What to Watch: Thurs. 12/31 – Sun. 1/3

All times are Pacific.

Thursday December 31st

Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl – 9am ESPN:  Houston sneaks into a major bowl game only to go up against one of the best programs in all the land in Florida State. This game showcases FSU tailback Dalvin Cook and Houston QB Greg Ward JR. FSU should pull away late but there should be lots of offense.

Xavier at Villanova – 9am FS1: Top 25 match-up and a Big East Conference battle.

ouCapital One Orange Bowl – 1pm ESPN: The first of two College Football Playoff Semifinal games. This is a rematch of last years Russell Athletic Bowl and while Clemson got the better of Oklahoma in that game, OU is one of the hottest teams in the country.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings – 3pm NHL Gamecenter: Not a bad way match up to help ring in the New Year.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets – 4pm NBA League Pass: The Warriors are on the ole Texas road trip. It’s a rough stretch even for the best team in the NBA.

MSU FLAGGoodyear Cotton Bowl – 5pm ESPN: Michigan State vs Alabama is about as old school as it gets. This one is all about running the ball and defense. Just a note, Nick Saban is undefeated against his former assistants. Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio is a former assistant of Saban’s.

 

Friday January 1st

dobbsOutback Bowl – 9am ESPN2: Northwestern and Tennessee have had outstanding years. This game is always close and a lot of fun to watch. Keep an eye on Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs. If he can be a dual threat against the tough Wildcat D then Tennessee could have a very good day.

Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins – 10am NBC: The 2016 Winter Classic is here. The Bruins are three points south of the Habs but as we know, anything can happen in this game.

BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl – 10am ESPN: Does it get much better than Notre Dame vs Ohio State?

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual – 2pm ESPN: Iowa vs Stanford is like Michigan State vs Alabama, run oriented offenses defenses that can win a game for you. You get to also check out the most exciting player in the country in Stanford’s Christian McCaffery.

Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: The Mavs head to Miami to kick off the New Year with Chris Bosh and D-Wade.

UFC 195 – 7pm PPV: Not the best card the UFC has ever put out there but the main event is for the Welterweight title. Defending Champion Robbie Lawler puts the title on the line against for Interim Champion Carlos Condit.

 

Saturday January 2nd

West Ham vs Liverpool – 4:45am NBCSN: Two teams that are neck and neck in the standings.

TaxSlayer Bowl – 9am ESPN: Penn State vs Georgia. One team (Penn State) is in transition offensively (new OC coming in) and Georgia, well their new Head Coach is currently the DC for Alabama.

Watford vs Manchester City -9:30am NBC: It’s been an upside down league this season, will order be restored in 2016? Man City has a chance to put Watford in their place and gain ground on league leading Arsenal.

Baylor at Kansas – 11am CBS: The Bears invade Rock Chalk Jayhawk and one of the toughest environments in all of college basketball.

Memphis at South Carolina – 1pm ESPNU: Stop the presses, the Gamecocks are undefeated and get their toughest test to date.

Iowa State at Oklahoma – 2pm ESPN2: OU is arguably the best team in the country but the Cyclones are not far behind.

Valero Alamo Bowl – 3:45pm ESPN: Oregon vs TCU and that means wide open offenses and two quarterbacks looking to end their collegiate careers with a bang. Oregon’s Vernon Adams and TCU’s Trevone Boykin.

New York Rangers at Florida Panthers – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: The Panthers are one of the surprises in the NHL this season. The Rangers are not. They are just a solid hockey team.

Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs – 5:30 NBA TV: Two of the better teams in the West square off.

 

Sunday January 3rd

Everton vs Tottenham – 8am NBCSN: Everton sits nine points back of Spurs and Spurs have goal scoring phenom Harry Kane. Tall order, even at home.

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills – 10am CBS: Jets win and they are into the playoffs. If the Bills win then there are a whole slew of possibilities.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals – 10am FOX: Bengals need to win to have a chance at a first round bye which they desperately need. Even backup QB AJ McCarron is iffy for this game with a bad wrist.

almerSeattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals – 1:25pm FOX: The Cards have a shot at having home field advantage throughout the playoffs and QB Carson Palmer has said ‘Super Bowl or Bust!’ Seahawks are working on a higher Wild Card seeding.

Dallas Stars at New York Islanders – 2pm NHL Gamecenter: The Stars lead the Central and the Isles are trying to stay within striking distance of the Capitals in the Metropolitan.

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 4pm NBA League Pass: King James and crew welcome the Atlantic leading Raptors to town.

Bridgewater vs PackersMinnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers – 5:30pm NBC: The NFC North and home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs is on the line. Packers got the better of the Vikings the first time around this season. Let’s see if Teddy Bridgewater and crew can get even.

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New Year’s Eve Playoff Is Not As Bad As It Sounds

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Year two of the College Football Playoff will be played on New Year’s Eve and not on New Year’s Day as it was in its first year. While much of the college football media has come out slamming the decision, the fact is that it’s not all that terrible of an idea.

MSU TDDan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports has absolutely chastised the idea. While Wetzel is correct in his cronyism view and that these games would have been bettered served being played on New Year’s Day or even on January 2nd, he is miss guided on several other points.

Not everyone has plans New Year’s Eve believe it or not. While a lot of people have to work on New Year’s Eve day, let’s be honest, nothing is really getting done (especially by kick off which is at 1pm PST) and with Watch ESPN, people are going to be watching in significant numbers on various devices. Also, people have to work on New Year’s Day and even Christmas so let’s stop acting like America completely shuts down on Holidays anymore.

If you do have plans on New Year’s Eve, did the bar or home of the party you are attending all of sudden stop having TV’s? If you are at a club, ballroom or what not, we can promise you that someone is going to be streaming the game on a smartphone. It’s 2015 after all.

Deshaun Watson ClemsonYes the ratings will be down this year compared to last year but that is not just because of the date and time the games are being played. In the second year of something you can almost guarantee a dip. The novelty has worn off. And if we’re being honest, Michigan State and Clemson are not the national brand names that Ohio State and Florida State are. Not to mention the fact that one of the games last year (Oregon vs Florida State) featured two Heisman Trophy winners squaring off against each other.

Yes a 1pm kick off on the West Coast on a ‘work day’ is a head scratcher. However we are in a 24/7 on-demand world. That means that we are not passively involved anymore, instead we have to actively seek out and find what we want to watch. Besides most people are using a second screen while watching TV anyway. Up to 87% of them in fact. So this notion that everyone stops, gathers around the TV and never looks away went out the window a long time ago.

Is a 1pm PST kick off on a ‘work day’ any worse than a 8:30pm EST kick off on a ‘work night’? Last year the Ohio State vs Alabama game didn’t kick off until almost 9pm EST and wasn’t over until well after midnight. Plenty of people didn’t stay up for that one after staying up late the night before and having to work the next day. Where was the outcry for that?

Look the College Football Playoff should be played on New Year’s Day and have games that are done well before midnight on the East Coast. But having the games on New Year’s Eve isn’t the ‘outrageous’ idea some want to make it out to be. Now there will be something on instead of Ryan Seacrest and Pitbull. If you prefer that then God be with you, the rest of us will be watching the College Football Playoff.

The Sunday: Holiday Greetings, Omens, & Never Giving Up

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Sliding Down The Candy Cane

Antonio Brown’s spread eagle celebration on the goalpost cost him some $11,576 but it made for a heck of a Christmas Card tweet.

 

Omen

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly made a lot of questionable moves this year and now they have missed the playoffs for the second straight year. Shouldn’t surprise anyone that the lights went out during his press conference after losing to Washington.

Is this an omen?

 

 

Bigger Than Me

Oakland Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson is calling it a career. He played his last game in front of the ‘Black Hole’Before the game he told his teammates that the game was bigger than him and it’s bigger than them.

The Raiders went on to beat their rivals to the south (the San Diego Chargers) in overtime. After the game Woodson had a message for Raider nation and one that isn’t all that far from the truth.

The NFL would be wise to have Woodson be an ambassador for the league.

 

Bowling For The Holidays

The first week of college football bowl games are in the books. Lot of high scores (the Independence Bowl between Tulsa and Virginia Tech had 75 points….at half time!), some great finishes and at least one questionable call.

In the Foster Farms Bowl between Nebraska and UCLA, Nebraska Safety Nate Gerry was ejected for a ‘targeting’. Even the next day this call (which was upheld by replay) is still baffling everyone.

In our book, this is a text book tackle.

On the other hand is a targeting call that we full agree with. This one happened in the Hyundai Sun Bowl and Miami Safety Rayshawn Jenkins was also ejected. The player left his feet and hit the opposing player above the shoulder pads. This is targeting. While everyone will not agree with the rule or the calls themselves, Gerry’s hit isn’t targeting and Jenkins hit is.

Targeting Rule

 

Banned Blatter

In a shock to no one, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was banned from soccer for eight years. Well this is a bit of a shock that it took FIFA this long to do it and it’s only eight years?

 

Will Run Routes 4 Food

While watching the New England Patriots at New York Jets game today, be on the lookout for Joe Anderson. He stood outside of the Houston Texans facility with a sign that said, Will Run Routes 4 Food

#NothingWillStopMe Lord it's all in your hands, all I know is that I believe it by faith and see it all happening even when it looks like a joke before the eyes of man! I fill myself with humility and say let your Will be done and use me to allow others to believe in your power!!!! Im not looking at my situation with a worldly mindset and that's what's gonna seperate me my hunger can't be matched my heart can't be compared too, I'm outside the Houston Texans facility every morning, because I kno what type of gift God has blessed me with!!! A lot of people don't really live out the meaning #WhateverItTakes they just sayin it!!! You gotta really live that junk if you say it and believe in yourself and trust in the Lord, and living it don't just mean hold up a sign!! Oh there is much pain behind holding this sign an it's not from bein doubted or the underdog, like how bad do you really want it?? Forget a publicity stunt Boyz is Really HUNGRY out hur dawg to the point if the coach wanna line up I'll route him up too, to the point if it's special teams an the REF get in the way I'll hit him too!! It's something flickering in my head everyday with much Humility and WILL power to go the extra mile when it come to believing in myself and proven all doubters wrongI'm not just chasing greatness for myself/family but for all the people that lack faith and wanna quit and don't believe God still moves, DAWG if you gotta DREAM GO GET THAT!! Let ZERO What If's stand in the way go to the grave on E, not off what someone told you you can't do…Create and tell your testimony don't be ashamed of it, do it all for the glory of the kingdom take yourself outta the picture I'm out here on FAITH, it's bigger than just collecting a check to me straight up! The way I do what I do and why I do what I do isn't just to score touchdowns and gain fame that's far from the case I don't need all that cause I'm already famous in spirit an you can't get no famous than that, when I get my shot you'll see what the Lord is truly about to do in my life and I pray wit all my heart it inspires you to never Give up.When your purpose means more than your situation God will give you favor

A post shared by Joe Anderson (@_joeanderson) on

His perseverance, humility and commitment to the game paid off when the Jets signed him this past week.

What To Watch: Fri. 12/25 – Sun. 12/27

All times are Pacific.

Friday December 25th

Chicago Bulls at Oklahoma City Thunder – 11:30am ABC: Two playoff level teams who have enough talent to make some noise come the spring.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 2pm ABC: Not only is it a rematch of last years NBA Finals but it also features the top teams in the Eastern & Western Conference.

San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets – 5pm ESPN: Houston has started to turn it around and the Spurs are….well the Spurs. They are the second best team in the NBA behind Golden State. Maybe Pop will compliment James Harden’s beard?

 

Saturday December 26th

Liverpool vs Leicester City – 5am NBCSN: The league leading Foxes head to Anfield to take on Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.

Louisville at Kentucky – 9am CBS: Top 25 men’s basketball matchup between two of the predominant powers. Add the instate battle factor and this game has all the makings of a barn burner.

Miami vs Washington State – 11am CBS: The Sun Bowl is a pretty good one this year as the surprising Washington State Cougars take on the Miami Hurricanes. The Hurricane players are really auditioning for new head coach Mark Richt so their chances of just mailing this one in are low.

Indiana vs Duke – 12:30pm ABC: A bowl game outside in New York on the last weekend of December doesn’t sound like a reward but it is for these two teams. Two very offensive minded coaches squaring off means this game has shootout potential.

Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHLN: The top team in the Eastern division meets the top team in the Metropolitan division. Plenty of star talent on the ice as well.

Dallas Stars at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: These two are battling it out for the top spot in the Central division.

Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: Two evenly matched teams on a Saturday night in the Music City.

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles – 5:25pm NFL Network: The NFC East leading Redskins try to fly by the Eagles. If they do, they have all but locked up the NFC East and a home playoff game.

 

Sunday December 27th

Tom BradyNew England Patriots at NY Jets – 1pm CBS: Playoff implications abound in this one. Jets are looking to get a step closer to the postseason while the Pats can lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win.

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals – 1:25pm FOX: While both teams are already in the playoffs, this game could determine who gets a first round bye in the postseason. Two All Pro quarterbacks squaring off makes this one even more fun to watch.

NY Giants at Minnesota Vikings – 5:25pm NBC: Giants need a lot of help to make the playoffs and it won’t be any easier with Odell Beckham Jr suspended. Vikings control their own destiny. They keep winning and they are into the playoffs.

Transfer U

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


We have covered the topic of graduate transfers before but a new crop has emerged and it raises new and different questions.

Dakota PrukopDakota Prukop was the first “name” quarterback to make a move. Like Vernon Adams, Prukop, is moving up from the FCS level (Big Sky Conference as well) to Oregon. Prukop turned down Alabama and Texas in the process.

This is the second year in a row that an FCS quarterback is moving into the quarterback role at Oregon. This begs the question, has Oregon been unable to recruit a young quarterback? Do they really look at their quarterback recruits and think, ‘man, we’re toast if we don’t get a transfer in here’ ? The Oregon coaching staff should do a better job of identifying, recruiting and developing a quarterback because there is no way that crossing your fingers and hoping a graduate transfer QB just decides to go to Eugene.

Texas A&M lost two quarterbacks….in a week! Top recruits Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray both decided to transfer away from College Station. Add that to Kenny Hill, who transferred last year, and that makes three top QB’s who have left the Aggies in the last two years. Unlike the graduate transfer Prukop, Allen and Murray will have to sit out a year just like Hill is currently doing at TCU.

Trevor KnightFormer Oklahoma quarterback (and Sugar Bowl MVP) Trevor Knight has decided to leave Sooner nation behind. Knight started plenty of games for the Sooners but his inconsistent play led to walk-on transfer (and eventual Heisman contender) Baker Mayfield getting the starting nod. Funny thing is, Knight might walk into a starting role at A&M because Hill, Allen and Murray decided to leave.

Patrick TowlesOther graduate transfers this off season include former Kentucky signal-caller Patrick Towles who is moving onto Boston College and former Georgia backup Faton Bauta who will take his skills to Colorado State. Both are eligible to play immediately for their new schools.

Florida’s Will Grier is another quarterback who like Allen and Murray, will have to wait to play. He is under NCAA suspension for essentially PED use and regardless of where he goes, he will still have to serve his suspension.

Earlier this year in the column ‘College Football Free Agency’ that we didn’t think graduate transfers was a trend. We were right, it’s not a trend….it’s a full blown movement!

Players, in particularly quarterbacks, are making it clear that if they don’t feel their job is safe or have the opportunity to move to a bigger and better program then they will jump at the chance.

Sounds just like the working world doesn’t it?

On the other hand, while quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Vernon Adams have found success, there are plenty who have failed to impress. As we alluded to in the post ‘Transfer Dreams’, just because you started somewhere else doesn’t mean you will succeed (much less start) at another school.

In other words, past performance isn’t indicative of future success.

Schools would be better served by going the parallel route: recruit and develop a quarterback and if a graduate transfer drops in your lap then all the better. Either way you should come out on top. Meanwhile, don’t think for a minute that we’ve seen the end of the graduate transfers.

The Sunday: Bad Is Bad And Good Is Good

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


UnHoly War

Utah put a beating on BYU in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. While the final score shows a much closer game (35-28), Utah had all of those 35 points in the first quarter. It was so one sided that ESPN announcer Brent Musburger felt bad for his Mormon friends.

 

Minor Car Wreck

2015 PGA Championship winner Jason Day and his wife Ellie were having a nice night out which included court side seats to the Cavaliers vs Thunder game. What they weren’t playing on was a trip to the hospital. That’s exactly what they got after LeBron James went diving for a lose ball and slammed right into Ellie.

Just to be clear, that’s 6’8″ and some 250lbs coming full speed into you. Ellie is doing fine and compared it to a minor car wreck. LeBron apologized to Ellie in his post game interview. 

 

When Things Go Well

The Oakland Raiders Khalil Mack had a really good game last weekend. He had five sacks in the Raiders upset win over the Denver Broncos. He almost had another tackle for a loss but was held by a Broncos offensive lineman. It was so obvious that Mack popped right up and caught the penalty flag being throw in the direction of the foul.

Flag Catch

 

Coaching Changes

In this weeks installment of mid-season coaching changes, Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho is out and Wisconsin’s men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan stepped down after only 12 games. While it’s no surprise to see a soccer manager let go midseason (even Jose ‘The Great One’ can lose his way) but that trend going over to the collegiate ranks of football and basketball is a little disconcerting.

Ryan has ponder this decision for a while now, it still doesn’t seem right to be a mentor to a group of 18-22 year olds and then duck out on them not even mid way through the season. What message does that send to them?

 

The Bench

The Monmouth men’s basketball team’s bench is getting a lot of attention these days. Not for their off the bench scoring or defense but for their celebrations. So much attention that they appeared on the Today show this weekend.

Hey, at least they are excited about their team and are showing first rate creativity.

You can follow them here are @MonmouthBench. Yes, they have their own twitter account.

 

What to Watch: Fri. 12/18 – Sun. 12/20

All times are Pacific.

Friday December 18th

Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: Two proud franchises and two that plan on making a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: The Caps are leading the Metropolitan division but it’s only a matter of time before the Lightning turn it around.

Blake GriffinLA Clippers at San Antonio Spurs – 5pm ESPN: Two powerhouses in the western conference square off. This means a whole lot of star power too. Blake Griffin, TIm Duncan, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, LeMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, etc.

 

Richmond at North Dakota State – 5pm ESPN2: It’s the first of two FCS Semifinal games. NDSU looks to make it to a fifth straight National Title game. Richmond hasn’t been there since 2008 when it beat Montana.

 

Saturday December 19th

Utah at Duke – 9am ESPN: Big out of conference match-up. Duke has not lost at home to an out of conference opponent in what seems like forever.

Villanova at Virginia – 9am ESPN2: One of four top 25 match-ups in college basketball this weekend.

UNC vs UCLA – 10am CBS: This one is being played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Two legendary programs and two pretty good teams this year.

BYU vs UTAH – 12:30pm ABC: The Las Vegas bowl is a renewal of an old rivalry. One called the ‘Holy War’. Expect a good one and lets see if both teams can keep it a clean game.

Sam Houston State at Jacksonville State – 1pm ESPNU: The second FCS Semifinal match-up. Shootout probability: HIGH.

Butler at Purdue -2pm BTN: Another one of the top 25 match-ups in college basketball.

Ohio vs Appalachian State – 2:30pm ESPN: One of the more solid games this bowl season. Yes it has a funny name (Camilla Bowl) but these two teams have a combined 18 wins this season. That’s better than a lot of bowl games.

Montreal Canadiens at Dallas Stars – 4pm NHLN: Division leaders square off in the Lone Star State.

UFC on FOX – 5pm FOX: Lightweight title is on the line as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. Former Heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos takes on Alistair Overeem and Nate Diaz returns to face Michael Johnson.

LA Clippers at Houston Rockets – 5pm NBA League Pass: The Texas road trip is always tough. Second game in two night for the Clippers against a solid team.

 

Sunday December 20th

Watford vs Liverpool – 5:30pm NBCSN: Liverpool sits a point behind Watford for the seventh spot in the Premier League table.

Carolina Panthers at NY Giants  – 10am FOX: Panthers are still undefeated and in the playoffs. Giants are fighting for their playoff lives and this would be a big, big win.

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings – 10am FOX: Big battle in the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers at Oakland Raiders – 1pm FOX: Aaron Rodgers returns home…and he gets to face Khalil Mack who had five sacks last weekend at Denver.

Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers – 1:25pm CBS: The best defense in the league (Broncos) takes on the second best offense in the league (Steelers). Any questions?

Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic – 3pm NBA League Pass: Solid match up for your Sunday afternoon.

OvechkinWashington Capitals at NY Rangers – 4pm NHLN: Alex Ovechkin and the Caps take their show on the road to the Big Apple.

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles – 5:25pm NBC: The Cards are rolling and the Eagles have won two in a row against two playoff caliber teams.

Bowl Game Bonanza

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


It’s the Holiday Season which means it’s college football bowl season. Or as ESPN likes to brand it ‘Bowl Week’….that of course lasts two weeks. There are some 41 bowl games including the National Championship game and some feature teams with sub 500 records. How did we get here and which ones are worth watching?

CBS Sports Dennis Dodd wrote an article sometime ago about why we have so many. The reasons are varied but essentially come down to these factors: It’s live programming for ESPN who broadcasts all but one of the bowl games and money. Teams and conferences get payouts from each bowl game who in turn get money from ESPN, sponsorships, plus tickets and concession sales.

Lord knows what BattleFrog paid to be the title sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl (a game that kicks off at 11am local time New Years Day) but it had to be a pretty penny. It also shows that bowl games are truly in it for the money. They would sell two title sponsorships to their games if they could.

Besides BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl, other oddities include:

  • Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (It’s not just a bowl game, it’s a celebration!)
  • Cure Bowl (We don’t think The Cure is playing the halftime show.)
  • Miami Beach Bowl (This is at Marlins Park which is not near the beach.)
  • Marmot Boca Raton Bowl (Marmot specializes in winter clothes.)
  • Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (What?)
  • Russell Athletic Bowl (Features two teams sponsored by Nike.)
  • Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (…..Yeah.)

It’s big business and if the model didn’t work then there wouldn’t be so many bowl games.

From a schools perspective there are other reasons to go to a bowl game. Specifically the extra practice time. If you have a young team, installing a new offense, etc you can always use the extra practice time that a bowl game allows you.

Yes bowl games are supposed to be a reward for the players but let’s not kid ourselves, is going to play in a bowl game in Detroit or outside in the Bronx in December a reward? Now playing a game in the Bahamas or Honolulu, ok that seems like a good gig. But Shreveport, LA or Montgomery, AL, probably not so much.

Either way, the games are upon us and here is a list of ones that should be worth watching:

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl – 12/19 | 12:30pm | ABC: BYU vs Utah is a rivalry that went away when BYU went independent. While Utah isn’t thrilled about this matchup (or being back in a bowl they were in last year) this renewed rivalry should be worth watching.Holy War Byu vs Utah

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl – 12/19 | 2:30pm | ESPN: Ohio vs Appalachian State may not seem sexy but Ohio has eight wins and App State has 10. Just sayin.

Miami Beach Bowl – 12/21 | 11:30am | ESPN: Western Kentucky vs South Florida is a heck of a match up. Western Kentucky can score points at will while USF has found it’s swagger once again under head coach Willie Taggart.

Tyler Matakevich
Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Matakevich

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl – 12/22 | 4pm | ESPN: Toledo vs Temple is a game, despite Toledo’s coach bolting for a new gig at Iowa State, that is pretty underrated. Toledo had a chance to win the MAC and Temple burst onto the college football scene this year with the help of Chuck Bednarik Award winner Tyler Matakevich (that means he is Defensive Player of the Year).

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – 12/23 | 1:30pm | ESPN: It’s funny to say that Boise State vs Northern Illinois is game between two teams who had a down year. Both have been to major bowl games the last few years and the talent is there to do it again.

Hyundai Sun Bowl – 12/26 | 11am | CBS:  Washington State came out of nowhere this year to be a force in the Pac-12. Miami….well they have talent and a new head coach coming in so most of the returning players are essentially giving a live tryout to their new head coach Mark Richt.

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman – 12/28 | 11:30am | ESPN: Last chance to see Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds go do his thing. Pittsburgh is a tough, hard-nosed team so this could be an old grind’em up football game. Oh, Navy is playing at home.

Russell Athletic Bowl – 12/29 | 2:30pm | ESPN: Two high powered offenses that should put points on the board. Granted North Carolina is a lot healthier than Baylor at the quarterback position but this should be fun none the less.

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl – 12/29 | 6pm | ESPN: A contrast in styles. LSU has arguably the best running back in the country in Leonard Fournette and Texas Tech likes to spread you out and expose the open space.

Chick -fil -A Peach Bowl – 12/31 | 9am | ESPN: One of the New Years Six bowl games featuring Houston against Florida State. Houston has had an awesome season under first year head coach Tom Herman but FSU has Dalvin Cook who is arguably the best running back in the country.

Capital One Orange Bowl – 12/31 | 1pm | ESPN: The first of two College Football Playoff Semifinal games. This is a rematch of last years Russell Athletic Bowl and while Clemson got the better of Oklahoma in that game, OU is one of the hottest teams in the country.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl – 12/31 | 5pm | ESPN: Michigan State vs Alabama is about as old school as it gets. This one is all about running the ball and defense.

Outback Bowl – 1/1 | 9am | ESPN2: Northwestern and Tennessee have had outstanding years. This game is always close and a lot of fun to watch.

BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl – 1/1 | 10am | ESPN: Does it get much better than Notre Dame vs Ohio State?

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual – 1/1 | 2pm | ESPN: Iowa vs Stanford is like Michigan State vs Alabama, run oriented offenses defenses that can win a game for you. You get to also check out the most exciting player in the country in Stanford’s Christian McCaffery.

Valero Alamo Bowl – 1/2 | 3:45pm | ESPN: Oregon vs TCU and that means wide open offenses and two quarterbacks looking to end their collegiate careers with a bang. Oregon’s Vernon Adams and TCU’s Trevone Boykin.

The Sunday: All Good Things Come To An End

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


The End Of The Streaks

Jose Aldo lost an MMA fight for the first time in 10 years Saturday night. Even more shocking, it only took 13 seconds. While people will want to talk about the beginning of the loud mouth Conor McGregor era (and rightfully so) it’s more unbelievable to think that Aldo lost for the first time in 10 years in 13 seconds in round 1.

https://twitter.com/allelbows/status/676009183192289280

Curry after Warriors lossNot as long but arguably as impressive was the Golden State Warriors run. They had won 27 straight regular season games dating back to last season. Oh and an NBA title in between. Their undefeated run came to an end Saturday night too when the Milwaukee Bucks defeated them 108-95.

 

Broke Down Raiders

The Oakland Raiders are having one their better seasons in more than a decade. While their team is improving, their (and the Oakland A’s) stadium is falling apart. So much so that they aren’t even fixing leaks.

Really reenforces the reasons why Billy Beane and the A’s went the Moneyball route. If there is no money to fix the leaks, we doubt there is any to pay players.

 

Loss

As of October 1st, UFC fighters were no longer allowed to use IV’s to rehydrate after the weigh in. A lot of people said that this was a dangerous. Those voices included UFC commentator Joe Rogan and nutritionist Mike Dolce.  This past weekend another MMA organization, One FC, in Asia had a fighter die after his weight cut. The reasoning appears to be cardiopulmonary failure. While further investigation is underway, it only exemplifies the serious nature of weight cutting. It should be taken very seriously and be done with as many safeguards as possible.

 

Throw That Ball Over That Wall!

Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire went showing off his arm. Odds are that he threw it further than Uncle Rico despite Uncle Rico’s claim that he could throw it over that mountain.

 

Military Creativity

Saturday saw one of the better Army vs Navy games in years. Almost as good were the signs at ESPN’s College GameDay.

You have to give the Cadets and Midshipmen some credit. For all they have to do during the day, between high level course work and military obligations, this is some high level creativity.

It’s a great way to end another season of College GameDay.

Cord Cutting Is Here For The Sports Fan

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


“Cord Cutting” is one of the hip terms thrown around in the cable, satellite and broadcast world. The real question is, is this a viable option for the true sports fan. The sports fan is, after all, why entities like ESPN, CBS, FOX and NBC write checks with three commas in them to leagues to acquire their rights. So the answer is YES you can cut the cord…almost.

SECN on SLING
SEC Network via Sling TV on an iPad.

Dish Network launched Sling TV earlier this year. They keys for Sling TV are as follows: there is no contract, it is $25 a month with the “sports extra” package that includes the ESPN family of networks and is device agnostic. Yes, it is a viable option for the sports fan. While the speed of your internet connection is a factor in how good your picture quality is, overall it’s an easy to use service that allows you to watch all of the ESPN channels anywhere you want on just about any device.

Outside of the ESPN channels, the sports package isn’t anything to scream about. The package also offers beIN sports, Outdoor Channel, Univision IDN and the now defunct Universal Sports. I am not sure that these really qualify for a “sports package” but you get them none the less. So in reality you are paying $5 a month for ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, SEC Network, and ESPN3. ESPN3 is kind of a hidden gem because it can allow you to watch games on ABC which is awesome if you have a bad over the air signal. You can also use ESPN3 and the WATCH ESPN app to watch a second game because your Sling TV account is a single sign on. That means one account, one screen at a time.

Sling TV doesn’t offer rewind functionality or a DVR. These can be annoying but not deal breakers by any stretch of the imagination.

SLING TV
Sling TV on the Roku 3.

If you live out of market then you are still paying for the league apps like MLS Live, NHL Gamecenter, MLB.TV, etc. You can also get NFL Sunday Ticket online in certain markets. The cost is the same as DirecTV but if you have the money it’s an awesome package. All of these apps available on virtually all of the OTT devices, Do your homework though to make sure that the app your looking for is available on the device you are thinking about purchasing.

Twitter

On the positive side, Sling TV’s customer service is pretty awesome especially if you go through Twitter to do it. It’s a pay as you go service but if you pre pay a few months ahead of time then they will give you deal on an OTT player like a Roku or Amazon Fire. I went with the Roku 3 after watching a review by Lon Seidman and despite some minor drawbacks, it’s working out pretty well.

There are drawbacks of course to cutting the cord. If you go the Sling TV route and dump your cable or satellite subscription then you do not get FS1, CBS Sports Network, NBCSN, NFL Network. NHLN, NBA TV, MLBN or your regional sports channels. This means that if you live in a market like San Francisco, Phoenix, Houston, Pittsburgh, etc then you won’t be able to see your local teams in baseball, basketball, hockey and so forth. You’ll also be blocked out by the league packages offered by MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS and be forced to head to your local sports bar or the game itself.

The other drawback is that you are back on over the air TV. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because, well, it’s free. However, if you live in a place with a bad signal then you may not get your basic network channels like ABC or CBS which isn’t a problem until Sunday NFL games roll around.

Something that you may not have thought about ( I didn’t) is the ability to switch quickly between games. On a college football Saturday, I will swap between three or four games at a time. That is very difficult to do if you cut the cord. Instead of changing channels, you are jumping in and out of apps and swapping sources on your TV. It can be annoying but not impossible.

There are work arounds for all of these issues of course. First, grab someones log in so that you can stream games from apps like NBCSN and FOX SPORTS GO. Research and invest in a super strong indoor antenna for your local channels. It may sound hokey in 2015 but if you want your local Sunday NFL games then you’ll definitely need one.

Finally you have to address your internet connection. You’ll want the fastest possible speed you can get and no matter what your cable company tells you, you do have a cap. I haven’t hit it yet but even if I do go over it’s a $10 change. That is still significantly cheaper than a $150 cable bill.

The fact is that you can cut the cord and still watch sports. It’s cumbersome but not as impossible as it was say five years ago. It’s cheaper in the long run but the short term costs and hit you pretty good. The fact remains that true sports fans can now be cord cutters too and it’s is only going to get better.