Sunday, December 21, 2003

More college sports blogs


Checking to see if there were more college athletic blogs, other than GT Sports, previously mentioned, we find to our surprise that there are more college sports blogs out there:

The HuskyBlog.com having the motto "The Hoop and No Harm..." is dedicated to the top-rated basketball - men's and women's - of the Connecticut Huskies.
The Connectucut men's tem has been strengthened immensely by the recent addition of Charlie Villanueva - who has averaged over 15 points per game for the last three games (since his addition to the team).


The blue devils fan blog is a "site for the fans of the Duke blue devils basketball team".

Georgia Tech Sports Blog


GT Sports, the Georgia Tech Sports Blog has the following motto: "A weblog dedicated to following Georgia Tech Sports. It is run by a group of sarcastic but caring GT alumni."

To our knowledge, this is the first blog devoted to the sports of a specific university and we think this blog is a pioneer in what we expect to be standard practice in the coming years, i.e. blogs and bloggers covering the athletics of individual colleges.

The blog is nicely done and if you wanted to keep up on Georgia Tech athletics, this would be the place to do it. Well done!

Carroll College wins NAIA title


We called this one correctly as Carroll College won their second consecutive NAIA football championship title 41-28 over Northwestern Oklahoma State and finished the season 15-0.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Mount Union College - Johnnies Defeat Raiders In Stagg Bowl XXXI


Mount Union College - Johnnies Defeat Raiders In Stagg Bowl XXXI

What an upset!

St. John's of Minnesota broke the NCAA-record 55-game win streak of Mount Union in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on December 20, 2003 in Salem, Virginia.

Congratulations to Coach John Gagliardi for a job well done.

Read all about it here.

NCAA Division I-AA Championship - Delaware 40, Colgate 0 - December 19, 2003


We called this one correctly as Delaware won the NCAA Division I-AA national championship beating previously undefeated Colgate 40-0. See the Sports Illustrated online AP article "Settling it on the field: Delaware shuts out Colgate for first I-AA championship" at SI.com.

One of the interesting stories here is that Delaware coach K.C. Keeler was hired two years ago and came from Division III Rowan (Glassboro, New Jersey), the only team to beat Mount Union (Alliance, Ohio) and their coach Larry Kehres in the last seven years, so you know that Keeler is a good coach. Look for Delaware to be a strong contender for this championship every year in the near future as long as Keeler is coach.

Friday, December 19, 2003

NAIA Football Championship Game December 20, 2003

In his article Top-ranked Carroll, Mont., tries to finish season undefeated, Colin Fly of the AP writes about the upcoming NAIA Football Championship Game on Saturday, December 20, in Savannah, Tennesee, 12:05 p.m. (CST) between the defending champion Carroll College Fighting Saints (14-0) of Helena, Montana, and the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers (11-1) of Alva, Oklahoma, who were NAIA champions in 1999 and runners-up in 2000. Go there for more information. We call it for Carroll College 26-23.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS to end the 2003 SEASON (continued from previous postings)


These are remaining predictions for the College Football Bowl Games of the 2003 / 2004 season, here starting January 1, 2004 and ending January 4, 2004 (continued from previously posted bowl prognostications)

We forgot to call this one. Delaware plays Colgate in the NCAA Division I-AA championship in Chattanooga on Friday, December 19. Colgate has a 21-game winning streak on the line and the better defense. Delaware has a powerful offense. We call it for Delaware 28-21.

OUTBACK BOWL, Tampa, Florida, January 1, 2004, 11 a.m.
Iowa (9-3) vs. Florida (8-4)

Last year Michigan beat Florida 38-30. The Gators are favored by 3.5 points. Can Florida beat the Big 10 team this year? A good analysis of the teams is found at the Outback Bowl analysis here. Florida is led by nationally 52nd-ranked freshman QB Chris Leak. Iowa excels in team defense and has nationally 33rd-ranked running back Fred Russell to carry the ball behind All-America Robert Gallery as well as All-America kicker and 2002 Lou Groza Award winner Nate Kaeding (Kaeding was also a finalist for this award in 2003). If the game is close, Kaeding will decide the outcome, so we call it Iowa 23 Florida 22.

Toyota GATOR BOWL, Jacksonville, Florida, January 1, 2004, 12:30 p.m.
Maryland (9-3) vs. West Virginia (8-4)

Last year North Carolina State beat Notre Dame 28-6. Maryland is favored by 3.5 points. The Gator Bowl site has an opinion poll on the winner and at the time of this posting 71 percent of the votes thought that West Virginia would win this game. Maryland is in this bowl game in spite of losing to Northern Illinois to start the season in a game which the Huskies also dominated statistically. Still, Northern Illinois was left without a bowl game in spite of a 10-2 record and losses only to Bowling Green and Toledo and more non-conference wins over Alabama and Iowa State. We do think there is something wrong with the formula of bowl scheduling to keep a team like Northern Illinois out. Worse, Maryland and West Virginia already met in the regular season and we think that the bowl formula should prohibit rematches of teams in bowl games who played in the regular season - the same should be said for so-called conference championship games. Nobody wants to see repeat games.

In September, the Terps soundly beat the Mountaineers 34-7. After losing to Maryland, West Virginia barely lost to Miami of Florida 22-20 and won their last six games. There is no question that West Virginia is now a vastly improved team at the end of the third season of coach Rich Rodriguez. We still think Maryland has the defense to hold the Mountaineers and call it Maryland 27 West Virginia 20.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL, Orlando, Florida, January 1, 2004, 1 p.m.
Purdue (9-3) vs. Georgia (10-3)

Last year Auburn beat Penn State 13-9 so how will the SEC and Big 10 fare this year? Georgia is favored by 3 points over Purdue. Georgia lost to Florida this year and twice to LSU. Purdue lost to Ohio State, Michigan and Bowling Green. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA for defense, but football is a game of matchups, involving the relative strengths of the teams in various categories. Georgia is led by nationally 39th-ranked QB David Greene and defensive All-American Georgia defenders Thomas Davis, Sean Jones and David Pollack. Purdue is led by defensive end Shaun Phillips and defensive back Stuart Schweigert. The Boilermakers also have 29th-ranked quarterback Kyle Orton and wide receiver John Standeford. Purdue was beaten through the air in its three losses but will be difficult to beat through a running game. We give the edge to Georgia for this game because we think they can beat Purdue through the air, although they have trouble getting it into the end zone, but have a fine kicker in Billy Bennet, and call it for the Bulldogs 23-21, giving Georgia 3 field goals.

ROSE BOWL, Pasadena, California, January 1, 2004, 5 p.m.
USC (11-1) vs. Michigan (10-2)

Last year Oklahoma beat Washington State 34-14. This year this is the perfect game for the Rose Bowl, pitting the Big 10 champion against the Pac-10 champion, as in days of yore, prior to BCS. USC is favored by 6.5 points. However, USC has allowed a lot of points on the board against them this year so that their defense is suspect and their one loss to California was to a team much like Michigan, having a good passing game and a super running back. The Wolverines also sport a super running back in nationally Nr. 1-ranked Chris Perry as well as a solid passing game in the person of nationally 24th-ranked QB John Navarre. USC has three consensus All-Americans in nationally 4th-ranked wide receiver Mike Williams, offensive lineman Jacob Rogers and defensive lineman Kenechi Udeze. USC QB Matt Leinart is 16th-ranked nationally as a QB and came in 6th in the Heisman Trophy voting. Both Michigan losses were in games Michigan should have won but lost due to simple errors. If the coaches can keep their heads on straight at Michigan, this could be a great game and a win for Michigan against a somewhat overrated USC football team. We call it for the Wolverines against the Trojans 34-30.

FedEx ORANGE BOWL, Miami, Florida, January 1, 2004, 8:30 p.m.
Miami of Florida (10-2) vs. Florida State (10-2)

Last year USC defeated Iowa 38-17. This year we have an unfortunate replay of a game already held this year, which Miami won over Florida State 22-14 as the Seminoles' nationally 22nd-ranked quarterback Chris Rix had trouble penetrating the Miami pass defense. Surprisingly, the Seminoles are favored now to win by 3.5 points in spite of a late season loss to Clemson. The Hurricanes can boast of two consensus All-Americans in tight end Kellen Winslow and safety Sean Taylor. Nationally 5th-ranked Winslow also won the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football even though he only caught one TD pass this season. The entire Miami secondary around safety Sean Taylor is excellent and when the Seminoles must pass against a good secondary and can not run, as in their loss against Clemson, they lose. You can only beat Miami running, as Virginia Tech did soundly this year, 31-7, in throwing only 8 passes and completing 2. In the loss to Tennessee, the Vols QB went 11-18 in pass completions for a mere 81 yards and was sacked three times. But Florida State's forte is not rushing and so they are unlikely to win this game. We call it Miami 34 Florida State 21.

SBC COTTON BOWL, Dallas, Texas, January 2, 2004, 2 p.m.
Mississippi (9-3) vs. Oklahoma State (9-3)

Last year Texas defeated LSU 35-20. Mississippi is favored by 2.5 points at the time of this posting. The Mississippi Rebels are led by nationally 12th-ranked QB Eli Manning who won the 2003 Maxwell Award as Collegiate Player of the Year and by kicker Jonathan Nichols, the 2003 Lou Groza Award winner. The Cowboys are led by nationally 73rd-ranked QB Josh Fields, 14th-ranked wide receiver Rashaun Woods and 20th-ranked running back Tatum Bell. This game is likely to be an offensive fireworks. Oklahoma State - as it showed in winning the Kansas State game - can put pressure on the quarterback, and that will be the key to winning or losing this game. If Mississippi can protect Manning, regarded by a number of people to be the best pro candidate in this year's crop of quarterbacks, then they will win. We expect a high-scoring game similar to the Cowboys regular season win 51-49 over Texas Tech. We call it Oklahoma State 43 Mississippi 39.

Chick-fil-A PEACH BOWL, Atlanta, Georgia, January 2, 2004, 4:30 p.m.
Clemson (8-4) vs. Tennessee (10-2)

Last year Maryland won over Tennessee 30-3. This year Tennessee is favored by six points over Clemson, which finished its season in blazing style, beating Florida State and trouncing Duke and South Carolina on the strength of strong performances by nationally 11th-ranked QB Charlie Whitehurst. Can the Volunteers win this year? Although Clemson has come on so strongly to finish the year, they have shown themselves to be weak against running teams, so that Tennessee should win. We call the game for Tennessee 35-21.

Tostitos FIESTA BOWL, Tempe, Arizona, January 2, 2004, 8 p.m.
Kansas State (11-3) vs. Ohio State (10-2)

Last year Ohio State beat Miami 31-24 in two overtimes to win the national championship. This year it looks likely that the Buckeyes will be on the other end of the game scoreboard as the Wildcats are favored by 7 points. If Kansas State plays the way they did against the Sooners, they can not be defeated by the Buckeyes. On the other hand, the Wildcats profited from big plays against the Sooners, which they may not get here, and which may thus make for a close game. Kansas State is led by nationally 38th-ranked quarterback Ell Roberson and nationally 2nd-ranked All-American running back Darren Sproles, a solid one-two punch which the Buckeyes will probably not be able to stop completely. The defense is anchored by All-America linebacker Josh Buhl. Ohio State is led by nationally 66th-ranked QB Craig Krenzel, winner of this year's Draddy Award for the top scholar-athlete. The Buckeye defense is anchored by All-America Ohio State safety Will Allen. We call it Kansas State 27 Ohio State 17.

HUMANITARIAN BOWL in Boise, Idaho, January 3, 2004, 12:00 p.m. (Noon)
Tulsa (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)

Last year Boise State beat Iowa State 34-16. Georgia Tech is favored by 8 over the Tulsa Hurricanes, where the modern game of passing offense really began. The Yellow Jackets played some great football in the course of the year, but ended weakly, while Tulsa came on strong, winning its last five games on the passing of nationally 35th ranked James Kilian, injured in the last game and replaced by Paul Smith, who appears to have a bright future at the Hurricanes. Tulsa has not done well against good rushing teams while it has been increasingly better against good passing teams. Georgia Tech has given up more passing yards than it has gained, and as the blowout at Clemson showed, is weak against long passes. Tech is led by nationally 60th-ranked freshman QB Reggie Ball, ACC Rookie of the Year. We call it an upset win for Tulsa 36-33.

NOKIA SUGAR BOWL, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 4, 2004, 8 p.m.
Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Louisiana State University (LSU) (12-1)

All that squawking about BCS and what do you have here on Dec. 12, you have an Oklahoma team FAVORED by 6 points over LSU.
Oklahoma is a star-studded team with their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jason White also picked by the AP as collegiate player of the year. OU junior defensive tackle Tommie Harris is the winner of the 2003 Rotary Lombardi Award as top collegiate lineman. OU linebacker Teddy Lehman won the Lehman award as the top defensive player in the nation. OU cornerback Derrick Strait and OU all-purpose player Antonio Perkins both also made the first-team All-America team together with the other three, giving Oklahoma 5 first-team All-Americas. Nationally 3rd-ranked Mark Clayton is the top Sooner wide receiver and placed on the 2nd-team All-America where he is joined by OU offensive lineman Jamaal Brown. OU defensive linemen Dan Cody and Dusty Dvoracek fill out the third-team All-America. It is really rather remarkable that this team lost to K-State and by such a margin.

LSU coach Nick Saban has been selected AP Coach of the Year. Three players at LSU made the All-SEC team: nationally 34th-ranked wide receiver Michael Clayton,who made 3rd team All-America, defensive tackle Chad Lavalais, 1st team All-America, and defensive back Corey Webster, 2nd team All-America where he is joined by LSU center Ben Wilkerson, guard Stephen Peterman, and all-purpose player Skyler Green.

Maybe the wide-receiving Claytons on both teams will decide this game.

This game matches the teams ranked Nr. 1 and Nr. 2 in the BCS standings. Oklahoma is 4-1 in Sugar Bowl appearances while LSU is 4-7. We do not think that the Tigers, with a strong team, no question about it, will be able to beat the Sooners, who will have recovered from their needless loss to Kansas State, in which they out first-downed their opponents, but gave up too many long scoring plays - this will have been corrected in the interim and the swelled heads on the Oklahoma team will be a thing of the past. They should have learned their lesson. We call it Oklahoma 45 LSU 21.

The Best College Football Coach in the Country is ... Larry Kehres of Mount Union


MOUNT UNION and LARRY KEHRES

The Best College Football Coach in the Country is ...
Larry Kehres of the Purple Raiders of Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio.
Coach Larry Kehres has built Mount Union College into a Division III football juggernaut (phrase coined by Milan Simonich, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

NORMAN CHAD writes about MOUNT UNION and LARRY KEHRES

Norman Chad, writes about Larry Kehres and the Mount Union football phenomenon at the Boston Globe. Take a look at that article.

FACTS ABOUT MOUNT UNION and LARRY KEHRES

Looking for a good coach?
Larry Kehres coaching makes the Stoops brothers look like beginners.
The Mount Union teams of Larry Kehres have lost only 1 game in the last 7 years (in overtime) and have 109 wins in their last 110 games. Mount Union just broke its previous NCAA record of 54 straight wins from 1996-1999 by winning its 55th consecutive game Saturday, beating Bridgewater 66-0 in an NCAA Division III semifinal playoff game. Since the NCAA Division III has nationwide playoffs to determine the national champion, the ultimate winner every year IS the real champion, and the streak of wins has nothing to do with an easy schedule or faulty polls.
This team is simply the best, year after year, although there are still some records to be broken - see an article byJack R. Weber Jr. in the Alliance, Ohio The-Review.com.

Mount Union (13-0) now plays again this year in the 2003 NCAA Division III final - a final which it has won the last 6 of 7 years. Its opponent is unbeaten (13-0) St. John's of Minnesota, coached by the NCAA's winningest football coach ever, John Gagliardi, who has 413 wins going into the title game. The NCAA Division III final takes place in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Virginia on December 20, 2003 (10 a.m. CST). Who will win? Mount Union, of course. Gagliardi has yet to beat Kehres in 3 head-to-head competitions, and there is no doubting that Gagliardi is himself a great football coach.

Go to this page for a list of articles about the Mount Union phenomenon.

When someone is doing something many people do - i.e. coaching - so much better than his peers, it is remarkable that more attention has not been paid to his principles and methods. What are Kehres' secrets? Here is what I have been able to glean from online articles written about him, his teams and his players.

STOP WHINING ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE: MAKE USE OF WHAT YOU HAVE

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes in "Team Concept Rules" that:

"When he [Kehres] thinks back to the start of the run that began Mount Union's dominance, Kehres remembers a meeting held among the team's staff in the early '80s when he was an assistant.
'We just decided to quit pouting about what we didn't have and concentrate on improving the players we had,' Kehres said.
'We went with the idea that if some of the players we recruited weren't as good as some others when they arrived, it was our job to help them catch up,' Kehres said. 'It was sort of, "Come on, let's quit whining and feeling sorry for ourselves and make the most of what we've got." ' "


PREPARE YOUR TEAM to PLAY with PASSION

Larry Kehres says that "The job of a coach is to prepare his team."

Players are asked when they come to Mount Union if they have a passion to play football.
Milan Simonich quotes Kehres at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concerning his recruiting of players:

"I only ask them three questions, but they're important ... Are you a good man? Do you have a passion for football? Do you plan on getting the grades you're capable of?"

Stephanie Storm quotes Kehres:
"You have to recruit good people, then assist them in their development.''

Mount Union offers NO football scholarships.
About 200 candidates appear for the first practice each year and NO player is ever cut.

DEDICATED and EXPERIENCED COACHING STAFF

The 12-strong coaching staff has numerous experienced coaches well past normal retirement age,
who all know what they are doing. However, there are also some skilled, experienced young coaches as well.

THE COACHING PROGRAM IS EXECUTED WITH MILITARY PRECISION

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:

Kinnard and many other team leaders point to the precision with which the program is run, the attention to every detail all the way down to scheduling the number of minutes for each practice drill, as a main reason for their overwhelming success.

Practices are taken very seriously, but there is little physical contact in order not to unnecessarily bump up the players. Interestingly, Gagliardi at St. John's of Minnesota also has little physical contact in his practices.

As Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

He [Kehres] took a solid program and turned it into a spectacular one by emphasizing precision, mental preparation and weight training. Kehres' players rarely hit during practice. He knows injuries could sink his dynasty faster than an emerging rival, so he mandates that players study film and take out pent-up emotions on tackling dummies.

THE FOOTBALL PLAYED MUST MATCH THE PLAYERS ONE HAS

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, quotes Kehres:

Some years you don't have the kind of players you need to say, run the option,'' he said. 'As a coach, you can't just do what you want to do. You have to match it to the ebb and flow of the kind of players you have.' ''

THE PLAYERS ARE PREPARED OVER YEARS: THE SENIORS HAVE IT: UNDERCLASSMEN MUST BE PATIENT

As reported by Terry Pluto of the Akron Beacon Journal, December 18, 2003:

At Mount, patience isn't a virtue. It's a requirement. When the Purple Raiders host Bridgewater in the Division III national playoff semifinals at noon Saturday, Mount will start only one sophomore and three juniors. The other 18 are all seniors.

PERFECTION and the EXPECTATION TO BE BETTER THAN EXPECTED

Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"He works for perfection," said Matt Caponi, a senior defensive back and a Baldwin High School graduate. "That's how his offense has been for the last three years -- perfect." ...

On the field, Kehres lays down a singular challenge to everybody who pulls on a helmet. "I expect them to play better than they ever thought they could," he says."


MOUNT UNION FOOTBALL IS A CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE

Jack Ewing, president of Mount Union College, is quoted by Simionich as saying about Kehres and the football team:

"This is a culture of excellence that I have never seen before."

VALUES MUST EXTEND BEYOND THE PLAYING FIELD

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:

Football might be the focus of the coach's life, but he teaches his players that their values ought to extend beyond the field.

During football season, players' grades actually improve.

Coach says it's important that we hold ourselves to higher standards, especially when so much attention is focused on us during the season,'' wide receiver Randell Knapp said.

RESPECTED BY THE COMPETITION

Another amazing thing about Mount Union is that there seems to be no envy toward them, but great respect.
As quoted by Michael De Matteis in the December 6, 2003 Mount Union College paper, Mike Swider, the coach of Wheaton College in Illinois (12-1), who lost the semifinal game 56-10, stated:
"'We just got beat up front,' noted Wheaton head coach Mike Swider afterwards. 'Their offensive line gave their quarterbacks all day to throw the football. You win football games up front and Mount Union simply has tremendous players there on both sides of the ball, along with excellent team speed. What they are going through right now, in my opinion, is the greatest achievement in the history of college athletics.'"[emphasis added]

That is quite a complement.

UPDATE: Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports has a nice article about The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl as "The hidden gem of the bowl season" . Indeed, this is the football college game bowl I would go to see this season. Go here to see a list of past winners, runners-up and final scores of this bowl. More info is found at The Morning Call Online.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS to end the 2003 SEASON (continued from previous posting)


(continuation of bowl predictions from previous posting - more hoppla hoppla ho)

MOTOR CITY BOWL, Pontiac, Michigan, December 26, 2003, 5 p.m.
Bowling Green (10-3) vs. Northwestern (6-6)

Bowling Green is favored by 7.5 points at the time of this posting. In last year's match Boston College got the best of Toledo 51-25. Bowling Green lost by only one TD to Ohio State and otherwise lost twice to Miami of Ohio - no shame in that. We think Miami of Ohio would beat almost anyone this year. Bowling Green is led by nationally 4th-ranked quarterback Josh Harris. Northwestern is led by nationally 16th-ranked running back Jason Wright. We call it Bowling Green 38-28 on the strength of the better quarterback.

INSIGHT BOWL, Phoenix, Arizona, December 26, 2003, 8:30 p.m.
Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. California (7-6)

Virginia Tech is favored by 2.5 points. Do not forget, these Hokies beat Miami of Florida 31-7 earlier in the year, due mainly to defense - an early fumble recovery and an interception return for touchdowns. Will this be enough against Cal? The Hokies have not done well against teams with good multi-offense quarterbacks. The top Virginia Tech players are Jake Grove, who this year won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center and All-America running back Kevin Jones. Bryan Randall is only 72nd-ranked as quarterback. The California Golden Bears are much better than their record, having beaten non-BCS top-ranked USC, having lost to UCLA in OT and to Oregon in the last quarter, after having dominated the game. The few deserved losses have been largely against top passing teams. They are led by All-American nationally 2nd-ranked wide receiver Geoff McArthur, 31st-ranked running back Adimchinobe Echemandu and 41st-ranked quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cal clobbered Washington 51-7 and Washington was strong against teams not having a good passing attack. In last year's bowl Pittsburgh humbled Oregon State 38-13. Will the Pac 10 do better this year or is the conference simply weaker than the Big East? We think Cal is stronger than they look and call it for the Golden Bears 35 Virginia Tech 27. Virginia Tech's defense is the deciding factor in the game. If they can not hold the Cal offense, their own offense is not strong enough to win this one.

CONTINENTAL TIRE BOWL, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 27, 2003, 11 a.m.
Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Virginia (7-5)

Last year Virginia won over West Virginia 48-22. Virginia beat Virginia Tech at the end of the season and looks strong. Virginia did well against Virginia Tech, which has a good defense but mediocre offense. They have had trouble this season against teams with potent offenses. Virginia is led by nationally 1st-ranked tight end Heath Miller and 26th-ranked QB Matt Schaub. Pitt lost to Miami because it could not establish its running game, and because its potent passing game was held in check by the superb Miami secondary. However, Pitt has the nation's leading wide receiver in runner-up Heisman Trophy vote-getter Larry Fitzgerald as well as the 4th-ranked tight end Kris Wilson and is headed by Nr. 9 ranked QB Rod Rutherford. We do not think the shorter Cavalier secondary will find a defensive answer for that passing combination. We call it Pittsburgh 30 Virginia 28. It is a shame the lackluster Pitt fans are not attending the game, which we predict will be a really good one.

MasterCard ALAMO BOWL, San Antonio, Texas, December 29, 2003, 9 p.m.
Michigan State (8-4) vs. Nebraska (9-3)

Last year Wisconsin beat Colorado 31-28 in overtime. This will be an interesting game if only because the NU head coach, Frank Solich, was fired, and Bo Pelini looks like he will add a new dimension to the Huskers as interim (?) coach. However, there are also rumors of dissension among the players, probably among those on the hapless offense who are worried about their playing positions.
Michigan State is led by 1st-year coach John L. Smith, Big 10 Coach of the year, who turned a team that went 4-8 last year into an 8-4 winner. His top players are punter Brandon Fields and QB Jeff Smoker, who led the league in passing offense. To win, the Michigan State passing game must work, and here the Husker defense is strong, leading the nation in pass interceptions with Josh Bullock ranked as a 2nd team All-America at defensive back - not a great advantage against a very good passer, but quite an advantage against a normal quarterback, and Jeff Smoker, ranked 17th nationally is certainly a good passer, but also is capable of being intercepted. The Huskers are low on talent but Pelini may be the man, he certainly is under pressure to win this game, that is for sure. If the NU defense is on top of things and produces some scores, then only the NU offense can blow this game, and since Michigan State has been open to the run this year, NU will be able to run, so we are hoping for a good debut for Pelini and call it Huskers 34 Michigan State 20.

EV1.net HOUSTON BOWL, Houston, Texas, December 30, 2003, 4:30 p.m.
Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Navy (7-4)

Last year Oklahoma State beat Southern Miss 33-23 in this bowl. There is a current poll at the EV1.net site asking who will win this game and 58 percent of the votes side with Texas Tech at the time of this posting. Texas Tech has the nation's leading passer in terms of yardage, B.J. Symons, winner of the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the top collegiate passer. Hence, the footballs will fly in this game. Navy has a strong running game to compete with the Texas Tech passing, as the Midshipmen rank as the No. 1 rushing team in the country, averaging a school-record 326.1 yards per contest. Hence, the football will roll along the ground as well.
This can only turn out to be a phenomenal scoring battle - but to score, Texas Tech also has to get the ball away from the ball-control running game of Navy. We call it Texas Tech 45 Navy 38.

SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC, San Jose, California, December 30, 2003, 7:30 p.m.
Fresno State (8-5) vs. UCLA (6-6)

Last year Fresno State beat Georgia Tech 30-21. Can they repeat this year against UCLA? This year Fresno State beat Oregon State 16-14, the Beavers being a team which tied UCLA for position 4-5-6 in the Pac-10 at 4 wins and 4 losses. As Colorado State showed, the way to beat Fresno State is rushing, but the UCLA Bruins have not much to show here, so that the respectable Fresno State pass defense should be able to hold UCLA back. UCLA is led by All-America defensive end Dave Ball, who is Nr. 1 in quarterback sacks. Fresno State is led by wide receiver Bernard Berrian, 1st-team All-American in 2001 who has been hampered by injuries. When he is healthy, as he appears to be, nationally 96th-ranked QB Paul Pinegar has a great target, but will have to stay out of Ball's way, which may be difficult for Pinegar. We think Fresno State could win in a mild upset and call it 31-28 for the Bulldogs.

Pacific Life HOLIDAY BOWL, San Diego, California, December 30, 2003, 8 p.m.
Washington State (10-2) vs. Texas (10-2)

Last year Kansas State beat Arizona State 34-27 in a disappointing showing by the Wildcats. Will Texas do better this year against Washington State? Texas is led by All-America linebacker Derrick Johnson. Washington State is led by nationally 41st-ranked QB Matt Kegel and by All-America kicker Drew Dunning, so we expect some field goals. We call it Texas 40 Washington State 33.

Gaylord Hotels MUSIC CITY BOWL presented by Bridgestone, Nashville, Tennessee, December 31, 2003, 12 p.m. (Noon)
Auburn (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)

Last year Minnesota defeated Arkansas 29-14 in this bowl game. Auburn's losses this year are all to 5 teams ranked in the top 20. Auburn is led by All-America linebacker Karlos Dansby. Wisconsin is led by All-America free safety Jim Leonhard and All-America wide receiver Lee Evans. The key player for the Badgers, however, is 66th-ranked running back Dwayne Smith, who has shown potential to turn out 200-yard games when he is not injured. We do not think that the SEC will fare any better against the Big 10 this year than last and call it for Wisconsin 27-24.

Wells Fargo SUN BOWL, El Paso, Texas, December 31, 2003, 2 p.m.
Oregon (8-4) vs. Minnesota (9-3).

Last year Purdue downed Washington 34-24. Will the Big 10 win again?
Prior to its last game loss against Iowa, Minnesota was leading the nation in rushing offense. Against Iowa, the Gophers rolled up tons of yardage but nationally 37th-ranked Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq fumbled the ball away continuously at the goal line and threw an interception in scoring position. Oregon may not get this luxury. Minnesota is an offensive juggernaut whose lowest point production this season is 20 points, while the average score is much higher. Will Oregon hold this offense below 20 or score more points? We doubt it, although Oregon beat Michigan earlier in the year by holding their rushing game to minus yardage, in spite of Chris Perry. So, if Minnesota can not move against Oregon on the ground, they could lose, but that would be the only reason. As Arizona State showed, the way to beat Oregon is through the air. Oregon is led by linebacker Kevin Mitchell and nationally 131st-ranked quarterback Jason Fife. We just can not see how the Ducks could beat the Gophers offensively and call it 31-20 for Minnesota.

AXA LIBERTY BOWL, Memphis, Tennessee, December 31, 2003, 3:30 p.m.
Utah (9-2) vs. Southern Mississippi (9-3)

TCU beat Colorado State 17-3 in this bowl last year, but Utah, under new coach Urban Meyer, The Sporting News' National Coach of the Year, and Southern Miss are different and vastly improved teams. Utah's two losses this year came mainly through a weak rushing defense. In its passing defense, Utah has cornerback Eric Weddle, a second-team Freshman All-American and is a team marked by still somewhat thin material but very good coaching. They will get better as the seasons come and go under Meyer's tutelage. Can Southern Miss beat the Utes? We do not think so, because the Golden Eagles do not have the strong rushing team that would pose a threat to the Utah defense. In addition, as the game against a non-existent Nebraska passing offense showed, their pass defense is weak, as the Husker passing suddenly looked good against Southern Miss. Hence, Southern Miss can also be beaten by the pass. Accordingly, we make Utah a one touchdown favorite 24-17.

MainStay INDEPENDENCE BOWL, Shreveport, Louisiana, December 31, 2003, 7:30 p.m.
Missouri (8-4) vs. Arkansas (8-4)

Arkansas is favored by 2.5 points. In last year's game Mississippi beat Nebraska 27-23. We think the Big 12 will reverse that score this year and call it Missouri 27 Arkansas 24. The Razorbacks have lost All-American offensive tackle Shawn Andrews for this bowl game due to academic ineligibility and his option for the professional draft. The Arkansas preparation for this game involves a lot of contact, which we do not think is necessarily the best way to prepare for a bowl game, so we expect Mizzou to win under their periodically outstanding nationally 19th-ranked quarterback Brad Smith.

Diamond Walnut SAN FRANCISCO BOWL, San Francisco, California, December 31, 2003, 10:30 p.m.
Colorado State (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)

Last year Virginia Tech 20 beat Air Force 20-13 in this bowl game. The official site of this bowl has a very nice analysis of the strengths of the two teams and points to the two star players. At Colorado State this is nationally 8th-ranked QB Bradlee Van Pelt, the 4th NCAA division IA QB to pass for 5,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards during his collegiate career. It is no wonder that Colorado State has scored at least 21 points in every game this season. At Boston College the star player is nationally 5th-ranked running back Derrick Knight, the top rusher in the Big East conference. So how do the Boston College Eagles stack up against the pass and how do the Colorado State Rams do against the run? The Rams losses would indicate they can be run on, as shown by the New Mexico and Miami of Ohio games, but not that easily. As the Pitt game showed, the Eagles are vulnerable to the pass. We expect a result similar to the Pitt game and call it Colorado State 34 Boston College 23.

Player unrest among the Cornhusker football players at Nebraska ?

An ESPN article running under the headlineCoach denies reports of unrest at Nebraska cites to an Associated Press article entitled "Pelini: "I am in charge" quoting rumors of player unrest among some of the Cornhusker football players due to the firing of Solich as coach.

If these reports are true - and where there is smoke, there is usually fire - this simply is a further continuation of the apparently lax discipline and lack of coaching respect which marked Solich football teams at NU. The sooner the Huskers get rid of the undisciplined players, whoever they are, the better off NU football will be in the long run. Historically, Cornhusker football players have been marked by their playing ability on the field, not by the facility with which they use their mouth for whining and complaining. How far NU football has fallen in the last few years!

Friday, December 12, 2003

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS to end the 2003 SEASON


COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS to end the 2003 SEASON

Important Notice: These predictions are made for FUN and we make no warranties about the accuracy of information contained herein nor should any of our predictions be used to make actual bets on football games. If you rely on OUR OPINION here, it would be very foolhardy and we take no responsibility for any reliance on our analysis.

The NCAA college bowl games start in New Orleans on December 16, 2003 and end in that same city on January 4, 2004, in the Sugar Bowl, in a game to decide the BCS national college football champion. We think that Michigan will beat Southern Cal (USC) in the Rose Bowl, so that the danger of a double championship will be eliminated. We predict that the Oklahoma Sooners will regain their stride and beat LSU in the final game of the season to become the national champions they deserve to be (except for their blackout against Kansas State).

Here are our college football bowl predictions for the season ending 2003/2004, predictions which we made PRIOR to seeing the published spreads. Play times are EST.

NEW ORLEANS BOWL, New Orleans, Louisiana, December 16, 2003, 7 p.m.
North Texas (9-3) vs. Memphis (8-4).

Memphis was favored in the opening line by 5.5. and 4.5 at the date of this posting. North Texas won this bowl last year and finished strong this year, winning the last 8 games. The mark of the Mean Green is a very strong defense, while the offense is led by their nationwide 10th-ranked running back Patrick Cobbs. Memphis has sometimes looked great and sometimes less so during this season, losing their last game 21-16 to South Florida, partly perhaps because their nationwide 4th-ranked running back, DeAngelo Williams, was unable to play. With Williams healthy, we look for Memphis to win this one in a close game 31 to 24.

GMAC BOWL, Mobile, Alabama, December 18, 2003, 8 p.m.
Miami of Ohio (11-1) vs. Louisville (9-3).

Miami of Ohio was favored by 13 in the opening line and 14 at the date of this posting. Last year Marshall won this game 38-15 over Louisville. Arguably, Miami of Ohio is better this year than Marshall was in 2002 and Louisville may be a bit stronger this year than in their loss last year, but they will be hard pressed to come close to the RedHawks in this game. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 teams nationally in total offense. Miami of Ohio is led by their nationally 3rd-ranked star junior quarterback, 6 foot 5 Ben Roethlisberger, who was recently featured in Sports Illustrated, and who is regarded by some as the top pro QB prospect this year. Cal Murray adds a strong running threat and 89th-ranked pass-catcher Michael Larkin leads a host of wide receivers. Louisville is led by 41st-ranked junior quarterback, Stefan LeFors, and 69th-ranked wide receiver J.R. Russell, and are 10th in the nation in rushing, e.g. Lionel Gates. This could be a high-scoring affair and we call it by three touchdowns, Miami of Ohio 52 Louisville 31.

MAZDA TANGERINE BOWL, Orlando, Florida, December 22, 2003, 5:30 p.m.
North Carolina State (7-5) vs. Kansas (6-6)

The opening line was 10.5 points in favor of North Carolina State and at last report was 11 points. Last year in this bowl Texas Tech's passing was no match for Clemson 55-15, but this game should be closer, although we think that the Jayhawks will be no match for NC State, who lost several heartbreaking games in overtime this season to top-notch teams Ohio State and Florida State. We call the game in favor of the Wolfpack by at least two touchdowns,
35-21, especially because of their quarterback, Philip Rivers, 2nd-ranked quarterback nationally and ACC Player of the Year. Kansas is led by Bill Whittemore, ranked 36th nationally as QB

PLAINSCAPITAL FORT WORTH BOWL, Fort Worth, Texas, December 23, 2003, 7:30 p.m.
Texas Christian University (TCU) (11-1) vs. Boise State (11-1)

The opening line favored Boise State by 8.5 and the line is 10.5 points on the date of this posting.
This is the first year for the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl, played on the home field of the TCU Horned Frogs, who turned down what should have been their normal bowl spot at the GMAC Bowl against Miami of Ohio. The Frogs should be "dehorned" by Boise State, one of our favorite teams this season, led by WAC offensive player of the year, Ryan Dinwiddie, 7th-ranked quarterback nationally. TCU football coach Gary Patterson is a finalist for the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) "Coach of the Year Award", but I would never give this award to a team that chickened out of a bowl game, for whatever reason. In fact, TCU has played a weak schedule all year and has not met the likes of the Broncos. TCU's star player is their placekicker, Nick Browne, who kicked a nation-leading 27 field goals, so expect TCU to make 2 or 3 field goals this game. We think there will be a lot of scoring as Diniwiddie riddles the weak TCU defense. We call it Boise State 52 TCU 31.

LAS VEGAS BOWL, Las Vegas, Nevada, December 24 (Christmas Eve), 2003, 7:30 p.m.
New Mexico (8-4) vs. Oregon State (7-4)

New Mexico was in this bowl last year, losing to 27-13, and the point spread is 3 against them, after being an opening 4 points. Oregon State features Steven Jackson as the 4th-ranked runner nationally and Derek Anderson as the 14th-ranked quarterback, so there is a lot of offense there. New Mexico features Dontrell Moore, 10th-ranked running back nationally and MWC freshman of the year. We make the Beavers a one-touchdown favorite over the Lobos and call it Oregon State 38 New Mexico 31.

SHERATON HAWAII BOWL, Honolulu, Hawaii, December 25 (Christmas Day), 2003, 8 p.m.
Hawaii (8-4) vs. Houston (7-5)

In the last Hawaii Bowl, Tulane beat Hawaii 36-28, but we expect this game to go to the Warriors this year, who looked good in beating Alabama before losing to Boise State in the season final. Hawaii is favored by 10.5 points, which may be too much. Hawaii is led by defensive end Travis LaBoy, who led the Western Athletic Conference in QB sacks and tackles for yardage losses. 23rd-ranked wide receiver Chad Owens is a man to watch down the sidelines. Nationally 15th ranked Timmy Chang heads the Warriors' offense. The Cougars of Houston are led by a freshman quarterback, Kevin Kolb, ranked 20th nationally, who started all games this season, and can only get better, so look for this team to improve in coming seasons. We call it Hawaii 45 Houston 43 in a scoring duel.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Solich firing by Pederson justified - Huskers Illustrated at Rival.com - Doug Horwich


Solich firing by Pederson justified - Huskers Illustrated at Rival.com - Doug Horwich

In Nebraska Cornhuskers: HuskersIllustrated.com Doug Horwich, Huskers Illustrated Staff Writer, wrote an article entitled "Pederson Made the Right Decision" in discussing the Solich firing by NU Athletic Director Pederson. I am not at liberty to reprint the whole article from rivals.com here, which is a "pay-to-read" site, but I will refer to a few points raised by Horwich.

Although Horwich apparently liked and respected Solich as a very nice guy, he in his own words "sadly" pointed out the following failings, indicating that the Huskers won-loss record just this season was not the main issue, as we are led to be believed by the superficial reporting of most national sports journalists and reporters:

Horwich notes the following "additional factors" which led to Solich's demise and of which Pederson was aware, covering previous seasons and previous problems:

Ineffective Skills as a "Deal Closer" in Recruiting
Presence of Poor Communication Skills
Failings of Nepotism and Blind Loyalty
Failure to Recognize His Own Faults
Failures in Motivation and Inspiration
Lax Discipline
Inability to Assert Authority among his Coaches
Lack of Focus on Player Recruiting During the Football Season

Horwich discusses these in detail giving many examples, showing how being "head coach" involves many talents of leadership, which, if missing, ultimately lead to the mediocrity presently found in Nebraska Cornhusker football.

In my opinion, Solich's position also marks some failings in the judgment of former coach Tom Osborne, who - to my knowledge - insisted on Solich's hiring as his successor, even though others were not of his opinion. Ozzie should have seen these failings in Solich then, to avert the unfortunate situation now.

Monday, December 08, 2003

BCS Poll puts Oklahoma at Nr. 1, LSU at Nr. 2 and USC at Nr. 3


BCS Poll puts Oklahoma at Nr. 1, LSU at Nr. 2 and USC at Nr. 3

Everyone is screaming and yelling - including Maisel at SI - that it is unfair that OU and LSU will play for the national championship and that USC, in spite of being ranked Nr. 1 in the AP and coaches poll, is only ranked 3rd in the BCS and must thus play Nr. 4-ranked Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

The BCS determines the national champion FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON not just for one game - this is not a "Queen for a Day" poll - if it were, Kansas State - which has always beaten USC in recent years, by the way - would then have to be ranked Nr. 1 on the final day of the season, because if they had played like their 35-7 win over OU every week, they would be undefeated. USC may be a popular favorite - everyone loves sunny southern California - but USC has beaten only one ranked opponent this year, Washington State 43-16 (ranked 14, 15 and 16 in the polls), whereas Oklahoma beat Texas 65-13 (ranked 5, 5, and 6) and Oklahoma State 52-9 (ranked 21, 22, 21). The clueless New York Times BCS poll even has Texas - in spite of its two losses to OU's one and its 65-13 loss to OU in direct competition, ranked above OU - which is ridiculous.

In terms of their losses, OU lost to Kansas State, ranked 10th in all polls at the end of the season, wheareas USC lost to unranked California. In fact the total won-loss record of USC opponents this year was below .500, 70 wins and 74 losses.
LSU's opponents (counting Georgia twice!) is still no better than 81-80, whereas Michigan's opponents have a 77-67 won-loss record and Oklahoma's opponents had an 86-74 won-loss record. The combined record of the opponents of the Kansas State Wildcats is 107-66.

By comparative scores, USC did not come out on top IN ANY COMPARED GAME. Both USC and LSU beat Auburn, USC by 23-0 and LSU 31-7, a 1-point advantage to LSU. USC beat Ariziona 45-0 and LSU beat them 59-13, a 1-point advantage to LSU. Purdue of the Big 10 beat Arizona even more soundly 59-7 but lost to USC Rose Bowl opponent Michigan 31-3. USC beat Notre Dame 45-14 and Michigan beat them 38-0, a 7-point advantage to Michigan.

In direct comparison USC beat UCLA 47-22 and OU beat UCLA 59-24, making OU a 10-point favorite in my book and in fact I do not think that the Trojans would beat the Sooners in a direct match-up. The Trojans - like TCU - have fattened up on a weak schedule and I do not think that the Trojans will beat Michigan either. That will take care of that.

OU on the other hand will have its hands full with LSU in the title game, but OU will have learned from the K-State game, so that I doubt if the oddsmakers will favor the Tigers over the Sooners and I would not bet against OU, who I think will win. That will settle that.

Given the above quite possible scenario, it will be of interest to hear the squawking of the BCS detractors then. There is NO way in the statistics to rank either USC or LSU as Nr. 1 in the nation, because their records simply are not that good.
In fact, one should legitimately ask why LSU and USC are ranked as high as they are. Lots of hype, but when it comes down to the bottom line, the figures are simply not there.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

NCAA College Basketball Results December 4-6, 2003

This year, it seems as if nobody wants the Number One spot in college basketball as Nr. 1 Kansas was upset by my alma mater Stanford. Kansas had just been voted into the top spot.

Nr. 2 Florida beat Central Florida 59-39 and Stetson 74-61. Will it be enough to move up to Nr. 1?

Nr. 3 Kentucky beat UCLA only 52-50.

Nr. 5 Missouri beat Indiana 63-58 after trailing 39-26 at the half.

Nr. 6 Duke beat Nr. 6 Michigan State 72-50 as the Spartans continue to have trouble this season, losing also on Saturday in overtime to Nr. 12 Oklahoma 80-77. Duke also bean St. John's 79-58.

Nr. 8 Arizona barely beat St. Louis 68-67.

Nr. 9 Texas continues to look impressive as they beat Wofford 103-72.

Nr. 15 Georgia Tech continues to play team basketball with balanced scoring and a good defense. They dropped Ohio State 73-53.
They should move up considerably in the rankings. This team looks GOOD but may be lacking in depth, although this remains to be seen.

Nr. 22 Pittsburgh allowed Penn State only 11 points in the first half and won 64-37. Looks like this team has quite a defense as they have only allowed a maximum of 69 points to St. Francis in a 90-69 victory and their opponents are otherwise averaging only 54 points a game.

Nr. 24 Gonzaga beat Nr. 25 Maryland 82-68.

Friday, December 05, 2003

College Football Predictions - December 4- 6, 2003 - RESULTS


With but few games played this week, we called it 5-2 in the Division IA games in terms of winners and also went 5-2 against the spread, raising our season record to 289-107 in calling winners and 187-203-6 against the spread.

W+ Miami of Ohio was favored by 7 over Bowling Green (Dec. 4) in the MAC conference title game. We called it Miami of Ohio 31 Bowling Green 22 and it was close for the first half, with Bowling Green trailing only by 21-17 but the Redhawks pulled away in the second half, winning 49-27. Ben Roethlisberger, a big 6 foot 5 top pro quarterback prospect as a junior - and apparently a natural talent at that position, threw four TD passes to four different receivers. Recall that early in the season we stated that Miami of Ohio was probably better than Miami of Florida this year - and that would have been the bowl game we would liked to have seen, Miami vs. Miami. I think the TCU decision not to play against Miami of Florida in the GMAC bowl - the Chicken Frogs would have had no chance against the Redhawks - and will probably also lose to Boise State - that would be justice.

W+ Boise St. was favored by 10 points over Hawaii and we called it Boise State 61 Hawaii 47. The final score was 45-28 as Ryan Dinwiddie threw for 329 yards but no touchdowns, with Donny Heck running for 4 TDs.

L- LSU we favored over Georgia by 2.5 points in a game to be played in Atlanta, only about an hour from the Georgia campus so that Georgia seemed to have the home field advantage. Nevertheless, LSU won easily 34-13.

W+ Navy was favored over Army by 23 points. Army is winless this year. We called it Navy 41 Army 14. Navy won 34-6 as Army went winless this season.

L- Oklahoma was favored over Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game by 13.5. We called it Oklahoma 48 Kansas State 28. This was the shocker of the year as the Wildcats thumped the Sooners 35-7. The lackadaisical defense must have been suffering from defensive coordinator Stoops announcement that he was going to coach at Arizona next year. Oklahoma's unexpected loss threw the bowl matchings into complete turmoil.

W+ Notre Dame was favored by 2 over Syracuse, the home team. We thought Syracuse had a chance to win and called it in favor of the Orangemen 28-24. The final score was Syracuse 38 Notre Dame 12.

W+ USC was favored over Oregon State by 21 points. We called it USC 44 Oregon State 17 and the Trojans won 52-28.

Since we had so few games this week, we also called the following games for fun as well, but do not add them to our totals since there were no spreads on these games that were accessible to us. We went 5-5 in calling the winner in games involving teams we know very little about, so it was fun.

1. The NCAA Division I-AA football playoffs

Wo Western Illinois (9-3) at Colgate (13-0). We called it Colgate 37 Western Illinois 23. Colgate won 28-27.

Lo Florida Atlantic (10-2) at Northern Arizona (9-3). We called it Northern Arizona 40 Florida Atlantic 20. Florida Atlantic schocked Northern Arizona 48-25.

Lo Western Kentucky (9-3) at Wofford (11-1). We called it Western Kentucky 35 Wofford 27 but Wofford won 34-17.

Wo Northern Iowa (10-2) at Delaware (12-1). We called it Delaware 27 Northern Iowa 26. Delaware won 37-7.

2. The NCAA Division II football playoffs

Lo North Alabama (13-0) at North Dakota (11-1). We called it North Alabama 37 North Dakota 27 but North Dakota won in an upset 29-22.

Lo Grand Valley State (12-1) at Texas A&M-Kingsville (11-1). We called it Texas A&M-Kingsville 31 Grand Valley State 24. Here again we had an upset as Grand Valley State won 31-3

3. NCAA Division III football playoffs

Wo Bridgewater, Va. (11-1) at Lycoming (9-1). We called it Bridgewater 24 Lycoming 21. Bridgewater won 13-9.

Wo Wheaton (12-0) at Mount Union (11-0). We called it Mount Union 35 Wheaton 31. Mount Union won 56-10 and has now won 54 straight games matching the record the Purple Raiders themselves set from 1996 to 1999.

Lo Ithaca (10-2) at RPI (10-1). We called it Ithaca 27 RPI 21. RPI won 21-16.

Wo Linfield (11-0) at St. John's, Minn. (11-0). We called it St. John's 33 Linfield 14. St. John's won over Linfield 31-25. This year, St. John's football coach John Gagliardi became the winningest coach in college football history. See HERE and HERE.. Gagliardi is 77 years old - and as one can see by this victory - still going strong. Gagliardi was honored recently by George Bush at the White House and what he has to say is an interesting read.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Kansas Tops the Basketball Polls - December 2, 2003


As can be read at Yahoo! Sports in the December 2, 2003 article
"Kansas moves from No. 6 to No. 1" by JIM O'CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer - and as we predicted some blog posting prior to this one, Kansas moved into the Nr. 1 spot in the college basketball rankings and Florida into position Nr. 2. See polls for the full list.

Kansas (3-0) celebrated its top ranking by beating TCU (1-2) 85-66 as Langford scored 24 points on 9 of 10 shooting, adding 4 for 4 free throws, and Hawkins scored 19 on 7 of 9 from the field, including 5 of 7 from beyond the circle. The team field goal percentage was 64% which is tough to beat in any league.

Nr. 9 Kentucky (3-0) (depends on which poll you use) beat Marshall 89-76 (1-2).

24th-ranked Marquette (5-0) beat 23rd-ranked Notre Dame (2-1) 71-58.

Nr. 3-ranked UConn (4-1) beat Lehigh (1-3) 75-55.

I note with a great deal of surprise that Dayton (4-0) is not ranked in the top 25. That is a mistake. They should be soon.

College Football Predictions - December 4- 6, 2003


Here are our football predictions for the last week of college football prior to the bowl games:

Miami of Ohio is favored by 7 over Bowling Green (Dec. 4) in the MAC conference title game. I am a great fan of Miami of Ohio but Bowling Green is undefeated at home this year and will be trying to avenge an earlier loss on the road this year to the Redhawks 33-10, so perhaps caution is advised. Let us estimate here that the home court advantage gives Bowling Green 2 TDs rather than the traditional one, so we might then make Miami of Ohio 9-point favorites. We call it Miami of Ohio 31 Bowling Green 22.

Boise St. is favored by 10 points over Hawaii, but look out, Hawaii is 8-4, they beat Alabama last week 37-29 and the Warriors are undefeated at home this year. On the other hand, Boise State was very impressive last week, trouncing a Nevada team 56-3 which earlier in the year had come within two points of Oregon and had beaten Washington. We look for Ryan Dinwiddie to finish the season in style and call it Boise State 61 Hawaii 47 in a passing humdinger.

LSU is favored over Georgia by 2.5 points in a game to be played in Atlanta, only about an hour from the Georgia campus so that Georgia has nearly home field advantage. Georgia lost at LSU 17-10 earlier in the year, in a game that Georgia dominated statistically, so that if we take the 1 touchdown home advantage away, this game looks pretty even, with a slight edge to Georgia. We call it Georgia 27 LSU 20.

Navy is favored over Army by 23 points. Army is winless this year. We call it Navy 41 Army 14.

Oklahoma is favored over Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game by 13.5. The game is being played in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium so Kansas State might be seen to have a slight home field edge. We think Kansas State has been very good ever since the return of Ell Roberson, but the team as such should be no match for the Sooners this year - but then, who is? We call it Oklahoma 48 Kansas State 28.

Notre Dame is favored by 2 over Syracuse, the home team. We think Syracuse has a chance to win and call it in favor of the Orangemen 28-24.

USC is favored over Oregon State by 21 points. The beavers are a respectable 7-4 this season but have lost 3 of 4 games on the road. The Trojans should have an easy time of this one and we call it USC 44 Oregon State 17.

Since we have so few games this week, I am adding

1. The NCAA Division I-AA football playoffs

Western Illinois (9-3) at Colgate (13-0). We call it Colgate 37 Western Illinois 23.
Florida Atlantic (10-2) at Northern Arizona (9-3). We call it Northern Arizona 40 Florida Atlantic 20. Northern Arizona beat McNeese State 35-3 the previous week, which makes it a very strong team and our favorite in these playoffs.
Western Kentucky (9-3) at Wofford (11-1). We call it Western Kentucky 35 Wofford 27.
Northern Iowa (10-2) at Delaware (12-1). We call it Delaware 27 Northern Iowa 26.

2. The NCAA Division II football playoffs

North Alabama (13-0) at North Dakota (11-1). We call it North Alabama 37 North Dakota 27.
Grand Valley State (12-1) at Texas A&M-Kingsville (11-1). We call it Texas A&M-Kingsville 31 Grand Valley State 24.

3. NCAA Division III football playoffs

Bridgewater, Va. (11-1) at Lycoming (9-1). We call it Bridgewater 24 Lycoming 21.
Wheaton (12-0) at Mount Union (11-0). We call it Mount Union 35 Wheaton 31.
Ithaca (10-2) at RPI (10-1). We call itIthaca 27 RPI 21.
Linfield (11-0) at St. John's, Minn. (11-0). We call it St. John's 33 Linfield 14.

Monday, December 01, 2003

TCU afraid to play Miami of Ohio?


Just how good Miami of Ohio may be is manifested in this story at ESPN.com - NCF - TCU invited to GMAC Bowl, this game to take place in Mobile, Alabama on December 18, 2003.

The Horned Frogs of TCU - who have compiled an 11-1 record against mostly weak competition - have been invited to play in the GMAC Bowl against Miami of Ohio, also 11-1.

TCU apparently is considering refusing the invitation for the alleged reason that the date of the Bowl (Dec. 18) would conflict with final exams (Dec. 15-19). But then of course the teams all knew the dates of the possible bowls ALL SEASON LONG. What is the beef now??

We think that TCU, which barely beat winless SMU 20-13 to close out its regular season, would have no chance against Miami of Ohio and that THIS is the real reason for the TCU reluctance to go to the GMAC Bowl. Miami of Ohio would blow them away. Interesting in this regard is that the present athletic director of TCU, Eric Hyman, came to TCU from Miami of Ohio six years ago. Perhaps Hyman does not want his team to look bad against his previous employer and against his successors at that school?

"We're not scared of Miami of Ohio or anyone else," Frogs coach Gary Patterson said after the SMU game. "Mobile's been good to us, but we have to look and see what's best for us."

Well, they look pretty scared to me.

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