Friday, September 20, 2013

Sports Friday: 9/20/13

College football - Last night, Clemson visited NC State in a game that was starting to look eerily familiar to last season's Florida State at NC State Thursday night game, except that NC State actually lost this year. In any case, the pregame narrative that I noticed on Twitter seemed to be this: "If NC State wins, that's bad for the ACC, right?"

The argument goes like this. Clemson and Florida State are supposed "elite" teams. Therefore, the best thing for the ACC is for Clemson and FSU to both go undefeated, aside from when they play each other next month, of course. That will look best for the conference, and will give the conference its best shot at a) a BCS Championship Game berth for the Clemson/FSU winner, and b) a BCS at-large berth for the Clemson/FSU loser.

Me? I don't get caught up in all that. I'm growing weary of these "what's best for the conference" arguments, because it just highlights how flawed college football is, and I don't really care which conference as a whole is "better" anyway. Why are so many people obsessed with this idea?

NFL - Now that they have a head-to-head loss to one of the league's other potentially bad teams, and demonstrated incredible ineptitude in the process, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the odds on favorite for the first overall pick in next year's draft, right? Not so fast! The Cleveland Browns might be making a run at it, too. Why else would they trade their top running back for a draft pick now? But, I think the Browns are going to struggle to be as bad as the Jaguars. (By the way: Jaguars at Browns, December 1st, 1:00 PM.)

To be honest, as bad as they've been, I think the Jaguars can win two games this year, again. The defense really isn't that bad. I think the defense can win the Jaguars at least a game or two on their own. And the offense will be a lot better with Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis in the lineup. But neither of those things is going to happen this week against Seattle, so...0-3, coming up.

Soccer - Saving this for last so that everybody who doesn't care about European soccer can bail... (Thanks for reading!)

I've decided that outside of the World Cup, the most exciting soccer can be found in the UEFA Champions League. That's in terms of quality of play (the best professional teams in Europe), the urgency of the situation (much higher stakes than in a single Premier League match), and the fan atmosphere. And, more importantly, it doesn't seem like you get as many 0-0 games in the Champions League. In fact, out of this week's 16 Champions Leagues games, none ended 0-0, and only one ended 1-0.

My rooting interests in the Champions League are, of course, the French teams, particularly my favorite French team, Olympique de Marseille. Unfortunately, Marseille got extremely unlucky with their group draw: they ended up with Arsenal (they're pretty good), Borussia Dortmund (the defending runners-up), and Napoli (don't know a thing about them, but they're apparently pretty good too, so I'm told). So, chances are, OM is going nowhere in this Champions League. Maybe they'll win a game or two, but I think they're headed for a last place finish in the group. The other French team, Paris Saint-Germain, got a much easier group draw, and unlike Marseille they won their first game. So, basically, all of French football's hopes lay with you, PSG. You and your billionaire Qatari owners.

Meanwhile, my thoughts regarding Fulham (my newly adopted English team) is that it's still a little too early to be spelling doom and gloom. Although, how bad would it look for Shad Khan if Fulham does poorly this season? Buy the Jaguars, and they instantly go 2-14. Buy Fulham, and…relegation? Too soon for that discussion, I think.

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