Things to look for this week in College and Pro football.

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FOOTball

The Big East is a fraud. Despite the pollsters doing their best to get a BE team into the top 25, the league stinks this year. Several teams have crept into the top 25 only to lose and fall back out the next week. The current top team is Syracuse (6-2) who is tied for 28th in the AP. The league is recruiting BcS #3 TCU to join the league. TCU would love to get into an automatic qualifying conference. The BE desperately needs a team–any team– that can get into the top 25 and stay there. It also would love to have a TV presents in the Dallas market. The only problem is the BE basketball is 16 teams already and TCU does not have a strong basketball tradition.

#3 TCU @ #5 Utah – The loser is out of the Championship picture. The TCU D is #1 in most college stats and the O is 9th in scoring and 9th in rushing. The Utah D is 6th in points allowed and their O is 3rd in scoring. The key may be the difference in opponents. The only big time opponent that Utah has played was a badly over rated #15 Pit team in game 1 of the season. TCU beat a good Oregon State team ranked at the time and Baylor who was not ranked then but is #21 now. TCU wins due to more experience on D and at QB.

#6 Alabama @ #10 LSU – Watch out for Bama. They lost on the road @ South Carolina in their 3rd straight game against a ranked team that had a bye the previous week. I think LSU is W A Y over rated. Bama wins easily on the road.

#15 Arizona @ #13 Stanford – All the talk about this game is about the Stanford #5 scoring O against the Zona #7 points against D. But this game will be decided by the Arizona O vs the Stanford D. Zona is 12th in passing but struggles to put points on the board (#32). The Stanford D will struggle to stop the air attack of the Zona and Arizona wins on the road.

#21 Baylor @ #17 Oklahoma St. – Both passing games are outstanding. Soph QB Griffin has led the Bears to their first bowl eligibility in years and is ranked 10th in passing yards. OKSt has a bad D that is susceptible to the passing game but has the 3rd ranked passing game themselves. The key should be the running game of the Bears and the visitors should walk away with the win.

#18 Arkansas @ #19 South Carolina – Hog QB Mallett leads the 2nd ranked passing game into SC against the Gamecocks 24th ranked D. But Mallett’s passing stats are misleading. He has failed against the top teams (#1 Alabama and #4 Auburn) he has played and needs this game to prove to the scouts that he is a worthy top pick whenever he comes out. SC beat Alabama but lost in their only other game against a top team. They also stumbled against Kentucky. SC plays much better at home and wins this game.

NFL this week:

Chiefs (5-2) @ Raiders (4-4) -2.5 – This game is critical to the Raiders if they want a chance at the playoffs. The Chiefs bring in the top rushing game against the 26th ranked rush D of the Raiders. The secret for KC is not to have to depend on the arm of QB Cassel because he is not reliable. They have played only 2 good teams (Colts and Texans) and lost to both. The Raiders are coming back. The O has scored 92 points in the last 2 games. They win and cover.

Colts (5-2) @ Eagles (4-3) -3 – With the benching of QB Kolb the Eagles are taking a big gamble on keeping the locker room together. QB Vick is solid but will have some rust coming off an injury. I think the Colts cover and should win.

Buccaneers (5-2) @ Falcons (5-2) -8.5 – Buc HC Morris thinks he has the best team in the league. He doesn’t. The Bucs are 30th against the run and that is what the Falcons do best. Atlanta wins but 8.5 is a BIG number I would not touch.

Dolphins (4-3) @ Ravens (5-2) -6 – The Ravens struggled defensively against the Bills last week. Even so, the team is solid. The Dolphins won ugly against the Bengals last week. QB Henne is not having a great season and the Dolphin O line will struggle against the Raven D. The Ravens win and should cover.

Best Bet: Giants +5.5 vs Seahawks.

Is 2011 really the year of the QB? Probably not. Most mock drafts show 3 QBs going in the first round of the 2011 draft. There is no question that a lot of NFL teams need QBs but it is not at all clear that the under class guys like Mallett in Arkansas and Luck at Stanford, or even Wilson at NC State will come out. The key is going to be the Collective Bargaining Agreement. DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA and the owners need to get a deal done by declaration day in mid January 2011. There is no chance that the deal will be done by that time. I don’t see any of the under class men coming out without a deal signed prior to the declaration date. QB Locker (Washington) will go in the 1st round but that is it. Florida State QB Ponder will go in round 2, with Delaware QB Devlin and Nevada QB Kaepernick being wild cards. Their draft position will depend on the all star games and the combine.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org.

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The BcS Rankings get spun again.

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football

Last week I was 2-2 in college picks which puts the total at 12-6.

In the pro picks I went 1-2 bringing the total to 9-5.

The BcS ratings – The Sooners are on top of the heap this week. But next week they go to #11 Missouri who is also undefeated. Beyond that they have one other top 25 team on the schedule in #14 Oklahoma St. Oregon is 2nd and faces a tricky game at home against UCLA (just ask Texas how tricky) then goes to USC. They end the season against #18 Arizona before going to play formerly ranked Oregon State.

#1 Ohio State @ #18 Wisconsin – The Bucks were not ready to play the game at the kickoff. It is the responsibility of the coaching staff to get them ready. Each of their losses in the Big 10 regular season over the last couple of years have come on the road when the Bucks looked disinterested in the game. By the second half they decided that it was time to play but by then it was too late.

The Badgers exposed something I had been griping at the OSU coaching staff about for years – the O line sucks as does the blocking scheme it uses. The OTs got run around more than a traffic circle. They are not quick enough to protect QB Pryor. Pryor was under pressure all evening.

The O finally got going and brought the score to 21-18. At that point, the D allowed the Badgers to drive the ball right down the field and put the game out of reach. It also let the team down big time. There are supposed to be several very high draft pick in the front 7 of the Bucks. Wasn’t DE Vernon Gholston an All-American and high pick? Yes, he was.

Texas @ #5 Nebraska – The Horns gave the Huskers a Big 12 parting gift – a big fat loss to take them effectively out of the National Championship picture. All it took for the Horns to look like a top 10 team was to play their long time rival Huskers. The Horn D shut down Husker QB Taylor Martinez and the Huskers had no other answer.

#12 Arkansas @ #7 Auburn – The Tigers scored 28 points in the 4th quarter to pull off a 65-43 win. It was not exactly a defensive struggle. The Auburn D got to Hog QB Mallett and he left the game injured. Mallett’s replacement QB Wilson threw 4 TDs but 2 picks and could not respond to the Auburn scores in the 4th quarter. Auburn QB Newton proved he belongs in the Heisman discussion running for 188 and passing 10 for 14 and another 140 yards and a TD.

The NFL

Browns @ Steelers – The story of this game was the return of Steeler QB Roethlisberger and the first start of Browns QB McCoy. For the full story about this game check out the Browns page on NFLDraftDog.com.

Ravens @ Patriots – In what should be a preview of a playoff game, the Pats held QB Flacco and the Raven O to 20 points. The Pats O is still not operating at top efficiency but the addition of WR Branch helped. He caught 9 balls for 98 yards and 1 TD. Branch is a MUST pickup for your fantasy football team if he is available.

The Desperation Bowl – Cowboys @ Vikings – Boys QB Romo threw a critical pick that handed the Vikes the winning field-goal opportunity. After the game Boys Owner Jerry Jones told ESPNDallas.com’s Richard Durrett. “I believe we can turn things around. While the odds are against us, we can make all the things happen that we wanted to do this year.” Don’t bet on it.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org.

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What to look for this weekend

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football

College Football

#1 Ohio State -3.5 @ #18 Wisconsin – The Bucks go into the Badger Den to play a talented team in a nasty mood after being upset by Michigan State 2 weeks ago. The key to the game will be the Badger running game which is 11th in the nation (241 yards a game) against the 5th ranked OSU D. Look for the Bucks to run the ball more against Wisconsin to keep RBs Clay and White off the field. OSU has changed RBs with RB Saine becoming more of a receiver and RB Herron becoming the runner. Too much of the running game has been QB Pryor. The Bucks have to get better run blocking from the O line. OSU got an additional incentive when ESPN projected the team 5th in the BCS rankings. OSU wins and covers.

#5 Nebraska -9.5 vs. Texas – The Horns have not lost 3 games in a row since George Washington was inaugurated or it seems that long. Texas want the game more than Nebraska but has too many holes to win the game. Nebraska has nightmares about last years Big 12 Championship game they felt was stolen by Texas. The Huskers are 1 dimensional ranking 2nd in rushing but 106th in passing yards. The key is can Texas stop the run. Nebraska faces their toughest test in the next 3 weeks. After this game, they go to #20 Oklahoma State, then host #21 Missouri. The Huskers win but it could be very close.

#12 Arkansas @ #7 Auburn -4 – Auburn may be the most under rated team in the top 25. They were ranked 22nd and 23rd in the preseason polls. The next 2 game will tell us a lot about them. After hosting the Hogs they host #9 LSU. Then at the end of the season they go to Alabama. Given the fact they play in the SEC and they have such a tough schedule, they are in a position to challenge for a spot in the BCS Championship game. Auburn has already beaten #10 South Carolina. Arkansas lost to the only ranked team they have played. Auburn will use QB Newton to challenge the Hog D which is 13th in points allowed. The Hogs will use their 3rd ranked passing game with QB Mallett. The Hogs passing game threatens the Auburn D but Auburn wins.

#15 Iowa -3 @ Michigan – The Michigan O ranked 14th in points faces the #1 D in points against. The Blue will find the Iowa D too tough. The Blue running game is way too dependent on QB Robinson and the very tough Iowa D line will limit him. The Iowa O takes maximum advantage of the non-existent Blue D and Iowa wins and covers.

UPSET ALERT:

Illinois @ #13 Michigan State -7 – MSU has come through a very tough and emotional period with the wins over Notre Dame #11 Wisconsin and #18 Michigan and the heart problems of their coach. Now they face an under rated Illini D that gave OSU problems. Illinois is 21st in points against. This is the kind of game the the Spartans have struggled with in previous years.

NFL Key games:

Ravens (4-1) @ Pats (3-1) -3 – The Ravens lead the NFC North and bring a top D against a Pats O that has struggled. Take the points.

Eagles (3-2) E @ Falcons (4-1) – The Falcons got a gift last week vs the Browns. Now they get the Eagles D that will be blitzing every chance they get. The Browns got some pressure on QB Ryan. The Birds will get more. But without QB Vick, the Eagle O won’t go. Falcons win.

Saints (3-2) -4.5 @ Bucs (3-1) – The Saints need to win this division game badly particularly after a bad loss against the Cards last week. The O has moved the ball in the air (5th in passing yards) but is 31st in rushing yards and all their RBs are hurt. They can not take another division loss. The Bucs have had a lucky season so far. That luck ends and the Saints win.

Colts (3-2) -3 @ Redskins (3-2) The Colts D has been MIIA (Missing In In-Action). They are 3rd in scoring but 16th in scoring D. They also don’t seem to win the close games anymore. The running game has fallen and can’t get up. It is 28th in yards. The Redskins have been playing well but the Colts win.

Teams in trouble:

Chargers (2-3) -7.5 @ Rams (2-3) – SD needs to start winning if they want to get into the playoffs. They are notoriously slow starters and this is about the time they kick into gear. They will get pro bowl LT McNeill back but not WR Jackson. The problem has been the D which is 21st in scoring D. LB Merriam is on “minor injury” IR and must be cut when he recovers. The team is not getting a good pass rush. That should not be a problem against the Rams. SD wins.

Desperation Bowl:

Cowboys (1-3) @ Vikings (1-3) -2.5 – Boys owner Jones said he would not fire HC Phillips “as of now.” If that doesn’t scare Phillips, nothing will. The Boys have been finding new ways to lose. They are not mentally tough enough to win the close games this year. I did an analysis of what is wrong with the Boys on this weeks edition of NFLDraftDog.com’s News Notes and Rumors.

The Vikes have problems of their own. Their 89 year old QB Farve has elbow trouble. They are 21st in passing yards and 29th in scoring O with just 15.8 points a game. The D has been playing well and are in the top 7 in total yards and scoring. The Farve turnovers have killed key drives and ended the team’s chance to win games.

The Vikes are mentally tougher than the Boys and win the Desperation Bowl.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org.

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What to look for in this weekends games.

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football

Baseball playoffs

We would like to thank the Rays, Twins and Reds for stopping by in the playoffs. Please pick up your parting gifts as you leave. The series will be between the Yankees and the Phillies.

College Football

#1 Alabama @ #19 South Carolina – The ol’ Ball Coach will wish he still had the talent from his Florida days. Bama wins

#2 Ohio State v. Indiana – Forget about the injuries on O, you and I could score the Indiana D if you were having a bad game. The OSU D stops a good Indy O and OSU wins.

#3 Oregon @ Washington St. – Oregon runs up 50+ points and makes a case for jumping over OSU into 2nd.

#8 Auburn @ Kentucky – Auburn QB Cam Newton passes a bad Ky D silly. Auburn wins big.

#9 Arizona vs. Oregon St. – Az had a major letdown after a big win over Iowa and squeaked by Cal. They had better not have a let down here because the Beavers are tough. They have lost 2 games to top 6 teams.

#11 Arkansas @ Texas A&M – Ark is banged up after getting thumped by #1 Bama. The week off should help. TAM lost a tough game last week against Oklahoma St. Arkansas should win but this could be close.

#12 LSU @ #14 Florida – This should be the game of the week. Both teams have serious flaws but play hard. LSU has to keep the turnovers down. I think Florida wins close in a minor upset.

#23 Florida St. @ #13 Miami – FSU looked bad against the only tough team they have played Oklahoma. Miami played close against #2 Ohio St and got a nice win last week against a good Clemson team. Miami wins.

NFL

Ravens -7 vs. Broncos – The Ravens are for real but could have a let down (and some injuries) from the win last week over Pit. Ravens should win and cover the spread.

Bucks @ Bengals -7 – The Bengals are better than they looked against the Browns last week. They win and cover with the running game leading the way.

Browns @ Falcons -3 – The Browns winning streak ends at 1. Falcons cover easily.

BEST BET – Saints -6 @ Cards – A change of QBs by the Cards won’t help. Saints cover easily.

BIG GAME OF THE WEEK – Vikings @ Jets -4 This is a must win for both. The Vikes are the better team but are not playing like it. The game will boil down to the play of the of the QBs. Farve will be pressured and is not having the season he did last year. The addition of WR Moss will help next week but not that much this week. The Jets had better cover Moss on the fly pattern or they will get burned. The key to the Jets is the play of QB Sanchez. As he develops, the team will get better. The Jets will not have the running game they enjoyed last week because of the Vike’s DTs the Williams brothers.

The Vikes need it more and win a close game.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org.

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What did we learn from week three of the College Football Season?

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football

The Good:

The Top 6 team won easily but they didn’t play the toughest competition. Except for Ohio State and Alabama we have not yet seen most of the top 10 play a really good opponent.

#6 Texas and #7 Oklahoma struggled to wins against Texas Tech and Air Force respectively. Neither of these teams look all that good yet but both have young QBs and should get better as the season goes on.

Two SE Conference teams played league games on the road and looked solid. #10 Florida beat Tennessee on the checkered field. Tennessee is now 1-2. #12 Arkansas beat Georgia but this Bulldog team is not the power house it has been. Georgia was also 1-1 coming into the game.

The Bad (and VERY Lucky):

Wisconsin got REALLY lucky blocking the extra point to win their game at home against Arizona State. Wisconsin controlled the clock but were not effective putting the ball into the end-zone. The team is going to have to improve to be competitive in the Big 10+1.

The Ugly:

#9 Iowa went to Arizona and was a small underdog. The Hawkeyes fell behind by a 27-7 score and never could catch up again. The D got 3 turnovers but was ripped for 303 yards passing. The Iowa O running game averaged 1.1 yards per attempt and the passing game was 18-33. They have always played badly west of the Rockies and this was no exception. They lost 34-27 and fell in this weeks poll.

#20 Michigan struggled with a game UMass team and finally won 42-37. The Blue D is horrid and games against any team with a good O should look like pinball scores.

#23 Houston was totally outmatched and out played by UCLA 31-13. Only a 10 point desperation output in the 4th quarter kept the score even that respectable.

Louisville went to #25 Oregon State and gave them all they could ask for in a tough 35-27 win for the Beavers.

Other notable games:

What is wrong with Notre Dame? The new administration of HC Kelly lost his second game in a row against a Big 10 team. (No wonder they didn’t want to get into the league.) It will take Kelly some time to get his type of recruits into the program and in the long term Kelly is the kind of coach that will be successful. But now he does not have the speed particularly on D that he needs to be competitive with the major powers. They will continue to give up long plays because they don’t have the speed in the back 7 to play man but can’t get enough consistent pressure on the QB to avoid blitzing. The one thing I will say on Kelly’s behalf is that he has them playing hard on every snap.

Draft notes:

Maybe I just don’t get it but having seen Washington QB Locker I can’t rate him as a sure top 5 pick let alone the top pick overall. Against a good but not great Nebraska D, he was 4 for 20 for 71 yards and 1 TD with 2 picks. I would expect Washington to lose but I don’t see any spectacular plays that I did with Bradford or even a McCoy from the 2010 draft. He has not been accurate in his previous seasons. In 09 he hit only 58% of his throws with 21 TDs but with 11 picks and 28 sacks. He may become a great pro but I wouldn’t pick him before the 3rd round as things stand now.

We will try to have some draft notes on seniors in each of our Tuesday articles about college football.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What to look for in the Saturday January 2nd bowl games.

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football

PAPAJOHNS.com BOWL South Carolina 7-5 Connecticut 7-5

Despite losing a key player to tragedy and being out-manned regularly, UConn has played a handful of ranked teams close only to lose heartbreaking game after game. Starting CB Jasper Howard was murdered on Oct. 18th. The team carries his memory and his jersey as a rally flag. The heart and hard work was rewarded with an overtime win over Notre Dame followed by a couple of wins to end the season.

UConn’s O scores 31 points per game and is fairly balanced between the run and the pass. The running tandem of Todman and Dixon provide a good ground attack despite not having even an average O line. QB Endres took over half way through the year and has done fairly well completing 64% with 6 TDs and 4 picks. His favorite target is WR Easley (5th round). The D has gotten better over the year but still is young. It is led by DE Witten (4th) and FS Vaughn (5th).

The Ol’ Ball Coach Spurrier still throws the ball all over the place. “Running backs, we don’t need no stinkin’ running backs” seems to be the game plan for SC. QB Garcia has a rating of 124.5 with 2733 yards and 17 TDs. He has had 394 attempts while the top 2 running backs had a total of 211 carries.

The SC D has been very erratic. They allowed 41 points to a bad Georgia O and then held a highly rated offense of #4 Mississippi to just 10. The D is led by OB Norwood (late 2nd) and SS Stewart (6th).

While UConn has won 3 straight, SC has lost 3 of their last 4. SC is a 5 point favorite but I doubt they will win that big. This could be another upset.

COTTON BOWL #19 Oklahoma St. 9-3 Mississippi 8-4

Ole Miss QB Snead needs to have a good game to impress NFL scouts. He came into the season as a top QB draft prospect but has fallen to the point he would be better off to stay for his senior year. He has completed only 54% with 20 TDs and 17 picks. RB McCluster (3rd) is just 5-7 169 and will have to play WR in the NFL. WR Hodge (6th) and G Jerry (5th) are also prospects on the Rebel O.

The Rebel D has been inconsistent. They held the high powered O of Arkansas to 17 then let a below average O of Miss St. score 41. DE Hardy (1st or high 2nd) is the highest rated player on the team but FS Lewis should be a late round pick.

Oklahoma St. had a disappointing season as well. They were expected to compete for the Big 12 South title but lost to Houston in the pre-league schedule then had lopsided losses to Texas and Oklahoma. QB Robinson is a 3 year starter but had a less than expected senior year. He had a passer rating of 135 but that was down from 149 in 07 and 167 in 08. He is a late round prospect. The O line is led by top OT prospect Okung (early 1st) and G Lewis (6th). RB Tolson (6th) averaged 5.4 with 11 TDs.

The OSU D features CB Cox (2nd) and safeties Sexton and Antoine who are marginal prospects in the 7th round.

Mississippi is a 3 point favorite but expect OSU to win in an upset.

LIBERTY BOWL East Carolina 9-4 Arkansas 7-5

Hog QB Mallett led the team to the 10th best passing game in division 1. He threw for 3425 with 29 TDs and just 7 picks. His top receiver Childs had only 45 catches. Mallett spreads the ball around. G Petrus (4th) heads up his protection.

The Hog D is horrible. It allowed 33 points to LSU in their overtime loss. Only DT Sheppard has a chance to be drafted from that group.

EC’s D will challenge Mallett. It is led by DE Wilson (3rd), DT Ross (7th) and S Eskridge (6th). The D has played very well this year and seem to be getting better each week. The O is led by RB Lindsey. Most experts don’t believe he is a pro prospect but at 5-10 200 he is big enough. Behind an average line he averaged 5 per carry. I like his toughness.

The line is Hogs by 8 but I don’t think so. Take the points and EC may win outright.

ALAMO BOWL Michigan State 6-6 Texas Tech 8-4

This game will be ugly quickly. MSU had a horrible pass D even before the suspensions of several starters on D. TT G Carter (5th) and T Winn (fa) will protect QB Potts. He will be throwing the ball without concern for the MSU d. TT is an 8 point favorite. MSU will be very lucky to keep it that close.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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