What I Feel When I Hear You’re Pro-Trump

Donald Trump is a bigot and a sexist. My apologies if you disagree, but I hope you’ll continue reading anyway.

Donald Trump is a bigot and a sexist. Not confirmed by his own admission; after all, it’s rare you hear someone come out and say “yes, I am a bigot and I’m proud of it!” No, Donald has confirmed it the more common way, through the old adage of ‘actions speak louder than words,’ although in this case, ‘hateful words and proposed action speak louder than saying “I love the Latinos and the Latinos love me”’.

Without mentioning his high-profile shouting matches with women in his past, non-political life, since beginning his campaign, Donald has mocked the physical appearance of his lone GOP female competitor while making comments about Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly that would get you a two-day suspension from high school. When he claims he respects women, I don’t see it.

Donald has made broad, derogatory generalizations about Hispanic nations. “Mexicans…are bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” When made aware that two Boston men attacked and urinated on a homeless Hispanic man and later cited Trump immigration reform as the reason they did it, Donald said “the people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want it to be great again.”

In November, Donald called for a halt to any Muslims entering American borders, and for a database of all American Muslims. In other words, he advocated an unprecedented level of religious classification and monitoring, contradicting a core principle that the United States was built on, that being that the government shall not favor one set of religious beliefs over another.

donald

Not to get into a different discussion altogether, but damn – talk about an impressive plan. A lot of systems!

Most recently, Donald, after receiving an endorsement from the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, chose to sidestep direct questioning that asked him if he would condemn such a group’s beliefs and behavior. It later came out that Donald, in different forums both before and after the Jake Tapper interview, had indeed disavowed the KKK. “How many times do I have to disavow people?” he asked in his Super Tuesday press conference.

Well call me crazy, but when my time comes to run for President, my answer to “would you just say unequivocally you condemn [the KKK] and you don’t want their support?” will forever and always be “Yes”. There will never be a point where I say “you know, I think I’ve disavowed the KKK enough. Could we just give the KKK a rest here?”

 

Okay, great. Sorry that took so long, but there was more material to choose from than I realized. This brings me to my point. I am not writing this to tell you that you’re wrong if you support Donald for President. Although he has offered minimal (zero?) concrete policy ideas thus far, I am not claiming it impossible for Donald to create positive economic policies if he is given the ultimate opportunity to do so. And I am not writing to tell you what candidate is superior and therefore more deserving of your vote.

What I am writing to say is this. When I hear that you’re supporting Donald Effing Trump for President of the United States of America, in my mind, it tells me that either:

1) You do not consider Donald to be a sexist and a bigot. I feel like I gave enough evidence above, but if you disagree, that’s okay. Or similarly, you may not see an issue with having a bigot as President.

2) You are so enamored with the policies that Donald will generate and the change he will bring (again, he’s offered nothing thus far, so you are relying on potential) that you are willing to look past the imperfect reality of electing a bigot as the Leader of the Free World.

3) Deep down, so deep you may not ever admit it, you like the bigoted, sexist, anti-everything rhetoric that Donald spews. You’ve never heard a candidate with a realistic shot of winning say these sorts of things, and by offering Donald your support, you can prop up these ideologies from the safety of an anonymous voting booth.

In my mind, these are the categorizations and/or logical processes that can lead you to become a Donald supporter.

If you are a (1), I disagree with you. If you’re a (2), I respectfully disagree with you. And if you’re a (3), wow, that sucks.

If you are none of these, I urge you to rethink things, through the frame that the grass isn’t always greener without a politician in office. “He says what’s on his mind”, “there are no other good candidates”, or “what have we got to lose” should not lead you down this path. With all the anger, evil, and hatred in the world, I can unequivocally say, there is a lot to lose.

Ranking the Houses of the 2015 BFFPP

This season, a common theme has been the calling out of members who bring shame to their family name by neglecting their picks. These people are often hit with the shaming bell nun. Well here we have the official ranking of all 15 houses of the BFFPP. To qualify, you simply need to be of a family that has two or more members in pool play. Don’t like your House Ranking? Bring it better in 2016.

Not ranked are classic Houses Past which no longer exist, such as House Burbank, House Pappas, and House Modliszewski.

 

15th: House Hamer

2015 Shame Percentage: 75%

Wow how the mighty have fallen. The house of a recent overall champion comes in last place in this year’s house rankings due to picks neglect from brother Mark. Ex-champion John did not have a quality enough campaign to recover the family name from the worst Shame Percentage of any house this season.

Westerosi Equivalent: House Greyjoy/Reek

hamer

 

 

14th: House Meservey

2015 Shame Percentage: 50%

Another house with previous accomplishments that has had a forgettable 2015 season. This house would not have been nearly this low if the rankings had come out last week; however, Jessie, in a two person battle for the unenviable (but weirdly honorable) Last Place Award, failed to make her picks, disqualifying herself in the second to last week. Very, very shameful.

Westerosi Equivalent: House Baelish

MESERVEY

 

 

13th: House Porter

2015 Shame Percentage: 50%

The third straight house on our list that is made up of just a duo; the second set of brothers. Just like House Hamer, the Porter family name was dragged through the mud by one brother in specific, a neglectful Matthew. Think of the house, Matt.

Westerosi Equivalent: Joffrey and Tommen Baratheon

PORTER

 

 

12th: House Bradford

2015 Shame Percentage: 36%

The largest house in all the land with seven members, this house’s shame percentage is not as high as others on this list due to four of the members maintaining perfect scores. The house has been brought down by continued neglect by two of its members, one official and one betrothed. League wide success evades this house, as its most impressive 2015 performance is a run at the Last Place Award by Cousin Whit who technically hails from House Montgomery-Nassif.

Westerosi Equivalent: A name that has fallen on hard times due to the questionable behaviors of house elders, however one member has a power that no one else in the land holds. House Targaryen.

BRADFORD

 

 

11th: House Shosho

2015 Shame Percentage: 33%

Bound by marriage to the house listed above, House Shosho consists of three men from three generations. A strong family that is used to more success than 2015 brought, House Shosho would be a perfect 0% Shame Percentage if not for one fateful December week by the youngest of the clan

Westerosi Equivalent: the Dothraki

SHOSHO

 

 

10th: House Levy

2015 Shame Percentage: 50%

House Levy is the third set of brothers to appear on this list. Their shame percentage is a bit misleading, as both brothers have missed a Thursday, but neither has missed the full week. Unfortunately Shame Percentage is a scientific calculation and therefore not subject to debate. Both brothers will finish in the top half of the standings, but neither had a strong enough season to move any higher in these rankings.

Westerosi Equivalent: Tall, blonde, moving awkwardly? House Tarth

LEVY

 

 

9th: House Matis

2015 Shame Percentage: 33%

It has been an eventful year for House Matis that has seen two weddings and the birth of a child. Brother Kyle has not replicated his success from 2014, but a solid Shame Percentage leave the House in good standing.

Westerosi Equivalent: Making your picks the same week that you have a baby is about as courageous as killing a whitewalker. Combine that with Ryan’s infinite wisdom and you are left with House Tarly.

MATIS

 

 

8th: House Gentile

2015 Shame Percentage: 50%

The only house to be created via marriage this very season, this house made it through the wedding weekend before the wheels came off and the Mrs  stopped caring. Matthias has fought valiantly to better the family name through an inspired campaign that has him t-10th with one week to play. That is deserving of plenty of mac-n-cheese if you ask me.

Westerosi Equivalent: I mean, Jon Snow and Ygritte

GENTILE

 

 

7th: House Lopata

2015 Shame Percentage: 16%

A Lopata always pays his debts and, aside from one Thursday or so per year from Dennis, always makes his picks. Brother Nick has been one of the fiercest advocates of the banishment of all those who miss weeks. A family rich in BFFPP lore with championships, perfect weeks, and last place awards amongst their pelts.

Westerosi Equivalent: House Lannister

LOPATA

 

 

6th: House Deane

2015 Shame Percentage: 0%

Sister Hannah was one of the final two in this year’s Eliminator before bowing out to the champion. House Deane is one of three shame-free houses in 2015, but lacks the contender of the other two.

Westerosi Equivalent: An honorable family who loves dogs, but has seen a severe decrease in quantity of members over recent years (retirements of Ben, Whitney, and TBDeane, Sara): House Stark

DEANE

 

 

5th: House Martignetti

2015 Shame Percentage: 25%

A few missed Thursdays and House Martignetti would also me shame-free. This house could immediately rise if Adam, Anna, or both could make a jump from where they sit now, at t-14, into the Top 10 in the season’s final week.

Westerosi Equivalent: House Reed

MARTIGNETTI

 

 

4th: House Hough

2015 Shame Percentage: 16%

Two members in the North and one in the South, House Hough is competitive year in and year out. While it was a down year for Andy and mysterious Uncle Rick, matriarch Joyce finds herself in t-7th with a week to play.

Westerosi Equivalent: House Martell

HOUGH

 

 

3rd: House Quinn

2015 Shame Percentage: 0%

Very similar to the second place house, House Quinn is made up of a father-son duo who year in and year out have a Shame Percentage of zilch. The model of consistency in terms of making their picks, father Tim finds himself just outside the Top 10 while Peter was a finalist for the Eliminator this season.

Westerosi Equivalent: House Mormont

QUINN

 

 

2nd: House Dufault

2015 Shame Percentage: 0%

Edging out House Quinn by barely besting the father son duo (7th and 58th vs 14th and 70th), House Dufault is also a model of consistency in the BFFPP. A family with championship pedigree.

Westerosi Equivalent: House Klegane

DUFAULT

 

 

1st: House Desrosiers

2015 Shame Percentage: 25%

If you’ve kept an eye on the overall standings this season, this ranking was never in doubt. The second most populous family to House Bradford, House Desrosiers boasts four BFFPP members, with three of them currently residing in the Top 10. Uncle Guy is tied for the lead with one week to play, while Rhiann and Pam sit in 6th and t-7th. Simply put, an unprecedented level of familial success in a single BFFPP season, one that may never be matched. Finish strong, House Desrosiers!

Westerosi Equivalent: A family that always seems to be in the mix of things, with a strong matriarchal presence. Jay as Loras. House Tyrell

desro

Part 1 of 2: Bowl Season Preview by Will and Joe

Happy Bowl Season to you and yours. Here we have Part 1 of a two-part series, a two-manned look at the bowl games from Saturday 12/19 through the day after Christmas. The second installment will take us from the 12/28 games through the end of bowl season. As a Pear Treat, the second man on the bowl coverage this year is Joseph A Burbank, number one in your heart and number two in total phones owned. I’m not here to talk about the past, but it’s worth mentioning the 10 Pear Locks from last bowl season went a robust 2-8 ATS. Never forget. Joe and I took different approaches for ATS glory, with Joe attacking every bowl with an official pick, while I tried to be a bit more controlled and pass on the games I really didn’t have a feel for. For those who end up feeling TL;DR, our list of picks is at the bottom. We can take a look at the standings once Part 2 comes out. Let’s do this!

 

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Arizona vs. New Mexico
Albuquerque | University Stadium
12/19, 2 p.m. on ESPN

WB: Arizona -9.5, getting 56% of the bets, which isn’t a very high number for a big favorite. Arizona getting healthy and QB Solomon is probable from a concussion. Arizona was a dark horse Pac 12 South candidate this year, and never recovered after getting their doors blown off at home vs. UCLA in late September. They went 3-6 in conference play with several embarrassing losses. I couldn’t name you one single New Mexico player. They overachieved at 7-5 this year, winning three out of their last four as enormous underdogs (Utah St, Boise St, Air Force). The game is in New Mexico, but these early bowl games rarely fill up. I would not lay these points with an underachiever by any means, but I don’t have enough feel for NM to make them a strong pick. It almost reeks of too easy, since Zona has been so bad this year – basically, how dare they be two score faves? Lean NM, but not an official pick.

JB: I don’t know much about New Mexico either. But what I do know is that they are getting ten points to kick off the bowl season, on ESPN, at (virtually) home.  Common opponent in ASU, NM lost by 24, AZ recently lost by 25. I don’t think it would be wise to trust Arizona to cover because of how bad they were this year so I’m going to root for the Lobos and take the points. New Mexico +9.5.

 

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
BYU vs. Utah
Las Vegas | Sam Boyd Stadium
12/19, 3:30 p.m. on ABC

JB: What happened to Utah? Starting 6-0 with wins over Michigan, Oregon, Cal, and ASU. Ended season 3-3 with three unimpressive victories over Oregon State, Washington, and Colorado. BYU on the other hand started 2-2 (Nebraska/Boise Wins, Mich/UCLA Losses – not easy by any means) finished 7-1 with only loss to Missouri (bad offense, but still SEC). The 20% of bets on BYU tells me people are forgetting how poorly Utah ended the season.  Random fact: BYU has lost their last 2 bowl games after winning 5 or 6 straight. Numbers telling me to take BYU but I like them anyways, hot team against a cold team, in state bragging rights up for grabs. Would try and get this to 3 but definitely taking the points here. BYU +2.5.

WB: I saw some books open this at -3, so to come off the key number while getting such a majority of action indicates some smart money on BYU. It’s rare to find such a legitimate rivalry in a bowl game like the Holy War here, and Boyd Stadium in Vegas should be filled. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall will leave the Cougars for UVA after the game. Coaching changes are always a major factor in bowl prep, and one can really make the case both ways – “the team will win for their coach” or “the team will be mentally checked out/unprepared”. Utah was flying high to start the year, getting as high as #3 in the nation before losing the Pac 12 South on a tiebreaker to USC. Utah trucked Colorado State in this game last year. BYU lost their star QB in their opener, and has scrapped together a solid season at 9-3. Their only losses were at UCLA (by 1), at Michigan (31-0), and at Mizzou in Arrowhead (20-16).

I agree with you. I was high on Utah most of the year, but they disappointed down the stretch and I don’t expect them to bring their A intensity here, being put in a December 19th bowl game after being in Pac 12 title (and playoff) contention for most of the season. Star RB Devontae Booker is doubtful, and I’d be surprised to see him force it and suit up. He’s the Utes’ best player, and without him I want no part in what I anticipate to be the unmotivated unit. I’m going to hold out as long as I can for the +3 to pop back up, but BYU is an official play at +2.5.

 

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Ohio vs. Appalachian State
Montgomery, Alabama | Cramton Bowl
12/19, 5:30 p.m. on ESPN

WB: App State currently -7.5 with 55% of action. Another game in which I cannot name many players, except Ohio’s QB is named Vick. App State has built a quality program and went 10-2 in their second (or third?) year in FBS. They lost the Sun Belt title with a home loss to Arkansas State. They had a handful of blowout victories, with 8 of their 10 wins coming by double digits. This is their first bowl appearance since moving up to the FBS. Ohio went 8-4 out of the MAC and finished with 3 straight wins, including their finale at Northern Illinois. I hate the hook here, but I have little doubt that App State wins. If you’re looking for motivation, you won’t find much more than a school’s first ever bowl game. The MAC was a disaster in the bowls last year, and you’ll see from my picks that I am banking on that to continue. MACtion is a piece of work, but it seemed last year that when the teams got into bowl season and mixed it up with other conferences, they couldn’t pass the test. App State -7.5 early and often to cap an 11 win season.

JB: I like App St here as well; I think they cover even with the hook. Line is moving in their favor so it’d be nice to see this drop to 7, but bets now are about 48/52 so looks like it’s going to stay around 7.5 because I can’t imagine heavy bets in one direction. Ohio just isn’t that great of a team, watched them play a little bit in MACtion and their record seems to indicate they are better than they really are. Not 100% sure but pretty sure N Illinois had MAC West locked up going into the final game against Ohio so maybe game didn’t matter as much? Regardless I’m in on App St -7.5.

 

Cure Bowl
San Jose State vs. Georgia State
Orlando | Orlando Citrus Bowl
12/19, 7 p.m. on CBSSN

JB: This might be the worst bowl game of the season but here we go. SJSt only got in because there weren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill the bowl season (finished 5-7). Georgia St finished season with 4 straight wins to go 6-6 and are playing in their first bowl game ever. SJSt seems like the more balanced team; both defenses have almost identical stats. I don’t like going with the public (74% on the dog Georgia St) but they have a better QB and they are the hot team. When in doubt just take the points. Georgia St +3.

WB: Ah yes, the world renowned, historic Cure Bowl. It’s not the Christmas season without it. Grand total of players I can name in the Cure Bowl: 0. I agree with everything you said. Not only is San Jose State 5-7, but they aren’t even from a good conference. There are plenty of better 5-7 teams than SJSU (Texas? Mizzou? ECU? Okay, maybe not plenty), but I’m pretty sure SJSU got the nod due to conference affiliations and number of bowl entrant requirements. In my opinion, SJSU should be laying 3 points to practically no one that is bowl eligible. Meanwhile, GSU, like App St, is a n00b to the FBS with this being their first bowl appearance. They went a combined 1-21 in their first two seasons in the Sun Belt. Since I need to make my decision as this is hitting the presses, GSU’s status as a popular pick (74% of bets) makes me stay off them as an official play, but I will be watching the numbers as Saturday nears. If 3.5 shows itself, I will probably jump in.

 

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech
New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome
12/19, 9 p.m. on ESPN

WB: The Sun Belt champion Red Wolves come in as 2 point dogs, even though they’re riding an eight game win streak, sweeping their conference schedule while averaging 48.6 points per game in Sun Belt play. Louisiana Tech finished second in the CUSA West, and their only losses after mid September were at Mississippi State and their finale at home vs. Southern Miss. They are led by ex-Gator QB Jeff Driskel. LA Tech should be playing with some fire after being embarrassed in their homecoming game, while Arkansas State has been playing in a different gear for the last two months since QB Fredi Knighten returned from injury. With a weird spread like 2, I am going to pass on picking a side and go with Over 67.5. If Arkansas State is slowed down, it will be the first time in months (37+ in all eight conference games), and I don’t think they will run away with it either, meaning I see this one being a race to 50.

JB: Not many bets in on Ark-St (33%). I feel like I need to get behind a Sun Belt team and I like this matchup for them. LTech looks like a team that plays to their opponent (close against WKU/KSU, barely beat UTEP). I haven’t seen either of these teams play but in a high scoring game like this one should be I’m going to take the team with the difference maker at QB, the public is against, and the points all day. Ark St +2. Not to mention I think home field advantage is overrated in bowl games since teams have plenty of time to travel and the fans will travel with the team. Just because the game is in Louisiana doesn’t mean Arkansas won’t have any fans there. Is there a site to see % of tickets sold to each fans?

WB: I don’t know if there is a site that says that, but if you want to be a hero you can call the schools’ athletic departments and ask. If you do that, let me know how it goes. When judging a crowd advantage I like to hit up Google maps first (in this case, game is in Louisiana but LT campus is 350 miles away while Ark St is 450 miles away – travel commitment pretty even), while also trying to guess what fan base is more likely to make the effort to get there (i.e. = which program does the game man more to?). If you Google “XYZ Bowl tickets” you may find some noteworthy tidbits, like this one that reinforces our BYU opinion in the LV Bowl above.

 

Miami Beach Bowl
Western Kentucky vs. South Florida
Miami, Florida | Marlins Park
12/21, 2:30 p.m. on ESPN

JB: I wish I was going to Miami earlier because I can’t wait to see this game. Doughty (WKU) is one of the most talented QB’s out there, 4500 yds 45 TDs and 7 INT on the season to win Conf USA and my NCAA survivor. Is the American sneakily one of the best (top to bottom) conferences out there? 8 teams bowl eligible. Competition is great. South Fla with only two division losses to talented teams in Navy and Memphis. I haven’t seen much of South Fla play but I am giving the edge to WKU in this game because of Doughty and besides the loss to LSU they have been steamrolling teams since week 3. I think the home field advantage for South Fla will make South Fla a popular underdog pick and that might be why the spread is only 3, but I believe in WKU. WKU -3.

WB: I agree, this one is going to be a cracker. I don’t like that more of the public is on USF, but it’s relatively close to 50-50. What USF has been doing to both good and bad teams down the stretch is something I cannot pass up. I know Doughty is the best player on the field, but I think USF’s balanced offense and steamrolling momentum is enough to warrant a play on the Bulls plus the points. USF +3.

 

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Akron vs. Utah State
Boise, Idaho | Albertsons Stadium
12/22, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN

WB: Utah State has built a solid program over the last half decade, and a big part of that has been senior QB Chuckie Keeton. Keeton was injured early this season (the third straight season he has suffered a serious injury), and managed to return for the team’s final two games. Now, Utah State coach is not saying who will start the bowl game between Keeton and Kent Myers. I have to imagine it will be the senior, with a high likelihood that both players get snaps. Akron, on the other hand, is in only their second bowl game since moving to D-1 in 1992, so motivation should be sky high for the Zips. They boast the best defense in the MAC. Both teams are from northern climates, but the Aggies are only 300 miles from home, while the Zips need to travel 2,000 miles to Boise. Utah State should have a decided crowd advantage as Keeton plays his final game. For that reason, I will go against the new blood motivation factor of the Zips and take the Aggies -6.5. I’m guessing it stays close and low scoring for a while, but the better team pulls away while Akron can’t get their offense going. I’m thinking USU 27-10 or something like that, so official play on USU -6.5 (see below) while the under 48.5 seems right, but I’m not going to get greedy.

JB: I don’t know about this one. Utah St has been in some ugly games all year. If they can put together a clean game I think they can easily cover because they have better talent than years past like you said. I just don’t think they have been playing well against teams with good defenses all year so I’m going to take the points in what I expect to be a low scoring weird game. I’m going to pick Utah St to win 22-16. Akron +6.5.

WB: After some thinking, I’ve come around on my Utah State confidence here. Love the “meaningful program player riding off with a win” narrative, but I can’t assume that means a TD or more victory. Akron should be one of the hungriest of all the bowl teams, as their lack of program success should keep this one close. I did not realize Akron had the #3 rush defense in FBS. So I’m going to officially take the Zips. Go Zips go, bark Zips bark.

 

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl
Toledo vs. Temple
Boca Raton, Florida | FAU Stadium
12/22, 7 p.m. on ESPN

JB: I feel like I’ve been on the wrong side of Temple for the 2nd half of the season. Team just hasn’t been the same after losing to ND, finishing 3-3, but with a win over Memphis (note: Memphis had lost their second straight the week before on the road – a 1 point loss to Houston after being up two scores going into the 4th quarter that more or less clinched the American West for Houston – then traveled to Temple and got crushed. I mention this because Toledo and Memphis are comparable teams but the circumstances were way different in the Memphis game earlier —defending my Toledo boys). Toledo was in a log jam in the standings for the MACtion championship game, losing out to NIU. Only 22% of the bets are on Toledo. I think people think of Temple and the team that gave ND a run for their money, not the team that finished 3-3. I’m picking Toledo because the public has it wrong! Toledo +1.5.

WB: This is one of the games that I have done my biggest about face since the matchups and lines came out. You’re right that Temple has had a pedestrian second half, since the Notre Dame game. At 3-3 since that game, the biggest split has been on the defensive side of the ball, at home and away from Philadelphia. In the three home games (vs. bowl teams ND, Memphis, UConn), they’ve gone 2-1 while allowing 13 ppg. On the road, they’ve gone 1-2, allowing 36 ppg. This begs the question, with their bowl game being in Florida, far away from both campuses, is the issue playing/staying away from Philly, or playing in front of a more hostile crowd?

Statistically, the only matchup that looks to be uneven is the Temple rush game (90th) vs. the Toledo rush defense (11th), so Temple will likely have to throw to win. My first instinct was that Temple would put a nice ending on a breakthrough season with a bowl win, and the Owls definitely have the advantage with coach Matt Rhule facing off against an interim (Toledo HC left for Iowa State). But something doesn’t feel right here, and I hate to be amongst the 80% if I don’t have to be. I am going to pass here with a lean to the Owls, and I’ll enjoy one of the best matchups Week 1 of Bowl Madness has to offer.

 

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Boise State vs. Northern Illinois
San Diego | Qualcomm Stadium
12/23, 4:30 p.m. on ESPN

WB: Boise -7.5 and receiving two-thirds of bets. It was an uncharacteristically losing season for the Broncos, going 8-4 and finishing 4th in the Mountain West. I imagine the preseason expectations in Boise were to be the Group of 5 representatives in the New Year’s Six games, not the Poinsettia Bowl. What I just wrote constitutes exactly what I would be looking to fade – EXCEPT – did you SEE the MAC championship? Northern Illinois won their division for what seems like the 10th straight year, however, by the time they got to the title game, they were down to their true freshman, 4th string QB, and he was as bad as you would expect a 4th string MAC QB to be. I simply don’t think I have the stomach to back the Huskies and their 4th string guy against a talented Broncos defense. The one saving grace for Boise is that their QB is also a freshman, but not a 4th string one, and in my mind, a freshman in his first bowl game is more likely to play with some heart (see Rosen, Josh later) than some upperclassman would after a disappointing season. No data to back that up, but it seems like reasonable logic. I pass, as I want nothing to do with making a confident decision on this game. I struggle to see a way NIU wins outright, but no one has gone tout picking favorite MLs.

JB: I watched the MAC championship and NIU looked awful. Completely forgot that they had 3 QBs go down. They almost resorted to the Wildcat or 5th string redshirt freshman who would have had to lose a year of eligibility. Loll. I cannot pick NIU in this game. Their only points in the MAC Ship were a pick 6 and one good drive. I am confidently picking Boise St because NIU is an absolute dumpster fire and any bowl eligible team should truck them. Boise St -7.5.

 

GoDaddy Bowl
Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green
Mobile, Alabama | Ladd-Peebles Stadium
12/23, 8 p.m. on ESPN

JB: Bowling Green. MACtion champs. Georgia Southern you may remember as the Sun Belt team that almost upset Georgia. Both teams can put up points. BG has an interim head coach for this game. I don’t really think of that as a huge deal because as you said earlier you could look at it as a positive or a negative so I’ll just ignore that for this game but I wanted to make sure it was mentioned. I think BG played their best game against a solid NIU team in the MAC championship (UPDATE: “Just started looking at the NIU game and read your take. Completely forgot about a 4th stringer starting…and pretty sure he got hurt and they almost had to put in a redshirt freshman and make him lose a year on the bench because they had no one else! Pretty sure they ran the wildcat for a play. But yea, NIU scored on a long pass and a pick 6 against BG. Yikes. Still going to go with BG. One dimensional teams with a month to prepare I think can be managed. GS has no passing attack at all.) I don’t really think GSU is going to surprise anyone here. This is going to be a high scoring game but I think BG has more firepower and can cover by two TDs and just get more stops than GS. BG -7.5.

WB: Bowling Green most certainly comes in as the more known commodity. High flying offense, statistically impressive quarterback, plenty of primetime MACtion exposure.

I’m taking the underdog. While BGSU is the #3 passing offense in FBS, Georgia Southern is the #1 rushing attack. Clash of styles is an understatement. Four GASO players had over 90 carries, with the most statistically impressive being Matt Breida. Admittedly, the majority of Breida’s eye-popping game logs come from September to mid-October, but I am expecting the option attack to control the game flow vs. an average BGSU rush defense that has not faced an option team all season.

Any time you back an option team, you have to hold your breath that your guys don’t get buried/solved early, but thems the risks. You mentioned that BGSU’s coach had left for Syracuse, but GASO’s bolted as well. However, in my internal spin zone, I’m going on a hunch that it is easier for an interim to coach an option team than to prepare one to face an option team. That is a FACT. GASO +7.5, throw away the key. Irrationally pumped for this game.

 

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
Middle Tennessee vs. Western Michigan
Nassau, Bahamas | Robinson National Stadium
12/24, Noon on ESPN

WB: Talk about a game that I know absolutely nothing about. The two things that come to mind here are a) last year’s inaugural Bahamas Bowl was the wackiest of the season, with CMU coming back from 35 down in the fourth to lose by one to WKU (but cover the +3), and b) MTSU is the school that had players ejected in their bowl game two years ago against Navy, for playing supestotes dirty. Those are the things I remember, and neither have anything to do with this game. A glance at the stats shows that both teams are in the top 20 in passing, so if it breaks right, this could be a barn burner like last year’s game. The fact that MTSU’s season ending run is against loser teams makes me think WMU is the better team here, and they are where I lean. But this is another game that I don’t know a single player. I lean favorite and over, but officially pass, and hope that I can keep this restraint as the game is set to kick off on Christmas Eve day.

JB: I know nothing about MTSU. Apparently they played out of conference games against Bama, Vandy, Illinois and almost beat Vandy and Illinois. So they have that going for them.  I actually watched two Western Michigan games this season (is that sad? I like to think its dedication) and they looked pretty solid. They played Ohio St and Mich St earlier in the season and didn’t embarrass themselves. They actually tied for 1st place in the MAC West, and ESPN says they have a “future NE Patriots receiver” in Dan Braverman who caught 103 passes this year. They had the 3rd best attendance in the MAC, so maybe lots of fans will be making the trip to the Bahamas, bringing some Popeyes with them. So I’m going to hold my breath and go with W Michigan. MACtion baby. Western Michigan -3.

 

Hawai’i Bowl
San Diego State vs. Cincinnati
Honolulu | Aloha Stadium
12/24, 8 p.m. on ESPN

JB: It wouldn’t be bowl season without SDSU and Cincinnati in the Hawaii bowl. I love how it’s a Mountain West team and then Pac-12 or Conference USA. I get having a .500 Pac-12 team, but where does Conference USA come from? Giving the boys from the South/Midwest a vacation?

SDSU won the Mountain West reeling off 9 straight wins in pretty impressive fashion behind a top defense in the nation (+19 turnover margin and only letting up 19 pts/game). Cincy won the games they were supposed to, and lost the games they were expected to lose (Temple, Memphis, BYU, Houston, and South Fla) in the BRUTAL American Conference. Cincy has a pretty good offense with 5’9 179 Shaq Washington taking on an Edelman slot receiver role. I read that SDSU plays a 3-3-5 defense which should be able to contain Cincy’s passing attack. There will be no Belk Bowl repeat here. SDSU +1.5.

WB: Cincinnati seems to fill the role of average team with a pretty good offense and a not so good defense. Like you said, they lost to the 5 quite good teams on their schedule. They posted wins over three bowl teams, but two were quite weak (UConn, Tulsa), while Miami FL was in their final weeks of the Al Golden experience. San Diego State had a solid season, an unexpected run to the Mountain West title. They have a good program and good coach in Rocky Long. They pound the ball (15th of 128 in rush ypg), while Cincinnati ranks 94th in rush yards allowed (even worse, 104th, when sorted by average allowed per carry). Sometimes it’s that simple, and this is one of those cases. Give me the grinders versus the more finesse attack. The fact that the Cincy QB is currently away from the team on a personal issue is just one more reason to like SDSU.  SDSU +1.5.

 

St. Petersburg Bowl
Connecticut vs. Marshall
St. Petersburg, Florida | Tropicana Field
12/26, 11 a.m. on ESPN

WB: Forgive me. The day after Christmas, 11 am – the St Petersburg Bowl is the prime time to degen, but here we are again, with me leading the discussion for a bowl that I have zero clue about either team. A UConn DB is high on the NCAA interceptions list. There’s that? Marshall finished a distant second to WKU in the CUSA East, losing three of their four matchups with bowl teams. They weren’t equipped with the same explosive offense we’ve been used to from Rakeem Cato’s Marshall squads of recent memory. UConn, on the other hand, may be the worst team in the bowl field, finishing 6-6 in large part to a home upset of Houston when Houston QB Greg Ward Jr did not play. The win ruined Houston’s perfect season, and is without a doubt the Huskies best result of the season. I think their second best game would probably be a 9-6 loss at Mizzou. So on that note, Will, you are better than betting on this game, don’t do it, come on. Lean UConn, because as I just said, they are the worst team out of the 80 bowl teams, so why not. PASS. Good riddance, St Petersburg Bowl.

JB: I’ll tell you what I won’t be doing the day after Christmas and that’s watching this bowl game. Ok maybe I’ll have it playing in the background while I make breakfast but that’s it. I don’t really know what else to say here other than Marshall was able to put up a decent amount of points this season. I’m going to pick the favorites here simply because they both have ok defenses and Marshall’s offense is significantly better than UCONNs. UCONN trying to be like BC and have more points allowed per game than points scored per game. Yikes. . Marshall -4.5.

 

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Miami vs. Washington State
El Paso, Texas | Sun Bowl
12/26, 2 p.m. on CBS

JB: Remember when Miami lost to Clemson 58-0 and they were 4-3 and left for dead in the ACC with this as their remaining schedule: @Duke, Virginia, @UNC, GT, @Pitt. Difficult road games and winnable home games. They went 4-1 (editor’s note: should have been 3-2 if not for that final play vs. Duke debacle).  Their offense and defense are nothing special (PF: 31.5 PA: 28.8 – which also happens to be identical to Wash St).  This is just a team that has been finding ways to win. Interesting stat:  7/9 ACC teams are underdogs in the bowls. Washington St has been a surprise, with the talent and hype surrounding just about every other team in the Pac-12 this year. Lot of solid teams coming out of the Pac-12 (10 Bowl eligible. I expect to be talking about Colorado next year). QB Luke Falk 4th overall in NCAA in passing yards (Wash St: 1st in Passing, last in Rushing per game in NCAA). It’s going to be interesting to see if Miami can stop their passing attack. 80% of bets on Wash St as the 3 point favorite. I hate to go with the majority of votes but I just don’t think Miami’s defense will be able to stop them enough to win the game.  Wash St 45-31. Wash St -3.

WB: I do remember that Clemson slaughter fondly, since I had Miami +8 and it just missed. Falk missed the Apple Cup when Wazzu was pasted by Washington. He is probable, but I imagine he plays. Also with positive reports from a local site I just read is WR Gabe Marks, injured against Washington. Listed as doubtful, the report from two days ago states “during todays off day, whispers of a possible return to the field for [Marks] started to get louder and louder. Reports have emerged that Mark’s ankle injury that he sustained in last month’s game against Washington might not be as serious as many believe”. So that good news for Wazzu. Season statistics show it is a weird game, as both squads rush offenses and defenses are well below FBS averages, with, as you mentioned, Wazzu’s rush attack last in FBS in yards per game. They’re actually not last in yards/attempt, they just don’t run, ever (87 less attempts than 127th FBS team).

I am going to go against you here, fade the public, and take the Hurricanes. Like you mentioned, they’ve been playing much better ball since firing Al Golden, and they’re not short on athletic ability. If they can somewhat slow down the Wazzu pass attack, I expect Brad Kaaya and a slightly more balanced offense to have a good shot at the upset. I’ll make Miami +3 official, while personally waiting to see if it goes any higher. If Marks is announced as playing, it very well might.

 

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Washington vs. Southern Miss
Dallas | Cotton Bowl
12/26, 2:20 p.m. on ESPN

WB: Washington has the #1 ranked defense in the Pac-12, and a freshman QB in Jake Browning who has had a good but not great first season (16 TD, 10 INT, negligible rushing stats). Myles Gaskin is a strong RB, but SoMiss ranks 34th against the run, so it is a plus unit. Washington has two true impressive wins, at USC when Sarkisian was still boozing on the sidelines, and a 49-3 crushing of Arizona. Smashing Wazzu without Falk in the Apple Cup doesn’t overly impress me.

Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens balled out for six straight weeks against inferior competition (20 TD, 5 INT) before crashing down to earth in the C-USA title game to WKU. The Eagles led 21-7 in the second quarter, but WKU ended on a 38-7 run to win going away.

Southern Miss has the decided travel advantage (400 miles to 2,000), so while I don’t expect them to have a real crowd edge, I don’t think UW fans will jam the place from the Pacific Northwest.

I came into bowl season with the following mindset and rudimentary plan of attack: “The Pac-12 was the strongest top to bottom conference all season. 10 of the 12 teams could be categorized as some level of good, with only Colorado and Oregon State not becoming bowl eligible. Even Colorado was competitive, with one score losses to UCLA, USC, Utah, and Zona. I find it to be hypocritical that when SEC teams beat up on each other, the narrative is ‘oh that conference is so competitive and strong’, but when other conferences produce a two loss champion, it’s ‘because there are no elite teams’. Therefore I will look to back the Pac-12 in bowl season”.

Unfortunately, the Pac-12 has been matched up with lesser conferences in 5 of their 10 bowls, resulting in being favored in 9 of 10 bowls, including being considerable favorites in many. This is one of those games. I would have much preferred to test my “Pac-12 is superior” theory in bowl games vs. Power 5 teams in which the Pac-12 was near a pickem.

Instead, I will go against my Pac-12 theory here, and take the points. There is a possibility that Washington shreds the SoMiss defense like warm butter, but I think the dog here has the QB advantage which should be enough to at least hang on for back door dear life. SoMiss +8.5.

JB: I want to back Southern Miss here, but I just can’t do it. A 9-4 team that had one win against a team with a winning record, Louisiana Tech. Washington’s defense got them a bowl berth not allowing anyone to score more than 34 on them (let up 30+ points to Utah, Stanford, Cal – good company there). I just can’t see Southern Miss scoring more than 20 on this defense. And this 8.5 spread stinks. Why is it just lingering between the 7 and 10 range? I will trust your Pac-12 theory and go with the Huskies. Washington -8.5.

 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Indiana vs. Duke
Bronx, New York | Yankee Stadium
12/26, 3:30 p.m. on ABC

I think we should go to this bowl game next year. Scheduled between Xmas and New Years could easily go down (with a Foxwoods stop) stay the night and head back and not miss any family obligations. Just an idea. Wish it was this year because this is an interesting matchup. Indiana boys almost upset Ohio St earlier this year and that triggered 6 straight losses: Ohio St, @PSU, Rutgers (55-52 shootout), @Mich St, Iowa (heartbreak non cover 8 pt loss), and Michigan (2OT loss). Not exactly bad losses by any means and they did this without their stud RB Jordan Howard who got injured in the Ohio St game and missed PSU and Rutgers.  He only 11 carries against MSU then monster performances against Iowa (22/174/2TDs) and Michigan (35/238/2, +1 Rec TD). To say a few of these games could have gone a little different if he stayed healthy is an understatement. QB Nate Sudfeld has been carrying this team all season with no standout receivers, a sieve for a defense and Howard missing 3 full games and seeing limited action in another 3. I believe all signs point to him playing but it will need to make sure closer to the game. Duke has had a similar season, 4 straight losses and a win at Wake Forest to finish 7-5. They do not give up much on the ground, but QB’s have been able to throw on them. Duke has the better defense by far but the best unit on the field is the Indiana offense. All signs point to Indiana to take this game in a shootout as Sudfeld should be able to do what he pleases.

BUT WAIT! When we look at some numbers, ESPN Power Index rating gives Duke a 60% chance to win the game. Only 17% of bets on Duke with no change in the spread. As much as I like Sudfeld and Indiana I am going to pick Duke because I can’t ignore these numbers and Indiana’s defense is the worst unit on the field.  Indiana hasn’t really blown anyone out (Maryland they were down 21-3 in the first and up 30-28 in the third before they ran away with it). I think this will be a close shootout and if Duke can get a couple stops I think they can win. Duke +2.

WB: The long con take, love everything about it Joe. Gotta keep the people on their toes every now and then.

I agree that we should go to the Pinstripe Bowl, that would be great fun. Maybe Buenerfache would host us. I also agree with most everything you’re saying about Indiana. Howard is their best player, the second consecutive monster RB they’ve churned out. I’ll be honest, I thought he was much more of a “probable” for this game than the reports I am now reading indicate. Any times you combine the phrases [returning from knee injury] and [weighing NFL prospects], I immediately think playing is less of a priority than staying healthy.

Indiana showed a downright refusal to close games this season – that 7 point loss to OS, a total collapse to Rutgers, a 5 point late deficit to MSU that ended ballooning to 26, the double OT loss to Michigan where they allowed a 4th down TD to tie it in regulation – it’s a wonder these guys even rallied to make the bowl game. Playing Maryland and Purdue to close certainly helped.

While I agree Indiana’s defense is the worst unit in the match, I do want to say one thing in support of them. They rank 128th of 128 in passing yards allowed per game. Simply awful, the absolute worst. But when you rank the teams my passing yards allowed per attempt – they become 93rd out of 128. Still not good by any means, but not utterly abysmal. It shows they faced a ton of throws all season and the yards just piled up.

Duke losing four out of five to close (with a tight win vs. Wake, which is basically a loss) is ugly. It seems to be two teams on different trajectories.

And for my BUT WAIT – even if Howard is to miss the game, which I’m guessing he will – how about this, which broke yesterday: “Duke will be without arguably its best player Dec. 26 in the Pinstripe Bowl against Indiana as ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Cash has been ruled out.”

What scares me most of all is that I am on the public side at 83%, but the public isn’t always wrong 100% of the time. Give me the Hoosiers to end the season on a high note. Indiana -2, official.

 

Camping World Independence Bowl
Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech
Shreveport, Louisiana | Independence Stadium
12/26, 5:45 p.m. on ESPN

WB: Here we have a major clash of styles, as Tulsa ran the most plays per game in all of FBS this season, while VA Tech has never been confused for an explosive offensive attack, at least since the Vick days.

The downside of Tulsa, and the reason they are the biggest dog in all of bowl season, is the defense. They rank 124th against the pass and 119th against the run in FBS, holding opponents to less than 24 points once in 12 games, while allowing 34+ seven times. Their defense is a disaster, no bones about it.

The question – does Virginia Tech have the offense to capitalize on this in a blowout? VT was without QB Michael Brewer for roughly half their season, but they went 3-2 without him. The spread and total project this final score to be 38-24 VT, a score that the Hokies only reached twice this season in regulation, vs. FCS Furman and dumpster Purdue.

Both schools faced 6 bowl teams this season, and both went 1-5. Just like any time you take the points with a big underdog, you risk feeling dumb if you get the doors blown off, but I don’t see how I can lay two TDs with an uninspiring offense. I like Tulsa to move the ball with some success, and the Hokies to carry Frank Beamer off as a non-covering winner. VT 42-35 or something like that. Tulsa +13.5.

JB: I agree with you here. Virginia Tech just loves playing in close games, 6 of them this year decided by less than 4 points. I like to think of these bowl games as NFL playoffs, if they are going to give you 10+ points — take them. Tulsa’s defense is horrific sure, but Virginia Tech only broke 40+ points 3 times all season (with one 4OT loss there, and 2 wins against dumpster fire teams). I’m taking the points and hoping Tulsa can put points up quickly and hold on. Tulsa +13.5.

 

Foster Farms Bowl
UCLA vs. Nebraska
Santa Clara, California | Levi’s Stadium
12/26, 9:15 p.m. on ESPN

JB: UCLA has to be pissed about landing Nebraska in their bowl game. UCLA could have won the Pac-12 South if they beat USC the last game of the regular season. They lost, and now play 5-7 Nebraska in the Foster Farms Bowl. Ouch. Two of the most talented conferences (10 Pac-12 and 9 Big 10 teams going bowling) so both are no strangers to playing tough competition all year.  UCLA has a balanced offense, decent defense and should be able to play anyone outside of the top 10 competitively. Also worth it to note they have an all time great kicker in Ka’imi Fairbairn who just won the award for best college kicker.

Nebraska has won at least 9 games in each of its last 7 years so this year was definitely disappointing. Disrupting Michigan States season temporarily was nice (MSU still made it in though) and if Nebraska fans want to hear something positive (or frustrating) here is the total number of points they lost by in their 7 losses: 31! Take away an awful 10 point loss to Purdue and they lost 6 games by 21 points. Losing by a field goal in every one of their losses is tough as they could have easily been a 7-5, 8-4 team here. There’s not much to be said about them, they play classic Big-10 football with no standout athletes.

I think a lot of people are going to get caught up on the records here and pick UCLA, especially getting the juicy line at 6.5. They played back in 2012 in a back and forth game where UCLA won 36-30. I think this will be a similar game and predict that Fairbairn kicks a 47 yd field goal to win 35-32, signs a Levi’s jeans sponsorship on the spot and gets carried off the field to live in Foster Farms glory forever. Nebraska just has that lingerability, Nebraska +6.5.

WB: The question here, like the Boise game, is one of motivation. UCLA has the better players, the better quarterback, and has had the better season. But like you said, they were a couple wins away from the Rose Bowl, and now find themselves at Foster’s Farms. Disappointment? Perhaps.

You’re absolutely right – Nebraska could have easily been better than 5-7. Close games left and right. 4-1 in games decided by 2+ scores, 1-6 in one score games. But let’s clear a few things up: 1) The win over MSU was as lucky as they come. The ref decided that one as much as Tommy Armstrong. 2) The overtime loss to Miami in September included a 23-point 4th quarter comeback to tie the game. I refuse to call that anything more than “would have been an undeserving miracle”. 3) The 28-20 loss to Iowa was technically one score, but come on. They were not a deserving team. They trailed by 11 until a FG with one minute left.

There were some rat results, like the BYU Hail Mary in Week 1, but I’ll stop short of calling this team woefully unlucky. They made their bed; they need to sleep in it. 117th in the country in turnovers, with 26, including 4 in the Iowa game. Iowa protected the ball this year, Nebraska didn’t. That’s why the Hawkeyes were a stop away from the CFP, and the Huskers are 5-7. At some point, turnovers need to be considered as a preventable occurrence, not an instance of bad luck. UCLA has faced plenty of QBs better than Tommy Armstrong this year; I’d be surprised if he can make it through without making one or two meaningful mental mistakes.

On the other side, Josh Rosen is a future stud and Paul Perkins is a talented RB. The Big Ten may have the better top tier talent, but I’m going back to my Pac-12 theory. Rosen treats his first bowl game with the focus it deserves, and the Bruins simply outclass and outperform the Huskers. UCLA 38-20. UCLA -6.5, official.

W1

Pear Reads: Things I Find Interesting and Maybe You Will, Too

Sometimes I like to read things, and sometimes I like to talk about such things with my peers. Since I’m not much of a Facebook sharer, below are some features and articles I have bookmarked over the past year that I found worth the time – from simple awesome (in the actual definition of the word) and entertaining, to highly thought provoking. You should read some of them and we should talk about it.

 

SPORTS / ENTERTAINMENT SECTION

Just a fantastic longer read about the Mississippi junior college football league that is essentially a farm system for major college football, full of young men who have had their share of hiccups through two decades of life. Written last October, part of the article centers around Chad Kelly, Jim Kelly’s son who accounted for 37 TDs this season for Ole Miss. It really shows the fine line between big time opportunity and throwing it all away.

 

For any boxing fans that are waiting for the return of exciting boxing, anyone who fell asleep during Mayweather-Pacquiao and still haven’t woken up – I present Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin – who has more excitement in his pinky than Mayweather has had in his whole career. He’s too old to be “the future”, but still has time to be “the present” for a little while. Youtube for the good stuff. GGG v Canelo Alvarez is being rumored in the fall of 2016.

 

If anyone used to watch Whale Wars, and wonders what the folks of the Sea Shepherd have been up to, here you go! That show was so awesome, is it still on? Just constantly harassing the Yushin Marus of the world, ah this brings me back.

 

“The Chase” by Eric Adelson, 2007, ESPN.com, you know, before ESPN turned into an organization that considered axing their best journalistic department to be the best way to produce content. What about this rural part of Florida churns out some of the fastest, most athletic NFLers (since the article was written, Janoris Jenkins, Parnell McPhee, and others have made it to the show from Pahokee).

 

POLITICS / WORLD SECTION

I can acknowledge that there is a seemingly unavoidable link between complaining about the mainstream media’s coverage of the news, and sounding like a conspiracy theorist crackpot. I think its unfortunate, but I can admit that it’s there. Therefore, at risk of sounding like said crackpot: living in a country of over 300 million and a world of over 7 billion, even the most thorough of truth seekers need to, to some degree, rely on the media to inform them of newsworthy happenings around the nation and the globe. So when I stumble upon a news story that I consider to be highly newsworthy that isn’t getting the level of mainstream coverage that I think it deserves, that disappoints me. The name Robert Doggart is one such example of this. If you do not recognize the name, that is exactly my point. I consider it to be highly newsworthy for a man that ran for US Congress just one year ago to be indicted on charges of planning to completely annihilate a Muslim community with firebombs, a pistol, a machete and an assault-style rifle with 500 rounds of ammunition. But perhaps that’s just me. There’s a ton of bad stuff going on in the world, but lets try to cover it the same if its done by a white or a brown person.

 

By far the longest read of all, 10,000 words that refute the official Zero Dark Thirty storyline of the Osama bin Laden mission four years ago. Defending Myself From Sounding Like a Crackpot pt 2: before you roll your eyes at the absurdity of the claim, just consider that the author, Sy Hersh, is an extremely respected investigative journalist that first uncovered a US-related international coverup in 1969, and won the Pulitzer because of it. Hersh has been around the block. This is one you will want to print out, take home, and curl up on the couch with, perhaps with a highlighter in hand. That’s what the Mrs and I did on a flight home from Chicago in May. Since I read it in full six months ago, I am surely forgetting many of the details, but I can dig out my notes from my desk if anyone wants to talk shop. The extent of the mistruths alleged in the story is utterly mind-blowing, and it directly relates to my complaints of the mainstream media in the above paragraph. American citizens have been fed the Zero Dark Thirty version of events for four years, and when this expose comes out, it is nary a blip on the American media’s radar.

 

Alright, that’s all for me – if you need me I will be improving my tin foil hat design.

 

 

A Chronic Case of Leaguewide Cowardice

 

Coaching missteps are nothing new in the NFL, but over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a glaring number of errors in crucial moments. These win probability mistakes aren’t difficult; they’re actually quite elementary. I have never snapped a football or coached a down, but to me, the missteps belong are very obvious. And that’s not me tooting my own horn, I’m guessing most of you felt the same way if you were watching the games. Really, anyone with a basic grasp of probabilities and win outcomes should see the right moves. Or just people with brains. Let’s get to the examples.

 

Tennessee at Jacksonville – 11/19

The Situation: Jacksonville, leading by 3, had just intercepted the Titans in their own zone with roughly three minutes to go. On a 3rd and 1 running play, they come up inches short, and Tennessee burns their final timeout with 2:20 to play.

The Decision: Jaguars coach Gus Bradley elected to attempt the 36 yard field goal instead of go for it on 4th and six inches. A successful fourth down conversion would have drained the clock to the 2 minute warning, at which point the Jags could kneel out the clock.

The Result: Jaguars kicker Jason Myers made the field goal, pushing the lead to an all-important six points. With two minutes and no timeouts, the sad Titans offense managed to get the ball to around the Jaguars 25 yard line before running out of time. Jags win, 19-13.

 

Pittsburgh at Seattle – 11/29

The Situation: Trailing by 5, Pittsburgh began a drive at their own 40 yard-line with half a quarter to play. Thirteen plays later, the Steelers came up three yards short of the goal line and the lead on 3rd down.

The Decision: Coach Tomlin, the guy who has been the most aggressive in the entire league about going for two this season with the new extra point rules, elected to kick the field goal. Down 5. With 3 minutes left. In Seattle. Did he know Big Ben was concussed, and wouldn’t be returning to the field for the next Pittsburgh drive? I can’t imagine he did, but that doesn’t really matter either way. A very strange decision, knowing his history.

The Result: After stopping the Seahawks on first and second down, Seattle connected on 3rd and 10 for an 80 yard touchdown, taking a 9 point lead and sealing the win.

 

New England at Denver – 11/29

The Situation: After Chris Harper’s 4th quarter muffed punt gave the Broncos new life, Denver scored and got the ball back again, down 7 midway through the final quarter. They look set to tie the game until an incompletion on 3rd and goal from the 3 with 6 minutes remaining.

The Decision: Gary Kubiak opted against going for the game tying score, and instead sent out Brandon McManus to cut the lead to 4. He drilled the kick, and the Broncos suddenly found themselves only needing a – wait, still needing a touchdown in the games’ final minutes.

The Result: After trading punts for a few possessions, Denver got the ball back with two minutes remaining and scored, winning the game in overtime. Without a handful of fortuitous referee rulings, however, the home team may never have been able to get that last touchdown.

 

Baltimore at Cleveland – 11/29

The Situation: I swear I didn’t watch this whole game. After finishing the previous nights’ tele episodes, I flipped on the final few minutes. As is tradition, Matt Schaub threw what appeared to be a backbreaking INT at midfield in a 27-27 game and one minute remaining.

The Decision: With 55 seconds to play, two timeouts, and the ball at the Baltimore 46 yard line, the Browns seemed set up to get the ball into manageable field goal range. After a six yard completion to Brian Hartline, backup QB Austin Davis wasted twenty five seconds between Hartline being tackled and hiking the ball on second down. He gained seven more yards, at which point the Browns used their second timeout (with 9 seconds remaining). For those counting at home, that means the Browns got two plays off in 46 seconds, even though they had the ability to stop the clock twice. With one TO left, and the ball at the 33 yard line, Cleveland elected to run the ball up the middle instead of passing for a few more yards. No gain. After the timeout, out came kicker Travis Coons to win the game.

The Result: The 50-yard attempt (because why would you want to get your first year kicker any closer than the 33 yard line for the game winning attempt?) was blocked, and Baltimore scooped the ball and returned it for the game winning touchdown.

————————————————————-

The Kubiak and Tomlin instances aren’t even the most egregious such examples this month. In Week 9, Falcons coach Dan Quinn kicked a field goal with 2:30 remaining, down 4, from the 1 yard line! I could go on and on here – the above were only pulled from the last two weeks, and three of the four of them were from primetime, stand alone games – who knows what I’ve missed while RedZoning around a standard Sunday.

Like I said at the top, these errors are so basic, its kind of alarming. Gus Bradley opted against trusting his offense to get six inches in order to seal the game. Even if they had been denied, the Titans would have had to get into field goal range simply to send the game into overtime.

With Tomlin and Kubiak, it goes without saying, that lead-shortening field goals become less and less important as the clock winds down. Kubiak gets a bit more leniency, as six minutes remained, but neither team was having much success moving the ball in the snow; giving up that opportunity from the three yard line was insane. Additionally, one must quickly factor that, in the case of fourth down failure, Brady and Co would have been pinned at the 3 versus the 20 yard line that resulted from the ensuing kick off. Any time coaches decisions are met with snark such as “he must have money the game, plus the points,” you know the wrong decision was made.

Finally, the Cleveland failure was a different type; a clock management blunder of epic proportions. Producing only three plays, one being a spineless run for no gain, from that situation (55 seconds left, 2 timeouts, in plus territory and a field goal wins you the game) is downright laughable.

So what is the problem here? That coaches don’t study probability? I don’t think that’s it. It may have something to do with it, but I don’t believe you can make it to the NFL without the understanding of basic principles that millions of armchair coordinators can grasp. I don’t want to believe that. Otherwise, I should have a gig on an NFL sideline.

No, I think it’s the deep-rooted fear of sticking out, something that stretches into many workplaces around the world, not just the sideline. The fear of doing something so risky that anyone might call you careless, and start the public on a angry mob-course for your resignation. Why trust your offense to get you six inches, when you can try a field goal and then pray for dear life that your defense can hold your six point lead? Why go for it on fourth and goal when you can kick the field goal, get the points, and maybe get a chance to kick another one? Why manage the clock, call a few aggressive plays to get your kicker into a 35 or 40 yard field goal attempt, when you could just not do that?

With risk of sounding cliché, I think it could be summed up in one phrase. When in doubt, coaches should really ask themselves “What Would Bill Belichick Do?” Look to that guy, the one who coaches circles around everyone else every week, that isn’t afraid to take the logic less traveled if he believes it’s the straighter path to victory. Would he kick a field goal from the 3 with 3 to play, chasing 5? Not a chance.

Now who wants to make some WWBBD wristbands with me?

The State of the league: Week 10

First things first, an update on the Rams. I know. Can’t bury the lede. Since declaring three weeks ago that they would make the playoffs, they managed to lose a nail-biter to the Vikings and get embarrassed at home by Jay Cutler, following which Coach Fisher benched Nick Foles for Case Keenum going forward. Sigh, such are the realities of life on the Ram Tram. It’s pretty funny to see Foles benched and Sam Bradford injured in the same week. Earlier this week, I was somewhere that ESPN was playing (as I try not to watch ESPN programming at all costs because the network is garbage), and some NFL guys were debating the most influential offseason transaction. Someone picked the Foles/Bradford deal. I LOLed. How in the world, even before the benching and injury, could that trade be considered influential? They are complete and utter equals in terms of mediocrity. One has more pedigree, but he cancels it out with a greater knack of getting injured. Both, at the time, had led their teams to 4-4 records. If the trade hadn’t happened, both teams would still likely have been 4-4. Influential? My necktie.

Staying on the Rams, but not really – the Wes Welker signing. I can’t say I watched much of the St Louis – Chicago game; did Welker see a lot of action? We’re basically all in agreement here that watching him play football makes us legitimately uneasy, in the sense that we are more likely to see a player pass away on the field in Welker than anyone we can ever recall, right? That when Welker became a free agent and went unsigned, we could have sworn that all NFL teams had made a pact not to sign the guy because he refused to retire, but the next big hit to his head could result in something awfully dark, right? That its worth asking how a little guy who has absorbed that many brain scrambling hits, who has earned $40 million over his career, won’t just walk away? That its fair to ask, where is Mrs. Welker in all of this? Okay, just checking.

The AFC Outside of New England managed to look even worse in Week 10 as it has in the previous nine weeks, as Peyton Manning had quite possibly the worst game in the history of the forward pass, and the Bengals couldn’t score a touchdown at home versus the Texans. Andrew Luck is out 6 weeks with a lacerated kidney, not that his current form is anything to fear if you’re the Patriots. The only bad news out of New England continues to be on the injury front, although if I were a betting man I would wager that Edelman has no problem getting back for the playoffs. For as much as a broken foot can be considered lucky, they just experienced it, as it didn’t knock 11 out for the whole season.

As someone who continuously picked the Cowboys throughout the Weeden/Cassel experience, on the logic of “they can’t lose every single game in heartbreaking fashion,” I’m here to tell you that yes, they can. With a defense that is so much better than I thought they would be, a well rounded offense, a stable of hogs for an offensive line, and an extremely winnable division, 2015 Sans Romo will go down as a remarkable missed opportunity for Dallas. Seven straight losses (five by a TD or less) and they’re still only 2.5 games back. Win ONE of those games and they are a game back in the loss column. I’d venture to guess there aren’t many Romo doubter/haters remaining, as his value to the club has been made incredibly obvious this season.

Quick: how old is Tony Romo?

And quicker: How old is Carson Palmer?

If you said 35 for both men, you’d be right. Personally, when I was posed that question, I had Romo a solid three years younger than Palmer. Probably a combination of his delayed path to relevance, and his boyish charm, but Tony’s getting up there.

Fall Television Critiques: Thumbs Way Up on Season 2 of both The Affair and Fargo. I think I’ve rambled about Fargo in this space before, but if you haven’t seen Billy Bob’s brilliance in Season 1, go watch that too. But Season 2 is essentially unrelated from the first, aside from the “ooh yah” accents. Both shows I have no idea what is coming and I LOVE IT.

Maybe I am the last one to the party here, and if I am, thanks for having me. But if not – did you know that this dreaded screen

screen

becomes a game if you click the space bar (it was impossible to snip the screen before I died)? Life Hacks, nice to meet me.

game

 

Anti-Goodell Rant of the Week, which has DEFINITELY been discussed here before: The awful quality of the Thursday night games. I’m not going to get into how bad they are, like how one team always seems to have single digit points into the fourth quarter, not that points are necessary for a good time, but its a lack of offense more than a quality of defense, wait I’m doing it again. Sunday games in London. Forced, often bad teams, but we watch. And its common knowledge that the teams that play in London get a bye week following their trip. Since you need a week off to recover from jet lag, right? Are you SERIOUS, Roger? What type of braindead moron thinks that a week off following a trip to London is more important to player safety than granting the Thursday night teams a bye week prior to facing off in the middle of the week? Again, I’ve said this before, but if college has it figured out – that any Thursday game is preceded by a bye week – why can’t the NFL follow suit? And what would be the harm in the NFL adding a second bye week? You think the Patriots enjoyed resting up in Week 4 of a 17 week grind, now that they’re halfway through the season and their entire offense is dropping like flies? Probably not.

Week 11 Game of the Week: GB (6-3) @ Minnesota (7-2). A reeling Packers team goes to Minnesota with the division on the line. Minny travels to GB later in the year, but having a two game lead at this stage in the season would be more than Vikings fans could have ever imagined in the preseason.

 

 

 

In Honor Of Daylight Savings, Here’s A Batch of Celebrity Lookalikes

I’m sure some of these have been internet-chronicled before. I tried my damnedest to post some ones that (in my mind) I came up with myself. Seems to be a certain Baltimore theme.

 

Hamilton BunnyCareer Highlight:

  • Hamilton: Maintaining employment at FSU for 14 seasons with a sub-.500 ACC winning percentage
  • Colvin: Hamsterdam

Cagematch Result: Colvin, 8th round knockout. Police chief strength > coach strength. But barely. “Only my friends call me Bunny.”

 

Vaughn Amsinger

Career Highlight:

  • Vaughn: Providing the sound system setup for Snoop Dogg and his friend in the green hat’s live performance.
  • Amsinger: His Buster Posey Knee

Cagematch Result: Vaughn in the 10th. Too much old man strength. “Dorothy Mantooth is a saint!”

 

Murray Huebel

Career Highlights:

Murray: Something boring and tennis related

Huebel: Non-commital relationship with that HR vixen Holly Flax

Cagematch Result: Honestly they would probably both start crying at the thought of fighting someone. Tie.

 

westbrook bodie

Career Highlight:

Westbrook: Four consecutive triple-doubles in February/March 2015

Broadus: [SPOILER ALERT, for those 10 years behind the times]. Surviving in the game for as long as he did.

Cagematch Result: Wow. Tough. Westbrook over almost all other current NBAers. But Bodie has this elite je ne sais qoui, there has never been a scrappier human (real or fictional). I’ll say Westbrook via vicious KO in the 3rd due to the decided height advantage (6’3″ to 5’8″), but Bodie makes him sweat. “This game is rigged man. We like them little b$%&%^ on the chess board.”

 

Tebow Arcidiacono

Career Highlight:

Tebow: Being the greatest college athlete of our generation and being the future governor of Florida

Arcidiacono: Leading Villanova to NCAA Tournament failure

Cagematch Result: Tebow. Beefcake. 1st round KO. “What up Lance Briggs?!”

 

Bacon Sale

Career Highlights:

Bacon: Being less than seven degrees of separation from everyone on Earth

Sale: 274 strikeouts in 2015. Tommy John in 2016. Cy Young in 2018, 2019, 2020.

Cagematch Result: Like Vaughn before him, Bacon is able to summon old man strength to overcome the 8 inch height difference to command the fight. Bacon by decision.

 

Big Ben Fargo

Career Highlight:

Roethlisberger: Having the middle name Todd

Grimsrud: Being a brutal murderer

Cagematch Result: Roethlisberger is widely considered the toughest QB in the NFL, but he is out of his element here. Anyone willing to go the wood chipper route is not someone I would bet against in the ring. Grimsrud by a likely gruesome KO. “Where is pancakes house?”

 

Grande Byrne

Career Highlight:

Grande: Demanding that her staff carry her around in an exquisite power move.

Byrne: Throwing perhaps the greatest wedding shower of all time. Puppies as favors? I mean come on.

Cagematch Result: Grande, more like not so grande, is 5’0″ and not truly a full sized human, but Byrne’s meltdown when the bride gets lost in Bridesmaids said a lot about her ability in pressure situations. Grande finds a way and wins by TKO.

Taylor Marlo

Career Highlight:

Taylor: 14 Hrs and 16 SBs in his rookie season

Stanfield: The Mike Trout of West Baltimore. Elite potential, and he realizes all of it and then some.

Cagematch Result: Taylor doesn’t even step in the ring out of fear. Not interested. Marlo gets the title belt – “what’s the real value? I ain’t much for sentiment.”

Forte Kruger Camden

Career Highlight: [Here we have the rare triple match, where Forte and Camden combine to create Kruger]

Forte: Loved him in Nebraska, although I weirdly hear good things about The Last Man on Earth

Kruger: Reaching the Final Four in the early 90s. Not much since.

Camden: Raising seven virtuous children, while leading the congregation at Glen Oaks Community Church. Downhill from there.

Cagematch Result: I can’t see Forte being much in the ring, and a God fearing man like Camden would opt out. Kruger in a boring twelve rounds of rolling on the mat.

Trent Johnson Yertl

Career Highlight:

Johnson: 2008 Pac-12 Coach of the Year

Turtle: “King of the Pond”, enough said

Cagematch Result: Johnson in a rout, because Yertle, while kingly, is still a turtle.