Archive for November, 2008

Steelers Get Critical Win in Foxboro

November 30, 2008

33-10 was the final score as Pittsburgh gets the last 30 points of the game after being down 7-0 almost immediately on a Roethlisberger interception giving the Pats a short field.  This game turned late in the 1st half when the Steelers drove the field to get a TD pass to Santonio Holmes just under the 2 minute warning to tie the game at 10.  New England moved the ball quickly back down the field but Randy Moss dropped a sure TD in the end zone (both teams were plagued by occassional cases of the dropsies today) and Gostkowski then missed a chip shot field goal to leave it tied at halftime.  After the Patriots opened the 2nd half with a punt, the Steelers took several minutes to drive the field and convert a short field goal for the lead.  The Pats fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Steelers converted on the 8 yard field on a TD pass to Hines Ward.  Matt Cassel lost the ball on sack/fumble plays the next two drives and the Steelers controlled the game from there.  With the win Pittsburgh is 9-3 and maintains their one game lead on Baltimore for the division lead.  They also move a clean one game (already had tiebreaking edge) over the Jets for bye seed position, though I don’t sweat that as much as merely getting in.  New England drops to 7-5 and takes 7th place in the conference down with them, so the Steelers are in good shape for making the playoffs even if a couple late season losses cost them the division.  And, things don’t get easier, with games against Dallas, Baltimore, and Tennessee (the latter two on the road) upcoming before ending the season against Cleveland, who may very well have Ken Dorsey (or worse) starting at quarterback by then.

Decomposing The BCS

November 30, 2008

The penultimate BCS standings are out, and there are some interesting numbers to look at.  First of all, Oklahoma did edge ahead of Texas, so the Sooners win the 3 way tiebreaker for the Big XII South and will play Missouri for the auto-bid, and the shoe will be on the other foot.  Last year the Tigers needed a win over Oklahoma to preserve a spot in the national title game; this year Oklahoma is in that role.  What I find interesting is that Oklahoma and Texas are 1st and 2nd in the computers and that Alabama is 3rd and Florida, 4th overall, is 6th in the computers (behind one loss Texas Tech and undefeated Utah).  Overall, Alabama has a .9713, Oklahoma .9351, Texas .9223, and Florida .8851.  What I am getting at is that everyone has kind of assumed that the winner of the SEC-C will make the national title game.  Obviously Alabama would stay #1 if they win.  While they might very well jump Texas with a win, I don’t think it can be flat out assumed that Florida would rise further than 3rd.  The Sooners, Longhorns, and Gators are all tightly bunched in the Harris and USA Today human polls, so trouncing Alabama to get to a strong #1 in the human polls would be key.  Otherwise, would beating the Tide be worth enough to jump at least Texas Tech and Utah in the computers?  If the answers are no across the board, we could be looking at a Red River Shootout rematch in Miami on January 8th.  The other interesting angle is that Texas could end up losing the battle but winning the war.  By that I mean that with losing the BCS standings war this week, Oklahoma gets to play for the conference title.  But that also means they have to play a 13th game and win their 12th.  Should they lose, Texas will surely vault them and be in Miami playing whoever wins the SEC-C.  I’ll also mention that Oklahoma and Texas are currently very close in the standings.  While I assume beating 9-3 Missouri won’t hurt the Sooners in the computers, if its a sloppy win and the human voters start to lean more heavily south of the Red River, remembering who won in mid-October . . .  Still a lot to watch for with one week to go.

Looking at the overall BCS bowl picture, Oregon St.’s loss in the Civil War puts USC in the Rose Bowl assuming they don’t lose to UCLA.  That figures to put Ohio St in at-large position, unless Rod Gilmore’s lobbying campaign on behalf of Boise St works.  If the title game is a Big XII team against an SEC team, I would look for the following:

Rose Bowl: Basically set in stone, w/ the above USC caveat: Penn St v USC

Orange Bowl: Cincinnati v ACC Champ

Fiesta Bowl: Texas/Oklahoma v Utah or Ohio St.

Sugar Bowl: Florida/Alabama v Ohio St or Utah

Title game: Alabama/Florida v Oklahoma/Texas

Meet The New National Security Advisor

November 30, 2008

Retired Marine 4 star general James Jones:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/us/politics/29jones.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Sounds like one heckuva resume as Obama again chooses experience over ideology (Jones is either apolitical or even leans Republican but he doesn’t let on either way).  With a no nonsense Marine in the Situation Room, Hillary at Foggy Bottom, and Gates sticking around at the Pentagon, it sounds like Obama is putting together a robust foreign affairs team.  I think that is a very good move on his part, as these are tough times and foreign policy is not his own area of greatest experience.

Bowling Green Fires Head Football Coach Greg Brandon

November 30, 2008

The announcement was made yesterday:

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081129/SPORTS03/811290275

As I blogged Friday evening, I think it was time to make this move.  The team just never seemed able to put it all together, and there were some comments that Brandon made that you don’t like to hear from your head coach, like calling out the fans for not showing up in stronger numbers, or saying that your team seems to be getting worn out.  It will be interested to see who BG brings in.  Specifically, if that coach will continue running the spread offense.  It is what our personnel would seem geared towards right now.

Are You Ready for a Modern Pentathalon With Only Four Events

November 28, 2008

I’m not sure I am ready for the linguistic minefield, but the actual streamlining of the event might make some sense:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/27/sports/olympics/27pentathlon.html?th&emc=th

Well, really, whatever you call it, its a rather hokey combination of disciplines, even by Olympics standards.  How many modern soldiers need to be proficient at horseback riding?  Oh well.

Bowling Green Wins Peace Pipe

November 28, 2008

By travelling up I-75 to the Glass Bowl and defeating the Toledo Rockets 38-10, disappointing Tom Amstutz in his final game as head coach.  BG jumped out to a very quick 14-0 lead on a swift drive and then a fumble recovery setting the offense back up on the 5 yard line.  The next 4 Falcon possessions were ended by a fumble, an interception, a fumble, and a punt, but the Toledo offense was completely inert, only getting 1 first half 1st down.  BG added a field goal on a solid drive late in the half, and then, after Toledo took the 2nd half kickoff down for a field goal, scored 3 TDs in relatively rapid succession to ice the game.  Rockets got a TD in the 4th quarter to finish out the scoring.  So Bowling Green finishes a very exasperating season at 6-6 (4-4) having on one hand beat potentially Gator Bowl bound Pitt at Heinz Field and on the other hand having taken home losses to Eastern Michigan and Miami among others before blowing a golden opportunity to win the MAC East anyhow last Friday night against Buffalo.

There are things to be positive about with the Falcon football team.  Tyler Sheehan is an underclassman that will be back next season, and excepting Corey Partridge they don’t lose much on offense.  Still, and I doubt it happens, but I think its time for a coaching change at Bowling Green.  I hate to say that; I met Gregg Brandon once personally at an alumni function and found him to be a very personable and dedicated person.  But I just can’t help but think that the football team will never be more than decent to mediocre with him at the helm; that there is a definite glass ceiling.  His teams are just entirely too inconsistent.  When the talent is overwhelming they still lose a couple games because of that.  When they are merely good it comes out mediocre.  There are stretches of games where the offense just seems to lose its way and doesn’t seem to know what its purpose is.  The record the past 2-3 seasons at Doyt Perry Stadium has been downright appalling.   Most of all, the opposition seems generally better at making in-game adjustments, and that goes straight to coaching.  Perhaps I can’t stand prosperity and should keep in mind how much better this is than the last several years of the Gary Blackney era.  Perhaps I was spoiled by the year they went 10-3 with two of the losses being to Ben Roethlisberger, and the two bowl wins over Northwestern and Memphis.  But I just feel that Brandon coached teams are simply not able to play consistent enough to win conference championships, and I want championships.

In other college football news on this Black Friday, very entertaining games in the Backyard Brawl, won by Pitt on a TD run with just under a minute remaining, Arkansas retains The Boot on a Casey Dick TD pass with 21 seconds to beat LSU (memo to Les Miles, a 63 yarder into the wind instead of a Hail Mary pass?) and Nebraska beats Colorado on a 57 yard field goal with less than 2 minutes remaining, then a pick six to seal it.  One can only hope that the games on Saturday are close to that entertaining.  Almost makes up for the turkeys the NFL served us on Thursday.

NFL Playoff Scenarios For Week 13

November 26, 2008

Info courtesy of foxsports.com:

Week 13

 

AFC

CLINCHED – None.

ELIMINATED – Cincinnati.

TENNESSEE TITANS – Clinches AFC South Division title with a win over Detroit and an Indianapolis loss to Cleveland.

NFC

CLINCHED – None.

ELIMINATED – Detroit, St. Louis

NEW YORK GIANTS – Clinches NFC Division title with a win over Washington and a Dallas loss to Seattle.

ARIZONA CARDINALS – Clinches NFC West Division title with:

1. a win over Philadelphia

2. OR a tie with Philadelphia and a San Francisco loss or tie with Buffalo

3. OR a San Francisco loss to Buffalo and a Seattle loss or tie with Dallas.

Happy Anniversary

November 26, 2008

1. Happy 35th anniversary Rose Mary Wood’s preposterous explanation for a portion of the infamous 18 1/2 minute gap on a key White House tape pertaining to Watergate.  Its, ahem, “stretched” credulity.

2. Not sure the exact date and too lazy to look it up, but it was 10 Thanksgivings ago that the Steelers were the opponents for the Detroit Lions and the officiating was so inept they mis-called who had won the coin toss for overtime.  Earwax buildup, Phil Luckett?  One doubts tomorrow’s game with Tennessee will be that close.

A German Hockey Goalie’s Fight With Incurable Cancer

November 26, 2008

Interesting article in today’s New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/26/sports/hockey/26goalie.html?th&emc=th

Hopefully he can keep fighting this until medical science can develop a more permanent cure.

NFL Coverage Maps for Pittsburgh/Youngstown/Wheeling Area for Week 13

November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend is almost upon us, so NFL fans have 7 distinct windows in which they can view a game this weekend.  Thursday afternoon might be a good time to sleep off the triptophan; CBS will have Tennessee @ Detroit at 12:30pm and Fox will have Seattle @ Dallas at 4pm.  I am not sure on announcer assignments, but the networks usually send their top crews, and neither top crew is on the Sunday schedule, so assume Nantz & Simms in Detroit and Buck & Aikman in Dallas.  The Thursday night game on the NFL Network is Arizona @ Philadelphia.

Sunday afternoon sees the map a bit more split than usual.  Fox Pittsburgh and Wheeling will do a 1pm game; Giants @ Washington with Kenny Albert, Moose, and Goose.  Fox Youngstown will avoid opposing the Browns game and show Atlanta @ San Diego at 4:05pm with Matt Vasgersian & J.C. Pearson.  CBS at 1pm is also split, with Youngstown showing Indianapolis @ Cleveland (most of the country is getting this game) with Dick Enberg & Randy Cross on the call.  Pittsburgh and Wheeling is showing Baltimore @ Cincinnati with Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots.  All local CBS stations are doing the most featured (it is a split map) game at 4:15pm, which is Pittsburgh @ New England with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf on the call.  Sunday Night is Chicago @ Minnesota on NBC and Monday Night is Jacksonville @ Houston on ESPN.  As always this info is courtesy of the506.com and subject to change.  Enjoy the games!

***UPDATE*** WTRF Wheeling has changed and will show Indianapolis @ Cleveland at 1pm Sunday.  KDKA Pittsburgh will remain it appears with Baltimore @ Cincinnati, though I forgot to note above that if that game is still in progress at 4:12pm they will pull out for a commercial break and the start of the Steelers game.  Also, Fox Youngstown will show Giants @ Redskins at 1pm rather than Atlanta @ San Diego at 4:05pm, so all area Fox stations will be doing the same thing.