Spring Game Attendance Signals That Football isn’t …

OSU
OSU

The Buckeyes saw nearly 100,000 people attend its' Spring Game. I'd say football is doing fine.

There were almost 100,000 people in Ohio Stadium yesterday and there wasn’t even an actual football game being played. There wasn’t even a Rolling Stones concert either. On the turf of the Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio Saturday the Ohio State Buckeyes played the… Ohio State Buckeyes.

That’s an awful lot of people for a game that means little other than “who solidified himself as a starter at said position.” To be sure, the defending national champions have holes to fill and Spring Football is where coaches start to recognize just who is capable of being the “next man up.”

At two other Big Ten schools, Nebraska and Penn State, the Spring Game crowds were around 77,000 and 68,000 respectively. At Michigan, where prodigal son Jim Harbaugh has returned, the Wolverines had 60,000 in attendance.

Top schools in the Southeastern Conference like Auburn and Alabama saw Spring Game attendance marks around 60-65,000 as well. For them, that’s not really anything too surprising.

What’s hard to make sense of is that football is supposedly a dying sport. From concussion lawsuits, players behaving badly off the field and an overall condemnation of the game from more and more parents, you’d think the game was in rapid decline.

Tell that to the tens of thousands that attended Spring Games this season already.

The game of football isn’t struggling nearly as much as many think it is but there are worse times ahead. Participation in many states across the country is declining as more and more parents fear for the future of their children. Far be it from me to tell parents how to raise their children but I want parents to be educated and I don’t want them to done so with a biased approach.

Both soccer and hockey are facing concussion problems yet we hear little about those statistics and the reason for that is simple. Any time you are the top dog everyone wants to knock you off of your perch. That’s where football finds itself today.

The National Football League has problems. It has a former player off to jail for life with a murder conviction and it has players being arrested from everything from marijuana possession to domestic violence. Yet, it finds itself as the premier professional sport in North America. No sport is watched more by more people and of different genders and ethnicity than any other right now.

With the growth of fantasy football as well, the NFL is doing fantastic business so how can it or college football possibly fail?

If you follow football closely, then you may have noticed a new trend defensively that is making the game a little bit safer. What many call “Hawk tackling” because of the Seattle Seahawks’ use of it, the method of tackling aims to take the head out of the process. The style actually takes its’ roots from rugby where as you know, there isn’t any equipment used by the players.

There are still big hits and great tackles, but the form is much safer in terms of potential head injury. Will it make such a difference that the game is ultimately without problems? Of course not, but at the very least all levels of football are addressing the concerns of safety whether traditionalists like it or not.

Football isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as we can tell from the attendance at Spring Games, but it still has plenty of issues to address.

 

LinkedInFacebookBlipShare

Bob Knight Says Kentucky Will Not End Undefeated

caisno-1

One question for close to the entire college basketball regular season has dominated: Will the Kentucky Wildcats finished the season undefeated.

Now Kentucky is sitting at 28-0 as it head into Saturday’s big game against No. 18 ranked Arkansas. With 28 games played, the Wildcats need just 12 more wins to match the last college basketball team that finished the season undefeated, Bob Knight’s  Indiana Hoosiers in 1976.

The question remains on everyone’s mind, but the odds remain against it.

Bill Self, the Kansas coach whose team lost by 32 points to Kentucky in November said at the time if the Wildcats were still undefeated in February, then a perfect season could happen.

In the 12 games that remain, some should be quite close. Prior to the end of the regular season, the Wildcats much play the Razorbacks, Florida as well as Georgia. Both the Gators and Bulldogs gave Kentucky tough games the first time they played in earlier this month.

Kentucky could play any of those same teams during the SEC tournament or even rivals such as LSU or Texas A&M.

If the Wildcats do make it out of the regular season and SEC tournament unscathed, they would still have to win 6 games of which as many as 4 could be versus ranked teams.

One analytical expert ran a calculation on Kentucky going undefeated and the Wildcats came out with a 24% change of going 40-0, earlier this season.

Kentucky’s odds of ending the regular season undefeated have gone up to over 74% at this point. Its chances of winning the SEC tournament are now 73% and over 48% of winning the national championship, says one basketball expert. Last season, no team entering the tournament had more than a 15% chance of taking home the title.

Most odds makers are giving the Wildcats just a 24% chance of winning the national championship and going undefeated, which is very high for something that has not been accomplish for the past 39 years.

Nevertheless, it will take excellent coaching from head coach John Calipari since his players are between 18 and 22 years of age, with the majority less than 20 and pressure situations, which will only increase as they continue winning, will make it hard on the young players.

LinkedInFacebookBlipShare
The Casino Review sportsbook blog provides news and analysis on the online sports betting industry, helping experienced and recreational bettors get the most out of their online betting experience.

Putting the Wraps on College Football With Three …

Patterson
Patterson

Gary Patterson and TCU have every right to be upset especially after the team that replaced won the title.

By now you know the Ohio State Buckeyes are the champions of college football. While many will tell you this is the first-ever undisputed championship, you won’t catch me saying that.

Let’s remember that this team got into the playoffs simply because the committee wanted to avoid choosing TCU ahead of Baylor. By taking the Buckeyes, that meant neither the Horned Frogs nor the Bears were going into the playoffs so a lot of controversy was avoided. TCU had been listed in the top four for several weeks and in the last poll before the final rankings were released.

Both TCU and Ohio State had one loss. The Frogs lost a high-scoring shootout to Baylor 61-58 in Waco while the Buckeyes lost to 6-6 Virginia Tech in the Horseshoe.

Then bowl season came around and we all wondered how TCU would respond in their match-up against Ole Miss. Would they still be hanging their heads wondering about what might have been or would they prove to the committee that they should have been in rather than Ohio State?

Ask the Rebels which TCU team showed up…

The point is this; The Buckeyes are a worthy champion having defeated Alabama and Oregon and I certainly can’t say TCU would have accomplished this. But the fact that the one team that wasn’t in the top four rankings until the very end won the title tells me the playoff must expand to an eight-team field.

Barrett

If J.T. Barrett recovers well, I expect him to get the nod at QB for the Buckeyes in 2015.

I believe it will eventually but probably not for several years at the earliest.

Five Questions Heading Into 2015

1. Can the Buckeyes make it two in a row? You bet they can. With Urban Meyer as head coach, a plethora of top new recruits and a lot of guys back from this past season’s team, there is no reason OSU can’t win back-to-back titles. The schedule is very favorable with the only troublesome road trips at Virginia Tech in the opener and at Michigan in the finale.

Obviously the biggest issue is at quarterback. It’s a good problem to have but Meyer is going to need to commit to Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett or Braxton Miller fairly soon. My gut feeling is that they go with Barrett as long as the leg heals properly.

2. Who bounces back for the SEC? Southeastern Conference expert Paul Feinbaum had a funny tweet yesterday and I’m paraphrasing a bit. “The Big Ten wins the National Championship in football, while the SEC has the top team in basketball. Something isn’t right.”

There’s no question the folks down South are hurting right now. While overall, their run of consecutive national titles still reigns supreme, but the fact they couldn’t even muster a team into the title game has left many feeling blue.

There isn’t a team in the SEC that doesn’t have question marks however. Both Alabama and Auburn will feature new quarterbacks and LSU is undergoing numerous changes on the defensive side. The SEC East should be better overall but whether they have a title contender is uncertain.

There’s no question the SEC will bounce back but there’s no clear cut evidence of who rises to the top just yet.

3. What is a “good outcome” in Harbaugh’s first year at Michigan? If you ask Wolverines’ fans they’ll tell you nothing short of a Big Ten title will suffice but that isn’t fair. Michigan will be better, there’s no way they won’t be with the staff Harbaugh has assembled and the attitude he’s already installing.

The defense last year in Ann Arbor was actually pretty darn good but the offense was the real problem. Harbaugh has to find a capable QB and a running game as well. I believe eight or nine wins is a very acceptable first year. Anything more is a bonus.

 

LinkedInFacebookBlipShare

Wisconsin Situation Should Serve as a Wake-Up to the Rest …

Alvarez
Alvarez

Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez finds himself looking for a coach for the second time in three years.

People change jobs for any number of reasons. Tops among those reasons is of course more money. There are very few among us who wouldn’t take a similar job to the one we currently have if it offered more money.

But there are other scenarios that factor into a person’s decision to take a job and I believe those are what caused Gary Andersen to leave Wisconsin.

Coaching changes at Florida, Michigan and even Nebraska were not surprises, but very few on the outside or the inside for that matter saw Andersen leaving the Badgers. His decision to leave for Oregon State has not only raised questions about the situation in Madison but in the entire Big Ten as well.

Andersen is believed to have left because he and his assistants didn’t care for Madison. They are mostly west coast guys who prefer living out there and that’s good enough for me. I get that… We also have heard Andersen was not pleased that he couldn’t bring many of the players he wanted into his program because of the academic standards.

This is where our problem begins…

No one denies that the most powerful football conference in America resides in the Southern and Eastern parts of this country. The past eight to ten years speak for themselves in terms of success on the football stage.

Andersen

Gary Andersen's surprising move to the West Coast may expose more about the Big Ten then anything just at Wisconsin.

For eight straight years a team from the Southeastern Conference has played for the college football championship. The Big Ten meanwhile, the conference that Andersen has left, has played for just two titles in that same span.

So why the sudden shift after so many years of sharing power? There was a long time where teams from the Big Ten, SEC, old Southwest conference and Pac-8 used to consistently vie for titles and bowl games.

Even with expansion, the SEC has continued to pull away from most of the other conferences and most obviously left in the dust has been the corn-fed folks in the Midwest.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has some powerful things to consider going forward and Andersen’s departure will hasten those issues.

If the Big Ten wants to compete on the national stage and gain the respect they once had, then something has to be done to allow lesser academic athletes into its’ institutions. This will not be an easy thing to accomplish and there is growing sentiment that it might never happen.

I say “never” only because I would have thought the cash would have convinced them to jump on board the collegiate football money train by now. No one in the SEC will argue their academic standards don’t match those in the Big Ten.

They are all quality schools but do any actually compete with a Michigan, Northwestern or Purdue when it comes to academics? The answer is “no” and you won’t hear anyone apologize for it either.

The argument I consistently hear is about Ohio State. The Buckeyes belong to the Big Ten yet seem to have athletes similar to those in the South. My take is that OSU has figured out how to get these kids into the University.

If you look at the majors by not just OSU but also schools in the South you’ll notice plenty majoring in “exploring” and “general studies.” Get it?

Andersen’s leaving also brought out the issue of Wisconsin not paying assistants very well and that’s a viable cause for leaving but it’s obvious to me the Big Ten needs to decide if it wants to compete for football glory or continue to be the red-headed step-child to the SEC and beyond.

LinkedInFacebookBlipShare

College Football Conference Championship Lines and Trends

casino-1

This is championship week in college football with a number of conferences playing their conference championship games.

MAC – Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green

Northern Illinois is 10-2 and 6-6 ATS, while Bowling Green is 7-5 SU and 4-7-1 ATS.

Friday night, the two will face off in Detroit, Michigan. NIU has opened as a 3-point favorite.

This is the fifth consecutive season Northern Illinois will be vying for the trophy. The Huskies are 2-2 in the previous four.

The two teams played in last year’s MAC Championship with Bowling Green winning 47-27.

The underdog is 5-1 ATS over the past 6 championship games.

Pac-12 – Arizona vs. Oregon

Arizona is 10-2 SU and 5-7 ATS, while Oregon is 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS.

The two will meet on Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Oregon has opened as a favorite by 13.5 points.

This is the fourth championship game for the Pac-12. The favorite is 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS in the first three Pac-12 championship games.

The Pac-12 North is 3-0 SU in the first three championships.

Arizona was a road dog by 21.5 points in October and defeated Oregon 31-21.

SEC – Alabama vs. Missouri

Alabama is 11-1 SU and 4-8 ATS, while Missouri is 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS.

Alabama meets Missouri for the SEC championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alabama opened as the favorite by 10.5 points but that has increased already to 13 points.

In the SEC championship, the underdog is 11-10-1 ATS.

The SEC West is 5-0 SU in the past 5 SEC championship games. Missouri lost in last year’s championship to Auburn by 17 points as a favorite by 2.5 points.

The teams last met in 2012 with Alabama winning 42-10.

ACC – Florida State vs. Georgia Tech

Florida State is undefeated at 12-0 SU and 3-9 ATS, while Georgia Tech is 10-2 SU and 5-1 ATS.

Florida State will defend its ACC title against Georgia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Florida State was a 5.5-point favorite to open but it is now just 4 points.

FSU is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS in its four prior trips to the ACC Championship. Georgia Tech is 1-2 SU in its three trips.

The two played in the ACC Championship in 2012 with FSU winning 21-15.

Big 10 – Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Ohio State is 11-1 SU and 7-5 ATS, while Wisconsin is 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS.

Ohio State plays Wisconsin for the Big 10 title in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Wisconsin is favored by 4 points.

The underdog is 1-2 SU in the 3 prior Big 10 championship games.

Wisconsin is 2-0 SU in two Big 10 title games and Ohio State is 0-1 SU.

T.J. Barrett the OSU quarterback is out with broken ankle.

Ohio State is 4-1 SU in its past 5 games head to head with Wisconsin.

LinkedInFacebookBlipShare

SEC Showdown in Oxford Between Auburn and Ole Miss

casino-1

The start of November, an SEC rivalry, both teams in the top four in the inaugural rankings for the College Football Playoff, it just does not get any better than this.

On Saturday, the Auburn Tigers visit the Ole Miss Rebels in what should be an exciting game under the lights.

Ole Miss is looking to rebound from its first loss of this season.

However, Auburn has won four of the past five head-to-head games versus Ole Miss, both straight up and against the number.

Both teams must win if they hope to remain in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings.

The current line has Ole Miss favored by 2.5 points with the point total sitting on 51.

Auburn is 4-1 SU as well as ATS in its past 5 games versus Mississippi. The Tigers are also 4-1 ATS in its past 5 games on the road versus opponents from the SEC. The Tigers are 3-1 ATS over its past four games as a road ‘dog.

The Rebels are 4-0 ATS over their past 4 games as a favorite at home. Ole Miss has covered the spread in 7 of its past 10 games played at home versus opponents from the SEC.

The OVER has cashed in each of the past three games Auburn has played as a road ‘dog. The OVER has cashed in 7 of the past 10 games Ole Miss has played as the favorite at home.

Head to head the OVER has cashed in 4 of the past 5 games between the Tigers and Rebels.

Last week Ole Miss faced another must win game to be considered a legitimate contender for the national championship. The Rebels came up short when they lost to LSU 10-7.

However, the selection committee for the College Football Playoff kept Ole Miss for the time being in the top 4.

Many football observers believe Ole Miss will make the final four if they can run the table from here on out. That includes Auburn today and Mississippi State to end the regular season, which is no easy task

Auburn has a daunting task ahead of them as well.

The Tigers this month have to play on the road against Ole Miss today, Georgia and Alabama. They have to also play at home versus Samford and Texas A&M.

Ole Miss loves the UNDER. The UNDER has cashed in 7 of the Rebels 8 games this season and 10 of their last 11 dating back to last season.

With the pressure mounting on both teams to win, that could make the UNDER if more attractive.

The home side giving less than a field goal is a solid play.

I like Ole Miss and the UNDER.

LinkedInFacebookBlipShare

What We Know and What We Don’t Through Three Weeks …

SEC
SEC

The SEC has remained in its' dominant place at the top so far in college football.

We are now through three full weeks of college football and typically by this time we have a small glimpse of who the top teams might be. I would accept arguments right now on any number of teams but I still haven’t seen one team that makes me sit up and take notice. Consider the following games from this past weekend.

Georgia was the darling of the college football world after their huge win over Clemson in their opener. Paired with South Carolina’s devastating loss to Texas A&M, many CFB experts we suddenly changing their picks for the winner of the SEC East Division. The Gamecocks barely escaped East Carolina (more on them later) in week two so naturally, we thought Georgia would go into Columbia and win right?

Georgia battled hard by fell 38-35 to the Gamecocks. The loss opens things back up for South Carolina and also makes each team’s game with Florida that much bigger now.

As far as those Pirates of ECU are concerned, all they did was go into Blacksburg and knock off unbeaten Virginia Tech 28-21. This was a Hokies team that upset Ohio State in Columbus just a week before. Suddenly we were all thinking that maybe the ACC wasn’t easy street for Florida State. Well, maybe it is after all.

Hundley

The Bruins proved they can win without Hundley, but their wins have been ugly.

One of the sexier picks to make the Championship Playoff this season was UCLA led by Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley. The good news is the Bruins are still unbeaten at 3-0, but their wins have been struggles. They defeated Virginia on the road with defense, barely survived Memphis in the Rose Bowl by seven and then Saturday they managed to get by Texas 20-17 with Hundley out with an elbow injury.

Back-up Jerry Neuheisel led the Bruins to the go-ahead touchdown with three minutes to go in the fourth. Let’s be clear; the name of the game in college football is winning and UCLA is winning but I have a hard time seeing this get through the Pac-12 schedule unscathed right now.

What We Know

What is blatantly obvious to all of us is that the Big Ten is not going to go anywhere near the playoff with several miracles. A week ago the conference suffered losses at the top with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State going down and losses at the bottom with Northwestern and Purdue losing to MAC schools.

This past weekend, Michigan was taken deep into the second half by Miami, OH before pulling away in the fourth. Indiana lost to Bowling Green and Iowa lost at home to rival Iowa State by three. This is a Cyclones’ team that was throttled at home in the opener by North Dakota State too.

As bad as the Big Ten has been, the SEC has been quite the opposite.

The best football conference in the country is proving worthy of their title as they now have seven teams in the Top 25. Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU and Ole Miss are in the top ten and each is unbeaten. Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri are also listed. The tragic irony of this dominant situation is that the SEC could very well knock itself around too much.

Florida plays at Alabama this coming Saturday and then in two weeks, things get really interesting. LSU will play at Auburn and Alabama will travel to Ole Miss. While it’s doubtful anyone comes out without some scratches, the SEC can’t beat itself up too much or it could cost itself the two spots we’ve all given it in the final four.

As usual, there’s a lot that can happen.

 

LinkedInFacebookBlipShare