Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 4

-Can we officially shut the fuck up about Jake Locker now? I don't care if he was playing the Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-20 for 71 yards, a TD, and 2 INTs is unacceptable. If you take away a 45 yard TD strike to Jermaine Kearse, he was 3-19 for 26 yards and 2 INTs. He's got lots of talent and I'm sure he's a perfectly decent kid but the idea that Locker is the ultimate prospect in this year's NFL Draft is inexplicable. His Heisman campaign is obviously deader than dead at this point and I see no reason that he won't be the next Tim Couch.

-Here's a random one: Kansas is down 31-10 to Southern Miss...they score a touchdown with 5:17 left in the game...and go for two?! Uh...what? Who did the math on that one? What possible scenario are they planning for? Are they planning cut the deficit to 13 instead of 14 in hopes that, in the event that they have to settle for two field goals at some point, they can still tie the game (with the addition of another touchdown)--all within the time frame of the last 5:17 of the game. Or maybe they just wanted to ensure that if they did score two more touchdowns, they would WIN the game, instead of sending it to overtime. Or perhaps they were planning on going for two again if they scored again, in order to, you know, cut the deficit to 5...for some reason. The point is, Turner Gill is probably a misunderstood genius.

-It occurred to me while watching the Georgia Tech/North Carolina game that it seems, by and large, that everyone has basically figured out Paul Johnson's triple option attack. For the first couple years he was there, it was this mystical thing that no team could prepare for unless they had more than a week to do so (hence their struggles against teams with a long week to prepare as well as in bowl games), but now teams (especially in the ACC) are becoming more and more adept at playing assignment football. The only thing that makes it work at all is the fact that the Yellow Jackets have superior athletes to many of the teams they play (especially in the backfield). The only reason it was effective this past week against the Tarheels is that the Tarheels were decimated by suspensions, lacking depth at key defensive positions, which made it easy to wear them down. Just wait til they meet Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Georgia in four of their last five games (and three of those are on the road with only Miami coming to Bobby Dodd Stadium).

-Anyone who was lucky enough to have seen the Auburn/Clemson slugfest will attest to the fact that it was one of the hardest hitting games they've seen in quite some time. I certainly can't remember the last time I saw that much violence in a football game. It's a shame that Kyle Parker could barely breathe without excruciating pain radiating through his body for the most crucial parts of the game (no way he misses a wide open receiver in the end zone if his ribs aren't throbbing) but even in defeat, Clemson did the ACC proud. It still lacks a marquee non-conference win but the Tigers did a lot on this night to improve the ACC's image after some ugly losses. On the other hand, if you thought Auburn and Clemson was a war, just wait until Stephen Garcia, Marcus Lattimore and the Gamecocks roll into Jordan Hare. More on that later...

-Speaking of the SEC, let's talk about the two SEC openers:
*Florida/Tennessee: Well, the Gators did look a little bit better. Brantley at least seemed to find some rhythm eventually. However, in the first half, at least, they looked like the same team from the first half of the USF game and the Miami, OH game. Mike Pouncey continued to struggle with snaps and the running game never really got going with Jeff Demps averaging less than 3 yards per carry. The defense again had to bail the Gators out by capitalizing on a few royally stupid throws by Vols first-year starting QB Matt Simms and if not for a brilliantly called fake punt on a stalled drive late in the third quarter of a 10-10 ballgame, who knows if the Gators would have escaped with the win? Kentucky comes to The Swamp this weekend and that will be the last chance the Gators will have to work out all the kinks before their trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium begins a brutal six-game slate that includes clashes with LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina--all of which they will lose if they play the way they've played the first three games.
*Arkansas/Georgia: I'm not exactly sure what to make out of this game but I damn sure don't see what about this win was impressive enough to rocket Arkansas into the top ten. Their defense was able to get a good pass rush when they wanted to but they had problems all day stopping the run and were consistently vulnerable to the long ball. Ryan Mallet will win his share of games for them this year but there's only so much he can do and that will become apparent this week when the Tide roll into town.

-First, let me say that I'm glad Mark Dantonio is out of the hospital and doing fine. That being said, you couldn't write this stuff. College football head coach calls for a fake field goal on fourth down in a do-or-die overtime period to win the game and then goes home and has a heart attack three hours later. If it was fiction, it would be bad fiction. And while we're on the subject, as gutsy as the call seems on the surface, the more you think about it, the less gutsy it seems. I mean we're talking about a 46-yard FG attempt by an inexperienced, unreliable kicker. Granted, it was 4th and 14. I'm not saying it wasn't gutsy because it took some serious brass balls to try "Little Giants" on 4th and 14 but I'm just saying going for the field goal may not have even been the higher percentage choice.



THURSDAY

#19 Miami, FL @ Pittsburgh

I have to say, I watched Pitt's season opener against Utah and I watched Miami's gut-wrenching loss to Ohio State and based on what I've seen from these two teams, I don't think Pitt will even come close in this one. The Hurricanes have way too much athleticism on defense for a Pitt team with no passing game and a struggling Dion Lewis. Even if Pitt's defense forces a few Jacory Harris miscues--and I don't think they will because Utah's Jordan Wynn exposed a massive amount of holes in the Panthers pass defense--the offense won't be able to capitalize on any field position that's outside of field goal range. Picking the Canes over the Buckeyes was a homer pick. This one is completely and totally rational. I would put every penny I had on the Canes to cover the spread if I had even a single penny to my name.

Hobbitcore sez: Miami

SATURDAY

#1 Alabama @ #10 Arkansas

Wait. You mean this week's only matchup of two top ten teams (alliteration is always awesome) isn't the Game of the Week? Well, maybe theoretically, but A. I don't see any reason why Arkansas should be the #10 team in the country and B. they don't match up well at all with the Tide. This one might be close for a half or even for three quarters depending how much time the Razorback offensive line can give Ryan Mallet to work with. But, eventually, the Tide will pull away. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson will pummel the Arkansas front seven into submission and Greg McElroy and Julio Jones will exploit a very vulnerable secondary with at least 3-5 deep balls much like Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs did last week. Bama wins and also covers the spread.

Hobbitcore sez: Alabama

#16 Stanford @ Notre Dame

The Irish are looking to rebound from two absolutely excruciating losses (continuing a trend that began last year). Unfortunately, they have to rebound against probably the best NFL prospect in college football right now. The good news for Irish fans is that they match up considerably better against the Cardinal than they did against Denard Robinson and the spread option. This game will be close because they know how to defend Andrew Luck's offense--in theory. The Irish will lose another heartbreaker because they can't defend Andrew Luck's offense--in practice.

Hobbitcore sez: Stanford

#24 Oregon State @ #3 Boise State

This one is actually closer to being Game of the Week than Bama/Arkansas. Anyone who expects the Broncos to blow the doors off of the Beavers, prepare to be disappointed. The Beavers have one of the more dynamic offenses in the country and will have no trouble keeping up in a shootout. This one won't quite reach that level--although there will be a pretty respectable amount of points put on the board--because Boise State will come up with just enough defense to get past the Beavers.

Hobbitcore sez: Boise State

#22 West Virginia @ #15 LSU

I was entertaining the possibility of making this my upset of the week pick. I really like West Virginia's speed and Noel Devine is the kind of back that could give the Tigers fits. But LSU also has their share of speed and although Jordan Jefferson won't be special, he'll have a good enough game and his backs will help him out just enough to win a squeaker. LSU simply doesn't lose night games in Death Valley.

Hobbitcore sez: LSU

GAME OF THE WEEK/UPSET OF THE WEEK

#12 South Carolina @ #17 Auburn

I was kind of surprised to find that Auburn was favored in this game. They are coming off of a huge win in an all out war with Clemson and Cam Newton is pretty impressive but the Gamecocks have been impressive in their own right, specifically Marcus Lattimore and Stephen Garcia. If you thought the Battle of the Tigers was physical, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Cam Newton and Marcus Lattimore are gonna be looking for contact all night long and Stephen Garcia isn't afraid of taking a lick or two either. I really, really like the Gamecocks right now, they seem like they have all the pieces in place to make a run at the SEC East crown.

Hobbitpick: South Carolina 22, Auburn 17

Keys to the Game
Gamecocks:
-Don't miss ANY blocks
-Offensive diversity
-Spy Cam Newton
Auburn:
-Get Garcia's jersey dirty
-Tackle soundly; don't try for big pops on Lattimore
-Make SC's offense one-dimensional



Out-of-Whack Spreads
Miami, FL (-3.5) over Pittsburgh
Toledo over Purdue (-11.5)
Tulane over Houston (-19.5)
North Carolina (-1.5) over Rutgers
Ball State over Iowa (-28)

My Heisman Ballot (if the voting ended today)
1. Denard Robinson
2. Ryan Mallet
3. Justin Blackmon (leads the country in receiving yards and scoring)

BCS Predictions
ACC: Miami over Florida State
Big 12: Nebraska over Oklahoma
Big East: West Virginia
Big Ten: Ohio State
Pac 10: Oregon
SEC: Alabama over South Carolina

BCS Championship: Alabama over Nebraska
Sugar: Boise State over Oklahoma
Orange: Miami over West Virginia
Fiesta: TCU over South Carolina
Rose: Oregon over Ohio State

Monday, September 20, 2010

Participation and Cooperation

When I was a senior in high school, I was already an avid attendee of what were purposefully referred to by myself and my peers as "local shows" (the idea, ostensibly, being to separate what we were doing from the overblown idea of the "rock concert"--which may be valid or may not be). Most of these shows I attended on my own and for the sole purpose of seeing live music that I enjoyed. However, something changed during my senior year. Little by little I started meeting more and more of an overwhelmingly wonderful group of friends (there were roughly 20 or 30 of them) who attended many of the same shows I was attending at the time. The quality and quantity of memories I made with these people cannot be overstated but those are different stories for another time. For the sake of this particular piece, there's only one of them who is really of importance. Let's call him Iggy.

Iggy was one of my best friends in the group--for a time, he was unquestionably my best friend of them all--and he not only introduced me to a mother load of music I'd never heard before--and likely never would have heard, if not for him--but he taught me a number of things about music and politics and the politics of music.

One of my first and best experiences with Iggy and the rest of our phenomenal friends was a show he himself had booked at The Alley--one of our favorite places to attend these shows and one where roughly 60-80% of our best memories were formed. When I asked him how he had managed to book a show for one of his favorite bands, his response really struck me. "I just emailed them." What a novel concept! You want a band to play where you live? You ask them. You ask them and they actually answer you. Because that's how punk rock (and hardcore, which was spawned by punk) and the DIY (Do It Yourself) music culture work. There is no separation between artist and audience--they are your peers, not your superiors. They play on stages that are no more than a foot high--if they play on stages at all. That's the entire point of the punk that so many people seem to miss. That could be you up there. It could be any of us up there.

This was an important lesson I learned from being involved in the DIY music scene and one that I have carried into every aspect of my life. That lesson is that no community can function healthily unless everyone--and I do mean EVERYONE--participates. Obviously not everyone has to participate to the same degree but each person must bring something distinct and unique to the collective and do his or her part to make it what they want it to be.

This is especially true in politics--and by politics, do not take me to be merely referring to national, state, and/or local governments. When I say politics, I refer to the politics of anything and everything. It's never enough to just vote people into positions of authority and/or responsibility under the assumption that, upon being elected, they will subsequently take care of everything. We're seeing the repercussions of such behavior in our current political climate with falling approval ratings for president Obama and looming disasters for the Democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It's not enough to vote in elections and then sit back and wait for them to fix our world--nor is it enough to vote on decisions in a church or congregation whenever they happen to come up.

Participation is everything.

If you want your church, your school, your workplace, your music scene, your community, your city, your state, your country to be a certain way then you're going to have to do the dirty work to make that happen. In the words of Aaron Sorkin, spoken through the vehicle of Andrew Shepherd in The American President (played by Michael Douglas): "America isn't easy, it's advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's going to put up a fight." It's up to you to spread awareness and share knowledge. It's up to you to galvanize and organize and exert influence on those who represent us--or, at least, are supposed to. It's up to you to participate.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I guess this will be a Unitarian Universalism blog now...

The first thing I'd like to say is that I can't even begin to express my gratitude for those who have felt so moved by what I've written in here (even if it's just the one entry) that they felt compelled to spread awareness of it through any channels available to them. This is undoubtedly my first experience with the opportunity to be writing to an audience which is both ridiculously exciting and mildly terrifying. The point is that due to the recent influx of readership and in light of the specificity of said readership, I will be doing two things: 1. I will be updating this blog once a week (every Monday) and 2. I will be attempting to at least loosely skew the content of the blog toward matters at least loosely related to Unitarian Universalism. It's the least I can do to gratify whatever audience I have been lucky enough to be gifted with and have gathered for me.

So. Here's something I wrote down in a moleskine during today's service that I thought might be a nice jumping off point:

"The Sanctuary's myriad of translucent panes lets such light in that, as the sun goes and comes out from behind the clouds, light pours into and drains out of the room like waves crashing on a shoreline or lungs inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, giving the room the appearance of being alive and, perhaps, indeed, giving it life."

Actually perhaps I should let that sink in for now and then I'll have a real update for you all tomorrow.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 3

Well, the dust has settled from "Monster Saturday"...let's review shall we...

-I'll start, of course, with Miami. Firstly, Jacory Harris. This was supposed to be the year where he put it all together and stopped making stupid mistakes, becoming the quarterback that all Hurricanes fans had hoped and expected him to become. Now, Ohio State's defense deserves a lot of credit. Not every defense in the country would have converted some of these mistakes into turnovers and OSU's impeccably coached D is one of the best at it. However, with this game, the hope of Jacory becoming the QB we all thought he could be has taken a huge hit. It seems likely now that he will never fulfill his potential and while he deserves some of the blame, most of it rests squarely on the shoulders of Mark Whipple. For starters, Whipple is the Canes' QB coach and appears to have failed in that capacity. Making stupid mistakes is a red flag that signifies poor coaching. Not only that but Whipple's play-calling has been called into question a number of times and it only seems like it's getting worse each week. He calls for downfield throws at some of the most suspect times. He often runs something that's working too many times in a row and if not, he stops running it too soon. He calls for things like a short pass over the middle in a goal-to-go situation that gets intercepted by Cam Heyward and returned into Miami territory (obviously there's no way Jacory should have thrown it there but not only was it a bad call but Damien Berry did a terrible job of coming back to the ball). A lot of people have been calling for Randy Shannon's job and he does deserve some of the blame but, in my opinion, he'll be fine in a year or two. If anyone should be on the hot seat for Miami right now it should be Whipple, who has been rumored to have been spending more time with the backup QBs (one of which is his son, Spencer) than he has with Jacory. Additionally, many Miami fans continue to wonder why this team doesn't install and run the no-huddle offense on a regular basis--the offense that Jacory Harris ran brilliantly in high school. The bottom line is that this team lost to Ohio State because it is poorly coached in several aspects of the game. The receivers had nine dropped balls--two of the Buckeyes' four interceptions went directly through the hands of Travis Benjamin. Five false start penalties on the offensive line (four of which came in a crucial third quarter). The defense missed tackles all over the field, including in Ohio State's backfield, allowing Terrell Pryor to rush for 113 yards and pick up six first downs with his feet. There were also a couple of dropped interceptions by the secondary that could have been monsterously huge. Granted, the defense was put in some truly awful situations by turnovers and big returns and held up impressively well considering the circumstances but that's no excuse for missed tackles and dropped interceptions. On a day when Pryor was inconsistent with his arm, the Canes handed him scoring opportunities and first downs and failed to convert his mistakes into turnovers. On a day when the Canes got TWO special teams touchdowns and a very respectable finger-in-the-dam performance by the defense that kept them in the game for at least one half, the offense often failed to move the ball, and when they did, they were thwarted by Jacory Harris interceptions. The talent on this team is not being developed at the pace it should be and the players are not being properly prepared for gameday. Hurricanes fans will be delighted to know that Randy Shannon ripped into his team Saturday evening in the locker room after the game--quite possibly for the first time since he was hired to coach the team. "I never have seen him like that," offensive lineman Orlando Franklin told AP, "but I can't say I was shocked." There has also been much made of his decision to ban his team from using Twitter, which he sees as a distraction. Some around the program are seriously examining the possibility that this new, meaner Randy Shannon may not be an aberration--and the transformation comes not a moment too soon. If the Canes don't win at least 10 games and the (extremely underwhelming) ACC, then there probably should be a murderer's row of coaches fired, perhaps starting with Mark Whipple--and Randy's ass will undoubtedly be firmly planet on a fiery hot stove.

-Well, Florida had a week to tighten all the loose screws and prove that the opening day struggles against the Red Hawks of Miami University were an aberration. That didn't happen. Sure the Gators ran away with the game in the second half thanks to some takeaways by the defense (notice I didn't refer to them as "turnovers created") but for much of the first half, the Gators were again dominated on both sides of the ball. Their first offensive drive was a three-and-out that included yet another fumbled snap. The Bulls' first drive was a 17 play, 96 yard touchdown drive that included several big first down runs by QB B.J. Daniels as well as a killer pass interference against the Gators that set up the touchdown after they stopped Daniels for a loss of 8 on 2nd and Goal from the 1. It was 7-0 Bulls for almost the entire half until a bone-headed B.J. Daniels interception deep in USF territory led to the Gators' first touchdown, making it 7-7 at the half. A fumble on a second half drive that had progressed into the Florida red zone took certain points off the board and sparked a 62-yard touchdown run by Jeff Demps which broke the game open (for the second consecutive week). The offense did eventually settle in but you have to wonder if a trend is developing and if the offense will be struggling like this all year. Today we might learn just about all we need to know about this team as they travel to Knoxville to face their first (and, likely, most) hostile environment of the season (and John Brantley's first hostile environment as a starter). If they don't improve drastically in a big hurry, they could find themselves in big trouble in Neyland Stadium.
*Side Note: Creepy Chris Rainey--Stay Classy. 30 arrests of 27 players in 6 years under Urban Meyer? Who's the real Thug U now? And by the way, it's no coincidence that no one (except, perhaps, Hurricanes fans) has noticed this until now, when the Gators are beginning to struggle in the post-Chosen-One era.

-Speaking of the Gators, you better believe that if the defense continues to miss as many tackles as they've been missing and continues to get dominated up front that Marcus Lattimore will absolutely trample them. This kid is phenomenal. I can't remember the last freshman I've seen that was this hard to bring down. Talk about a hard runner. With Lattimore, Stephen Garcia, great play from the offensive line, and a stellar defense, the Gamecocks might have the pieces in place for the first time under Steve Spurrier to legitimately contend for an SEC title. They've already beaten Georgia but they have yet to face Tennessee and Florida or travel to Auburn or Alabama. If they beat Florida and win the East, this team will have been thoroughly tested and will have already faced the Tide, who they would likely face again in the SEC title game. I'm not sure you can even call them a dark horse pick anymore the way Florida is playing.

-Oh yeah. Denard Robinson. The Heisman hype has officially arrived. The Wolverines have two more glorified scrimmages against UMass and Bowling Green before the Big Ten opener on the road against Indiana and a rivalry game against Michigan State, both of which they should also be favored in. Then Iowa comes rolling into town to really test "Shoe Lace" and company followed by a trip to Death Valley two weeks later. Then a few weeks of whatever before closing out the season by welcoming Wisconsin and traveling to the Horseshoe in consecutive weeks. Bottom line: if Michigan is for real, there will be no excuses against the tough teams because they'll have more than enough time to work out all the kinks.

There's probably more I could say about a few other things (USC barely got by Virginia after giving up 36 points to Hawaii, Kansas put 28 points on the board in beating a ranked GT team after losing to North Dakota State 6-3, James Madison picked off a hung over Virginia Tech and badly bruised Boise State's national title hopes in the process) but it's already 10 to 12 and I haven't even gotten to my picks yet so let's go ahead and do that...

#12 Arkansas @ Georgia

Georgia comes off being suffocated by South Carolina's defense and steamrolled by Marcus Lattimore in a 17-6 loss. But they, at least, have been tested, which Arkansas hasn't. Considering that and the fact that this game is between the hedges, I get the feeling Georgia will keep it close. However, in the end, Ryan Mallet is just way too good for Georgia's defense and picks them apart late in the game to pull away.
Hobbitcore sez: Arkansas

Air Force @ #7 Oklahoma

This could be a much better game than it might seem. Air Force has a very dynamic offense and a much better secondary than Florida State. However, Landry Jones has found his stride, DeMarco Murray is rockin', and Oklahoma has won 32 straight in Norman. Not today, Falcons.
Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma

BYU @ FSU

Both are looking to rebound from tough losses but despite both teams being somewhat disappointing, this should be a real entertaining game, especially when the Noles offense faces the Cougar defense. I like FSU at home to get it done.
Hobbitcore sez: Florida State

Notre Dame @ Michigan State

This is always a good one and this year should be no different. Dayne Crist and company face their first big road test and I like them to rebound from a very tough loss last week.
Hobbitcore sez: Notre Dame

#6 Texas @ Texas Tech

Another team facing their first road test (Lubbock will be absolutely rocking for this game) and another game that is likely to be a lot closer than it seems like it should be. Taylor Potts and the Red Raider offense are one of the most underrated groups in the country and Tommy Tuberville has the defense playing much better. Look for Garret Gilbert to have a breakout game and make some plays late in the game, showing shades of last year's BCS title game, to pull out a close win at the end.
Hobbitcore sez: Texas

UPSET OF THE WEEK

#10 Florida @ Tennessee

I know, I know, I'm a Gator hater. I also know that the Vols defense got completely shredded by Oregon last week. According to their defensive captain, they "quit" in the second half of that game and therefore I really like them to come out with a chip on their shoulder and fly to the ball, capitalizing on some early Gator mistakes and pounding the ball against their defense, committing none of the stupid turnovers that cost Miami University and South Florida their upset bids.
Hobbitcore sez: Tennessee

GAME OF THE WEEK

#9 Iowa @ #24 Arizona

I know it's not very sexy but this will be a very physical, hard fought battle between two terrific defenses and two underrated offenses. There will be some serious hitting in this game and it will be fun to watch. I'm excited to see Arizona's running game face off against Iowa's monster defense. After seeing Ohio State first hand last week, Iowa is my new pick to win the Big Ten--as well as this game.
Hobbitpick: Iowa 19, Arizona 13

No fun stuff at the end this week, I've already missed my deadline by 12 minutes...you're just gonna have to trust me that I didn't change anything in the 12 minutes I spent half-listening to Arkansas/Georgia on the TV behind my while I typed furiously to finish this thing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Week 2

OK...here's where the fun begins. Now we've all had a little taste of what to expect out of most of the teams in the country (well, sort of) and this week things start getting REAL interesting. First things first, storylines from last week:

-I'll start with one of my favorite things to talk about: anything and everything negative about the Florida Gators. I make no secret of my hatred for the Gators. However, you could make the argument that this fact actually better qualifies me to comment on the state of affairs in The Swamp. Much in the same way that college football fans have a tendency to know the most about their favorite teams because they actively follow them, I know a lot about the Gators because I do, in fact, follow them, for the sole purpose of rooting against them and excessively scrutinizing them. However, while being a fan of a team often makes one biased in their favor--sometimes unrealistically--hating a team has the opposite effect of making you one of their biggest critics--which, quite often, is the best thing for the team and their fans. I'm starting to wonder if I could make a really good living reporting on the Gators.

Now. Having said all that.

You can imagine my giddiness watching the Gators struggle so mightily with lowly Miami of Ohio this past Saturday (a team that won as many games last season as the Gators lost--one). It would seem that the replacement of NFL-caliber Center Maurkice Pouncey with his brother Mike (moving over from Guard) is causing much bigger problems than anyone could have anticipated. But there were much bigger problems with the Gators' performance Saturday that were overshadowed by the flurry of bad snaps. For one thing, several of the fumbles were not caused by bad snaps but by bad handoffs, pitches, or just plain lack of ball security (and/or good tackling mechanics). Not only that but for more than half of the game, the Gators appeared to be getting manhandled in the trenches on BOTH sides of the ball.

Imagine if Jeremy Foley and Urban Meyer actually had the chutzpah to open the season against an actual BCS conference team with a pulse (god forbid a top 25 team like Georgia, Alabama, LSU, and many others outside the SEC have done several times over the last few years). Imagine if the Gators had lined up across from North Carolina or Virginia Tech or Clemson in the Georgia Dome. Imagine if they had traveled to Oklahoma State (the OSU of last year when they still had Zac Robinson) or welcomed Oregon to The Swamp. Imagine if they had opened their season in Landover, MD against Boise State. They would be nowhere near the top ten right now after being steamrolled. Even if they had played their opponent for this week (South Florida) last week, they probably would have lost.

As has been said a number of times, the Gators had months to work on these basic fundamentals and now they've had a week to fix some major problems. They have another week before they begin their SEC schedule at Tennessee and another two weeks after that before they travel to Tuscaloosa. I already had the Gators struggling to win ten games this year (I had them losing to Bama and Georgia as well as possibly FSU and/or LSU) but if they dont fix a lot of problems in a big hurry, they could end up struggling to be bowl eligible. The general consensus is that the Gators won't have another performance like this one and that seems like a safe bet (even though this performance was put forth against one of the least formidable opponents they'll face all season). However, it won't take a performance this bad to lose to Alabama, Georgia, FSU, LSU, South Carolina, or even Tennessee, South Florida, or Mississippi State.

It seemed like the whole college football world was penciling the Gators into the SEC title game against the Crimson Tide before the season. Now, suddenly, they barely look like a top 25 team. Only time will tell if the Gators will play up to preseason expectations, down to the expectations created by this game, or somewhere in between. But one thing is for certain: Florida has some very serious concerns to address if they plan to compete for an SEC title.

-Another, slightly less noteworthy, struggle was that of USC's defense against Hawaii. If you've been paying attention for the last couple years, you've noticed that USC's reputation for ferocious defenses is slowly fading and the trend continued this past week when they gave up 36 points to lowly Hawaii. It seems like, nowadays, the only thing the Trojans' D is good at is hitting and hurting people. Last season they gave up 27 points to Notre Dame, 36 to Oregon State, 47 to Oregon, 55 to Standford, and now they give up 36 to Hawaii. If I were Monte Kiffin, I'd be in full on panic mode right about now.

-While we're on the subject of teams that looked sorely disappointing last week:
*Pittsburgh looked nothing like a team deserving of a spot in the top 25 in their upset loss in Utah. Their defense had holes EVERYWHERE (especially in pass defense) and they had no passing game to speak of. Maybe Utah is just a lot better than we thought--Jordan Wynn is very talented and the Utes are phenomenally coached--but there's no denying that the Panthers certainly did not look like a team capable of winning the Big East (although I'm not sure who else would).
**Side note about this game: shame on Kyle Whittingham for using one of the lowest tricks in the book by attempting to freeze Pitt Kicker Dan Hutchins TWICE by calling a time out split seconds before the ball was snapped for his game-tying kick, nearly costing his team the game on the second occasion when the would-be kick sailed wide, which would have ended the game if not for Whittingham calling ANOTHER timeout moments before the snap, thus negating the miss. Not only was this stupid--the miss on the second kick was kind of the whole point of the timeout on the first one--but it was slimy and he got what he deserved when he watched the field goal attempt he had underhandedly negated sail wide. Let this be a lesson to all coaches across the nation: STOP PULLING THIS CRAP!
*Oklahoma struggled mightily with lowly Utah State, winning by only a touchdown, 31-24 (and that was the score for the last 17:31 of the game, in case you're wondering if it wasn't as close as it seemed) in spite of getting 218 yards and 2 touchdowns out of DeMarco Murray. In spite of jumping out to a 21-0 lead to open the game, the Sooners subsequently yielded 17 straight points to a vastly inferior opponent. Then, after expanding their lead back to 14 points at 31-17, they gave up another touchdown late in the third. Lucky for them the Aggies were unable to close the gap but Oklahoma was also unable to widen it. I didn't see the game but based on the box score, the problem for the Sooners on both sides of the ball seemed to be the passing game. Landry Jones completed just 17 of his 36 throws for 217 yards. He threw 2 touchdowns but also threw 2 interceptions, one of which was thrown inside the USU 25 yard line and one thrown inside the USU 10. Utah State QB Diondre Borel completed the same number of passes in the same number of attempts, however he threw for 341 yards. This, to me, is the one disappointing performance of the week least likely to be repeated next week or any time this year. This will be a wake up call for the Sooners, mark my words.
*I'm not sure how good Ole Miss was expected to be this year (even with Jeremiah Masoli) but I'm assuming they were supposed to be good enough to beat Jacksonville State. Apparently not.

-From disappointing performances to surprisingly positive ones:
*As far as single player performances, there was no bigger story in Week 1 than Denard Robinson. He set a record for rushing yards by a Michigan QB but more importantly looked confident, decisive, and, well, really, REALLY fast. Rich Rodriguez can finally breathe for the first time since he lost Terrell Pryor to Ohio State (imagine what Rich Rod's first couple years at UM would have looked like with that guy under center). As we've heard from just about every sports pundit in the nation over the last week, he's found his Pat White.
*Notre Dame allowed only 12 points in their win over Purdue and QB Dayne Crist looked pretty sharp in his debut replacing first-round draft choice Jimmy Clausen. I was also very impressed with Armando Allen and the Irish offensive line. We'll have a dandy on our hands when the Irish welcome the Wolverines this week.
*Many wondered if Oregon was going to be OK without the dismissed Jeremiah Masoli. Last week they steamrolled New Mexico 72-0. Well, then.

-TCU looked quite impressive in their Week 1 win over Oregon State...but so did Oregon State. I really don't think losing so admirably to a top 10 team is grounds for dropping out of the top 25, especially when you're being replaced with the likes of South Carolina, Arizona, Stanford, and BYU. I hate the whole reactionary idea that any team that loses HAS to drop in the rankings, even if they were expected to lose. Assess all the teams in front of you and decide who you think are the 25 best ones instead of making a loss an automatic drop in the rankings.

-Last but not least, congratulations to Boise State on a big time win over Virginia Tech. Not only was it impressive that they beat a team favored to win the ACC and poised to possibly make a run at a national title but even more impressive was HOW they won. Not only did they jump all over the Hokies to start the game but they survived several momentum swings and a furious comeback by a supremely talented team with a phenomenal quarterback and pulled out a clutch win when everything seemed to be going Virginia Tech's way thanks to a "Heisman Moment" drive led by Kellen Moore. I had several interesting observations about this game:
*First of all, both teams' special uniforms looked awesome; Va Tech looked super slick in all black (especially the helmets) and the Broncos looked very classy in shades of grey with blue pants...I also loved the Broncos' helmets--the massive logo was really cool looking and I love one-sided helmets.
*One thing I noticed about Kellen Moore is that on certain plays, he has a tendency to lock onto a receiver and throw to him even if he's not open at all.
*I will never, ever, EVER understand chasing points in any situation of any game outside the last 8 minutes...ESPECIALLY after the other team just had one blocked, giving you an advantage you wouldn't normally have in a game...but the real point is that you NEVER KNOW what might happen in a game and going for two just because it will put you up by 3 (instead of 2, with a worst case scenario of 1) or 7 (instead of 6, with a worst case scenario of 5) points is simply not smart because you never know how it could affect you later in the game if you miss and this has been demonstrated many, MANY times, including Monday night.

-One last thing: the Week 2 polls. I was extremely impressed by the Week 2 polls (especially the Coaches Poll) for several reasons:
*First of all, the coaches displayed more common sense than I can ever remember seeing them demonstrate in their poll voting--they moved Boise State up to #3, where they belonged all along (the AP, of course, already knew this), they dropped Pitt out of the top 25, they moved TCU up to #5, they dropped Oklahoma a couple spots, moved Oregon up a couple spots, dropped Florida to #6 (I expected the AP to drop them a little but I almost expected the coaches to inexplicably leave them at #3 since they won by 22 points)...also, to their credit, they had Utah ranked in the preseason poll and the AP didn't
*I am impressed with both polls having the courage and the wherewithal to drop the Gators after a poor performance, in spite of the fact that they won convincingly. The AP dropped them from #4 to #8 and the coaches dropped them from #3 to #6. Of course the AP is slightly more reasonable in both their preseason and current rankings of the Gators but I can't exactly make a convincing argument that Nebraska and Oregon are definitely better than Florida.
*Kudos to the AP for putting TCU at #4 ahead of Texas, who looked decent in a 34-17 win over Rice but not as good as TCU who beat a ranked team and held one of the best RBs in the country to 75 yards
*I do not, however, necessarily agree with dropping Oregon State or North Carolina from the rankings.

PHEW! That was a lot to cover and I haven't even gotten to my picks yet. I should be getting paid to do this shit. Someday...

But anyway there are a ton of great games this week so let's get to the good stuff:



#22 Georgia @ #24 South Carolina

Both these teams looked pretty impressive last week in wins over inferior opponents (South Carolina's was slightly less inferior than Georgia's). Stephen Garcia is starting to look like the guy everyone expected him to be. However, I really like Georgia's defense and experience and I liked what I saw out of QB Aaron Murray. Georgia is my pick to win the SEC East this year and until they give me reason to feel otherwise, I'll be picking them every week.
Hobbitcore sez: Georgia

#17 Florida State @ #10 Oklahoma

The Noles looked pretty impressive against Samford (if you want to call a 59-6 win over an FCS team "impressive") and Oklahoma looked less than impressive in a narrow win over Utah State. Christian Ponder must be licking his chops after seeing Aggies QB Diondre Borel throw for 341 yards on the Sooners. However, as I said above, I expect Oklahoma to bounce back in a big way. Look for the Sooner front seven to get after Ponder early and often and also look for Landry Jones to bounce back from a shaky performance. DeMarco Murray will have a field day against the Noles' shaky defense.
Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma

#18 Penn State @ #1 Alabama

Penn State looked like they were going to be fine without QB Darryl Clark last week in a big win over Youngstown State. Alabama, however, is not Youngstown State. This one will be a lot closer than people might think, especially if Mark Ingram doesn't play. But even without Ingram, Bama is too much for a rebuilding Penn State.
Hobbitcore sez: Alabama

UPSET OF THE WEEK

Michigan @ Notre Dame

I was actually kind of amazed to see that Notre Dame was favored in this game after the way Denard Robinson and the Wolverines looked in their win over Connecticut. Notre Dame was pretty impressive too but their defense better be ready because Robert Marve doesn't run the spread anywhere near as well as Robinson does. Robinson will have a huge day as no one on the Irish defense is even close to being able to keep up with him.
Hobbitcore sez: Michigan

GAME OF THE WEEK

#12 Miami (FL) @ #2 Ohio State

OK. I'm almost assuredly going to come off as a homer on this one. And I say this every year but these Canes are going to be better than people realize. Not only is this a landmark game for the Canes but they A. have nothing to lose because no one expects them to win and B. have the added chip on their shoulder from the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. Not only that but, historically, the Canes always show up the biggest when A. the bright lights are shining and/or B. no one is giving them a chance of winning. Jacory Harris is healthy (all I've heard anyone say about him since last season was that he needs to eliminate his mistakes but a large chunk of his interceptions last season could conceivably be attributed to a thumb injury he sustained in a late-season game against North Carolina; a game in which he threw 4 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns) and mature and, while his offensive line may be inexperienced, last year's O-Line wasn't exactly a strength--and I've noticed that when experienced O-Lines that aren't particularly good lose a lot of guys, the inexperienced guys that step in end up being surprisingly good. The Miami receiving corps will also give the Buckeye secondary fits and the stable of Canes RBs will too. On the other side of the ball, the Canes' defense will be extremely fired up after hearing about Terrell Pryor and Ohio State all week and will give the Bucks' offensive line fits with their depth and talent, especially on the front four. If the Canes can get pressure on Pryor rushing only four, Pryor will have a very long day. Also, don't underestimate the impact of Miami's special teams. I like Allen Bailey to register a couple sacks and the Miami backs to establish the run and short passing game to open up the field for Jacory to make some big plays with his arm and get the Canes their biggest win in nearly a decade.

Keys to the Game
Ohio State:
-Force Canes to blitz
-Get Brandon Saine going
-Pressure Jacory Harris
Miami:
-Protect Jacory Harris
-Get pressure on Pryor without blitzing (and keep him in the pocket)
-establish running game and short passing game early and often

Hobbitpick: Miami 21, Ohio State 20

MY HEISMAN BALLOT (if the voting was today)
1. Kellen Moore
2. Denard Robinson
3. Ryan Mallett
4. Christian Ponder
5. Jordan Wynn

OUT-OF-WHACK SPREADS (games I would bet on...if gambling were legal)
Georgia over South Carolina (-3)
Florida State over Oklahoma (-7)
Michigan over Notre Dame (-3.5)
Miami over Ohio State (-8.5)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Playlist: Modern Anthems

The other day I was watching a live webcast of The Arcade Fire playing Madison Square Garden on youtube and chatting with my friend who was watching the same webcast. They closed (of course) with "Wake Up" and my friend said to me: "this is the last great anthem." Obviously I took this as a challenge. So I found 84 songs on my iPod that I deemed to be "great anthems" and that were released in or after the year 2004 (the year The Arcade Fire's "Funeral" was released). A lot of them were by the same artists so I made a mix (right in the range of 90 minutes so it would fit comfortably on a blank tape, if anyone's interested) of the best ones:

1. Thrice - Image of the Invisible

One of the more powerful songs you'll hear and one of the best opening songs on an album. The call-and-response gang vocals give me chills every time you hear them. This is one of a handful of songs that really captured the emotion and the significance of the 2008 Presidential Election for me. Not only that but the lyrics read like a war cry for my generation and are sung like one as well.

2. Jimmy Eat World - Futures

If "Image of the Invisible" was a war cry for the 2008 election then this one was a war cry for the 2004 election. Unfortunately this particular war cry wasn't exactly loud enough but that doesn't take anything away from this soaring pop anthem. Another one of my favorite album openers of all time, it explodes from the word "go" with one of catchiest riffs I've ever heard and the infectiousness doesn't stop there as a typically soaring Jimmy Eat World chorus sings "Say hello to good times...trade up for the fast life...we close our eyes while the nickle and dime take the streets completely."

3. Lucero - What Else Would You Have Me Be?

Yet another one of my all time favorite album openers and a perfect third track for a mix tape. This one doesn't soar quite as majestically as the first two but it's every bit as powerful in its simplicity and down-homey style. The stark, earnest crooning of "Come on baby, what else would you have me be?" in the chorus isn't exactly the epic, infectious sing-along that you normally hear in an anthem but the line is so starkly honest and vulnerable that you can't help singing along.

4. The Hold Steady - Southtown Girls

Another awesomely down-homey anthem with a very simple but very infectious chorus: "Southtown girls won't blow you away...but you know that they'll stay." Has a certain poignancy to it, doesn't it? Unlike the first three songs on this mix that open their respective albums, this song closes out the album it's on, and quite appropriately. It also features a totally rockin', infectious riff that will compel your hips irresistibly to move.

5. Drive-By Truckers - The Righteous Path

The kings of alt-country offer up a soulful rock anthem with an almost gospel feel to it, specifically in the lyrics. Lyrically it speaks very personally of every day life and troubles with money. The song itself has a nostalgic simplicity that makes it undeniably timeless, much in the same way that Smashing Pumpkins' "1979" is. This is a song I could see having my first dance with a girl to. It's catchy, it's poignant, and it's danceable. What more could you ask for?

6. The Bouncing Souls - So Jersey

I really wish I could have gone back a few years to 2001 when they released How I Spent My Summer Vacation because there are like 3 or 4 different songs on that album that are all-timer level anthems. The Gold Record has its share of great anthems also (although the best one is a song originally written by a band called Avoid One Thing). I picked this one not only because it strikes me as the most anthemic but because it's an anthem with a message that's very dear to me, which is: "And we want to say thanks to the music in our lives for helping us to survive..."

7. Latterman - My Bedroom Is Like For Artists

The album that this song closes out (No Matter Where We Go) is essentially nothing BUT wide-eyed anthems from beginning to end. Picking just one to go on this mix was part mind-numbing deliberation and part total crapshoot. In the end, this one stood out marginally from the rest--maybe because it has that conclusive feel of a final song on an album. The point is, if you like the anthemic qualities of this song, you really need to hear the rest of the album because the choruses are just as powerful in every other song on it.

8. The Ergs! - Everything Falls Apart (and More)

This, to me, is the band that every fan of New Found Glory or Blink 182 or any of the other megastars of shitty mainstream pop punk needs to be listening to instead. These guys are the kings of nerdy pop punk, firmly planted at the intersection of Elvis Costello and The Descendents. Dorkrockcorkrod is honestly one of the ten best pop punk albums I've ever heard; fresh and diverse but focused and infectious. This tongue-in-cheek anthem articulates a sarcastic desire to be lied to by the girl of your dreams because "the truth hurts much too much sometimes." I think it's something a lot of nerdy, squirrely guys can relate to even if none of us legitimately wants to be lied to.

9. Dillinger Four - A Jingle For the Product

Another band, much like The Bouncing Souls, whose catalog I wish I could go further back into (a couple gems that could just as easily be on this mix: "Doublewhiskeycokenoice", "Super Powers Enable Me to Blend with Machinery", "D4=Putting the 'F' Back In 'Art'", "Fired Side Chat") but this song certainly belongs on that pantheon as well. Actually a lot of songs from C I V I L W A R are worthy of a spot but this one stands out above the others--as well it should, being the first song on the album (and Dillinger Four has always been one of those bands who never fails to deliver on a phenomenal opening track).

10. Foo Fighters - In Your Honor

One more band for which I wish I could go back earlier than 2004 (how perfectly would "My Hero" fit in on this list; possibly one of the great anthems of all time). I was sort of on the fence on whether to pick this song or "The Pretender" but this one is just so epic, the choice was clear. I mean you talk about a great opening song--I would have killed to have seen them live when they toured for this album and opened every show with this song. So profound, so poignant and towering. Then that bubbling riff that gives way to silence...a deliberate breath...and then it explodes.

11. Modern Life Is War - D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S.

It wasn't easy working a hardcore song into this mix but somehow I managed it. I had a hard time deciding between this and "The Outsider" which is a decidedly more powerful song but lacks a real sing-along or hook that would really qualify it as an anthem. So instead we have this song with its mesmerizing closing sing-along (see: song title).

12. System of a Down - Soldier Side

The poignancy of this song struck me immediately and impactively the very first time I heard it. I'd consider it a pretty major feat to listen to this song without getting chills. It doesn't so much have a specific hook as it is just one long anthem...every line soars and the harmonies of "they were crying when their sons left...etc." equal, if not surpass, the paralyzing outro of "Chop Suey." Extremely emotional, epic, starkly moving and, most of all, anthemic.

13. Leftover Crack - Soon We'll Be Dead (feat. World/Inferno Friendship Society)

At this point, we slow things down a bit; ironically, with an uncharacteristically slow song for Leftover Crack, best known for their crusty skacore and punk rock energy. Truly, it was a brilliant move on the band's part to bring in some of their friends in World/Inferno Friendship Society to help on this song because Stza's voice is clearly inadequate to execute this song and also the accordion adds a beautiful dimension that really puts the song over the top.

14. The White Stripes - Icky Thump

This might be the most unorthodox anthem on the list. The big hook is not a melody at all but a wild, hollering chant that you would have a hard time memorizing and singing along to without reading along with the lyrics. However, in spite of not having a catchy melody or being easy to follow along with, the "hook" is undeniably catchy and even if you can't remember the lyrics after you hear it 5-10 times, you won't be able to get it out of your head and will inevitably find yourself "singing" to yourself, something along the lines of "Icky Thump with the bump dumpa dump somethin' somethin' to Mexicooo."

15. Kanye West - Homecoming (ft. Chris Martin)

It was pretty much a toss-up between this and "Stronger" and I figured since I have a Coldplay song on here, why not put this song right before it. Actually, I chose this song mostly because everyone got pretty sick and tired of "Stronger" (myself included) and because the main hook in "Stronger" is a sample from a Daft Punk song and the main hook in this song is just plain better. Chris Martin fits so seemlessly into this song and the beat is absolutely phenomenal. Say what you want about Kanye's emcee skills (and his personality) but the man is a supremely talented producer and it's never more apparent than on this song and, really, on this entire album.

16. Coldplay - Viva la Vida

Anyone who knows me knows I'm no fan of Coldplay. I've always essentially viewed them as a diet version of Radiohead--actually, one of my favorite writers, Chuck Klosterman, has a much better line: "[Coldplay] sound like a mediocre photocopy of Travis (who sounds like a mediocre photocopy of Radiohead)." However, to their credit, on the album that this song takes its name from, they did a lot to distance themselves from the Radiohead comparisons, especially with this song. It has a kind of urgent energy which is not only a product of an ethereal sing-along chorus but also the noteworthy absence of conventional drumming and the inclusion of delightfully artificial-sounding string arrangements (and I say that without a hint of sarcasm; the electric string arrangements add a color and exuberance that I honestly don't think actual string instruments would necessarily achieve).

17. Bright Eyes - Road to Joy

As the song title insinuates, this song is loosely fashioned after Beethoven's famous "Ode to Joy" melody from his 9th Symphony. As you can imagine, this makes for a pretty epic anthem. This is another one of those songs where there isn't so much one great, epic hook as it is the whole song that's a sing-along. There aren't even any repeated lines that will stick in your brain but the melody is so infectious and powerful that it gives a chorus-like emphasis to pretty much every line in the song--and there are some phenomenal lines. Some of my favorites: "So when you're asked to fight a war that's over nothing, it's best to join the side that's gonna win. And no one's sure how all of this got started but we're gonna make 'em goddamn certain how it's gonna end." and "I read the body count out of the paper and now it's written all over my face. No one ever plans to sleep out in the gutter, sometimes that's just the most comfortable place." and, last but not least, a line that pretty well sums up the career of Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes: "Well I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice but failure's always sounded better. Let's fuck it up boys, MAKE SOME NOISE!" which leads straight into the song's majestically noisy climax.

18. Dredg - Bug Eyes

Dredg was always more on the eclectic side than the catchy/sing-along-y side of things in spite of some very infectious melodies--that is, until the Catch Without Arms album. This was decidedly Dredg's most poppy album to date. This fact can be viewed either negatively or positively--on the positive side, the songs are beautiful and catchy with wonderful, dreamy, melodious hooks and textures; on the negative side, the songs are much simpler and devoid of many of the diverse textural and harmonic elements that made Leitmotif and El Cielo such fascinating albums. On the whole, it's a very good, well-written album and its dreamy, textural magnificence is exemplified by this song, with its iconic, delay-saturated, slide guitar intro and its soaring choruses that sing: "Your journey back to birth is haunting you; your departure from the Earth is haunting you."

19. Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends

I'd be hard-pressed trying to put together a list of the best anthems of the last 5-6 years without including a song from arguably the most commercially and critically (combined) successful album of the last decade. I certainly could have picked "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" or "American Idiot" or even one of the non-single tracks such as "Are We the Waiting" or even the 9-plus minute epic "Homecoming" instead; however, all things considered (overall song quality, popularity, anthemic...ness...), I think this song was the clear-cut way to go. As overplayed as this song has become, I doubt very many people can deny how powerful and anthemic it is. Also, having seen it live, I can attest to getting serious goosebumps hearing a huge crowd sing it in unison.

20. Far - At Night We Live

The only song on the list that was actually released this year, making it (obviously) the most recent song on the list. At first, this might seem a bit slow and methodical for an anthem but as a person who has done so much of my living after dark, the stirring chorus of the dark and powerful song resonates deeply with me. Sure, it's not exactly full of energy but it's starkly emotional and the exuberance in the lyrics and the melody can't be overstated. I also love how the mood of the song matches the subject material; the song truly resonates the energy of an exciting night full of dizzying possibilities.

21. Baroness - Ogeechee Hymnal/A Horse Called Golgotha

We close with a band that's hardly known for anthems and certainly not known for its hooks (at least not vocal hooks). While this song does have a pretty spectacular vocal melody in the chorus, it distances itself from the rest of the songs on the list in that it's most anthemic parts and aspects are instrumental. Some of the guitar lines and melodies in this song are more anthemic than some of the hooks in other songs on the list. I dare you not to hum along with the powerful hook that closes out the song.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I like...

I like metal
I like indie
I like emo/screamo
I like punk rock
I like hardcore
I like hip hop
I like alternative
I like jazz
I like folk
I like classical
I like pop
I like Tori Amos
I like Fiona Apple
I like Sarah McLachlan
I like musicals
I like chick flicks
I like documentaries
I like crime dramas
I like independent films
I like the frat pack
I like Judd Apatow
I like David Lynch
I like David Fincher
I like Christopher Nolan
I like Ellen Page
I like Scarlett Johansson
I like Jena Malone
I like Batman
I like graphic novels
I like Hunter S. Thompson
I like Chuck Klosterman
I like Nick Hornby
I like William Shakespeare
I like Forum
I like Playboy
I like pornography
I like lesbians
I like gay men
I like the spectrum view of gender
I like the spectrum view of sexuality
I like BBWs
I like petite girls
I like redheads
I like blondes
I like green eyes
I like blue eyes
I like brown eyes
I like freckles
I like love handles
I like girls who wear glasses
I like girls with really short hair
I like hippie girls
I like small, perky boobs
I like big, jiggly boobs
I like girls who don't wear lipstick
I like girls who don't wear makeup
I like football
I like basketball
I like poetry
I like writing poetry
I like writing prose
I like journaling
I like blogging
I like wikipedia
I like facebook
I like online dating
I like technology
I like meditation
I like Buddhism
I like Unitarian Universalism
I like studying religion
I like studying atheism
I like not knowing all the answers
I like existentialism
I like taoism
I like idealism
I like nature
I like paganism
I like nudity
I like Flight of the Conchords
I like The Simpsons
I like South Park
I like Aqua Teen Hunger Force
I like LOST
I like Veronica Mars
I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I like The Daily Show
I like The Colbert Report
I like Keith Olbermann
I like Rachel Maddow
I like Dylan Ratigan
I like Entourage
I like Mythbusters
I like Man v. Food
I like Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
I like Gordon Ramsey
I like Simon Cowell
I like American Idol
I like So You Think You Can Dance
I like making mixtapes
I like VHS tapes
I like Tivo
I like marijuana
I like psychedelic mushrooms
I like staying informed
I like political activism
I like open-minded people
I like open, effective communication
I like being comfortable with who I am

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week 1

The season is FINALLY upon us. I feel like a kid on Christmas--as a matter of fact, the start of college football season has become way more exciting to me than Christmas in a number of ways. We've had our share of off-season storylines ranging from conference realignment to off-field scandals and the evils of bad agents but the good stuff is finally here. What I'll be doing (or attempting to do) here is trying to pick winners of each week's most high-profile games as well as offering up a few other features, discussing storylines, making fun of people/things, and whatever else I can come up with to entertain anyone who's nice enough to do me the honor of actually reading this crap. There will be an Upset of the Week each week as well as a Game of the Week (complete with Keys to the Game for each team), probably a Heisman Watch, a list of teams I think should be on Upset Alert, as well as a list of Out-of-Whack spreads and whatever else I can drum up for fun...possibly weekly BCS bowl predictions. Anyway, we'll figure it out as we go...

THURSDAY

#15 Pittsburgh @ Utah

Don't dismiss Utah quite so fast as they have an offense that returns eight starters, including QB Jordan Wynn. This might prove to be a tougher test for the Panthers than a lot of people may realize. However, Pitt has too much defense and too much Dion Lewis for the Utes to handle.

The Pick: Pitt

SATURDAY

UConn @ Michigan

I think you'd have a hard time making an argument for any coach in the country being on a hotter seat than Rich Rodriguez. After two consecutive losing seasons, he's actually made Lloyd Carr look like Bo Schembechler. However, I think this is the year that it all starts coming together for Rich Rod's Wolverines. Denard Robinson will be in total control of the offense and the defense has nowhere to go but up. This is a perfect opening game for this team, playing a good, solid Connecticut team that will test them early but is very much beatable. I like the Wolverines to make a statement in this one that they're on their way back. It won't be easy, and there may not be many points on the board, but they'll pull it out

The Pick: Michigan

Purdue @ Notre Dame

Notre Dame is another team I'm expecting to bounce back after a few subpar years. Charlie Weis wasn't much of a leader on the sidelines and Brian Kelly will be a huge upgrade in that department. In spite of the fact that Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate are gone, Brian Kelly is quite possibly the best QB coach in the country so whoever is stepping in for Clausen will be ready and the defense will be highly underrated, led by Manti Te'o. Don't be surprised if Notre Dame hangs a few on the Boilermakers.

The Pick: Notre Dame

#24 Oregon State v. #6 TCU

Major kudos to Oregon State for playing both top ten non-BCS teams in the opening weeks of the season. It's a very precarious situation for them considering that, in spite of the fact that they'll be underdogs in both games, they still really have almost nothing to gain and everything to lose in both of these games. In fact, I've heard more than one talking head refer to Boise State's schedule as a "one-game season" (the one game being this week's match-up with Virginia Tech) and that the rest of their schedule is a bunch of nobodies. You'd think the #24 team in the country would get a little more respect than that. I expect the Beavers to be in the thick of the Pac-10 title hunt again this year but I think TCU will be a little too much for them with Andy Dalton back and a terrific defense even without Jerry Hughes.

The Pick: TCU

UPSET OF THE WEEK

#21 LSU v. #18 North Carolina

OK...this isn't really much of an upset. I'm not even sure who's actually favored in this one. The thing about this game is that I don't think it's even going to be close. The Tarheels are in the midst of a major scandal and I'm not sure how Butch Davis is going to be able to handle it. He already went through the stress of NCAA sanctions when he was hired at Miami and in spite of the fact that he did a tremendous job bringing that program back, I dunno, I just have this hunch that this will set his laudable efforts with the 'Heels back a long way. Not only that but Marvin Austin, the leader of what was supposed to be a ferocious defense, is now suspended indefinitely, and won't be playing in this game. I think LSU steamrolls a helpless, short-handed, out-of-sorts North Carolina team, beginning a spiral for the 'Heels that will land Butch on the hot seat at the beginning of 2011.

The Pick: LSU

GAME OF THE WEEK

#3 Boise State v. #10 Virginia Tech

This is a ridiculously hard game to pick. These two teams are very evenly matched and both have the ability to create very favorable match-ups for themselves. The QBs will be under tremendous pressure to perform from two of the premier defenses in the country. Boise State's defense faces one of their biggest challenges with the dynamic backfield tandem of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans and Virginia Tech's secondary faces possibly the best QB they'll face all year in Kellen Moore who threw 39 TDs to just 3 INTs last year.

Keys to the Game:

Boise State - 1. Pressure and CONTAIN Tyrod Taylor, 2. Get into the backfield early and often, 3. Kellen Moore must spread the ball all over the field

Virginia Tech - 1. Diversify coverages and blitz packages to confuse Moore, 2. Win the battle up front, 3. Don't rely too much on the run

The Pick: Boise State

I think I'll leave it at that for this week...in the coming weeks I'll start adding more fun features but since I had the special predictions section at the beginning let's just call it a day and next week I'll have all the nice bells and whistles for you.