Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Buster's Best

Here is how it works. Buster, my son, picks the games straight up and I have to pick against the spread. We keep track all season and at the end if he beats me he gets something special. I still haven't figured out what yet, but thanks for all of your ideas.

GAME 1 - Minnesota @ Tulsa
Buster says that Minnesota will win and I'll take the 15.5 points that Tulsa is getting.
GAME 2 - TCU @ Oklahoma
Buster says that OU wins and I agree, but they won't cover the spread. I'm going to take the 26.5 points that TCU is getting.
GAME 3 - Miami(FL) @ Florida State
Buster says that Miami is going to win and I say that Florida State will win. The Seminoles are a 3 point dog.
Game 4 - Colorado State @ Colorado
Buster says that Colorado State will win and I say that Colorado wins and covers the 7.5 point spread.
Game 5 - Florida International @ Kansas State
Buster says that Kansas State will win and I agree, but they will not cover the spread. I'm going to take the 33 points that Florida International is getting.

Mark Buehrle Calls the Rangers Cheaters

The Chicago White Sox might be feeling the pressure of their situation. Just seven games up on Cleveland going into the final month of the season, the White Sox are in position to win the division. Down the stretch Chicago would like to keep their position as the first place team and not enter into the Wild Card race.

Everyone on the team feels the pressure in a situation like this but for pitchers it's got to be tough, so tough that Mark Buehrle called the Texas Rangers cheaters on Tuesday, saying that the team signals pitches to batters through a high-tech light system in center field.

Buehrle suggested that the Rangers knew what he was throwing Monday night in the White Sox 7-5 loss. He repeated the accusation again on Tuesday before the two team’s doubleheader.

“I’ve heard rumors, so it’s not just me saying this.” Buehrle said. “I’ve heard it from tons of people. Something’s going on because they hit good at home. The way they hit here, you’d have to raise an eyebrow to figure something’s going on. Look at the stats. I’m not making this up.”

In response, rangers home run leader Mark Teixeira said, “It’s crazy and it’s funny. It’s an outrageous comment, an outrageous claim.”

Texas DH Phil Nevin jokingly asked Rangers manager Buck Showalter why the lights weren’t working when he went 0-4 with two strikeouts Monday night.

White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen said there could be another reason Buehrle gave up nine hits and seven runs –four earned- in seven innings. “The way Buehrle pitched yesterday, it seemed they didn’t need signs. Everything was right over the plate.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Baseball Surprises

As we get ready to start the final month of the regular baseball season there are a few things that stand out as surprises to me. Here they are.

1. The Chicago White Sox are still in first place in the AL Central – I actually predicted a while back that they would win the division (Baseball Predictions, May 31), actually that entire division stands right now the way I predicted it. I’m surprised that to this point I’m right because everyone, including myself, had doubts about the White Sox.

2. Chris Carpenter leads the majors in wins. If you would have asked my opinion, I would have said that Dontrelle Willis would be leading the majors (he is one game behind Carpenter). Carpenter, who picked up his 19th win Monday night, has come out of nowhere to go 11-0 in his last 14 starts.

3. The New York Yankees are in the Wild Card Hunt. How about the up and down season the Yankees have had? They got swept by the Royals at one point in the season then they came storming back to get above .500 and as of Tuesday have a one game lead in the Wild Card. They are 1.5 games away from winning the division or 1.5 games away from not playing in the post season. With all the talent they have, who would have thought that?

4. The Washington Expos…errr… Nationals are still in the Wild Card hunt. As of Tuesday they were only 2.5 games back and with a month left that makes them far from eliminated.

5. The National League West has fallen apart. Not a single team is above .500 and the San Diego Padres have a 4.5 game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

That’s it. Those are all of my surprises. What are yours?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Broncos Say No Mo’

The Maurice Clarett project is officially over in Denver, and is anyone really surprised? Clarett never cracked the top four on the depth chart in Denver causing the Broncos to cut their third round pick. Head coach Mike Shanahan said the decision to draft Clarett was a mistake and it was time to move on.

``I think any time you cut somebody in the third round, you feel like you made a mistake,'' Shanahan said. ``When you do that, you make a mistake and you go on. At least you evaluate it. That's not to say that Maurice doesn't have a chance to go to another football team and make that team and contribute. But in a true evaluation of your own organization, when you use a third-round draft choice and he does not make your team, obviously it's not good.''

After troubles off the field and a dismal performance at the NFL combine it really comes as no shock that Clarett didn’t make the team. What is a shock is that he didn’t even play a down in the preseason. Shanahan is the guy who takes fifth round picks and turns them into All-Pros and Super Bowl MVP’s. Maurice Clarett proved to be too big of a project for even him.

``We've made mistakes before,'' Shanahan said. ``We'll make mistakes in the future. Just because we draft somebody in the third round doesn't mean they're automatically going to be on our football team. We've cut our first-rounders, second-rounders before. You don't feel very good about those scenarios, but they do happen.''

Phillips Recieves Bonehead of the Year Nomination

Ex-NFL and Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips has received the My Opinion on Sports Bonehead of the year nomination for allegedly running his car into three teenagers following an argument in a pick-up football game. The car he was driving was reportedly stolen and he was already wanted on a domestic violence charge.

Phillips joins Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith and Philadelphia Eagles receiver Terrell Owens as a candidate for this year’s bonehead award to be voted on by My Opinion on Sports readers in December.

It's About Time!

Cedric Benson ended his 36-day holdout Sunday night, agreeing to a five-year contract with the Chicago Bears.

Benson, the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft, was the last remaining first-round pick to sign. Terms were not available but reports said the Bears had offered a contract that contained $17 million in guaranteed.

``We are happy this process has reached a conclusion and look forward to moving ahead together,'' Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said in a statement Sunday night.

Earlier this month, Angelo said the team had made its final offer to Benson and that future negotiations would be centered on how much Benson's value had been reduced by the holdout.

Benson was a four-year starter at Texas and finished his career as the sixth-leading rusher in NCAA Division I-A history and the second-leading rusher in Longhorns history. In 49 games, he rushed for 5,540 yards on 1,112 carries with 64 TDs and caught 69 passes for 621 yards and three TDs.

He was expected to challenge Thomas Jones for playing time. The Bears have one preseason game remainining Thursday before starting the regular season at Washington on September 11.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Move Over Football and Basketball, Badminton is Here

The doubles competition at the International Badminton Federation World Championships were won by Tony Gunawan and Howard Bach of the United States. The duo entered the tournament with the 13th seed and became the first American team to win a badminton medal in an Olympic or world championship.

USA Badminton executive director Dan Cloppas reacted by saying, “Now children are going to start looking at the sport differently and say, ‘Maybe I don’t want to go into basketball or football. I want to be like Tony and Howard.’”

I’m sorry Tony and who? Perhaps he over reacted just a smidgen.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thompson Era Begins at OU

A new era has begun in Sooner football as a new quarterback was announced Thursday evening. Junior Paul Thompson has been named the starting quarterback for the 2005 Sooners. “We decided as a staff that we are going to start Paul Thompson,” said OU head coach Bob Stoops. “We feel that he has earned it to this point. The way they have both competed and been supportive of each other and the team is a real positive in the eyes of the coaching staff.

Stoops also made comment on what this meant to freshman quarterback Rhett Bomar. “We do believe that Rhett has performed well enough and is close enough (to Thompson) that we intend to give him snaps early in games, as well as late in games.”

Thompson was Jason White’s backup in 2003, when he won the Heisman Trophy. Last season Thompson redshirted, along with Bomar, while Tommy Grady was the backup.

“I am just excited and ready to get on the field and make some plays,” said Thompson, who has completed 66 percent of his career passes (31-for-47) and tossed four TDs compared to two INTs. “It is good to be clear about where I am at, so that I can move forward and produce for this team,” said Thompson. “The competition is not going to stop here, though. It will continue through the season and it will make each of us better.”

Additional quotes from Coach Stoops and Thompson:

On when Bomar will get into the game:
“I am not going to be exact on that. I can’t be today. That will be determined by how both of them play. He deserves opportunities to continue to grow and work in the system. How that will work its way out is something we will have to wait and see. We expect that Rhett will continue to grow and improve and he has great ability to continue to compete for us.”

On what made them decide on Thompson:
“I felt overall that there may have been more consistency to some degree with Paul, but it was very close when you look at them overall in all of the scrimmages from spring to now. “

On whether the QB competition will continue:
“It is fair to say that. I tell you guys (the media) this all the time and you don’t think it is true, but is not unlike any other position. The person at the position needs to be productive and play winning football. If not, the other person deserves the opportunity.”

On how he feels to be the starter:
“I have been asked about it a lot. Hopefully after today that will stop and I can focus on football and making this team better.”

On the opportunity of having a full week to prepare for TCU:
“It is very good. You want to have someone in there getting the reps that is ready for the game. It should help everyone’s focus.”

On what Coach Long said was the deciding factor:
“He said it was little things and that they liked my leadership, which is not taking anything away from him (Rhett Bomar). They just felt like at this time I would be a better fit for this offense.”

On whether or not he believed he would win the starting Job:
“I wasn’t too sure. I knew that I had done everything I could to put myself in that position. I was real positive going into the meeting.”

Life According to Ricky

Ricky Williams is back in the NFL after a one year lay off and not only has he lost weight he has also gained new perspective in life. You'll be amazed to hear his responses to a recient media interview, where he spent 15 minutes talking about everything you really don't care to know. Meet the new Ricky Williams.

• He said he doesn't miss marijuana. "I can't do that anymore. I get tested twice a week."
• He owes the Dolphins $8.6 million for breaching his contract by retiring last year, but said he doesn't know his financial situation. "I have no idea. The way I live my life, if I have a place to stay and I have food on the table, I'm not broke."
• He said he doesn't think about the war in Iraq and won't join the military. "There's a war outside, but I think there's also a war inside all of us. When you talk about world peace and people doing all these things for peace, and they want peace and want to be treated fairly, I think it really starts with yourself and looking for the peace inside yourself. When each of us can do that, then the peace spreads outward."
• He said he's not having fun since returning to football, but doesn't mind. "You look across from fun and you see work. The fun is the result of hard work. If you work hard you get to the fun. & The process of coming to work every day gives me more and more freedom."
• Teammates tease him about his scruffy beard, saying he looks homeless, but he sees no reason to shave. "Some people have a job, some people's wives don't like it, some people are uncomfortable with it. But I don't have a reason to shave."
• His first tattoo was Mighty Mouse in green and gold, his San Diego high school's colors. "I was at Venice Beach with my girlfriend at the time, and I said it would be cool to get a tattoo. The way I look at them, they're somewhat of a map. You see a tattoo, and you think back to a time in your life."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Race the Easy Way Out For Bradley

Milton Bradley has problems! Of course anyone who follows baseball knows that. He has again made headlines for all the wrong reasons. After being criticized by Jeff Kent for not scoring from first base on a double in Saturday’s game Bradley shot back and accused Kent of not knowing how to conduct himself around black players during a locker room interview Tuesday night.

``The problem is, he doesn't know how to deal with African-American people,'' Bradley said. ``I think that's what's causing everything. It's a pattern of things that have been said -- things said off the cuff that I don't interpret as funny. It may be funny to him, but it's not funny to Milton Bradley. But I don't take offense to that because we all joke about race in here. Race is an issue with everything we do in here.
``Me being an African-American is the most important thing to me -- more important than baseball,''
Here is the problem. Just a few minutes before this comment Bradley had said that the feud between him and Kent was a “dead issue.” So, what’s the problem? Bradley will tell you that Kent is the problem but history will tell you a different story.

Bradley who is a solid player was dealt from the Cleveland Indians for basically nothing because the Indians were that desperate to get rid of him. Later after an on field outburst involving a water bottle Bradley promised to get anger counseling, a week later he called an African American reporter an Uncle Tom because he didn’t like the question he was asked. Last season Bradley was suspended for the remainder of the season down the stretch because of attitude issues.

Are we really expected to believe that Jeff Kent is a racist or could it be that Kent is tired of Bradley’s antics and desired to see more hustle from his teammate. I really don’t think that telling a teammate he should hustle more makes you racists. I really do think that Bradley’s ego took a shot because he considers himself to be the team leader and his hustle was questioned.

``I was told in spring training I was the team leader -- by Paul DePodesta. By Jim Tracy. By (team owner) Frank McCourt,'' Bradley said. ``Growing up in L.A., I know how to deal with all types of people, and I do it on an everyday basis. But some people don't deal with all different types of people every day, and therefore don't know how to handle situations when they arise.''
You are not told you are a team leader rather you earn the right to be a team leader. How does going off the deep end and getting suspended down the home stretch of the season earn a person the right to be the team leader? Calling Kent a racist is easier than dealing with his own shortcomings as a team leader.

``At no time am I going to let somebody question my hustle, my injury or question my motivation for playing,'' Bradley said. ``I watch him on the field, and I follow in his footsteps and the things he does on the field. As far as off the field, he has no clue about leadership.
Turns out that Bradley still has a lot to learn, what you do on the field speaks volumes. Unfortunately with Bradley we have seen too much. This is just another sad chapter in his strange baseball odyssey.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sooners lose DE Birdine for the season


NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma defensive end Larry Birdine has been lost for the season after suffering a torn left biceps muscle. OU head coach Bob Stoops made the announcement after Tuesday's practice.

Birdine will undergo surgery on Thursday.

The Lawton senior played as a reserve last season behind Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson, but still ranked second on the team with 11 tackles for loss. He ranked third on the team with seven sacks.

"It was kind of a fluke injury," Stoops said. "He just got tangled up with Travis Wilson in a pass skel. There really wasn't much contact."

Birdine suffered the injury several days ago, but had tried to rehab. On Tuesday, Stoops said the extent of the injury had been determined.

OU defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek suffered a similar injury in the latter stages of the 2005 spring game. He has not participated in contact drills yet, but is expected back at or near the beginning of the season.

Buster's Best

This is my son Buster (that’s his nickname) and he is a fourth grader who is just as excited about sports, particularly football and basketball, as I am. He has been trying to figure out a way to contribute to My Opinion on Sports so starting next week we will feature Buster’s Best.

He will choose four football games and give his picks and I will do the same for the entire season. If at the end of the season he has a better record than I do, then I have to do something special for him. You guys help me decide what it should be.

Inaugural Blog Poll

1 Southern Cal (47)
2 Texas (1)
3 Tennessee
4 Michigan
5 Louisiana State
6 Miami (Florida)
7 Oklahoma
8 Virginia Tech
9 Ohio State
10 Iowa
11 Florida
12 Louisville
13 Georgia
14 Florida State
15 Auburn
16 Texas A&M
17 Purdue
18 Cal
19 Boise State
20 Arizona State
21 Texas Tech
22 Alabama
23 Boston College
24 Pittsburgh
25 Virginia

Also Receiving Votes: Fresno State(1.9), Bowling Green(1.8), North Carolina State(1.0), Oregon(1.0), Georgia Tech(0.7), Minnesota(0.7), Colorado(0.6), UCLA(0.5), Penn State(0.5), UTEP(0.5), West Virginia(0.4), Louisiana Tech(0.4), Utah(0.4), Notre Dame(0.3), Iowa State(0.3), Miami (Ohio)(0.2), Michigan State(0.2), Nebraska(0.2), Southern Miss(0.1), Maryland(0.1), Syracuse(0.1), Kansas State(0.1), Oklahoma State(0.1), TCU(0.1), Wyoming(0.1), South Carolina(0.1), Rice(0.0), Toledo(0.0), Duke(0.0), Tulane(0.0),

Total Ballots: 48

Monday, August 22, 2005

More Proof That No One Cares About Hockey

Okay hockey fans get ready. The NHL announced Thursday it has reached a two-year deal that will put games on Outdoor Life Network, starting on opening night in October.
In case you didn’t know OLN is known for broadcasts of the Tour de France, and it now takes over hockey cable broadcasts from ESPN. For the second time in a matter of months, ESPN turned down the opportunity to keep the games on the all-sports network.
OLN is only available in 64 million households, compared to 90 million that have ESPN. So why would ESPN not want to have the hockey market? Because people just don’t care about the sport. Even before the lock-out ESPN was losing a ton of money on their hockey broadcast because people were not tuning in.
No since the lock out took away an entire season fans have moved on and so has sports television. I hope that the powers that be in the other professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL) take note of this. You can’t kill a season without killing your sport!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Shut-up and Play

I’m not a person who really gets into reading signs when at a sporting event or watching one on TV. After all the attraction is the event not someone’s sign. However, the other night on the Eagles/Steelers game was a sign that had to be shown and rightfully so. Directed towards Eagles receiver Terrell Owens it simply said, “T.O. Shut up and Play.”

I am one of the few fans who actually was patient with Owens and his quest for a new contract because let’s face it; the Eagles have a reputation of not being loyal to those players who are loyal to them. My patience has now run out.

Owens had become a legend after last season. He was actually a fan favorite! He came to camp, said and did all the right things and won over the critics. Even after a mid-season spat with quarterback Donovan McNabb Owens quickly made up ground after returning early from an injury to play in the Super Bowl. The Eagles lost the game, but Owens walked off the field the big winner.

Then came the pre-season where it seems as if Owens is working just as hard to destroy his reputation as he did to build it up. He obviously has no respect for his teammates, coaches or even the fans. T.O. has left no doubt that he is only looking out for #81 and the rest of the civilized world can just go jump off a cliff.

Owens has since singled himself out in the worst way by alienating himself from his team and fans, calling out other players (Donovan McNabb), getting kicked out of camp and showing his true colors to all of America by doing television interviews. Thanks T.O. for letting us all know, including your teammates, where we stand. Thanks for showing us that we can’t trust or believe in you. Thanks for destroying everything that little league football coaches have taught about playing for the love of the game.

It’s not just Owens either. In San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is holding out for more money as well. He did have a monster season last year with an NFL tight end record 13 touchdown passes, but he also came out of nowhere and he’s only played two seasons. How do we know last season wasn’t a “one year wonder” type season? Gates is so convinced that he is the real deal that he will now sit a three game suspension for not signing on time. Thanks for taking one for the team!

At least Gates has played a down in the NFL. In Chicago running back Cedric Benson is the only first round pick to not have a deal made yet. Benson wants quarterback money and the Bears have apparently made their final offer. Well see about that.

What has Benson done by missing camp? He has pretty much assured that he will not start the season as the number one back, Thomas Jones says thanks, and he has tarnished his reputation even before he has one. Do you remember him crying at the NFL draft when he was selected as the fourth pick? Here a guy who really didn’t show up for big games in college (Oklahoma) and he thinks he suddenly has the right to tell the team that believed in him enough to reach and take him number four what he will come to camp for?

During the half time interview of that Pittsburg/Philly game Terrell Owens agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said that this whole thing could have been avoided if the Eagles would just give them what they wanted. I couldn’t disagree more! This whole thing could have been avoided if these guys would just shut up and play.

**Antonio Gates did sigh a one year $380,000 deal with the Chargers last night, but I had already written this. He is now in the process of trying to get out of the three games suspension.**

My Vote in the Blogg Poll

The first official college football blogg poll will release tomorrow. It will be posted he at My Opinion on Sports. My top 25 hasn't changed any from the pre-season list I posted a few weeks ago. Here is how I voted.

1. Southern Cal
2. Virginia Tech
3. Texas
4. Michigan
5. Oklahoma
6. Tennessee
7. Ohio State
8. Miami (Florida)
9. Louisiana State
10. Georgia
11. Florida
12. Oregon
13. West Virginia
14. Iowa
15. Texas A&M
16. Florida State
17. Louisville
18. Purdue
19. Auburn
20. Texas Tech
21. UCLA
22. Cal
23. Boise State
24. Rice
25. Utah

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sun Belt/Independents At A Glance


North Texas
Louisiana – Monroe
Louisiana – Lafayette
Florida Atlantic
Middle Tennessee
Arkansas State
Florida International

Troy at North Texas Oct. 1


If the independent schools were in a mini-conference here is how I predict the standings would be.

Notre Dame

USC at Notre Dame October 15
Navy at Army December 3

Wednesday, August 17, 2005



New Mexico
Air Force
Colorado State
San Diego State

Utah at TCU Sept. 15
Utah at BYU Nov. 19


Miami (OH)
Bowling Green
Kent State

Northern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Central Michigan
Ball State
Western Michigan

Miami over Northern Illinois

Miami at Northern Illinois Oct. 5
Northern Illinois at Toledo Nov. 16

SEC/WAC At A Glance


South Carolina

Mississippi State
Ole Miss

Tennessee over LSU

Tennessee at Florida Spet. 17
Tennessee at LSU Sept. 24


Boise State
Fresno State
Louisiana Tech
San Jose State
New Mexico
Utah State
Boise State at Georgia Sept. 3
Boise State at Fresno State Nov. 12

Monday, August 15, 2005

College Football Q&A with Bruce Feldman of ESPN

I had the opportunity to interview Bruce Feldman, college football writer for ESPN, and get his answer to five questions for the upcoming college football season. Here is my Q&A with him.

1. Q: You predicted that Oklahoma was heading, “for a dip like Miami has had the past two years.” What do you see the Sooners doing in conference this season and where do you think their strength and weakness will be as a team?

A: I think losing White and the leadership of a veteran guy like that is tough to measure...I think the secondary is still a question and I think some of the Big 12 south has caught up a little (particularly A&M)..When I said a "dip" I meant they'd go from being a top 3 team to being around the 9-12 area this year.

2. Q: Other than USC give us three teams that you think can win the Rose Bowl.

A: Michigan, Tennessee and Miami/Va. Tech (I think the winner of that game in Blacksburg probably plays USC)

3. Q: Who are your top five Heisman candidates?

A: Leinart, Peterson, Bush, Leak and V.Y. (Vince Young) over DeAngelo.

4. Q: Do you think we will ever see a college football play-off? Why/Why not?

A: No the college presidents are too against it and the bowl people who sit on many college boards have too much power.

5. Q: What team do you think has the best chance to be a BCS buster like Utah was last season?

A: Louisville is a good dark horse, but since they're now in a BCS conference I can't give you them, so I'll say Fresno State. If they win at USC they'd have a good argument.

Bonus Question: Have you been to My Opinion on Sports?

A: Yeah, I've been to your site. I think you have Louisville too low at 17, they should be like, 10 places higher

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Conference USA/Pac 10 At A Glance

Southern Miss
Central Florida
East Carolina


UTEP over Southern Miss

Memphis at Southern Miss Nov. 19
UTEP at Memphis Oct. 1

PAC 10

Washington State
Arizona State

USC at Oregon Sept. 24
Cal at UCLA Oct. 8

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Big 10/Big 12 At A Glance

BIG 10

Ohio State
Michigan State
Penn State

Iowa at Purdue Oct. 8
Ohio State at Michigan Nov. 19


Texas A&M
Texas Tech
Oklahoma State

Iowa State
Kansas State

Oklahoma over Colorado

Oklahoma/Texas Oct. 8
Texas at Texas A&M Nov. 25

Wednesday, August 10, 2005



Florida State
Boston College
NC State
Wake Forest

Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
North Carolina

Virginia Tech over Florida State

Miami at Florida State Sept. 5th
Miami at Virginia Tech Nov 5th


West Virginia
South Florida

Key Games
Louisville at West Virginia Oct. 15
Pittsburg at Louisville Nov 3
Pittsburg at West Virginia Nov. 24

Five Teams That Could End UP In Pasadena

It’s pre-season and hopes are high for everyone. Here are my top five teams that have a shot at being in the Rose Bowl.

1. USC – The Trojans humbled OU in the Orange Bowl last season and return 15 starters this season, most notably Heisman trophy winning quarterback Matt Leinart. Leinart has plenty of talent around him with all everything back Reggie Bush and speedy wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett.

Lawence Jackson recorded 6 tackles last season as a freshman and will lead a strong Trojan defense that will be strong across the front and very quick in the secondary.

KEY QUESTION: How will the offense do without departed guru Norm Chow?

BIG GAMES: Sept. 24 @ Oregon
Nov. 12 @ Cal

2. Virginia Tech – The Hokies have possibly the most talent in the nation at the skill positions led by highly touted quarterback Marcus Vick. The Hokies also have three All-ACC first team players that are returning this year. Place Kicker Brandon Pace who made 21 of 27 field goals and 43 0f 44 extra points, defensive end Darryl Tapp who recorded 8.5 sacks last season and corner Jimmy Williams who led the conference in interceptions last season with five.

KEY QUESTION: Can troubled Marcus Vick live up to expectations?

BIG GAMES: Nov. 5 Miami (FL)
Nov.12 @ Virginia

3. Texas – After making a run to the Rose Bowl last season the Longhorns are hoping that Jr. Quarterback Vince Young can lead them back. The Texas season hinges on one game, Oklahoma! The Longhorns have lost five in a row and they are tired of hearing about it. They have the talent and a Red River Shootout victory could launch the Longhorns into the BCS Title game like it has the Sooners the past two seasons. Texas will get a huge test on the road early in the season when they visit Ohio State.

KEY QUESTION: Graduating Seniors leave question marks at receiver and running back.

BIG GAMES: Sept. 10 @ Ohio State
Oct. 8 Oklahoma
Nov. 25 @ Texas A&M

4. Michigan – The Wolverines are loaded on the offensive side of the ball and are poised to make championship run. Sophomore quarterback Chad Henne passed for over 2,700 yards last season and 25 touchdowns. Gone is Braylon Edwards but Sr. Jason Avant should do a good job at filling the void. Sophomore running back Michael Hart will look to have another outstanding season after rushing for over 1,400 yards last season.

KEY QUESTION: Has the defense improved from last season?

BIG GAMES: Sept. 10 Notre Dame
Oct. 22 @ Iowa
Nov. 19 Ohio State

5. Oklahoma – After two consecutive BCS Championship appearances a third will be a reach for the Sooners, but it is still in sight. Like Texas the Red River Shoot Out will be the key to their BCS Title hopes. Running back Adrian Peterson will lead the charge for the Sooners offense who actually have more talent this season than they are getting credit for. Senior wide receiver Travis Wilson led the teams in touchdown receptions last season and will step into the spotlight this year as the number one option for the new quarterback.

KEY QUESTION: Who will replace Jason White at quarterback and how much has the defensive secondary improved?

BIG GAMES: Sept. 17 @ UCLA
Oct. 8 Texas
Nov. 12 Texas A&M

Monday, August 08, 2005

Pre-Season Top 25

I have been invited to vote in a college football blog poll. I will post the poll and how I voted every Tuesday during the college football season. Here is my pre-season top 25.

1. Southern Cal
2. Virginia Tech
3. Texas
4. Michigan
5. Oklahoma
6. Tennessee
7. Ohio State
8. Miami (Florida)
9. Louisiana State
10. Georgia
11. Florida
12. Oregon
13. West Virginia
14. Iowa
15. Texas A&M
16. Florida State
17. Louisville
18. Purdue
19. Auburn
20. Texas Tech
21. UCLA
22. Cal
23. Boise State
24. Rice
25. Utah

Sunday, August 07, 2005

My Opinion on Sports Heisman Trophy Candidates

Here are the official My Opinion on Sports Heisman Trophy Candidates for 2005. They are in order from the player who has the best chance of winning to the player who is the long shot. Each week during the football season we will update the player’s stats and reshuffle the rankings if needed.

1. Matt Leinart Sr. QB USC
Last Season: 3322 passing yards 33 TD’s 6 INT’s 65.3% of passes completed.

Being the starting quarterback for a dynasty like USC is enough to make you a Heisman Candidate, but Leinart has two national championships in two years and has a legitimate shot at a third this season. No question he is the leader of this Trojan team and he has plenty of talent around him as well. That could make Leinart the first two time winner of the Heisman since Archie Griffith and only the second ever.

2. Adrian Peterson So. RB OU
Last Season: 339 carries 1925 yards 15 TD’s 5.7 yards per carry

Peterson is the best running back in college football. Nicknamed A.D. because he seems to have the ability to run All Day, Peterson burst onto the college football scene last season and finished as the Heisman runner-up behind Leinart.

With former Heisman winner Jason White gone the Sooners will be looking for a new signal caller. This could mean more carries for Peterson. If the line can create holes for him to run through and the Sooners can pass the ball well enough to keep defenses honest that could be enough to move A.D. ahead of Leinart to win the trophy.

3. Reggie Bush Jr. RB USC
Last Season: 143 carries 908 yards 6 TD’s 6.3 yards per carry, 43 receptions 509 yards 7 TD’s 11.8 yards per reception.

Bush is the hardest working man in college football which also makes him the best all-around football player on the collegiate level. His split time between lining up in the backfield and as a receiver will cost him some votes as will playing alongside Matt Leinart. However, Leinart is on record as saying that Bush is the best player on the team and he (Leinart) does have a vote.

4. Vince Young Jr. QB Texas
Last Season: 1849 passing yards 12 TD’s 11 INT’s 59.2% of passes completed 167 carries 1079 yards 14 TD’s 6.5 yards per carry.

A spectacular performance in the Rose Bowl puts Young on the list, but he will have to prove his merit as a QB by improving on his completion percentage and his TD/INT ratio to stay on.

The departure of running back Cedrick Benson to the NFL and inexperience at receiver could make things more difficult for Young. However, if he can overcome those obstacles he should be heading to New York.

5. Jared Zambransky Jr. QB Boise State
Last Season: 2,927 passing yards 16 TD’s 12 INT’s 63% of passes completed 130 carries 326 yards 13 TD’s 2.5 yards per carry.

A tough non-conference schedule including games at Georgia and at Oregon State could do the Broncos in early and dash any of Zabransky’s hopes of making it to New York. However, if Boise runs the table again this season (17 starters return from last years team) look for the Broncos to make an appearance in a BCS Bowl and Zambransky to be a Heisman finalists.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

NFC Play-Off Match-Ups

Your Division Winners are as Follows:

East – Philadelphia Eagles
North – Green Bay Packers
South – Atlanta Falcons
West – Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams
Dallas Cowboys

St. Louis @ Green Bay

Dallas @ Seattle

Green Bay @ Philadelphia

Seattle @ Atlanta

Atlanta @ Philadelphia

Atlanta Falcons

Wild Wild West

The NFC West truly is wild. The Cardinals are supposed to be the up and coming team, it seems like that is how they have been described the past ten years, the Rams could be fading and the Seahawks are in a must win situation for coach Mike Holmgren. The only team in the West that won’t have a chance to make some noise this season is the 49ers, but they do have the league’s number one pick in QB Alex Smith. Here is a team by team breakdown of the NFC West.

ARIZONA CARDINALS Projected Finish 7-9 (3rd)
KEY QUESTION: Can Kurt Warner resurrect his career?

No question that Warner has been able to win championships in the past, but there are legitimate questions as to his ability to win now. After flopping in New York Warner is trying to prove that he still has MVP form and the Cardinals are putting their season on his shoulders. No doubt the Cards have talent at the receiver spot with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Both guys have great speed bursts and both are very young and will continue to improve as the mature in their careers.

The Emmitt Smith project is over at running back and the Cardinals used their second round pick on running back JJ Arrington. He has great breakaway speed and should quickly move to the top of the depth chart. The Cardinals returning leading rusher is Troy Hambrick with 283 yards.

The offensive line should be interesting. This unit features a former first round draft pick in Leonard Davis and four other guys who were either undrafted free agents, second day picks or cut from other teams.

On defense Arizona has Pro-Bowler Bertrand Berry returning at defensive end and they picked up Chike Okeafor to create a pass rush from the other side of the field.

The linebackers will be lead by second year player Karlos Dansby and the defensive backs became very young when Arizona drafted Antrel Rolle and Eric Green in the first and third rounds to play corner. Both are expected to become immediate starters and will need to adjust to the speed of the NFL very quickly.

CB Renaldo Hill, TE Freddie Jones, QB Shaun King, RB Emmitt Smith, CB Duane Starks, DE Kyle VAnden Bosh

S Robert Griffith, LB Orlando Huff, DE Chike Okeafor, QB Kurt Warner
ST. LOUIS RAMS Projected Finish 10-6 (2nd)
KEY QUESTION: Is the defense any better?

The only key loss from last year’s team was DT Bryce Fisher and that may not be a good thing. The Rams defense struggled several times last season and was embarrassed in the play-offs by the Atlanta Falcons as they gave up 47 points. During the off-season St. Louis has added a number of key guys to the defense hoping to build them back into a solid unit.

The defensive line will be led by Leonard Little who needs to return to 03 form where he recorder 12.5 sacks instead of last season’s 7.

The linebackers are where St. Louis did most of their revamping by adding Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne.

Corner Aeneas Williams is getting old, but the Rams still have Travis Fisher who is a very physical player and Jerametrius Butler who is quickly becoming one of the best cover corners in the league. Strong safety Adam Archuleta should have a rebound season after struggling most of last season with back problems.

The Rams still have “The Greatest Show on Turf” with their offense led by quarterback Marc Bulger who improved his passing accuracy last season from 03. Bulger will not have a problem finding someone to throw the ball to with a group of receivers led by Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

Look for Steven Jackson to become the feature running back this season and for Marshall Faulk to be the special downs back. Faulk has not had a 1,000 yard season since 2001 and will make way for Jackson if he can stay healthy.

The offensive line is looking to be healthy this season. Led by Orlando Pace the Rams line will try to cut down significantly the 50 sacks they gave up last season.

DT Bryce Fisher

KEY SIGNINGS: LB Chris Claiborne, LB Dexter Coakley, DB Michael Hawthorne, DE Jay Williams, TE Roland Williams.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers Projected Finish 5-11 (4th)
KEY QUESTION: Can the 49ers be resurrected from the dead?

This franchise is a long way from Steve Young and Jerry Rice. San Francisco lacks play makers on both sides of the ball, but they begin a new era this season with their new franchise quarterback Alex Smith. Smith will have a lot to prove this season and will suffer through growing pains with very little help.

The 49ers signed Jonas Jenings and drafted David Baas to try to improve the offensive line. They are also hoping center Jeremy Newberry will be healthy this season as well.

San Francisco ranked 30th last season in rushing because Kevan Barlow struggled as the feature back. The 49ers drafted Frank Gore who will try to push Barlow but has to answer questions about the strength of his knees first.

The leading receiver on the team last season was tight end Eric Johnson. Look for Alex Smith to go to him often again this season. The leading returning receiver is Brandon Lloyd who has problems creating separation. Look for Arnaz Battle, Rashaun Woods and Derrick Hamilton to battle it out for playing time at the second and third receiver spots.

Bryant Young has been the heart of the defensive line from the tackle position. This season he will move to defensive end in the new 3-4 scheme.

There are no playmakers at the linebacker spot as of yet. San Francisco is putting their hope in Julian Peterson who is returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon last season.

The biggest question mark for the defense is the secondary. Starting corners Ahmed Plummer and Mike Rumph only played together in two games last season because of injuries. The 49ers are also looking for a starter at free safety.

Key Losses: WR Curtis Conway, K Todd Peterson, WR Cedrick Wilson.

KEY Signings: DE Marques Douglas, K Joe Nedney.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS Projected Finish 10-6 (1st)
KEY QUESTION: Can the offense continue what it started last season?

The Seahawks ranked 8th last season in offense and returns mostly intact. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck needs to develop into more of an on field leader and he also needs to handle pressure situations a little better. He could use some help from his receivers in the latter. Seattle receivers had a case of the drops last season.

To try to improve their receivers the Seahawks signed Jerome Pathon and Joe Jurevicius to go along with leading receiver Darrell Jackson who set a franchise record last season with 87 receptions.

Shaun Alexander has had four seasons in a row in which he scored at least 15 touchdowns and last season he rushed for 1,696 yards. Look for him to compete again this season for the rushing title because the offensive line returns intact except for the left tackle position.

The defensive line has good depth but needs a consistent pass rusher. If Grant Wistrom and Marcus Tubbs stay healthy they could be the answers.

The Seahawks lost linebackers Chad Brown and Anthony Simmons but they signed veteran Jamie Sharper and drafted Lofa Tatupu and LeRoy Hill.

The strongest positions on the team are in the secondary. Michael Boulware had an outstanding rookie season at the strong safety spot. Seattle also added Andre Dyson and Kelly Herndon at corner to compete for the opposite side of Marcus Trufant.

LB Chad Brown, LB Orlando Huff, DE Chike Okeafor, WR Jerry Rice, FS Damien Robinson, LB Anthony Simms.

CB Andre Dyson, DE Bryce Fisher, CB Kelly Herndon, WR Joe Jurevicius, WR Jerome Pathon, LB Jamie Sharper.

Seattle Seahawks 10-6
St. Louis Rams 10-6
Arizona Cardinals 7-9
San Francisco 49ers 5-11