Thursday, 29 November 2012

BAFA Uni Week Five Predictions

Edinburgh Napier Knights at Stirling Clansmen
Talk about your polar opposites. Whilst the Clansmen are squashing the rest of their division like a one armed gorilla reaching for a mushy banana, the Knights have barely troubled the Down marker let alone the score sheet.
Stirling come off a 71-7 over the posher Edinburgh team and must be relishing taking on Napier on their flashy turf at Gannochy in Stirling. Rumours reached DC towers that Stirling were disappointed in this result and felt they took their foot of the gas!
On the plus side for the Knights their Defense has been their one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing year. Harsh field position and turnover ball has really cost Napier dear and their Offense ranks #5 in the division.
Prediction: Clansmen by 40 (ED: should we open up the 2 division debate again?)
Edinburgh Predators at UWS Pyro’s
The Pyro’s lost last weekend to the Glasgow Tigers 27-7 but by all accounts put up a good fight. Two costly interceptions and a score chopped off mean that UWS are no longer a softer touch than a baby in a mitten factory. They will want to mix it up in this fixture set to be fought out in Scotland’s December mud.
The Pred’s come of their bye-week still fizzing over their OT loss to Glasgow two weeks ago. Their deep threat and quick run game should make them favourites for this one as they hope to catch Glasgow in 2nd place. Edinburgh has proven adept at coping with a huddle in the puddle and should be too sharp on the day.
Prediction: Predators by 20

College Football Week 14 Preview

#11 Oklahoma @ TCU – 17:00

Can the Horned Frogs beat another ranked team?

Before I start this game preview I’m going to detail the Big 12 championship implications that come along with it; Oklahoma win and Kansas State loses to Texas, then Oklahoma are outright Big 12 champs and get an automatic BCS bid which would most likely see them go to the Sugar Bowl. If both the Sooners and Wildcats win then they each share the Big 12 title but K-State would get the bowl bid (Fiesta) as they own the tiebreaker over Bob Stoops’ team. If Oklahoma lose, then K-State are guaranteed a share of the title and the bowl bid, but will need to win outright to take the Big 12 championship for themselves. Everything clear? Good, game preview time.

With TCU beating the Longhorns last week on Thanksgiving and Oklahoma coming off a OT win against Bedlam Bowl rivals, Oklahoma State, this game really intrigues me and as detailed above is a big matchup for the Sooners on the road.

They key matchup in this game is going to be Landry Jones and the Sooner passing game against Gary Patterson’s defense and their scheme. Although Jones hasn’t lived up to much of the hype placed upon him, he has managed to do what all seniors hope to do, have their best season, at least statistically anyway. He’s been at his best away from home having only thrown three interceptions to his 14 TDs, but when you look at the competition he’s faced on the road, UTEP, Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia, it’s nothing to be particularly impressed by.

This TCU team is young, but Patterson’s defensive system still has his guys playing to a high level despite having a sub-par year according to TCU defensive standards. They key for the Horned Frogs defense is to continue being the ball hawks that they have been this year, ranking third in the nation in interceptions with 20, a couple of which went back for touchdowns. Jones and the Sooner offense will most likely look to be airing it out as the TCU rushing defense ranks 7th in the nation with a 97.27 yard average and the Sooners only rank 61st in the nation on the ground, and this is where those interceptions become key, if the TCU defenders can get their mitts on some Landry Jones passes, it’s their best chance of coming out with a win.

Prediction: Thinking the Sooners take this one, but maybe a little too close for comfort against a TCU side that might just have another surprise. Oklahoma 31-24.

#2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia – 21:00 @ The Georgia Dome, Atlanta.

The unofficial national semi-final.

Can anyone say national semi-final? That’s pretty much what this game amounts to, win, and you get to go play for all the marbles in Miami against Notre Dame, lose, and you’ve had an average SEC year and you get to go to a decent bowl game.

For many, Georgia kind of became irrelevant after they rolled over against South Carolina, and apart from a close win over Florida, none of their wins have been overly impressive, but don’t be misguided into thinking that this team doesn’t deserve to be in the SEC Championship game because of that. 

Georgia are very dynamic offensively, despite not setting the world alight either running or passing the ball, they are a threat to any defense no matter who gets the rock. In Aaron Murray they have a junior gunslinger who’s put up over 3000 yards and 30 TDs through the air and has reliable targets in both Tavarres King (704 yds, 8 TDs) and Malcolm Mitchell (532 yds, 5 TDs). The Bulldog backfields sees the potent combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall who have combined for nearly 2000 yards and 22 TDs. 

With these offensive weapons, it’s going to be tough for Alabama to key towards stopping one, and they will have to play a more balanced defense to cover all eventualities, which could open up some holes for one of Georgia’s weapons to exploit. In the end I believe that Aaron Murray is the one who has to go out and win this game for Georgia, as long as he’s getting good support on the ground,  he's going to have the chance to make big plays against the Alabama secondary.

The Crimson tide are almost a mirror of the Bulldog offense, a junior trigger man in AJ McCarron that has performed to an All-American standard this year, and is also backed up by a running back combo that can move the ball on anyone in Eddie Lacy and  TJ Yeldon. For me, ‘Bama are going to have to grind it out with the run game because this is where they outclass Georgia's defence who rank 69th in the nation in yards given up per game on the ground with 163, whilst the Crimson Tide rank 22nd in rushing yards per game with 214.

Either way, this game is going to be an SEC slugfest with both teams having a great shot at winning it, get your popcorn ready.

Prediction: This one is a coin flip for me, I don’t really have much confidence in picking the winner correct, but I think I’ll go with the Alabama run-game just being too much for the Bulldogs to handle. Alabama 31 – 21.

#18 Texas @ #6 Kansas State – 01:00

Are the Wildcats ready to take the Big 12 for their own?

The last game of the night on ESPN America will be the second half of the Big 12 title decider and it should be a good one … if Texas decide to show up.

The Longhorns have been one of college footballs biggest enigmas this year and I for one do not know what to make of them; are they the team that showed up last week against TCU (I watched them and they were very lacklustre) or are they the team that bludgeoned Ole Miss, beat a good OK State team and then handled a dangerous Texas Tech team on the road? I just don’t know which Texas will show up this weekend, but I’ll break down some things for you to look out for.

Running back is a position of strength for Texas, but so far they haven’t really found the sweet spot, long story short they have 4 guys who are dangerous with the ball in hand, but they all seem to limit each others carries and effectiveness. The starter is freshman Johnathan Gray who is the holder of the all-time high school TD record with 205 and is a pretty complete back, even at this point, but has only 3 touchdowns on the year. Their touchdown machine has been their short yardage back, Joe Bergeron, who has 16 scores on the year, and then there’s sophomore Malcolm Brown, who was a standout last season for the Longhorns but has been injured this year, and finally Daje Johnson, who only has 189 yards on the year, but is a freshman that is a home run threat. You will see them all get touches on Saturday, but Texas really needs one of them to stand out and make a difference against this tough Wildcat defense.

Texas will be starting Case McCoy at QB in place of David Ash who struggled last week and is banged up, but in my opinion I can’t see the difference it will make, I personally feel that neither QB has show the consistency or intangibles to be a top level starter as I’ve watched them both be outstanding as well as absolutely terrible in the same game. The only fun thing about Case starting is that we’ll once again see the McCoy to Shipley connection with Jaxon being one of the Longhorns best pass catching threats. 

Since being one and done at #1, the Wildcats have had two weeks to stew and plan for the Longhorns at home and I think this will have lit a fire under them and given them a huge hunger to go out and destroy Texas. The bye week has not only given them extra game-planning time but has also provided Collin Klein with another week off to recover from his concussion problem, which many Wildcat fans believe has been the reason his play hasn’t been up to snuff lately.

Everyone knows what they’re going to get with this team, a tough, physical and well disciplined unit that generates turnovers and puts Klein in a position to make plays when it matters. Some believe that Optimus Klein isn’t out of the Heisman race yet (not me), so we could see a big game from him as the Wildcats really make a statement to the Big 12 by putting the Longhorns to the sword.

Prediction: If Texas play well then it could be closer than many expect, but I feel they won’t perform on the road and the Wildcats will be far too good for them. Kansas State 34 – 18.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 13

1.       San Francisco 49ers 8-2-1 (U1)
The Niners are, for me, playing the best football in the league right now. Whether it’s Kaep slinging it downfield against the Bears or their defense taking it to the house twice against the Saints, there are few teams that can match their level of play. Nobody has been perfect this year, but in my opinion they are the Super Bowl favourites right now. Let’s hope they don’t shoot themselves in the foot by over thinking their QB dilemma. The Niners face off with the Rams next, in what is unlikely to be another draw.

2.       Houston Texans 10-1 (D1)
Tough to drop Houston after winning yet another game, but the manner of their last two victories has raised some questions. No doubt they will be a strong force in the playoffs, but I can’t help feeling their luck will run out at just the wrong time. Of course, these rankings aren’t who I think is most likely to win it all, but who would be most dangerous to play in week 13. Next the Texans travel to music city. 

3.       Denver Broncos 8-3 (U1)
The Broncos keep getting it done, and whilst their schedule has been pretty relaxed of late they have a tougher test next in the visiting Buccs. There is no denying Manning is as good as he ever was, and they will fancy their chances of going all the way this year.

4.       New England Patriots 8-3 (U1)
The Patriots just tore the Jets limb from limb, and overlooking (if possible) the hilarious NY miscues it was another confident performance. The fact NE continue to look strong should surprise nobody, and with a trip to Miami next I don’t see any big cracks appearing.

5.       Atlanta Falcons 10-1 (D2)
The Falcons drop, and perhaps unjustly after another win. Not so long ago I was singing their praises as the best team in the league, but there have been some worrying signs lately. They’ve gone from being the recipient of multiple turnovers to the benefactor of them in recent games, but they still have an extremely talented roster. A tough repeat match-up of their only loss this year looms.

If NFL Running Backs Were Girlfriends

The warm reception to our little QB Girlfriends article got us thinking... 

Arizona – LeRod Stephens-Howling: You’ve cast off a number of options already this year before settling on your latest thing. She’s petite and exciting but your friends are worried she won’t last.

Atlanta – Michael Turner: You used to think she was wife material but things are getting a bit stale lately, plus there’s a new girl catching your eye.

Baltimore – Ray Rice: She’s smoking hot and you’re into her, but she gets really needy when you don’t pay her enough attention.

Buffalo – C.J. Spiller: You’ve been seeing this hot new thing behind your wife’s back for a while now, but you’re finally ready to own up and commit to your affair.

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