Tag Archives: Notre Dame

“Weekly Nickel”

One of the NBA's All Time Greatest Coaches, Jerry Sloan (pictured above), has the Jazz at the top of the West. Are the Jazz a real deal contender?

The College Football regular season is all but finished.  People got their dream BCS National Championship which will pit Auburn versus Oregon.  Also, people got to see the Steelers go to work last evening and they once again showed America that all they do is “Win, Win, Win, Win.”  So I will admit, this week will be a little weird without a full slate of College Football games.  It is the first time since early September actually.

But here is a look into the excitement in store for this upcoming week.

5.  In the NHL, the season is slightly past the quarter marker, and the League’s two best players seem to be leading their teams to an epic Eastern Conference Finals Showdown.  Tune in this week and watch Pittsburgh and Washington continue to ride their stars toward deep playoff runs.

4.  Jayson Werth has signed with the Nationals.  Lance Berkman will return to the NL Central, but this time as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Captain will remain in the Pinstripes for at least 3 more years.  And the Red Sox are on the cusp of a major deal.  Could Adrian Gonzalez land in Boston?  This will be a huge pickup for the Bo Sox and really aid in picking up their offensive production.  The million dollar question still remains though.  Where is Cliff Lee, Mr. October himself, going to end up?  Also there is a guy named Carl Crawford that can run a little bit who is available out of Tampa.

3.  College Basketball is starting to heat up as teams continue to prep for big time conference play.  There are a good few major non conference matchups.  Here is a closer look.

Tuesday:

Memphis at Kansas:  This duel between top 20 foes should be very exciting.  In this rematch of the National Title Game of a few years ago, each squad looks to make a major statement and pick up a big time non conference win.  It is a shame that Kansas Freshman phenom Josh Selby will not be eligible for this one.

Michigan State at Syracuse:  A matchup between two of College Basketball perennial forces.  Two programs that have really been at the forefront of the game for the past decade.  Also, these are two programs led by two of the best coaches in America.  Which squad will come out victorious as each not only fights for a big non conference win and to maintain their top ten ranking, but each are looking to make a statement about their conference.  This game should help in the debate about which conference is the best in America, the Big Ten, or the Big East.

Wednesday:

Notre Dame vs Kentucky:  What a game this should be.  Notre Dame has been a pleasant surprise so far and looks to maintain their undefeated record vs their first ranked opponent of the season.  Sadly for the Fighting Irish, they get to take on a Kentucky team that is coming off a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Tar Heels.  This should be a very high scoring affair between two teams that can really put the ball in the basket.

Thursday:

Butler at Xavier:  A matchup between the two top “Mid Major” programs in America.  So what if both teams are off to a slower start out of the gates than most expected.  Both teams always find a way to sneak into March, and I expect nothing different this year.  Also last year, Butler beat the Musketeers on one of the most controversial calls I have ever witnessed in my life.  Will the Muskies have lady luck on their side this time and pick up a much-needed non conference victory over a solid opponent?  The home court advantage could really help XU in this one.

Saturday:

Tennessee at Pittsburgh:  A game that pits two top 20, undefeated squads.  The Vols have looked awesome thus far and already have knocked off a top 10 Big East foe this year.  Freshman, Tobias Harris, and seasoned vet Scotty Hopson have been simply awesome in the early going.  Can Pittsburgh continue to ride their very experienced group and amazing rebounding ability to another big time non conference victory?  This game should be close from start to finish.

2.  The NBA Bus rolls on.  The Knicks are over 500 and have won 4 straight games.  Plus the team that was “too old,” San Antonio, sports the League’s best record.  It is the NBA and you got to love it.

Some of the marquee matchups for the week.

Monday:

Oklahoma City at Chicago:  Two of the League’s best teams go to war in the Windy City.  Who is a better young point guard, Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose?  Take your pick because both guys are capable of taking over a ball game at any time.

Wednesday:

Miami at Utah:  The South Beach Show travels to Utah to take on a surprise Utah team that is really showing the power of team basketball.  Jerry Sloan is one of the League’s all time great coaches, and this year, he is putting on one of his best performances. 

Thursday:

Orlando at Portland:  Yes, I realize that Portland is under 500, but they are always dangerous.  The year is still young, and Portland could really gain some confidence in knocking off the team sporting the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference.

Friday:

Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago:  It is always fun to watch two first place teams get together.  Neither of these teams are off to as stellar of a start as expected, but both are definite contenders in their respective conferences.  Look for Kobe to provide some fireworks in this one.

Atlanta at San Antonio:  Can the talented boys out of ATL show the “old men” of San Antonio a lesson?  San Antonio has been outstanding all season and are really a remarkable story.

Orlando at Utah:  Two of the League’s best go to battle in Salt Lake City.  This is a definite game that I would love to tune in and watch.  Could this be a possible preview of the Finals?

Saturday:

Utah at Dallas:  Both of these mainstays in the West continue to win each and every  year.  It never gets old watching two of the best and most consistent franchises in basketball go head to head.

1.  We enter Week 14 of the NFL Season.  Real football weather is here.  And all teams are getting ready for the stretch run.  Next week’s lineup features two great matchups. 

New England at Chicago:  Two of the best teams meet at Soldier Field.  I will tell you that I would much rather watch this one from the couch.  It will be bitterly cold.

Kansas City at San Diego:  The amazing AFC West race continues.  Can the Chargers rebound and pick up a must win vs KC?

So there you have events to look for regarding the sporting stratosphere for this week.  Make sure to take it all in.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Week 5: A Midseason Championship Week?”

Florida Freshman, Trey Burton (pictured above on the right) is bringing back memories of Gator legend, Tim Tebow (pictured above on the left). Could this stellar freshman be the difference maker against Alabama on Saturday?

Folks, major conference play is getting under way or right around the corner for most.  Now we are hitting October football.  This is where the games really heat up, even though the weather is beginning to cool down.  Injuries are taking its toll on teams, but the best teams will continue to find ways to win.

I will state this right now.  Week 5 will be live.

Texas vs Oklahoma:  The Red River Rivalry is one of the best games College Football has to offer year in and year out.  And let’s be honest, it is in essence, a midseason Big 12 Championship game (normally).  Though Nebraska has looked just as good or better than both of these formidable squads, this game will go a long way in determining who wins the mighty Big 12 in its last year as the normal Big 12.  Texas is coming off of a horrible home loss to a decent UCLA game.  This loss really shocked the country and showed Texas to have some big time holes this year.  I will admit though, Mack Brown demonstrating great sportsmanship and gave UCLA all the credit in the world, putting the blame on him and his team’s shoulders.  Got to respect that.  Oklahoma barely escaped in a game that they should have lost to Cincinnati, the best 1 and 3 team in the country.  Oklahoma has grinded out close games in 3 of their 4 victories this year.  This team is extremely talented and athletic, though they are lacking much to be desired in the discipline department.   I know the age-old rule is that actual talent can get thrown out the window when it comes to big time rivalry games, but this year, the talent will be the difference.  Oklahoma is head and shoulders better than Texas and will win this game by at least 14 points.  Oklahoma, in their only other game against a big time ranked opponent (FSU), looked like a juggernaut and ran the overmatched Seminoles off the field.  Expect more of the same on Saturday as the combination of Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles continues to shred opposing defenses.

Wisconsin vs Michigan State:  Welcome to a big time brawl in the Big Ten folks.  These two old rivals do not have the greatest of relationships.  Though it is heartwarming to hear that Coach Dantonio will still be able to play a role in the game from the booth for the mighty Spartans.  Michigan State has looked tough this year, though they could have easily been defeated by Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish.  Wisconsin, though they struggled vs Arizona State 2 weeks ago, put up a stunning 70 points last weekend.  This offense is lethal.  The defense is solid, and I think the vaunting Badger rushing attack will prove to be too much for the Spartans on this day.  Michigan State is close to breaking into the elite ranks of College Football, but Greg Jones and the defense will struggle stopping John Clay all day on the way to a tough loss.  I got the Badgers by 3 on the road in this one.

Florida at Alabama:  This is probably the best game of the entire weekend, and maybe even the entire year.  The two best coaches with the two best teams the SEC has to offer battling it out in front of a National Audience.  This game represents what College Football is all about.  Saban vs Meyer.  Talk about an amazing matchup of elite coaches.  Many feel that the Tide will “Roll” against the Gators as they did last year in this one.  And I say not so fast.  The Gators looked to be gaining back their offensive swagger last week against Kentucky and will surprise the Tide with their stellar freshman Trey Burton.  The kid reminded me of a young Tim Tebow last week, accounting for 6 TDs.  There is a reason why no team has ever repeated as BCS National Champions in the BCS era.  There are just too many good teams in College Football, especially in the SEC.  Look for the Gators to pull the unthinkable upset, shocking Nick Saban, Mark Ingram, and the Crimson Tide.  I got Florida shocking the country, with a  3 point victory.

Stanford at Oregon:  In essence, this is the makeshift Pac 10 Championship.  Two very good teams battling it out on National Television.  Sound familiar to what we have going on in both the Big 12 and the SEC?  Against a fairly difficult schedule so far, the Cardinal has looked outstanding both offensively and defensively ranking among the nation’s elite.  This team can flat-out play, and really stepped onto the National scene with an old-fashioned butt whipping of Notre Dame last week.  Oregon on the other hand, may be the only team in the country that has ranked even better than Stanford both offensively and defensively.  This team has looked nearly invincible, other than during a minor lull against ASU last week.  So conventional wisdom would say to pick the home team.  And that is what I am going to do.  These are both great teams.  But I feel the speed and athleticism of the Ducks, mixed in with the home crowd will give them the edge.  Look for the Ducks to upend the Cardinal by 3 in a great football game.  LaMichael James may find his way onto the short list for the Heisman Trophy after this one.

So there you have it folks.  Week 5 has arguably the most exciting slate of games we will get all year.  In essence, there is a makeshift Big 12 Championship game, SEC Championship Game, and Pac 10 Championship Game.  I am not sure if you can ask for more excitement.  And the amazing thing, there are other great matchups that I had to leave off of this post.

Week 5 appears to be a “Midseason Championship Week” for half of the major BCS Bowl Conferences.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 2 Predictions”

It appears Michael Vick (pictured above), may be starting his first game since 2006 on Sunday. Does he still have the amazing athleticism that once made him the real "Human Highlight Reel?"

One week of the 17 week grind that is the NFL Regular Season has been completed.  Now we enter Week 2.  There is a little bit less mysteriousness to each squad.  There is a bit more familiarity and film to see what lays ahead.  But still, there are a ton of question marks.  A ton of teams looking to prove that Week 1 was a fluke, or for those teams that played well, that Week 1 was not a fluke.  Once again I go head to head with CV3 on picks.

Week 1 Results:  TheSportsKraze: 8             CV3:  9

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Steelers at Titans:  The Steelers proved me wrong last week.  But this week they are on the road with their young 3rd string quarterback in Dennis Dixon.  Not to mention they go up against the most dangerous running back in the NFL Chris Johnson.  Look for this to be a very competitive game, but expect CJ to be the game’s determining factor.  Titans by 3.

Dolphins at Vikings:  You think that Brett Favre and the Vikings like losing?  Now the Dolphins are a solid team, but you have to like Minnesota in their home opener.  The Vikings are a great all around team, that even though they played pretty awful in their opener, they were still in a position to beat the defending champs on the road.  Chad Henne, the former Wolverine, will struggle on the road against the outstanding pass rush of the very tough Viking’s defensive line.  Brandon Marshall, will have to make a couple of highlight reel plays to keep the boys from Miami in the game.  Though I think this game will be competitive most of the way, I got the Vikings by 10 at home.

Cardinals at Falcons:  Arizona is flying high after a big week one win at St. Louis.  Well not really.  They struggled against one of football’s worst teams and looked out of sorts for much of the game.  Other than a great 2nd quarter, and the phenomenal play of Steve Breaston, this team did not look like a team ready to make the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive year.  The Falcons on the other hand, nearly came away with a victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday.  And though their offense only mustered up 9 points, they were going against a whole different animal in the Steeler’s defense.  Look for Matt Ryan to connect with Roddy White early and often, and look for Michael Turner to have a big day on the ground.  I got the Falcons running away with this one by 13.

Ravens at Bengals:  This may be the marquee matchup of the weekend.  Two major AFC contenders and divisional rivals going head to head.  The Ravens surprised many with a major Monday Night win in New York.  While the Bengals shot their load in a bad loss to the New England Patriots.  This is a whole new week.  And expect to see a different Bengals defense, plus more of the offense you witnessed in the 2nd half of last week’s contest.  In the Marvin Lewis/Carson Palmer era, the Bengals are 9 and 5 against the Edgar Allen Poe Bad Boy Ravens.  I will state this though.  If the Bengals play like they did in the first half of last week’s game even for a quarter, the Ravens will throw the knockout punch early.  But I expect Mike Zimmer’s defense to play big time smash mouth defense, and Palmer’s offense to have a big day.  I got the Bengals by 3 in a nail biter.

Chiefs at Browns:  Can you say Jamaal Charles?  Teams have a history of big days on the ground versus the Browns over the years.  Well this game will be no different.  And though the Browns sport the best return man in football, Josh Cribbs, the Chiefs are not too shabby themselves with rookie Dexter McCluster.  The Chiefs were a team that I said would surprise people this year and sneak their way to a pretty solid season. They definitely turned some heads last week with a major upset victory over San Diego.  Look for the Chiefs to be 2 and 0 at the end of Sunday.  I got KC by 9 over Cleveland.

Bears at Cowboys:  Da Bears verse America’s team.  No big deal right?  Wrong.  Both of these teams have a lot to prove after weak performances in Week 1.  The Bears escaped against the Lions on a very controversial call.  I will state that I thought it was a completed pass to Calvin Johnson.  And the Cowboys helped the Redskins shock the world.  By beating themselves.  This week will be different.  Jerry Jones, will not let another team full of big time talent, choke away the season already.  Look for the Cowboys to come out with a vengeance and expect Miles Austin to have another big day.  Cowboys by 13 running away with this one.

Eagles at Lions:  Michael Vick to start again?  I feel like it is 2006 all over again.  Talk about a time warp.  Well both of these teams surprised many with their Week 1 performances.  Though the Lions have weapons with guys like Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best.  Without their former number 1 draft pick, quarterback Matt Stafford (injured), the Tryin Lions will not get to taste victory for the first time this season.  I got Michael Vick leading the Eagles to a 3 point victory in Detroit.

Bills at Packers:  Buffalo heads to Cheesehead Country.  Well it will not be a pleasant visit.  This is the game that I feel could end up with the most lopsided outcome of this week’s batch of contests.  The Bills are one of the worst teams in football in my eyes, while the Packers are perhaps the most well-rounded.  Look for Aaron Rodgers to make up for last week’s 2 interceptions with a 4 TD performance.  Green Bay get excited, as your boys begin the year 2 and 0.  I got Green Bay by 17. 

Buccaneers at Panthers:  Neither of these teams looked great in their openers.  Tampa escaped against a weak Cleveland team, while the Panthers were torched by the G Men.  This game will be close from the start, with two teams that are towards the bottom tier of the League.  At least we may get to see former Notre Dame big shot, Jimmy Clausen, start his first game in the NFL.  Believe me, it won’t matter.  Buccaneers by 6 in a matchup of two bottom feeders.

Seahawks at Broncos:  Seattle may have pulled off the biggest surprise of Week 1.  They absolutely killed the hot pick in the NFC West, the 49ers, relentlessly.  Matt Hassleback demonstrated great management skills at the QB position, while defensive back, Marcus Trufant, led the D to an outstanding performance.  The Broncos on the other hand, surprised many including myself, with a tough loss to the Jaguars.  2 key turnovers killed them last week, and could once again hurt them this week.  Kyle Orton threw for nearly 300 yards, going to Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royals with a great frequency.  Well the Seattle defense is much tougher than Jacksonville’s, or at least they looked like it last week.  I got the Seahawks continuing to surprise and moving to 2 and 0 with a 6 point victory in Denver.

Rams at Raiders:  This is a matchup that I could never tune into unless forced.  Two of the worst teams in the NFL going head to head.  There is really nothing appealing about this one in any way unless you are a Rams or Raiders fan.  I think the difference in this one will be Jason Campbell’s mediocre, yet steady play at quarterback.  I got the Raiders by 3 at home in a game that I do not recommend watching unless you are a fan of either squad.

Texans at Redskins:  Arian Foster, the story of Week 1, takes the Texan’s show to Washington.  The way Houston was able to run the ball last week, and the passing attack we know they posses could cause major problems for Washington (or anybody for that matter).  Though Washington pulled off perhaps the 2nd biggest upset of Week 1 over America’s team, the Texans destroyed a very tough Colts team.  Look for Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson to stay hot in this one.  Texans by 10 in D.C.

Patriots at Jets:  This is a great matchup.  The AFC East favorites locking horns already?  Can the Jets recover from last week’s embarrassing offensive performance on Monday Night?  Can the Patriots continue to play outstanding?  My brain is telling me to pick the Pats in this one, but I got the Jets.  Sanchez must wake up to give his team a chance though.  The Jets tenacious defense will force Randy Moss onto Revis Island, and the Jets will win this thriller by 1 point.

Jaguars at Chargers: Both of these teams surprised in Week 1.  The Jaguars surprised with a win, while the Chargers surprised with a loss.  Well, do not expect San Diego to fall to 0 and 2.  Especially since they are at home in this game.  Norv Turner has led this team to the playoffs every year he has been with them for a reason.  They have a tradition of starting slow, having started under 500 through their first 5 games for 3 straight years.  But they will take care of business this week.  I got SD by 7 at home.

Giants at Colts:  I feel bad for the G Men coming off a big time performance last week.  They are now facing an angry Colt’s team.  And you know what that means?  An angry and motivated Peyton Manning.  Not what you want to hear as an opponent.  Though the Giants are a very good team, good luck in going into Lucas Oil and knocking off Peyton’s Colts coming off of a loss.  I got the Colts by 10 in this one.

Saints at 49ers:  Two popular picks to bring home their respective divisions.  Though I believe the 49ers are much better than what they showed last week, they are playing the defending champs on Prime Time now.  Drew Brees, fresh off his debut appearance on the hit television show “Entourage” thrives on the big stage.  Sorry San Fran.  An 0 and 2 start will not be the end to your season in a weak NFC West by any means.  Saints by 9 in this one.

CV3’s Picks:

FALCONS over Cardinals by 6- Look for the Falcons offense to have a much better week after facing off with the Steelers. Both teams are playing at a similar level but the home field advantage and Falcon D should be enough to edge the Falcons over the Cardinals.

EAGLES  over Lions by 14- No Stafford, no win.

PACKERS over Bills by 10- Packers will roll at home with their offense, even without Ryan Grant. Look for the back-up Brandon Jackson to have a good day. Packers will be one of the teams with an early season winning streak.

Browns over Chiefs by 3- The Chiefs didn’t produce a whole lot when you look at the stats last week. The Browns can match the Chiefs on special teams and defense so I think the Browns have the edge if Delhomme plays. If not it is up in the air with two similar teams.

Cowboys over Bears by 10- The Boys should be embarrassed by their performance against the Skins last week. Jerry Jones will not let that happen in Jerry World. Look for the Cowboys to gel on offense and win a shootout against Jay Cutler and Mike Martz. 

Vikings over Dolphins by 6- Vikings are hungry for the W after a repeat loss to the Saints. They are playing at home and they will most likely stick to the run, as opposed to last week. AP should have a decent day with at least 2 TD’s in this one.

Titans over Steelers by 3- The Steeler’s D will not allow Chris Johnson to run all over them. I believe he will get to 100 yards but it will take about 25 carries. This should be another low scoring one with a good Steeler’s D and a stagnant Steeler’s offense. Unless for some reason DD comes alive the Titans offense will prevail.

Broncos over Seahawks by 8- The Broncos will have a good offensive showing in this one. Last week the Seahawks shut down a poor offense that has trouble throwing the ball. This week Orton will pick through their D with a lot of short “West-Coast” style passes. The Seahawks are on the rise but will take a loss in this one.

Panthers over Buccos by 6- I don’t believe either team will be close to the playoffs but I give the advantage to the Panthers in this one solely on the home field advantage. Last week the home teams won 75% of the games.

Raiders over Rams by 1- These two are pretty evenly matched but again I give it to the home team. I think Bradford will show flashes of a future star but he will fall short again in this one. The Raiders offense should get a boost if Michael Bush is able to play this week. He is a big bruiser that will open up the game for McFadden. Plus if the Raiders are going to win a few games this season you would think St. Louis would one of the few they will beat.

Patriots over Jets by 10- This one will not be very close. The Jets coaching staff showed that Mark Sanchez clearly isn’t ready for the big time game yet. They had no confidence in him and limited him to the short game. The short game is what the Patriots are best at. The Jets D has taken a big hit looking Jenkins and I don’t think they will be able to hang with the Patriot’s high-flying offense that resembles 2007 already.

Jags over Chargers by 3- Last week the Chargers showed that something is clearly off in their organization. I doubt it is a quick fix. The Jags just saw the mighty Colts go down and have some extra motivation now that they realize the Colts can be beat. Unless Rivers can rally his team, the Chargers will struggle again.

Texans over Redskins by 9- WOW… This Texans team is scary! I wouldn’t want to play ‘em.

Colts over Giants by 7- Big brother will show why he is still big brother in this one. Peyton is at home and they are angry. He will not miss a beat in this one. Look for a three or four touchdown performance by him in this one. Little Eli will have to wait another year before he gets to take down big bro.

Saints over 49ers by a lot- Hmm… the tough 49er’s D was not so tough against the Seahawks. I think we know what will happen in this one. The defending champs will show why they are the defending champs.

Bengals over Ravens by 5- I do not have much faith in Bratkowski but if he comes out flat (not using the no huddle) then he should be fired. He should have been gone a while ago but Mr. Brown won’t let that happen. If he cannot recognize how effective that offense was last week (in the no huddle) then he deserves no spot in the NFL. Everyone knows what the Raven’s D is capable of but their offense is not very productive. The Bengals are angry and ready to react (not think) on defense. Playing at home against a division rival, I’m taking the Bengals in this one.

Can I begin to catch up to CV3 this week?  Feel free to post your picks in the comments and see how you stack up.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Week 2: Monster Saturday”

The last time the Hurricanes and Buckeyes matched up was in the legendary 2002 National Championship Game. Could Miami get revenge in Columbus on Saturday?

  Though the NFL is underway, College Football is already heating up with a big time Week 2.  People are calling it “Monster Saturday.”  And it is sure to be a day that fans will remember in this young season.  Each week I am going to pick 3 to 5 of the marquee matchups, give you my predicted winner, and some brief thoughts.  

So the matchups of Week 2’s “Monster Saturday” are as follows:  

Georgia at South Carolina:  This is big time SEC matchup with two of the best coaches in the country going head to head.  My gut has been saying all week that Georgia can come in and take care of business in Gamecockville.  But my mind is saying to go with the home team.  And that is what I am going to do.  Both of these teams looked great against powder puff opponents in Week 1 (typical SEC move).  But the lack of AJ Green will hurt the Bulldogs.  Steve Spurrier is going to ride freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore to a major early season conference victory.  Look for this game to go down to the wire, but expect the Gamecocks to pull it out.  

Florida State at Oklahoma:  What a non conference matchup this is.  Talk about two teams showing balls and taking a risk playing a big time non conference foe.  You got to love it.  Christian Ponder looks outstanding and extremely poised in the pocket.  I guess that is what 3 years as a starter does for you.  Also do not sleep on Greg Reid returning punts.  Special teams always have a large effect on the outcome of big time games.  Florida State is starting to trek towards resembling the Seminoles of old.  But Oklahoma is no slouch either.  Now I know they looked pitiful in their opener.  But maybe it was a good thing to play a close football game already (not really)?  But DeMarco Murray is the most explosive player on the field when healthy.  Ryan Broyles is ready to break out and be considered with the best wide receivers in the country.  And Landry Jones, well, he will get better.  Though I feel Florida State is a very solid team that could make some noise in the ACC, I got the Sooners running away with this one at home.  Look for DeMarco Murray to make his presence felt and launch himself into the Heisman discussion (if he wasn’t already)   

Miami at Ohio State:  This is the game the whole country has been waiting for.  A rematch of the 2002 hotly debated National Championship game.  An instant classic.  Jacory Harris and the U looked like they had the swagger of the old U last weekend.  Ohio State did not look to shabby themselves.  But this is a whole new ball game.  The athleticism on both sides of the ball will be amazing in this one.  Also, this game matches up two of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country (though their styles in the past have been contrasting). Jacory has tended to stay in the pocket though, while Terrelle has always been big on using his legs to gain first downs.  Pryor appears to be transforming in front of our eyes though and is utilizing his intelligence and arm, rather than his legs now.  It has been an amazing transformation.  If this game was being played in Miami, I would give the Hurricanes a chance.  But it is no easy task to come into the Horseshoe and win a ball game.  Even Lebron James will be there, “staying true to his roots” and rooting for the Buckeyes.  I got Ohio State in a very entertaining affair.  

Michigan at Notre Dame:  Talk about history right?  These are your number 1 and 2 ranked programs all time in winning percentage.  Plus they are number 1 and 3 in all time wins.  This rivalry began in 1887 with some Wolverine dominance.  Eventually Notre Dame caught on to the game that people call football.  There have been two major hiatus in this rivalry, but this will be match up number 38.  Anyways, this game finally has some meaning for the first time since probably 2006.  Both teams looked very impressive in their first games and look to be on track towards having solid seasons.  There is one major newcomer to this rivalry though.  And that is Brian Kelly.  This coach has brought with him a whole plethora of tricks and winning knowledge.  Not to mention an excitement that South Bend has been lacking for the past few years.  Look for Notre Dame to have too much offense in this one, and win a tough game against the rival Wolverines.  South Bend will already be praising BK’s name at the end of this one.  I will state though, a victory for Rich Rodriguez in this clash would go a long way towards taking him off the hot seat in Ann Arbor. 

Penn State at Alabama:  Big Ten vs SEC.  Same old story right?  Sadly, in this case yes.  Even if Mark Ingram does not play, Alabama will prove to be too much for an overrated Penn State team.  I guess having Richardson is a plus for Coach Nick Saban.  Outside of Evan Royster and the emerging senior Brett Brackett at receiver, this Penn State team will be vastly overmatched.  Going into Bama with a Freshman quarterback?  Can you say “Roll Tide Roll?”  I do not care if Alabama has some question marks on defense, they are still mighty fast.  Sadly, I see this game being a blowout, but maybe Penn State will hang around for a while.  

So there you have “Monster Saturday.”  You got to love the Fall.  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.  

-TheSportsKraze  

“Welcome To College Football”

One of the major stories in College Football this year deals with how Brian Kelly, the former University of Cincinnati Head Coach, handles the pressure of leading the charge in South Bend.

Tonight, another College Football season kicks off with 18 different games around the country.  Let the BCS Madness begin baby.  Here are the main storylines for the year in my eyes.

– Can Alabama “roll” to a 2nd consecutive National Title?

Though Alabama is returning nearly their entire offense, which features future NFL players like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones, the SEC is a conference that teams live and die on their defensive units.  Bama is returning just 2 starters from their vaunted defensive squad of a year ago.  In the end, I feel like this team will have a great year, but come up just short due to a lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball.  Also realize that no team has ever repeated as National Champion in the 12 year BCS era.  It is no easy task.

– Can Terrelle Pryor live up to the hype and bring home the first Heisman to Columbus since Troy Smith, in 2006?

This storyline will also be very key in determining if the Buckeyes can bring home their first National Title since 2002.  They have the defense to do it.  It is all a matter of if Terrelle Pryor can lead the offense to playing at a National Championship level.  There is no rhyme or reason why I or anyone else in America believes in this guy. His stats in his two-year stint in Columbus have been nowhere near a Heisman level.  In actuality, they have been quite less than flattering.  But the “swagger” of Terrelle Pryor has led me to believe that he can vault to a Heisman Trophy level of play and lead the Buckeyes to the BCS National Title Game.

– Can Boise State be the first non BCS Conference team to bring home a BCS National Title?

First of all, this team went undefeated a year ago.  They are returning every starter on both sides of the ball except graduated cornerback, Kyle Wilson.  Kellen Moore, who threw for over 3500 yards and had a TD to Interception ratio of 39 to 3 is back.  This team is the real deal.  And with the non conference schedule they have put together, “if” they go undefeated, they deserve a shot to play for the National Championship as much as anyone.  But also realize that they are opening up with the Virginia Tech Hokies.  Led by legendary coach Frank Beamer, the Hokies feature perhaps the best rushing attack in the country.  Sadly for Boise, I see them losing in Week 1, but this team is definitely the real deal and has a definite chance to play in Arizona for the National Championship if they go undefeated.

– Coaching in South Bend is like coaching the Yankees in Major League Baseball.  The pressure is at an all time high every day.  The media and fan base are unforgiving and cold. Can Brian Kelly handle the heat better than some of his predecessors?

Brian Kelly is perhaps the most charismatic coach in America.  He is a phenomenal salesman and says all the right things.  If you have ever heard the expression, “You talk like a man with a paper asshole,” though I am not 100 percent sure what this means, I think it would be the perfect away to describe BK.  Brian Kelly not only is smooth off the field though, he produces on the field.  This guy won two National Titles at Grand Valley State.  He completely turned around an abysmal Central Michigan program and captured a MAC Championship.  Then he went to Cincinnati and made the city believers in Bearcat football.  During his three-year reign, he won 10 or more games all three years (had not won 10 games in a season in Cincinnati since 1951), two Big East Championships, and sent them to two BCS Bowl games.  Coach Kelly has always been known as a mastermind of the spread offense.  He will provide fireworks in South Bend with a high-flying, aerial spread attack.  But also realize that his partner in crime and his right hand man for nearly 20 years, Jeff Quinn, is now the head coach at Buffalo University.  Can BK still put together an offense that puts up 40 plus points a game without his old running mate?  Well I will tell you this, Notre Dame has probably their easiest schedule in the past 10 years.  These guys could rise back to prominence real fast.  Do not be surprised to see a 9 or 10 win season.

– Will an SEC team bring home a 5th consecutive BCS National Championship?

In my eyes, it is a no brainer that this is the best and most elite conference in College Football yet again.  No conference really can touch the coaches, the talent, and the overall speed that this conference demonstrates top to bottom.  There is a reason why the SEC generally plucks players from the Southeast region, with the vast majority of 4 and 5 star recruits coming from this talent rich region.  Why wonder away from home?  But I will state this.  I believe this is the year that a non SEC school wins the National Title.  I feel it is time for the Buckeyes to break through in a National Championship game.  It is a gut feeling, but still expect this conference to be the best in the land again.

– Herbies vs the Forde Dash?

Kirk Herbstreit and Pat Forde are both fantastic at what they do.  They are well-known analysts for ESPN who do an absolutely outstanding job.  They both recently released some of their big thoughts on this upcoming College Football season.  Kirk Herbstreit put out the Herbies while Pat Forde put out the Forde Dash.  The edge in my eyes goes to the Herbies.  Though the Forde Dash is a cool name, the Herbies was easier to follow and I agreed with more of the predictions.  But it was a very tough call.

Welcome to College Football folks.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Leinart vs Young Part?”

Vince Young shocked the world in January of 2006 when he defeated Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and the mighty USC Trojans. Last night, he once again showed why he owns Matt Leinart.

Last evening, America got to witness a familiar sight.  A blast from the past.  Matt Leinart and Vince Young were once again competing on the football field.  Different times with much different personnel, but a very similar result.  Now I realize it was just a preseason game, and it is hard to judge much from these “pretend” games as many like to call them. But Young once again demonstrated why he has, and will most likely continue to be, the better pro quarterback than Leinart.

I will admit, I, along with most of the rest of the America (outside of Texas), was all about the Matt Leinart and the USC bandwagon 5 years ago.  I figured there was no way that Vince Young, and a very strong Longhorns team could beat the seemingly “professional” (little did we know) looking team out of USC.  The Trojans were invincible.  Outside of a minor hiccup against Notre Dame (USC still won the game), there never appeared to even be a chink in the Trojan armor.  I was very surprised when Young finished 2nd in the Heisman Voting that year ahead of Matt Leinart.  But who really cared?  Leinart was projected to be the better pro QB by the Mel Kiper’s of the world and was on his way to a second consecutive National Title.  Or so we thought…

Welcome to the 2005 BCS National Championship.  Seemingly a home affair for the heavily favored Trojans in Pasadena.  USC was leading late in the game and Matt Leinart was putting up another strong performance.  But the real story of the game was the amazing play of Vince Young.  The guy accounted for 467 total yards of offense, which is a mark that has never been touched by another player in a BCS National Championship game.  Not to mention he led his team to 41 points against a very tough USC defense.  How didn’t this guy win the Heisman Trophy, I, and many other people wondered?  Either way, late in the 4th, Young scampered into the end zone past a diving Frostee Rucker to secure the stunning upset victory for Texas.  It was the end of a Trojan dynasty.  And little did we know, not only was this the beginning of the end for the program, but it was also the end of Matt Leinart as we knew it. 

In 3 years as the Trojan starter, Leinart threw for over 30 TDs and less than 10 INTs each year.  He also completed over 63% of his passes, won a National Title, and won a Heisman Trophy.  Vince Young also was a starter at Texas for 3 seasons.  In his first 2 years as the starter, he threw for 18 TDs and 18 INTs.  Very modest numbers to say the least.  But he was still finding ways to lead the Longhorns to victories.  Do realize that he rushed for a combined 2,074 yards in these first 2 years as the starter as well.  He was not your prototypical NFL pocket assassin.  As a senior though, his game began to gel on all cylinders.  He threw for 26 TDs and only 10 INTs.  He also rushed for 1,050 yards and 12 TDs.  The man was doing it all.  Looking reminiscent of Michael Vick at Virginia Tech.  Well the BCS National Championship Game marked the end of an era for Leinart.  And apparently the beginning of a new era for Vince Young. 

Come April 29th, 2006, NFL Draft Day. Mel Kiper had been stressing for months what a great class that was coming out.  Guys like Reggie Bush, Mario Williams, AJ Hawk,  and how there were 2 can’t miss QB prospects.  The draft started out with a major debate as the Texans took defensive end Mario Williams rather than “Heisman Trophy” winner Reggie Bush (appears to have been the right decision now).  Following this, Vince Young was the 3rd overall selection, while Matt Leinart fell to 10th overall.  I was in disbelief.  Leinart had the look of a big time NFL quarterback and had all the tools.  He was 6 foot 5, had a strong-arm, a pocket presence, and had that Tom Brady like moxy, or so it seemed.  Vince Young reminded me of Michael Vick.  And  guys like Michael Vick could get teams victories in the League, but guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were the pocket guys that could bring teams Super Bowls.  Sure Vince Young would be fun to watch I thought, but Leinart would be the one hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy in a February within the next few years.  Boy was I wrong.

Now I will admit that neither of these guys have panned out to be superstars.  But it appears Young just needed some time to adjust to the pro game and is slowly but surely becoming a solid NFL quarterback.  Leinart on the other hand, not so much.  For Leinart’s career, he has played in 29 total games over a 4 year stretch, throwing 14 TDs and 20 INTs.  His passer rating has been a very subpar 70.8.  Young on the other hand has played in 45 games, throwing for 32 TDs and 39 INTs.  His passer rating has been an also subpar 72.3.  But he is a guy on the rise.  A guy who brought Tennessee back from the dead last season.  Leinart on the other hand has not shown any signs of improvement.

Will Young continue to soar into a star in this League while Leinart’s career continues to fizzle out and end in the near future? Or will these guys continue to compete for many more years to come in the NFL? 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

TheSportsKraze

“Friday Night Lights”

Blue Chip recruits such as former Princeton quarterback and now LSU running back Spencer Ware (pictured above) will be missed this year. But the talent pool is still deep as always and you better believe that the Friday Night Lights will still be as exciting as ever in Southwest Ohio.

With all of the commotion lately revolving around the outstanding play of the Reds and the beginning of a big year for the Bengals, many including myself have lost sight of something that we really pride ourselves on in Cincinnati, “The Friday Night Lights.”  High school football arrives this weekend with the usual Skyline Crosstown Showdown.  Games for this annual event will be played at Nippert Stadium (home of the Bearcats) and at St. Xavier High School’s beautiful football venue, Ballaban Field.

This is the 13th year of this major tradition in the tri state area, and this year features teams predominantly from the local area, but also a highly acclaimed Good Counsel High School squad coming in from Maryland.  In my eyes, this is the year after the “year.”  Sure last year was unusual for Southwest Ohio in that no local team won the State Championship.  The area has been spoiled in the past decade with numerous state champions coming from Region 4 (Southwest Ohio region).  But do not be surprised to see a local team reclaim the title back for the area.

Last year was a year that the tri state area was richer on Division 1 College talent than I can ever remember.  I mean the area was flat-out stacked.  Especially at the Quarterback position.  There were 4 big time quarterbacks in the area with 3 going to major Division 1 programs and the other going to a major NAIA school.  These top guns were Luke Massa (St X now heading to Notre Dame), Andrew Hendrix (Moeller now heading to Notre Dame), Spencer Ware (Princeton now heading to LSU), and Mark Miller (Elder now heading to Ohio Dominican).  Not to mention the local area featured one of the top 5 rated offensive lineman in the country (Matt James who was headed to Notre Dame) and the overall number 1 rated linebacker in the country (according to most polls, Jordan Hicks heading to Texas).  I mean the area was simply amazing.  And though this year does not include nearly the amount of high-profile names, you better believe it will be another exciting year.  Here are some reasons why:

1.  High school football in Cincinnati is always exciting.  It is always the “it” thing to do on Friday nights.  The UC Bearcat football boys mainly play on Saturdays and the Bengals mainly play on Sundays.  So for football hungry Cincinnati, why not go out and watch the next generation of stars?

2.  The level is outstanding in Ohio.  Football in Ohio is widely regarded as one of the country’s elite consistently producing many Division 1 players and consistently putting teams into all of the National Ranking polls.  There is a reason why Ohio teams have dominated the Kirk Herbstreit Classic since the idea came to fruition a few years back.  Ohio says bring on the rest of the country.  We will teach them what high school football is like in the Buckeye State.  For those of you who do not know, the Kirk Herbstreit Classic is an annual event that has Ohio teams play against top high school programs from all over the country.

3.  Though I hate to say it, we feature the Greater Catholic League (GCL).  This league has consistently put out some of the country’s elite teams for years now.  And though at times I and many others feel like these schools have an unfair advantage over the public schools, they do produce some pretty strong teams every year.  The discipline of these kids is absolutely amazing and is a testament to great coaching.  Do not forget that legendary College Coach Urban Meyer got his start handling the defensive backs job at St. Xavier.

4.  Colerain is full of outstanding talent this year.  The public school power is looking to atone for a very unusual absence from the Ohio State playoffs.  Be on the lookout for this team to really make some noise this upcoming season.  Featuring major Division 1 talents such as Tyler Williams, Traylon Durham, Jarret Grace, Andrew Smith, and Chris Dukes.  These guys are simply loaded and will wow fans with their amazing triple option attack.

5.  The GCL South is really up for grabs this year.  All 4 of the teams are expected to be tough as usual.  But for once, the favorite appears to be the Lasalle Lancers.  Lasalle has traditionally been the doormat for this conference in football for some time now.  This year though, they boast a quarterback heading into his 3rd year as a starter.  You better believe this Andrew Kummer kid (the QB) will come in very handy late in games during the major pressure situations that define GCL Football.

6.  And this is my final reasoning.  Do not act like you have something better to do between 7 and 10 on Friday nights.  Go watch your current institution or your alma mater.  We are very fortunate to have an amazing level of high school football in Southwest Ohio.  Not to mention games typically cost 3 to 5 dollars to get into.  So take advantage of the opportunity that has been given to you.

Friday Night Lights are back baby.  Can a Southwest Ohio school bring back the state title crown?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze