Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner -- Week 3 & 4

OK well I procrastinated and missed my deadline on last week's picks so here's what I'm gonna do: I'm gonna go through and, as honestly as possible, I'm going to talk about what teams I would have picked last week (believe me, I can already see quite a few I'd have picked wrong and I'm gonna own up to that).  Then I'll do the rest of the column like I normally would.


Two Weeks Ago
Highlights: Absolutely NAILED wins by FIU, Texas, Arizona State, and Michigan.  Also 2-0-1 on the spreads (USC/Utah was a push)
Lowlights: Pretty much the only lowlight was the upset pick.  Guess I overestimated Jordan Wynn and the Utah offense.
The Rest: Thought Alabama and South Carolina would win more comfortably than they did.

No. 3 LSU at No. 25 Mississippi State -- ESPN -- Thursday, September 15th, 8:00pm

Definitely would have picked LSU in this one (as evidenced by the fact that I have them #1 in my Top 25)

No. 21 Auburn at Clemson -- ABC -- 12:00pm

I really thought Auburn was going to continue improving and take this one.

No. 15 Michigan State at Notre Dame -- NBC -- 3:30pm

No doubt I would have taken Michigan State in this one.  I fucking hate when Lou Holtz picks them as the underdog and they win.

Tennessee at No. 16 Florida -- CBS -- 3:30pm

I would have wanted to pick Tennessee here but I don't think I would have been able to...although I would have thought it would be closer than it was...

UPSET OF THE WEEK

No. 17 Ohio State at Miami (FL) -- ESPN -- 7:30pm

I really did have this as my UOTW before the game was played.  Not hard to imagine considering what a UM homer I am.

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State -- ABC -- 8:00pm

No way FSU was winning this one.  I could barely put them in the top ten of my Top 25 before this game was even played.  Although it would be interesting to see this game play out with E.J. Manuel playing all of it.

Last Week
Highlights: The only real highlight for this week would have been nailing another upset pick.
Lowlights: overestimating Auburn and Michigan State

Current Record
Last week: 4-2
Overall: 18-7
Upset of the Week: 2-1

HEADLINES


-For me, the story of the week was the Georgia Tech offense.  The Jackets rushed for 604 yards and 7 touchdowns on 50 carries--an NCAA-record 12.1 yards per carry.  Their top 3 rushers?  5 carries, 157 yards.  5 carries, 110 yards.  4 carries, 72 yards.  These three guys rushed for 339 yards on 14 carries.  That's over 24 yards per carry.  I just...I don't know what else to say about this...


-I went to another FIU game.  This one against UCF and much more competitive than the last one.  Also a much bigger turnout (over 20,000 in the stands) this time with UCF filling their section and almost contributing to a sellout.  FIU proved they can win with defense with T.Y. Hilton sidelined most of the game.  If T.Y. gets healthy again soon, this team has a real chance at a special season.  They've even started garnering Top 25 votes after the UCF win.

-Will the real Notre Dame please stand up?  I don't know if Brian Kelly should be encouraged by a huge win over a top 15 team or panicked about his team's incredible inconsistency.  The QB guru has been getting pretty inconsistent play out of both Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees although it might be a bit much to expect him to turn Notre Dame into Cincinnati in just a year (I know, I had to read that sentence again too). If Notre Dame is going to have to rely on their defense to win games all year, they're gonna have a real hard time just staying above .500 but if Rees can cut out the mistakes, they could win 8 or 9 games.

-How bout them Canes?  Actually, how bout Lamar Miller?  At least I think that's his name because I've never really been able to read the back of his jersey quick enough.  303 yards in two games on just 44 carries (that's nearly 7 yards per carry)--and this is against Maryland and Ohio State, not FAU and UAB.  This guy could make a serious run as a dark horse candidate for Heisman.  He's got games against Kansas State and Bethune Cookman to pad some stats before a tough trip to Blacksburg.



North Carolina at No. 25 Georgia Tech -- ESPN -- 12:00pm


This should be an interesting battle for positioning in the ACC Coastal division.  We're not really sure who either of these teams are yet but we'll find out today.  North Carolina better hope they're ready for a Georgia Tech offense fresh off of setting an NCAA record for team rushing yards per carry (12.1) against Kansas--a BCS team.  I don't know if they'll be ready for this attack.  Maybe if they had a couple extra days to prepare but not today.

Hobbitcore sez: Georgia Tech

No. 14 Arkansas at No. 3 Alabama -- CBS -- 3:30pm


I really think Alabama is getting picked off sometime this season, maybe even twice.  I really like Arkansas's offense under Bobby Petrino but they're gonna be running into a buzzsaw in Alabama's NFL caliber defense and Bama's offense will shred a mediocre Arkansas defense.

Hobbitcore sez: Alabama


No. 2 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia -- ABC -- 8:00pm


This should be an interesting matchup as West Virginia's dynamic offense slams headfirst into another NFL caliber defense.  Oregon had a hell of a time running the ball on the Tigers but they got a few good chunks through the air so I don't think LSU will blow the Mountaineers away but they should still win by more than a score in the end.

Hobbitcore sez: LSU

UPSET OF THE WEEK


No. 11 Florida State at No. 21 Clemson -- ESPN -- 3:30pm

OK, this is a grey area.  The opening line was FSU by 3 and now it's at Clemson -2.5 so it's a little sketchy. However, FSU is ranked ahead of Clemson in all polls INCLUDING the Vegas Insider Top 25 so I'm going to go ahead and count this as an upset.  Clemson has historically not been able to handle success but this is different.  They have never and will never have a problem getting up for beating FSU at home and that's exactly what they'll do.

The Upset Hobbit sez: Clemson

GAME OF THE WEEK


No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M -- ABC/ESPN2 -- 3:30pm


It is seriously INSANE how many phenomenal games are going to be going on at 3:30 but this one is the one you should watch if you only watch one.  Two very exciting Big 12 offenses and two very hard hitting defenses.  They may not be the two sexiest names on the marquee today but if you like ESPN Top 10 plays, watch this game.  I like A&M for their defense in this one but it should be a shootout.

Keys to the Game
Oklahoma State:
-Protect Brandon Weeden!
-Find creative ways to get the ball in Justin Blackmon's hands (especially quickly against the blitz)
-Keep Ryan Tannehill in the pocket (keep a spy on him...someone big enough to tackle him)
Texas A&M:
-Don't take unnecessary chances on defense
-Unleash Tannehill (move the pocket and loosen the middle with designed runs)
-Get pressure on Weeden

Hobbitpick: Texas A&M 34, Oklahoma State 32





Out-of-Whack Spreads
-Georgia (-10) over Ole Miss
-Oregon (-15) over Arizona
-Portland State over TCU (-45)

My Heisman Ballot (if the season ended today)
1. Russell Wilson
2. Denard Robinson
3. Robert Griffin III

BCS Predictions
ACC: Florida State over Virginia Tech
Big East: South Florida
Big 10: Wisconsin over Nebraska
Big 12: Oklahoma
Pac 12: Stanford over Utah (although USC will win the division, they'll be ineligible for the title game)
SEC: Alabama over South Carolina

BCS Championship: Oklahoma over Wisconsin
Fiesta: LSU over Texas A&M
Sugar: Alabama over Boise State
Orange: Florida State over South Florida
Rose: Nebraska over Oregon

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The YA-YAs Go GA-GA (text of my "sermon" from the July 24th Young Adult Service/GA Wrap-Up at the UU Congregation of Miami)


“When we move, it’s a movement.”  Those are the words of a guy named Will Killingsworth from a band called Orchid and of no group are these words truer than of young adults.  Whether the young adults of this congregation, of this faith, of this country, and of this planet--whether they like it or not, every move we make is a movement because we are the ones who are next in line to lead.  I really wish so badly that you all could have been with me in Charlotte to see the irrepressible energy, the innovative ideas, and the incredible sense of focus, purpose, and overwhelming forward momentum oozing out of the UU Young Adults.  You guys would have seriously fallen out of your chairs.  I was overcome by a tsunami of optimism and hope for the future of not just that faith but of our country and our world.  These kids are already leaders, now, today, and they’re going to take us places, ladies and gentlemen.  You can either be along for the ride or get left behind.  

Right now, we’re getting left behind.  We talk so much about wanting to bring in young adults but we haven’t been asking ourselves the right questions about how to make that happen...mostly because most of us don’t really know what those questions are.  Questions like:  How are young adults being mentored into leadership?  Are young adults asked to serve on the basis of their individual gifts and strengths, and not just their age?  Are young adults involved in all issues, and not just those affecting young adults directly?  Do we offer a variety of worship styles and options (such as Soulful Sundowns)?  Do we ask young adults in the congregation what they need, recognizing that “young adult” is a wide age-range with a variety of pastoral needs?  
It’s not enough for young adults to hear about us.  It’s not enough for them to come to us.  It’s not enough for them to like us.  They must feel included.  They must feel wanted.  Most importantly, they must feel they are being ministered to.  They want to be asked to be involved.  They need to know that their money, their time, their energy, their input, no matter how little it may be, is highly important and highly valued.  An important part of this is not only having adult leaders that work with Young Adults on their ministry but also growing and developing Young Adult leaders in the congregation.  

UUA President Peter Morales actually spoke at one point specifically about the need to develop and mentor young leaders as well as the need to trust our current leaders.  Some of his words really struck a chord with me, especially as it relates to this congregation.  He said: “WE COME FROM AN  ANTI-AUTHORITARIAN TRADITION.  AND WE ARE NOTHING IF NOT SKEPTICAL ABOUT AUTHORITY AND POWER.  BUT THIS IS NOT ULTIMATELY ORGANIZATIONAL.  ULTIMATELY, IT IS SPIRITUAL.  MY FRIENDS, WE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO TRUST ONE ANOTHER.  HOW TO IDENTIFY POTENTIAL LEADERS, TRAIN THEM, MENTOR THEM, NURTURE THEM, EMPOWER THEM, YES, HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE, BUT LET OUR LEADERS LEAD.  OTHERWISE, WE BECOME PARALYZED AND OUR MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT BECOMES PROCESS.  OUR MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT MUST BE ACTS OF LOVE.”

Acts of love.  Remember those?  Acts of love are why we’re here.  Our faith cries: “Deeds, not creeds!”  This is the very essence of our social justice work.  A point was raised at GA that young adults are, in fact, interested in social justice...but what they’re more interested in is social service.  

Standing On the Side of Love, for instance, is easily the UUA’s most effective social justice campaign right now.  Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) for those who don’t know is an interfaith public advocacy campaign, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association, promoting respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  They do a tremendous amount of work advocating for LGBTQ rights as well as Anti-Racism / Anti-Oppression / Multiculturalism and yet it’s something I barely ever hear anybody talk about here, in Miami, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.  I attended a Standing On the Side of Love rally in Marshall Park in Charlotte and it was easily one of the highlights of GA for me personally.

I also happened to pick up a flier for something called the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office.  “What is this all about?” I wondered to myself.  This organization apparently has an actual presence at the United Nations and UUs can apply to be envoys (which is kind of a fancy way of saying representatives) for their congregations in UU-UNO, which I have already begun the process of doing.  

So, you see?  Social service inspires social justice.  

And actually if you’re smart about it, social justice can, in fact, inspire many other vibrant growth opportunities, including campus ministry.

Now, maybe the most important reason why I personally came to the UU was in order to find allies both spiritual and secular in the battles over some of the crucial issues facing our country and our world today.  As such, I feel strongly that there are so many other young adults out there looking for the exact same thing.  However, I also feel just as strongly that there are many more young adults looking for something entirely different than that...but something which this community can provide equally well.  Because if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about UUs, it’s that everyone came here for a different reason, everyone gets something different out of it and one of our biggest problems is our ability--and, frankly, at times, our willingness--to minister to ALL of these groups, rather than merely the ones who make up the majority or even just the ones who make the most noise.

But my point is that we need to do outreach in a variety of ways and highlight a variety of different aspects of who we are  Which brings me to Campus Ministry.  I know this is an important issue in this congregation and one that is certainly very important to me as a 26-year-old college student, so I made sure to make Campus Ministry a special focus of my time at General Assembly.  

One important point of emphasis was that it has to be done on a personal level--that it can’t just be a booth in the student union or fliers on a bulletin board.  Personal relationships are extremely important for everyone, really, but especially for young people.  Often times young people only come to church to see someone they know and if that person isn’t there, they won’t be there either so it’s definitely always important to engage young adults on a personal level.  It’s also important in campus ministry to start with those who self-identify as UU.  There was also a lot of talk about sponsoring events on campus that are not directly UU related such as movie nights or open mics or really anything in between.  Another thing we talked about was forming campus groups around social issues or if some already exist, maybe sponsoring their meetings.  And, of course, the most important thing you must do in campus ministry: SERVE FOOD.  Preferably free food.  College students will go ANYWHERE if there’s free food.

One overwhelming feeling I came away from GA with was the feeling that this congregation is not nearly as connected to the UUA as we could be.  You’d be amazed at the amount of resources and inspiration you can find just by browsing the UUA website.  Often times I find myself bookmarking five, six, seven things at a time sometimes.  One exciting program I found out about that I’d really love to see us begin working on is to become what’s called an “Anchor Congregation.”  The Anchor Congregation Program, according to the UUA: “recognizes congregations that have made a significant commitment to young adult and/or campus ministry.”  Notice the word “commitment” in there?  That’s what it’s going to take.  It’s going to take commitment from you as well as from us.  It’s going to take participation.  You know I love to bring up that word, “participation.”  Participation is everything, my friends.

Gini Courter made an excellent point in her Moderator’s Report relating to the participatory nature of Unitarian Universalism. Gini, for those who don’t know, is the most excellent moderator of the Plenary sessions (where all the business gets done during General Assembly) as well as the Chair of the Board of Trustees.  What she said was this.  She said: “The vision for our religion comes from the people.”  She went on: “The purpose of the elected leadership...is...to facilitate the ministry of the laity.  TO EMPOWER AND EQUIP LAY FOLKS LIKE YOU, LIKE ME, TO BUILD MARVELOUS NEW TOMORROWS AND TO MAKE REAL THEIR ASPIRATIONS.  IT IS THE VOICE OF THE LAITY, YOUR VOICE...THAT CREATES AND DIRECTS UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM.”  I don’t think I’d ever said “Amen!” to anything in my life before I heard that.

Which brings me back around to Justice GA.

For those who don’t know, next year’s Justice General Assembly in Phoenix is going to be unlike any General Assembly ever held.  The idea is to minimize the amount of “business as usual” at this GA in order to focus on doing work on the ground, in the surrounding communities.  There is going to be a huge, HUGE focus on Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Multiculturalism  work (or AR/AO/MC) which presents a wonderful opportunity for our congregation to do the multiculturalism work we so desperately want to do and have made such a serious commitment to doing.  In fact, I have already submitted a request to the Board to create a “Justice GA fund” so I can begin fundraising as soon as possible to send as many delegates from this congregation to Phoenix in 2012 as we possibly can--and of course, that fund will be accepting any and all donations as soon as it’s established.  I urge as many of you as are willing and able to help me with this.  Again I say to you: participation is everything.

You know, a lot of people come up here talking about a lot of beautiful emotions and wonderful ideas and it’s very spiritually fulfilling, don’t get me wrong, but what do you take outside with you?  Personally, that’s just not my style.  I have a vision for this congregation.  I have a vision for Unitarian Universalism.  I have a vision for this city, this state, this country, and this world.  Help me make real my aspirations and I’ll help you do the same.  Help me build marvelous new tomorrows and I’ll help you do the same.  Help me build a vibrant, viable, sustainable, active, and, dare I say, influential young adult group in this congregation and I promise you I and the rest of the YAs will help you do the same.  Thank You.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Top Twenty FiveS (plural)

MY TOP 25


1. LSU
This is the only team that's proven anything as far as I'm concerned.  They utterly flushed a top 5 team in Week 1 and that's good enough for me at this stage of the season.
2. Alabama
Another impressive win over Penn State puts them on top of Oklahoma for at least this week (Oklahoma faces FSU next).
3. Oklahoma
Possibly the most talented team in the country but so far untested.
4. Boise State
In spite of the fact that Georgia lost, Boise's dismantling of them in Week 1 looks mighty impressive right now.
5. Wisconsin
Russell Wilson has been looking great for the Badgers.  It's pretty obvious this is the best team in the Big Ten right now.
6. Texas A&M
This is going to be a really tough team to get by in the Big 12 this year with a senior at QB and a monster defense.
7. Oklahoma State
With Brandon Weedon and Justin Blackmon back, this is going to be one of the most potent offenses in the nation.
8. Stanford
With Andrew Luck, anything is possible.
9. Nebraska
Can't wait to see how they stack up with the rest of the Big Ten.  Back-to-back battles with Wisconsin and Ohio State are going to be very interesting.
10. Florida State
I'm still not really 100% sold on this team with E.J. Manuel under center.  But then, who's going to beat them in the ACC other than Virginia Tech?


11. Virginia Tech
12. West Virginia
13. South Carolina
14. Arkansas
15. Oregon
16. Baylor
17. South Florida
18. Michigan State
19. Florida
20. Ohio State
21. Texas
22. Auburn
23. Arizona State
24. Michigan
25. FIU

AP Top 25


1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama (+1)
3. LSU (-1)
4. Boise State
5. Florida State
6. Stanford
7. Wisconsin (+1)
8. Oklahoma State (+1)
9. Texas A&M (-2)
10. Nebraska
11. South Carolina (+1)
12. Oregon (+1)
13. Virginia Tech (-2)
14. Arkansas
15. Michigan State (+2)
16. Florida (+2)
17. Ohio State (-2)
18. West Virginia (+1)
19. Baylor (+1)
20. South Florida (+2)
21. Auburn (+6)
22. Arizona State (+4)
23. TCU (+2)
24. Texas
25. Mississippi State (-9)

Biggest Winners:
-Alabama - another win against a mediocre Penn State team and they're back out in front of LSU
-Wisconsin & Oklahoma State - both took advantage of Texas A&M's bye week by looking impressive against inferior teams
-South Carolina & Oregon - Virginia Tech's unimpressive win over (a very underrated) East Carolina let the door open for SC and Oregon to jump the Hokies (in spite of the fact that SC looked equally unimpressive against a now-0-and-2 Georgia team).
-Michigan State, Florida, and South Florida - an unimpressive win by the Buckeyes over Toledo and MSU's loss to Auburn bumped the Spartans, Gators, and Bulls up two spots each as they all cruised to easy victories.
-Auburn - proved that Utah State was tougher than you think with an impressive win over Mississippi State
-Arizona State - great win over Missouri (although I thought Mizzou was overrated all along)
-TCU - somehow leapfrogged Texas with a win over Air Force
-Georgia - that the Bulldogs are actually still receiving votes from both polls is a testament to how tough the schedule has been...they'll still get 8 or 9 wins and play in a decent bowl
Biggest Losers:
-LSU - the only team that has beaten a top 5 opponent and they get jumped by Bama
-Texas A&M - watched from home as Wisconsin and Oklahoma State passed them by
-Virginia Tech & Ohio State - struggles putting away inferior opponents left the Hokies and Buckeyes open to two teams apiece passing them by
-Texas - has won their first two games and yet were passed over by a 1-1 TCU team in the big slide due to MSU's loss


USA Today Top 25


1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. LSU
4. Boise State (+1)
5. Florida State (-1)
6. Stanford
7. Oklahoma State
8. Wisconsin (+1)
9. Texas A&M (-1)
10. Nebraska
11. South Carolina (+1)
12. Virginia Tech (-1)
13. Arkansas
14. Oregon
15. Michigan State (+1)
16. Ohio State (-1)
17. Florida (+1)
18. Arizona State (+5)
19. Auburn (+3)
20. West Virginia (+4)
21. Texas
22. South Florida (+5)
23. TCU (+2)
24. Baylor (+2)
25. Mississippi State (-8)

Biggest Winners:
-Boise State - apparently the coaches are sold on the Broncos after seeing the Bulldogs go toe-to-toe with the Gamecocks
-Wisconsin - jumping the Aggies on their bye week
-South Carolina & Michigan State - jumping a spot after lackluster wins by the Hokies and Buckeyes
-Arizona State, Auburn, West Virginia, and South Florida - big jumps for all four
Biggest Losers:
-Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, and Ohio State - all dropped a spot without losing a game
-Texas - jumped over by Arizona State, Auburn, and West Virginia despite a win

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner -- Week 2

Last Week
Highlights: Great start to the year on the Upset of the Week pick. Also I totally called Auburn and USC struggling mightily against seemingly inferior opponents as well as BYU winning a defensive battle with Ole Miss.
Lowlights: Massively overestimated Georgia and underestimated LSU as well as the impact of Miami's suspensions (more on that in just a bit). I also don't know why I thought I should take a crack at picking Colorado/Hawaii. Maybe I should exercise some veto power over my plan to pick every game that's on basic cable.
The Rest: Picked Michigan and Ohio State to obliterate Western Michigan and Akron. Big whoop. Overestimated Tulsa's competitiveness against Oklahoma (Sooners even covered the spread, totally screwing over anyone who made a parlay with my "Out-of-Whack Spreads"). West Virginia beat Marshall a bit more comfortably than I expected as well.


Current Record
Overall: 8-4
Upsets: 1-0
Spreads: 2-1


HEADLINES

-First of all, if there was any doubt how much the Canes missed those eight suspended starters, I can only assume it's been put to rest. Stephen Morris, despite a stellar performance that will likely get lost in his unimpressive numbers, sorely missed Travis Benjamin's blazing speed and Aldarius Johnson's height and length, especially on a few slight overthrows that were very nearly touchdowns (although it bears mentioning that the young, inexperienced fill-ins on the UM receiving corps did a tremendous job, especially Allen Hurns). The defensive line missed Marcus Forston's and Adewale Ojomo's massive bodies and strong push up the middle as well as Olivier Vernon's speed off the edge in the pass rush (and Allen Bailey's for that matter). But what they missed the most was Sean Spence's monstrous presence in the heart of that defense, especially in pass coverage over the middle--as well as the absence of Ray Ray Armstrong over the top. Danny O'Brien continually found chunk after chunk of yardage between the hash marks that normally would be negated by Spence's and Armstrong's keen instincts. Of course, it could have been a lot worse for the Canes. They battled through extremely difficult odds and displayed incredible mental toughness for such young guys in a hostile environment--the future is bright indeed for the Golden Canes, sanctions or no sanctions. They have twelve days to prepare to play host to an also-suspension-depleted Buckeye team and they'll have Benjamin, Forston, Spence, Ojomo, and Jacory Harris back (and I still don't know how he could possibly still be the starter but we'll have to see how that goes) so we'll see then what kind of team this will be (at least this year).

-I think it's safe to say that nobody improved their Heisman stock in Week 1 more than Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. 21-27 for 359 yards and 5 (yes, five) touchdowns--not too shabby. Doing that against a TCU defense that gave up 54 points and 7 touchdowns combined in five road games last year is damned impressive. "RG3" will have four more games in which the Bears will be favored (if not heavily favored) to work out any kinks to speak of and pad his stats a bit before a trip to College Station followed by a bye week, then at Oklahoma State, hosting Missouri, at Kansas, and closing out by hosting Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Texas. Keep your eye on this kid, not just for the Heisman but in the NFL Draft next spring.

-By the way, what the hell happened to TCU's secondary? It was like a game of NCAA Football 12 where the A.I. on the secondary was turned all the way down, deep ball after deep ball sailing over their heads. Give RG3 credit for being able to drop the football into a milk crate from 40+ yards but the TCU secondary had no answer for those deep balls. And while we're on the subject of lousy performances in the secondary this weekend, in spite of the fact that they won, Auburn's back four were exposed over and over again by Utah State (yes, Utah State...the Aggies...) and that's deeply troubling if you're a Tigers fan. This is somewhat of a down year for QBs in the SEC but Auburn still has to face Stephen Garcia, Aaron Murray, and Tyler Wilson(/Bobby Petrino), all on the road. Even Jordan Jefferson and John Brantley could give this group fits. Phillip Lolley and Tommy Thigpen better coach these kids WAY up or they're liable to get pantsed by the more formidable gunslingers in the SEC.

-I've been a college football fan for over 20 years but this past Thursday marks the first ever time I've attended a football game of a team representing the school I'm attending. In the pouring rain, no less. Pretty fucking cool. FIU dominated North Texas 41-16 but it was 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. Mario Cristobal has something special going on just up the road from "Death Penalty U" (and stands to benefit immensely from the inevitable sanctions against the Canes). I don't know that it would surprise me if they made a run at an undefeated season and a BCS bowl but that's expecting quite a lot. We'll see how they do at Louisville this Friday on ESPN.

-Speaking of pouring rain...anyone who STILL doesn't believe in global warming need only look at the opening week of the college football season in which several games were either delayed or called due to lightning. Tell me you honestly don't recognize the new trend of weather anomalies slowly becoming the norm. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes; I generally think people who believe this 2012 business are slightly troubled but every time there's a new weather anomaly, I get a little more nervous about next December 21st...


Florida International at Louisville -- ESPN -- Friday, September 9th, 7:00pm


This is an interesting matchup of a mid-level Big East team and the defending Sun Belt Champs.  FIU definitely has the athletes on defense to keep up with Louisville but the interesting thing to watch will be when FIU has the ball.  They have a potentially dynamic offense littered with veterans, led by QB Wesley Carroll and WR T.Y. Hilton as well as a solid offensive line but it remains to be seen how they'll match up with BCS conference athletes.  Still, Louisville is from the Big East and they're not even a good Big East team.  I see Carroll and T.Y. hooking up for at least one game-changing big play being the difference in an otherwise defensive battle.

Hobbitcore sez: Florida International


No. 21 Missouri at Arizona State -- ESPN -- Friday, September 9th, 10:30pm


I kinda think Missouri is way overrated to even be ranked right now.  Without Chase Daniel I don't see them doing much of anything.  I actually like the Sun Devils in this one.

Hobbitcore sez:  Arizona State

No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State -- ABC -- 3:30pm

Penn State is just totally outmanned here.  Alabama may not have much of a QB but they're absolutely LOADED everywhere else.  Penn State has NO QB or much of an offense to speak of in general.  Alabama blows them away even worse than last year.

Hobbitcore sez:  Alabama

No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia -- ESPN -- 4:30pm

Spurrier needs to seriously relax.  Stephen Garcia is the guy and he seems to be the only one who doesn't know it.  If he would just settle down and let his QB play, this team could be back in the SEC title game this year, possibly even with a (slim) chance of winning.  On this day, he will pick apart the underachieving Georgia secondary between the hedges and lead the Gamecocks to a comfortable win.

Hobbitcore sez: South Carolina

Brigham Young at No. 24 Texas -- ESPN2 -- 7:00pm

Again, I get the feeling that the Cougars will give the Longhorns a game with their defense.  If Texas can get a running game going, they might run away with it.  If not, it could be another defensive struggle for BYU.

Hobbitcore sez: Texas

UPSET OF THE WEEK

Utah at USC -- Vs -- 7:30pm

This is also probably the game I'm most interested in this weekend.  Utah's first big Pac-12 test.  I can't wait to see what happens in this one.  USC was alright on defense last week (albeit against Minnesota) but the offense struggled and Utah is a team that's been playing better defense than most of the (former) Pac-10 over the last couple years.

The Upset Hobbit sez: Utah

GAME OF THE WEEK

Notre Dame at Michigan -- ESPN -- 8:00pm


It was actually going to be Gamecocks/Bulldogs until Georgia got pantsed on national television by Boise State.  In spite of the fact that neither team is ranked, this is still a very intriguing game chock full of talented kids with NFL futures.  It's also always fun watching the Denard Robinson show--plus you never know when Brian Kelly's going to freak out on the air.

Keys to the Game
Notre Dame:
-Keep Denard between the tackles
-Play assignment football
-Don't turn the ball over
Michigan:
-Spread the defense (varying playcalling)
-Create turnovers
-Don't let Denard get hurt

Hobbitpick: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 22

Out-of-Whack Spreads
Stanford (-20.5) over Duke
South Carolina (-3) over Georgia
Utah over USC (-9)

My Heisman Ballot (if the voting ended today)
1. QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
2. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State
3. QB Matt Barkley, USC

BCS Predictions
ACC: Florida State over Virginia Tech
Big East: South Florida
Big 10: Wisconsin over Nebraska
Big 12: Oklahoma
Pac 12: Stanford over Utah
SEC: Alabama over South Carolina

BCS Championship: Oklahoma over Stanford
Sugar: Alabama over South Florida
Orange: Florida State over Texas
Fiesta: Nebraska over FIU (:P)
Rose: Wisconsin over Oregon

Friday, September 2, 2011

Triumphant Return of Hobbitcore's College Football Corner #67

HEADLINES

Usually I'd talk about the headlines from the past week in this section but this is Week One and I got a lot of that venting out in my piece about the Nevin Shapiro debacle. Also, I'm gonna try to start getting these done on Thursday afternoons before the Thursday game is played. The latest format I'm going with is just picking all the games that are on basic cable. Seems like a sound strategy. I'll also be bringing back old weekly favorites like "Out-of-Whack Spreads", "My Heisman Ballot (If the Voting Ended Today)" (as I was typing this, Robert Griffin was kicking off his campaign for Heisman), and my BCS predictions (predicting the winner of each conference, their BCS bowl matchup, and the result). Without further ado...

Akron at No. 18 Ohio State -- ESPN -- 12:00pm

OSU has five players suspended. Fortunately they're hosting Akron. Everyone will be drunk in the parking lot by halftime playing beer pong and sack toss.

Hobbitcore sez: Ohio State

Utah State at No. 23 Auburn -- ESPN2 -- 12:00pm

Auburn lost the heart of its offense and defense but they didn't lose the whole thing. This team is gonna be better than people think; I could see them challenging for the SEC West this year. They won't look like world-beaters against an underrated Utah State team that nearly picked off Oklahoma last year but Michael Dyer and Brandon McCaleb will carry them to a shootout win.

Hobbitcore sez: Auburn

Minnesota at No. 25 USC -- ABC/ESPN2 -- 3:30pm

USC is gonna be really hard to get a read on entering year two of probation. Matt Barkley is due for a breakout season but the defense has become more and more porous over the last few years. Expect them to beat Minnesota but I wouldn't exactly bet money on it.

Hobbitcore sez: USC

Western Michigan at Michigan -- ABC/ESPN2 -- 3:30pm

Denard Robinson kicks off his second crack at a Heisman. Should rack up some nice numbers as long as he doesn't snap in half.

Hobbitcore sez: Michigan

Brigham Young at Ole Miss -- ESPN -- 4:45pm

Talk about two teams you have no idea what to expect from. Ole Miss appears to be on the verge of resurgence under Houston Nutt and BYU is coming off one of the most inconsistent, night-and-day seasons you'll ever see in which they started 1-4 and ended up winning their bowl game 52-24. I have a hunch this could turn out to be a defensive battle. If it is, I like BYU's chances.

Hobbitcore sez: Brigham Young

Tulsa at No. 1 Oklahoma -- FX -- 7:00pm

This might be closer than people might expect, Tulsa isn't anything to sneeze at. But OU will just be too much.

Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma

No. 5 Boise State at No. 19 Georgia -- ESPN -- 8:00pm

If you like potent passing attacks, you'll want to tune into this one. Kellen Moore and Aaron Murray will undoubtedly be slinging the rock around quite a bit. My hunch is that the BCS conference team is overdue to win one of these big time matchups with Boise State and Georgia is a legit contender for the SEC East so I don't really see Boise State getting another high-profile win here.

Hobbitcore sez: Georgia

Colorado at Hawaii -- ESPN2 -- 10:15pm

I couldn't tell you the first thing about either of these teams but my gut says Colorado is due for a resurgence.

Hobbitcore sez: Colorado

Marshall at No. 24 West Virginia -- ESPN -- Sunday, September 4th, 3:30pm

Marshall is looking for revenge for their heartbreaking loss to the Mountaineers in 2010 in which they gave up a 21-6 lead, losing 24-21 in overtime. This rivalry is starting to heat up and a team looking for its first win in a rivalry can be a dangerous thing. Still I think Geno Smith will be too much for the Thundering Herd late in the game and the Mountaineers will once again barely escape.

Hobbitcore sez: West Virginia

Miami (FL) at Maryland -- ESPN -- Monday, September 5th, 8:00pm

Miami will be without Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, Marcus Forston, Adewale Ojomo, Travis Benjamin, Olivier Vernon, Ray Ray Armstrong, and Dyron Dye. All except Vernon (6 games), Armstrong, and Dye (4 games each) will be back for Ohio State (and Al Golden has maintained that the QB competition will stay open until the Canes take on the Buckeyes). Also Aldarius Johnson is suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. It's kind of interesting because there was a period in 2009 where this team played without almost all of these guys, so don't underestimate this team because of all this missing talent (and don't forget what North Carolina almost did against LSU last year on opening night). I really have a feeling that Golden will have this team ready and they will impress people. Stephen Morris will be just fine and there are more than enough capable running backs. The question mark is at WR for the Canes with Benjamin and Johnson sidelined. If the receivers help Stephen Morris out, he'll have a great game. If not, the Canes might be grounded, leaving them either in a defensive battle or in a hole they might not be able to dig out of. I think the defense will be just fine and the Canes will win fairly comfortably but not comfortably enough for Canes fans.

Hobbitcore sez: Miami

UPSET OF THE WEEK

South Florida at No. 16 Notre Dame -- NBC -- 3:30pm

Call me crazy but I'm not buying into the hype at Notre Dame quite yet. I need to see more from Dayne Crist, especially after a second knee injury. South Florida is a good sleeper pick to win the Big East this year. This is as close as I could find to a game I think will be an upset and I'm sticking to it.

Hobbitcore sez: South Florida

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU ABC -- 8pm

I think this might be the lowest combined rankings of two opponents in a regular season college football game since #1 Ohio State @ #2 Michigan in 2006 but don't quote me on that. LSU's Jordan Jefferson will be suspended for this game which makes it a lot easier to pick although I still think it will be a heck of a game.

Keys to the Game

Oregon:
-mix up the offense, beat LSU schematically (won't beat them with speed/athleticism)
-pressure Jarrett Lee, don't let him get into a rhythm
-win the battle at the point of attack
LSU:
-short passes to get Jarrett Lee into a rhythm
-use speed to cut off the edges
-play assignment football

Hobbitpick: Oregon

Out-of-Whack Spreads (games I would bet on if gambling were legal)
Utah State over Auburn (-23)
South Florida over Notre Dame (-10)
Tulsa over Oklahoma (-25)

My Heisman Ballot (if the voting ended today [before it begins])
1. Kellen Moore
2. LaMichael James
3. Denard Robinson

BCS Predictions
ACC: Florida State over Virginia Tech
Big East: South Florida
Big 10: Wisconsin over Nebraska
Big 12: Oklahoma
Pac 12: Stanford over Utah
SEC: Alabama over Georgia

BCS Championship: Oklahoma over Stanford
Sugar: Alabama over South Florida
Orange: Florida State over Texas
Fiesta: Nebraska over FIU (:P)
Rose: Wisconsin over Oregon

P.S. I just realized that--barring a Pac 12 or Big 10 champion playing in the national title game--there will be two new conference championship games in which the participants will be playing for a spot in the Rose Bowl. That's kinda cool...