The New Sports Rivalries

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Published on : November 6, 2016

 

 

Everyone knows about Yankees vs. Red Sox and Michigan vs. Ohio State. Those and many other old rivalries are classic. Important parts of the fabric of sports history. But what are the new beefs? The modern day feuds? We look in every major sport and highlight the contemporary era of rivalries.

 

Toronto vs. Cleveland

Hear me out, first the Cavs bounced the Raptors out of the playoffs last year and just a bit ago, the Cleveland Indians said goodnight to the Toronto Blue Jays. Maybe this rivalry is a little one-sided but be sure, Drake and all of Toronto are looking forward to their next chance to get revenge on Cleveland.

 

Patriots vs. Broncos

 

Want to win a Super Bowl? Chances are you have to beat one of these guys to do it. Things really started cooking when Peyton joined Denver. Manning vs. Brady part two. Featuring new team colors. Even with Peyton retiring, this matchup is still serious. I could easily see both franchises back in the AFC Championship game.

 

Detroit vs. Everybody

This attitude is almost out of control. And I’m part of the problem. The Detroit fanbase can be salty but it comes from a place of love. It just doesn’t always shine through. The vs. Everybody campaign has its merits, I like the galvanizing quality but it can get pushed into hostile territory that will leave us Michigan sports fans without any sympathy from anyone outside the state. NOTE, not really an issue in the Red Wing world. People hate us but that’s because we are awesome at hockey.

 

Russ vs. KD

It’s Batman trying to kill Robin. Kevin Durant and the Warriors are the favs in the west but don’t tell that to Russell Westbrook. This dude is looking to drop a triple-double in every game until he meets KD and company in the playoffs. Everyone wants to see that.

 

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

mayweather mcgregor

 

They have never fought. Probably never will. But they are rivals. No doubt about that. Since we may never get a pay-per-view, our only hope is that these two both meet in a Vegas nightclub and they fight on the dance floor. Video provided by iPhone.

 

Penguins vs. Capitals

This is more than just Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. These two crews have been battling it out for the last few seasons and it’s been some of the finest hockey you can watch. Not a huge fan of either team but the product they put forward is top shelf. But please, someone just put Crosby into the boards already.

 

Cavs vs Warriors

The best and most epic of the new school rivalries. They have met in back-to-back NBA Finals and a third meeting is inevitable. That win will end the argument until they met for a forth of fifth time. Right now, this is the greatest show on floor. Damn, that saying doesn’t really work in basketball.

 

All it takes for a new rivalry to be created is one great game. You can’t tell me the players don’t feed off that kind of stuff. Drop your favorite rivalries in the comments and let’s keep this conversation going.

 

Heated.

 

 


Track Marks: A high school Track and Field memoir

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Published on : August 25, 2016

 

 

The 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro were a blast and it got me thinking about my old glory days as a high school track star. Well, maybe star is a bit of a reach but I was on the varsity team for all four years of high school and in that time I competed in every single event of both track and field. I won medals, broke a school record and even went to the state championship but I’m not here to brag, I’m here to take a trip down memory lane and look back at a sport that used to be a big part of my life.

 

Growing up, soccer was my sport of choice. I loved it. I played indoor during the winter and went to camps in the summer, all in an effort to make varsity some day and get on the pitch with the big kids. Unfortunately, I was an average soccer player. No real natural talent but sound fundamentals and better conditioning made me effective. I knew I had to stay in shape to get any playing time so I started running track in the spring of freshman year. It should be known that the soccer coach was also the track coach, so running track was a good way to earn brownie points.

 

 

That first year, coach didn’t really know where to put me so I tried lots of different events. Our team only had one real hurdler so I started training in the 110m and the 300m hurdles until I fell enough times that it was clear that this wasn’t my thing. Next, I did the long distance events. The mile and two mile runs, but I really didn’t like those. I got bored and would lose focus. Next came the sprints. I was much too slow out of the blocks for the 100m or the 200m dashes but in the 400m, I had enough time to catch up to the quicker kids and let my endurance win me a few races. I finally found my home.

 

Now, if you don’t know, the 400m is the worst. It’s technically a sprint but it’s a full lap of the track. That’s a quarter mile. Sprint. It’s brutal. After every serious contest I had in the 400m, I would throw up. It almost always happened. My body was in such shock. I’d post a solid time then wander behind some bushes or puke on the infield. I’d aim for the end zones if the football field lines were still painted. Touchdown.

 

The 400m was my jam, but you can be in up to four events at a single track meet so I had to fill the rest of my dance card. Naturally, I also competed in the 4x400m relay. Leaving my coach two spots to throw me wherever he saw fit.

 

High-Jump rig

 

Now is as good of a time as any to explain that I went to a really small school. Class D, Division 4. It was a strange place that is somehow both half hippy art school and half college prep. It’s a non-religious, private K-12 located in the northern suburbs of Detroit. Most of the schools we played against were rich christian private schools. So there were times at track meets where the competition was very light in certain events and that’s where coach would put me.

 

This strategy found me in long jump, shot put, discus, and even high jump. I’m just glad we didn’t have pole vault or else I’m sure they would have made me try that too. But this little tricked worked. I’d place in the event and earn a few extra points to help the team win the meet. The season would end with the league meet where we square off against all the other schools in our area. This was our big race of the year. After that, the few stand out runners would continue on to regionals and maybe even states in individual events. We never had enough qualifying athletes make to make run at a state championship for the school.

 

long jump

 

I stuck with track sophomore and junior years. I got better and faster. Hit the weight room and really saw progress in all my events. We’d go to tournaments after a long bus rides and I’d come home with a few medals. I never won like that in anything else. It was pretty great feeling. End of junior year, we had a nasty 4x400m relay team that rolled into the league meet and took first by a wide margin. Our time earned us a place in regionals where we kept it rolling and qualified for the state championship.

 

The state meet is on a weekend, like most big track and field events. The reason is because it takes forever and they need to start early. I’m talking like 8-10 hours long. It was also kind of far away so our team had to drive out the night before and stay in a hotel. Like a real NBA star. Friday night we went out for steaks and Saturday morning we rolled to the meet blasting Eye of the Tiger. We warmed up. We felt good. No nerves. Our relay team had clean hand offs and we all posted our best personal times but we didn’t even place.

 

baton handoff

 

I wasn’t mad, neither were my teammates or the coach. We all ran the fastest we have ever had and performed well as a crew but we came up short of being best in the state. Hell, I never thought I’d get that far. How could we be mad? Later we found out that we broke our school’s record for the 4x400m relay which was a perfect end to that chapter.

 

My senior year, I was named captain of the team and we were all looking forward to keeping our league championship streak alive. As the season and school year came to an end, my enthusiasm for track was waning. I decided to tell my coach that after the league meet, I didn’t want to pursue the individual events at the later tournaments. They were all on weekends in far off places and I wanted to go to graduation parties and find a girl that would let me get to second base. My coach unfortunately did not understand. He told me if I wanted to quit that I should do it now. I countered and explained that the league meet was important to me because that was the team’s big day but he couldn’t hear it. He asked for my uniform and told me to leave. I guess he wanted to wear those short shorts of mine in private.

 

The next day, coach told the team that I quit. They ended up losing the league meet too. First time in six years. It was maybe an ugly breakup but I dug my time in track and field. It treated me well. I was more successful in that sport than anything else. It used to bum me out that track was the thing I was good at when I loved so many other sports more but I’ve moved on from that. Now, I’m just grateful that I went out and gave it my all with my friends by my side.

 

Spikes.

 

 


Dylan Larkin seems destined to be the Captain of the Red Wings

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Published on : January 19, 2016

 

 

 

I’m here to talk about the next big thing in Hockeytown and his name is Dylan Larkin. By now, the rest of the NHL has taken note of the talented rookie, but many of us Red Wings fans have been on the hype train since very early this season. This kid optimizes the term “local boy makes good.” That should be the front page headline on the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News when this young man inevitably becomes the one wearing that coveted ‘C’ on his jersey in the coming years.

 

This story is just too good for it not to happen. I’m not sure many casual fans in Detroit were familiar with the 19 year old Larkin when he became the first teenager to play in a Red Wings uniform in 15 years. Fans in the Motor City are well aware of him now and he is the first rookie All Star for the Red Wings since Steve Yzerman. That’s pretty good company for a kid from Waterford, Michigan who grew up rooting for the team and probably dreamed of one day donning that red and white uniform. Well his dream is now a reality and he has grabbed the bull by the balls, so to speak, and is making the most of this opportunity.

 

 Celebrating with the boys after setting up Danny DeKeyser for the game-winning goal in overtime against the Coyotes.

 

He is currently tied for first on the team in points (30) and goals (14), and tied for second in assists (16). This is a team with the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk still playing on it. Not to mention he has a plus-minus of 22, which is far ahead of the number two player on the team (Datsyuk with 9) and good for third in the entire NHL. He also has 4 game winning goals which leads the Red Wings and all rookies in the league. Dylan Larkin can do it all and in my opinion has been the Wings most valuable player this year. That’s why he is the only Red Wings in the All Star Game. While he may not be able to catch up to Artemi Panarin for in points (43) and assists (27), I still think his goals and plus-minus make him a strong candidate to win the Calder Trophy.

 

Some people think there are other players on the team that deserve to be named Captain before Larkin, and I respect that but I think this makes too much sense. In such short time he has already become so valuable to the team and that value will only increase as he develops as a player. Henrik Zetterberg’s contract runs until 2o21 but most people believe that with the wear and tear his body has endured throughout the years that he will likely retire before the end of that contract. When that fateful day finally comes and our Swedish Prince hangs the skates up for good, I think it is Dylan Larkin who should be handed the torch to lead his team into it’s next era of greatness.

 

 The look of a captain, the eye of the tiger.

 

He has received heaps of praise from coaches and fellow players alike for his natural athletic talent, as well as his desire to improve every day and be the best player he can. He’s got speed and grace. He can handle the puck, pass it, and shoot it as well as anyone on the team right now. He can play all over the ice and if he continues to develop at this rate, he could be one of the best players in the league by the time he is old enough to have a legal drink at a bar in the States.

 

Barring any major injury or other career derailing incident, Dylan Larkin is the future for the Detroit Red Wings. The team is on the verge of a major roster shift as its aging stars continue to decline and eventually retire or leave the team. Dylan Larkin should be the centerpiece of the new Red Wings as their Captain and lead them to the playoffs for another 24 years.

 

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: A Night at The Joe

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Published on : January 5, 2016

 

 

Every year for the holidays I make a trip back home and on that trip, I visit one of my favorite places in all of the world. It’s a place that is very familiar to me. I know it well. The smell, the feel of the concourse under my feet, that bite of cold air as I descend the stairs to my usual Christmas holiday seats on the glass. To me, this is hallowed ground. The holiest of sporting venues. A place where legends have been made, and champions have been crowned. It is the historic Joe Louis Arena, affectionately known as The Joe. It’s in Detroit, Michigan and it is by far my favorite place to watch any type of sporting match.

 

And sadly, it’s days are numbered.

 

Upon arrival, my first thoughts were on how this could be one of my last few times in this wonderful building that has been the location of so many fond memories. It added a shade of melancholy to the joy that I usually feel once I set foot inside the building. Not necessarily sadness, just a thought in the back of my mind that very soon these halls will be empty and the banners will be moved up Woodward to the new, as yet unnamed arena, set to be ready for the start of the 2017-2018 NHL season.

 

Red Wings Banners
                                                         All these banners will soon have a new home

 

One of my favorite things about the arena is the fact that isn’t named after some mega-corporation. No, it carries the name of, perhaps, the most legendary sporting figures in the history of the great city of Detroit. Along with Madison Square Garden, it’s the only arena in all of the NHL that lacks corporate sponsorship, and I love it. I hope with every part of my being that somehow the new stadium will be free of the chains of corporate sponsorship. And like Joe Louis Arena, it will be erected to honor those that have made a difference in the place that was once one of the most important arms in the Arsenal of Democracy. I’m afraid that might be too much to hope for, but that’s a discussion for another time.

 

This game featured my beloved Detroit Red Wings versus the New Jersey Devils. It didn’t go exactly as planned, as the Wings started Jimmy Howard and his overblown contract in net. Jimmy helped the Wings start the game with a 3-0 deficit in the 1st period, despite only seeing 6 total shots. Coach came to his senses after goal number three and replaced him with the, at this point in his career, more talented Petr Mrazek. After that, the game was far more exciting and the Wings gained on the Devils only to lose the game 4-3.

 

A view of the action
                                                                                  A view of the action

 

That’s ok though, I’m was happy just to be back home at the Joe, and there’s nothing like the energy in that place when everyone is chanting “Let’s Go Red Wings!” and those players are battling it out right before your eyes. The $19 double jack ‘n cokes were flowing and my comrades and I were in it together, cheering on our boys in red and white. There are few feelings quite like that and sometimes that’s enough. Sure, a win would have been nice, but just being there was a win in my book.

 

Another bonus was that this was the first time I had the chance to see the Wings’ exciting new rookie player, Dylan Larkin play live. He added yet another goal to a rookie season that has far exceeded expectations. This kid is the real deal and if you ask me he is the next Red Wings’ captain-in-training. It’s going to take a while, but he’s that good. When you think about the fact that he is the first teenager (19) to play in a game for the Wings since Steve Yzerman in 1983-84, it’s almost too perfect. And he’s from Michigan!?!? It just makes too much sense, he has to be the next guy to wear that “C” on his jersey.

 

That’s my prediction for next captain of the Detroit Red Wings, you heard it here first. Only it won’t be here. Not in The Joe. I guess I’ll have to get used to that. After all, the only thing constant in this world is change. That’s ok, I still have the rest of the season and then the next. Then it will just be memories, and what great memories they are!

 

 


Two Teams, One Mitten

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Published on : January 3, 2016

 

 

What a difference a couple of days can make. Michigan and Michigan State were both feeling pretty good about themselves heading into their bowl matchups on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but the Spartans were riding a much bigger wave of confidence than the Wolverines. They were coming off of their second Big Ten Championship Game victory over Iowa and were playing for a chance to go to the National Title Game. The Wolverines, however, last played against Ohio State, and let’s just say that didn’t go exactly as planned. That’s putting lightly. The Maize and Blue got their asses kicked to the tune of 42-13.

 

It was a complete embarrassment. An embarrassment that capped off a season where the Wolverines vastly overachieved compared to what people thought they would do, but an embarrassment none the less. That game was U of M’s chance to play into the conference championship game (they needed some help from other teams too), and they totally shit the bed. Instead, hated in-state rival MSU got a trip Lucas Oil Field, where they beat Iowa for a chance to head to the second ever College Football Playoff. They were matched up against Alabama, and many people, including myself, actually gave them a fighter’s chance in the game. Man, did they fuck that up.

 

 Trevon Pendleton echoes the sentiment of Spartans fans everywhere after the Cotton Bowl.

 

The Spartans made a game of it for a quarter or so, and then it all fell apart. Alabama started slowly adding on points before their defense came alive and smothered the team known in some parts of Michigan as “Little Brother.” The Spartans went on to lose the game 38-0. That’s right, they didn’t score a single point. The Wolverines at least put up a couple of touchdowns in their 41-14 ass-kicking at the hands of the Crimson Tide, back in 2012. But I wouldn’t call the loss, as bad as it is, a setback for the program. Rather this game was a huge step in the right direction for the football team in East Lansing. It was the final sign that Mark Dantonio has brought this team to the upper echelon of College Football teams, but that won’t stop us Michigan fans from talking some serious shit until we play next fall. So let me just say, you guys sucked bad. Like real bad. So take that!

 

Now let’s talk about something I love even more than Michigan State losing, and that’s Michigan winning. And man, did they win big. 41-7 over the Florida Gators to be exact, and the outcome was never really in doubt. The Wolverines controlled every facet of the game and looked like a confident powerhouse of a program, much like they did before they choked away a win over MSU in the final seconds and then got pummeled by the Buckeyes.

 

 The Wolverines celebrate their big win over the Gators.

 

The Citrus Bowl win was the final stamp on Jim Harbaugh’s stellar first year coaching his alma mater. He has turned the program completely around in his first year and is boasting a top 5 recruiting class coming into the 2016 season. “Big Brother” is back, and that’s something that should make Spartans fans nervous. I mean, is The Mitten big enough to support two powerhouse college football programs?

 

Only time will tell if the two teams can coexist at the top of the game, but one has to feel like Michigan State benefited from the chaos that characterized the program in Ann Arbor for the past half of a decade. Now that the khaki-clad savior has resurrected the winningest football team ever from the ashes of the Rodriguez/Hoke era, things could start to shift back to the old paradigm. The one where Michigan is the top dog and Michigan State is constantly trying to catch them. And that’s just fine with me.

 

I’m not saying that Michigan and Michigan State are trending in opposite directions. I think that both of these programs are headed in the right direction, but Michigan is definitely back, and that could spell trouble for Michigan State, sooner rather than later.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 8

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Published on : November 7, 2015

 

As we reach the halfway point of the NFL season, and the first college football playoff rankings are revealed, we crown a true champion in this week’s Champ and Chump. The World Series is over, the dust has settled on the infields soon to be covered by snow in many parts of this nation and we bid farewell to America’s past-time for 4-5 months. This week we welcome a couple first timers to our Champ and Chump section, but also see a familiar face. Spoiler alert: My Detroit Lions are the definition of “Chump”. Alex always said in his NFL Spread picks, “Always bet on the Packers”, well you might as well always bet against the Lions. But before I go on a 6-page tangent that goes through all the feels, six beers, and a box a Kleenex, I’ll just cut to the picks for Champ and Chump this week.

Champ: Kansas City Royals

The Royals getting hype in the 9th inning of their series winning game 5 matchup with the Mets.

 

Not too much of a surprise here. Let’s face it, if you win the World Series, or any championship for that matter, you have a great shot at finishing as my Champ of the week. A year after losing Game 7 of the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, the Royals had one goal all season long, and for the most part they played pretty consistent baseball to get there. As a Tigers fan, I know all too well how good these Royals are and have been the past few years. Often described as a gnat, or pest, that just won’t go away, they battle for 9 innings, and most times end up on top. They made great moves at the trade deadline, and I declared them winners there, and a few months later, those moves paid off. A quick 5 game dismantling of the New York Mets gave the Royals their first World Series title since 1985. Hats off to them.

 

Honorable Mention:

Drew Brees- 39-50 for 505 yards with 7 touchdowns. 91.7 QBR and a passer rating of 131.7 begs the question, “Is this a video game?” Big win over the Giants and Eli, mentioned below

Eli Manning- Weird to have a loser from a game in the same “Champ” category but what else could you have asked Eli to do vs the Saints? 30-41 for 350 and 6 touchdowns with zero turnovers. QBR or 94.1 and a passer rating of 138.2, insane.

Andre Drummond- Pistons fans haven’t had much to cheer about the past six or seven years but they have an absolute star in the making at center. Through four games, Drummond is averaging 20/20 a game following a monster performance vs Indiana where he scored 25 and ripped down 29 boards.

 

 

Chump: Minnesota Golden Gophers’ late 4th quarter clock management

Because of the terrible clock management, Michigan once again holds the Little Brown Jug.

 

A little over a week ago, Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill had to resign due to health reasons. In a very sad press conference, Kill was emotional as he knew that coaching the game he loved was taken away from him far too soon. Kill was building a very successful program at Minnesota, a tough feat to achieve. From a 3 win season in his first year, to coming one win shy of a Big Ten West title last year. He led the Gophers to a 4-2 start before having to say goodbye. Tracy Claeys, an assistant under Kill, took over the job as interim head coach and figures to have a legitimate shot to become the long term replacement. After an emotional week, the Gophers and Gopher fans were ready to “win one for the gipper” as they say. They welcomed the Michigan Wolverines for a game on Saturday night. A back and forth game had Minnesota driving deep into Michigan territory, down 3 with under a minute to play. Then with 19 seconds left Minnesota thought they had it, a touchdown pass to win the game, but it was reviewed and called down. Minnesota had the ball, first and goal at the 1-yard line. Apparently, Minnesota spent no time drawing up a play just in case their touchdown was reversed because they got to the line, the ball was spotted, the clock began and they went on to waste a dozen seconds before even snapping the ball. Minnesota’s quarterback then ran around and threw the ball away leaving them 2 seconds left. They called timeout (yes they had a timeout) and ultimately opted for a quarterback sneak which came up short, and they lost. Two things really bothered me about this complete mismanagement of the clock: For one, call timeout as soon as the play is reversed and you would have four cracks at it from the 1-yard line, and secondly, you’re down 3, kick the field goal and force OT. Michigan was down to their backup quarterback due to an injury, so trust that your quarterback can outduel him in overtime. Also to quote Brian Piccolo from the famous Brian’s Song, “When you dedicate a game to somebody, you are then supposed to go out and win it, idiot. Pat O’Brien never said let’s blow one for the gipper.”

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Detroit Lions- Congratulations to the Lions as they now suck on two continents, a tough feat. Falling to 1-7 across the pond to the woeful Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 45-10 has led to the firing of their President and General Manager, a week after firing a couple coaches. Cheers Lions fans, it literally cannot get worse (we’ve already achieved 0-16), so hang your hat on that.

Los Angeles Lakers- The Lakers and NBA fans couldn’t wait for Kobe Bryant to return this season, and in what may be his final season he is far from riding off into the sunset on a high note. Sitting at 0-4 Kobe’s $25 million per year contract is easily the worst contract in sports right now… well, aside from Bobby Bonilla still getting paid in New York. The guy is shooting 32% from the field, and just 20% from 3-point land, averaging just 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game. To make matters worse, first round pick Deangelo Russell appears to be struggling compared to a lot of the other top-10 picks from this past draft.

Chelsea Football Club- In England’s Premier League, Chelsea has enjoyed much success in the 21st century and have done so while having some of the most loathsome creatures take the pitch in their all blue kits. Being a Manchester United fan, there isn’t much I enjoy more than seeing Chelsea completely crumbling right now. Currently sitting in 15th place in the table, just four points from relegation, has Chelsea frantically clawing to stay above the cut. While I am sure they will avoid relegation, it is still a bit satisfying to watch them struggle.

 

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 6

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Published on : October 25, 2015

 

 

 

A little late with my Champ and Chump picks this week but even with the few extra days, there was nothing that could save the Wolverines from finding a less than desirable spot on the charts over here. Spoiler alert, not that you needed it, Michigan finds itself on the wrong side of the Champ and Chump board this week and boy was it ever something special. See what other special performances happened this past week below, and take a scroll through my Champs and Chumps of the week.

 

Champ: Daniel Murphy

Murphy has been a home run machine this post-season.

 

What a post-season for Daniel Murphy thus far. As the New York Mets enter the World Series, they do it with the hottest hitter on the planet right now. In a series sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Murphy hit .529 and has homered in 6 straight post-season games, a Major League record. The Mets are heading to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2000 where they lost to their cross town rival, the New York Yankees. This time they’ll take on the Kansas City Royals, who lost the World Series last year in a 7-game thriller against the San Francisco Giants.

 

 

 

Honorable Mention: 

Landry Jones- The third string quarterback came in for the injured Mike Vick and went 8-12 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Cristiano Ronaldo- Became Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer (324 goals) passing Raul who played in 741 games with Madrid from 1994-2010. Ronaldo accomplished the feat in just 310 games with the team.

Christian McCaffrey- The son of former Denver Bronco’s wide receiver Ed McCaffrey had a school record 243 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns, helping Stanford beat the UCLA Bruins last week. McCaffrey, who also returns kicks, finished with 369 all purpose yards.

 

 

Chump: Tie: Jim Harbaugh and Blake O’Neill

Harbaugh and O’Neill dropped the ball in a big way.

 

On what will likely be the play of the year, Michigan State defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson took a fumbled punt attempt 38 yards to the house as time expired to give the Spartans a win over archrival Michigan. We’ve all seen the play, (as a Spartan fan I can’t watch it enough) with Michigan up 23-21, the Wolverines faced 4th and short with just 10 seconds left. On the other side of the ball, Michigan State figured they had one shot at a miracle and that was to go all out for a block. The snap came in (a bit low) and Michigan punter Blake O’Neill did the unthinkable and dropped the snap. In a panic, O’Neill picked up the ball, turned and tried to get off a kick while getting swarmed by white jerseys. The ball was fumbled up into the air and came right down into Watts-Jackson’s arms. Shocked, speechless, in disbelief, Michigan fans could hardly move. Once they could, and they realized what happened, naturally, the thought was how the hell could you fumble that snap?! Why didn’t you just fall on it?! Both good points, and while O’Neill no doubt is quite the goat for this incredible finish, I think equal blame should fall on the shoulders of their coach. Jim Harbaugh called two timeouts on that drive allowing the clock to dwindle down as much as possible on 2nd and 3rd down before ultimately deciding to punt. I have no problem with the decision to punt, however, how do you not prepare your team to setup in max protect, knowing the Spartans are bringing everyone to block this kick. Again, no Spartans were back to field the kick, yet Michigan sent four gunners down to cover the return? While O’Neill fumbled the ball, I think the Spartans may have got in there to get the block even if O’Neill caught it clean. Four guys had a free release, Harbaugh and company enjoyed their spot as my Champ of the week last week, a complete 180 here as they are big, big Chumps this week.

 

 

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Colts 4th down “fake punt”- Every once in a while a team calls a play or a player does something that leaves you speechless. The Indianapolis Colts provided us with one of these moments last weekend in a highly anticipated game vs the New England Patriots. Down 6 in the 3rd quarter, the Colts faced a 4th and 3, they shifted 9 guys down towards the sideline leaving a wide receiver and safety to act as the quarterback and snapper. Hut, hut, hike…and then 3 unblocked New England Patriots tackled the Colt “QB” for a loss.

David Price- This may be a bit harsh, but for an ace entering free agency one can’t ignore the struggles that Price can’t seem to shake in the post-season. With a career 0-7 post-season record as a starter, and an overall post-season ERA of 5.24, Price was given the ball again for Game 7 in the ALCS vs Kansas City and didn’t pitch well enough, getting a no decision.

 

 

 

 


2015 College Football Predictions

Written by :
Published on : September 2, 2015

 

 

The 2015 college football season gets underway this week, headlined by some marquee matchups right off the bat. Last year’s football season was one of the all time best, helped by a new college football playoff system that removed a lot of the headaches created by the former BCS system. This year, I expect another action packed, hard hitting season that won’t disappoint. Here’s a quick look at how I expect the Power 5 Conferences to unfold and what teams/players may be lifting some hardware come January.

 

ACC

Paul Johnson and his triple option could surprise some people in the ACC this season.

 

The ACC has belonged to Florida State the last couple years, who lost just one game over the past two seasons. However, with Jameis Winston now in the NFL, the conference is up for grabs. Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has been named the starter in Tallahassee. He is very talented and brings valuable experience, he also is very turnover prone. I think Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is the best QB in the conference, and I look for him to lead Clemson over visiting Florida State in a pivotal game that will ultimately decide the Atlantic Division. In the Coastal Division, Georgia Tech looks to be a step above the rest of the competition again. Paul Johnson’s success with the triple option has surprised many after he showcased it for six years at Navy. I think Johnson and the Yellow Jackets get over the hump this year, winning the ACC for the first time during his tenure.

 

Atlantic Division Winner:  Clemson

Coastal Division Winner: Georgia Tech

Conference Champ: Georgia Tech

 

BIG 12

Look for Trevone Boykin to lead TCU to the conference title.

 

Baylor or TCU. Might as well flip a coin in the Big 12 again this year. Baylor has won the Big 12 the last two seasons, but comes in ranked below TCU heading into this year. I think the conference champion will be decided when these two meet on the gridiron in late November. Last year, Baylor erased a 21-point deficit to stun TCU on the road, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the Horned Frogs. This year, I think revenge will be served as Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin leads TCU to a win vs the Bears and ultimately, a conference title.

 

Conference Champ: TCU

 

BIG 10

As long as they stay focused, Ohio State should roll through the BIG 10.

 

Last year, Ohio State wasn’t given much of a chance after news broke that Braxton Miller would miss the entire season due to a shoulder injury. We all know what happened after that, as the Buckeyes surprised everyone (multiple times) along the way to a national title. This season, Ohio State again looks unbeatable. By returning all three quarterbacks (though Braxton Miller has switched to wide receiver) and running back Ezekiel Elliott, they have Big 10 defenses getting ready to wave the white flag. It will be very interesting to see how Ohio State handles the pressure. Last year, while they of course won the national title, they did it without really ever having the target on their backs. This year, much like Kentucky in basketball, every team will be gunning for them. Ohio State will have to be mindful of that and make sure not to overlook anyone. The other big news in the conference is Michigan hiring Jim Harbaugh as head coach. This was the biggest hire of the year without a doubt. Harbaugh will surely bring the glory days back to Michigan, but with both of the Wolverines rivals (Ohio State and Michigan State) having some of the more successful years in their programs history it won’t be easy. In the West division, (formerly the Leaders division) Wisconsin has enjoyed a lot of recent success, making it to three of the four conference championship games thus far. Melvin Gordon heading to the NFL is a huge loss though, and road trips to Nebraska and Minnesota this season will prove to be too much. I see the Golden Gophers, led by Jerry Kill, getting the upset and winning the division this year.

 

East Division Winner: Ohio State

West Division Winner: Minnesota

Conference Champ: Ohio State

 

PAC 12

The Ducks will remain on the top of the PAC 12 this year.

 

The PAC 12 was the hardest conference to predict for me, and I feel the conference is wide open. In the North, I see it as a two team race with Oregon and Stanford, but the South has as many as four teams vying for a place in the Conference Championship game. At Oregon, Marcus Mariota finally left after an incredible career, but the cupboard is anything but bare in Eugene. Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams Jr takes over at quarterback, and the Ducks are loaded as usual with speed and athleticism at running back and wide receiver. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan returns for his fourth season, and as always, a stingy defense gives the Cardinals a fighting chance in the division. On the other side of the conference, USC, Arizona St, UCLA and Arizona all will be contending for the division. I think quarterback play will be the difference, and USC’s Cody Kessler has the most experience of the group. Last year, Kessler threw for 39 touchdowns and wasn’t really talked about too much. This year I think he becomes a household name, leading the Trojans to the Conference Championship game.

 

North Division Winner: Oregon

South Division Winner: USC

Conference Champ: Oregon

 

SEC

Saban and Co aren’t headed anywhere just yet.

 

After winning the National Championship seven straight times, the SEC has now gone two consecutive years without a National Title. Last year, the SEC West showcased some of the most talented teams in all of football, giving us multiple top-25 matchups every week. This year, the division should again be strong, but not as talented top to bottom. I think the battle for the Iron Bowl will be a pivotal game again in Alabama, as the Crimson Tide visit the Auburn Tigers late in November. For both Alabama and Auburn, replacing their starting quarterback, leading wide receiver and arguably top running back all in the same season seems a bit overwhelming. Yet both teams, and the Crimson Tide especially, always seem to have an All-American waiting in the wings. I give the slight edge to Alabama. In the SEC East, Georgia lost Todd Gurley to the NFL but I love what I see in his replacement Nick Chubb. After an outstanding breakout campaign as a Freshman, Chubb has the backfield to himself and has a realistic chance at 2,000+ yards and getting the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship game.

 

SEC East Winner: Georgia

SEC West Winner: Alabama

Conference Champ: Alabama

 

 

Heisman Trophy Candidates

Keep an eye on Deshaun Watson as he challenges for the Heisman this year.
  1. Any Ohio State Quarterback
  2. Ezekiel Elliott- RB- Ohio State
  3. Trevone Boykin- QB- TCU
  4. Cody Kessler- QB- USC
  5. Deshaun Watson- QB- Clemson

Playoff Teams

  1. Ohio State
  2. TCU
  3. Oregon
  4. Alabama

 

Heisman Trophy Winner

Ezekial Elliott will end up hoisting the greatest trophy in college football this year.

Ezekiel Elliott

 

National Champion

Much to the ire of their northern neighbors, the Buckeyes will repeat as champs this season.

 

Ohio State Buckeyes

 

 


The Hit That Broke My Heart: Michigan vs Ohio State 2006

Written by :
Published on : August 31, 2015

2006 was a good year to be a fan of the University of Michigan Wolverines. Lloyd Carr was still our coach and he was putting the finishing touches on a very successful career. Our team was strong that year; perhaps the strongest team during my lifetime as a Wolverines fan. We had a shutdown defense led by 1st year coordinator Ron English. Along with an offense that could run the ball and beat you through the air, led by Mike Hart and Chad Henne. Times were good.

  The Wolverines had steamrolled through the season. Very few games that were even close, let alone in doubt. With an 11-0 record and the #2 ranking in the country, we headed into a showdown with our most bitter rival, Ohio State. All we had to do was beat the Buckeyes and we would be headed to the National Championship game. That was all we had to do.

  

Lloyd and the boys back in 2006.

  There was just one problem. The Buckeyes were the #1 team in the nation and a force to be reckoned with. Led by Heisman hopeful Troy Smith, a defense that was just as good as ours and a coach who owned us his entire career, they would not be easy to overcome. That said, if there was a more exciting year for the greatest rivalry in college football, I challenge you to show it to me. We were #2 and they were #1; this had never happened before. What could be better than playing your biggest rival for the chance to go to a national championship? There was belief that this could finally be our year to go all the way.

 

The enemy.

  The day before the biggest game in decades, the unthinkable happened. On November 17, 2006, the University of Michigan lost its heart and soul, the most recognizable figure in the hallowed legacy of the program, Bo Schembechler. The man who cared most about the team and who was loved by everyone who ever loved Michigan, passed away at the age of 77. No one could believe it. For Michigan players, coaches, fans and students it was like losing a family member.

 

Michigan’s heart and soul, Bo Schembechler

  There was little time to mourn. Players had to get on that bus the very same day and head down to Columbus, Ohio for a date with destiny. The passing of Bo was hard, but at the same time it gave us hope and inspiration. The feeling amongst Michigan fans was that the team would overcome the painful loss of their patriarch and win this one for Bo.

  The morning of the game I was as excited as ever and had a good feeling about the whole thing. How could we lose when Bo was looking down on us from above. Sentimental stuff aside, I had watched every single game that season and we were really good. Good enough to win in Columbus that day.

 

The team and the fans wanted this one for Bo.

  On the first drive, the Wolverines offense looked unstoppable. They capped a long scoring drive with a Mike Hart touchdown; things were falling into place. Then reality set in, and the Buckeyes defense handled the Wolverines offense for the rest of the first half. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes offense was firing on all cylinders, and OSU took a 28-14 lead into half time.

  Ron English and the Michigan defense made the necessary adjustments at half time and came out on fire. They looked like the ferocious top ten defense that we had all become accustomed to watching. They did enough to give the Michigan offense some time to put some plays together, and the game was 28-24 OSU with 8 1/2 minutes to play in the third. There was hope.

 

Mike Hart drags a defender as he runs through the tackle.

  Almost immediately that hope began to fade as Antonio Pittman gashed through the middle of the defense on his was to a 54 yard rushing touchdown.  But this game would not end like so many others, with Ohio State beating their opponent into submission; this was Michigan. The defense turned two bad shotgun snaps by the OSU center (who was wearing a cast on his hand) into fumble recoveries. With Mike Hart trucking his way to a touchdown, it was 35-31. There was a real chance the the Wolverines could pull off the upset.

  It was 3rd and 15 in Michigan territory with just under 7 minutes to play and Troy Smith was rolling out of the pocket to his right. As he left the field of play, he rocketed a pass across his body. His receiver dove for it but came up just short. It was incomplete and the Buckeyes would have to punt. Giving a Michigan offense, that was just hitting its stride, a chance to come back and take the lead. This was it. This was our moment.

  That’s when it happened.

  A flag hit the field. How could this be? What happened? There was no obvious pass interference; it didn’t make sense. The announcers said that Michigan linebacker, Shawn Crable, led with his helmet and connected with Smith under the chin as he was heading out of bounds.

  What. The. Fuck.

  A replay from a different angle came on the screen and sure as shit, plain as day, there it was. Shawn Crable had sucked the life out of every living room and sports bar in Southeast Michigan.

 

  A fresh set of downs for the Buckeyes. The Michigan defense got the job done only to be let down by one bonehead play. This is the type of thing they teach you in middle school football; you don’t lead with your helmet. Especially against the quarterback. Especially in the biggest game of your life!

  That’s when my heart broke in two. I was shocked as I sat there on the couch in my friend’s apartment. There was plenty of time left, but in a game where you need to play mistake free football, a mistake like that can be a back breaker. And it was.

  I knew it was over after that, regardless of whatever words of encouragement and hope were said across the State of Michigan. With about 2 minutes to go, Michigan even came back and made it 42-39, but after a poor attempt at an onside kick and an OSU recovery, that was it. There were no time outs left for the Wolverines and all Ohio State had to do was get a single first down to end it quickly. They did, of course, and it was over. The heart of every Michigan Wolverines fan was in tattered pieces. We were so close.

 

Ted Ginn Jr. celebrates the big win over Michigan.

  Since that fateful Saturday in November 2006, Michigan has had years of bad luck, poor play and unfulfilled expectations. That was the last year that they fielded a team that contended for the honor of being the best team in the country. Through the Rich Rod and Brady Hoke eras, fans of the Maize and Blue have taken some serious shots to their ego and had to admit to themselves that we are, at this point, far inferior to Ohio State, and even Michigan State.

  Michigan vs Ohio State is always exciting even when one of the teams isn’t very good. There have been some close games (2013 and 2012) and even a Michigan upset win (2011), but Ohio State has owned the Wolverines for the better part of a decade. But that day, before Shawn Crable broke my heart, we were good enough to win, and damn near did it. We could taste it and then one player lost his focus and gave it one dirty hit. One dirty hit that broke my heart.

 

 


USA Today Publishes Hilariously Bad College Football Pre-Season Rankings

Written by :
Published on : August 24, 2015

 

Here at ScoreBoredSports, we know we’re one of the new kids on the block (Joey McIntyre, if we get to choose) and that it would be wise to withhold judgement of long established sports reporters, but when a piece seems as off-the-mark as this one, we can’t help but take notice. Paul Myerberg is a national college football writer for USA Today, and he recently authored a piece which provides his ranking of all 128 Division 1 football teams. After reading, and re-reading the article, I must assume one of two things to be true: either Paul Myerberg has some Adam Schefter-level inside knowledge of college football, or Paul Myerberg is like that annoying friend on Facebook who makes wildly lofty predictions and considers himself a genius when 1 out of 100 comes to fruition.

 

Below are what I consider to be the most egregious of Myerberg’s Not-stradamus predictions/rankings.

 

#2 Baylor

Gone to the NFL is Baylor’s star QB, Bryce Petty.

 

I didn’t have to read too far into it before my WTF alarm started ringing. Baylor is going to be strong team this year, no doubt, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish in the top 10, or even top 5 if they run the table. However, Myerberg must believe that Baylor is good enough to win the SEC West, as they are ranked ahead of perennial powerhouses Alabama and Auburn (#3 and #4, respectively.) It’s not that I don’t buy the Baylor hype, it’s just that there are programs they haven’t surpassed who are ranked below them, specifically those SEC teams, Oregon, and Michigan State. With tough road games against in state rivals and facing Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks, Baylor could easily lose three games and be destined for the Guns & Ammo Bowl, which I don’t think exists but totally should.

 

#5 Boise State

Boise as a playoff/possible NC contender? What year is it? Their out of conference schedule is still weak, and even if they finish the season with a goose egg in the loss column, I don’t see Boise cracking the top 5, at least until they string a few really strong years together like they did when they rose to prominence earlier in the millennium. Not even the Kellen Moore/Doug Martin/Chris Petersen roster garnered top 5 hype preseason, and this years team hasn’t even named a starting quarterback.

 

#8 Arizona State

Number 8!?!?

 

ASU is getting better, but they are an underdog in their own season opener against your #47, Texas A&M. Makes sense to me.

 

#10 Stanford

Based on, what, exactly? Between ASU, Boise, USC at #17 and this, I assume Myerberg just picked the PAC12 teams out of a hat and put them into vacant spots.

 

#25 Texas

I think he may have meant that Texas will start 2-5. Ranking the Longhorns ahead of LSU (#27), Tennessee (#33), and Texas A&M (#47) reeks of the benefit-of-the-doubt bias often afforded to proud programs like Texas, who have fallen on harder times.

 

#35 Western Kentucky University

Yea, we don’t know how these guys got ranked that high either.

 

Now, being a graduate of a MAC school, I have a lot of love for my Non-AQ conference brethren, but this is a stretch. The Hilltoppers went 8-5 last year, with quality losses to such college football stalwarts as Florida (Atlantic), Louisiana (Tech), and Alabama (Birmingham). Not to mention their heartbreaking loss in a triple-overtime thriller against rival maybe Middle Tennessee State. I assure you that my cynicism has nothing to do with the fact that WKU stole last year’s bowl game win out from under my alumnus, Central Michigan. Fans of programs such as Florida (#69), South Carolina (#40), BYU (#38), Utah (#43), NC State (#44), and Cal (#49) will have to get used to their view of the new NCAA football landscape from behind the mighty Hilltoppers.

 

#48 and #56 Temple

Temple got ranked twice. Who are they, Grover Cleveland? And even on a bad day, the Owls are better than Pitt (#59), Iowa (#60), and Michigan (#64)? C’mon man.

 

#64 Michigan

Harbaugh can’t stomach such an insulting ranking.

 

It is only fair that I preface this by saying that I am a Michigan fan, but WHAT THE HELL MAN? I know the program has been bad, but this is unjust. According to Myerberg, the Wolverines are the third best team in the state, with the Broncos of Western Michigan coming in at #55. At least we are ranked ahead of our bitter B1G rivals, Maryland (#71) and Rutgers (#76).

 

Feel free to peruse the original post for your own favorites, there are so many that I couldn’t possibly include them all. Still. there is a chance that this will all come true, and perhaps at that time I will write an apology to Mr. Myerberg. Or, perhaps pre-season rankings are inherently meaningless and I am putting too much thought into this. You be the judge.

 

edit: The article has been modified, at the very least replacing Temple with San Diego State at the #48 spot.

 

 


Power Ranking the Power 5: Preseason Edition

Written by :
Published on : August 10, 2015

 

 

Now that we are into the month of August, it’s time to start getting serious about college football, the most hallowed of American traditions. With the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches Poll having been released, we can finally dig in and start dissecting where the country’s biggest and baddest programs stand heading into the 2015 season. We look at which powerhouses are pretenders and which underdogs are sure to set the world on fire this autumn.

 

The following is my ranking of each of the Power 5 Conferences in college football. Not only will I rank each conference against each other, but I will also include a power ranking of all the teams within each individual conference. Sure there are a couple teams in the preseason ranking that live outside of the world of the Power 5, but they are anomalies. In order to be the best in college football, you need to be the best amongst these teams within these conferences.

 

#1. The SEC

 

This should surprise no one. With eight teams in the preseason coaches top 25, and another two knocking on the door, the SEC is still the cream of the crop in college football. Having produced seven of the last ten national championship teams, this conference is truly a league of it’s own. The Southeastern Conference is still the gold standard, and despite being two years removed from the conference’s last national championship, it’s hard to imagine that changing, even if the title alludes them again this year.

Alabama (3), Auburn (7) and Georgia (9) lead the conference as the three teams in the top 10 coming into the season, but this conference is so loaded with good teams that it’s hard to see these rankings remaining static for very long. Most of these teams will play each other throughout the season, and with Alabama looking slightly less godlike than in recent years, the door is open for some of these other teams to make their mark. One team will rise from the ashes after they have all beaten the hell out of each other, and I would look for Auburn to make some serious noise this year, winning the conference and punching a ticket to the second ever college football playoff.

*indicates team’s ranking in coaches poll

  1. Alabama (3)*
  2. Auburn (7)
  3. Georgia (9)
  4. LSU (13)
  5. Ole Miss (15)
  6. Arkansas (20)
  7. Missouri (23)
  8. Tennessee (25)
  9. Mississippi State
  10. Texas A&M
  11. South Carolina
  12. Florida
  13. Kentucky
  14. Vanderbilt

 

#2. The Pac-12

 

The Pac-12 comes in behind the SEC and boasts a very formidable six teams in the preseason coaches top 25. Oregon (5) and USC (10) are the lone top 10 teams in the conference, though I have to say that I feel like USC is ranked a bit too high. They played some bad football at times last year and a lot is going to rest on a defense that flat-out blew it in some critical situations last year. That said, this conference is pretty loaded and the top seven teams can contend this year.

Oregon is the obvious choice to represent the Pac-12  in the playoffs, and they will remain on top of the conference until someone knocks them off. Replacing Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will be no easy task and if they stumble in their quest to find a viable replacement, the door could be left open for USC or UCLA to make a run at the conference championship. Like Oregon, UCLA also has some questions at quarterback, and will need to find one quickly in order to remain relevant in the conference.

 

  1. Oregon (5)
  2. USC (10)
  3. UCLA (14)
  4. Arizona State (16)
  5. Stanford (21)
  6. Arizona (22)
  7. Utah
  8. Cal
  9. Washington State
  10. Colorado
  11. Washington
  12. Oregon State

 

#3. The Big Ten

 

Coming into the 2015 college football season, the Big Ten has the honor of being home to the #1 team in the nation, Ohio State. They hold the current title of national champion and winner of the first ever college football playoff. The Buckeyes are returning all three quarterbacks and Braxton Miller is making the switch to wide receiver. Miller was 28-8 as a quarterback and started as a true freshmen in 2011, but will now be catching balls from either JT Barrett or Cardale Jones, the latter of which won the national championship game.

After Ohio State there is a very strong Michigan State (6) team joining them in the top 10, and the only other team in the top 25 is Wisconsin (18). There may only be three teams in the top 25, but there are a few others on the fringe that could easily sneak into mix during the first few weeks of the season. Look for Nebraska, Penn State and Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan team to make some waves and even upset a few people, but until further notice this thing belongs to the Buckeyes.

 

  1. Ohio State (1)
  2. Michigan State (6)
  3. Wisconsin (18)
  4. Nebraska
  5. Michigan
  6. Penn State
  7. Minnesota
  8. Iowa
  9. Maryland
  10. Rutgers
  11. Northwestern
  12. Indiana
  13. Illinois
  14. Purdue

 

#4. The Big 12

 

The Big 12 actually only has ten teams, but since that name is already taken it looks like they are going to ride this thing out. We joke, but the fact that is  they lack those two teams necessary for a conference championship game.  TCU (2), Baylor (4) and Oklahoma (19) are the three teams representing the Big 12 in the preseason coaches poll and they are all deserving of their places on the totem poll. The only other team with a real argument for being included is Oklahoma State.

 

TCU has a pretty cake season up until the last two weeks when they travel to Oklahoma and then come home to face Baylor. If they stay undefeated, then there’s a pretty good chance they win. It’ll take an undefeated season for the Horned Frogs, capped by two big wins, in order for the team to overcome the lack of a conference championship and earn a trip to the playoffs.

 

  1. TCU (2)
  2. Baylor (4)
  3. Oklahoma (19)
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Kansas State
  6. Texas
  7. West Virginia
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas

 

#5. The ACC

 

Like the last two conferences we discussed, the ACC has three teams in the coaches top 25. Florida State (8), Clemson (12) and Georgia Tech (17), and the only other team that currently threatens to join them is Louisville. There are a lot of questions surrounding these teams and none of them look all that scary. Especially when you consider the fact that Florida State and Clemson will beat up on each other and Georgia Tech has the hardest schedule among the three.

Florida State has a lot of talent all over the field, but much of it is untested and unproven. The loss of Jameis Winston, might be too much for the Seminoles to overcome. Look for Clemson to win the conference if, and only if, Deshaun Watson can stay healthy. Either way, I think everyone in this conference is going to beat up on each other so badly that if the winner of the Big 12 wins out,  the ACC will be left on the outside of the playoff looking in.

 

  1. Florida State (8)
  2. Clemson (12)
  3. Georgia Tech (17)
  4. Louisville
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Miami
  7. Pitt
  8. North Carolina State
  9. North Carolina
  10. Duke
  11. Virginia
  12. Boston College

 


 

That’s it for Power Ranking the Power 5: Preseason Edition.

Check in with us each week during the college football regular season for updated power rankings, and to see who shows up and who stinks up the place.

 

 


30 Years Later… The Greatest Sporting Event I Ever ‘Saw’

Written by :
Published on : August 8, 2015

On a wet and rainy fall Saturday in the mid-80’s, my dad took me to my first University of Iowa football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. And it wasn’t just any game. It was October 19th, 1985 – the day #1 Iowa was hosting #2 Michigan. Iowa’s quarterback, Chuck Long, had decided to stay for his senior season (insuring his body for a million dollars) and was an immediate favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. He led what was being called the most exciting offense in Iowa history.

 

The 5-0 Hawkeyes started the season ranked in the top 5 and eventually reached #1 (their first time in the top slot since 1960), after Bo Jackson and his Auburn Tigers lost to Tennessee at the end of September. On the other hand, Michigan (with quarterback Jimmy Harbaugh) had started the season unranked, and then proceeded to climb to the #2 spot by going 5-0, with wins over three ranked teams. Now they were set for a mid-season 1 vs. 2 showdown in front of 66,350 fans – the largest crowd to ever witness a sporting event in the state of Iowa.

 

houghtlin

 

The game was as good as advertised. The story of the day was Iowa’s offense against Michigan’s defense. And with 5:27 to play in the 4th Quarter, Iowa trailed 10-9 with the ball at their own 22. #3 Oklahoma (the team with Brian Bosworth, who many people felt should be #1) had just lost to Miami at home, with quarterback Troy Aikman, going out for the season with a broken ankle. Brent Musburger, calling the Iowa game live on CBS, reported the score by saying, “Vinny Testaverde is for real.” #4 Arkansas had also just lost to Texas that day. So fans tuning in to the Iowa game were now witnessing the Heisman favorite trying to march 78 yards to victory against the best defense in the nation. And with 2 seconds left, Long and his top weapon, Ronnie Harmon, had gotten Iowa inside Michigan’s 15.

 

Iowa’s kicker, Rob Houghtlin, who had made all of Iowa’s points on the day, but missed his prior attempt, jogged out onto the field to try for one more. He was promptly iced by Michigan’s legendary coach, Bo Schembechler. Schembechler, by the way, hated playing at Kinnick. Iowa’s coach, Hayden Fry (who had a psychology degree from Baylor), had created many new traditions since joining the team in 1979. One of them happened to be painting the visitor’s locker room pink in attempt to pacify the opposing team. Reportedly, Schembechler would have his staff cover all of the pink in white paper before the game. Maybe icing Houghtlin into a late game miss would be part of his sweet revenge.

 

rob houghtlin kick

 

But with a thick air of nervous tension, Houghtlin kicked the ball right through the uprights and the Iowa fans went bananas. “It’s on its way and it’s good,” Musberger said in a calm that didn’t match the tension and release of the moment. The Iowa student section wildly rushed onto the field, while the Iowa players jumped around in jubilation. A mob of students tore down the goal posts, severing the ear of one student. My dad, who was 32 at the time, leaned down and said to me, “Mike, you’ve got to remember this!

 

Here’s the thing: I don’t remember anything about that game. Nothing. I was six-years-old and in kindergarten. And my only recollection of the entire day is having to wear a rain poncho and thinking it looked stupid. And I also remember an old man in front of me who kept saying, “Go Hogs!” and I thought he was an idiot because Iowa was clearly called the Hawkeyes. Not the Hogs. And that’s all I remember.

 

houghtlin?

 

That same year, a kid in my kindergarten class told me he kept his boogers in a jar at home. Of course that I remember. Not the greatest college football game in Iowa’s history. No. But I remember a kid named Jason’s disgusting booger collection LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY. Same thing with getting in trouble for kicking my sister in the butt at recess one day. And then getting out of it by telling the teacher who caught me that I didn’t go to school there.

 

Same thing with avoiding a fight with an older kid because I told him I knew karate. Like it was yesterday. My little kid brain stored away every detail of those idiotic memories because it deemed them to be important to my development or something. Rob Houghtlin will never have to buy a beer in the state of Iowa ever again. Meanwhile, I was having booger conversations with weirdos and lying my way out of my problems

 

A few months ago, I went on Homage.com and bought a t-shirt that says, “Hawkeyes Win! 10-19-85.” Because I was there. But the more I thought about it, and the closer we get to the 30 year anniversary of that game, the more it bothers me that I have no recollection of anything about the actual game. And so I called my dad today to talk about it. After a great conversation, where he filled me in on a lot of the details, he said, “Just know in your heart that you were there.” And that’s all I can do. Go Hogs!

 

 


Maps: Finally Good For Something

Written by :
Published on : July 24, 2015

 

That movie Paper Towns opens in theaters today. I don’t give a shit about it, but it made me curious as to what the hell a “paper town” actually was. After a quick search, this is what I learned: a paper town is a fake place that cartographers include on their maps to protect against someone stealing their work. These type of “copyright traps” are hidden inside most reference materials (maps, dictionairies, encyclopedias, almanacs, etc.)

Then I found this: in 1978, the official State of Michigan map included two paper towns across the Ohio border: Beatosu and Goblu.

goblu

 

This hall-of-fame worthy prank comes courtesy of Mr. Peter Fletcher, then Chairman of the State Highway Commission.

peter fletcher

 

Legend has it that Fletcher, a U of M grad, was catching hell from another alumnus because the Mackinac Bridge was painted green and white. (Those colors belong to Michigan State University, also known as the Maize and Blue’s “little brother.”) Fletcher had no control over the bridge’s colors, so he created two imaginary places to honor of his alma mater.

At the time, Fletcher argued that all the Michigan information was correct, and that, “We have no legal liability for anything taking place in that intellectual swamp south of Monroe.” The maps were quickly pulled and have since become collector’s items.

Sports fans, search your maps! Keep your eyes peeled for a Roltide, a Beardown, a Fighton, a Wreckem or any other ghost towns that might strike frustration in the heart of your bitter rival.

 


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