Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bummer of a Thursday Night NFL game

A dud NFL game tonight, with the Carolina Panthers (2-12) facing the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4). Quarterback woes for the Panthers spread like wildfire across the whole team, leading to a bad 2010 campaign. Panthers fans are praying for no miracle win tonight so that they remain in line for the #1 overall pick in April's NFL Draft.

The Steelers should come away with an easy win. Their offense has struggled lately, and I like their chances to work out a few issues despite the short week of preparation. Nothing better to feast on than the team with the NFL's worst record.

Poinsettia Bowl tonight

The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (what a name) kicks off tonight at 5:00pm PST in San Diego, California.

The Navy Midshipmen (9-3) face off against the San Diego State Aztecs (8-4) in one of the best pre-Christmas bowls. In regards to notable teams and an even matchup, its possibly the best game we'll have until Air Force and Georgia Tech face off on December 27 in what should be a quick game with a maximum of a combined 10 passes and 100 rushes.

As for tonight, we should see a game that deserves to trump the viewership of NFL Thursday Night Football (see 2-12 Carolina vs. 10-4 Pittsburgh...yuck).

Who Will Win: San Diego State
This game will be a terrific matchup between a team who seems to live and die by the passing game (SDS) and a team who lives and dies by the rushing game (N). San Diego State averages over 300 yards passing per game, good for 11th in the nation (out of 120 teams). Ryan Lindley is a tremendous quarterback and his two top receivers, DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown, are studs. However, the key to an Aztecs win will come if they can stop the Navy triple-option rushing attack. In October, triple-option threat Air Force rushed for over 300 yards against the Aztecs, and the San Diego State offense bailed on the rush defense in a 27-25 win. The Aztecs will need defensive success to hold off the Midshipmen.

How They Could Win: Navy
With nine wins, and a solid triple-option attack led by senior leader Ricky Dobbs, there are a lot of reasons to believe Navy can win this game. The Midshipmen were not dealt a brutal schedule this year, so the Aztec passing attack will be the best one that Navy has faced all season. My biggest concern for Navy is the field conditions. Over 10 inches of rain soaked the field over the past week, leaving a very saturated ground behind. Even though Navy rushes for a hair under 300 yards per game, I worry that the field will be a second enemy tonight. The wet ground will slow down the rushes, affecting everyone's footing. San Diego State can resort to a strong, vertical passing attack to counter the elements. The Midshipmen will have a shot if they can find vertical running success, taking time off the clock and keeping this score under 30. Force two turnovers or more, and the Midshipmen will come away with a win on the San Diego State's backyard.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Preview

Tonight at 8:00pm ET, the Louisville Cardinals and Southern Miss Golden Eagles will face off in this year's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Who Will Win: Southern Miss
The Golden Eagles, underdogs (3 pts) against the Cardinals, will be able to win this game courtesy of their offense. The last time I thought a strong offense would get slowed by a capable defense in a bowl game, Troy gave Ohio the business in a 48-21 victory. This high-powered Southern Miss offense averaging almost 38 points per game and over 458 yards of offense will be able to beat Louisville. Freshman Kendrick Hardy awoke the Golden Eagles rushing game late in the season, rushing for 676 of his 855 yards in the final six games of the season. Quarterback Austin Davis has numerous athletic targets to work with. Louisville, meanwhile, has named a starter at quarterback but hasn't ruled out two other quarterbacks from getting playing time, leaving a messy trio of guys to lead the Cardinals' offense.

How They Could Win: Louisville
Louisville has won four straight matchups against Southern Miss, including a 25-23 victory last fall. Bilal Powell rushed for 1,330 yards for Louisville, and will need to be at his best tonight in order to get the Cardinals a victory. If he can help keep Louisville's offense on the field, and consequently the Southern Miss offense off the field, the Cardinals have a chance in this one. Louisville needs to take advantage of an aggressive Southern Miss front seven, finding Powell and other receivers through screen passes and quick passes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

UC Davis Women Win Causeway Classic

The UC Davis women's basketball team defeated Sacramento State 78-55 on Sunday afternoon to win the annual Causeway Classic matchup.

The Aggies improve to 8-2 on the season while Sacramento State drops to 3-10.

Heidi Heintz paced the Aggies with 14 points and Paige Mintun added 12 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.

The Hornets were led by 11 points from Sami Field-Polisso and 10 points from Mallorie Franco. Kylie Kuhns added 9 points and 12 rebounds.

The Aggies outrebounded Sacramento State 50-39 and forced the Hornets into 22 turnovers.

UC Davis trailed 7-2 in the early moments of the first half, but promptly went on an 18-5 run to build a lead, and would not trail from that point on. The Aggies led 38-28 at halftime.

UC Davis continues their short road trip with a game on Tuesday at San Jose State (0-10), with tip-off scheduled for 7:00pm.

Overall for the 2010-2011 athletic season, UC Davis now leads the Causeway Classic series 7-2. There are 8 match-ups remaining in Causeway Classic events throughout the remainder of 2010-2011.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010-2011 Bowl Week 1 Preview

Each week, we will preview one week of the 2010-2011 NCAA football bowl season. The bowls begin Saturday, December 18 and continue through January 10. After each week, we will also look back to see how things worked out in the previous week of games.

Saturday, December 18

New Mexico Bowl

Who Will Win: BYU
The Cougars came on strong to end the season to clinch bowl eligibility. Things sure didn't look good after a loss TCU dropped BYU to 2-5 on October 16. However, the Cougars rattled off four straight wins against lesser opponents in the Mountain West Conference to get to six wins, and just missed upsetting rival Utah in the annual Holy War. Quarterback Jake Heaps, only a freshman, has come a long way in establishing himself as a successful replacement for a long list of great BYU quarterbacks who came before him.

How They Could Win: UTEP
UTEP comes in to this game in opposite fashion of BYU, instead having lost five of their last six after starting the season 5-1. The Miners are led by quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, who threw for over 2,500 yards this season and 19 touchdowns. He has a favorite receiver in Kris Adams, who caught 11 of those touchdowns this season. If those two can pair up to be successful against the BYU secondary, UTEP has a shot in this one.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State

Who Will Win: Fresno State
The Bulldogs get the edge in this one because of the recent un-doing of Northern Illinois in the past three weeks. After Northern Illinois lost a heartbreaker in the MAC Championship, their head coach (Jerry Kill) who guided them to one of their most successful seasons in school history departed for the head coach vacancy at Minnesota. The feelings are different for the Huskies in this one versus Fresno State, who comes in with a capable offense led by quarterback Ryan Colburn and running back Robbie Rouse.  Fresno State's defense will be tested against a NIU offense averaging 37.8 points per game.

How They Could Win: Northern Illinois
Statistically, the Huskies seem favored in this game. They score about eight more points per game than Fresno State, and allow ten less points per game. Chad Spann leads a rushing attack that was 7th in the nation, with over 1,000 yards of his own. Weather will play a factor in this one in Boise, Idaho, forecasted to be in the mid 30's with precipitation, so the NIU running game will be a major player for the Huskies to win this game.

New Orleans Bowl
Ohio vs. Troy

Who Will Win: Ohio
Playing in only their fifth bowl game, the Bobcats are looking for their first ever postseason victory. Head coach Frank Solich has won two bowl games elsewhere, and looks to bring that success into a 'W' for Ohio. It will be a great matchup between a solid Ohio defense and a very strong Troy offense. I like the Bobcats to come out on top in this one courtesy of their defense.

How They Could Win: Troy
The Trojans offense is stellar, led by Corey Robinson who threw for 3,339 yards to lead an offense averaging a hair under 33 points per game. Troy does not rely much on its rushing attack, but teams are so worried about the Trojans' passing ability that Troy can find success on the ground when needed, with their top two backs averaging over five yards per carry.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Missed One Thing

One story I missed that I want to make sure you're aware of. In the third quarter of the game this afternoon between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, Miami special teams player Nolan Carroll was intentionally tripped by a staff member on the Jets' sideline. Using the recap through the previous link, find the video "Dolphin gets tripped on Jets sideline." On a punt, Carroll used the sideline in an attempt to pass by the Jets two cover players. A member of the Jets staff, somebody not in uniform, intentionally put a knee forward as Carroll passed by, sending him to the ground. The alleged staff member, Sal Alosi, has since apologized, but this action is very uncalled for. Carroll was injured on the trip, caused by the knee-to-knee contact with Alosi. "The team is reviewing the situation and is looking into  the appropriate next steps," Jets senior director of media relations Bruce Speight said in a statement after the game.

In my opinion, this guy should be immediately fired. It was inexplicable and uncalled for. It is a huge injury risk. Carroll stayed down for a few moments and was helped from the field. At this point, it appears he will be okay, but the knee-to-knee contact caused by Alosi could have been a recipe for a knee injury disaster. It will be very interesting to see how this story plays out, and to hear ESPN shows such as Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption debate it as the week goes on.

Any thoughts on the issue?

NFL Sunday Notes

A few thoughts from Sunday's NFL games...

-HUGE injury news out of Green Bay. Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down in the second quarter on Sunday, suffering a concussion against the Detroit Lions. To make matters worse for the Packers, backup quarterback Matt Flynn could not find the end zone, and Detroit beat Green Bay 7-3. Yes,  just simply 7-3. The Lions snapped a five game losing streak overall, and a ten game losing streak against the Packers. It was also their first win over a fellow NFL North squad in twenty tries. Green Bay's playoff hopes were damaged, particularly if Rodgers is out for an extended period of time. 

-In Minnesota, the Metrodome roof collapsed this morning under the weight of 17 inches of snow. I'm sure many people have already seen the video, but just in case you haven't or you want to see it again, check it out below. The Vikings game, previously scheduled for this morning, has been postponed to Monday night at 7:30pm ET, and will be played at Ford Field in Detroit.

-The race for the NFC West title continues to be fascinating. The Rams and Seahawks are tied for the division lead at 6-7. The 49ers are not far behind at 5-8. Heck, lets call Arizona relevant still at 4-8. The Cardinals' rookie quarterback John Skelton was a winner in his first NFL start, a 43-13 win over the Denver Broncos. Arizona kicker Jay Feely even scored a touchdown via a short run on a fake field goal. I hope this link allows you to check out his score. 

-The race for the AFC West is also intriguing. The Chiefs lost 31-0 at San Diego to fall to 8-5. The did not score under the direction of quarterback Brodie Croyle, who was starting in place of Matt Cassel, who missed the game due to an appendectomy that was performed midweek. The Raiders lost to drop to 6-7, but aren't out of the race yet. 

-Crazy shinanigans went down at the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins. A steady rain fell throughout the game, forcing a few memorable mishaps. Redskins kicker Graham Gano missed two field goals. Late in the game, a mistake by somebody gave Washington an extra down, which the team needed to score a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining. On the extra point, which would have tied the score at 17, Redskins punter Hunter Smith had the high snap slip through his hands, and the Buccaneers game away with a 17-16 victory

-The New England Patriots beat the Chicago Bears 36-7 amidst an epic snowstorm, the same storm that pounded Minnesota this weekend. Tom Brady, a top MVP candidate, was brilliant for the Patriots, who host Green Bay next weekend, in a matchup that will lose most of its luster if the Packers are without quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 

The "Big 3" Roll Through Sacramento

Saturday night I had the pleasure of heading over to ARCO Arena to see the Sacramento Kings take on the Miami Heat.

The Heat are arguably the NBA's most "intriguing" team this season, with the newly founded trio of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh leading the way. Miami has had its ups and downs so far early this season, and is capped off a strong road trip with a 104-83 victory over Sacramento.

It was fascinating to watch the progress the Heat's trio is making in regards to continuing to work better together. Wade and James have long simply existed as the individual star of their team with varying members of their supporting cast. Now, these two are having a blast working to get Miami another championship.

The transition game these two guys bring to the table is incredible. They are close to unstoppable when one-on-one in transition, often drawing a foul and almost as often scoring the basket as well. Together, they create a nightmare matchup for teams who only have one superb defender. Heading into last night's game, I was eager to see what the Kings had played defensively in regards to guarding each guy. Donte Greene did a solid job covering James early, save for a successful ally-oop on the first possession of the game. Tyreke Evans covered Dwayne Wade early before exiting for most of the second half due to a lingering foot injury. Omri Casspi also had moments with the responsibility of covering James or Wade.

In introductions and every time Lebron touched the ball, the crowd gave him a chorus of "boos." A second half dunk, followed by a technical foul for taunting, brought upon a mixture of cheers and "boos."

Overall, a fun night seeing a big ticket in Sacramento, despite the Kings' loss. Plenty of joy came from getting to see a few NBA stars in town, ones who I'd never be sad to see in a Kings uniform.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

America's Greatest Rivalry

America's greatest rivalry is set to kick off in just under 12 hours. It doesn't feature flashy players who are award winners or All-Americans. It doesn't feature teams competing for a spot in a BCS Bowl. In simply involves two of our country's finest universities.

At 2:30pm ET on Saturday, the only Division I-A college football game of the weekend will kick off. It will feature two fine universities of our nation's service academies.

The Army Black Knights will face the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday for the 111th time since 1890. Navy leads the series 54-49-7, with the Midshipmen winning the previous 8 meetings, including last season's 17-3 victory. Navy is a 7.5 point favorite for Saturday's matchup.

This game has come to embody the spirit of the interservice rivalry of the United States Armed Forces. Members of each school have committed to serve their respective academy for 5 years upon graduation from each university. 

The game will be held in Philadelphia, which is roughly an equal distance from each school. At the current time, the game is always held on the second Saturday in December as the only Division I-A game, the only on that second Saturday. 

With a limited number of players from each team playing for a future in the NFL, the joy of this game is seeing the honest passion and emotion from each player, fighting for bragging rights. 

Following the game, no matter what the outcome, both service academies will play their alma mater. First, both teams will stand in unison and face the losing side, hearing their alma mater. Afterwards, the teams will stand in unison to face the fans of the victorious team. 

Because nearly every player on each side will ultimately pursue a career with their respective service academy, this game has a special place in the hearts of many. It does to me as well, seeing two teams pledging terms of service to the United States of America, and also playing football. 

This season, I have a particular sense of joy because each of these teams will get to play in a bowl game following this game. Navy will face San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. Army will face Southern Methodist in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. 

As for tomorrow's game, here is our prediction:

Navy 23, Army 16

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NFL Thursday Night Pick

More NFL picks for this weekend will come later, but for now....

Tonight, we're going with Tennessee over Indianapolis. At home, the Titans will ride the return of Kenny Britt, who will improve the Titans passing attack. Additionally, Kerry Collins is ready to go at quarterback and Chris Johnson is determined to put his last two poor performances behind him. Cortland Finnegan vs. Reggie Wayne will be a GREAT matchup. Not Andre Johnson-Cortland Finnegan great, but somewhere up there.

Tennessee 27, Indianapolis 20

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

UC Davis women #8 in Mid-Major Top 25

The UC Davis women's basketball team moved up to #8 in the most recent College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 poll. This poll is made up from teams in 23 of the smaller conferences within Division I basketball.

The Aggies, who were ranked #15 in last week's poll, moved up after defeated Saint Mary's, who is also ranked in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

UC Davis' next game is on the road, this Sunday (12/12) at Kansas State. The Wildcats are receiving 23 votes in the Associated Press poll, ranking all Division-I teams. The 23 votes have Kansas State just outside the Top 25, two spots outside of the rankings.

MLB Winter Meetings

The 2010 offseason MLB Winter Meetings are in full swing in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Some notes on today's biggest news:

-Paul Konerko re-signed with the Chicago White Sox; 3 year contract, 37.5 million dollars
-Carlos Pena signed with the Chicago Cubs; 1 year contract, 10 million dollars
-Jeff Francoeur signed with the Kansas City Royals; 1 year contract; 2.5 million dollars

Top Remaining Free Agents

1. Cliff Lee, pitcher
Potential Suitors: Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals

2. Carl Crawford, outfielder
Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox

3. Adrian Beltre, third baseman
Potential Suitors: Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's

4. Rafael Soriano, relief pitcher
Potential Suitors: Los Angeles Angels

5. Vladimir Guerrero, designated hitter (maybe outfielder....maybe)
Potential Suitors: Texas Rangers, Oakland A's

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Auburn v. Oregon, January 10

The headlines are endless, seen on every sports website and even on numerous big news websites.

"Auburn, Oregon set to meet for National Title"

All the headlines go something like that, prepping 1+ month of news readying us for the January 10 National Championship that will come from Glendale, Arizona.

Each top team won today in order to complete a perfect regular season, Auburn over South Carolina and Oregon over Oregon State. The teams are almost certain to remain #1 and #2 in the BCS Standings, respectively, which technically are updated tomorrow, but really what it means is that all the BCS matchups will be set.

Other teams who have clinched a spot in a BCS Bowl Game include:

TCU (Mountain West)
Oklahoma (Big 12)
Connecticut (Big East)
Virginia Tech (ACC)

Other teams extremely likely to play in a BCS Game:
Stanford (Pac-10), as an automatic qualifier by virtue of being in Top 4 of BCS Standings
Wisconsin (Big 10), as highest Big 10 team in the final BCS Standings, released tomorrow

Other teams in the running for a BCS spot: (in order of likelihood)
Arkansas (SEC), as an at-large
Ohio State (Big 10), as an at-large
Michigan State (Big 10), as an at-large
LSU (SEC), as an at-large
Boise State (WAC), as an at-large

Red Sox Strengthen Offense

The Boston Red Sox offense took a hit this offseason when star catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez left the team via free agency to the Detroit Tigers. Additionally, it appears third baseman Adrian Beltre will not return to the team, as he appears bound for another team also through free agency.

But the Red Sox made a big move on Saturday by finalizing a trade to acquire stellar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres. Boston sent away three prospects, namely a pitcher Casey Kelly, who is consider to be a top prospect.

This adds a critical piece to the Red Sox offense in regard to keeping up with other AL East offensive powerhouses, the Yankees and Rays. The Red Sox also are contenders to land one or two free agent outfielders, Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford.

More baseball thoughts coming soon...