Saturday, December 8, 2012

Good Hire/Bad Hire? Breaking Down the Major College Football Coaching Hirings

by John Huffstetler

Tennessee Volunteers- Butch Jones from Cincinnati- Bad Hire- The main problem with Butch Jones is that he has never proven he can effectively recruit at Central Michigan or Cincinnati. In both of his previous stops, he followed Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was widely regarded as a fantastic recruiter. Kelly sent the likes of WR Antonio Brown, DE Dan Bazuin, OT Joe Staley, DE Conner Barwin, RB Isiah Pead, WR Mardy Gilyard to the NFL during his tenures at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. While Jones enjoyed success at both of his stops following Kelly, he left a dearth of talent at Central Michigan after he left because of his lack of recruiting (and most likely will at Cincinnati as well). The proof? Central Michigan is 12-24 since Jones left. Some might argue that this proves Jones was such a GREAT coach that his team could not survive his absence, but what this truly shows is how poorly he recruited and how little talent he left at the institution. Now, he must recruit players against the likes of Alabama, South Carolina, LSU, Georgia, Florida, etc. and there is absolutely ZERO proof he can get the players he needs to put Tennessee back in the elite realm. There were better candidates out there (like former OC David Cutcliffe) and Tennessee failed here.

Auburn Tigers- Gus Malzahn from Arkansas St.- Great Hire- The former offensive coordinator from the 2010 National Championship team returns as the head coach here at Auburn. Malzahn's innovative, up-tempo offense and the dynamic play of QB Cam Newton are widely credited as the main reasons for the Tigers title...not Gene Chizik. After Malzahn and Newton left, Chizik inexplicably switched offenses from Malzahn's up-tempo system and the new offense floundered over the next two seasons before his rapid firing following the disgraceful performance against Bama to end this season. With Malzahn back and coaching many of his former players, the offensive will immediately be more dynamic. Additionally, Auburn fans and boosters love Malzahn for his role in the 2010 title and will throw their support behind someone they view as an "Auburn" guy.

Arkansas Razorbacks- Bret Bielema from Wisconsin- Bad Hire- There is absolutely nothing wrong with Bielema as a coach. He's proven his ability to build national caliber offensive lines and establish strong rushing attacks, which are important characteristics of SEC football. You must run the ball and stop the run in the SEC; however, Bielema is not an "SEC' guy. He is an outsider. This hire reminds me of the ill-fated Rich Rodriguez experiment at Michigan. He was never a Michigan guy, and he was never embraced by the community. Bielema has been quoted within the past year bashing the SEC when talking about Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Referring to the SEC's recruiting tactics, Bielema said, "I can tell you this, we at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC in any way, shape, or form." How can you hire a man who openly criticizes the recruiting tactics in your conference?! This hiring boggles my mind. He is an absolute outsider and may never be anything more. This is just a bad fit.

Cal Golden Bears- Sonny Dykes from Louisiana Tech- Great Hire- Just a perfect fit here for both sides on this one. Dykes, like Gus Malzahn or Kevin Sumlin, has shown an innate ability to run up-tempo spread offenses with great success. An institution like Cal, which is currently struggling in recruiting compared to Pac-12 rivals USC, UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon, needs to have a hook to pitch to recruits. Potential talented recruits that are slightly off the radar of the big recruiting powerhouses will relish the opportunity to play in a system where they can expect to score 30+ points a game almost immediately. The question, of course, will be defensively. If Dykes can get enough athletes on defense and a solid coordinator, they could almost immediately compete in a Pac-12 South that is incredibly soft right now (remember when USC was AP #1 to start the season? Great job, AP).

Kentucky Wildcats- Mark Stoops from Florida St. (DC)- Great Hire- Although not as highly respected as the previous 4 jobs, Kentucky deserves acknowledgment for landing a highly respected Defensive Coordinator from a prestigious football family. Unlike fellow middling major conference programs in Purdue, NC St., and Boston College who hired unestablished mid-major coaches with little to no resumes, Kentucky actually made the right decision. My main question here is why Stoops, a highly respected coordinator, would accept a job that almost seems beneath him. The only rational reason is the "Cutcliffe" theory. When David Cutcliffe accepted the Duke job, he was a highly respected OC from Tennessee (wait, why didn't Tennessee hire him instead of Jones?). Because he had such low expectations at Duke, he was given extra time to build the program, and now, a 6-6 finish and a bowl game appearance makes him a hero. Stoops will similarly be given several years to put a program together and try to succeed. Unlike BC, NC St., and Purdue, who did nothing in their hirings to demonstrate the potential for improvement, Kentucky landed a great coach and they have a chance to flourish under his leadership.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

College Football Week 13 Reflections

by John Huffstetler

SEC >>>>>>>>>>> ACC- Of course, anyone who watches College Football already knows that the SEC is MUCH better than the ACC, but oddsmakers still installed both Florida St. (-7 vs. Florida) and Clemson (-4 vs. South Carolina) as favorites in their huge in-state tilts. In both instances, the SEC schools out-gained their ACC foes and dominated the 4th quarters on their way to outright victories. Additionally, Vandy and Georgia decimated Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, respectively, to push the SEC record to 5-1 on the season against the ACC. The lone ACC win came in the opening week when Clemson squeaked out a 7 point win against an Auburn that finished the season 0-8 in the SEC and then fired their head coach (see below). There will be at least one SEC/ACC match-up in the bowl season (Peach Bowl) to watch and see if this trend continues.

Big 12 = No Defense- It's absolutely pathetic how poor the defense is in the Big 12. There are two teams who have, on occasion, shown the ability to stop opposing offenses: TCU and Kansas St. Not surprisingly, they are the top-ranked Big 12 teams in yards per play at 5.1; however, this only ranks 33rd and 36th nationally. 5 teams (half of the conference) ranks 89th or lower in Defensive YPP, which is staggering for a major conference. On could argue that the Big 12 has strong, high-tempo offenses, which helps to account for the poor rankings, but this still shouldn't account for rankings that poor when also factoring in the poor out-of-conference schedules of most Big 12 squads. The Baylor 52 - Texas Tech 45 and Oklahoma 51 - Oklahoma St. 48 OT thrillers on Saturday were great games, but they demonstrate that the Big 12 desperately needs better athletes on defense if they want a team to emerge as a title contender next season.

Gene Chizik at Auburn firing makes sense/Danny Hope firing at Purdue makes no sense- When you consider how his players seemingly gave up on the season mid-way through. There were moments early in the season where Auburn looked like a potential bowl team with close losses to strong Clemson (by 7) and LSU (by 2) squads. By October, however, it already appeared like the Tigers had given up on being competitive. The offense was never strong, and hasn't been since Gus Malzahn departed to coach Arkansas St., but a defense that looked potentially strong early started to get gashed by Ole Miss for 41, Texas A+M for 63, Georgia for 38 and Alabama for 49. There just appeared to be a lack of effort and intensity, capped by there listless effort against Alabama. I watched Purdue battle in a tough-fought win over Indiana on Saturday to earn a bowl-berth and thought about how different these teams finished the year. Purdue battled for head coach Danny Hope for 3 straight wins and left every bit of their effort on the field. Obviously, the Hope  firing rumors have been there the whole season, but watching that Indiana game and seeing the energy and enthusiasm of the Purdue sideline says everything about Hope as a coach. Newsflash're Purdue!! You will not get great recruits. You need a guy who can get good recruits and coach up the player's he has. They played their hearts out for him and you just punched them all in the face.

USC Back-up QB Max Wittek is a future stud- "With the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Max Wittek, QB from USC." Wittek's stat line against Notre Dame was far from impressive with just 186 yards passing and 2 picks, but he showed me an incredibly quick release and off-the-charts arm strength. His comments before the game guaranteeing victory, although ultimately misguided, shows his confidence in his own abilities. He reminds me of Brett Favre when I watch him play. No player I've seen this year collegiately at QB impresses me more from a raw talent standpoint than Wittek. There does appear to be a major drop in QB talent coming to the NFL over the next 3 years following the recent surge in NFL-caliber talent. He will undoubtedly be a better NFL player than USC's highly-touted starter at QB Matt Barkley.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Angry Rant: Alabama beating an NFL team is laughable

by John Huffstetler

I don't know Steve, when you coached
the Skins and I coached the Dolphins,
we did pretty terribly.
This debate regarding great collegiate teams and poor NFL teams was rekindled by Steve Spurrier's comments about Alabama possibly being favored against some unnamed NFL teams. For starters, Alabama isn't even that good this year. Last year's Bama squad would beat this year's team, and last year's squad couldn't even beat LSU at home during the regular season (or top 6 points). This year, Bama's "brutal" schedule so far includes wins over Michigan, Miss St., Tennessee, Missouri, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. One of those teams is ranked...none are that good. They avoid playing Florida, Georgia, and Spurrier's South Carolina squad out of the East this year out of shear luck. Any of these teams would have a legitimate shot to beat the Tide on a neutral field. Most years, this team isn't even the best in the country, but there simply aren't many good teams this year (that's why average Kansas St. and Notre Dame teams are in the top 5).

There are so many options for high school players to choose from
Beyond the fact that Alabama is assuredly overrated this year, the thought that any college team could beat an NFL team is totally ridiculous. The talent level on any of the 32 NFL teams is much higher than any college team because of the significantly greater number of college squads and the level of maturity and physical development of the players. There are players on 124 FBS teams (pictured to the right) (and some players from other divisions as well) for the NFL to choose from, and they choose the best players. The natural counter argument to this is that Alabama gets the best prospects in the country to choose from; however, the spread is still dramatic. Many players choose a school close to their hometown or because they grew up liking a team. Not every great player just blindly chooses Alabama. There are also hundreds of players every year that go under the radar and earn their way onto an NFL roster through their development and achievement at smaller schools. Here's an all-star squad of players from non-division 1-a schools:

QB- Tony Romo- Eastern Illinois (or how about Joe Flacco from Delaware if you prefer)
RB- Fred Jackson- Coe College
FB- Mike Tolbert- Coastal Carolina
WR- Victor Cruz- UMass (Pictured to the left holding the Super Bowl trophy
Vincent Jackson- Northern Colorado
Marques Colston- Hofstra
Miles Austin- Monmouth

OL- Michael Roos- Eastern Washington
Willie Colon- Hofstra
Jahri Evans- Bloomsburg
Dan Connolly- SE Missouri St.
Chris Kuper- North Dakota
DE- Jared Allen- Idaho St.
Robert Mathis- Alabama A&M
DT- Stephen Bowen- Hofstra
Jacques Cesaire- Southern Connecticut
LB- Akeem Jordan- James Madison
London Fletcher- John Carroll
Stephen Cooper- Maine
CB- Brandon Carr- Grand Valley State (or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State if you prefer)
Cortland Finnegan- Samford (or Brent Grimes from Shippensburg if you prefer)
FS- Nick Collins- Bethune-Cookman
SS- Danieal Manning- Abilene Christian
K- Rob Bironas- Georgia Southern
P- Mike Scifres- Western Illinois

       Alabama wouldn't even beat that team. The point is, the NFL doesn't just take players from the best schools. This is a collection of the best 32 rosters of football players in the country. This list proves that there is talent scattered throughout the country that contributes to NFL rosters at a Pro Bowl level. Not to mention the fact that every player that is drafted into the NFL becomes better as their career progresses for years. Players get smarter and stronger in their mid-to-late 20's than they were from 18-22.

To compare the talent level on one NFL team to Alabama, let's take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs and their top players, since they are one of the teams being compared to this Crimson Tide squad, with a particular focus on their stellar collegiate careers:

Kansas City Chiefs

Quinn accepting the Johnny Unitas Award
QB- Brady Quinn- Although largely ineffective on the pro-level (because of the higher talent level in the NFL), Quinn set 36 Notre Dame records during his collegiate career. In 2005, he finished 4th in Heisman voting, while winning the Sammy Baugh trophy as the nation's top QB. In 2006, he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Maxwell Trophy as the best college football player. He also finished 3rd in Heisman voting.

RB- Jamaal Charles- As a true freshman at Texas in 2005, Charles rushed for 878 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 7.4 yards per carry average to help Texas win the National Championship. In his Junior year (his final collegiate year), he rushed for over 1,400 yards, including a 290 yard game against Nebraska. He ranks 4th in Texas history in rush yards (despite skipping his Senior year) behind only Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell, and Cedric Benson.

WR- Dwayne Bowe- Bowe started 31 games for LSU (in the precious SEC) where he recorded 154 catches, 2,403 yards, and a school-record 26 TD's. In his senior year, Bowe earned 3rd-team All-American honors and 1st-team All-SEC honors for the top-5 Tiger squad.

Big #11- Derrick Johnson
LB- Derrick Johnson- Johnson was one of the most dominant LB's in the country during his career at Texas. He finished his career with 281 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 9 Int's and 11 Forced Fumbles. He was a first-team Big-12 selection 3 times, first-team All-American twice, and he won the Dick Butkus award as the best linebacker in the country and the Bronco Nagurski award as the best defensive player in the country during his Senior season.

SS- Eric Berry- In his three years with Tennessee, Berry racked up 241 tackles (as a cornerback) and had 14 Ints. Considered nationally to be the best shut-down corner in the country, he earned the following accolades: 2-time First-team All-American, 3-time All-SEC, 2007 SEC Defensive Freshman of the year, 2008 Vince Dooley Award, 2008 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2008 and 2009 Jack Tatum Award winner, and 2009 Jim Thorpe Award winner.
Glenn Dorsey holding the National Champ. Trophy

DT- Glenn Dorsey- Although he has struggled to stay healthy and find consistency on the pro-level, Dorsey was one of the most decorated defensive tackles of all-time while at LSU. He was twice named first-team All-SEC and All-American. In 2007, he won SEC defensive player of the year, the Lombardi trophy, the Outland trophy, the Bronco Nagurski trophy, and the Lott trophy while racking up 69 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 7 sacks for the National Champion Tigers.

I could go on as Brandon Flowers (VaTech), Tamba Hali (Penn St.), Javier Arenas (Alabama), Brandon Siler (Florida), Tyson Jackson (LSU), Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss), Steve Breaston (Michigan), and Eric Winston (Miami Fl.) among others had stellar careers for major collegiate football programs. The point is that the Chiefs are LOADED with collegiate football talent. They are essentially a collegiate All-American team unto themselves. Take these collegiate resumes and match them up with the resumes of the current Bama players. It's not even a comparison. This a collection of some of the most decorated collegiate athletes in the country over the past decade...and they're now 1-7 this year. Again, because there are only 32 NFL teams compared to over a hundred college teams, and these are men...not boys.

So shut up Steve Spurrier and others, and show these decorated, accomplished NFL players like the Chiefs some respect. Comparing them to a college team is not only an absolutely ridiculous argument, but it's disrespectful to these teams and players who deserve more respect than to be compared to a group of children who aren't even that good to begin with. I'm instituting a new policy: Anyone who makes the argument that Alabama could beat a pro team can legally be punched in the face without repercussions. I'm flying to South Carolina now to punch Spurrier squarely on his outrageously red cheeks.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NBA Betting: Season Over/Unders

by John Huffstetler

Over the past few years in College Football, NFL, and NBA season over/under bets, I've profited in each sport every season. Season bets are basically the best and easiest (and most under-utilized) bets that exist in sports gambling. You don't have to break down every individual matchup, or see what team is in a favorable spot for any game, or hope sweat a -7 in the NBA when your team is up 8 because of late-game fouling. You just need to try and predict which teams will have good/bad seasons based on offseason changes, schedules, injuries, etc, and pull for them to win straight up against their opponents. If you are trying to break into sports gambling without knowing anything and you don't want to lose all of your money, just bet a few solid season bets. You will be entertained all year and have a better chance of winning because of the long-term nature of the bet. For example, I made exactly one MLB bet the entire year last year (because I know nothing about day-to-day baseball): Washington Nationals over 83.5 wins for 3 units of profit. As a result, I was invested in every game they played and had a win wrapped up by August for a profitable season. That being said, I know much more about the NBA. Here are my plays on the NBA this year for season over/unders:

The test case for if you can have a Unibrow and still get buns
Top Play: New Orleans Hornets Over 27.5 Wins- I played this for 3 times a normal bet because I'm completely confident in the result. If you only made one NBA bet this year, this is it. Based on adjusted win totals last year (NOTE: THERE WERE ONLY 66 GAMES LAST YEAR/ ADJUSTING FOR AN 82 GAME SEASON ON EVERY TEAM LAST YEAR), the Hornets had 26 wins with a pathetic roster assembled by David Stern and the league office who took control of the team after bankruptcy of the owners. To start, Gordon was injured a large majority of the season but the team was 6-3 and showing a pulse when he was healthy. He is by far their best returning player, so his health is essentially like adding another big free agent. In addition to Gordon, New Orleans added two other potential all-stars in Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis. Anderson was a fantastic free agent acquisition from salary-dumping Orlando. He had a fantastic year this past year, and in fact, I wrote this article discussing how he should have been a starter in the all-star game for the East because of his play. Not to mention Davis, who proved last year at Kentucky that he is an elite defensive player while  protecting the ball, rebounding effectively, and scoring when needed. Davis will make an immediate impact on the NBA level and could potentially win Rookie of the Year. Look for New Orleans not only to surpass 28 wins but possibly contend for a playoff spot out West.

Going to keep the rest of these short and sweet so I can have this done by Wednesday (Note: I played both Boston and Miami under their totals because of their penchant for not caring about the regular season, but they've both already played their openers).

Atlanta Hawks Over 43 Wins- Few teams have had a more intelligent offseason than the Hawks and new GM Danny Ferry. They get rid of overpaid bums like Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams (thus helping their financial future) while adding more valuable pieces like Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, and Devin Harris, and maintaining their true nucleus of Josh Smith and Al Horford. This team should at least match last year's win pct. because of their savvy acquisitions.

S my D, Philly
Philadelphia 76ers Under 47 wins- If not for the addition of an injured Andrew Bynum, Philly would have had the worst offseason in the NBA. I don't need to give stats to prove how bad Kwame Brown, Nick Young, and Jason Richardson are. Those names say enough. The loss of Lou Williams scoring on the perimeter and the defense of Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, plus the questionable health of Bynum make Philly a team that would be lucky to earn an 8 seed.

Denver Nuggets Over 50 wins- The addition of Andre Iguodala to this already deep roster gives them a terrific starting backcourt of Lawson, Iguodala, Gallinari. Plus, they reached 47.2 adjusted wins last year with several injuries (and players in China). This year, their starting five is stronger and their bench is as deep as ever. Not to mention, they got rid of their worst player who received playing time in Al Harrington in a trade this offseason. Addition by subtraction factor.

Phoenix Suns Under 31.5 Wins- I don't usually like playing teams with low win totals "under" their wins, but this backcourt is abysmal following the loss of Steve Nash. I'm ok with Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley, but Telfair, Beasley, and Wesley Johnson are just dreadful. I can't see anyone here shooting well from the field. Plus, this team only had 42 adjusted wins last year with Nash, and he is one of the more valuable players in the league. Terrible team.

Toronto Raptors Over 34.5 Wins- The Raptors are always a good bet "over" because everyone just assumes they suck (I played them over for a win last year). They actually made some pretty good offseason acquisitions by adding Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields, and they brought in Jonas Valanciunas from Europe. They have talent already on the roster with Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Jose Calderon, and Ed Davis, but their continuing problem is their insistency to play a terribly inefficient Andrea Bargnani significant minutes. I wrote an article last season ranking the most overrated players in the NBA and Bargnani was #1. Hopefully, the additions to the roster will limit his playing time enough to elevate the Raptors to the next level.

I'm grossly overpaid
Brooklyn Nets Under 45 Wins- The hype is absolutely out of control. They added a way-over-the-hill Joe Johnson and a Gerald Wallace late last season who was better in Charlotte than Portland. They also get back a healthy but questionably important (see #4 on my overrated list from above) Brook Lopez from injury last season. To be honest, I don't see where this win total comes from besides the massive hype. Deron Williams is a good (not great) point guard and he is surrounded by old or overrated fringe stars. Reggie Evans, MarShon Brooks, and Josh Childress off the bench are promising, but they won't get enough minutes to make a difference on this likely non-playoff team.

New York Knicks Over 46.5 Wins- I've been criticizing the Knicks moves and the performance of Amare and Melo for years, but they're finally figuring it out. Last year's addition of Tyson Chandler was a fantastic move to combat the defensive failings of "Carmare," and they followed that up this offseason with the additions of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton at Point Guard. They also added defensive stalwarts Ronnie Brewer and Marcus Camby to make virtually everyone on the roster besides their two "stars" defensively stout. Helping the Knicks this year is the early season injury to Amare. The team should perform better in his absence without the defensive black hole of "Carmare" in effect.

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Angry Rant: Running Backs are Overrated (and I blame ESPN and Fantasy)

by John Huffstetler

Pretty easy to score when you just walk in
I've ranted against ESPN before in an article that discussed how they were more of an entertainment network than a sports network, and this issue ties directly to that issue of athlete glorification. Running Backs on the pro level simply are not nearly as important as they are perceived. In fact, of all the offensive and defensive positions, one could argue that running back is the least important. The offensive line's ability to block and create space for a back to operate is a dramatically more important factor in creating rushing yards than a back's perceived ability. Granted, there are a handful of players who can make a difference in their teams' success or failure on any given week, but outside of this small list, they are all basically interchangeable.

You're not that good, CJ2K
What evidence is there to support this theory? For starters, there is an obvious growing trend to split carries in the NFL, which shows teams are willing to choose the fresher back over a "better" back in many situations. These teams also do not want one player to gain too many yards, gain to much acclaim, and overestimate their own value (see the MJD and Chris Johnson holdouts). Additionally, Football Outsiders has a great statistic that attempts to measure a RB's value while taking away the yards that the offensive line directly generated for that player. DYAR (Defensive-adjusted yards above replacement) gives "the value of the performance on plays where this RB carried/caught the ball compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage." In this telling statistic, 16 of the 32 starters in the league are either equal to or worse than their backups when combining rushing and receiving totals. These numbers can be found here.
Wait, how is Chan Gailey a head coach again?

CJ Spiller (technically a backup because of Chan Gailey's own stupidity) is #2 in the entire league in this stat! The starters that are significantly better than their replacement(s) (50 yards or more difference) can be counted on two hands and several are the obvious ones: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris, Willis McGahee, Doug Martin, and DeMarco Murray. That's it. Notice that most of these players receive a majority of carries over their replacements when healthy as well. There are three players that receive a decided majority of carries but this year are worse than an average replacement: LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, and Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis. All big names, yet all 3 teams would be better off with an average NFL replacement than these rushers this year. McFadden has been particularly dreadful with a -103 mark (worst among rushers receiving over 63 carries). Trent Richardson, the Browns "terrific" pick in last years draft is -22 rushing the football compared to an average replacement (though he makes up for it with a +66 receiving mark), yet he warranted a Browns trade to make him a top 3 pick? Not whatsoever, as we discussed in our draft blog the night of the draft.

So why are running backs so overvalued? First, the ESPN bottom line for every game lists either the stats for the QB, RB, WR, or TE. I understand that it is difficult to quantify how well an O-line does during a game, but ESPN makes no effort to attempt to credit the O-line. The way some ESPN analysts discuss the way a back played contributes to this fallacy as well. Running backs are routinely highlighted for their "great play" without mention of the how the offensive line allowed them to be untouched for 10 yards. Here are the highlights from last Thursday night's Tampa Bay/Minnesota game and the 214 yards gained by Doug Martin largely because of the Tampa Bay blocking. Notice how Martin barely gets touched until he's several yards downfield on most carries because all he needs to do is run to the open space. A running back is only as good as the blocking in front of him. ESPN routinely misses the mark on this principle.

Fantasy football is to blame as well with every idiot who plays fantasy football thinking that the best fantasy players are also the best real players. There's a reason why Arian Foster rushes for a ton of yards every year, and it's not his's the Texans fantastic O-line. Back in the day, the Chiefs had the best O-line in the league and they made Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson look like Barry Sanders. As soon as LJ left the Chiefs, his career was over because he was never that good to begin with. There's a reason the Patriots go through RB's like toilet paper. They know it's their offensive line that makes the running game work. I understand it would be difficult to credit an offensive line for their effort in fantasy, but why not credit rush yards gained as a team, pancake blocks, and subtracting for sacks allowed? Seems like a legitimate formula to me. At least then the thousands of fantasy players in this country who know nothing about the sport can at least begin to understand what actually makes a team successful. Hopefully, we can start to change this perception and credit the great offensive lineman this league has to offer that relatively anonymously guide their teams to glory.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

A Rebuttal to Rick Reilly: Luck or RG3

If you haven't had a chance to read Rick Reilly's article about Andrew Luck being better than RG3 this year, then consider yourself lucky.  Because rather than giving sound evidence and explaining his point, he gives you misleading statistics and tries to be the funny guy.  I'm still not even sure how this guy got a job with ESPN--he should be writing for the Bristol gossip column.  But enough about him, let's focus on why RG3 is, without a doubt, having the better season at quarterback.

First, I would like to preface with the fact that both of these players are great.  Not just good, but they are both playing at an extremely high level for rookies, and they both have incredibly bright careers.  But I've been in love with Robert Griffin III since I wrote about him December 8, 2011.  And so far this year, everything has come true.  So this article is meant to take nothing away from Andrew Luck--it is meant to take everything away from Rick Reilly, while anointing RG3 even more than he has been already.

Reilly's first point, "Luck runs more successfully than Griffin.  He's had 10 scrambles for first downs.  Griffin has had 9."  Stop the presses.  10-to-9!  Reilly, you son of a bitch.  You win this round.

Oh wait, no you don't.  while a 10-9 victory in "runs for first downs" is surely a reason to say Luck's better than RG3, I think looking at a complete scope of rushing statistics would be a bit more effective.  Considering RG3 averages 7.3 yards/carry, compared to Luck's 5.8, says a bit more than your 10-9 statistic.  And he's doing all of this while teams are specifically game-planning to take away his running ability.  And, since it seems like you didn't see it, here's Griffin vs. the Vikings.  Luck is a good runner in his own right, but to even make the case that he's a better running quarterback is asinine.  Griffin is 13th in the league in rushing, while Luck fails to crack the top 40.

Reilly's next point, "Luck is asked to do more than Griffin and is doing it.  His average pass completion travels 8.6 yards in the air, highest in the NFL.  Griffin's is 5.8, one of the lowest." This sounds like a statement from a guy who's never watched a game of football in his life, not an "esteemed ESPN columnist."  Many uneducated football fans use this "yards in the air" stat for quarterbacks, and it's a terrible statistic.

Reilly says, "Sixty-nine percent of the Colt's passing yards are gained while the ball is in the air, the rest after the catch.  Only 49% of the Skin's passing yards come through the air.  In other words, Griffin still has his training wheels on.  Luck has his license."

Merrill Hoge (and I don't like citing him on football knowledge because he's not very knowledgable, but he was very astute in his breakdown of Luck and RG3), while analyzing Luck vs. Griffin before the draft, showed tape where, time after time, RG3 would throw a football and lead his receiver to open space.  His Luck-counterpoint was tape where, time after time, Luck would make the receiver go down to catch the football or throw behind the receiver, limiting yards after the catch.  This analysis has been the most accurate of any in comparing Luck and RG3 in their rookie years, and it holds true in Reilly's cited statistics.  Yes, Luck may be completing 8.6 "air-yards" for every completion, but RG3 is completing 70.4% of his passes, compared to just 53.6% for Luck.  And he's done it all without his #1 receiver, Pierre Garcon.  It's not like he's got a future Hall of Famer to throw to like Luck does in Reggie Wayne.  Also, while QB rating can be a misleading statistic, RG3 is 3rd in the league in QB rating, while Andrew Luck is 31st.  That sort of discrepancy is never misleading.

Then, Reilly goes on to say that "Katy Perry in heels" could complete 60% of her passes in the Redskins offense, another reason why he should apply for a job with the National Enquirer.  Tom Brady always used to get blamed for throwing short passes, too, but why wouldn't you?  There's less risk involved, you still get the ball in the hands of your playmakers, and it's clearly effective in today's NFL.

He also says that Luck has been more heroic.  More heroic?  I'm not even sure what that means, to be honest.  But I think what RG3 did against the Giants was the definition of "heroic."

All of the points Reilly makes are points that my sister, who hasn't watched a football game in 10 years (she's too busy doing yoga and not eating anything with a face), would make.  He might as well have started the article with, "The Indianapolis Colts have prettier colors!"  At least I wouldn't have wasted my time reading it.

Do us all a favor, Reilly, and stop writing articles.  To quote Coach Riley from the Mighty Ducks, "You're not even a has-been, you're a never-was."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Angry Rant: College Football Conference Realignment is the Worst!

by John Huffstetler

Much to the detriment and confusion of fans, the major conference power struggle in recent years has completely shuffled the structure of college football. Not only are some teams way outside of their geographic regions (see West Virginia in the Big 12), but the divisions established within these new conferences usually make no sense at all. Why can't each team be in their own geographic region and in  divisions that actually make sense? Would it be too difficult for the ACC and Big Ten to organize their teams into two divisions that people can actually remember? Why is Missouri in the SEC East even though they're located further west than 5 SEC West teams? The rest of this rant will break down the annoying nuances of conference realignment conference by conference and fix College Football's terrible newly established divisions.

Big 12

First of all, you have 10 teams now. It reminds me of my brother claiming he's 5'8" when he's clearly 5'6" at best. They were down to 8 before adding TCU and West Virginia. TCU makes perfect sense. They're a school from Texas with the potential to be a perennial top 25 team nationally. They fit in already as natural rivals with Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. West Virginia, however, is ridiculous! There were multiple teams that made more sense than WVA that the Big 12 could have invited to join the conference.

First of all, West Virginia is a terrible state and has an overrated football team. Making teams in your conference travel to West Virginia once every two years is basically a prison sentence. Nobody wants to go to West Virginia. Not even West Virginians. Secondly, they are located NOWHERE NEAR EVERY OTHER TEAM! Would Houston have been that terrible to get instead? Their football program is strong and they're located in Texas where 4 other Big 12 teams reside. How about Boise St.? They obviously would have turned down the Big East and joined the Big 12 instead. I could go on, but the point remains that there were many viable options that were more geographically suitable for the Big 12 that don't involve the worst state in the US. Here's what the Big 12 should look like (let's actually give them 12 teams too):

My Big 12

Oklahoma St.
Kansas St.
Iowa St.
West Virginia
Boise St.

Texas Tech

Wow, great job ACC. These make perfect sense.

With the ACC, at least the teams in the league make sense, but the divisions are total nonsense. I'll pay anyone $100 if they can name every team in each division. You might remember that Clemson and Florida St. are on the same half and that Miami and Virginia Tech are on the other half, but you'll probably have to double-check on where the dogshit teams like Duke, Virginia, and Wake Forest fall. Plus, the division names are infuriating! Atlantic and Coastal. That's almost as pathetically lame as Legends and Leaders (see the Big Ten). Why couldn't the ACC just structure the divisions based on geography? Oh, now I remember. They originally wanted Florida St. and Miami to be on opposite sides of the conference so they could play in the conference title game. Only problem is that they've both been mediocre for the last decade. Here are the conference championship game results over the 7 years the game has existed with Florida St.'s and Miami's appearances in bold:

2005- Florida St. over Virginia Tech
2006- Wake Forest over Georgia Tech
2007- Virginia Tech over Boston College
2008- Virginia Tech over Boston College
2009- Georgia Tech over Clemson
2010- Virginia Tech over Florida St.
2011- Clemson over Virginia Tech

Notice the lack of bold. Florida St. has been to the title game twice and Miami ZERO Times. You CAN'T organize a conference based on the possibility of two teams meeting in the title game. That is a short-sighted approach. The ACC should have been geographically organized, and this lack of geographic organization has completely crippled their conference's rivalries, and undoubtedly stifled them in recruiting. Now, Pitt and Syracuse will be joining this mess and the proposed North and South divisions STILL have Miami and Florida St. in opposite divisions! Did they learn nothing from this current alignment? Here is the way the divisions should look right now:



Boston College
Virginia Tech


Wake Forest
NC St.
Georgia Tech
Miami Fl.
Florida St.

So much simpler! Split up the North Carolina teams and put the Northern teams together and the Southern teams together. So what if one half looks stronger. Just divide it up logically.

Big Ten

Hey guys, my team is in the "Rainbow Fairy Division"
Two words: Leaders and Legends. These are the names of the divisions? Why? First of all, there are exactly zero "Legends" from Minnesota, and the "Leaders" at Penn St. and Ohio St. have proven to be complete scumbags. Plus, the division names are so cheesy. As a Michigan fan, it's hard to say we're in the "Legends" division without sounding like a gigantic pussy. Just like the ACC, the divisions make no sense based on geography or rivalries either. Also like the ACC with Florida St. and Miami (and we've seen how that has turned out), the Big Ten wanted to put Ohio St. and Michigan on opposite sides of the conference so they could potentially play in the title game. This throws everything else in the conference out of whack. It's not as big of a mess as the ACC, but the divisions could still improve. Swapping Wisconsin and Illinois for Michigan and Michigan St. would essentially solve the problem and create "East" and "West" divisions. This would give the added bonus of not feeling ashamed to say what division your fucking team is in! Oh and by the way, I'm changing the conference name from the Big 10 to the Big North.

My Big North

East (How awesome does this division look to watch by the way)
Penn St.
Ohio St.
Michigan St.



This line looks a little crooked
I'm going to keep this one short: Your conference was already fantastic. Why are you adding Big 12 trash and throwing off your perfect East/West balance? Missouri in the East? Gross. Plus, if you put Missouri in the West, the only sensible geographic move would be to split up the Alabama and Auburn rivalry, which is unacceptable. My solution is to go back in time and tell Missouri and Texas A+M to fuck off and stay in the Big 12. Why mess with perfection.

No Complaints Pac-12

Every other conference botched it in some way except the Pac-12. They added two teams: Colorado and Utah. Although both teams aren't particularly good, they at least make sense geographically. There is a clear North/South dividing line. They didn't try to put two teams on opposite sides so they can play in a title game once every 5 years if they're lucky. They just divided the teams up geographically and moved on. If only every other conference would have done the same. We wouldn't have to deal with teams in ridiculous conferences with terribly named divisions.

Is this nightmare salvageable? Probably not. Unfortunately, the perception of monetary gain drives the conference expansion and division of teams rather than logic and order. Next year, Boise St. will be in the Big East and West Virginia will remain in the Big 12. There is something just so wrong with that. It just feels dirty. And why hasn't the ACC learned that rigging divisions so Miami and Florida St. play in the title game didn't work? They're about to make the same mistake again with their proposed divisional alignment for next year. It might be over a decade before Miami and Florida St. happen to meet in the title game. That's not worth bastardizing your conference's divisional alignment. Learn from your mistakes and set the new divisions up correctly.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Angry Rant: Ryan Lochte is a D-Bag

by John Huffstetler

After the 2012 Summer Olympics, Ryan Lochte celebrated his achievements with a whirlwind publicity tour to discuss his amazing accomplishm....oh wait, he only had two golds? Oh, and one was a team race. He was embarrassingly passed by Yannick Angel in the final leg of the 4x100 relay to cost the United States the medal? He was passed in the 200 Back by teammate Tyler Clary and finished third? He lost to Michael Phelps (a legitimate champion) in the 200 IM? Doesn't sound like he did anything in the olympics. So why is this magnificent douchebag (seen to the right sporting a "grill" while holding his one individual gold) going on a publicity tour like he's a conquering hero?

Why? Because Ryan Lochte loves himself some Ryan Lochte. I can just picture him at home making out with his own reflection in the mirror, then walking to his closet where he keeps his 130 pair of shoes (not kidding) and picking out a sick pair. The "highlight" of his shoe collection are his neon green abominations (pictured to the left) with "Ryan" on the right sole and "Lochte" on the left. Oh, he also markets and wears shirts that have his own name and "made in the USA" (pictured below) on them. This means that at some point, he must have simultaneously worn a t-shirt and shoes with his own name on them at the same time. Yeah, that's not self-indulgent at all. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that he was TERRIBLE in the Olympics!!! The wardrobe issues don't stop there either. He has said about his amazing style: "All the stuff that I do, like, the crazy shoes I wear, like the grills I wear on the podium, the crazy shoes, all that crazy stuff- like, rock star." First of all, that sentence is an abortion of the English language. Second of all, he mentioned his shoes twice in the same sentence. Third of all, how on Earth can he call himself a "rock star" when he's spent the majority of his life in a fucking speedo (including Pink ones apparently).

Beyond all of the obvious wardrobe issues, Lochte recently put in a trademark for the word "Jeah!" At this point, I'm having a hard time typing because I'm paralyzed with rage, but I'll do my best. By most reports, he basically stole the catchphrase from a Young Jeezy song, yet according to him, he changed Jeezy's word from "Cheah" to "Jeah" to make it his own. He explains it using monosyllabic words and grunts on this riveting video here. Warning: That video is cringeworthy. Not only is it the worst catchphrase on Earth and more than likely stolen, he believes in his pea-sized brain that he needs to trademark this amazing catchphrase to capitalize monetarily.

There are countless other examples of his world-class swimming douchebaggery, but I will leave you with some words of wisdom from Ryan Lochte's very own Twitter feed:

You're not one of the greatest athletes. Get over yourself. I assume you meant "plan" instead of "plain also, since God definitely doesn't have a "plain" for everyone. I see you got your catchphrase slipped in there too. Good for you!!

The only thing that is second is you in every race you swim. Way to be second best.


I could use some explanation about what the fuck this means.

Don't you literally do the opposite of that when you jump into a pool?

It's almost as if he's just pointing blindly at a dictionary to decide what word to use next.

The stars are infinitely further away from Earth than the Moon, Ryan.

And finally, some motivational words from America's dumbest dbag:

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Three Fantasy Football Thoughts

It's been over two weeks since I last posted, but with the start of school happening I've been caught up getting used to the new school year.  Anyway I figured I'd make a list of 3 things I have noticed so far this year in fantasy football. Some of my observations are more in depth (e.g. number 2)  while some are more quick (e.g. number 1).  It's totally random.

Three Observations
Fantasy owners don't find this funny
1. Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, and Jamaal Charles
Through two weeks CJ0K, DMC, and J-Mail (I so dearly love bad nicknames) have combined for 29 fantasy points.  That's six "weeks" of fantasy action from three consensus top ten running backs.  That's  an average of 4.8 points per game for these three.  If you project that over a sixteen game season this player would end with 77 fantasy points.  Trent Richardson has averaged 14 fantasy points per game over two weeks, and is the #10 fantasy running back.  Over 16 games Richardson would score 224 fantasy points, giving the fake running back a massive VADP of -147.  Whew that's brutal.  If you own them I'd be worried, Charles not so much because it seems he might've gotten injured in his most recent game.  All three are good "buy-low" candidates, but only if you can get them for pretty darn low.  Right now they are all #2 running back starters, but I wouldn't feel confident starting any of them.

2. Wide Receiver is a Mess
Jumping into the top ten
Only nine wide receivers scored 10 points or more in both week 1 and 2.  Only three scored 12 or more in both week 1 and 2.  None scored 15 or more in both week 1 or 2.  As a fantasy owner this frightens me.  As a fantasy owner I want to own one of those nine, and especially one of those three.  The nine are Demaryius Thomas, Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin, Brandon LaFell, Malcolm Floyd, Steve Johnson, Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith, and Percy Harvin.  Not one of those players was ranked as a top ten fantasy player in ESPN's standard wide receiver rankings.  The three are Demaryius, Wayne, and Austin.  Of those three none am I comfortable saying are going to be top 10 receivers this year (though I think Wayne and Demaryius have a pretty good chance).  Fantasy points are a good indicator of a wide receivers ongoing value, but targets and yards I find much more interesting.  In terms of yards, the only players to accumulate over 75 yards both weeks are Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson, Desean Jackson, Roddy White, Percy Harvin, and Demaryius Thomas.  Those six are another six who I feel comfortable starting, and considering high end fantasy performers.  Lastly the group of players who have gotten at least seven targets in both games is slightly larger, but still important.  This list contains Danny Amendola, Victor Cruz, Percy Harvin, Brandon Lloyd, Vincent Jackson, Roddy White, Brian Hartline, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, Donnie Avery, Santonio Holmes, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Denarius Moore, Eric Decker, Mohammed Massaquoi, Michael Crabtree, and Julio Jones.

Do the John Wall...
If you combine a players targets per game, fantasy points per game, and yards per game divided by eight (you divide the players yards per game by 8 in order to balance that number with the rest), and you average the total you get a metric I made up myself called estimated fantasy value (EFV).  Using only players in one of the first two groups above (group three players can have skewed totals if they had one big game, and then another poor game where all they got were the targets) I came up with a list of top wide receivers based on their performance so far, and how it should translate to the future.  1. Reggie Wayne - 12.7  2. Demaryius Thomas - 11.92  3. Roddy White 10.94  4. Percy Harvin 10.92  5. Calvin Johnson - 10.77  6. Steve Smith - 10.21  These six are the top half of the 12 players who I "graded," and these were the only six to post scores higher than ten.  Many of the players who I did not grade would have posted scores higher than ten, and Danny Amendola in fact would register a score of 13.31.  This however is largely skewed by one game, and Amendola is a great example because his first game would have only been an 8.25.  To be an elite #1 wide receiver in fantasy football you need to show fantasy owners that you can consistently produce at a high level, even when you don't get the touchdowns that are so important.  By the end of the season there probably will be 5-10 players who fall into that category.  Of the group above Roddy White and Calvin Johnson were considered locks for that group pre-season, and based on their performance so far I think they will end up that way.  The remaining four contains to aging players in Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne, and two up and comers in Percy Harvin and Demaryius Thomas.  I think Thomas and Harvin have better odds of keeping up their impressive pace, and Smith and Wayne will more likely finish in the 10-15 range.

3.  TE is Crazy Deep
The tight ends are coming!
Much of the Fantasy discussion coming into this year was about how crazy deep wide receiver is.  Wide Receiver does have a lot of talent, but it's unpredictable.  In the last section I tried to highlight some wide receivers who are definite starters right now.  Even with all my work, I only came up with six names by the end (and frankly I'm not too sure about Steve Smith).  For those who like the mellow side of life.  For those who are better safe than sorry.  For those who tend to err on the side of caution.  I present to you the tight end.  I do not deny that Wide Receivers have tons more upside than tight ends, and you'll find way more wide receivers scoring fifteen plus points than tight ends.  However in the 7-15 point range no one is as sweet as the tight end.  Despite the fact that their are nearly triple as many wide receivers who could be considered relevant in fantasy, there are just as many consistent tight ends as wide receivers.  A wide receiver who gives you ten points or more will generally be a top 15 wide receiver in a given week.  A tight end who gives you seven points or more will generally be a top 12 tight end in a given week.  Nine wide receivers had back to back games of over ten points, and eight tight ends had back to back games of over seven points.  If you are the type of fantasy owner who likes to play it safe, or you are strong at running back and quarterback I strongly recommend trying to acquire a high end tight end.  With a good fantasy team having balanced production from the tight end slot versus having volatile production at wide receiver can be the difference between a Championship and missing the playoffs.  In fact the new ESPN standard rules this year allows teams to play TE's at the flex, so if you really wanted to play it safe you could get a second starter level TE  (I'd say there's about 11 of them) to play at the flex position.  If you have a good roster in which your flex position is already strong I don't think this is a great strategy, but if your team is in need of some stability going after a TE might not be too bad an idea.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Greg Jennings out of Green Bay?

An interesting story out of Wisconsin, as Packers beat writer Bob Mcginn, known as one of the most respected beat writers in the entire NFL, wrote an article about how the Pack would be wise to deal All-Pro receiver Greg Jennings before the October 30 trade deadline.  As stunning as this may sound, McGinn makes some very valid points, most notably the fact that Green Bay has no chance of resigning Jennings after this year, so either way this will be his last in Green Bay.  But I'd rather not focus on whether the Packers will decide to keep Jennings this year, and instead speculate on what teams may make an offer if this does happen.  So here it goes.

Miami Dolphins
As we all saw on Hard Knocks and throughout the season, the Dolphins don't have any good receivers.  The recent addition of Anthony Armstrong helps, but it doesn't help significantly.  I'm a firm believer that quarterbacks make great wide receivers (with some rare exceptions) and not the other way around. But a veteran receiver as talented as Jennings could be crucial in the development of rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.  Jennings has plenty of good football left, and he would instantly become Tannehill's favorite target.  Couple that with the fact that Jeff Ireland is certainly on the hot seat, and he may feel pressured to bring in a target like Jennings for their franchise quarterback.

A deal to Miami definitely makes sense, but they may be beyond fixing for the foreseeable future, which would make a second-round pick more valuable than Jennings.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Another team that could use weapons at the wide receiver position, the Jaguars would be tempted to make an offer on Jennings.  This is a similar situation to Miami, in which they would like to have a go-to guy for their young quarterback, but the Jaguars are a more complete football team than the Dolphins, so bringing in a veteran could be just the right push that this team needs.  Jennings won't make the Jaguars a good football team, but he is a piece that could move them closer to competing in the AFC South.  Also, Shahid Khan would love to bring in a big name like Greg Jennings to bolster the Jaguars into relevance.

San Diego Chargers
Even though Philip Rivers and the Chargers played well on Monday night, it's clear that Rivers doesn't have much confidence in his receivers.  Malcom Floyd looked solid, Meachem had a big catch, but they still need a #1 receiver in San Diego.  This team is looking to make some noise this year in the NFL, and they easily could with a couple more players.  I'm not sure trading a high draft pick for a veteran is the Chargers style, but the move makes sense, and they could legitimately pull the trigger on this deal.

Seattle Seahawks
Maybe the only positive from trading Jennings is being able to control which team he ends up with.  This is probably the least likely, as the Packers would like to keep a guy like Jennings out of the NFC, if possible, but ultimately they would take the best deal (if this deal ever happens, of course).  The Seahawks have brought in Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards, so it is clear that they have been searching for some veteran talent at the receiver position.  Jennings is way better than both of those guys, so why not pony up a second rounder and grab him from the Packers?

It will be interesting to see how this story develops.  I, for one, can't see a Super Bowl contender trading away their #1 receiver just to get a draft pick.  But with the amount of weapons the Packers have, it certainly isn't out of the question.  It will be one of the toughest decisions that Ted Thompson ever has to make, and we will see how he handles it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Early College Football Reaction- Teams that Proved they're Legit Contenders

by John Huffstetler

After two weeks of College Football season, many teams have stood out for both positive and negative reasons. Other teams have yet to even really start their season (see Florida St.'s wins over Murray St. and Savannah St.), and those teams will be ignored in this article. We will instead focus on teams that have played legit teams in either or both of their first two games and see what we've learned. And anyone who objects to the SEC dominance on this list, I have two things to say: 1) SEC teams have won the last 7 titles and 2) Not many other conferences have played anyone yet!!

Teams that have Proven to be Legit Contenders

Alabama- This isn't exactly a revelation, but the Crimson Tide just looked way more physical up front than Michigan in their 41-14 season opening win. All the questions regarding the big name defensive starters they lost to the NFL were answered in that win. There is clearly still talent there, but it is still yet to be seen how the Tide's defense will hold up against a formidable downfield passing attack. A healthy Tyler Wilson and his Arkansas squad could test their pass defense, but Wilson is questionable to play this Saturday after their disastrous loss to ULM following his injury. Without a healthy Wilson, Alabama will be 5-0 on October 13th entering back-to-back road trips to Missouri and Tennessee.

Clemson- Their opening week victory over Auburn was the best game of the young season so far. They managed to survive their test against Auburn without stud WR Sammy Watkins (who returns from suspension next week), and looked terrific in the process. The defense is definitely improved under former Oklahoma DC Brent Venables, and the offense is loaded with highlight-reel players (see any of Andre Ellington's runs this season). Additionally, the schedule is not that daunting with only four difficult games remaining (at Florida St., home against GaTech, VaTech, and SC). If they get through Florida St in two weeks (and I consider them the favorite to win that game), they will need just a few home wins to reach the ACC Championship game undefeated.

Georgia/Florida/ South Carolina- Each of the big three teams in the SEC east (no offense to a strong but outmatched Tennessee team) showed up with huge road wins in dangerous spots in the first two weeks. South Carolina had every excuse to fold in week one at Vandy and walk out with a loss after starting QB Conner Shaw injured his shoulder, but the defense stepped up and played a fantastic second half to secure the victory. Dylan Thompson then took over at QB the next week and looked like a superstar against ECU. Ditto for Florida after trailing at Texas A+M on the road only to show up after halftime and shut down the A+M attack. The offense is questionable, but the defense looks outstanding at times. Despite all the suspensions, Georgia rebounded from a halftime deficit at Missouri by winning the turnover battle and giving Aaron Murray time to pick apart the Tiger defense.

The problem with these three teams is that they all must face each other and only one team can potentially emerge. Which one? Here is the Math: Times each team plays either LSU or Alabama in the regular season- Florida 1, South Carolina 1, Georgia 0. Georgia has by far the easiest schedule, and unfortunately in the current system, an easy schedule plays a large role in who can make a run at the title. Georgia benefitted last year from avoiding both LSU and Alabama in the regular season and advanced to the title game despite a home loss to South Carolina. Georgia only has two tough road tests left (at South Carolina and Auburn) and a neutral site tilt against Florida. They have a great shot at the SEC championship and the national title game.

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