August 31, 2006

SEC Preview Part Dos

We're continuing from yestersay's SEC West preview, noting that Auburn would be its champion. Onward to the East!

The Wildcats!! Kentucky (4-8, 1-7)

Finishing strong last year with a win over Vanderbilt, Kentucky looked good in flashes, but couldn't put enough together to make a good season. I think much is going to improve this season, including their great running back, Rafael Little. I just think that every other team in the East is going to do better.

Will lose: @Florida, S.Carolina, @LSU, Georgia
Could win: @Louisville, Ole Miss, @MSU, Vanderbilt, @UT
Will win: TX St., Central Mich., LA-Monroe

UK won't beat any of the top-tier SEC teams, but they've got a shot to surprise Lousiville, though I think they'll lose a tight game. They can beat MSU on the road, but that's about it as Ole Miss and Vanderbilt should beat them at home.

The Volunteers!! ut (5-7, 2-6)

Yep, along with Bama, I think that ut will have a disappointing season, the second straight and probably last of Coach Fulmer's career in Knoxville. I just don't trust Eric Ainge enough to lead that offense, and he's given me no reason to do so. They've lost a bit on defense, and when that happens with a 5-6, the next season can't be any good.

Will lose: California, Florida, @S.Carolina, LSU
Could win: Air Force, @Memphis, @UGa, Bama, @Arkansas, @Vanderbilt, @UK
Will win: Marshall

Air Force is always a weird team, either really good or really bad. I think UT will beat them and Memphis early in the season, but I'm not so optimistic after that. What will be an upset win at Georgia will be quickly tempered by loss to Bama, at Arkansas, and at Vanderbilt, before a meaningless win at UK. A very disappointing season indeed, and I think we'll be able to hear the wheels fall off in Knoxville from where I sit in Indianapolis.

The Commodores!! Vanderbilt (7-5, 4-4)

This is where the heart gets in the way of the brain's sensible picks, but I'll make 'em anyway. I think that, despite the absence of Jay Cutler, the Commodores can make a run to a bowl game this season. Coach Bobby Johnson has recruited well, as has been very good about developing talent through extensive red-shirting, and that strategy should reap benefits and surprise a lot of folks this year.

Will lose: @Michigan, S.Carolina
Could win: @Bama, Arkansas, @Ole Miss, @Georgia, Florida, @UK, UT
Will win: Tenn. St., Temple, @Duke

The key to Vandy's season (as it is every season), is winning the close games, and Vandy has a lot of game this year that to me could go either way. I'm expecting a closer game than expected at Michigan (though still a loss), followed by an upset win at Bama. Road wins at Ole Miss and UK lead to Vandy clinching a 4-4 SEC record after beating UT for the second straight season.

The Bulldogs!! Georgia (8-4, 4-4)

After a what seems like a lengthy run at the top of the SEC East, Georgia falls down a bit, through absolutely no fault of their own. The Bulldogs trot out another senior, but first-year starter QB, though it worked well for them last year. I just think that the other two teams in the East have improved too much to Georgia to keep pace with a new QB.

Will lose: None.
Could win: @S.Carolina, UT, Vanderbilt, @Florida, @Auburn, Ga. Tech
Will win: W.Kentucky, UAB, Colorado, @Ole Miss, MSU, @UK

Georgia's good enough to not have any sure losses on the schedule, but there's a lot of potential losses out there. I like their chances against Vanderbilt and Ga. Tech, but I have a feeling that UT can upset the Dawgs in Athens, and the brutal road games at S.Carolina, @Florida, and @Auburn should keep them from the top -- I'm guessing they lose all three games.

The Gamecocks!! South Carolina (10-2, 7-1)

Here comes Spurrier! Give him two years with a college quarterback, and lets see what the Fun'n'Gun can do. I think the Cocks can make a great splash this season, similar to what they did in Holtz's second season as well. We should see a lot of big things, including what will be called a monumental upset.

Will lose: None.
Could win: Georgia, Auburn, UT, Arkansas, @Florida, @Clemson
Will win: @MSU, Wofford, FAU, @UK, @Vanderbilt, MTSU

I said it yesterday -- Auburn will be upset by the Gamecocks, as will Georgia. UT and Arkansas should be close, but S.Carolina wins there are hardly upsets these days. I think they'll lose to Florida, and be severely let down by losing to arch-rival Clemson as well.

The Gators!! Florida (12-0, 8-0)

Another second year head coach is about to earn his pay. Urban Meyer went undefeated in '04 at Utah, and I think he's going to do the same at Florida in '06. Chris Leak is a stud senior with competition lighting a fire under his feet in Gainesille, and could be a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy by the end of the season. Florida has a BRUTAL schedule, but great times win big games, and I think Florida has the horses to pull it off this season.

Will lose: None.
Could win: @UT, LSU, @Auburn, Georgia, @Vanderbilt, S.Carolina, @FSU
Will win: So. Miss., Central Fla., UK, Bama, W.Carolina

Told you it was brutal -- I still don't think they lose a one of those games. Playing LSU and at Auburn ion back-to-back weeks will be tough, but that's college football these days. They'll have a week off before hosting Georgia, so they should be ok there. Vandy's a slight question mark as I'm sure there are a lot of players that remember the '05 Screw-Job-in-Gainesville, but I'm not sure if Vandy can hold the Gators this year. They'll beat Spurrier as he comes back to the Swamp, and should win (in overtime) against a great FSU squad.

There you have it -- this year, the SEC is Gator Bait. Florida beats Auburn yet again in the SEC Championship game and goes on to beat Ohio State in the BCS Championship game, despite being a double-digit underdog.

I'll keep track throughout the year to see how well I picked 'em. The first game starts tonight, and should be the first of S.Carolina's many wins this season. Enjoy the games, and welcome back to football season!!

August 30, 2006

SEC Preview Part Uno

For the sake of spreading my sports expertise, I'm previewing the upcoming (as in, TOMORROW!!) SEC season. I'll be starting with the West, then (hopefully) getting the East complete tomorrow night (though if it's Friday morning, know that I'll have written the South Carolina preview BEFORE their game vs. MSU on Thursday).

So, the West. A lot of publications think that the SEC West could have 5 of their 6 teams make the bowl season thanks to scheduling. Me, I'm not so convinced. I think that the East is far superior to them, even though everyone seems to be head-over-heels with Auburn and LSU. This would leave me to believe that the East would be sending more teams to bowls than the West, but we'll see.

The addition of the 12th game to SEC schedules is a huge boost for all conference schools, as it allows them to add another non-conference team. For this year's top six (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, and Arkansas), it's a great opporunity to strengthen the roster, while for the bottom six (Vandy, UK, UT (ha ha!!), Bama (ha ha!!), Ole Miss, and MSU), it's a great chance to add a cream puff and acheive that elusive sixth win for bowl eligibility.

Let's go worst to first shall we?

The Bulldogs!! MSU (4-8, 1-7)

I think MSU could make some good strides this year, but I just don't see them making that breakthrough that half of Mississippi is looking for. We saw this from Vandy a few years back, when the Dores consistently played well, but couldn't pull the wins out in the end. We're going to see the same out of the Bulldogs this year, and could see them as a force in '07.

Will lose: S.Carolina, Auburn, @LSU, W.Virginia, @Georgia, and Arkansas
Should lose: UK, @Bama, and @Ole Miss
Should win: Tulane, @UAB, and Jacksonville St.

I'll guess that they sweep the three they should win, and pick up an upset over Bama, giving them four wins.

The Rebels!! Ole Miss (4-8, 2-6)

They just a QB, Brent Schaeffer, that had once played for UT for a season, and Rebel fans think he's the new Eli. The problem is that Brent was playing BEHIND Rick Clausen and Eric Ainge (and, presumably, Jim Bob Cooter), the QB duo that stunk up the Vols to a 5-6 record. Armed with that knowledge, I can't say that I'm optimistic for their chances on offense, especially with head coach Ed Orgeron's inability to generate yards in the first place. I think their defense will keep them in games, but the Schaeffer/Orgeron combination will just be too poor to get the points on the board or even keep the defense off the field.

Will lose: Georgia, @Arkansas, Auburn, @LSU
Could win: Memphis, @Missouri, @UK, @Bama, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, MSU
Will win: Northwestern St.

Though a tougher non-conference schedule than MSU, I think they'll struggle early under what Orgeron's calling a "scaled-back" offense, losing to Memphis and maybe even Missouri. They'll beat UK, Wake, and MSU, but I think Vandy should pop down there and pull out a road win.

The Crimson Tide!! Alabama (6-6, 2-6)

What?? Alabama fourth in the West? This is my disappointment pick for the SEC, even though I know that Shula's a great coach and there's a lot of tradition there. I just can't help but thinking that there's no way that the offense can match how well the defense is playing (they couldn't score a TD against UT last year, when Vandy went out and put 28 on the Vols). That's going to lead to them getting upset by a couple teams, and the Tide just squaking into a bowl game.

Will lose: @Florida, @LSU
Could win: Vanderbilt, @Arkansas, Ole Miss, @UT, MSU, Auburn
Will win: Hawaii, LA-Monroe, Duke, Fla. International

I'm listing Auburn in "Could win" since the winner of that game isn't necessarily the best team, but I think Auburn will pull that one out. I think they'll be upset at home by MSU, and quite possibly Vanderbilt as well. Losing at Arkansas won't be an upset by the time they get over there, but they should pull out wins over Ole Miss and could upset UT at Neyland this year as well, sneaking them into a bowl.

The Razorbacks!! Arkansas (9-3, 5-3)

Houston Nutt has a great team under him, but they're not starting strong with injuries already to star RB Darren McFadden out after dislocating his toe at a Little Rock night club. Read that last part again -- it's not a typo. This is going to hurt them in the opening few games of the season, but they should finish strong.

Will lose: USC
Could win: Vanderbilt, Alabama, @Auburn, @S.Carolina, UT, LSU
Will win: Utah St., SEMO, Ole Miss, LA-Monroe, @MSU

Ole Miss and MSU happen late enough in the season that McFadden should be fully recovered and should be easy wins. The Auburn game to me is right when they'll be hitting their stride -- that could be a big upset, though as of right now, I don't think they'll win. I'm making the smart choice here instead of my heart by picking Arkansas over VU, but just barely. S.Carolina's headed for a great season and should win, as is the case with LSU, though I think that the Razorbacks should take care of UT.

The Bayou Bengals!! LSU (10-2, 6-2)

Head coach Les Miles has a year under his belt as the LSU head coach, and the Tigers could be in for big, big things this season. Looking to improve from an impressing 11-2 season last year, the Bengals only have Auburn between them and a trip to Atlanta for the championship, but that may be a team that they can't surpass.

Will lose: None
Could win: @Auburn, @Florida, @Arkansas
Will win: LA-Lafayette, Arizona, Tulane, MSU, UK, Fresno St., @UT, Bama, Ole Miss

The three danger games are all on the road, though I think they'll be ok for the Arkansas game, though it might be close. The Auburn game is the third week of the season, and will determine who wins the SEC West. I think that both teams are so close that home-field will indeed prove to be a turning point and Auburn comes out unscathed. Florida is an altogether seperate matter, as I don't think LSU has much of a chance in the Swamp, and should suffer their worst loss of the season in Gainesville.

The Tigers/War Eagle!! Auburn SEC West Champions (10-2, 6-2)

Auburn is favored by most to win the West, the SEC and make it all the way to the BCS Title game in Pasadena. I'm not so optimistic, as they've got to face the top three teams from the SEC East, the only team in the West to have to do so.

Will lose: None
Could win: LSU, @S.Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, @Bama
Will win: Wash. St., @MSU, Buffalo, Tulane, @Ole Miss, Arkansas St.

In the could wins, Bama is listed for aforementioned rivalry reasons, though I think Auburn wins that one. The LSU and Arkansas games have been stated as wins, assuring an SEC West sweep for Auburn. I think Georgia will be tough, but Auburn comes out by around 10 in a fourth quarter surge. Here's where I differ from most everyone's thoughts. Florida is better team than Auburn, and will head back to Gainesville victoriously. In addition, and I'm calling this now, South Carolina will upset Auburn on September 28. By virtue of the tiebreaker, Auburn will represent the West in the SEC title game, but I don't think they'll win.

Who will they play and probably lose to? Tune in tomorrow!!

My head can't get through the door already....

I've been noted as an "expert" by a national journalistic publication. This is so incredibly unprecendented!! I mean, when's the last time you heard someone called someone that you personaly know really smart on the internet, huh, HUH?

Oh. Right.

Anyway, the online magazine I currently write for just selected Diana Taurasi as our MVP, and I was quoted for my "expert opinion". Really, I'm just listing some statistics for what she did towards the end of the season (her team, the Phoenix Mercury, went on a six-game winning streak, narrowly missing out on the play-offs). However, the title clearly has the word "Experts" in it, and I'm quoted in the article. Ipso facto, I am an nationally-recognized expert. :P Pthbtbtbtbt!!


August 24, 2006

We are so smrt. S-M-R-T, Smart.

Mmmmmmmm, intelligence.

So, my darling wife just got the results back from her first big test of her thrid year of medical school. She scored very well, two standard deviations (or two sigmas) higher than the average (or mean) score. In fact, she was a mere five points from having the high score in the entire STATE. We're very proud of her, and totally ecstatic for her. I have to say, though, that news just as surprising as her success was the sun rising the following morning.

My cousin got his doctorate in physics from Vanderbilt this month as well. We now call him Dr. Matt, Dr. Uncle, or Dr. Daddy, depending on who we are (I'm guessing I'll tend to call him the first of those options). You can read the abstract to his dissretation (or attempt to, anyway) here. I think you have to actually buy the article to read it online, though if you're interested, I've got a copy I can email you. His research will change the world in ways that few mortals can begin to fathom, nay, even pronounce.

Me? I is not as smrt as me peeps. Though, I will say this -- I've been noted by Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy! fame) not once, but TWICE on his website (yes, I was one of the two that answered that all of those people could be linked by shots, though the home run answer was funnier). If you admire Ken from his days on Jeopardy, or if even you don't and just enjoy trivia, his site is a great one to peruse. I'd also suggest you buy his book, as I'm guessing it will be really interesting. Plus, one-tenth of the proceeds will benefit the Church of Latter-Day Saints!

Finally, if you've ever played Final Fantasy or Dungeons and Dragons (or if you just like to make fun of those who do), you have to read 8-Bit Theatre, and on-line comic strips that (loosely) uses characters from the very first Final Fantasy (hence the 8-bit in the title). I've linked to the first of over 700 (!!) strips dating back to 2001. Great stuff, and a fitting link to include on a blog like Nerds of a Feather.

August 11, 2006

More Sports!

In yet another step in my sportswriting career/hobby, I've actually gotten to sit on press row and watch a game, then conduct interviews with coaches (not players as I was sick and din't want to do that to them) in order to write an article. And here it is!!

First Fever Article

I covered the second-to-last home game on the Fever's schedule, a clash against the top-seeded Sun that had major playoff implications. I let you read the article to find out what happens.

I had a great time covering the game, and look forward to doing more of these types of articles for Sports Page Magazine!