Thursday, November 29, 2007


Light posting this week, actually no posting this week. Sorry. FanHouse and real life have kept me busy lately, but I forge ahead.

After all, you don't care about my football picks, anyway. I just post them for my own amusement.

Randomization next week, plus thoughts on the end of our road trip spectacular.

We shall begin with the college games.

Last week: 5-2
Season: 124-57

Oklahoma vs. Missouri (Big 12 Championship):
I don't think this game is as simple as "OU ran roughshod over them last time, so they'll do it again". I expect Missouri to make some defensive adjustments to try to counter OU's superior athleticism. However, I see two key issues serving as Missouri's downfall in this game. For starters, that defense is still probably not good enough to stop OU consistently enough. The Sooners will move the chains and score points. Secondly, Missouri's offense will run into a problem (again) with that OU defense, which is much better than they're being given credit for.
The pick: Oklahoma

Other picks (home team in CAPS when applicable)

Navy over Army (at Baltimore)
Virginia Tech over Boston College (ACC Championship)
LSU over Tennessee (SEC Championship)
Central Michigan over Miami-OH (MAC Championship)
CENTRAL FLORIDA over Tulsa (Conference USA Championship)
HAWAI'I over Washington

In the NFL, we got this game here on Thursday. Should be a very entertaining night for the 34 of us who get the NFL Network.

I'm going to steer clear of that whole deal and save it for a later day. Personally, I don't have a major issue with the NFL's business model, but I wish they'd acknowledge that they've probably overvalued their product a good deal, and I wish the cable companies would stop playing the "Poor us" card.

Last week: 11-5
Season: 118-62

Green Bay at Dallas: Tough one. The Cowboys will move the ball, and they're likely to take advantage of Green Bay's suddenly-deficient run defense, which has been gashed by Carolina and Detroit the last two weeks. I doubt coordinator Bob Sanders is suddenly going to figure that thing out.

Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton will conspire to have a big night. I'm not sure which one will play better, and both might be huge, but Green Bay's not shutting them both down. We don't know yet about CB Charles Woodson, but his status is vital. I doubt Al Harris can contain Owens all night, no matter how much he wants to or how hard he tries.

So, yeah, Dallas will score.

But so will Green Bay. The Packers can run the ball now, and that means safety Roy Williams can't just play center field and forget about the run. The Cowboys play a 3-4 defense, which could cause problems for the Packers, but they've handled it well so far this season (remember how good this offense was against San Diego?). I think the Packers will do the shotgun-spread thing, make Dallas thin out the defensive herd, and pick them apart.

Shootout. The old dog will come up with a new trick or two, and Favre gets his first Texas Stadium win. Why not?
The pick: Green Bay

Other games (home team in CAPS)

ST. LOUIS over Atlanta
WASHINGTON over Buffalo
Detroit over MINNESOTA
Houston over TENNESSEE
INDIANAPOLIS over Jacksonville
MIAMI over N.Y. Jets
San Diego over KANSAS CITY
San Francisco over CAROLINA
NEW ORLEANS over Tampa Bay
Cleveland over ARIZONA
Denver over OAKLAND
CHICAGO over N.Y. Giants
PITTSBURGH over Cincinnati
New England over BALTIMORE

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Posting will light over the weekend, as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday by eating entirely too much and watching some football, most of which will not be very good.

I'll also be in Grand Forks for the least glamorous road trip of the hockey season so far. Sure, Ralph Engelstad Arena is gorgeous, but Grand Forks is, well, less nice than Denver and Colorado Springs. It's nothing against the place, really, but it won't be 70 degrees, and there are no mountain views in North Dakota. Trees can be hard to find, too.

(Hey, idiot! It's the holidays! Stop making relentless fun of North Dakota!)


The hockey should be good. I'm sure we'll have more on that as we move on here.

Right now, we have football games to select winners for. Wish me luck. We'll start with the NFL because the Big Ten season is over.

Last week: 12-4
Season: 107-57

Green Bay at Detroit: Two weeks ago, this was a tossup. The Packers were winning a ton of close games, even against inferior opponents, and the Lions were coming off a 44-7 thrashing of a Denver team that was thought to be at least decent. Since then, the Lions have gone south, losing to Arizona and the Giants, while Green Bay has beaten Minnesota and Carolina (hardly New England and Dallas, admittedly) by a combined 65-17. The blowout wins may have overinflated the team's confidence, but I think close wins tend to do more to inflate a team's opinion of itself. The big wins were a relief for this Packer fan, because it showed me they could take care of business against teams they should be able to handle. The pressure's all on the Lions here. They're not as good as Green Bay, but they can win if they force turnovers and run the football. However, they know this division becomes a foregone conclusion if Green Bay wins, because it's a four-game margin with five to play. And that's what will happen.
The pick: Green Bay

N.Y. Jets at Dallas:
Maybe the NFL should try flex scheduling for Thanksgiving Day.
The pick: Dallas

Indianapolis at Atlanta:
The pick: Indianapolis

Other games (home team in CAPS)

Tennessee over CINCINNATI
CLEVELAND over Houston
KANSAS CITY over Oakland
ST. LOUIS over Seattle
N.Y. GIANTS over Minnesota
TAMPA BAY over Washington
New Orleans over CAROLINA
ARIZONA over San Francisco
CHICAGO over Denver
SAN DIEGO over Baltimore
NEW ENGLAND over Philadelphia

In college football, Kansas and Hawai'i are the only two remaining unbeatens in I-A (er, FBS). Give yourself a pat on the back if you saw this coming in September.

They're both playing big games this weekend, and both are the designated home teams. I say "designated" because Kansas was stupid enough to let this game be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Sure, it will be a great atmosphere, but KU needs this game at Lawrence, not at a neutral field.

Not many games in college football this weekend, but there are a couple doozies.

Last week: 6-4
Season: 119-55

Missouri vs. Kansas: The crowd will be jumpin', and the Big 12 North title is up for grabs. I look at Kansas as being a more balanced team offense to defense. They have a confident QB in Todd Reesing, and Brandon McAnderson leads a running game that is averaging more than 200 yards per game. Reesing and Missouri's Chase Daniel have combined for 60 touchdowns and just 13 picks this year, but Reesing's offense is probably a little better (even though Missouri gets more total yards per game). I think freshman Jeremy Maclin is the big difference for the Tigers, who don't run the ball as well as KU. He's a dynamic playmaker who is coming off a record-setting day at Kansas State. In this game, I'll take the team that presents more balance on both sides of the ball, even though they were dumb enough to give up a home game for this.
The pick: Kansas

Boise State at Hawai'i:
This has been set up as the de-facto WAC championship game ever since the schedule came out. Hawai'i enjoys a unique home-field advantage, and their point differentials against common opponents are skewed a bit by the injury issues suffered by QB Colt Brennan. Brennan is expected to play in this game, and he's the reason I'm taking the Warriors. Hawai'i protects home field, wins this game, and sets themselves up for a BCS bowl bid, where they are still likely to get absolutely waxed by someone good.
The pick: Hawai'i

Other picks (home team in CAPS)

ARIZONA STATE over Southern California
TEXAS A&M over Texas
WEST VIRGINIA over Connecticut
Virginia Tech over VIRGINIA
BYU over Utah


Friday, November 16, 2007


If you can follow along, I should throw in a prize at the end. I should, but I won't.
  • UMD sweeps Michigan Tech? I hope so, but a split or three points is more likely. This is a tough team to sweep, being that they rarely get outworked and they have really solid goaltending.
  • Barry Bonds got indicted. Call me crazy, but the most intriguing revelation in the indictment is that he has apparently tested positive for steroids. So much for that argument in your denials lies, Barry. Have fun in hell, watching ARod break that record. Legitimately.
  • Speaking of ARod, it's amazing what can happen when you keep Scott Boras out of things.
  • Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie doesn't have a contract yet. He was hired in April. Next time you whine about your workplace dragging their feet on something, keep this in mind. It happens to rich people, too. Then again, we should all be so lucky as to work under a memorandum of understanding that requires that we be paid $2.3 million per year.
  • The Brewers have an undeserving Rookie of the Year in Ryan Braun. I mean, the guy is fantastic, but I would have voted for Troy Tulowitzki first and second if I had a vote. Better all-around player this year. Next week, the Brewers might get the payback, as I tend to believe Matt Holliday or Jimmy Rollins will be an undeserving MVP over Prince Fielder. This one isn't as clear-cut as I thought Braun v Tulowitzki was, so it's harder to figure out.
  • Best pitcher in the AL in 2007: C.C. Sabathia. After the voters gave the 2005 Cy Young to Bartolo Colon over the immensely superior Johan Santana, I wondered if they could get one right. Kudos.
  • Hats off to all our area football teams and players. Only one team (Cook County) got to the Metrodome, but it was a fun season nonetheless. If I had a vote for Area Player of the Year, I'd give it to Matt Kilpo of Duluth East. No one meant more to his team, even if East's record wasn't all that impressive.
  • Someone buy Marian Gaborik a new groin.
  • Pavol Demitra, too.
  • UMD volleyball coach Jim Boos is a fantastic guy to talk to. His team is unbelieveable. The 28-1 Bulldogs are two wins away from the Elite Eight in Division II as I type this, and if they can make it, they've at least got a very real shot to host the event for the first time ever.
On to picks. We'll start with the college games.

Last week: 13-8
Season: 113-49

Home team in CAPS

Wisconsin over MINNESOTA
Ohio State over MICHIGAN
Purdue over INDIANA
MICHIGAN STATE over Penn State
ILLINOIS over Northwestern
IOWA over Western Michigan
Oklahoma over TEXAS TECH
West Virginia over CINCINNATI
GEORGIA over Kentucky
CLEMSON over Boston College

...and the NFL

Last week: 7-7
Season: 95-53

Home team in CAPS

GREEN BAY over Carolina
MINNESOTA over Oakland
Tampa Bay over ATLANTA
CINCINNATI over Arizona
DETROIT over N.Y. Giants
INDIANAPOLIS over Kansas City
Cleveland over BALTIMORE
HOUSTON over New Orleans
Pittsburgh over N.Y. JETS
DALLAS over Washington
SAN FRANCISCO over St. Louis
SEATTLE over Chicago
New England over BUFFALO
DENVER over Tennessee

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Win at home. Split on the road.

With that in mind, how about a win tonight?

Colorado College took advantage of a run-and-gun second period, scoring four goals and holding on to beat UMD 5-3 Friday night.

A few thoughts:

UMD has to slow the game down a bit. You have to skate on the big sheet, but you can't play a wide-open game when that's not your style. UMD got burned after making it a 3-2 game in the second period, as they were pressing for a tying goal that they didn't need to score at the time. Chad Rau got behind them for a breakaway goal that made it 4-2. That wasn't curtains for UMD, but it made things a lot tougher.

The power play is still MIA. They had some chances last night, and let's give some credit to CC goalie Richard Bachman for making a few nice saves. But it would be huge to get a goal, and soon. Last year, the struggle was to score five-on-five, and this year's team won't be a juggernaut in those situations, so they need the power play to produce.

Stalock won't do that again tonight. It wasn't his strongest game. The defense and Al will both be better tonight.

I liked what I saw out of the Fulton-McKnight-Fontaine line last night. Justin Fontaine is going to be a really good player.

Let's hope Jason Garrison is okay. He stayed in the game after taking a nasty hit from behind from CC's Derek Patrosso. Patrosso is suspended for tonight's game, as announced a few minutes ago by the WCHA. I didn't see a replay, but it looked bad live-action. Garrison stayed on the ice for a bit, got up, and did return, but we'll watch that for tonight.

A split is in the cards tonight. I hope.

Friday, November 09, 2007


A few issues to address first.

The Vikings are classless. The decision to dock Troy Williamson a week's pay because he attended to his maternal grandmother's funeral arrangements (she practically raised him, mind you) was cold-hearted, unnecessary, and stupid. It was so bad that I had to agree with ESPN loudmouth Stephen A. Smith, who yelled at Skip Bayless on First Take this morning. And who wouldn't want to yell at Skip Bayless?

Smith was right. Sure, you only have 16 days out of the year that you are getting paid to work (football players are only paid salary from teams during the regular season). But that doesn't mean that you should be required to ignore family matters so you can play football and avoid financial penalty. Williamson was very close to his grandmother, also his brother is in a coma after a car accident. Give the man time with his family.

I will credit Brad Childress for one thing. He didn't bring up Brett Favre when talking about players who played through family tragedies.

Williamson had the right attitude. He didn't rip the organization, and he said he would have stayed away even if it meant being docked his pay for the remainder of the season.

Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but no human being should be required to shoo aside a family emergency in order to perform job duties. Nothing in this world is more important than a person's immediate family. Something like bereavement should be left up to personal philosophy and choice.

(Will Leitch made a great point. Fred Smoot and Bryant McKinnie were each fined a game check for causing the Vikings great embarrassment in the famous Love Boat case. Now Williamson is docked a game check for missing a game so he could mourn the loss of his grandmother. Ugh.)

Mike Golic admits steroid use while playing football; Mike Greenberg ignores. Possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard a radio host do. Twice this week, Golic has admitted on ESPN Radio that he used steroids to help deal with an injury during his playing career. Twice, radio sidekick Greenberg has quickly moved on to another topic, ignoring what Golic said.


I mean, this is the same network that has spent much time in the last six months discussing the use of steroids in sports (well, baseball), right? How is this swept under the rug?

Greenberg has the look and feel of someone who is afraid of the topic. No radio host should be able to survive in the business while being afraid of a controversial topic. They are what makes sports radio work. If you don't have controversy, why the hell is anyone listening?

Is this somehow related to ESPN's hefty rights fee to carry NFL games? I hope not. Wouldn't be surprised if it was, but I hope not.

On to the picks.

Last week: 10-4
Season: 88-46

Minnesota at Green Bay:
Tough call for the Packers. Do you get your safeties back and try to prevent Troy Williamson Sidney Rice Robert Ferguson from breaking a long one on you, or do you bring eight men into the box, hope Al Harris and Charles Woodson can slow down the Vikings' receivers, and try to stop Adrian Peterson from killing you?

Oh, wait. That's not a tough call. Neither is this, though the Vikings will threaten a cover of the point spread.
The pick: Green Bay

Indianapolis at San Diego:
The Chargers are now 4-4 and probably need this game to have much of a shot at the AFC playoffs. Indianapolis probably needs to win out to put any pressure whatsoever on New England for home-field in the AFC playoffs. The Colts should get Marvin Harrison back for this one, and I think they'll find a way to exploit the things Minnesota did to the Chargers' defensive front.
The pick: Indianapolis

Jacksonville at Tennessee:
Neither team throws well, and both teams play tough defense. This screams "low-scoring slobberknocker", but will probably end up 38-34 because I said that. I like the Titans here. Can you believe that the winner of this game is probably considered a darkhorse AFC contender?
The pick: Tennessee

Cleveland at Pittsburgh:
With a win, the Browns tie Pittsburgh for the AFC North lead. After the Steelers won the season opener 34-7 in Cleveland, could anyone have seen this coming? Pittsburgh has to avoid the ol' Monday Night Blahs, but I think they'll pull out a win at home. The Browns are a nice story, and once they get through this one, they are a legitimate contender for the playoffs. Really.
The pick: Pittsburgh

Dallas at N.Y. Giants:
The Giants are on a roll, winners of six straight, and they had two weeks to recover from the London trip and prepare for this one. However, Tony Romo is on a roll of his own, and Terrell Owens can't be covered by human beings. Dallas' offensive balance is too much for the Giants to stop.
The pick: Dallas

Other picks (home team in CAPS)
KANSAS CITY over Denver
Buffalo over MIAMI
NEW ORLEANS over St. Louis
WASHINGTON over Philadelphia
CAROLINA over Atlanta
BALTIMORE over Cincinnati
Chicago over OAKLAND
Detroit over ARIZONA
SEATTLE over San Francisco


Cripes. Week 11 already.

And we still don't know anything.

Show of hands - Who's convinced that Ohio State is the nation's best college football team?

That's what I thought.

Seriously, we don't know anything. We know so little that normal football dormat Kansas is legitimately in the top five, and a team that should have lost at home to TEMPLE (Connecticut) is in line for a BCS berth.

And every week, we find out that we didn't know something that we thought we knew. Maybe it's time for tOSU to fall, though I think we're going to have to wait another week for that.

Last week: 9-6
Season: 100-41

Michigan at Wisconsin: I still can't believe I'm stupid enough to do this. I mean, even given a second chance to retract, I stuck with it. Ugh. I'm an idiot.
The pick: Wisconsin

Minnesota at Iowa:
Left for dead in October, Iowa is bowl-eligible with a win. Now, if Kirk Ferentz could only figure out how to get the team to play well when the leaves are still on the trees.
The pick: Iowa

Indiana at Northwestern:
A Northwestern win leaves both teams bowl-eligible. One of them is probably not going bowling, if not both, because of the fact that the Big Ten doesn't have enough tie-ins for everyone. In this game, I think Indiana's offense will be the difference. Given the "Play 13" storyline and IU's long bowl drought, I think seven wins gets them in a bowl.
The pick: Indiana

Michigan State at Purdue: Thanks to Michigan's comeback, the 5-7 dream is still alive for Michigan State. Purdue will keep it alive, probably knocking Sparty out of the postseason.
The pick: Purdue

Wake Forest at Clemson:
The Tigers have come on a bit lately. Wake is tough to figure out. If they can play mistake-free, they're capable of beating anyone. However, that's been a problem this year. The more talented team here is Clemson, and I'll take them at home.
The pick: Clemson

Arkansas at Tennessee:
For Darren McFadden, it's probably too late. But ask South Carolina about slowing him down. Tennessee will have more luck, but I think Arkansas wins in a bit of a road upset.
The pick: Arkansas

Texas A&M at Missouri:
This won't go well for Coach Fran. Good luck with that buyout.
The pick: Missouri

Texas Tech at Texas:
Longhorns ride momentum from last week's stunning comeback at Oklahoma State. Their defensive speed is too much for Mike Leach's funky offense to overcome.
The pick: Texas

Illinois at Ohio State:
This isn't the week for tOSU to lose. That'll be (hopefully) next week. Illinois may be problematic because of the run game, but they can't throw enough to keep the Buckeyes' defense honest.
The pick: Ohio State

Connecticut at Cincinnati:
This is a big game? In football? Seriously, we don't know anything. I don't like UConn here. Cincinnati's offense is clicking, and they'll find a way to win at home.
The pick: Cincinnati

Auburn at Georgia:
Georgia has been playing very well, but Auburn looked solid in games at Florida and LSU already. I see them being ready in this game, but I'll take Georgia at home. I'll probably regret it, as I've stayed away from the UGA bandwagon all year.
The pick: Georgia

USC at Cal:
Looked great in the fall. It's lost luster since then. Cal gets back on track.
The pick: Cal

Other games (home team in CAPS)
Penn State over TEMPLE
Kansas State over NEBRASKA
Air Force over NOTRE DAME
VANDERBILT over Kentucky (Vandy is bowl eligible with a win!)
Arizona State over UCLA
VIRGINIA TECH over Florida State
HAWAI'I over Fresno State


I got an e-mail late last night from a fellow named Dean, who says he's a UMD fan. He said he didn't see the movie Mystery, Alaska, and he didn't understand my reference.

(He actually called me an "idiot" for making an obscure reference, and I take some offense to that. Just because you don't get it doesn't make it obscure. I tend to believe that most hockey fans have at least heard of that movie enough to understand the reference. But thanks for the e-mail.)

Unfortunately, there are not any photographs from the shooting of the movie that illustrate what I am talking about. You're just going to have to take my word for it.

The guys of Mystery played pond hockey. Some weasel came back to town after writing a piece about them in Sports Illustrated, and he said he had worked a deal to get the New York Rangers to fly up there to play an exhibition game.

The catch was that they would have to build an actual rink with boards and stuff. Of course, the rink wasn't NHL-sized, and it wasn't Olympic-sized. They never said how big the dimensions were, but it was more to the tastes of the pond hockey players.

It's a bit campy, but I've always enjoyed it because the hockey scenes were very well done. Not only that, but hockey is revered in Mystery in a way that many of us wish it was for real all over the place.

Anyway, that's where the reference came from. I stand by it. I look at the ice sheet at the World Arena, and I can only marvel at how big it is.

With that in mind, the well-known five-letter word is the biggest key to this weekend for UMD.


Colorado College has built their program around having guys who can skate. They're made to play in that big ice, and they will make sure UMD has to use every square inch of it. To be successful, UMD has to do just that. Move their feet. Use the boards. Pass accurately. Make CC work for their offensive chances.

Doing all the little things, even on the big ice, means UMD will be doing everything they can to help out sophomore goalie Alex Stalock, who stopped everything Denver threw at him, including the kitchen sink, in UMD's last outing 13 days ago.

Also key this weekend is physical play. UMD is not a lot bigger than Colorado College, but a visual scan of the rosters leads one to believe that they're a little bit bigger. All of UMD's defensemen, except freshman Chad Huttel (not expected to play this weekend), are at least six feet tall. UMD has 20 skaters on the trip, and 15 are six-feet or taller. Of the 20 skaters for Colorado College who have played four or more games so far, ten are at least six feet tall.

The Bulldogs have to use their size advantage (however minimal) as an advantage. Sure, CC can skate, but you can't let them hide. It's easier said than done, because there are a lot of places to hide on the big sheet. You can't obsess with lining guys up for big hits, because those opportunities are limited. You have to take the chances when they come, and take the initiative to create those physical opportunities.

Goaltending will be huge. It stands to reason that we'll see CC freshman Richard Bachman both nights. He's played incredibly well so far, shutting down Minnesota twice and then getting the win in the Saturday game at North Dakota last week. For a freshman, he's very poised, and there isn't much he can't stop if he can square to the shooter, which makes him much like UMD's Stalock. It should be a great battle between these two.

UMD needs to get the power play going. They're taking a donut in their last 14 chances, and while they did step up and get some chances on the weekend, the power play was a bit disappointing in the Denver series. Hopefully, playing on the big ice will open up some opportunities for them.

The penalty kill will be challenged by the big ice and CC's quick forwards. The best remedy is to play disciplined hockey and stay away from those bad situations. Duh. When they're out there, UMD has to maintain positional discipline and keep CC on the perimeter. Block shots and don't miss clearing chances.

I smell a split here. Stalock and Bachman are too good for either team to get swept. I think the best either team can hope for is a three-point weekend. If UMD can come out of here with two points, it will be a great achievement for them. It will serve as a good way to set up for the next four weekends, which will serve to be interesting. UMD plays at home next weekend against Michigan Tech, travels to North Dakota and Minnesota State, and then wraps up the pre-Christmas portion of the league schedule with a home series against Alaska-Anchorage. Counting this weekend, that's ten games and 20 available points. With the thought that they should get five points out of two tough home series, and maybe six out of these three road series, UMD is in line to have 16-19 WCHA points at the holiday break if they continue to play well. With how balanced the league is, that's not going to be a bad start at all, especially if the old theory of 28 points for home ice in the first round holds up, and I think it will.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Scott Sandelin ran into me at the World Arena while the team was dropping off their gear. We were walking through the tunnel out to the ice surface itself, and he couldn't have been more right when he told me that our luck with the weather has been really good on these Colorado trips.

(By the way, speaking of the If you ever want to get a feel for how big an Olympic-sized surface is, just walk down to ice level. The World Arena sheet looks especially huge, reminiscent of the pond hockey rink they built for the movie Mystery, Alaska. Really deep corners, which probably makes the biggest difference in the look of the surface compared to other Olympic sheets I've seen.)

After all, no one would have batted an eye if we were greeted by a blizzard on either of these trips. Instead, we had sunny skies and 75 degrees the day we got to Denver, and our arrival in Colorado Springs today was on a sunny, 70-degree day.

Seriously, I'm getting paid for this!

Travel was a bit bumpy today, and that's not even counting our three-plus hour layover in the Twin Cities. Right now, night has fallen here, but you can't beat our mountain view at the hotel, and the weather was awesome. Not only was it good today, but it's not supposed to waver at all during our stay. It's shorts weather during the day, albeit a bit chilly at night.

I'll give you a bit of a weekend preview tomorrow, and you can check out FanHouse for more on this weekend's Wisconsin-Michigan game.

Football picks are coming, and I'll probably post something stupid and random.

Kudos to the staff of the Colorado Springs Doubletree. We're right by the World Arena. These people are courteous, sharp, and always greet you with a smile. I don't want to go all Peter King on you, but this is one of my favorite stops for many reasons, and the fact that the hotel staff goes out of their way to make our lives a bit easier is one of the reasons why.

Back to hockey. I don't know what UMD will put together for lines this weekend now that Michael Gergen is available, and I admittedly didn't pay enough attention at practice Wednesday. But here's my best guess:

Michael Gergen - MacGregor Sharp - Nick Kemp
Matt Greer - Jordan Fulton - Matt McKnight
Andrew Carroll - Drew Akins - Justin Fontaine
Cody Danberg - Rob Bordson - Kyle Schmidt

Jason Garrison - Josh Meyers
Trent Palm - Travis Gawryletz
Jay Cascalenda - Chase Ryan

I reserve the right to be wrong. I'm rather confident in the top line, the freshman line, and the top defensive pairing. Not so sure about the rest of it. We shall see tomorrow.

Monday, November 05, 2007


A bit later in the day than usual, but oh, well. I have a few quick-hit thoughts.

Bye weeks suck. Best wishes to UMD freshman D Evan Oberg, who was injured during practice last week. He'll be out until January, from the sounds of it. Hopefully, the fact that he suffered a lower-body injury won't set him too far back as far as conditioning goes, and he'll make a quick return to the lineup once he's healthy. But the future is bright for Oberg, so let's get him healthy first.

Speaking of hockey...the Gophers are 0-4 in the WCHA. This has not happened since, well, ever. And I doubt that anyone around the league will be singing songs of sympathy for UMTC. Minnesota hasn't finished outside the top five in the league since 1997-1998, when Doug Woog was still the coach. That was also the last time they missed the Final Five. They're due.

Also, as a reminder, I'll be with the Bulldogs in Colorado Springs starting on Thursday. Colorado College should present the toughest test UMD has faced so far (no offense to Denver). With CC playing on Olympic ice out there, the weekend should be quite interesting. I'll be there for a preview later this week, and more stuff from our road trip during the weekend.

Skipping CDGate? This might be the stupidest thing ever. Apparently, the Patriots whined complained to the NFL about what they alleged was piped-in crowd noise at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis Sunday. The allegation appeared to originate from this particular sequence (I first saw the video at Awful Announcing):

It's not normal for me to be able to call upon experience working in radio. But this isn't a "skipping CD", as stated by some moron in the media or with the Patriots.

My first clue? The audio was nowhere to be found on Westwood One's national radio broadcast, which I was listening to at the time.

It sounds nothing like a skipping CD, really. It sounds more like feedback, which is what CBS seems to believe it was.

Seems like a few moonbats in Patriots Nation tried a bit too hard to get some controversy at the expense of their rival in Indianapolis. Try harder. This is just dumb, and it's a greater waste of time than most of the crap that came out about this game.

Hoops! College basketball is underway. Some teams are beating the crap out of lower-division teams in exhibition games. Others, like Michigan State, are losing overtime games to lower-division teams. Minnesota students are already chanting Tubby's name, and all he did was lead them past Minnesota State.

I'm too busy to get into serious team previews, but Blue Ribbon did a bang-up job on all of Division I. You can read their work on ($).

What I will tell you: Despite the loss to Grand Valley State, Michigan State will be a player in the Big Ten. Despite the loss of Alando Tucker, so will Wisconsin. Despite the fact that their biggest star is their head coach, the Gophers will make the postseason. I love this Indiana team, though I still don't know if Kelvin Sampson can get them to the Final Four.

Outside the Big Ten, I expect North Carolina to have a quality team. I think UCLA is going to be very good. I don't know what will happen in the Big East, but I look at Marquette as being a contender.

Basically, I don't know. Same as college football.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Last week: 10-5
Season: 94-35

Home team in CAPS
OHIO STATE over Wisconsin
PURDUE over Penn State
INDIANA over Ball State
Illinois over MINNESOTA
Michigan over MICHIGAN STATE
Wake Forest over VIRGINIA
KANSAS over Nebraska
SOUTH FLORIDA over Cincinnati
Louisiana State over ALABAMA
OREGON over Arizona State
CONNECTICUT over Rutgers
BOSTON COLLEGE over Florida State
OKLAHOMA over Texas A&M


There are 14 games on the NFL schedule this weekend, but if you listen to ESPN/FOX/CBS/NFL Network, there is only one.

Sadly, that's how the media works now. A game that is undeniably big, but will be rendered virtually meaningless when the two meet in the AFC Championship Game, is getting all the attention of the NFL "experts". Then, in January, you'll hear these "experts" talking nonstop about how they learned so much about the teams when they met in November. These words will be uttered just in time for both teams to do something completely different in their playoff matchup, and that will be followed by nonstop credit and "darling" status being given to the head coach of the winning team.

If the January winner is different than the November winner, we'll hear excuses made why they "came up short in Week Nine". The reality is that these players are going to treat this like any other game. Sure, there is a rivalry here, and there are some neat storylines, but compared to what we'll see in January, this is a pre-season game.

It'll be a really good pre-season game, but that's all it is.

My analysis of this game?


Note that I've avoided the whole "running up the score" topic this week. It's not that I don't think New England is running up the score, and it's not that I'm comfortable with the idea. However, I'm not comfortable with trying to tell a team when enough is enough. I am relatively certain that 38-0 in the fourth quarter is a good place to stop throwing the ball all over the field with the starters, but I still think that New England's behavior is dumb because of the risk involved. As was finally discussed this week (note that the "experts" never figure things out until most of us have already beaten the topic to death), the risk that one guy on the other team will snap and try to take out Brady exists when you keep throwing in 38-0 games, and it's not a risk worth taking.

If Brady ever gets hurt pulling such a stunt, I'm convinced that people will label Belichick an "idiot" for doing what he has been doing. However, since Brady is still healthy, Belichick is still a genius.

As for the game, have you been watching the Patriots? Granted, Indy's (by far) the best team New England has faced, but the path of destruction they've left so far is historic in its proportions. And they're not losing this game. Talk to me in January. My son has hockey practice on Sunday afternoon, and I'll miss a good chunk of this game. I have a feeling the one they play in January will mean a bit more, and I'll make more of an effort to watch.
The pick: New England

I'm not going to dog every other game on the schedule, because there are some good matchups on the slate.

By the way, I almost forgot:
Last week: 9-4
Season: 78-42

Carolina at Tennessee:
David Carr likely starts for Carolina, and that would be a guaranteed loss if you didn't think about it. However, when you do think about it, you realize that Tennessee can't throw much, either. This will come down to the two old cliches of football games: defense and turnovers. Since "turnovers" are involved, I'll go ahead and pick against Carr's team.
The pick: Tennessee

Green Bay at Kansas City:
I know I run the risk of turning into a cocky fanboy Bill Simmons type, but as long as the oddsmakers are picking against the Packers, I have another reason to firmly stand in their corner. Favre is playing well, the run game has a shot with Ryan Grant (I like him a bit, as he seems to have a good grasp of the system, and he doesn't miss chunks of playing time with cramps), and the defense makes plays when they need to be made. Stuff like that Cutler fumble Monday night (the one that was forced by one of Cutler's linemen) makes me think that Lady Luck is hanging out with the Packers for some reason, but I'm not going to turn that down.
The pick: Green Bay

Dallas at Philadelphia:
Philly showed some life last week. After a horrifically tough loss to Chicago, they got off the mat and beat the Vikings. But Minnesota moved the ball well at times, and Dallas' pass defense isn't nearly that bad. The TO stuff is pretty much over now. He's basically just like every other opponent in that Philly fans hate him.
The pick: Dallas

Other games (Home team in CAPS)
Arizona over TAMPA BAY
BUFFALO over Cincinnati
Denver over DETROIT
NEW ORLEANS over Jacksonville
San Diego over MINNESOTA
ATLANTA over San Francisco
Washington over N.Y. JETS
CLEVELAND over Seattle
OAKLAND over Houston
PITTSBURGH over Baltimore