Upset Alerts for the Pac-12 This Weekend

Ummm…No Butters I said chaotic, not chaos.
Washington’s upset of the Stanford Cardinal last night was shocking-but-not-shocking; it was shocking because the Husky Defense contained one of the conference’s best running backs (they held Stepfan Taylor to 3.6 yards a carry) but it wasn’t shocking because of how bad Josh Nunes looked, he single handedly killed Cardinal drives with terrible passes. Basically Washington has made my Pac-12 power rankings extremely chaotic.
Add in the fact that the rest of the conference has yet to play and you begin to realize that Sunday night/Monday morning writing of the Pac-12 Power Rankings is going to be a major pain. Thus I’ve decided that I want to see all the upsets!!! I want the Pac-12 to completely and utterly cannibalize its self for our pure entertainment value; after all the conferences strong non-conference showing insures that it will just be considered a strong conference beating up on its self and that is a welcome change after the last couple of seasons where the Pac-12 was considered weak. To cannibalize its self-there are going to have to be more upsets in conference play this week. And after the jump we will take a look at games that I could see these upsets occurring in.

#18 Oregon State vs. Arizona:
Arizona’s loss at #2 Oregon was more of a reminder of how good the Ducks are. And the Beavers continued to look very good against a tough (am I really about to type this?) UCLA squad. Now they get to continue their tough Pac-12 South road trip with a trip to Arizona against a rejuvenated Wildcat squad with an offensive master-mind in Rich Rodriguez. Both teams have talented QBs in Sophomore Sean Mannion for Oregon State and Red Shirt Senior Matt Scott for Arizona. 
This ball game should be a shootout and it is going to come down to which defense can make the most stops. It should be an interesting game and one that very well could lead to another upset and thus adding more chaos to the Pac-12 landscape. In other words, if you can watch this game you should.
UCLA vs. Colorado:
Colorado’s come from behind, upset, win of Washington State last week didn’t really hurt my power rankings all that much (granted it pretty much the sports portion of my heart). UCLA lost a close game against an Oregon State team that looks a lot like the OSU teams from the mid-2000s. And Colorado looks a lot like the 2009 Cougars, those Cougs were gifted their only win of the season by Bo Levi Mitchell. As for UCLA they look like a much improved squad in their first season under Jim Mora Jr. He has changed the mentality of their players and it has led to their 3-1 start, look for these guys to be an eight or nine win team this year.
This ball game should be low scoring because of the aggressiveness of UCLA’s defense and the derpfest that is Colorado’s offense (until the Cougar defense melted down in the fourth quarter Colorado’s offense looked helpless). UCLA should win this game handily. That being said this game is in Boulder and it is after Jon Embree’s young squad came back from a 17-point deficit to win on the road. It’s going to be an emotionally charged atmosphere and it should be interesting to see how the Buffaloes and Bruins react to this situation. This game is not a must see, or even should see, but it definitely is a game that you might want to watch if you have the time.
There you have it, my upset alerts for the Pac-12 this week.

A Quick Reaction to the Huskies Upset of #8 Stanford

That was an interesting and unexpected-expected result. The Washington Huskies knocked off the #8 Stanford Cardinals and they did it beating the Cardinals at their own game. I expected the Cardinals to continue to win ballgames by being more physical than their opponents; and it looked like the Cards were well on their way to fulfilling that expectation by knocking off USC at home. But tonight they got a taste of their own medicine as they went on the road and got knocked off by a young team looking to make a name for its self.
The offense continued to sputter as the Husky O-line continued to perform poorly. But Bishop Sankey (bloody traitor) had his-self a nice game, including a 61 yard touchdown run that pulled the Huskies within three early in the fourth quarter; the big reason that Sankey broke off that run was because he didn’t dance around in the back field, actually he just bowled over the Stanford Defenders and ran downhill and that is how he is going to have to run to succeed behind an injury ridden offensive line.

I didn’t want to see this, not at all; photo credit Karen Billmyer
Despite getting hit several time, and spending a lot of time on the run (six rushing attempts for -14 yards and remember these numbers include sacks), Keith Price still had a decent game throwing the ball. Price attempted 37 passes and only completed 19 of them for 177 yards (good for 4.8 yards per passing attempt). While Price’s completion percentage looks low, it doesn’t factor in the number of passes he had to throw away because the Stanford defensive line was bearing down on him. In fact the Husky O-line failed so spectacularly that one of the Cardinals Defensive-linemen broke away from his blocker and intercepted a pass, intended for the RB on a wheel rout, for a pick-six. But that was the only touchdown the Cardinal would score as the Husky Defense stepped up big time against one of the best power offenses in college football.
Husky Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox ladies and gentlemen

The Husky Defense continued to show an aggressive style of defensiveness that Justin Wilcox has brought over from Tennessee. That defensive aggressiveness paid huge dividends tonight as the Huskies shut down the Stepfan Taylor, holding him to 75 yards on 21 carries (good for an average of 3.6 yards per carry). Not only did the front seven slow down Taylor, they also brought an impressive amount on pressure on Josh Nunes forcing him to make bad throws and kill Stanford’s offensive drives. As a result the Cardinal looked inefficient and out of sorts on the offensive side of the ball. That defensive effort was a complete 180 degree performance from the Nick Holt era.

There were a lot of positives to be taken out of this game for the folk clad in Purple and Gold. The defensive performance against one of the best running backs in the Conference was impressive. Bishop Sankey continues to show growth and looks like he could develop into a decent back behind a still shaky O-line. And those are things that Husky fans should continue to look for improvements in as the year moves along.
That being said there was also areas of concern. The secondary continued to allow receivers to break free down field, they got lucky that Stanford’s WR had a case of the dropsies otherwise the result could have been much different. And the Husky O-line continues to allow Price to get drilled by opposing defenses; who knows how much longer he is going to be able to hold up?
The biggest takeaway however for Husky fans is that it looks like Sarkisian constantly has this squad improving and believing that they can win, despite the dearth of injuries that have ravaged the Huskies. After constantly getting clown-stomped by Top-25 opponents it was important for this Husky squad to get the upset tonight and they did. And that’s a good thing considering three of their next four games are against opponents currently ranked in the top-25, the fourth game is against an Arizona squad that had been ranked at #22 prior to their 49-0 loss to the (at the time) #3 Ducks.  This win is a huge moral boost for this squad and they very well could nab another win out of those three top-25 squads; whereas it looked like they might lose all of these upcoming games last week.  
This is one of the few times you will see this from me; congratulations Huskies on a nice win. 

NFL Picks Week 4

Well I got above .500 last week (barely) and there still were a whole bunch of upsets.  There should be a few easy wins this week, but in the NFL you never know.  Let’s start the week’s action by looking at tonight’s game.

Browns versus Ravens



This is one game where I won’t be kicking myself for not having NFL Network.  In all honesty I think the Browns might sadly be the second team to go 0-16 in NFL history.
My Pick:  Ravens
Patriots versus Bills

Oh for the Pats to lose three in a row would be a real treat.  Buffalo has come off strong after that loss to the Jets in Week 1, but New England is definitely going to be looking for payback because they don’t forget about losses (like the one in Week 3 last year).  The Bills put up a strong effort but those stupid Patriots win it.
My Pick:  Patriots
49ers versus Jets

This is a battle of two strong defenses.  San Fran is coming off a tough loss to Minnesota while the Jets just barely squeaked by Miami.  Last I checked Revis was getting a second opinion on his ACL injury, but the air was definitely let out when it was announced that Revis Island would be out for the season.  Somehow I’ve got the feeling that Cromartie covering Vernon Davis is not going to be pretty.
My Pick:  49ers
It hurts to do this.
Seahawks versus Rams

Fresh off the controversial win over Green Bay, the Seahawks head to St.Louis to get another win and start the season string at 3-1.  Looks like that’s going to happen considering how horrific Sam Bradford has played against Seattle.
My Pick:  Seahawks
Panthers versus Falcons

Well look at who’s the class of the NFC all of a sudden.  The Falcons are fresh off a blowout of San Diego and they’re looking to start 4-0 for the first time in a while.  Hopefully Cam Newton can get me some fantasy points, because if half of those things I’ve heard about this Birds defense are true, the NFL is in for a long season.
My Pick:  Falcons
Vikings versus Lions

The Vikings are fresh off an upset win over San Francisco while the Lions are trying to bounce back from an overtime loss against Tennessee.  Christian Ponder looked great as a quarterback, and Adrian Peterson also showed flashes of his old self.  Ever since Stafford went down in Nashville I’ve had questions about the Lions, and I think this is where the Madden Curse hits.
My Pick:  Vikings
Trust me the curse is real. 
Chargers versus Chiefs

I think the Chiefs got a little too lucky in last week’s game against the Saints.  They should be 0-3 right now, but they will suffer a third loss from a Charger squad hungry for redemption.
My Pick:  Chargers
Titans versus Texans

I’ll give you a hint, pick the team that’s 3-0.
My Pick:  Texans
Bengals versus Jaguars

I’ll give you another hint, pick any team playing the Jaguars (unless they’re the Browns).
My Pick:  Bengals
Raiders versus Broncos

Huge win for Oakland.  They should have a lot of confidence heading into Denver now that they beat a tough Pittsburgh team.  Darrius Heyward-Bay is out of the hospital, and they’re looking to get to 2-2.  On the other hand though, Manning has played close games against two premier teams that might have been victories if a possession had of gone his way.  I think Oakland learns just what makes this Manning kid special.
My Pick:  Broncos
Dolphins versus Cardinals

Seriously did not expect the Cardinals to be 3-0 this season.  The Dolphins have a lot of talent on that roster, but I don’t see them putting it all together and getting a win considering the way the Cardinals have done things lately.
My Pick:  Cardinals
Some things you just can’t predict.
Redskins versus Buccaneers

This could be a great match up.  I have a lot of faith in RGIII considering the effort he just turned in against the Bengals in a tight Week 3 loss.  The Bucs are good, but I think RGIII wins it for the Skins.  I’ll bet you Schiano blitzes the QB during the kneel down and RGIII turns it into a 70 yard touchdown run.
My Pick:  Redskins
Saints versus Packers

Who would have thought that these two teams would be under .500 right now.  Both teams are desperate for a win but I’ve gotta go with the Packers for this one.  It’s at Lambeau, and I still think they’re pissed about that game (just a hint).
My Pick:  Packers
Giants versus Eagles

I have no faith in Michael Vick considering that lackluster effort that he put in against Arizona.  I think the Giants are going to contain Philly’s offense and prove that this Super Bowl hangover thing is just pure nonsense.
My Pick:  Giants
Bears versus Cowboys

This could be a good one.  One of these teams will be 3-1.  The Bears have a good defense and a dynamic return man in Devin Hester, but I still have questions about Jay Cutler.  I think in a battle of choke artists Dallas wins because their defense puts Cutler on the ground and Romo finds a way to get the win.
My Pick:  Cowboys
My record:  25-23
The Steelers and Colts have their byes this week.
Check the blog out tomorrow.  I have a special feature on a certain person from Akron.

College Football Picks Week 5!

Well you win some and you lose some, and a lot of match ups in college football last week changed the overall landscape.  Who would have thought that Kansas State would have gotten that big victory over Oklahoma and that Notre Dame would be a top 10 team right now.  Change is abundant as the season goes on, and pretty soon we’ll find out if those schools (and others such as Oregon State and Stanford) can keep the gravy train rolling.  Let’s look at next week.

Stanford versus Washington

(8) Stanford

(3-0, 1-0 Pac-12)


(2-1, 2-0 home)

This looks like a good game…NOT!  Stepfan Taylor runs all over UW’s defense.

My Pick:  Stanford

Sorry Huskies you’re not there yet. 

Baylor versus West Virginia

(25) Baylor

(3-0, 1-0 away)

(9) West Virginia

(3-0, 3-0 home)
It looks like this one’s going to be a shootout.  Geno Smith has strongly asserted himself into the Heisman conversation, but Baylor’s Nick Florence has done an excellent job of making big plays on offense and bringing back memories of RGIII.  However, working against Baylor, that game against Louisiana-Monroe shouldn’t have been as close as it was.  Sorry Bears fans, West Virginia’s offense is too good for you to get the upset.
My Pick:  West Virginia
Ohio State versus Michigan State

(14) Ohio St

(4-0, 0-0 away)

(20) Michigan St

(3-1, 2-1 home)

This game is big for Big 10 play.  Michigan State has made a strong recovery from the shellacking by Notre Dame by posting a shellacking of their own against Eastern Michigan.  Here’s some things working against Ohio State.  The game is at Michigan State and they have a strong back named Le’Veon Bell.  Braxton Miller is a great quarterback, don’t get me wrong, but I personally don’t think he has enough big game experience to pull off a win in hostile territory like this.
My Pick:  Michigan State
Wisconsin versus Nebraska


(3-1, 0-1 away)

(22) Nebraska

(3-1, 3-0 home)

This probably has to be the underrated game of the week.  Wisconsin is trying to get a big win after a humiliating loss to Oregon State, while Nebraska is looking for a win after a loss a few weeks ago to UCLA.  Taylor Martinez is average at best when it comes to being a quarterback in big games, but Wisconsin’s quarterback play has been more than questionable.  Also with Montee Ball potentially being out, I have questions about this team.

My Pick:  Nebraska

My record:  10-7

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The Seattle Storm and the SODO Arena

The issue of the future of Key Arena has been raised many times though out the discussion surrounding Chris Hansen’s SODO Arena proposal. As people have continued to complain about the future of the remodeled Seattle Center Coliseum they have forgotten about the future of one of its most lucrative and loyal tenants. That tenant that I am talking about is the forgotten professional basketball team in Seattle, the Seattle Storm.
Force-10, the Ownership Group of your Seattle Storm
The fact that the Storm continue to exist after the departure of the Sonics is due to the commitment of its, strong-willed, ownership group. This ownership group bought the squad from Clay Bennett and his cohorts just as it looked like they were about to join the Sonics on the road to Oklahoma City. In other words this ownership group managed to do what Steve Ballmer failed to do, save their favorite professional basketball team; and in doing so they helped bring the City of Seattle its third Professional Basketball Championship Trophy (the Storm’s second).

The Storm have had amazing success at the Key Arena and that should be taken into consideration when it is decided whether or not they should move into the SODO Arena. This ownership group should have the biggest say in whether or not they remain in the Key, not the City or Chris Hansen. That being said, how does the SODO Arena Plan affect the Seattle Storm? Force-10 released a newsletter on the Storm’s website that attempted to answer some of the questions regarding their stance on the SODO Arena Proposal. Take a look at their response to the question asking them about just staying at the “Key”; 

“It’s complicated. KeyArena is an aging facility with a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure issues. While KeyArena’s operating revenues are in the black, the City of Seattle does not have enough funds in reserve to pay for needed capital improvements. Keeping the “Key” a competitive venue will take additional resources – whether a new arena is built in SoDo or not. The City has justifiable concerns that KeyArena as currently configured and utilized would not be able to compete with the new arena. The City may need to repurpose the KeyArena for other uses that don’t include basketball.”-Seattle Storm Official Statement on the SODO Arena 

While this quote sums up why the Key Arena is not a viable permanent NBA Venue it also ends up inadvertently asking this question; how long is the Key going to be a viable WNBA venue? Despite having one of the most favorable leases the City could offer, Force-10 is still losing money. Now part of that is the fact the venue itself, the Key Arena doesn’t have enough shops or any restaurants to help increase the revenue for the teams and the city; the other part is the league that he Storm are a part of.
After 16 years you would have thought that the WNBA would have the majority of its teams earning profits and the league would be weaving its way into the fabric of American professional sports. Unfortunately the WNBA is struggling because only three of its teams reported a profit after the 2011 season and the league is subsidized by its older brother, the NBA. And since most Americans don’t pay attention to the WNBA its marketability to TV companies almost nil.

While the Storm can’t cure the WNBA’s ills, they can definitely fix some of their own financial problems. By moving into the SODO Arena the Storm will open up new revenue streams. The new arena will have more luxury seating options, more concession stands, and more shops than the Key Arena; it will also have restaurants with the Key does not have. Basically the Storm would be able to take in more cash at the new building in a game than they ever could at Key Arena; that could help limit, or even completely stop, their monetary losses. It would make fiscal sense for them to move into the new arena; even though their departure would pretty much condemn Key Arena to its death.

Seahawks Late, Come From Behind, Victory Is A Plea For The Regular Officials To Return.

Monday Night’s game between the Seahawks and Packers was one of the best defensive efforts, on both sides, I’ve ever seen. The Packers offensive line struggled throughout the game to protect Aaron Rodger throughout the game as the Seahawks got 8 sacks in the first half (9 total). And the Packers Defense stepped up as well and contained Marshawn Lynch, only allowing him to rush for 98 yards.
Touchdown or Touchback? Two Different Calls and no communication
There was also some impressive offensive performance down the stretch in that ball game as well. For example let us take a look at Cedric Benson’s performance; after only getting two carries in the first half Benson got quite a few carries during the second half (15 to be exact). His tough gutty performance ended up playing a huge role in Green Bay’s lone touchdown drive during the game and he chewed up a fair amount of clock. For the Seahawks, fans got to see the rookie Russell Wilson lead this team down the field, with 48 seconds on the clock; they got to watch him lead his team to a come from behind to victory.
But none of these performances and outstanding efforts is important to anyone anymore. That’s because of a controversial ending that left people scratching their heads and one fan base pissed, the other going thinking “That’s karma for you!!” It was an ending for epic proportions that was befitting of the defensive game that was played, well that is until you take into account the effect the officials had on the outcome of the game.  
Whether or not you agree with the call, the call was a simultaneous catch and therefore a touchdown for the Seahawks, the officials royally screwed up about how they came to the decision. There was one official sticking his arms in the air saying touchdown and another signaling a touch back. All of this was before those two officials, who were at the pile-up, even started digging through the mass of players to see who had the football. They should have waved for a clock-stoppage (even though the clock red 0:00) and started digging into the pile before they even signaled anything, let alone a TD.

This was flagged for defensive pass interference. Get it yet?
Now I before I dive into my tirade about the replacement officials let me remind you that the regular officials would have had a say on the outcome of this game as well. No matter who was wearing the zebra shirts on Monday the officials would have decided the winner and the loser of the ball game. But the way it went down with the replacement officials is indicative of all of the problems that have been noticed by the fans, the players, and the coaches.
Everyone misses calls and all but very rarely do you see officials who are making those calls look so lost. During the Seahawks first game the officials had almost no control of the game as players kept getting in each other’s faces, pushing each other around and generally causing all sorts of mayhem after the whistle.  Then on Monday you saw the exact opposite of that as a total of 24 flags were thrown during the Packers at Seahawks game.
But that wasn’t the only controversial call or action by an official this weekend. The Patriots fell victim to a field goal that appeared to go wide right and wasn’t reviewed. There was an official who caused a WR to fall down by throwing his hat into the receiver’s feet in the end zone. Clearly these replacement officials are trying their hardest but they are clearly way over their heads and they are costing the league and the regular officials.
The biggest problem for the League now is going to be how these officials are impacting the integrity of the regular officials. These officials are not only wrecking the apparent legitimacy of the current games being played right now. But these officials and their iffy calls are going to end up cost the regular officials down the road because their position is now a laughing stock among the fans. How is the average sports fan going to believe anything that is going to get called on the field now? 

What do you guys think?

Packers at Seahawks on Monday Night Football; Four Things I Want To See From The Seahawks

As the hours draw nearer to the Seahaws third game of the football season, I am still trying to cope with the heart breaking loss to Colorado. But let us not talk about that right now, that is a post for later.  For the Seahawks this is probably going to be the biggest test of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era in Seattle. The Cheese Heads invade Century Link Field on National Television and the primary question is; how is this young and improved Seahawk team going to handle the pressure?
Fortunately they are at home in one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL and home of Seattle’s version of the 12th Man. This game should be a high scoring one as it pits the strength of the two offenses against the weaknesses of the two defenses. The Seahawks are averaging 148.5rushing yards throughout their two games this season; that being said, on the same note the Seahawks are allowing their opponents 228.2 yards through the air. And passing is exactly what the Packers excel at as they’ve thrown an average of 247.0 yards in their two games; but the Pack is allowing an average of 140.0 yards on the ground.
This game looks to be a very high scoring affair especially when you realize that you have one of the best Quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers) and one of the best Running backs (Marshawn Lynch) in the game today going against each other. This ought to be one of the most entertaining games in this series. Now how does this factor in to what I want to see from the Seahawks tonight? Read on after the jump.

1)      Consistent pressure on Aaron Rodgers: The Seahawks have the best run defense in the NFL (allowing 46.0 YPG). Use those line backers and defensive lineman and get to the Quarterback! Don’t let Rodgers sit back in the pocket and tear your secondary apart. That’s a sure recipe to lose this ball game.
2)      Protection for Russell: While Russell Wilson can scramble I don’t want to see him racing around like a racehorse behind the line-of-scrimmage. Give him enough time to find the hot read if you have too, but the snap-take-a-step-sack stuff is getting mighty old.
3)      A whole lot of flying Skittles: The Seahawks are going to have to run the ball to be successful offense. And usually when you continue to feed Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch, he usually finds his way into the end zone, which means Skittles will be flying at the Clink.
4)      Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers: The Seahawks need to protect the football and generate turnovers of their own. We saw it last week during the Dallas game where they caused a fumble on the first kickoff and then on Dallas’s next drive they blocked the punt. Create turnovers get the ball to Lynch and this game should be a productive game for the Hawks.
That’s what I want to see from the Hawks; what do you guys want to see? 

Some Rambling Thoughts About Coaching Changes and High Expectations

Coaching changes are designed to bring fresh blood into a struggling team and fan base, a chance to recharge the batteries, if you will. Most of the time they do work and you see sky rocketing season ticket sales and, in the case of college athletics, a swell in the donor base. Obviously this leads to high expectations among the fan base, which can get super awkward when the poor talent that was on said team continues to play like poor talent.
This will lead to extreme disappointment with in the fan base that thought things were going to be different. Well guess what, the talent that the last coach failed to win with is pretty much the same talent that you will see on the squad that the new coach inherited. Rarely is it that the talent there was underperforming under the old coach; most often it is poor talent that couldn’t win games and keep the old coach’s job. Although we’ve seen a three teams that seemed to be underperforming under their old coaches take off in the early going this season; again that is far from the norm.
These Two Gentlemen Are in for a Rough Ride
More often than not you see what is happening up here in the Palouse this football season.  The new coach comes in and initially struggles to install his system and mentality in to the squad. And as a result the team struggles to win. It usually takes an embarrassing lost for a team to completely buy in to the new coaching staff. And for WSU that loss came on Saturday September 22nd, 2012; they allowed the Colorado Buffaloes to hang in the game for too long and as a result they got boat raced in the final quarter and earned the Loss.

After struggling to score after the third quarter the team blew its 17 point lead. The defense absolutely fell apart when it mattered most as Kentucky transfer Jordan Webb destroyed the secondary. They completely fell apart and now they are 2-2 (0-1 in Pac-12 play).  It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cougs respond to the Buffs returning the favor. After the Cougs burned the Buffs last year in the final five and a half minutes, the Buffs pretty much collapsed.
It’s pretty hard for a squad with a new coaching staff to respond to a heart-breaking, last-minute loss. After giving up 15 points in the last five and a half minutes last season, the Buffs collapsed. They went 2 -8, beating-up on the hapless Wildcats and upsetting the Utes.  They allowed over 40 points six times after that loss to the Cougs, including allowing 52 points to the Huskies. Do you guys want to know the really scary part of that? Last season was Jon Embree’s first season as the Head Coach for the Buffs.
Granted Embree’s pedigree spent ten years working as an Assistant Coach at his alma mater Colorado, then he spent three years at UCLA, and followed that up with three years at Kansas City; all of these times he was an assistant coach. He has earned the right to a head coaching job. I just don’t know if he should have jumped right into being a head coach at the Division 1 level.
Leach’s pedigree is more impressive after than Jon Embree. Leach and Humme floated around for years in Divisions Two and Three before breaking into Division One at Kentucky. Eventually they worked their way over to Oklahoma. After a year as a Sooner, Leach was hired as the Head Coach at Texas Tech; after ten years, and ten bowl games, he was fired for doing something he never actually did[1].
Both of these coaches faced expectations of bowl games this year. And after the starts that both of these squads have undergone this year, those expectations look like a lot of smoke. That being said Leach has a history of winning at schools that don’t typically recruit well. As for Jon Embree, he was a fantastic assistant coach, but no one knows what he is capable of as head coach at a struggling institution.
The bottom line is this; it looks like another year of development for both schools. And that is a frustrating and disappointing pill to swallow for their down-trodden fan bases.

[1] Read Swing Your Sword By Mike Leach for all of the emails between Texas Tech officials, James Craig, and Spaeth Communications

The Pac-12 Power Rankings After Week Four

Conference play began this week and the Pac-12 has done what it always does and that is cannibalizing itself. This year though the conference had a strong non-conference season and it includes the possible creation of a rivalry between the two bottom dwellers. Also the Pac-12 South looks to be just as messed up as last year. However, this year it is because the teams actually look competent. So how does this impact the Pac-12 Power Rankings? Read on after the break. 

  1. Oregon: Continued to show that they are the class of the conference. They looked dominating in their 49-0 victory over the Wildcats over Arizona.
  2. Stanford: Hard to drop them when they had a bye.
  3. USC: They ran all over California and showed dominance on the lines. After being beat in the trenches in Palo Alto, their dominate performance against California made it clearer that USC still has some pretty talented linemen still playing on their squad.
  4. Oregon State: You saw that right, OSU made a massive jump in the standings and that’s because both of their victories were over opponents who were ranked in the Top 25 at the time. And now they themselves are in the Top 25, sitting at #18.
  5. Washington: I didn’t feel comfortable making the Dawgs rise too high after a bye week with the teams ahead of them losing. They face their first real test on Thursday against Stanford at the Clink.
  6. UCLA: The Bruins still look improved and aggressive, but they are still breaking in a new coaching staff and system. It takes time, but they definitely get between seven and nine wins this year in my book. 
  7. Arizona State: They absolutely crushed the Utes and the topsy tervy world of Pac-12 sports continues.
  8. Arizona: They didn’t even look that bad against the Ducks, they just got torched by superior speed and depth. They should still contend for the South as the Trojans face depth problems brought on by sanctions. 
  9. California: California’s awesome performance against Ohio State and then it’ crap fest against USC makes me wonder about the strength of Ohio State and the Big 10. 
  10. Utah: Blew out an FCS school, got upset by Utah State, knocked off BYU, and then gets demolished by Arizona State. Who knows what to think about this team? Only time will tell.
  11. Colorado: An impressive come from behind win in Pullman during homecoming was interesting to see. Down 17 points in entering the fourth quarter, the Buffs scored 21 unanswered points, including a TD run on a quarterback draw. 
  12. This is what WSU fans were like.
    Washington State: They took their foot off the gas and a team that they should have (in fact they were beating them) beat. Now the question is, who else on their schedule can these guys beat? I do not know. 

Finally Here it is! The First Audio Recording of Sports With Neil!

Well the Voxpro finally worked. On our third attempt to get a recording of the full episode, and it turned out pretty good. Gibson and I talked about the Cougars Game at UNLV, the NHL Lockout, Seahawks, Replacement Referees, MLB Playoffs, also we took a look at the upcoming game were Colorado comes to Pullman. It was a lot of fun in studio today, despite several distractions. Gibson and I also came to the conclusion that since the phone doesn’t work we should start an Open Thread for comments and it was quite interesting.
So what will we talk about on next week’s show? Tune into find out on Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Let us hope that Voxpro works. Go on after the jump to listen to the recording to the show!

NFL Picks Week 3

Well there were a lot of upsets to be had last week.  That’s why you play the game.  We aren’t perfect, and we make mistakes (but boy did I make a lot of those last week).  Anyways without further ado let’s preview the rest of these matchups.

Giants versus Panthers


This could be a monster upset.  Cam Newton is leading a strong Carolina team coming off an upset of the Saints.  While the Giants just barely beat the Bucs at home.  Carolina has a lot of good pieces but they aren’t just playoff material just yet.  Don’t write them off though

My Pick:  Panthers

Buccaneers versus Cowboys



The Bucs are looking like a strong team especially if Vincent Jackson decides to show up like this every game.  Dallas on the other hand didn’t show up against the Seahawks and Tony Romo got harrassed all game.  The Bucs almost beat the Giants, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t think they can show up at Cowboys Stadium.

My Pick:  Cowboys

Hopefully I’m wrong.

Jaguars versus Colts



When you have two teams that suck but one sucks less than the other…you usually pick that team.

My Pick:  Colts

Sometimes it’s just that easy.

Bills versus Browns



Do I really have to pick a winner here?!  Well these two franchises have been the butt of every NFL memes joke ever since either of these teams last made the playoffs (which by the way was when I was in 6th grade), and it’s hard to pick a winner.  Buffalo showed some promise with a blowout win over the Chiefs, and the Browns…well they played dead like they always do.  Brandon Weeden is definitely their guy, but he needs better players if he’s gonna start competing.

My Pick:  Bills

Jets versus Dolphins


God the Dolphins are annoying (and that’s not just because I’m a Jets fan.)  The Dolphins did have a very impressive win over Oakland though, and that definitely is a mark above the effort they brought into Houston during Week 1.  Star Jets corner Darrelle Revis might still be out though for the game, but I think the Jets are definitely gonna be out for some payback.  Especially because this team ended their season last year.
My Pick:  Jets   
Chiefs versus Saints

Well this is it Saints.  You either beat the Chiefs here or you suffer a very long season (as if it wasn’t long enough already).  Drew Brees will still get it done, however, even if his team doesn’t show up.  He’s light years ahead of Matt Cassell.
My Pick:  Saints
Bengals versus Redskins

This could be a great game.  Both have good young squads on the rise, and both have young blooming quarterbacks.  RGIII is awesome, but I think Andy Dalton gets it done considering he has A.J. Green and a strong defense to back him up.  Plus, RGIII lost to the Rams too.
My Pick:  Bengals
Rams versus Bears

An easy one.
My Pick:  Bears
49ers versus Vikings

Another easy one.
My Pick:  Niners
Lions versus Titans

And another easy one.
My Pick:  Lions
Falcons versus Chargers

OK I’ll actually start trying now.  This looks like an awesome match up especially considering both have thoroughly dominated their competition so far.  Matt Ryan showed a lot of poise in his dismantling of Denver, and Michael Turner continues to be awesome.  As for the Chargers, Philip Rivers just doesn’t do it for me in big games.  Ryan Matthews also hasn’t stepped up yet and I doubt he will in this game.
My Pick:  Falcons
Cardinals versus Eagles




Who would have thought the Cardinals would be 2-0.  That was a great win against New England, and Philly also had a great win against the Ravens too.  I think when push comes to shove though, the Eagles show just how much better talent wise they are than the Cardinals.  That is of course unless Michael Vick turns over the ball six times.

My Pick:  Eagles

Steelers versus Raiders



I really thought the Raiders were going to be special this season, but they blew it against what I thought was one of the worst teams in the NFL.  Now the Steelers are coming to town after dismantling the Jets.  Forget it, there’s no way Oakland can win this one.

My Pick:  Steelers

Texans versus Broncos



Well I’ll be, two offensive juggernauts going against each other.  Peyton Manning had three interceptions against a decent Falcons secondary, and unless he takes better care of the football more of those are to come against a tough Houston defense.  The Broncos are a great team, don’t get me wrong, but I think Houston gets into the end zone way too many times for Manning to catch up.

My Pick:  Texans

That’s what good offense AND defense does for you.

Patriots versus Ravens



This is it.  A rematch of last year’s AFC Title game.  Is it payback time in Baltimore?  Will New England stop from reeling?  We’ll only know once kickoff starts.  Due to shoddy replacement officiating Baltimore left Philly with a loss.  New England is also trying to bounce back from a tough loss to the Cardinals.  The Pats will get the loss to Arizona out of their mouth, but Baltimore’s D is too good.  I think the Ravens are for real.  New England loses a close one.

My Pick:  Ravens


Packers at Seahawks



Well lookie here.  Two teams are coming off of strong wins against great competition (though I wouldn’t use that adjective for Jay Cutler.)  This could be a shootout, but Seattle’s D is definitely going to be out in full force bothering Aaron Rodgers.  Definitely going to depend on how each team’s defense performs.  It’s also going to be loud at Qwest Field so expect for the 12th Man to be out in full force and for Russell Wilson to throw all over the Packers D.  Forget the experts I’m going for the upset.

My Pick:  Seahawks

My record:  16-16

Hopefully I’m above .500 after this week. 


College Football Week 4 Picks

Well would you look at last weekend.  We had quite a few big upsets there.  Who would of thought that Stepfan Taylor would ruin USC’s bid for a national title so quickly.  Notre Dame might actually be for real too, and if they can beat Michigan the Fighting Irish should easily cement themselves in the top 10.  Without further ado let’s look at the rest of the slate this week.

BYU versus Boise State


(2-1, 0-1 away)

(24) Boise St

(1-1, 1-0 home)
Boise State has climbed back into the rankings after a week 1 loss to Michigan State, while BYU took a tumble after a last-second field goal was shanked against Utah.  Boise has a huge home-field advantage at the Smurf Turf.  Even though BYU has a strong run defense I expect for Broncos quarterback Joe Southwick, and running back D.J. Harper to have big performances in this game.  TCU was able to solve the mystique of the Smurf Turf last year, but I have questions about BYU.

My Pick:  Boise State
Michigan versus Notre Dame

(18) Michigan

(2-1, 0-1 away)

(11) Notre Dame

(3-0, 1-0 home)

I seriously wasn’t expecting Notre Dame to put up the performance they did against Michigan State.  They are really coming on (see that’s what happens when you don’t have a fat a$$ named Charlie Weis eating donuts on the sidelines.)  The question is how is Denard going to do?  The Fighting Irish have a decent defense but it really looks like they might be throttled around like they were the last two times they played Denard.  Looks like that nightmare is going to happen again.

My Pick:  Michigan

Kansas State versus Oklahoma

(15) Kansas St

(3-0, 0-0 away)

(6) Oklahoma

(2-0, 1-0 home)

I really like Kansas State, I really do.  It’s just…they’re playing Oklahoma and it’s AT OKLAHOMA.  The Wildcats are definitely going to need to pull some rabbits out of this hat.

My Pick:  Oklahoma

Clemson versus Florida State

(10) Clemson

(3-0, 1-0 away)

(4) Florida St

(3-0, 1-0 ACC)

What a game. This second top-10 affair of the season should definitely be closer than Michigan-Alabama…and Alabama-Arkansas if Arkansas hadn’t of lost to your fifth grade class. Florida State has outscored their opponents 176-3 this season ( The Seminoles have a strong defense, as well as a strong passing game led by EJ Manuel. Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd, and Andre Ellington lead a potent Clemson offense. This game might be a shootout, but either way FSU finds a way to win. It also helps that it’s in Tallahassee.

My Pick:  Florida State

My Record:  8-5

Tune in next week for more picks and predictions.



History is Almost Repeated, But Martinez Creates His Own

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1 32KO) almost repeated history Saturday night. Almost. With that in mind, Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (50-2-2 28KO) put on a masterpiece for 11 rounds and showed the kind of will that makes a champion a champion by surviving a brutal last round knockdown and even fighting back against the bigger, younger Chavez Jr. in order to prove to the world that he is indeed the best middleweight (160 Ibs.) in the world today and a fighter who should be respected throughout boxing as one of the elite fighters today, pound-for-pound.

From the opening bell, it was clear that Martinez was simply too fast, too skilled, and too determined for Chavez Jr. to handle. Martinez fought a virtually perfect fight as he put on a boxing clinic against Chavez Jr. The tactic that Martinez used was to use constant movement to disrupt Chavez’ offense and to attack Chavez at awkward angles and then retreat through a different angle.

These methods completely bamboozled Chavez Jr. as he looked totally lost and confused for the majority of the fight. However, Chavez continued to apply pressure to Martinez, forcing Martinez to use his feet a lot more than he’s used to. The problem for Chavez is that he didn’t seriously start throwing punches until late in the fight. Even when he landed his nice hooks and right hands, Martinez took them well and returned fire to at least match what Chavez had landed.

Eventually, Martinez started breathing through his mouth. Although he was winning the fight and was largely unmarked, it became clear that the constant movement he was doing was taking a toll on him. He kept fighting back though, which shows the tremendous heart that he possess’. He continued to throw punches and attack Chavez whenever Chavez had a little success.

Then the 12th round happened. Martinez already looked exhausted but he fought on. Chavez finally realized the seriousness of his predicament and let his hands go. Chavez landed a left hook, followed by a series of blows and another left hook to put Martinez down. Martinez was clearly hurt but he decided to stand and trade blows with Chavez. The logical thing to do in that situation would have been to hold or dance away, but Martinez showed some guts as he survived by fighting back. The vicious exchanges are what made the 12th round even more dramatic.

When the final bell rang, the winner was clear yet the atmosphere was electric as everyone applauded both fighters. Martinez won a lopsided decision by scores of 117-111, 118-109, and 118-109. This victory has given Martinez some of the superstar status he feels he deserves and a chance at even bigger paydays. An option would be a rematch with Chavez Jr. to show that the 12th round was simply a fluke. It’s important to remember that Martinez fought the majority of the fight with a broken left hand. It has also been reported that Martinez has torn ligaments. This makes his win over Chavez that much more impressive.

Chavez had many advantages going for him in this fight. He was the younger guy, the bigger guy, and he can take a punch like no one else in the sport. However, none of those attributes mattered until the final round. Personally, I think the reason Martinez tired late in the fight was a combination of his own high energy-burning tactics that he used and because he couldn’t back off Chavez due to Chavez’ significant weight advantage. Although no official records of Chavez’ weight at the night of the fight exists, it is clear to anyone that Chavez had a major weight advantage over Martinez. The best possible option for Chavez would probably be a rematch with Martinez in order to prove to critics that he can work off the 12th round in order to beat Martinez. Until I actually see it happen, I’ll pick Martinez over Chavez Jr. any day. He’s proven time and time again he is a true champion. Chavez has proven that he’s a good, tough fighter with severe flaws and a probable lack of discipline. Who would you pick?