November 10, 2007

Undefeated? HA!

Mercer 96, #18 USC 81

We expect this crap from the Big Ten and the SEC, but seriously, even the rejuvenated USC + Mayo program can't avoid the shitteam upset bug? Gardner-Webb beats #20 Kentucky. A pair of D-II teams knock off Big Ten opponents in exhibition play, and now Mercer beats USC, at the Galen Center, BY FIFTEEN FUCKING POINTS. Who is OJ Mayo again? Carmelo would never have let this happen.

Does anyone have pride anymore?

Illini top OSU

Ron Zook has done a fantastic job in Champaign, Illinois this year, but he might want to rethink this quote:

"I'm so happy for the Illini Nation right now."


In the Spirit of Veterans Day, Never Forget...

November 8, 2007

Week 10 NFL Against the Spread Picks

The race is heating up with three of the four human pickers within two games of each other. Now J-Red and Jeremy are both above .500, with Brien only a couple games back.

Brien (21-23-1)

With Jax @ Tenn and Denver @ KC off the board, it's going to be tough to find 5 games to pick. [Since Brien submitted his picks, the lines are Jax +4 TENN and Den +3.5 KC] I've never understood why Vegas refuses to post lines for some NFL games. I know that sometimes there's uncertainty about injured players, but it seems like they should be able to post a fair line and then change it quickly once news comes out about the injury.

Buffalo (-3) over MIAMI - I think the Dolphins will win a game this year, but not this week. The Bills looked good last week at Cincinnati, and I hear this week they're thinking about starting Marshawn Lynch at quarterback.

Detroit (+1) over ARIZONA - This is probably my last chance to jump on the Lions bandwagon before Vegas figures out that they're finally decent.

Indianapolis (-3.5) over SAN DIEGO - The Chargers gave up 296 yards on the ground to Adrian Peterson. Joseph Addai looked unstoppable against the Patriots defense. This one shouldn't be close. [J-Red notes that Luis Castillo is also out for SD]

GREEN BAY (-6) over Minnesota - The Packers won't let Peterson run free like he did last week.

Dallas (-1) over NY GIANTS - The Giants are turning their season around, but I still think the Cowboys are a better team.

Jeremy and Magic 8 Ball (21-19-5 and 25-15-5)

Little does the ECB readership know that we make our picks on Wednesday evening. Thus, last week was the second straight week I got nailed in one of my games by late injury scratches. Last week was the Ravens-Steelers (thank you Heap, Rolle, McAlister). In this week's picks, much like the abused wife who finally picks up a shotgun and blows her husband to pieces, I'm finally going to stop trying to bet on the Redskins game, because no matter which way I go, it's a guaranteed loss. On to the picks...

Detroit (+1) over ARIZONA - Are you kidding me? The Lions are about the hottest team in the league. This is some serious disrespect. I was going to go with J-Red and take the Lions bandwagon for a ride anyway.

Dallas (-1) over NEW YORK GIANTS - The Giants have had a good run, but the Cowboys are head-and-shoulders the better team.

Indianapolis (-3.5) over SAN DIEGO - This is a very low spread for a team that was beating the Pats for 57 minutes last week.

GREEN BAY (-6) over Minnesota - Listen, Adrian Peterson is very, very good... but it's outside at Lambeau, it's this rivalry, and Tavaris Jackson/Brooks Bollinger is actually going to have to contribute this week.

Cleveland (+9.5) over PITTSBURGH - I'm going to take the Browns bandwagon for a spin... their D will be much more disruptive than the Ravens decimated secondary.

Magic 8 Ball Picks:

ARIZONA (-1) over Detroit - "Yes." [Cardinals will beat the spread]

Dallas (-1) over NEW YORK GIANTS - "No." [Giants will not beat spread]

SAN DIEGO (+3.5) over Indianapolis - "Signs point to yes." [Chargers will beat spread]

Minnesota (+6) over GREEN BAY - "Don't count on it." [Packers will not beat spread]

PITTSBURGH (-9.5) over Cleveland - "Yes." [Steelers will beat spread]

J-Red (22-21-2)

There are lots of good divisional matchups this weekend. I can't avoid most of them.

Detroit (+1) over ARIZONA - This is the least good I've felt about the Lions the past five weeks. It's on the road and they are somewhat susceptible to the run.

Dallas (-1) over NY GIANTS - This should be a great game, especially if you own TO, Witten, Plaxico, and/or Shockley.

NEW ORLEANS (-12) over St. Louis - I'm only taking this game because I said last week I was going to ride Detroit, Dallas and New Orleans. I feel likely to be burned.

Cleveland (+9.5) over PITT - It will never be as easy as Monday Night for the Steelers. This is a true divisional matchup that is constantly unpredictable, and that's in years where the Browns suck. This year they don't, and they shouldn't be getting 9+ in any AFC North game.

Buffalo (-3) over MIAMI - In Marshawn I trust. Losman to Lee Evans is getting going too.

Russell (ERR: Integer divide by 0)

J-Red's been riding Dallas and Detroit, but I think they're both sucker lines this week so I'm going the other way.

ARIZONA (-1) over Detroit - Detroit is only 2-2 on the road this year (wins over OAK and CHI), while AZ has beaten PIT and SEA at home and the only home loss was the Tim Rattay game when he came in totally cold.

NY GIANTS (+1) over Dallas - There's no doubt in my mind that Dallasis the better team, but the spread is ridiculous and I think the Giants D is a little mad about that 45 spot they gave up opening night.

Cincy (+4.5) over BALTIMORE - The Ravens are still pretty dinged up, and even if everyone plays, I doubt it will be at 100% [J-Red's note: Samari Rolle is out]. The Ravens lost a horribly ugly game at Cincy in week 1, and there's no reason to believe anything will be better for the Ravens.

SEATTLE (-9.5) over San Fran - SF hasn't thrown for more than 200 yds in any game, and Gore is hurt. They just lost at ATL, and that's really bad. Seattle's easily good enough to get this done.

GREEN BAY (-6) over Minnesota - While Brooks Bollinger probably improves the offense, I think there's too much Favre at Lambeau for the Vikings secondary. Green Bay's already seen AD, and did enough to win. Given how Favre does in the Dome, this figures to go even better.

Recap and Standings

Magic 8 (25-15-5 for .611) - ARI, DAL, MIN, PIT, SD
Jeremy (21-19-5 for .522) - CLE, DAL, DET, GB, IND
J-Red (22-21-2 for .511) - BUF, CLE, DAL, DET, NO
Brien (21-23-1 for .478) - BUF, DAL, DET, GB, IND
Russell (18-26-1 for .411) - ARI, CIN, GB, NYG, SEA

Gardner-Webb 84, #20 Kentucky 68

AT RUPP. This isn't an exhibition game either. I can already hear Billy Packer on Selection Sunday trying to make a case for Kentucky over Appalachian State despite this loss.

November 7, 2007

Week 11 CFB Picks

Time for my weekly embarrassment. But first, I have to say how much I enjoyed watching Navy beat Notre Dame. How great was that? The option is alive and well, and the Irish will have a loss for me to harp on for years. Also exciting was Arkansas running rough-shod over the Old Ball Coach. Nothing quite like a little power football. Every time an SEC West team beats an SEC East team, I smile. And conveniently, that's a good segue into a couple crazy lines this week. Both Arkansas and Auburn are essentially pick 'em on the road against the best of the East.

Arkansas (pk) over TENNESSEE - I have to. The Razorbacks are back! Monk is healthy, so the vague threat of a pass is there, and who can stop McFadden and Jones? Pig suey!

Auburn (+1.5) over GEORGIA - Auburn won at Florida and came closer to winning at LSU at night than Florida. This will be a physical football game.

In other games, I'll take

Connecticut (+6.5) over CINCI - I'm tired of hearing about how great UConn is, and I can't think of a better way to make them lose than to pick them. And it's really not that bad a pick. All UConn has to do is not turn the ball over.

Air Force (-2.5) over NOTRE DAME - That's right! Air Force is favored at South Bend. Ty should file a lawsuit for discrimination if Charlie doesn't get a pink slip after this year. ND could easily lose to Air Force and at Stanford, leaving them 2-10... Too bad...

Illinois (+14.5) over OHIO STATE - The Illini have shown up for all the big games this year, even if they haven't won them all. I think they compete more than this line indicates.

Boston College (-6) over MARYLAND - I've seen Matt Ryan play and I've seen Maryland's secondary. Need I say more?

And just to throw in a home team,
CAL (+3.5) over Usc - I think this is finally the year. It's not the undefeated matchup I projected, but it'll still be a good game.

Also, I'll take Montreal (+6.5) over WINNIPEG in some hot CFL action... Just kidding, but I do enjoy the CFL and would watch it if it wasn't at the same time as CFB and NFL. Their US invasion was great and I watched the Grey Cup that Baltimore won with the Pinball.

Last Week: 3-5-1
Season: 32-41-3

CNNSI NFL Stadium Rankings

Not too many surprises on this list. Lambeau is, of course, number one. The AFC North makes a strong showing with the Steelers 2nd, Browns 3rd, Ravens 5th, and Bengals 19th.

Most amusing to me is that the Redskins mega-stadium, FedEx Field, languishes at 28th. In fact, the stadium is below the Meadowlands, the Superdome, and the Edward Jones dome.

November 6, 2007

Ohio State Embarrassed by D-II Findlay

I'm not sure why no one else got to this first, since I was busy watching boxing but... Findlay 70, Ohio State 68!!

Michigan State's loss might have been embarrassing, but Ohio State made the Finals last year. Missing Greg Oden? Who do you think will win the Big 10 - ACC Challenge this year now that two of the top Big 10 programs have lost in terrible fashion? Still exhibition though...

The Contender Helps Boxing

Over the last decade, the popularity of boxing has waned substantially. In my opinion, and that of many others, there are many reasons for this. First, poor judging decisions have left the public questioning the legitimacy of the sport and its governing bodies. Second, so many governing bodies exist that it's almost impossible to keep all of them straight, or to know which matters. Third, the retirement of the great heavyweights has left a hole at the top of the sport. Great heavyweight fights have always garnered the most attention because their power is unparalleled, and the retirement of Tyson, Holyfield, and Lewis, among others, has left us with a bunch of no-name, little-talent hacks by comparison. Fourth, mixed martial arts organizations like UFC have captured some of the bloodbath audience, stealing some of boxing's popularity and rightfully so. Fifth, and finally of the ones I'm going to list here, the pay-per-view lineup, while still weaker than in years past, has sucked out whatever life was left in the sport because no one is willing to pay ridiculous rates when the UFC is on for free a few days after the live event. None of the "great" fighters have appeared on ESPN or other TV in a long time, and Friday Night Fights has continued to spiral into oblivion.

Until now, I haven't felt that the Contender, Sugar Ray Leonard's TV show for aspiring boxers, has done much to change anything. But tonight, in the finals for $750k (chump change by old-school standards), Sakio Bika knocked out Jaidon Codrington in one of the best fights I've seen in years. I wouldn't say it was a GREAT fight like Brian Kenny kept repeating, but it definitely kept you entertained and on the edge of your seat the whole time. Fights like that can energize the whole sport and start to build excitement. Boxing doesn't have to die in the face of the UFC, but it will take exciting fights, with the outcome constantly in doubt, to bring it back. As a fan of boxing, I hope it can make it, but it's still a long road and I'm not sure we've seen the bottom yet.

As a final note, consider that the Contender website isn't even on ESPN, nor is there a story about the fight or any pictures of it available that I can find. While it wasn't a title fight, ESPN aired it in primetime, but they can't give it any links on the main page? Poor.

Maryland vs. Concordia Preview

If I wasn't so lazy, and if I was a better writer, I would have written something like this for Maryland's first exhibition game of the season:

Week 9 NFL Against the Spread Recap and Standings

There wasn't any real movement in the standings this week, as all five pickers fell within a game of .500. J-Red is creeping up on Jeremy, sitting only a half-game back now for a share of the human leaders. He will continue to ride Detroit and Dallas, and probably now New Orleans too, until he changes his mind.


Brien (2-3-0) - BAL, BUF, GB, JAX, NE
Jeremy (2-3-0) - BAL, GB, NE, TB, WAS
J-Red (3-2-0) - DAL, DET, NE, SD, TEN
Russell (3-2-0) - ATL, GB, IND, JAX, OAK
Magic 8 (3-2-0) - BAL, IND, KC, NYJ, TB


Magic 8 (25-15-5) - .611
Jeremy (21-19-5) - .522 (4 GB)
J-Red (22-21-2) - .511 (4.5 GB, 0.5 GB human)
Brien (21-23-1) - .478 (6 GB, 2 GB human)
Russell (18-26-1) - .411 (9 GB, 5 GB human)

Heather Dinich to Confirmed

Hey Jason,

Yes, it's true ... I start at on Nov. 15th, so meet me there later this month! I'm still covering the ACC. Thanks for reading.


Thank you, Ravens

... for not bothering to show up last night. I was worried that I would have to stay up really late watching the game. Instead I was able to go to sleep at halftime, confident that the game was over.

I think we can also safely say that Roethlisberger is back. Last season was an aberration, and he really is one of the best QBs in the league. He put on a clinic last night, showing why he's so good. There aren't many other quarterbacks who can slip out of a tackle, scramble out of the pocket, then throw a touchdown pass across his body.

As for the Ravens, bring on the Troy Smith era (I hope it's as successful as the Chris Redman era).

November 5, 2007

More Uplifting Sports News

Bull Rider Dies after Being Stomped by Bull

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A 21-year-old professional bull rider from Missouri died after being stomped by a bull he had just ridden. Joshua J. "Cody" Brunner of Warrensburg, Mo., died Saturday night after he was stepped on by a bull in a United Rodeo Association event, Topeka police said. He died after being taken to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka. Autopsy results released Monday by the Shawnee County coroner's office said the cause of death was "blunt force injuries." Brunner had completed his eight-second ride and was injured as he dismounted the bull. He was sixth in earnings for the season, with $1,537 heading into the URA finals Saturday.

1) Well, you can't tell me when you rely on somebody called a "rodeo clown" to provide for your safety, you don't expect this to happen on a not-so-infrequent basis. I know I trust my safety to people who are most commonly associated with making balloon animals and riding in very tiny cars.

2) Did you happen to catch the last sentence of the story? Sixth in earnings with $1,537 on the season??? Let's think about this... a grand-and-a-half. ON THE SEASON. And it's not like this was near the beginning of the season, as he was "heading into the URA finals Saturday." It's pretty sad to think that when I was out coaching swimming, I was making more than the sixth-highest-paid rodeo athlete. Hell, the guy down the street scooping rice at Chipotle is probably higher paid.

Not Your Usual Teambuilding Activity

Courtesy of Raleigh, North Carolina's ABC-affiliate:
(11/01/07 -- RALEIGH) - Police charged a N.C. State men's tennis player with a sex crime against one of his teammates. The weekend incident came to light Thursday when Raleigh police released a search warrant connected to the case. As a member of the tennis team and a stand out in high school, 19-year-old Dejon Bivens of Charlotte is used to having his picture taken, but the mugshot he took over the weekend wasn't voluntary. Raleigh police charged him with crimes against nature. Details of the incident were released in a search warrant. There was an off-campus party last Friday at the apartment of one of the tennis team members. The player told police he went to bed around 3 a.m. Saturday and was awakened two hours later by Bivens performing oral sex on him. Police arrested and served Bivens with the search warrant that allowed investigators get a saliva sample. He was released on bond that same day. None of the tennis team members or the coach will comment on the incident though they know about the charges against Bivens. N.C. State Athletics officials said they can't comment on the matter because of privacy laws, but as of now, Bivens' status with the team has not changed.

The teammate who serves up unusual wake up calls.

HOLY CRAP, BATMAN!!! This is really one of those stories that is just so incredible, you can't believe it (or really know what to say about it). Is it bad that the first thing that popped into my mind when I read this was those old "Teammates, sponsored by the U.S. Army" commercials that used to air during football games and would profile two teammates who exemplified the word "team?" And let's see... "as of now, Bivens' status with the team has not changed?" Really? Really? Hmm... I'm guessing that people aren't lining up to be doubles partners with him right now. Or roommates on the road. Also, I love as a lawyer that he was actually charged with a "crime against nature." That's one of those southern antiquated laws like Maryland still levying a $10 fine for adultery.

A Cool Link...

Well to get us out of Monday Morning Quarterback mode for a brief few moments because there is plenty to discuss (the Redskins being the biggest paper tiger, fraudulent 5-win team in the league; my dad having the most ridiculous fantasy rookie luck ever drafting Tom Brady AND Adrian Peterson; Tom Brady being a ridiculous douchebag towards the end of the game yesterday), as a designated pop-culture blogger, I have a link that will undoubtedly make you take at least one look at:

The #1 Song on This Date in History

So apparently on the date that I was born a Diana Ross song that I've never heard of was #1. However, if I'd been born a year later, her duet with Lionel Richie that was prominently featured in Happy Gilmore ("Endless Love") would've been #1. And if you're wondering, "Ain't it Funny" by J-Lo and Ja Rule was #1 the date the Terps won the National Championship. Clearly I was spending way more time at Cole than at Cornerstone that time of year, because I haven't the foggiest fucking clue what song that is.

So enjoy.

November 4, 2007

The Dark Jedi Wins Round One

I think we all remember what eventually happens.

Congratulations Navy

It took 44 tries, but Navy finally beat Notre Dame again on Saturday.

go terps
I watched most of the game, and Navy definitely rivals Hawaii for the most entertaining offense in college football. Coach Paul Johnson, formerly a national champion at Georgia Southern, understands one thing about what he has - they're small. They can't stop anybody (even Delaware). Notre Dame could get three or four yards just by plowing straight ahead up the middle. His triple option attack, 90% of which is the same two plays (SB/TB toss, triple option sweep), churns through the clock and makes the other team realize that it only takes one mistake to get them behind in the touchdown trading game. To illustrate, Kaheaku-Enhada was 6 for 8 passing for 81 yards, a TD, and a two-point conversion - in a 46-44 game. He also had 47 of Navy's 257 rushing yards.
go ravens
blahblahblahblah Russell's nominee, Navy "QB" Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada

To make matters worse, Notre Dame apparently can't find a single soccer reject to try field goals. Twice Charlie Weis was forced to go for it on 4th and long because he did not trust his kicker to make a kick. The pressure exerted by Johnson's clock control offense also caused Weis to desperately go for it on 4th and 14 with about 8 minutes left, on the assumption that he might not get the ball back otherwise.
redskins suck
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Coach Johnson's offense is the discipline required to make it effective. When a team runs 85% of the time, a holding call or false start is almost always a drive-ending play. Also, Kaheaku-Enhada must make perfect split-second decisions on every option play, and must always pitch the ball carefully. Since Navy can't compete on defense, turnovers are almost always points (even against an inept offense like Notre Dame's), assuming the bad backfield pitch isn't scooped up for instant points. I suppose it should not be surprising to see a service academy display excellent discipline, but it is still amazing to watch.
sorority car wash
Despite our (Terps' fans) differences with Navy's administration, it still feels good when they do well.