Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sports Saturday: 9/25/10

In today's issue:
- College football: Fans of the Big Ten might as well find something better to do today.
- NFL: The Jaguars play the Eagles this week. As a Jaguars fan, would I rather face Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb? Hmm...
- Auto racing: Despite the 150-point penalty, does Clint Bowyer deserve to keep last Sunday's win? Sure!
- NHL: Are preseason games worth watching? Nah.

College football - The last weekend in September is, traditionally, the least interesting weekend of the college football season. Nowhere is this more true than in the Big Ten. The Big Ten begins conference play next weekend, making this weekend basically their last "preseason game". So who are the Big Ten's 11 teams playing against this weekend? Temple, Ball State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Northern Colorado, Akron, Austin Peay, and Bye Week. Not a single "BCS conference"* opponent in the bunch. Oh, and did I mention all of those games are home games?

(* - I've noticed that ESPN is now using the term "AQ conference", where AQ = automatic qualifier, to refer to the six major conferences whose conference champions automatically qualify for a BCS bowl game. I guess they're trying to get away from the term "BCS conference".)

Because of this, I'm choosing to ignore the Big Ten this weekend. You won't find any Big Ten games on the schedule below. Unless it's close late, I don't even plan on watching the Penn State game. I'm not saying the Big Ten is a lock to go 10-0 this weekend. But if Northern Illinois beats Minnesota, for example (which is entirely possible)...meh. The Big Ten will return next week, when they start actually playing real games.

But while the Big Ten is taking the weekend off, there are still some interesting games today. Let's have a looksee! (For a complete college football TV schedule, go to lsufootball.net or the506.com.)

Sat 12:00p - NC State at Georgia Tech, ESPN: You know me and my ACC crap-fests! Seriously, though, this is a big game for NC State. They're one of only two ACC teams that hasn't lost yet. Safe to say NC State will probably lose a couple this year.
Sat 12:00p - Virginia Tech at Boston College, WRAL (ACC Network): The other still-undefeated ACC team? Boston College. Does anyone care? Nope.
Sat 12:00p - Florida International at Maryland, ESPNU: You know it's a slow week when this game is on television. In fact, this is it for the early time slot. What's next?
Sat 3:30p - Wake Forest at Florida State, ABC: HUGE game for the Seminoles. They've had some trouble with Wake over the last decade. If they're a serious threat to win the ACC, this is a game they have to win.
Sat 3:30p - Alabama at Arkansas, CBS: One or two SEC games per week is enough for me. How about this one?
Sat 3:30p - Stanford at Notre Dame, NBC: If Notre Dame loses this game, too, then I think they can forget about salvaging this season.
Sat 3:30p - North Carolina at Rutgers, ESPNU: The ACC's troubles in non-conference games have been well-documented. But fortunately for the ACC, there's always the Big East. According to my count, the ACC has a winning record against the Big East so far this season (2-1).
Sat 6:00p - Nevada at BYU, the mtn.: Since there are so few games of interest this weekend, I'm breaking my usual rules and adding a couple of extra games that I normally wouldn't pay attention to. Like this one, which I find oddly compelling.
Sat 7:00p - Western Kentucky at South Florida, MASN: USF's quarterback, B.J. Daniels, isn't very good. That is all.
Sat 7:45p - South Carolina at Auburn, ESPN: The other SEC game I'm going to pay attention to today.
Sat 8:00p - Oregon State at Boise State, ABC: Another game that I normally wouldn't put on the list, but come on...it's Boise State! Against a team that might actually be able to hang with them! For at least one half, anyway.

NFL - So, the Jacksonville Jaguars pretty much fell flat on their collective face last weekend. Oh well - it happens.

This week, they'll no doubt be overshadowed by the opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. Being an NFC East team, the Eagles get enough hype as it is, but especially this week now that Michael Vick has been declared the starter. As a Jaguars fan, being overshadowed by the opponent is nothing new. I'm used to it. If the Jaguars win, the story will be "Eagles lose, Vick stinks, who did they play again?" If the Jaguars lose, the story will be "Eagles win, Vick is awesome, lots of empty seats in Jacksonville, AGAIN (regardless of how many empty seats there actually are on Sunday, and independent of the fact that Sunday's game, like the season opener, will not be blacked out)".

But as a Jaguars fan, would I rather face Michael Vick or now second string QB Kevin Kolb? I'm tempted to say Kolb, but...here's the thing. The Jaguars' biggest weakness thus far this season has been the secondary, and logic would seem to suggest that a traditional pocket passer (Kolb) would be better at exploiting that weakness than an occasionally running quarterback (Vick). But either way, Vick's criminal history is a good reason not to like him. Shoot, because of his dog killing, he's one of the few NFL players Amber has actually heard of. Boooooo!

Anyway, here's my prediction. The Jaguars' secondary will allow Vick to put up some big passing numbers, prompting the national media to say "Vick has changed, he's a much better passer than he used to be, empty seats blackouts Los Angeles blah blah blah", only for Vick to fall flat on his face when he plays a team with a good, or even average, pass defense.

Sun 1:00p - Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, DirecTV 708: The Bucs are 2-0! Yeah! Sure, those wins came against the always-bad Browns and the apparently-now-bad Panthers, but still. Now's their chance. I'll be pulling hard for them, especially given who the opponent is.
Sun 1:00p - Dallas at Houston, DirecTV 709: Another game featuring a 2-0 team with a small fan base up against a team with a very strong national following (and whom I don't particularly care for). Let's go Texans!
Sun 1:00p - Buffalo at New England, DirecTV 706: Yeah...not real high on the Bills' chances here.
Sun 1:00p - Cleveland at Baltimore, DirecTV 704: From Amber's perspective, there's a lot to like about the Browns: their colors are Brown and Orange (Amber's favorites!), they're called the "Browns" (Amber likes humble nicknames), they play in Ohio (Amber's home state), their logo is a helmet (again with the humility), and they stink (Amber likes rooting for bad teams because it's more rewarding when they finally do win, which is kind of how I feel also). I admit, I'm warming up to them too. Let's go Browns!
Sun 1:00p - Atlanta at New Orleans, DirecTV 712: The Saints' first Sunday game of the season. Definitely a headliner.
Sun 1:00p - Cincinnati at Carolina, WRAL 5: Five games at once is pretty much the most I can try to follow at one time, so these last four? Meh.
Sun 1:00p - Tennessee at NY Giants, DirecTV 707
Sun 1:00p - Detroit at Minnesota, DirecTV 711
Sun 1:00p - San Francisco at Kansas City, DirecTV 710
Sun 4:05p - Philadelphia at Jacksonville, DirecTV 713: In all honesty, this is the only late game I'm going to be paying much attention to today. I'm considering watching it DVR-style.
Sun 4:15p - Indianapolis at Denver, DirecTV 716: I'll root for the Broncos here.
Sun 4:15p - San Diego at Seattle, WRAL 5: The rest of the East Coast is getting Indianapolis at Denver. Why is this game being being televised locally here? I assume because of OMG PHILIP RIVERS BEST NC STATE PLAYER EVER. But last week's Chargers game against the Jaguars - also the second half of a CBS doubleheader - was not televised locally, of course. This is the kind of thing that would drive me nuts if I didn't have NFL Sunday Ticket.
Sun 4:05p - Washington at St. Louis, WRAZ 50: Actually, the reason OMG PHILIP RIVERS BEST NC STATE PLAYER EVER didn't get local airtime last weekend is because they were up against the Redskins, who it appears are still the #2 team around these parts.
Sun 4:15p - Oakland at Arizona, DirecTV 715
Sun 8:20p - NY Jets at Miami, NBC

Auto racing: I devoted exactly one hour to NASCAR last weekend: the last hour of the Sprint Cup race. I think it was time well spent. I don't feel like I missed anything by skipping the first 200 laps.

So...yeah. Clint Bowyer won the race, then mid-week, was deemed to have an illegal car (barely) and was penalized 150 points. But he gets to keep the win and the trophy. Does that seem fair? Maybe not, but I like the way NASCAR handles these things. I feel like I've talked about this before - more than once, most likely - but I don't like it when series like Formula One change the results of races after the fact. When I turn the TV off, I like knowing that the person I saw win the race is the real, actual, winner.

But still...is it fair? I think so. I'm pretty sure every team in the "Chase for the Cup" would say the 150-point penalty offsets the fact that they won the race, and that it isn't worth sustaining such a large point and financial penalty just to take home the trophy. Teams that are outside the "Chase" may feel differently, but I don't think Bowyer got much of an advantage from...whatever the penalty was levied for. I don't even know the specifics, other than the car didn't fit the template, or was too high or too low after the race, or something. Whatever. I just like to watch the races.

Meanwhile, in Formula One...Lewis Hamilton had another one of his patented WTF moments last race, driving too aggressively on the first lap and crashing his car. He never seems to crash in the middle of the race. Seems like it's always at the very beginning or the very end. WTF, Lewis? Meanwhile, there are still five drivers in the hunt for the drivers' championship, and Sebastian Vettel is still my pick. I mean, I might as well stick with him.

Sun 8:00a - Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, SPEED
Sun 1:00p - NASCAR Sprint Cup at Dover, ESPN

NHL: Tuesday night, I happened to notice that there was an NHL preseason game on TV. Yeah! Hockey's back! Sort of.

My general take on preseason games is this: I'll turn it on for a few minutes just to get a "taste", but I can't get into these games. I'll watch my team in the preseason to get a preview and to see some of the younger guys battle it out for the last few roster spots, but beyond that, I generally just skip out on the preseason. I'll be watching plenty of hockey over the next few months. I don't want to fill up on breadsticks and salad before the steak gets here.

So...are there any NHL preseason games on TV this weekend? I don't know, and I don't feel like looking.

1 comment:

James Allen said...

Plus, the Browns' rival is the Steelers so there is another reason to like them.
B.J. Daniels is just like Matt Grothe was his first two years: turning the ball over by trying to do too much.