiefs to make it to this point, but I also know when to quit when I'm ahead. The Ravens should be able to shut Jamaal Charles down, and the Chiefs passing game is simply too dependent on the run to be effective without him. The Ravens are figuring out how to move the ball, and more importantly, keep the ball. I expect this one to be fairly low scoring, but not close, if that makes any sense.

Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles: This game has the possibility of being an epic. The Packers had a shootout last year with the Cardinals last year, but are better this year. They have speedy linebackers, which may help to contain Michael Vick. If they can do that, then a healthy Aaron Rodgers should have no problem moving the ball on the Eagles' secondary and Green Bay could win it easily. The Eagles, if Vick is the dual threat people expect, will stay in this game, and it will be a wild one. Still, I expect the Packers have the better tools to win this contest, and will move on from Philadelphia.

So that leads to the following games for the Divisional playoffs: 

Indianapolis @ Piitsburgh
Baltimore @ New England

New Orleans @ Chicago
Green Bay @ Atlanta

Let's see how this goes. I expect to be 0-4

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