Russell Athletic Bowl Preview

The Russell Athletic bowl is a matchup between North Carolina, who came out of nowhere and had a surprising year vs Baylor, a team who had national title dreams this season. Baylor’s season has been riddled with imagesinjury at the quarterback position. Starter Seth Russell broke his neck against Iowa State, and second string QB Jarrett Stidham’s season came to an end with an ankle injury. That gives sophomore Chris Johnson the starting role in this exciting bowl matchup. On Baylor’s official roster, Johnson is labeled as a WR/QB, but he looked very impressive in the Bears win vs Oklahoma State. One of the bright spots this year for Baylor has been the play of star WR Corey Coleman, but Coleman is out for the Russell Athletic Bowl.
On the other hand, North Carolina has had something close to a dream season. Senior quarterback, Marquise Williams has been incredible. I truly believe he did not get enough Heisman trophy talk. Williams has shredded every defense he faced, including Clemson. Tailback Elijah Hood has also imgresbeen sensational. Hood has added a physical element to this high-powered offense. Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik has been the best assistant coach hire of the year. Chizik took a historically bad defense a year ago, and made them into a physical tough defense. Although the UNC’s defense has drastically improved, this will still be an offensive shootout. Baylor is known for their up-tempo offense and will score a lot, but I do not think Chris Johnson with out his biggest weapon will be able to keep up with Marquise Williams in his last game wearing Carolina Blue.
Prediction: North Carolina 54, Baylor 40

My College Football Preseason Top 5 

The college football season starts today and I am going to power rank who I believe are the top 5 teams in teams in the country.
1.) TCU Horned Frogs 
This year TCU will be the best team in the country. They have a loaded roster and they will tcu-unis5be playing with a massive chip on their shoulder after being left out of the College Football Playoff. They are returning 10 offensive starters from one of the most prolific offensive attacks in the country. Not to mention one of those starters is a  preseason Heisman favorite, QB Trevone Boykin. TCU’s schedule matched up pretty nice for them and on November 27 they will be awaiting the Baylor Bears to determine who the Big 12’s “One True Champion” is.
2.) Ohio State Buckeyes 
As much as this hurts me to say it, the Ohio State Buckeyes are fully loaded and ready toUnknown-4 defend their national title. Urban Meyer will have his boys ready to go and blow through the Big 10. Ezekiel Elliot will be a beast as usual and will shred almost every Big 10 defense regardless of who the quarterback will be. I will not be suprised if the Buckeyes repeat as champions.
3.) Oregon Ducks
Yes I know what you all must be thinking, how will they replace the greatest college quarterback ever? The answer is actually pretty simple, run the football. When you have a young freight train as a running back you should be pounding the rock. Royce Freeman in my opinion is the best back in the country and will be a first round draft pick in the NFL. images-13Also let’s just remember he was a true freshman last year. The Ducks receiving corps is full of young superstars and having Braylon Addison return from injury is a huge bonus. On the other side of the football DeForest Buckner will be anchoring their defensive line. No one will be calling this team soft again. Now let’s get to the quarterback problem. Eastern Washington Transfer Vernon Adams is no Marcus Mariota, but he’s pretty darn close.  Adams was the Mariota of Division 1 AA. Most people do not know this young man’s name, but trust me at the end of the season everyone will know who Vernon Adams Jr  is.
4.) USC Trojans 
Cody Kessler might be the most polished quarterback in the country. Adoree’ Jackson is images-14an explosive offensive weapon in all of college football. It seemed like USC would never rebound from the major sanctions, but here they are contending for a Pac 12 title. The only thing that is not positive for USC is that they have to go through Eugene Oregon and the Autzen Zoo before they can be known as the kings of the West Coast.
5.) Michigan State Spartans 
Sparty used to be known as the little brothers to Michigan, but not anymore. Michigan images-15State is a power house with one of the best defenses in the Nation. Connor Cook will probably the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft and they are loaded with NFL talent. If Michigan State wants to make the College Football Playoff, they will have to earn it because they have Oregon and Ohio State on their schedule.

It’s finally here

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The road ends here, finally it is time for the Final Four. A season long of buzzer-beaters, upsets, bad goaltending calls, and heart breaks have lead to today in Indianapolis. This will be one of the most epic and historic semi-final games we have seen in a while. All four are peripheral power houses with four legendary coaches. how much better can this get?  Oh wait, it can get better… one of the teams is chasing perfection. The stage is set, now we wait and see who’s still dancing.

Michigan State vs Duke 

No one was expecting this semi-final match up except for Tom Izzo and my dad. Thisimages game will be a barn burner, in the words of the great Dick Vitale, the Spartans are playing like the team of destiny. They are the UConn of 2015. For the first time this power house got the chance to try on the glass slipper, and what do you know, it fits perfectly. The Spartans had arguably the toughest path to Indianapolis as a 7 seed, but that did’t stop them. The key for Sparty is senior forward Branden Dawson. He will have the tough task of taking on Duke’s sensational freshman, Justise Winslow. Winslow has been a match up nightmare so far in this tournament, but for the first time Dawson has a favorable matchup against him because of Dawson’s brute strength and post game. If Sparty wants to march on look for Branden Dawson to take advantage of Justise Winslow.

imgres-2For Duke the key is their pressure defense. Louisville failed at corrupting Michigan State’s offensive flow at the end of the game so Coach K better hope the Devils D-up. Senior guard Quinn Cook is  the heart and soul of the Duke Blue Devils and he needs to shut down Travis Trice. Trice has been the best player in the NCAA Tournament, but I believe he will have a tough time scoring on Cook and the talented Duke guards.

Prediction: Duke 61 MSU 59

I believe Coach K will get the edge today and beat out Tom Izzo, the man of March.

Wisconsin vs Kentucky

Last year in the Final Four, Aaron Harrison broke the hearts of Badger fans around the country. Wisconsin has been playing all year to get to this point again to seek revenge on the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. This is the game the whole nation has been waiting for, the best team in the country vs the best player in the country. Who will prevail? The amount of emotion that will be in this game is huge. Wisconsin is hungry and angry. They are still bitter about Aaron Harrison’s deep three and they want to return the favor. I believe the key to this game is which ever team is able to stay poised and keep their emotions in check. Wisconsin will pour their heart out into this game, but I believe that will hurt them early on. Often when a team has so much emotion they start off a little rusty. Kentucky will jump out to a big lead and the game will be decided whether Wisconsin responds or not. This game will be another classic, but will have the same ending as last year.

Prediction: Kentucky 67 Wisconsin 66

 

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Match Up of The Day

The round of 32 is here and every team has fought and earned their way to have a chance to go to the Sweet 16 (except for UCLA). If you thought that the round of 64 was crazy, just wait the madness hasn’t even reached its peak. I will be previewing the marquee game of the day and also make brief predictions on the rest of the games. Today’s Matchup of the day is 6 seeded Xavier Musketeers vs the 14 seeded Georgia State Panthers.

Keys for Xavier: 

In just their second year in the Big East ,the Musketeers have made a name for themselvesUnknown after moving out of the A-10. What really stands out about this team is their efficiency on the defensive side of the court. They shut down a hot Ole Miss team who were coming off a 94 point game. The focal point of the game for Xavier has to be their monster in the paint Matt Stainbrook . He is the heart and soul of this Xavier team as well as their leading scorer and rebounder. Georgia State struggles in the post so look for Stainbrook to exploit that weakness.

Keys for Georgia State: 

Unknown-1After Georgia State’s emotional upset vs 3 seeded Baylor, the Panthers are ready to try on the glass slipper. The Panthers beat the Bears without their starting point  guard who is their leading scorer. This is a very dangerous team that could make an Elite 8 run. Three point shooting is a huge factor, the Panthers are lights out from three. Also this team has some tourney experience. The last time Kevin Ware was in March Madness, he won the National Championship with Louisville after suffering his devastating injury. Ryan Harrow is the key for Ron Hunter’s Panthers to pull off another upset. The Kentucky transfer is arguably the best player on this team and having him back in the picture just makes this hungry GSU team even scarier.

Prediction: I believe the Panthers will be able to move the ball around the stingy Musketeer defense and move on to the Sweet 16. The clock will not strike midnight for Ron Hunter and Georgia State. Georgia State 67 Xavier 61

Other Predictions: 

(14) UAB 74 vs (11 )UCLA 60

(1) Kentucky 84 vs (8) Cincinnati 69

(2 ) Arizona 75 vs (10) Ohio State 72

(1) Villanova 61 vs (8) NC State 60

(4) Georgetown 65 vs (5) Utah 60

(4) North Carolina 76 vs (5) Arkansas 72

(3) Notre Dame 68 vs (6) Butler 62

The MADNESS has begun!

The MADNESS has begun!

As Manhattan squares off against Hampton, March Madness is officially underway.  This is MichaelBracketmy favorite time of year and I’ll be posting throughout the tournament.  So here’s a look at my bracket.  You’ll notice that I have picked a few upsets…

  • Buffalo beating West Virginia
  • Eastern Washington upsetting Georgetown
  • SF Austin taking down Utah

basketballshamrock                                                          Get ready for a great tournament and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

 

Super Sunday

Today is a great day, Michigan basketball this morning and the Super Bowl this evening. It is the battle of the best. Tom Brady and the high powered Pats offense against Seattle’s Legion of Boom. There is one major problem for the Seahawks, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman are all nurturing injuries. Seattle is going to have more role players step up because these guys aren’t 100%.  Here’s how I see it…

Keys for New England: 

Although it hurts me to say this, the Patriots have looked unbeatable. The last team to patsbeat them were my Buffalo Bills. Coach “Belicheat” has his team playing at a high level. The main thing that has popped out is how successful the run game has been. When LeGarrette Blount isn’t punching Boise State players or driving under the influence he is a great back. Coming out of the University of Oregon he was highly hyped but hasn’t lived up to it until now. He is a punishing running back. Blount won’t run around the defender he will run through them. He is very similar to Seattle’s star running back Marshawn Lynch. If the Patriots want to be crowned world Champions and not be remembered for spygate and deflategate, they have to establish a run game so Tom Brady can slice through Seattle’s incredible secondary.

Keys or Seattle: 

The Seattle Seahawks are the best in the business. The Champs are going for two years in a row. Packers fans are still in shock after the Seahawks miracle “come from behind seahawksvictory”. The Legion of Boom is the key to victory. Cornerback Byron Maxwell will play a crucial role if the 12th man wants one more ring. We all know what Sherman brings to the field. No one throws to his side so Maxwell is going to see a lot of action. I believe he is the most underrated player in the NFL and I am hoping my Bills pick up either him or Derrelle Revis to add to that stifling defense, but wer’e talking about the Super Bowl here. I believe he will shutdown Lafell or whom ever he goes up against and Maxwell will make his money today.

Prediction: 

Although Brady and the Pats have been incredible I really do believe the Seahawks snowdefense will come out on top and repeat as World Champions.

Seattle 31 New England 28

PAC 12 Preview

Hi everyone. I’m back and no I have not taken the entire summer off, I was at a very long camp at Culver Academy in Culver, Indiana. I am now back in business and this blog is going to be a preview of the Pac 12 conference. I will be previewing each of the other power conferences in other blogs so stay tuned.

Dark Horse: USC

Nelson+Agholor+UCLA+v+USC+wLHwkuf9n4mlUSC is my dark horse pick to win the Pac 12. They have a great new coach. Cody Kessler is finally their stable quarterback, and their defense is nasty. The only hole they need to fill is the explosive play maker but I think Nelson Agholor is the perfect fit. The Trojans are a very dangerous team that has the potential to spoil their rivals UCLA’s season and punch their ticket to maybe a playoff birth.

131129.RJK_.OEM_.FBC_.OregonState.0673-980x653Defensive Player of the Year: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu,CB,Oregon

Ekpre-Olomu is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation and it seems like he is poised to have a career year. Ekpre-Olomu has the ability to shut down even the elite wide receivers in the country with ease. His most impressive attribute is his eyes. Olomu sees everything on the field, which leads to him picking off many passes. This is one of the reasons Ekpre-Olomu is a projected top 5 pick in this upcoming NFL draft.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota,QB,OregonMarcus+Mariota+Arizona+v+Oregon+jEYd3UlXRqWl

It is a no brainer that the reigning offensive player of the year is my preseason pick to win the award once again. Also what made this decision that much easier is that he is everybody’s preseason Heisman Trophy winner and that he is projected to be the number one overall pick in the next NFL draft. Mariota had a very tough decision to make at the end of last year, to enter the NFL draft and probably be the first quarterback taken off the board or come back to the University and have a chance to win a National TItle and many other prestigious individual awards. Having made the decision to come back to the Ducks made the sun actually shine in Oregon.

Conference Championship: UCLA vs OregonUnknown-7

It just seems like these two West coast power houses are destined to meet up in the championship. North vs South, Mariota vs Hundely what better story could be written.

Conference Champions: Oregon

images-4It just feels like this is the make or break season for the Fighting Ducks. They have all of the perfect pieces in place. Coach Mark Helfrich has just been given keys to a sports car but now he has to drive them. This season is Playoffs or bust for the Ducks, no it’s more like National Championship or bust, that’s how much pressure will be lying on their shoulders. It’s a good thing they have the best player in the country, who also thrives under pressure with their high powered prolific offense and their shutdown defense. Anything short of a championship would be a disappointment. They have to live up to it, but there’s something in the water that telling me this is finally the year Oregon gets it done. Fast, Hard, FINISH!

Final Match Up of the Day

Tonight’s Match Up of the Day is the final college basketball game of the year, the National Championship.  The number seven seeded Connecticut Huskies vs the eight seeded Kentucky Wildcats.  Going into the NCAA Tournament no one was suspecting both to make it to the championship game.  Two of the most historic programs will be facing off in Dallas for the right to be called champs.

UConn’s Keys: 

The UConn Huskies have had a fantastic run and most of it is because of their effort on theryan+boatright+new_fixed defensive side of the ball.  Ryan Boatright has been the best defender for this Huskies team and has been so crucial for them throughout this tournament.   Boatright and his backcourt bud, Napier, have a major height disadvantage compared to the monstrous twins that Kentucky has playing the guard position.  Boatright has to wreak havoc on the young Kentucky guards to give his team an advantage.  The X-Factor for the Huskies is forward DeAndre Daniels. It always seems like Daniels is the key for UConn and he can change a game where the Huskies can dominate or they can be dominated.  Daniels had a huge game against the number one overall seed Florida in the Final Four and he is a big reason they won. Daniels has to be a force inside and from the perimeter, but most importantly he has to contain the Wildcats stand out big man Julius Randle.

Kentucky’s Keys: 

The Kentucky Wildcats were the preseason number one team in the country but then theirncb_g_andrewharrison_ms_400x600 inexperience kicked in.  Kentucky had 10 losses in the regular season and some really bad losses like when they lost to South Carolina, who wasn’t even over 500 this year.  The CInderella story wouldn’t be the correct term for their run, it is more like Sleeping Beauty.   The Cats were in a deep deep sleep throughout the regular season but now they have awaken 100 times stronger.  The key for the Wildcats is Mr. Clutch Aaron Harrison.  Harrison has hit three straight game winning threes, which all were highly contested.  Harrison has to play well because he will probably be guarding the best player in the country Mr. Shabazz Napier who is a hungry senior looking to end his college career with a bang.  Harrison has to play well if he wants his fellow freshman to win it all.

Prediction: 

These two teams didn’t even make the NCAA tournament last year and now they are Kevin Ollieplaying each other in the National Championship.  It is just astonishing.  The Kentucky Wildcats have had the most clutch player in the NCAA tournament so he has to do it on the biggest stage right? No.  I think the youth will finally be exposed tonight and the experienced Uconn Huskies will win the National Championship.  Shabazz Napier will win the game for the Huskies an Aaron Harrison will finally miss a game winning shot.  UConn 68 Kentucky 66

 

 

Super Sunday

It is the greatest football game of the year.  Every football fan and millions of others will tune into this game, even non-football lovers.  It is even more fitting that the two best football teams in the world have battled their way to the grandest game of all  and trust me they have both been battle tested.  It is Peyton Manning leading the top offense vs Richard Sherman and his most nasty defense in the NFL.

Broncos Keys: 

The Denver Broncos have the most dynamic offense in the league, there are so many images-6weapons that Peyton Manning has, they are almost impossible to stop.  The weather could have a huge affect on the passing game, so the key for a Bronco victory is RB, Knowshon Moreno.  Even with Manning it will be tough to throw the ball so Moreno has to play big.  Moreno has been a solid back throughout the year, but this game Knowshon will have to be a workhorse and outplay Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch who we all know is a beast.  Moreno is most known for crying during the National Anthem.  If the Broncos want to win Moreno better stop bawling and start balling.  Also Broncos DT Terrence Knighton has to play well.  He is the anchor of Denver’s D-line and he has to stop Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch.

Seahawks Keys: 

The Seahawks have the greatest defense, but it is not easy stopping Peyton Manning and images-7crew.  The key for the Seahawks is WR Percy Harvin.  Harvin has only played 38 snaps this year, but he makes the defense have to account for his explosiveness.  He is the biggest playmaker there and he is the spark Seattle’s offense needs to carry home the Lombardi Trophy to the 12th man.  Harvin is so explosive you can even line him up into the back field.  He is going to keep the defense honest and then brake one for 80 yards.  Also the Seahawks defensive line has to get to Manning fast and keep him on his toes.  If they can get into Manning’s very perplexed mind they can pull out a victory.

You all know the old saying… defense wins championships and that is exactly what is going to happen.  I believe the Seattle Seahawks will be the World Champions!

Prediction: Broncos 24 Seahawks 28

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Rose and Fiesta

The Bowl season is coming to a close, and the BCS Bowls are next and there is a lot to be excited about.  I am going to preview every game and make a prediction starting with the first two, the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.

Rose Bowl, Stanford vs Michigan State:It is the 100th edition of the Rose Bowl and this one will not disappoint.  It is the Grandaddy of them all, BIG Ten vs Pac 12.  This game is a fantastic matchup of two stifling  defenses.  We all know Michigan State has the best defensive core in the country, but the key for a Spartan victory, is Freshmen quarterback imagesConor Cook.  He had his best game in the BIG Ten Championship vs Ohio State, but throughout the season he has been a little shaky.  Cook needs to come up big for the Spartans to smell the roses.  Stanford is the kind of team that hits you in your face.  They don’t run any of the new spread offenses, the Cardinal will just run it up your gut with their big bruisers up front.  The key for the Cardinal to get back-to-back Rose Bowl victories is their most explosive player, Ty Montgomery.  Montgomery is the only thing explosive about the Stanford offense.  The Cardinal have not faced a defense like MSU’s.  They cannot just run every down on the Spartan defenders, there is no way you can win.  Montgomery has to add another element to the passing game and play like he did vs Washington.  Prediction: Stanford 10 Michigan State 17

Fiesta Bowl, UCF vs Baylor: 

The Fiesta Bowl is where the party is at.  The Baylor Bears are trying to make school history with their first ever BCS Bowl game victory.  It has already been the greatest season in the history of Baylor football, but they have a chance to finish it off with a BANG!  The key for the Bears is Senior running back, Lache Seastrunk.  He needs to have a solid images-1game to take the weight of quarterback Brice Petty’s shoulders.  The bears have a high powered offense and adding a solid run game will make it that much better.  UCF has been the Cinderella story of college football this year and they have a chance to write their own ending to their story book.  The Golden Knights have been carried by quarterback Blake Bortles.  He is the number two rated quarterback going into the NFL draft and he has been the heart and soul of tho UCF team.  The key for the knights to even keep it close is their defense.  They will have a hard time stopping the up tempo offense of Baylor.  What they need to do is watch the tape of the Baylor- Oklahoma State game and use the same defensive game plan the Cowboys used to shut the high flying Bears down.  Prediction: UCF 10 Baylor 43