Monday, November 28, 2011

Recapping the Weekend

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. Lots to talk about since I wasn't able to get on the blog the past few days. Here's a quick rundown on what's going on in the sports world:


As much as I hate to admit it, it looks like we're going to have a rematch of LSU-Alabama in the National Championship Game this year. LSU took care of business against third ranked Arkansas on Friday afternoon overcoming an early 14-0 deficit and routing the Razorbacks 41-17. Alabama similarly took care of business taking on rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl and winning 42-14. Idle Oklahoma State is a distant third and even a win over Oklahoma coupled with an LSU loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game probably won't be enough to significantly close the gap.
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Now I'd love to make a case for just about anyone else that they deserve to play in the National Championship Game just so we can avoid a rematch of what I found to be a very unenjoyable football game. Say what you want about it being a great battle between two great defenses, and I grant you, both teams play defense at an extremely high level, but it was a hard game to watch. And as good as both defenses were, both offenses were pretty inept. Anyhow, the fact is, that no matter how much I want to avoid that matchup, there aren't any other teams that deserve to be there more than these two. Of the 5 other one or zero loss teams in the Top 25, there's only two that you could even make a halfway-compelling argument for: Oklahoma State and Houston.
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Oklahoma State has just the one loss, in double overtime on the road to Iowa State, just days after the tragic death of Oklahoma State's women's basketball coach. But Iowa State is not a great team, just 3-5 in the Big 12. Iowa State lost by 35 to a Missouri team that Oklahoma State beat by 21. So that doesn't help the Cowboys at all. When you compare that to Alabama whose only loss is to unbeaten LSU, it doesn't stack up well. Now granted Oklahoma State can win the Big 12 with a win over Oklahoma on Saturday whereas Alabama won't even play in its conference title game let alone win it. But unfortunately, that's not a prerequisite to playing for the National Championship. And so we move on.
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Houston is the only other team that I feel really has a compelling argument as the Cougars sit at 12-0 with just a showdown with 24th ranked Southern Miss remaining on their schedule. The problem is that while Houston hasn't lost to anyone, they also haven't really beaten anyone. Look at their schedule:

W vs UCLA 38-34
W @ North Texas 48-23
W @ Louisiana Tech 35-34
W vs Georgia State 56-0
W @ UTEP 49-42
W vs East Carolina 56-3
W vs Marshall 63-28
W vs Rice 73-34
W @ UAB 56-13
W @ Tulane 73-17
W vs SMU 37-7
W @ Tulsa 48-16

Conference USA only has 4 teams with winning records including Houston, and Houston still hasn't played Southern Miss (those two will play each other in the Conference USA Championship Game) so that means, out of their 8 conference games, they beat two teams that finished the year over .500. The whole conference only has 5 wins against AQ schools. Houston beat UCLA, Southern Miss beat Virginia, Marshall beat Louisville, UCF beat Boston College and Rice beat Purdue. I suppose it's also worth mentioning that Southern Methodist beat TCU. Still, not much there. So while it's great that Houston took care of business, the fact that Conference USA wasn't very good, and they haven't yet played the only other ranked team in their conference works against them. Ultimately it's not even enough to vault them over Oklahoma State let alone Alabama.

So here we are, apparently destined for a rematch. We can only hope that maybe this time someone will find the end zone.

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Just when it looked like there might not be an NBA season this year, the NBA players and owners appear to have made a deal. A tentative agreement was reached on Saturday which means barring any setbacks, we'll be looking at a 66 game season featuring 48 in-conference games for each team, starting on Christmas Day. Training Camps will open up on December 9th. Time for me to start looking at Hornets tickets!


*The Houston Texans just cannot catch a break. Well, maybe that's a poor choice of words. All indications are that second string quarterback Matt Leinart broke his collarbone on Sunday in his first start after the Texans placed starter Matt Schaub on the Injured Reserve with a lisfranc injury. That means, that as of right now, the fate of the Texans season lies in the hands of rookie T.J. Yates. It's just an unbelievable run of bad luck for a team that's poised to win its first division title and make the postseason for the first time. Yates played a little over half of Sunday's 20-13 win over Jacksonville and while he drove them 40 yards for a field goal just before halftime, the Texans managed just 47 yards and 2 first downs after the break. The only other quarterback currently on the Texans' roster is Kellen Clemens. Clemens made 9 starts in 5 years with the Jets, but has not thrown a touchdown pass since 2007.
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*Is anyone even surprised anymore when the Broncos win? Denver pulled out a 16-13 overtime win on the road as the Broncos improved to 6-5 overall, and 5-1 with Tim Tebow as their starter. The Broncos came back from an early 10-0 deficit, and Tebow led both the game-tying drive (68 yards on 9 plays with under 6 minutes to play in the 4th quarter) and the game winning drive (38 yards on 6 plays setting up the winning kick with 29 second left in overtime). The Broncos ran for over 200 yards yet again and Tebow did just enough completing 9 of 18 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Tebow also had 22 carries, the most by a quarterback in an NFL game since 1950. For all the talk about Tebow though, you can't talk about the Broncos recent success without mentioning their defense. The Broncos defense has only given up 36 points over the last 3 weeks and playmakers Elvis Dumervil, rookie Vonn Miller and company are all playing at the top of their games. It's reminiscent of those old Bucs teams from the late 90s / early 2000s where they had a tough defense, grinding run game, and just-good-enough quarterback play. Regardless, it's working and you can't do much better than 5 wins in 6 games...
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*Unless you're Green Bay that is. The Packers 27-15 win over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day means the Packers are now 5 wins away from the third perfect regular season in the Super Bowl era. Aaron Rodgers threw two more touchdown passes giving him at least two in every game this season, 33 in all, to go along with just four interceptions. The Packers are at the Giants this coming Sunday, then host the Raiders, travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs and finish with divisional home games against the Bears and Lions. And don't forget the best part. Now we can look forward to potentially a month's worth of interviews with Mercury Morris talking about how great the '72 Dolphins were. Yayyyyyyyyyyy!!!


American Samoa's dream run is over. The country that snapped a 30 game losing streak dating back to 1994 and won for the first time in their nation's history last week followed their first ever win with a 1-1 draw Cook Islands and put themselves in the improbable position of advancing to the 2012 OFC Nations Cup with a win over rival Samoa. Alas they fell just short as Silao Malo scored in the 89th minute giving Samoa the 1-0 win and the right to advance to the next round of World Cup Qualifying.

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