Saturday, January 7, 2012

What was Kansas St. Coach Bill Snyder thinking?

by John Huffstetler

Put yourself in this situation: You're down 10 points in a bowl game with 3:57 left in the 3rd quarter against a formidable opponent with a strong offense, and you have the ball 4th and 5 on the opponent's 37 yard line. A field goal would be too long so you have to go for it, right? Not if you're Bill Snyder. He opts to punt and his punter boots the ball pathetically deep in the end zone for a touchback. Instead of taking a shot at what would have been a huge first down (especially for a team that gained just 260 yards for the game), you gain 17 yards off of a punt? This is a bowl game. If you weren't gonna wear your big-boy pants, you shouldn't have shown up. Fire any coach that punts inside their opponent's 40. There is no logic in that play. You deserved to lose.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

NBA's Surprising Starts- The Good and the Bad

by John Huffstetler

Early in the NBA season, several teams stand out for good and bad reasons. Normally we could say after 8 games, well its a long season and write off these slow starts. This year with the 66-game schedule, 8 games is over 10% of the regular season. Certain teams have to start pressing the panic button. Sacramento had a full blown meltdown already, firing their head coach after just 7 games and they have far from the worst record in the league. Let's take a look at some of these surprising teams so far this year, starting with the bad.

The Bad

Dallas (4-5)- Roster turnover and general complacency following the title have the Mavs sitting one games below .500 through 9. The subtractions of Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and Caron Butler, and the additions of Vince Carter, Delonte West and Lamar Odom have proven disastrous so far as the team struggles to find any continuity in the line-up rotations. The returning players from the championship roster haven't fared much better either. Reports from camp were that Dirk and co. were "fat and happy" in the off-season following their title run. Most alarmingly, Dallas is shooting just 41.2% from the field, good for a pitiful 26th in the league. Defensively, Dallas is certainly feeling the effects of the loss of Tyson Chandler, as they currently sit 22nd in fg% defense at 45.8%.

Time to panic?- Yes. This team appears significantly worse than last year. Vince Carter is dreadful at this point in his career (34.5% fg, 1.7 a/to) and this team plans to start him at the shooting guard spot. The veteran core continues to get older and health concerns are an issue (Kidd left last nights game against the Spurs). I expect this team to sneak into the playoffs with a low seed, but the second round would be an accomplishment.

New York (4-4)
- This has been an ugly start for the Knicks this season mainly because of injury issues, most notably Amare Stoudemire. In addition to his 2 missed games, Jared Jeffries (7 games), Baron Davis (all 8), Iman Shumpert (4), and Mike Bibby (2) are all players the Knicks expect to play significant minutes this season who have had injury setbacks. After jettisoning most of their roster for Carmelo Anthony, this is not a team that can afford to lose multiple players to injury at the same time. The addition of Tyson Chandler was supposed to help improve the defense, which ranked near the bottom of the league last year; however, the Knicks still rank 27th in the league in fg% defense. One guy, no matter how good a defender he is, can make up for the failings of others (Anthony and Stoudamire) playing atrocious defense. The countless number of easy transition layups they have allowed in the short season is staggering and things need to change.

Time to panic?- No. Let's see how everything works when they have a full squad. If Baron Davis can be a shell of his former self and provide leadership at the point position, the Knicks could be a mitigating factor in the playoffs. Comparing this roster to other probable playoff teams in the East (Mia, Chi, Atl, Ind, Bos, Orl, Philly), however, they play by far the worst defense and will need to outscore good defensive teams to win the conference. I doubt they win a playoff series unless they dramatically improve their defense. Most likely, they will be a low seed or out of the playoffs altogether.

Boston (4-4)-
Most pundits believe the Celtics are getting the "big three" together for one more playoff run. It is unclear if the shortened season will help or hurt their chances. On the one hand, less games would benefit their chance to be fresh come playoff time. On the other hand, the tendency of their stars to miss games during the regular season could be a major issue amidst the most competitive Eastern Conference in several years. So far this season, they've secured their 4 victories against bottom feeders (Detroit, New Jersey, and Washington x 2), while losing to all 4 of their legitimate opponents. Statistically, their offense has been efficient, ranking 4th in the league in fg %, while the defense has surprisingly struggled at 18th in the league. With an aging roster and a more competitive Eastern Conference, the Celtics have an uphill battle to regain their championship form.

Time to panic?- Not even close. Boston will find a way to be a major factor come playoff time. Although they will struggle with the more athletic teams in the east (Miami and Atlanta), they have the potential if they get the right match-ups to have the honor of losing to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. They are certainly a playoff team and will probably be between a 4 (someone has to win the Atlantic division) and 6 seed when the season ends.

The Good

Philly (5-2)- The most impressive element of Philly's season so far is that they started the year with a 5-game west coast road trip, managing to go 3-2 with tight losses to Portland and Utah. Last year, they snuck into the playoffs as a 7 seed with a late season charge under new coach Doug Collins. Their defensive ability triggered the late season charge and continues this year, ranking first in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 0.896 points per possession. The surprising element of their start has been their offense, which was not a strength last year. They currently rank 2nd in offensive efficiency at 1.056 points per possession. If they can continue to play offense and defense this efficiently, they will be a major force come playoff time.

Time to celebrate?- Yes. They are for real this year. I do expect the offensive efficiency to come back down, but their defense is spectacular. The always questionable health of Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala will be significant, but if they stay healthy, the Sixers could earn a 4 seed and win a round in the playoffs this year.

Indiana (6-2)- Like Philly, Indiana used a late-season surge to snag a low playoff seed last year because of their strong defensive play. Unlike Philly, Indiana had a busy off-season acquiring David West and George Hill. Their scoring balance on offense with 7 players averaging more than 10 ppg and their strong defensive efficiency (5th in the league) has triggered their early season success. The schedule has been easy so far with 6 games against probable non-playoff teams, but this team still appears to be poised for another playoff season.

Time to celebrate?
- Not yet. Let's see how Indy does when the competition gets more difficult. Over the next few weeks, they play at Philly, vs Atl, vs Bos, at LAL, vs Orl and at Chi. After that stretch, we will know if this team is a factor come playoff time. As it stands, Indy looks like a low playoff seed who will make a first-round exit.

Portland (6-2)- No team had a more traumatic off-season than the Blazers, most notably the heartbreaking early retirement of Brandon Roy. The depth and talent was obviously there, but no one knew how this team would replace their captain and emotional leader. They've performed admirably, starting the season 6-2, including an impressive road victory over Oklahoma City. An increased tempo and strong defensive efficiency have keyed their impressive start. With defensive stalwarts on the squad like Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, and Nicholas Batum, they will be among the league's best defensive squads all season. With arguably the best frontcourt in the Western Conference, the ability of their streaky guards (Felton, Crawford, and Matthews) to produce consistently through the playoffs remains the team's biggest question mark.

Time to celebrate?
- Yes. This team will be among the top 3 seeds in the Western Conference in the playoffs. Should they draw the right match-ups, there is a chance with their strong front court that they could sneak into the NBA finals. Most likely, they win a round or possibly two, with their guard play leading to their inevitable downfall.

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Al Horford's Quote about the Atlanta Hawks loss to the Miami Heat last night

by John Huffstetler

This quote from Al Horford sums up the Hawks team in a nutshell: “This by far has to be my worst defeat here as a Hawk. I didn’t feel like we wanted to win this game.” The Miami Heat had no Lebron James, no Dwyane Wade, and they managed to beat a "good" Hawks team on the road, who, by the way, Atlanta beat Monday night with Lebron and Wade in the lineup on the road. No excuses for this team. They just didn't come to play, and as a Hawks fan, I echo Horford's statement. This is the most disgraceful loss I've ever witnessed from this franchise. If things don't change this season in Atlanta, it's time to make some major changes.

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College Football Bowl Preview- Arkansas vs. Kansas St.

by John Huffstetler

Friday Jan. 6th 8:00 PM- Arkansas (10-2) (-9.5) vs. Kansas St. (10-2) O/U 63.5- Kansas St. played 9 games this year that were decided by 7 points or less and they won 8 of those games. Their one close loss came against an obviously strong Oklahoma St. team. Some of this success in close games can be attributed to their veteran coach, Bill Snyder, and their QB Collin Klein's ability to make plays with his arm and his legs; however, much of this success in close games relates directly to luck. No, not Andrew Luck. Any time a team wins a high number of close games, their winning percentage is skewed higher than their actual ability level. This appears to be the case with Kansas St. Despite having impressive wins over Miami, Baylor, Missouri, Tex A+M, and Texas, the Wildcats rank just 92nd in offensive YPP and 84th in defensive YPP. Arkansas' only two losses this year were to #1 LSU and #2 Alabama, but they had their share of luck as well. A miracle fumble for a TD against Vandy and a dramatic second half comeback against Tex A+M helped the Razorbacks avoid a 3rd loss on the season. Arkansas, however, shows better from a YPP perspective, ranking 12th offensively and 52nd defensively. They also managed an impressive 16 point victory over a prominent (Top 5 in my opinion) South Carolina squad at home.

Prediction- Although Kansas St. has proved to be lucky this year in getting to 10 wins, I believe in their squad. They played an extremely difficult schedule and coach Bill Snyder has championed the underdog role to his team all year. Although Arkansas is the stronger squad, I believe Kansas St. will make a game of it, but big-time offenses have put up some major points against the Wildcats (Baylor 35, Oklahoma 58 and Okla St. 52) and I expect Arkansas to do the same. Arkansas pulls it out in the second half for a tight victory. Score Arkansas 38-32.

Gambling Perspective- Plays- 15-12
Leans 12-7

Slightest of leans to Kansas St., mainly because Bill Snyder is a markedly better coach than Bobby Petrino. He should have a game-plan in place to keep the Wildcats in this game. Play the over at 63.5. Arkansas' offense being stronger than their defense coupled with Kansas St.'s trouble with elite offenses should send this game over the relatively high total.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What was Brendan Gibbons Thinking About on the Game Winner?

The answer: Brunette Girls.  And this is why Brady Hoke is the best coach in college football.  JoePa would've had him thinking about little brunette boys, but Hoke knows how to win. Loved the reaction after he said "brunette girls" too..."WHAT!?"  Hail to the Victors.

Hilarious Email Argument- How good is Tony Romo?

Below is an email exchange between 11-on-11 contributors regarding the value (or lack thereof) of Tony Romo as a pro QB.

Kyle- Hopefully dallas thinks romo is the problem and they dont resign him so the skins can pick him up.

- However, what's the common denominator between the inability of the Cowboys to win the big game from 2006 onward under Parcells, Phillips and Garrett? Tony Romo. 4th quarter QB rating? Come on...big game wins are more important than that - and he doesn't have those.

Kyle- Hes still better than any other option... I would rather be losing in the playoffs or have big games than never actually having big games with grossman, beck, shane matthews, wuerfel, ramsey, etc.

- Not everything is a comparison to the redskins....He's allegedly elite so compare him to elite quarterbacks, Kyle. Not redskins trash because they haven't had an elite QB since Sammy Baugh. Think brees, brady, rivers, Rodgers, etc.

They pay the guy a lot of money to not win the big games. The skins, on the other hand, don't have much invested in the QB position. Those other guys are worth the $. At this point, romo isnt.

And, they aren't losing in the playoffs this year. And it's the second time in 4 years (08 44-6 vs eagles) that he had a win-and-in and got blown out last game of the year. So, they're not necessarily losing in the playoffs are they?

Kyle- My point is he isnt the problem which is what you are stating.....getting rid of him makes the team worse not better. They won't be able to get a qb that is close to him anytime soon unless someone stupidly gets rid of a qb like him. That being said he isnt elite in my opinion.....he is at best in the bottom half of the 2nd tier of qbs. To me elite is Brady, Rodgers, Manning, Brees, etc.

My point with the skins analogy is I would rather pay a lot to a qb to be competitive than to not be competitive year after year.....meaning he isnt the problem and they also shouldnt get rid of him. If the cowboys got rid of romo after this year (I believe he is a free agent) the skins would be one of the first teams trying to sign him.

- My point is you pay that much money to a QB who can win you a Super Bowl and tony romo will never win a super bowl. Ever. No chance. Absolutely will not ever happen. If I were a cowboys fan, I would despise him.

Kyle- Agree with him winning a super bowl a la brady and manning (They are the reason they win), however, the cowboys could definitely win a super bowl with romo at qb. They have enough talent that if they fix the oline and some issues on defense they definitely could win it all with him. For the cowboys to win they are going to have to be more like the pittsburgh steeelers title teams (Overrated as fuck rapelisberger had nothing to do with those titles-They won with a great defense and a ball control offense).

Michael- I hate you

Kyle- Hate you too.

College Football Bowl Preview- Orange Bowl- Clemson vs. West Virginia

Wednesday January 4th- 8:30 PM EST- Clemson (10-3) (-3) vs. West Virginia (9-3) O/U 62- A pair of questionable teams with explosive offenses battle for the Orange Bowl title. West Virginia managed to win their conference title based more on the weakness of their competition than the strength of their squad. They beat literally nobody this year, with their most impressive wins coming on the road against a decent Rutgers squad in a snow storm and against a Cincy squad missing their starting QB. Clemson certainly has the more impressive victories, with two wins against Va Tech, and a pair of early home wins over Auburn and Florida St; however, they struggled dramatically toward the end of the year, losing 3 of their last 5 while averaging just 22.4 points over that span (11.2 off their season average). An injury to star frosh WR Sammy Watkins and an inability to establish the run game caused the decline in offensive production late in the season. Clemson's YPP on Offense is surprisingly average at 5.6, good for just 44th in the country; on the other hand, West Virginia impresses from a YPP perspective on both offense and defense, ranking 22nd and 17th, respectively. This can be partially attributed to the aforementioned weak schedule, but is still impressive. West Virginia is, however, average at stopping the run, ranking just 46th in the nation in YPR attempt defense.

Prediction- Clemson should be able to establish their running game this time around against a middling rush defense, and with a healthy Sammy Watkins, put up enough points to win this game. Another major factor in this game is ABABE (Always Bet Against The Big East). They always lose the big ones when asked to step up in class. Score- Clemson 38 WVA 33.

Gambling Perspective- Plays- 14-12
Leans- 12-6

Slight lean to Clemson. I think they should take this game, but the unimpressive way they finished the season and WVA's distinct YPP advantage give me pause. Play the over at 62. Although Clemson struggled offensively late in the year, the added time to prepare for the bowl game with two aggressive, fast-paced coaches, this game should reach 70.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

College Football Bowl Preview- Sugar Bowl- Michigan vs. Virginia Tech

by John Huffstetler

Tuesday 01/03- 8:30 PM EST- Michigan (10-2) (-3) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2) O/U 51- The most similar team to this Michigan attack that the Hokies played all year is Clemson, a team that destroyed them for their two losses this year by 20 and 28. The rest of VaTech's schedule was pedestrian, playing no one out of conference and avoiding Florida St. in the ACC. Their most impressive wins this year were Miami, a tight home victory, and Georgia Tech, a convincing road win. Michigan, on the other hand, played a more difficult schedule with the same success. A remarkable (and somewhat lucky) comeback against a tough Notre Dame squad, a blowout home victory against Nebraska, and a home win against Ohio St. highlight the Wolverine's turn-around season. Their two losses this year were on the road against legitimate competition, losing at Michigan St. and Iowa. From a YPP perspective, the best unit on the field tonight will be the Wolverines offense, who under QB Denard Robinson finished 13th in the nation in YPP.

Prediction- Michigan's speed and running game prove too much for a Virginia Tech team who played one legitimate team all year and lost to them twice. There is a distinct special teams advantage here for the Wolverines, as well, with VaTech missing both their starting kicker and punter for this game. Most likely, WR Danny Coale will take over punting duties as he did in the ACC championship game. Will effective at times, he lacked consistency on his punting efforts. Score- Michigan 38 VaTech 27.

Gambling Perspective- Play Michigan -3. VaTech has shown me nothing this year that says they will win this game. Their ATS record is atrocious this year, constantly underachieving against weak opponents. Strong lean over 51. This total seems low for an offense in Michigan ranked in the top 15 nationally who averages 34.2 ppg. They should be right around their season average, while VaTech should at least get into the 20's.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

College Football Bowl Preview- All Jan. 2nd Bowls

by John Huffstetler

Record- Plays- 11-9
Leans- 9-4

Monday 01/02- 12:00 PM EST- Ticket City Bowl- Houston (12-1) (-7) vs. Penn St. (9-3) O/U 56.5- Houston played the 98th toughest schedule this season, and tomorrow they will take a major step up in class as they battle the Nittany Lions. In their one game this year against a major conference team, the Cougars slid past a mediocre UCLA squad at home by 4. They finished the season getting dismantled by Southern Miss, their toughest defensive opponent all year. In between, they did manage to mainly dominate below average competition (only beat LaTech by 1). Their offense is statistically peerless, leading the nation with 7.5 YPP; however, this #7 ranked Penn St. defense will be the toughest defense they've faced in Case Keenum's entire career. On the other side, Penn St. obviously has endured a litany of off-the-field issues with Jerry Sandusky situation and the firing of Joe Paterno. To add to their issues, QB Matt McGloin will likely miss this game after a locker room fight with a fellow teammate. McGloin, however, is far from elite and Bolden should be able to replace him without any drop off in play. Houston has their own issues too, as they try to rebound from their failed BCS bowl aspirations and the departure of revered head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Prediction- Penn St. puts aside their issues for this game, runs the clock offensively using their solid rushing attack, and controls the Cougars attack with their strong defensive line. Score- Penn St. 27-23.

Gambling Perspective
- Play Penn St. +7. Too many points here as the betting market overreacts to Penn St.'s many issues. The bottom line in this game is level of competition. Houston never faces a defense at this level, and the best they faced this year (Southern Miss) simply owned them. Lean under 56.5 as well, since Penn St. will look to control the clock with their star RB Silas Redd.

1:00 PM EST- Outback Bowl- Georgia (10-3) (-3) vs. Mich. St. (10-3) O/U 50- Michigan St. struggled to gain respect all season long, as they were continually set as underdogs against their tougher opponents. This trend continues in the bowl as they take on a difficult Georgia team as short dogs. The Spartans were 1 play away from representing the Big Ten in the Rose bowl, and their season was defined by their two remarkably tight battles with Wisconsin. Outside of Wisky, no other team managed to move the ball effectively against a stout Sparty defense, ranked 4th in the nation in YPP. Offensively, Mich St. struggled in three games, losses to Nebraska and Notre Dame, and a win over Ohio St. On all three occasions, these teams managed to stop State's ground attack and force QB Kirk Cousins to throw, which he struggled to do. Georgia presents a similar issue, ranking 21st in the nation in Yards per Rush allowed. For an SEC squad, however, Georgia played a remarkably easy schedule. Outside of games against Boise St., South Carolina, and LSU (all losses), Georgia did not play anyone of note. They're most notable victories at Vandy, at Georgia Tech, and neutral site vs Florida. They managed to beat up on a soft schedule to push their win total to 10. Mich St. is a higher quality opponent than they've beaten all year.

Prediction- This game should be one of the best this entire bowl season. Not only are these teams of top 15 quality, they are incredibly evenly matched. Expect this one to come down to the wire. Score- Mich St. 24-23 on a late field goal.

Gambling Perspective- In a game this evenly matched, the only thing to even consider is taking the points. Small lean to Mich St. +3. This game should be played in the 20's, as both teams play high quality defense. Play the Under at 50.

1:00 PM EST- Capital One Bowl- South Carolina (10-2) (-2.5) vs. Nebraska (9-3) O/U 46- Another classic Big Ten/SEC matchup here with a strong South Carolina squad taking on new Big Ten school, Nebraska. Outside of the national championship teams, South Carolina has the best defense in the country. Their ability to not only limit the opponents yards per play (3rd in the nation) but also force turnovers (3rd in the nation) makes their defensive unit an elite, formidable foe. The Gamecock's offense under vaunted offensive "genius," Steve Spurrier, floundered because of issues at the QB position and in predictable, pedestrian play-calling to 71st in YPP. Nebraska's offense was marginally better, but struggled to establish any consistency down the stretch because of offensive line injuries, averaging just around 16 ppg over their last 5. They will need to limit turnovers and win a tight defensive battle to upset the Gamecocks.

Prediction- By far the best unit on the field tomorrow will be the SC defense. They should hold Nebraska below 20 points and make enough plays against a run of the mill Nebraska defense to emerge victorious here. Score- SC 20 Neb 13.

Gambling Perspective- Play SC -2.5. I locked this in personally at -1.5 a month ago, but 2.5 is still playable. Too much speed here on the Gamecocks side and too many line injuries and issues for Nebraska. Play the under at 46 as well, since both teams should struggle to move the ball offensively and points will be at a premium.

1:00 PM EST- Gator Bowl- Florida (6-6) (-2) vs. Ohio St. (6-6) O/U 44- An interesting match-up here of two teams who struggled to find their identity offensively this year, failing to live up to lofty expectations. There's a Hollywood twist to the plot line of this game as well, with former Florida Coach, Urban Meyer, signing on to take the Ohio St. job next year; consequently, both teams should enter this game fired up and highly motivated. Unlike SEC east counterpart Georgia, Florida played one of the toughest schedules in the country, facing 7 bowl teams in the last 8 weeks (2-6 during that stretch), including losses to both Alabama and LSU. A costly injury to QB Jeff Brantley against Alabama precipitated their downward slide late in the year; nonetheless, after his return, the offense still failed to establish any offensive continuity. The defense remained top 10 all season, but constantly faced short fields caused by sloppy offensive play. Their offense ranked 92nd nationally, turning the ball over 2.1 times per game. This stat could play a huge role in deciding the outcome of this game, as Ohio St. has protected the ball beautifully (6th in the nation at 1.1 per game) under Frosh QB Braxton Miller.

- Ohio St. wins an ugly offensive game by protecting the football and allowing the talented Braxton Miller to make plays in space. Also, I have a hard time believing that new coach Urban Meyer won't provide a detailed scouting report on the Florida personnel to his new team prior to kickoff. Score- Ohio St. 24 Florida 20.

Gambling Perspective- Strong Lean to Ohio St. +2. The added prep time for the bowl should allow Braxton Miller the opportunity to take his game to the next level. Turnovers will also play a huge role and Ohio St. does a much better job protecting the football. No lean on the total. The offenses are clearly bad, but both could improve before the bowl time with added prep. The loss of completely ineffective OC Charlie Weis could also benefit the gators squad.

5:00 PM EST- Rose Bowl- Oregon (11-2) (-5.5) vs. Wisconsin (11-2) O/U 72- Arguably the best match-up outside of the national championship game here, as two elite offenses will battle it out in Pasadena. These two teams rank 4th and 6th in offensive YPP, respectively, with identical 6.7 YPP marks. Amazingly, both teams have identical defensive marks as well, allowing 4.8 YPP (23rd in the nation). Wisconsin played the easier of the two schedules, with their best wins coming neutral site against Michigan St. (after losing to them in their 1st match-up), and at home against decent Penn St. and Nebraska squads. Oregon lacked signature wins outside on an impressive road thrashing of Stanford, but their losses were certainly of higher quality, losing to an elite LSU squad and a formidable USC team.

Prediction- Really tough game to call here, as both teams are remarkably similar in their stats. Wisky will attempt to control the clock with their power run game, while Oregon will look to strike quickly with their incredible speed. Chip Kelly will have several trick plays ready to go for this one. That, plus Oregon's athletes offensively, lean the game slightly towards their side. Score- Oregon 41-37.

Gambling Perspective- No lean on the spread, although 5.5 points does seem too high. Strong lean over the total of 72. Wisky's games have reached this high total of 72 only twice this year, Oregon's only 4 times, but that fact has to do more with their opponents failings than theirs. With two dynamic offenses here, I expect fireworks.

8:30 PM EST- Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma St. (11-1) (-4) vs. Stanford (11-1) O/U 74- Another battle of elite offenses here in this highly anticipated bowl match-up. Both these offenses rank in the top 5 in the nation, but these teams will be watching the title game because of their middling defenses. Oklahoma St. clearly had the more impressive regular season, with 8 wins over bowl teams, including blow out victories over Oklahoma, Baylor, Missouri and Texas. Stanford defeated 5 bowl teams en route to their 11 wins, but struggled mightily against their stiffest competition in Oregon (Blowout loss) and USC (3 OT win). Oklahoma St.'s loss to Iowa St. in OT, while bad, was in a classic let down spot leading into their match-up against rival Oklahoma. It also came the same day that the school's women's basketball team's plane crashed, killing their head coach and an assistant coach. Understandably, the Cowboys didn't play their best game of the season. Take that game away and they're in the national title game.

Prediction- Looking at the match-ups here, everything favors Oklahoma St. Their big play receivers should have a field day against Stanford's mediocre secondary. Although Stanford's rush defense is highly rated (11th in the nation in YPR), they played a schedule littered with weak rushing teams, and were gashed for 232 yards against a similar Oregon attack. With several key injuries as well (Shane Skov and Chris Owusu), Stanford simply won't have enough to hang with Oklahoma St. Score- Okla St. 40-30.

Gambling Perspective- Play Okla St. -4. I'm locked in at 3.5 already. This is a strong play as Stanford has been one of the more overrated teams in the nation all season, and Okie St.'s speed and offensive balance should give them major trouble. No lean on the total. This game could go quite high, but I don't trust Stanford's offense to get us there. I also want no part in the under because the Cowboys could easily score 50.

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