College Football Opening Weekend 2014

My life has infinitely improved with the re-introduction of college football. I did nothing this past weekend except eat, sleep and watch football. IT WAS AMAZING.

No. 9 South Carolina v No. 21 Texas A & M

Texas A & M DESTROYED No. 9 South Carolina 52 – 28.  TAMU quarterback Kenny Hill completed 44 of 60 passes for 511 yards and 3 touchdowns, breaking my boy Johnny Football’s previous school record for yards in a single game. Kenny Hill had a nice time of it out there with plenty of open receivers, a great offensive line and South Carolina’s piss poor secondary helping him out. Truly, the game was won in the very first drive, and it was obvious South Carolina’s defence had nothing.  I know it was only the first game, but sophomore Kenny Hill looked like a fucking stud out there. It was glorious. He had 72% completion against the blitz, and his poise and decision making was that of a somewhat more seasoned QB. Genius recruiter Kevin Sumlin’s team, offensively looks brilliant, and Kenny Hill certainly seems suited to Sumlin’s style of play, where more than half of their gained yardage came after the catch. Ah. Football.  I can’t help but comment that South Carolina’s preseason ranking appears to be fucked.

No. 2 Alabama v West Virginia

With the loss of A J McCarron to the NFL, Alabama had fifth year senior (seriously, shouldn’t have graduated by now??) Blake Sims at QB. He threw one interception, but otherwise looked solid. Alabama’s defence is still as bad as it was last year – West Virginia wide recover Kevin White finished up with 9 catches and 143 yards because defending against him was apparently a little too much like hard work. ‘Bama went on to win 33 – 23, the game being a lot closer than that score suggests. It was also possibly the most boring game I watched.

The best thing about this game was the ESPN Camera dedicated to Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin and his rollercoaster of emotions. SO MANY FEELS.

No. 12 Georgia v No. 16 Clemson

Let’s go ahead and copy + paste my post from last year since once again this was the game of the weekend for me. Honestly, that game could have gone for another 2 hours and I still would have been sad to see it end.

Three words for you…. Todd Gurley, Heisman. Junior Todd Gurley was first scorer after a 5 play, 57 yard drive.  He also ran a 100 yard kick off return for TD making him the only player in UGA history with 2 career 100 yard kick off return TDs.  While he only touched the ball 5 times in the first half, he touched it that many times in the first drive of the second half, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Gurley finished with 293 yards and 4 touchdowns. You go Todd Gurley.

One of the most interesting reviews of the weekend was a dropped ball by Georgia wide receiver Michael Bennett. The ruling on the field was that Bennett was down before the ball came free (he was). The call was reviewed and overturned by some person who may or may not have been drunk since there was absolutely no evidence to overturn the call on the field. Poor form drunky. 

Georgia QB Hutson Mason went on to score the very next drive after great plays by Michael Bennett and Todd Gurley, while Clemson went on to three consecutive 3 and out drives. Clemson back-up QB Deshaun Watson was then put in for Cole Stoudt (Sunshine?) and showed his arm early in the second with a pretty, pretty 30 yard pass for touchdown. That drive – 6 plays for 78 yards, not a bad start for the young man, not good for Cole Stoudt who was later intercepted by red shirt freshman Aaron Davis in an important drive that tied the game at 21-21 going into the break.

Georgia ended up winning the game in a 45 – 21 blowout, and Clemson fans face palming became my new favourite thing.

Honourable mention to freshman running back Nick Chubb who was impossible to bring down in a 47 yard TD run in the 4th.

No. 1 Florida State University v Oklahoma State University

Reigning Heisman winner, crab leg connoisseur, and No. 1 Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston really did nothing to remind people why he won the trophy last year. He threw two interceptions in the fist half, was too slow releasing the ball and was sacked twice. He did manage to score off a 28 yard run which included some hurdling of team mates and was vaguely impressive, finishing up with 25 completions for 40 attempts and 370 yards.

FSU receiver Rashad Greene had 203 rushing yards in this game and scored Jameis Winston’s only passing touchdown. No one else is worth mentioning. I’m not even kidding.

Underdog Oklahoma State are in a rebuilding year but the unranked, very young team showed a lot of heart and managed to stay in the game by doing a really nice job limiting FSU’s running game.

No. 14 Wisconsin v No. 13 LSU

How did LSU even win this game? I still don’t even know what happened. Okay, that is not exactly true. What happened was Wisconsin had the lead in the third quarter 24 – 7. Then BOOM. Fake Punt, 30 yard field goal, 21 unanswered points. Les Miles.

Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy quite literally lost his shit in the second half, throwing 8 completions from 24 attempts for only 50 yards, and got picked off twice. That was that. 

Everything else…..

No. 3 Oregon beat South Dakota 62 – 13

No. 4 Oklahoma beat Louisiana Tech 48 – 16

No. 5 Ohio State beat Navy 34 – 17

No. 6 Auburn beat Arkansas 45 – 21

No. 7 UCLA beat Virginia 28 – 20

No. 8 Michigan State beat Jacksonville State 45 – 7 

No. 11 Stanford beat UC Davis 45 – 0 (COME ON!)

No. 15 USC beat Fresno State 52 -13

No 17. Notre Dame beat Rice 48 – 17 

No. 20 Kansas State beat beat Stephen F Austin 55 – 16

No. 22 Nebraska beat Florida Atlantic 55 – 7

No. 23 North Carolina beat Liberty 56 – 29

No. 24 Missouri beat South Dakota State 38 – 18

No. 25 Washington beat Hawaii 17 – 16

Penn State beat University Central Florida 26 – 24 in Dublin

+ a whole lot of scores nobody cares about. 

Also, Eastern Michigan played on a grey field. It was weird. 

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Explained: How The Bloody Hell Does The College Football Playoff System Work Anyway??

It’s getting close to that glorious time of year where I am notably absent from any and all social gatherings on Sundays, and Mama Gray asks redundant questions like “Are you really going to sit there and watch football all day?” Really Mum, is that even a question? I can’t even. Seriously.

There are some important changes to this year’s college football season. After 16 years, the seemingly erroneous and vastly confusing Bowl Championship Series (BCS)  system, which used voting by 167 pollers and computers to generate rankings, has been sacked. This sees the introduction of a new, four team bracket, college football playoff system, aptly named College Football Playoff or CFP (genius!).

The College Football Playoff format means we are no longer required to have some kind of Good Will Hunting sized, mathematically blessed brain in order to keep up with the rankings which were previously determined by using computer generated figures and percentages as well as all sorts of other rules to gain points, generally all things that made little sense to me given my inclination to have little or nothing to do with anything remotely mathematical. If you want to give it a go, Wikipedia sums it up pretty well here.

The new system will instead utilise the combined brain power of ‘The Thirteen’*. ‘The Thirteen’ have been introduced as people of integrity consisting of a mixture of current athletic directors, former coaches, a former NCAA executive VP, a former sports writer, Archie Manning and former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

The appointment of Condy, the daughter of a football coach and self professed “student of the game”  to ‘The Thirteen’ was obviously met with harsh criticism given that she has a vagina never played the game herself, and therefore has “no business” involving herself since “College Football has never been how she’s made a living” (Birmingham Columnist Kevin Skarbinsky’s words – not mine) and apparently career changes are not allowed. We all know what the boys club was really thinking though. YOLO Condy.

‘The Thirteen’ will pore over numbers each round, taking into consideration such factors as strength of conference, win/loss record, points, time in possession, efficiency inside the 40 and various other computer generated figures before releasing their top 25 rankings on Tuesdays beginning the 28 October 2014, finally deciding on the final four, December 6. The Rose Bowl and The Sugar Bowl will be host to the College Football Semifinals this year, with the # 1 ranked school taking on # 4, and # 2 taking on # 3, the winners of each will play for the National Title Monday 12 January 2015 in Texas.

Whilst the rankings of ‘The Thirteen’ are all that count, The AP rankings will be available before that of ‘The Thirteen’. People of integrity or not, ‘The Thirteen’ are (assumed) human beings, and therefore subject to influence. It will be interesting to see how the rankings stack up.

One of the myriad of issues surrounding the BCS System was that of bias. In an attempt to eliminate bias from the new College Football Playoff system, ‘The Thirteen’ will not be allowed to vote for a team where: they or their immediate family members are paid by that school, they provide professional services to that school or they are a coach, administrator or student athlete at that school. Seems pretty obvious, but good job for trying guys.

Call me Negative Nancy, but all I see here is one big mess, kinda like the old mess, except now instead of blaming computers when we don’t see the results we want, we get to blame actual people! The problem is we have a season that lasts only 12 games, with teams only playing a maximum of 4 out of conference games – not enough chances for the teams from weak conferences to impress, and not enough data. Win/loss numbers will not be as important as the casual football fan may think. Schedule strength will be everything. Big football schools from strong conferences like the SEC can probably afford to lose a game and still make the Playoffs, where schools like those in the Big 10 who hope to make the Playoffs will have to get through the regular season undefeated just to have a chance.

Oh, and there is no limit as to how many teams from a single conference can make the Playoffs. Good times.

*Not an official title

Spirit Animal Awards

Today, in nominations for my 2014 Spirit Animal, we have Henry (I’m going to take a stab and assume his second name is Stern from his Insta account, also it says so on the picture below). Henry came in last place in his Fantasy League and as punishment had to pose for a number (12 in fact) of hilarious pictures to be made into a calender. The best is the copy of Prince Fielder’s shot from ESPN The Magazine’s ‘Body’ issue, but you can see other such gems as George Costanza pose, and Miley Cyrus’ wrecking ball pose on his instagram account here.

henrystern photo.PNG-1

Werk.

 

Washington Redskins lose trademark rights

Today in “Fuck yeah!” news, the US Government Patent Office has revoked the Washington Redskins’ right to trademark their name by way of a 2-1 vote which ruled that the name was “disparaging” to Native Americans.

What does this mean for the team? It means that right now, they will have trouble protecting their financial interests given that anyone who feels like it can now use the name, including for the sale of merchandise.

Sounds like a win for the good guys right? Well, as reported in Forbes, the short answer is no. It likely won’t have much of an impact financially as the Washington team can probably seek remedy under common law whereby they have been using the name since 1933  and there is a presumed ownership. So financial destruction will not force a name change. Boo to common law.

The issue of the team’s name has been gaining momentum the past few years, with fans boycotting, journos refusing to use the team’s name in articles, anybody and everybody speaking out against the continued use of the name (because all of us normal, decent human beings know this is wrong) and now this.

It doesn’t seem to matter though, team owner Dan Snyder, who apparently has not a shred of human decency, still remains of the position that the team will NEVER change it’s name and that the continued use of the slur (yes, it’s a slur Dan Snyder) is a mark of respect. Idiot.

Don’t be an asshole Dan Snyder. Change the name. Seriously.

2014 Stanley Cup Final preview

As far as I’m concerned we have already seen the two best teams in the NHL play in this year’s post season, so everything else from here on out is pretty much just a formality. The Blackhawks and Kings did not disappoint, totally epic series. In related news, fuck you LA Kings.

Unfortunately, despite my firm belief that all teams other than original six teams don’t actually exist, the final series for Lord Stanley’s cup will see the Western Conference Champion Los Angeles Kings take on the Eastern Conference Champion New York Rangers in what is bound to be a yawn fest of goalie v goalie.

How they got here

The LA Kings have had a finals run for the ages. No other team has ever played three game 7s to make it through to the final, all of which were road wins, the last of which came against my 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. The two prior series saw the Kings put away both San Jose and Anaheim in what were tough and physically demanding rounds against teams that were 5th and 2nd overall in the NHL at the end of the regular season.

The NY Rangers in comparison to the LA Kings have had a somewhat cruisy run to the final. The series versus the Flyers was as rough as everyone expected, the Pens suck, and Montreal seemed to just fall apart after their inspired win over the Bruins in the second round.

Who to watch for

For me, I expected Marian Gaborik of the LA Kings to have much more of an impact against the Blackhawks, but found he was surprisingly quiet. I doubt we will see the same thing this series when he comes up against his former team who traded him to Columbus before he wound up with the kings, expect him to start racking up the goals early if only to rub it in the faces of his past teammates.

Also expect Conn Smyth favourite D-Man Drew Doughty and (hot) Center Anze Kopitar to continue being as dangerous as they have been pervious rounds.

Jonathan Quick is tricky, when he is good, he is very very good. But when he has a meltdown, it can be spectacular. If the Rangers manage to rattle his cage enough for a meltdown, they could get away with a couple of wins this series. Quick rarely has difficulties two games in a row though so I doubt he will be the deciding factor.

For NY, Martin St. Louis will remain stoic as he plays for the Cup with his recently passed Mother on his mind. St.Louis, who was acquired by the Rangers this year has been brilliant since the loss of his mother, and his teammates have rallied around him and shown what a close team they are throughout. I expect this will continue to have some impact during the final series as the Rangers know what we know – they are the underdog.

Rick Nash seems to have found form as the post season progresses, NY will need him to be physical and accurate if they are to stand a chance against the Kings.

King Lundqvist. Need I say more. The Rangers will only stand a chance if he is nothing short of a brick wall.

So who ya got?

It is no secret that the Western Conference is a much deeper Conference and that the Kings had a much tougher task to make it to the finals. Their physically demanding run to the finals will likely show, and I expect them to drop a game early.

The times the Kings looked most vulnerable against the Blackhawks were when the Hawks forced the play to be speedy. If the Rangers, who are a very fast team, can keep the game fast and physical, it would definitely be an advantage to them.

Nonetheless, I have the LA Kings in 6.