September 27, 2008

Upset Saturday Rocks College Football

Moreno and the Dawgs got blacked out, because they were invisible for 30 min.

Alabama's first half of domination in Athens was only the last of a long line of upsets this weekend, ones which will have a big impact come December. The Tide merits top billing, as their victory on the road will likely put them in the top 3 next week and make them the favorite to win the SEC. Look for Alabama to be #1 in the BCS when the first rankings come out in a few weeks. The Tide has now beaten two top 10 teams on national TV, and is unlikely to be tested before a trip to Baton Rouge later in the year.

The ACC is now officially the Headless Horseman. Name a favorite and that team will lose. Clemson fell apart after dominating Maryland in the first half, and the Terps were just good enough to take the game. Then Wake committed 6 turnovers and lost at home to Navy. Two of my favorite teams won, but this was very damaging for the conference. We're likely to see the ACC completely absent from the polls next week, unless VT sneaks in. The Coastal division appears to be better, or at least more consistent, but who knows how the season will play out.

Consistent readers of this blog know that I've been high on Houston Nutt and Ole Miss all year, I just got a little deceived by the loss to Vandy. I don't think they have a shot at winning the West, but I'm sticking with at least 4 wins in the SEC for the Rebels.

RichRod and Michigan... What happened? 5 turnovers in the first half, 21 total yards. Then 27 unanswered points? It looks like the coaches figured out the option isn't going to work, and let Threet throw the ball. He's got a good arm and a decent amount of talent around him. If Michigan learns from this, they'll be bowl-bound after all. The defense is solid.

East Carolina was overrated because their two victims, WVU and VT, were both overrated. Then injuries to a couple key players happened, and the result is two straight losses. Holtz has to rally the troops so they can salvage their season and win the conference.

IPTAY = I Plan To underAchieve Yearly

I certainly didn't expect the Terps to be 4-1 at this point in the year. After the Middle Tennessee State loss, I figured that 2-3 was all we could hope for. Instead I found myself wondering about trips to Tampa in mid-December.

Quick hit thoughts:

  • With a game next week against a terrible Cavaliers team, the Terps should be 2-0 in conference heading into a huge game against Wake on October 18.
  • Chris Turner showed why he should have been the starter all year. He has proven that he can lead the team to big wins.
  • I never would have expected a win with as bad as the running game looked all day.
  • Clemson is underachieving again. At what point do the ACC journalists stop picking them to win the conference? And when does Tommy Bowden finally get blamed for this?
  • Darius Heyward-Bey's 75 yard run on the reverse will probably impress a lot of NFL scouts (small point on the play: Before he got knocked out of bounds, he switched the ball to his outside arm. It's a little thing, but it proves he's not "just a track guy.")
Since I don't even know what to say about the game, here's what others had to say:
  • Testudo Times almost predicted this even after the bad first half
  • Shell Games has a good recap of the game describing the incredible halftime turnaround
  • Our girl Heather Dinich calls the Terps "fickle" but says they're one of the two teams to beat in the Atlantic division

September 26, 2008

Pleasant Surprises

I'm a pretty optimistic guy, but I'd have laughed at you in August if you had told me that this would be the front page of entering Week 4.

Somebody pinch me. Wait, is that Hines Ward I see coming towards me?

Week 4 NFL Picks

Brien (8-7-0):
Not a great week last week, but I'll try to turn it around.

CINCINNATI (-3) over Cleveland - One of these teams has to win a game eventually, and after watching the Ravens demolish the Browns last week, I think it will be the Bengals.

TAMPA BAY (-1.5) over Green Bay - The Bucs have been doing well ATS this year (2-1) and by this line I don't think Vegas understands how good they are yet.

ST. LOUIS (+8.5) over Buffalo - I'm not sold on the Bills yet.  And certainly not as road favorites by more than a touchdown.

Minnesota (+3) over TENNESSEE - The Titans are another team I don't think is as good as they're made out to be.

Baltimore (+5.5) over Pittsburgh - This game will be closer than that.

Jason (6-9-0):

Mmm, six and nine. I guess I've given them enough of a head start.

Denver (-9.5) over KANSAS CITY - It's a division game at Arrowhead and the Broncos D isn't very good. I still like laying 9.5.

San Diego (-7) over OAKLAND - I'll take the AFC West road sweep. I can't see Oakland rallying behind Kiffin.

Baltimore (+5.5) over PITTSBURGH - I hate picking this game on Thursday, but I feel like the Ravens can keep this low-scoring.

Washington (+11) over DALLAS - I just can't take any NFC East team by double digits over any other.

ST. LOUIS (+8.5) over Buffalo - I'll admit this is totally just a hunch. This is the time of the season when the real crap teams punch somebody in the mouth.

Jeremy (7-8-0):
Ouch.  Rough week last week going 1-4.  Under .500 for the first time since early last season.  Must make up for it this week.

Green Bay (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY - I like Aaron Rodgers to bounce back nicely this week after a tough showing in Big D.

NEW ORLEANS (-6) over San Francisco - Records that don't reflect the quality of opponents each has had to play probably lead to this line which is a little low, in my opinion.

Denver (-9.5) over KANSAS CITY - The largest line on the board and a team that truly deserves to be that much of a dawg, even at home.

Washington (+11) over DALLAS - The 'Skins lose, but I think maybe by 10.  Of course, this line is tailor-made to snare suckers like me.

NEW YORK JETS (-1.5) over Arizona - A short week to prepare for the Jets, but the Cards have to make back-to-back 3000 mile west coast to east coast trips, this time to face a pissed off Brett Favre. 

Magic 8 Ball (7-8-0):
The Magic 8 Ball comes back down to Earth after an insane 2007.
TAMPA BAY (-1.5) over Green Bay - "My sources say yes." (Bucs will beat the spread)
NEW ORLEANS (-6) over San Francisco - "Yes." (Saints will beat the spread)
KANSAS CITY (+9.5) over Denver - "Signs point to yes." (Chiefs will beat the spread)
Washington (+11) over DALLAS - "My answer is no." (Cowboys won't beat the spread)
NEW YORK JETS (-1.5) over Arizona - "Yes." (Jets will beat the spread)

Russell (9-6-0)
So much for perfection, I knew it couldn't last.  Let's hope for better this week.  I'm back to picking mostly road teams.

Denver (-9.5) over KANSAS CITY - This team lost by 15 at home to the Raiders, and Denver can put up some points.

TENNESSEE (-3) over Minnesota
- A very physical football game, Titans are better all-around and at home.

San Diego (-7) over OAKLAND
- I think the Chargers finally figured things out last week.

Philadelphia (-3) over CHICAGO - The blitzes will make Orton look awful, turnovers all night.

Atlanta (+7.5) over CAROLINA - The Falcons are better than they're getting credit for.

Brien - CIN, TB, STL, MIN, BAL
Jason - DEN, SD, BAL, WAS, STL
Jeremy - GB, NO, DEN, WAS, NYJ
Russell - DEN, TEN, SD, PHI, ATL

September 24, 2008

College Football Picks - Week 5

Last week had an SEC emphasis and things went well. How can you ignore the best conference? This week, I diversify a bit.

Maryland (+11) over CLEMSON - The mercurial Terps seem to play up to their opposition. If they show up, they definitely can compete with the Tigers and their young offensive line. NC State played well in Death Valley a couple weeks ago, and I think the Terps are better than the Wolfpack.

This pumpkin needs a fairy godmother to turn his backup QB into a starter.

DUKE (-6.5) over Virginia - Mainly, I just want to be able to make fun of my friend who went to UVA. A loss to Duke, especially by a TD or more, would be sad, and also should mean a W for UMD next week.

Alabama (+7) over GEORGIA - I still feel like UGA hasn't quite hit their stride without some of their stars, and the Tide is rolling. Plus Saban is a great big-game coach, and last year this went to OT. I think Bama is better than last year, and UGA is marginally worse.

AUBURN (-6.5) over Tennessee - Auburn's defense might be the best in the nation, and Crompton is going to get destroyed by it.

Wisconsin (-6) over MICHIGAN - Michigan has done nothing impressive this year, while the Badgers already won on the road against a ranked team.

Pat Hill plays anyone, anywhere. And he does it well.

Fresno State (-7) over UCLA - I feel like there must be something I don't know here. UCLA's loss to BYU was followed up with a bad loss to Arizona. Fresno's a good team, they should win easily.

Last Week: 4-1-0
Season: 13-6-1


Juan Dixon will be back in the DC area next year.  He signed a 1-year deal with the Wizards today:

The one-year, $1.03 million deal (a.k.a., the absolute minimum an NBA veteran can make) comes after Dixon, a Baltimore native, was initially drafted by the Wizards, then had stints in Toronto and Portland. If the Wizards hadn’t signed him, he was probably on his way out of the league.

Maryland Football Schedule

The Terps kick off the ACC season on Saturday with a tough game at Clemson. That means that Maryland's early season stretch of too-close games against bad opponents is over.  It would be really nice to see the athletic department schedule fewer cupcake teams each year, especially since those are the schools that always give the Terps heartburn.

Here's the Maryland Football schedule for this year:
Aug. 30, 2008DelawareW14-71-0 
Sept. 6, 2008at Middle Tenn.L24-141-1 
Sept. 13, 2008CaliforniaW35-272-1 
Sept. 20, 2008Eastern MichiganW51-243-1 
Sept. 27, 2008at Clemson12:00 pm ET  
Oct. 4, 2008at Virginia7:00 pm ET  
Oct. 18, 2008Wake ForestTBA  
Oct. 25, 2008NC StateTBA  
Nov. 6, 2008at Virginia Tech7:30 pm ET  
Nov. 15, 2008North CarolinaTBA  
Nov. 22, 2008Florida StateTBA  
Nov. 29, 2008at Boston CollegeTBA

It's great that we scheduled Cal this year, but really, three games against Delaware, MTSU, and EMU is an embarassment.  I know that all big schools schedule a lot of easy opponents (obviously MTSU wasn't easy enough), but Maryland would be better served by bucking the trend.

My ideal out of conference schedule would include standing home-and-home's against West Virginia (on hold while we play Cal for two years) and Penn State (who we haven't played since 1993 and haven't beaten since 1961).  Those two regional rivalries would really help with recruiting as long as the Terps didn't get embarassed every year.  But with the way Maryland gets killed in local recruiting by PSU as it is, losing to them couldn't hurt all that much.

The other two out of conference games could be scheduled against sucky teams from big conferences or good teams from sucky conferences.  How does a Thursday night game against Boisie State sound?  A trip to Northwestern?  Baylor?  Vanderbilt?  Sure, some of those will be losses, but it looks a whole lot better than a loss to "Middle."

If I were in charge of scheduling, the Terps would certainly make it to fewer bowl games.  But the bowl games we did make would be much better.  Finishing at .500 with that schedule looks a whole lot better than the 6-6 we're hoping for this year.  And really, who wants to go to the Congressional Bowl?  Or the Meineke Car Care Bowl?  I say shoot for the stars.

Another added benefit of my schedule would be additional national television exposure.  As it stands now, there are far too many Maryland football games that aren't even on regional TV.  If we were playing Penn State, do you think that game would go untelevised?  There's a huge recruiting advantage gained by being on TV more.  Just ask Fresno State.

Instead, we'll just keep playing crappy teams early in every season.  We'll lose to some of them and have unimpressive wins against some of the others.  Wouldn't it be nice to play some more meaningful games in September?