Friday, November 21, 2014

NCAA Football Week 13 Primer (With Picks)

Jerry Kill eating ice cream in a snow storm is now the most Big Ten thing ever. But, can his Gophers break through this week against Nebraska?

 By Andy Dougherty (@AndyDougherty10) with a cameo by Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

As the regular season nears its end, the pressure builds for the nation’s top teams to keep their playoff hopes alive. Overall, the contenders face easier opposition in Week 13 than they have in months, but this year’s many surprises have shown that no team can afford to take any opponent for granted.

Game of the Week

No. 8 Ole Miss at Arkansas

Arkansas will provide the first legitimate test for Ole Miss since a crushing loss to Auburn on November 1st. Ole Miss had what Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly would call a “glorified bye” on November 8th, beating the Presbyterian Blue Hose 48-0 at home (yes, there is a real football team called the Blue Hose). The Rebels then had an actual bye last week. Their October win over Alabama has kept them in playoff contention despite their two losses, and they have another shot at a big win when Mississippi State comes to town next week.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NFL Week 12 Primer (With Picks): Your Team is Probably Still Alive

Cheer up Cam! Your horrendous disappointment of a team is only one game out of hosting a playoff game!

By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Anybody who thinks the NFL needs to add another Wild Card team to increase excitement around the league is being thoroughly refuted this year. 11 weeks into the year and virtually the entire AFC is still in playoff contention.

Seriously, look at the standings. As long as you don't root for the Jets, Jags, Titans or Raiders, your team has a shot! The 12 other teams in the AFC are .500 or better, which is absolutely crazy at this point in the year.

The NFC doesn't have as many teams at .500 (just seven) but, thanks to the dumpster fire that is the NFC South, all four awful teams are still alive. The Falcons and Saints have limped to 4-6, while Carolina, as horrible a disappointment as it has been, sits only a game out of first place at 3-7.

And here is my "oh my God this needs to happen" realization of the week: The Bucs are only two games out of HOSTING a playoff game. Oh my God, this needs to happen! Please Tampa Bay, go 4-2 the rest of the way and somehow win this awful division at 6-10!

I look forward to seeing you lose by 50 at home in the first round.

Anyways, the point is that with 19 teams at .500 or better, and four teams kept alive by a historically bad division, there are 23 fan bases all still thinking about postseason football. That's nearly 3/4ths of the league, so chances are your team is playing a pretty important game this week. Heck, the only teams that are actually eliminated mathematically so far are the Raiders, Jaguars, Titans and Jets, so you go crazy with hope Bears/Vikings/Rams/Giants/Redskins fans!


Underdog Update:
Last Week: 8-6
Season: 76-83-2
Home Dogs, Last Week: 2-1
Home Dogs, Season: 19-26-1

Game(s) of The Week:

Detroit @ New England (1 pm Sunday. FOX)

Detroit couldn't seize control of the NFC last week against Arizona, but a win against AFC favorite New England will go a long way toward earning national respect. As of now, the Lions come into Gillette as a touchdown dog, and with the Patriots riding a five-game winning streak, it's easy to see why.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

CMass Playoff Notebook: State Semifinal Preview

After shocking Central Mass and winning the D2 Central title, upstart Fitchburg is just one game away from Gillette. (Click to enlarge)
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Four Central Mass squads scored sectional championship wins Friday, and each now sits just one game away from a state championship game at Gillette Stadium.

Here is a look back at each team's big win, and a look forward to what they'll need to do to continue their journey.

Division 2

Central Mass Champ: Fitchburg

Next Step: State Semifinal vs Longmeadow at Doyle Field in Leominster. Saturday at 2 pm

Fitchburg is the greatest Cinderella in the state this year, after beginning the season 0-4, then rattling off six wins in a row against the likes of St. John's (Shrewsbury), Wachusett and Leominster in last weekend's D2 Central final.

It's hard for me to believe this team struggled out of the gate after watching the Red Raiders' defense stymie Leominster at every turn, and running back Alex Marrero batter his way to over 100 yards and a score against the Blue Devils.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NCAA Football Weekend Wrap: Ranked Teams and Records Falling

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon had the greatest rushing day in FBS history Saturday... And he sat out the fourth quarter of the Badgers' big game against Nebraska.

By Andy Dougherty (@AndyDougherty10)

It was a weekend of shakeup in the College Football Playoff standings, epic comebacks and record-breaking performances. We've got a lot to cover, so let's get right to the biggest games and performances from the weekend that was.

No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama

Week 12 featured five games between ranked teams, including a massive showdown between No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 5 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Alabama’s world-class defense forced three interceptions of Dak Prescott and held him to 3.7 yards per carry with no touchdowns on the ground.

Alabama’s Amari Cooper demonstrated yet again that he is one of the most talented receivers in the country with 8 catches, 88 yards and an athletic touchdown catch. The Crimson Tide should rank first in the new College Football Playoff rankings after handing Mississippi State its first loss of the year.

Bob Lobel: The Power of Headlines

By Bob Lobel (@boblobel)

There is something special about headlines. 

Headlines were Twitter before Twitter. Headlines are critical to the success of whatever follows it in whatever publication that depends on them for survival. I think that, whenever possible,  headlines should be sarcastic, outrageous and funny, but factual.

Creativity lurks behind every great headline, though there are very few that measure up to the “great” label. It seems to me one of the greatest jobs in the world would be to sit around a newsroom with three to five people and brainstorm headlines. Laughs would abound, tears always solicited.  Not always happy tears. There is actually so much bad stuff happening that funny, clever and memorable ones are becoming a lost art.