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 https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What did we learn from week 5 of the College Football season?

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football

My picks last week were pretty accurate. I was 5-1 with only NC State letting me down. Here are some thoughts about the top games last week.

#1 Alabama looked like a national champ again pounding #7 Florida 31-6 in a very physical game. This team has no visible weaknesses. No draft guys are talking about QB McElroy but I think he has pro potential in the west coast system. He does not have the great arm but makes the right decisions and processes info quickly.

#2 Ohio State struggled on O again beating Illinois 24-13. Even being a Buckeye grad, I would have ranked them behind Oregon in the poll at this point. This was the first game in the last 5 that QB Pryor did not throw for 200 yards.

#4 Oregon beat #9 Stanford going away 52-31. Even without 09 starter QB Masoli, Oregon looks better than last year. Little RB James is amazing. The scary thing about this team is that it is young.

#8 Oklahoma looked solid beating #21 Texas 28-20.

#24 Michigan State exposed the lack of a passing attack of #11 Wisconsin. MSU does not have a great D but schemed to stop the run and it worked. MSU won 34-24.

#12 LSU can’t throw a lick and Tennessee almost beat them because of the lack of O. The LSU 16-14 win at home did not score any style points.

#16 Miami looked good in a road win against a gritty Clemson team. Death Valley is not a easy place to play and the 30-21 win was solid.

#17 Iowa’s D showed the lack of passing of #22 Penn State and won impressively 24-3. Penn State is a year away from being in the top 4 of the Big 10 or 11 or 12.

#18 USC is a fraud and Washington showed them to be one. The USC D couldn’t stop a marble rolling down hill. The O is good but can’t score enough to win.

Virginia Tech beat #23 North Carolina State at NCS 41-30. Another QB nobody is talking about I really like is NCS Jr. QB Wilson. He has a lightening release, strong arm, great touch, and good footwork. He will be an above average to very good pro QB.

Oklahoma St. stayed perfect beating a better than expected Texas A&M team 38-35. The OSU D gave up a lot of yards but came up big with a pick to secure the win.

Northwestern (5-0) stumbled into the bottom of the Top 25 this week by beating a really bad Minnesota team 29-28. They need to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame because their stay in the poll will not last long.

Florida State got back into the top 25 with a win over Virginia. While FSU has looked good even against Oklahoma in a loss, they are going to be tested this week against Miami.

We will look at next week’s games on Thursday.

Scouting Report — Jr. North Carolina State QB Russell Wilson.

Another QB nobody is talking about I really like is NCS Jr. QB Wilson. He has a lightening release and great vision which is a combination that is hard to find in college football. When makes a decision, the ball is out. He also has a strong arm and can throw the 15 yard out with a flick of his wrist. He also has the great touch to drop the ball over the LB but in front of the S where the WR can get it. He has good but not great footwork.

He needs to work on dealing with pressure better. He tends to trust his arm too much when falling back from a rush. That led to picks against Virginia Tech this past week.

He may not come out this season given the possibility of a strike in 2011. He also has pro potential in baseball so there is some risk taking him too high for an NFL team. But he has a lot of the qualities I look for in a pro QB prospect.

He will be an above average to very good pro QB and has the potential to be a quality starter.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What did we learn from week 4 of the College Football Season?

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football

The Big 10 (+1) knows how to schedule pre-league games.

Whether it is #2 Ohio State vs. Directional (Eastern) Michigan or #18 Iowa vs. Ball Corporation State, with just a few exceptions the Big 10 has played mostly easy opponents. Even so, a few teams had problems with the sisters of the poor. Northwestern struggled to defeat another Directional Michigan (Central) 30-25. Worse yet Purdue lost badly to Toledo of the MAC.

A few good games

#1 Alabama went to #10 Arkansas and came from behind in the 4th quarter to win 24-20. The game may have hurt QB Mallett’s pro prospects because he suffered 3 picks only one of which was not his fault.

#3 Boise St. beat #24 Oregon State 37-24. Except for a game against the current #25 Nevada, this was Boise’s last chance on a national stage to impress the voters and the computer of their case for inclusion in a National Championship game. Their win over Virginia Tech looked good until VTk lost to James Madison. The computers are killing Boise due to the “strength of schedule” factor to the point that I don’t think Boise can get into the Big Game.

#5 Oregon looked good beating a good Arizona State team 42-31. But Oregon is going to have to play better D if it wants to win the PAC 10.

Perhaps the best game was #12 South Carolina at #17 Auburn with the home team winning on a 14 point 4th quarter comeback 35-27. They battled all game and both lost a large number of players some of which will likely not be ready for games this week.

Another game between top 25 teams pitted #22 West Virginia at #15 LSU. LSU held off WV and won 20-14 in another very physical game.

#14 Arizona has a great D but very little O. It struggled to beat Cal 10-9.

#19 Miami played well against one time ranked Pitt and won 31-3.

Interesting games this week and what to look for:

#7 Florida at #1 Alabama – Last year this game was all about Gator QB Tebow. This year watch Bama Senior QB McElroy. He is not highly ranked in the NFL draft but has some pro potential. Look for Bama to win in a hard fought game.

#9 Stanford @ #4 Oregon – The Cardinal won a tough game against Notre Dame last week and Oregon had a tight game against Arizona State. This game is critical in the PAC 10 since USC is not eligible for the league championship. The O of Oregon will be too much for Stanford and the Ducks win.

#11 Wisconsin at #24 Michigan State – Both teams are coming off big wins against inferior competition. Wisconsin is over rated and do not play as well away as at home. Both Ds are solid but Wisconsin have only had 1 tough game at Arizona State. They need to get RB Clay working early to win. The Spartans should win.

#21 Penn State @ #17 Iowa – Penn St looked terrible against Temple last week. The passing game is non-existent and the running game is too easily challenged by stacking the D line. Iowa has the front 7 to bottle up PS and should win.

Virginia Tech @ #23 N. Carolina St. – This is a chance for Tech to win back some credibility. They were badly over rated in the preseason and exposed by their 2 losses. NC State is under rated and a better team than most expect. NCS wins.

The Red River challenge is next week.

Both Texas (#7 last week) and #8 Oklahoma were looking ahead and it showed.

The Sooners displayed a lot of flaws in their 31-29 win at Cincinnati. The Bearcats are not close to the team that won the Big East last year. On both sides of the ball, the Sooners look vulnerable.

Texas was drilled at home by a UCLA team that was crushed 35-0 by then #25 Stanford in week 2. UCLA beat Texas in every aspect of the game and cruised to a 34-12 win. Texas fell from 7 to 21 after the loss.

Both Oklahoma and Texas have major problems and their game this week will be interesting. Even with the problems Oklahoma has, they should win.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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Niblets for September 2010

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nib

Best comment of the month:

Frederic Bernotas on What did we learn from week 2 in College Football?

After all this it is possible that the Wolverines will get into the Big 10 season with 4 wins, although subsequently, exactly what after that? Conference competition breaks along with The Hoosier’s formidable offense. Subsequently Michigan visits Michigan State, Iowa and visits to State College Pa. to face the Nittany Lions. Multiple issues in between these days and the finish of the season, so you’ll forgive me if I’m a little more cautious about making proclamations about this team and this year.

Frederic, your caution is wise. The Blue were 4-0 last year going into the Big 10 season and won only 1 more game the rest of the way.

Updates on previous columns:

Pro Football Niblets and Fantasy tips

I would like to thank my readers for not skewering me on my Pro Best bets. We will try to do a little better from now on. At least the Fantasy pickups were good. The Eagles have named Vick as their starter from now on, Ram WR Clayton remains hot and Packer RB Jackson has a nice upside.

In Dallas, things are continuing to heat up. After the interstate rivalry against the Texans this week, the team has a bye. If the Boys don’t win this week, it will almost certainly be bye-bye to HC Phillips.

What did we learn from week 2 in College Football?

Texas, Penn State, Wisconsin and Florida continue to struggle. What we saw last week was not a fluke.

Niblets fresh from the cob:

Announcement: Starting in October, the Digital Sport Network will debut on Cleveland.com.

This will be the best sports programing on the Internet and the list of personalities includes Chuck Booms who had the top show on Fox Sports Radio, Bud Shaw from the Plain Dealer, and Harry Petsanis from SportsTalk radio. I will be appearing on the broadcast talking about the Browns and the NFL 2011 draft. I will let you know when I will be on.

The NFL QB carrousel continues to spin.

Beside Vick, 7 QBs that rode the bench in Game 1 will start for their teams. The most notable is the Panthers deciding to bench QB Moore in favor of rookie Jimmy Clausen. Not that it makes any difference but Buffalo has benched QB Edwards in favor of Fitzpatrick. In another insignificant move, the Raiders will start Gradkowski over Campbell for whom they traded.

Best Bets in the Pros:

3 Colts -3 vs Broncos – The Colt O is too much for the Broncos.

2 Falcons +5.5 vs. Saints The Saints are on a short week and traveling again.

1 Pats -12.5 vs Bills – Fitzpatrick will be begging the coach to put Edwards back in at half time.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What did we learn from week 2 in College Football?

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FOOTball

Virginia Tech was WAY over-rated.

The win by Boise State looked pretty good last week. But then VTk lost to James Madison with James out of the lineup with an injury. The only significant game the Boise will play is VTk and now that win has lost its luster. Based just on the JM game against VTk, Boise does not deserve a shot at the Championship game.

Ohio State is the real deal.

The Buckeyes not only crushed Marshall but then soundly defeated #12 Miami. What made the OSU win over Marshall even more impressive was its game this week against West Virginia. They should have won the game but were robbed by a referee wearing a mask and carrying a gun. More on that in the editorial below.

While the OSU Miami game was supposed to be a shootout between two Heisman QB prospects, it exposed the over hyped Miami QB Harris. Harris had a passer rating of just 59.6 last year because of 17 picks to go with 24 TDs. Everyone in the media seemed to believe that in his Jr. year he would finally get it. 2 of the 4 picks Harris had were not totally his fault. He had too much heat on one and it skipped off the hands of the receiver and fell into the hands of a Buckeye. Another was stolen by the Buckeye DB.

Based on week 2 performance, there are a bunch of over rated teams.

#5 Texas struggled through early against a vastly out-manned Wyoming team. In the end, the heat and lack of depth got to the Cowboys and Texas won 34-7.

#8 Florida also struggled early against South Florida. The Tebow era is over and now the O looks sluggish. That is something to watch.

#11 Wisconsin had to hold on to beat a San Jose St. team that was crushed and beaten up last week by #1 Alabama 48-3. The Badgers allowed 2 late TDs to cut the final score to 27-14.

#17 Florida State looked bad against #10 Oklahoma in a 47-17 loss. On both sides of the ball, the team was over-matched. QB Ponder is over rated but never had time to find a secondary receiver.

#18 Penn State got crushed by #1 Alabama. The O scored just 3 points and were lucky to get that. They need more O if they are going to be competitive in the Big 10 let alone the nation.

#21 Auburn looked good against Arkansas State but when they played a real team like Mississippi State, they looked like they don’t deserve to be in the top 25. They had to hold on to win the game 17-14.

Editorial: I apologize to the Big 10 officials. You are not the worst in college football. That dishonor belongs to the Big East zebras.

Again the BE refs get plopped into the Fryingpan. Missing the fact that the WR for Marshall dropped the ball BEFORE he crossed the goal line could happen to anybody. BUT, how in the world do you miss 2 O linemen in the endzone holding a single DL of Marshall on the long pass that set up the winning TD? The holds happened right in front of the head Ref.

In 2008, WV was poised to win a spot in the Championship game. In a game against #25 Louisville the BE zebras did everything they could to prevent a WV loss. The Cards won despite everything that the zebras could do.

If you would like to see this kind of analysis on the NFL games check out News, Notes and Rumors on NFLDraftDog.com.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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