Craziest Time of the Year

The Holidays are often times referred to as the busiest time of the year but the end of October is by far the craziest for sports fans. We are in the middle of football season, both NCAA and NFL, the MLB postseason is nearing home plate and the NBA just started. Good thing NCAA basketball is still a few weeks out.

College football

NCAA football is getting ready to enter Week 10 of scheduled play. This year has been an interesting one with no one team sticking out. The favorites going into the 2015 season were last years National Champions the Ohio State Buckeyes. And while they have remained undefeated this year, one thing no one can let the BIG live down is their weakness of schedule. Alabama’s loss for a second year in a row to Ole Miss threw the polls through a loop, especially as Ole Miss failed to perform against lesser opponents as weeks went on. The No. 2 team going into the season, the Oregon Ducks, made everyone go crazy with a loss to the Utes. Utah had a nice run sitting in the top seven for a few weeks but after being dominated by a USC team that has dealt with a lot this season (cue drunken coach and firing), many are saying they were right all along for saying Utah didn’t deserve to be ranked with the “best.”

According to the AP poll here are the four teams headed to the CFP.

1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes have a bye this week

2. Baylor – The Bears have a bye this week

3. Clemson – Plays North Carolina at 1:30pm Sat. Oct. 31

4. LSU – The Tigers have a bye this week

According to the Coaches poll these are the CFP candidates.

1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes have a bye this week

2. Baylor – The Bears have a bye this week

3. TCU – Played West Virginia Oct. 29

4. LSU -The Tigers have a bye this week

NFL Football

The NFL is about to enter Week 8 of the 2015-16 season. There are currently five undefeated teams: the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. Six teams follow suit with 3-3 records – very subpar but second tier this season.

In the past ten NFL seasons, the average of losing teams in the league has been 13.5 and so far this year, that is being blown out of the water with 18 teams having losing seasons. But there is still plenty of football left to be played before February so hopefully these numbers will see some change.

Current top five:

1. New England Patriots – this week they play a Dolphin team that is on the rise; Thurs. Oct. 29

2. Green Bay Packers – this week at Broncos; Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

3. Cincinnati Bengals – this week at Steelers; Nov. 1 at 11:00 a.m.

4. Denver Broncos – will host Packers; Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

5. Carolina Panthers – this week at Colts; Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

MLB – World Series

After an exciting post season with surprise teams like the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburg Pirates, Houston Astros, and Toronto Blue Jays, the World Series finally kicked off. The New York Mets, another surprise team, and the World Series returners, the Kansas City Royals hit the mound on Oct. 27. The first two games were played in Kansas City and the Royals are now leading the series 2-0. Game 1 was a close one with the Royals beating the Mets 5-4, but New York was nowhere to be found in Game 2 where Kansas City ran away with it 7-1.

Game 3 will take place in New York on Oct. 30. The Mets really need a win to stay in it.

NBA

The 2015-16 season tipped off Tuesday night and people are already starting to make their predictions for East and West Champs. I’ve seen predictions for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami heat in the East, and Golden State and Oklahoma City Thunder in the West; not too different from last year.

So far if I have learned anything from Week 1, it’s not to jump to conclusions or start making any “educated” predictions just yet. Some outcomes have some people wanting to go one way or the other already, and others just back up what we may have already known

1. Thunder 112, Spurs 106 (The Thunder don’t want a repeat of last seasons missed playoffs)

2. Knicks 122, Bucks 97 (After 17 wins last season, the Knicks can only go up)

3. Timberwolves 112, Lakers 111 (Are the Lakers in for another long year? I hope not)

4. The Pelicans have already fallen to 0-2 with losses to the Warriors and Blazers.

5. Bulls 115, Nets 100 (I don’t see Brooklyn replicating last season)

6. Pistons 106, Hawks 94 (Pistons fans are ready for a 2004 comeback)

7. Celtics 112, 76ers 95 (76ers really bad or Celtics good? Celtics fans still want Rondo back)

8. Lebron James and his Cavaliers are 1-1. A 97-95 loss to the Bulls in Game 1 and a 106-76 win over the Grizzlies in Game 2. Are the Bulls really dependent on Derrick Rose’s health? Lebron James is having back issues, Kyrie Irving is also injured. Is the sky falling or not in Cleveland?

In case you forgot it’s October

It’s October, and October means baseball. Major League Baseball kicked off its postseason on Oct. 6, and the country is bracing itself for the World Series next week.

When playoffs started I was making jokes that we were living in the wrong century. Did you see the teams that made the playoffs this year? Cubs, Pirates, Blue Jays, Mets, Astros — I couldn’t believe it.

All baseball season I had been telling my friends that it was the Dodgers’ year. I was let down once again. In my head they were going all the way but if I had only took off my rose-colored glasses I could have told anyone that we would fall to the Mets.

After defeating my Dodgers, the Mets went on to sweep the Chicago Cubs — sorry to you “Back to the Future II” hopefuls — to solidify their spot in the World Series on Wednesday night. And now we wait to find out who will join them, the Toronto Blue Jays or the Kansas City Royals.

My love for baseball as a sport has me rooting for the Blue Jays. If the Blue Jays and the Mets are in the World Series, it would be great for the sport. The New York Mets haven’t for the pennant since 2000 and haven’t won a World Series since 1986. They haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2006.

Toronto hasn’t seen the postseason since they last won a World Series which was in 1993. I was 7 months old. The Blue Jays hit a dry spell of 22 years.

Going into the playoffs, my money was on the Blue Jays to be the ALS champions for a variety of reasons. They led the major league in runs, homers, extra-base hits, walks, on-base percentage, slugging and on-base plus slugging, just to name a few. They also scored 897 runs in 2015. No other team even came close; no other team even reached 800.

Currently Kansas City is leading the ALCS 3-2. Toronto had to pull out a 7-1 win Wednesday night in order to stay in it. I think the Blue Jays will force Game 7 with a win Saturday night, due to their strong offensive game, but as much as I’d like for them to be in the World Series, they’re going to fall short to the Royals.

Kansas City will make its second trip to the World Series in two years. Last year the Royals fell in seven to the San Francisco Giants, and that is only fueling their fire more.

Unfortunately for the Royals, I am predicting them to get sent home upset for the second year in a row.

Both teams have strong offenses, but where Kansas City falls short is in their starting pitching. It’s inferior to say the least — Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez proved that against the Blue Jays.

Poor pitching just won’t do against a New York team that has hit 13 home runs in nine postseason games — a new franchise record. The Mets have an offensive front led by a strong coaching staff. They knew the Cubs’ weaknesses, they knew my beloved Dodgers’ weaknesses and they exposed and disposed. Follow that up with their impressive pitching staff, and I can’t see them losing.

The Mets will return to New York with the Commissioner’s Trophy this year. I predict them beating the Royals in seven. Yes, it’s going to be a close one.

Underdog Mentality alive, well

10689604_10203271752213820_3988499210882142773_n

The Paul Bunyan Trophy graced the Duffy Daugherty building for 3 of my 4 years at MSU. Spartan’s have had it since 2013.

 

Underdog: a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest.

My first experience with the term was in 2006 when the Rose Bowl underdog — University of Texas — beat my childhood dream school, USC. I was heartbroken, my mom, who to this day always roots for the underdog, cheered for Texas, and I couldn’t understand how she could betray me.

That was seventh grade. I am now 10 years wiser and understand that statistics can’t always predict a game. I’ve learned that being the so-called “underdog” can be beneficial.

The story of the underdog goes back thousands of years. The first underdog we learn about growing up is David as in David and Goliath. We all love a good underdog story. Sports fans love the underdog idea so much that when making March Madness brackets you need to have at least two upsets and a “Cinderella team.” The idea of favored to win, underdog and major upsets, is what sports fans thrive on.

Last weekend, my most hated team growing up — Texas — beat Oklahoma, 24-17. Oklahoma was favored to win. Going in to the Red River Showdown, UT was 1-6, and sports reporters had been discussing head coach Charlie Strong’s job all week. OU had a seven-point spread. OU was 4-0 until Texas. No one saw it happening but it did and while Longhorn fans are rejoicing and Sooner fans can’t wait till next year, the sports world is stuck wondering how?

How did UT beat OU? How are the Cubs and the Astros in MLB post season right now? Like some would say, Texas had more on the line, they had more to play for and to prove.

In the words of my favorite college football coach, Mark Dantonio (MSU), “The pride comes before the fall.”

I truly learned what it meant to be the “underdog” and its benefits as an undergraduate student at Michigan State. Next to our in-state rival, Michigan, we always have been the underdog because of history.

Historically, the maize (it’s actually yellow) and blue have had the more successful program, but as of late it’s the Spartans running the state. Spartan nation has won six of the last seven meetings. We are now ranked seventh, after starting at fifth and spending a couple weeks at No. 2, we are 6-0. But Michigan is ranked 12th, is 5-1 in the season and is favored as always. Vegas has Michigan as the 6.5 point favorite in Saturday’s match up.

But that’s OK, I’m fine with it and I know Spartan nation is, too. We feed upon the doubters. We are fueled by never receiving the respect we have earned. MSU has always been the underdog and we are fine staying there.

For “underdogs” everywhere, it’s always better to shock people than to give them exactly what they expected. According to MSU starting quarterback Connor Cook, a “chip on the shoulder” isn’t so bad after all.

“We’re going to go into each and every game with the underdog mentality, that we’re going on out there and prove to everyone why we deserve the respect that we deserve,” Cook said.

Voters may exclude coaches from non-institutional football camps

cropped-lrgdcl1026.jpgLater this month, the NCAA is set to vote on an issue that has the potential to hurt football recruits coming from the non-contingent United States.

Currently Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision coaches are allowed to work and attend non-institutional football camps unless their conference says otherwise, meaning college football coaches are allowed to attend camps put on by a third party.

Two conferences — the SEC and the ACC Coastal Division — don’t allow their coaches to host camps or participate in camps 50 miles from their respective campus. These two conferences are now looking to ban coaches nationwide from doing so as well.

This ruling would require athletes to travel to the continental United States to attend football camps and ultimately be recruited. If the NCAA votes to instate this rule, it would be a discriminatory ruling due to economics.

Many players coming from the islands do not have the financial means to attend multiple camps, let alone one camp during their high school careers. On average a family from the islands will spend upwards of $1,500 for airfare, hotel, ground transportation, initial camp costs and food for one child alone. If a parent needs to travel too, that’s an additional $800. A second camp would add at least another $500 to the tab.

Currently in the state of Hawaii and American Samoa, multiple football camps are conducted by third parties. Recently retired Pittsburgh Steeler strong safety Troy Polamalu, previous University of Hawaii football coach June Jones and former NFL player Rich Miano all host camps in the islands. The Pacific Island Athletic Alliance as well as All Poly Sports host camps in the islands, giving exposure to local athletes.

In Hawaii alone, athletes can attend camp in front of 80 plus college coaches without the economic difficulty of traveling to the continent. If the NCAA vote is in favor of the SEC and ACC, this will no longer be a possibility.

If the rule is passed, this will be the second time in five years that the NCAA has put up more walls for athletes from the non-contingent states. In 2011, the NCAA banned coaches from attending combines — the Nike Combine and the PIAA combine in Hawaii each boast attendances with hundreds of athletes.

If this vote goes through, football players from the islands will be hurt, but so will college and professional football. College football may have lost its 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota, if this rule were to have been passed while Mariota was still in high school. Oregon first took notice of the 6’4″ Hawaii local at an in island combine.

Hawaii has produced on average 20 recruits per year between 2008 and 2013. In the 2015 NFL Draft, five of the first 66 picks were of Polynesian descent. More than 70 players in the NFL are of Polynesian descent. Currently, 30 NFL players are from American Samoa and more than 200 play Division I NCAA football. Eighty Hawaiian football players signed letters of intent last February.

The PIAA has started a petition to stop the vote from taking place. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the Exempt the 808 petition had 1,638 signatures.

If this ruling were to pass, the NCAA will penalize athletes for simply not living in the continental US of A. But even more so, the NCAA will be hurting itself.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/249/361/757/tell-the-ncaa-now-vote-for-a-hawaii-exemption/

Should Utah be in the top 4?

If college football playoffs were this weekend, there would be much debate. The AP Poll has Ohio State, Michigan State, Ole Miss and TCU. The Coaches Poll has Ohio State, Michigan State, TCU and Baylor. The Football Power Rankings chose Ohio State, Ole Miss, Michigan State and UCLA.

In all reality, how you feel the rankings should be going into Week Five is entirely dependent on what you think of Oregon in 2015. The biggest upset of the season so far was the 62-20 Utah win over the Ducks in Eugene. This game dropped Oregon from the top 25 for the first time in over four years, and now the Utes boast the best resume of the season.

This is the Ducks’ worst season opening in over a decade. Their two losses come from the current No. 2 Michigan State (31-28) and Utah. Their only wins came against “eh” teams — Eastern Washington (61-42) and Georgia State (61-28) — and the Ducks’ defense doesn’t leave anyone feeling very comfortable. This week Oregon heads to Boulder to take on Colorado, so it will take another few weeks to truly evaluate this Oregon team.

With the Utes’ upset over Oregon, some think they should be given a higher ranking than 10. Michigan State owes its No. 2 rank to a close win against the Ducks in East Lansing. The Spartans are 4-0 right now, but their other three wins come from “OK” teams and none were blowouts like they should have been.

Utah’s other big win of the season was against Michigan, who has broken the top 25 this week for the first time since 2013. Utah’s 24-17 win over the Wolverines didn’t seem like much until the Wolverines beat Oregon State and BYU, but even that’s not exactly impressive.

BYU’s most impressive game this season would be its 24-23 loss to UCLA despite their wins, by Hail Mary’s, against Nebraska and Boise State. UCLA is either in people’s top fours or just outside of it thanks to their 56-30 win over Arizona. The win wasn’t notable besides the fact that the Bruins were able to hold the Bears, who have a strong offensive game, to 20 points at home. UCLA’s win will look better if Arizona can take down Stanford on Saturday.

Another game outcome affecting rankings is the Ole Miss 43-37 win over Alabama, which was not great. The Roll Tide played sloppy, both teams had major turnovers and Bama had more yards despite the Rebel win. If Nick Saban and his team fall in Georgia this weekend, do the Rebels deserve to be in the top four either? Maybe a win against Florida on Saturday will help their case.

No. 1 seed Ohio State hasn’t been proving itself of that top spot. The Buckeyes’ only significant win was against Virginia Tech (42-24), but now that Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina, we are stuck wondering if they are only No. 1 because they were the 2014 champions. The Buckeyes head to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers on Saturday.

Baylor and TCU round out the teams in current playoff spots. TCU needed that tipped-pass miracle to avoid an upset by Texas Tech, 55-52. TCU has been challenged in every one of its games and its offense despite returning most of its players is not where it was last year.

Baylor’s first true match up of the season comes against the Texas Tech team that almost upset TCU. The Bears’ only other wins were over SMU, Rice and Lamar.

Looks like it will be another few weeks before I start to feel confident with my top-four choices and even then I will probably disagree when the CFP committee releases its first rankings on Nov. 3.