ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Games to Watch this Weekend 14.10

It's the Big10 East Championship this weekend!
It's a weekend of marquee matchups in just about every conference.  Except for the ACC because they are all terrible except for Florida State.  Let's get to it!

  • Cleveland at Cincinnati - (NFL) It's the battle of Ohio.  Can Mo Sanu save the Bengals by himself this season or will anyone else make a play for them?  I hear AJ Green is coming back but Sanu is still the main man there.  On the flip side of the ball, I have the say, the play of the Browns Wide Receivers has been remarkable for a group that now 8 weeks into the season I still can't name a single one of them.  Cincy wins 20-17
  • #12 Baylor at #15 Oklahoma - (FS1) Baylor appears here in probably their best chance at redemption this season.  While Baylor still has a shot to win the Big12 I think the conference as a whole has to be rooting against them this season.  Their best shot at making the playoffs is clearly the winner of TCU and KSU this weekend.  While this should be a fun game to watch I don't think it will really impact the outcome of the Big12 or the conference's chances at fielding a team in the Final Four.  Baylor wins 48-44
  • Texas A&M at #3 Auburn - (CBS) I fondly look back on the time in early September when the Aggies looked like world beaters and Auburn was still the luckiest team on the planet from just a season ago.  Things have changed mightily in terms of perception but I still feel that Texas A&M has the talent to play this one to the wire.  Auburn has an absolutely brutal schedule this year and when you run the risk of overlooking Texas A&M I think your program is in a great place generally but it's still a risk.  Both offenses are capable of putting up gobs of points and both defenses have talent all over the field.  Auburn wins 37-26
  • #10 Notre Dame at #9 Arizona State - (NBC) Both teams sit at 7-1 with this season defining matchup approaching.  The winner here will set themselves apart and capitalize on realistically their last remaining chance to prove themselves worthy of Playoff contention.  My feeling is that Notre Dame's defense is vastly superior to ASU's but then again the Sun Devils have played right with everyone they've faced all year (how Pac12 of them).  Notre Dame wins 34-24
  • #18 UCLA at Washington - (FS1)  Having just written my Mid Year 2015 Draft look ahead article I couldn't help but notice just how many prospects Washington has that could be taken in the first few rounds.  If first year head coach Chris Peterson has started to move this team in the right direction I think this game could continue our Pac12 trend of the year that will result in all teams beating one another until everyone finishes 4-4 in the conference.  I've heard a lot about Shaq Thompson and look forward to watching him take on UCLA's one time Heisman hopeful QB Brett Hundley.  Washington wins 24-22
  • #7 Kansas State at #6 TCU - (Fox) For a conference without a championship game the Big12 championship is basically going to be decided on Saturday unless the winner here drops a game to an under-qualified opponent later on.  Both QBs here are a ton of fun to watch, TCU's Trevone Boykin was a WR until this year and KSU's Jake Waters is maybe the most under rated QB in college football this year, he almost engineered a win over Auburn a few weeks ago.  Kansas State wins 37-33
  • #15 Ohio State at #8 Michigan State - (ESPN)  This is the Big10 East championship and it's not really close.  After these two it's a four way tie of mediocrity between Rutgers, Maryland, Michigan, and Penn State for third with Indiana a distant last.  Lots of punditry has been saying that Michigan State has to win this game and win out for the Big10 to get an entry into the Playoff.  I agree that Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech is far worse than MSU's to Oregon or Wisconsin's to LSU but we have to remember that it was their QB's second start ever and first against a Power 5 Opponent and the team has played better every single week since then.  The Buckeyes that show up in Michigan on Saturday are a very different team than the one that lost to the Hokies.  (Personally, I was really hoping the Hokie losing version showed up when they played Rutgers but apparently that wasn't in the cards).  There has also been a lot of hype surrounding the Spartans draft eligible talent including QB Connor Cook, RB Langford, WR Lippett, and DE Calhoun but I think having seen a few more Ohio State games that despite the names not being as well known the Buckeyes can absolutely matchup with everything that MSU is going to throw at them.  I'll be most interested to see how the most heralded Defensive Coordinator in the game Pat Narduzzi matches up against one of the greatest Offensive innovators of the past decade in Urban Meyer.  Ohio State wins 32-24
Alabama is back in Death Valley on Saturday
  • #5 Alabama at #16 LSU - (CBS)  Alabama might still be the best team in college football but they just aren't playing like it lately.  Not that they are losing but their wins just seem so unspectacular like we'd expect from a team with as much collected talent as Alabama.  I did some recruiting analysis last week and looked at each team's four year recruiting rank average every year going back to 2002 when started doing a signing final ranking.   Alabama's average class over the past four years, was #1.  Not that LSU has been slacking off, their average class for the past four years is the 5th best with an average finish of 8th.  To put Alabama's average of #1 into perspective, the 2nd best in the game was Ohio State and their average finish is 5th.  For a team that can recruit like they do and has NFL players at almost every position, their QB has been so underwhelming.  McEvoy and McCarron both won a lot of games but neither was stellar like we've seen elsewhere.  I realize it's hard to find, recruit, sign and develop Hall of Fame Quarterbacks or even game changing QBs but I get the feeling that Nick Saban does not want that.  Maybe he just likes the predictability of a Pro Style offense but it would seem with the way he can recruit special players that a Spread Style game would exploit the playmaking ability of those special players by getting them in mismatches and in space.  Talking about this game specifically though we get to see another top ranked team going to LSU to play at night.  It's never a place that a team can feel confident and with LSU's defensive speed and Offensive Line strength against Alabama's non-prolific offense and relative rebuilding defensive line that we are set to see another upset.  Speaking of underwhelming QB play, has LSU had a QB to write home about since Jamarcus Russel?  Seriously.  He was probably the best QB that Les Miles ever had down there.  He made plays in College but it was clear pretty quickly how much those players around him made up for his lack of anything but arm strength.  LSU wins 15-13 (Classic SEC score)
  • #4 Oregon at #17 Utah - (ESPN)  Utah has been a great story this year and definitely plays a tough brand of football but they will not slow down Oregon.  Utah's defensive line is it's strong suit and they'll give the Ducks some trouble but over the course of the entire game Oregon will just be too much for them to handle.  They will find their playmakers in space and Utah will not be able to match up with them on the outside where we'll see some long Touchdowns.  Mariota has a chance here to further define himself as the best QB in College Football and it's worth watching just for that.  Oregon wins 48-27
  • Miami at Detroit - (CBS)  The Dolphins are 5-3 right now and might be the most unheralded team in the league with a winning record, even the Browns are getting some street cred.  The problem is that nobody knows who is on the Dolphins.  Rumor has it that Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller, and Mike Wallace are playing well.  Detroit's defense has been decent this year but they'll be without Nick Fairley this week and because of that the Dolphins could give them a run.  Unfortunately it sounds like Calvin Johnson is fully healthy again and will be playing this weekend which means to me that the Lions will definitely win here.  Detroit wins 32-20
  • San Francisco at New Orleans - (Fox)  Both teams are 4-4 and need to win every game they can as we head into the second half of the season.  These teams both have to be incredibly disappointed with the way the first half of the season has gone and I wouldn't have been particularly surprised if at the beginning of the season if you'd told me that these teams would both finish with 4 losses each.  The Saints offense seemed to get back on track last week and while they are at home again the 49ers have to realize that their backs are up against the wall as the Cardinals are running away with the NFC West and Seattle isn't going anywhere so if they want to make the playoffs, each game matters from here on out for them.  Saints win 30-27
Sanchez and Foles, ready for anything.  Thanks to @_Happy_Gilmore for the awesome photo
  • Carolina at Philadelphia - (ESPN)  Carolina got off to a hot start this season but have come back to earth lately as the serious lack of playmakers around Cam Newton has apparently caught up with them.  Kelvin Benjamin, the rookie WR is far and away their best threat but he is a rookie with questionable hands.  Their half dozen Runningbacks tend to get injured for three weeks at a time after every ten touches or so and have proven largely ineffective.  The Panthers defense has also not lived up to their standard of last year as one of the best in the league.  Unfortunately for the Panthers this is the beginning of the Sanchez Era in Philadelphia and there is no stopping the Eagles now.  He looked confident and accurate last week when he stepped in for an injured Nick Foles.  The Eagles are also slowly getting their OLine back together which means that McCoy should start to be more effective.  The biggest weakness for the Eagles right now is the back half of their defense.  That's right, the entire back half is now a weakness that Demeco Ryans is out with a torn achilles.  In my Mid Year 2015 NFL Draft look ahead article from yesterday I drafted UDub's  (Washington) outstanding LB Shaq Thompson to the Eagles and the Ryans injury is no small part of that.  Philadelphia wins 35-20
Enjoy the games!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mid Season 2015 Mock Draft

That's a nearly 300lb Defensive Tackle scampering down the sideline
We are now halfway through the NFL season and therefor have a halfway decent understanding of who is good and who is bad.  There is still a lot to shake out as far as how teams come together, get healthy, win more games, or don't in the second half but at this point I think it's fun to look ahead to the draft a little bit.    Let's use the Composite Power rankings from 247Sports' Sameer Bhuchar to get a Draft Order and I'll use my hours of College Football watching, Mock Draft reading, and general intuition to determine how teams will pick players.  Check the links to see the player's video from an awesome Draft site where available or just from Youtube if they didn't have one up yet.

SKOHRboard's Mid Season 2015 NFL Mock Draft
  1. Oakland Raiders - Leonard Williams, DE - USC
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Brandon Scherf, OT - Iowa
  3. New York Jets - Jameis Winston, QB - FSU
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Cedric Ogbuehi, OT - Texas A&M
  5. Tennesse Titans - Marcus Mariota, QB - Oregon
  6. Atlanta Falcons - Vic Beasley, OLB - Clemson
  7. Washington Redskins - PJ Williams, CB - FSU
  8. St. Louis Rams - Landon Collins, S - Alabama
  9. Chicago Bears - Randy Gregory, DE - Nebraska
  10. New York Giants - Dante Fowler Jr., DE/OLB - FSU
  11. Minnesota Vikings - Amari Cooper, WR - Alabama
  12. Carolina Panthers - Todd Gurley, RB - Georgia
  13. Houston Texans - Andrus Peat, OT - Stanford
  14. Cleveland Browns - Eddie Goldman, DT - FSU
  15. San Francisco 49ers - Tyler Montgomery, WR - Stanford
  16. San Diego Chargers - Marcus Peters, CB - Washington
  17. Buffalo --traded--> Cleveland - Bernardrick McKinney, ILB - Mississippi State
  18. Baltimore Ravens - Melvin Gordon, RB - Wisconsin
  19. New Orleans Saints - La'el Collins, OT - LSU
  20. Miami Dolphins - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB - Oregon
  21. Cincinnati Bengals - Cameron Erving, OT - FSU
  22. Kansas City Chiefs - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR - Mizzou/Oklahoma
  23. Pittsburgh Steelers - Danny Shelton, DT - Washington
  24. Detroit Lions - Ereck Flowers, OT - Miami
  25. Green Bay Packers - Denzel Perryman, LB - Miami
  26. Seattle Seahawks - Kevin White, WR - WVU
  27. Dallas Cowboys - Shawn Oakman, DE - Baylor
  28. Indianapolis Colts - AJ Cann, OG - South Carolina
  29. Philadelphia Eagles - Shaq Thompson, OLB - Washington
  30. Denver Broncos - TJ Yeldon, RB - Alabama
  31. Arizona Cardinals - Leonard Floyd, OLB - Georgia
  32. New England Patriots - Devin Funchess, TE - Michigan
What do you think?

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

College Football Weekly Digest 14.10

Treadwell is a stud.  The play he was injured on was the worst.
Let's all agree that Ole Miss and Auburn are very similarly capable football teams.  While watching that game, just as soon as I was ready to count one team out, they mounted a fierce drive and turned the tables.  There were exceptional plays being made on both sides of the ball.  It was an extremely entertaining example of what College Football can be.  Until, the horribly unfortunately injury to Ole Miss star WR Laquon Treadwell.  

I've written about him here before but he is a standout Sophomore WR who was the #1 ranked WR prospect in the country at the time of his somewhat surprising commitment to Ole Miss over just about every other school in the country.  He was certainly living up to the hype of a Top Prospect this season and Saturday was no different.  After catching a pass inside the 10, evading an Auburn defender and dragging another into the endzone, that hanger-on rolled up on the back of Treadwell's leg as he yanked him backwards before both fell into the endzone.  In doing so, he dislocated the WR's ankle which also caused him to fumble right at the goal-line.  In a split second a play that at full speed appeared to put the Rebels ahead with about 90 seconds to play turned catastrophic for them as not only did the injury take perhaps their best player out of play for probably the rest of the season but it erased a touchdown because he unfortunately dropped the ball just before he crossed the goal-line when his ankle was injured.  A fumble that the Tigers recovered.  

This was hard to watch.  I had no rooting interest in the outcome here but it was a spectacular individual effort by Treadwell and to see that happen to him and the team was just crushing.  To make matters worse, ESPN aired video of the injury no less than a dozen times from every conceivable camera angle as the poor man's foot wobbled in the wind as he spun into the endzone.  

The reason I'm writing all of this is that if you look at the polls this week you'll see Ole Miss down at 12 or 13 after basically playing the #3 team evenly if not outplaying them over four quarters.  The only case in which I understand people saying that they are now somewhere in the low teens is if you are taking into account the loss of Treadwell moving forward.  It's just silly, that loss despite the fact that it was a loss showed that Ole Miss is every bit as good of a team as Auburn and as far as I'm concerned should get ranked as such.

Now if I were to be choosing the Top 4 and this scenerio presented itself where one of Auburn or Ole Miss would make it in and the other would miss out, I'd put Auburn in due to the win and the loss of Treadwell for the Rebels but there are probably not 10 other teams that fall between these two in terms of ability to win any given game.  That's my piece on Top 25 rankings.  The record isn't nearly as important to me as the quality of play.

Heisman Update!
  1. Marcus Mariota
  2. Ameer Abdullah
  3. Laquon Treadwell, WR - Ole Miss
  4. Dak Prescott
  5. Everett Golson
  6. Melvin Gordon
  7. Amari Cooper
  8. Nick Marshall, QB - Auburn
SKOHRboard's Top 25
  1. Auburn +2
  2. Miss St -1
  3. Florida State -1
  4. Oregon +1
  5. Ole Miss +1
  6. Alabama +1
  7. Michigan State +3
  8. Ohio State +3
  9. Kansas State +3
  10. TCU -2
  11. Notre Dame -7
  12. Arizona State +8
  13. Nebraska +4
  14. West Virginia +2
  15. LSU -1
  16. Georgia -7
  17. Louisville +7
  18. Oklahoma +1
  19. Wisconsin +1
  20. Utah +2
  21. Clemson +4
  22. Arizona -6
  23. Baylor -10
  24. USC -1
  25. Marshall (NR)
Dropouts: East Carolina
In consideration: Florida, Iowa, Duke, Missouri, Colorado State, East Carolina

Picks from last week (P = Predicted, A = Actual Final Score):
  • P: FSU 42 - L'Ville 28 A: FSU 42 - L'Ville 31
  • P: Saints 32 - Panthers 23 A: Saints 28 - Panthers 10
  • P: Rutgers 27 - Wisco 23 A: Wisco 37 - Rutgers 0
  • P: TCU 52 - WVU 40 A: TCU 31 - WVU 30
  • P: Georgia 20 - Florida 13 A: Florida 38 - Georgia 20
  • P: Auburn 23 - Ole Miss 19 A: Auburn 35 - Ole Miss 31
  • P: Oregon 35 - Stanford 16 A: Oregon 45 - Stanford 16
  • P: UCLA 44 - Arizona 38 A: UCLA 17 - Arizona 7
  • P: Arizona 34 - Dallas 28 A: Arizona 28 - Dallas 17
  • P: Philadelphia 38 - Houston 20 A: Philadelphia 31 - Houston 21
  • P: Denver 30 - New England 27 A: New England 43 - Denver 21
  • P: Baltimore 27 - Pittsburgh 20 A: Pittsburgh 43 - Baltimore 23
  • P: Indy 30 - NYG 17 A: Indy 40 - NYG 24
Record for the week 9-4
Total record wince Week 8: 18-8

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