Bowl Mania Guide

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.16.2016

With the Holiday’s comes college football bowl season. Yes, there are too many bowl games (42 in all) and too many undeserving teams (19 teams are .500 or worse ). Yet we will still watch a vast majority of them if no other reason than to escape arguments about this year’s Presidential election. So here are the best bets when it comes to which games to watch.

*All times are Pacific

December 17th

Donnel PumphreyLas Vegas Bowl | Houston vs San Diego State | 12:30pM ABC: Yes Houston lost their head coach to Texas but the OC and DC are still there and the OC, Major Applewhite, is the new head coach and they still have Greg Ward at QB. The Aztecs count with senior running back Donnel Pumphrey who with a solid rushing game could become the nation’s #2 all-time leading rusher.

Camellia Bowl | Appalachian State vs Toledo | 2:30pm ESPN:  Seriously, this is a good game. App State is better than their 9-3 record would indicate and so is Toledo. App State won their first ever bowl game a year ago on a last second field goal after being down 24-7 at halftime.

December 20th

Boca Raton Bowl | Memphis vs Western Kentucky | 4pm ESPN:  Offense, offense and more offense. Western Kentucky averages 517 yards per game while Memphis averages 461. Did we mention offense?

December 21st

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl | BYU vs Wyoming | 6pm ESPN: This is a rivalry game renewed. These two haven’t played each other since 2010 when BYU left the Mountain West Conference and BYU leads the all-time series 44-30-3. Be ready for old school football here.

December 27th

National Funding Holiday Bowl | Minnesota vs Washington State | 4pm ESPN:  Two teams that kind of tripped up towards the end of the season but two solid teams none the less. Wazzu’s Luke Falk is something to see. He was 4th in the country with 4204 passing yards this season. Of course this is only a game if  Minnesota players actually play. 

December 28th

Russell Athletic Bowl | West Virginia vs Miami | 2:30pm ESPN: These two can light up the scoreboard if things go right. West Virginia probably deserves a better bowl game and Miami has junior QB Brad Kaaya and is playing closer to home than the Mountaineers are.

December 29th

Valero Alamo Bowl | Oklahoma State vs Colorado | 6pm ESPN: This might be the best game of bowl season not to mention the fact that this bowl game always seems to be high scoring shootout every year.

 

December 30th

dobbsFranklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl | Nebraska vs Tennessee | 12:30pm ESPN: These two couldn’t stop a nose bleed in their last game of the season. They do have multifaceted QB’s who can hurt you with their arm or their legs. Josh Dobbs for Tennessee and Tommy Armstrong JR for Nebraska. One player to watch is Tennessee’s Derek Barnett. He’ll be a top 5 NFL draft pick if he decides to forgo his senior season.

Capital One Orange Bowl | Michigan vs Florida State | 5pm ESPN: Two teams with loads of talent on both sides of the football. This game will be all about the offensive and defensive lines.

December 31st

College Football Playoff Semifinal | Washington vs Alabama | Noon ESPN:  Look, this playoff is Alabama’s to lose but UW head coach Chris Pederson is known for having a trick or two up his sleeve.

College Football Playoff Semifinal | Ohio State vs Clemson | 4pm ESPN:  All about the QB’s in this one. Ohio State has been here before and it’s hard to bet against Urban Meyer. Then again Clemson was here a year ago and dominated.

January 2nd

Rose Bowl | USC vs Penn State | 2pm ESPN: Two head coaches who were on the hot seat over the last 12 months have their teams in one of the biggest bowl games of all. Not bad. Let’s just hope it’s better than last years blowout of Iowa delivered at the hands of Christian McCaffery and Stanford.

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Out Of Control

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


National Signing Day is officially out of hand. It was bad enough when ESPN and CBS Sports began doing live shots of high school football players announcing where they are going to play their college football (at least to start with before they transfer due to lack of playing time) but a live show complete with celebrities? Skydiving? Really?

Ric FlairIn case you missed it, Jim Harbaugh and Michigan put on an event complete with former Michigan players like Tom Brady and Desmond Howard along with host Randy Sklar, Harbaugh’s brother John, Ric Flair, Lou Holtz, Mike Shanahan, Todd McShay and oh yeah, ‘The Captain’ Derek Jeter whose site, The Players’ Tribune, live streamed the event.

Tennessee streamed their day live online too which was some six plus hours. While it didn’t have Brady, Jeter or Ric Flair it was still six plus hours of a live event for players turning in a piece of paper.

While over the top it was still nothing compared to Ole Miss signee Deontay Anderson. He went skydiving to make his announcement.

Really?

These are high schoolers who have never played a down of collegiate football. Heck, most haven’t even graduated high school yet. There is no guarantee that any of them will turn out to be a quality player or even be playing football within a year. Isn’t this a little much?

A few years ago I had a couple of posts pointing out that a top class doesn’t always equal success on the field. According to Rivals.com two schools with the top 10 recruiting classes in 2015 fired their head coaches this past year (USC and Georgia) and another school tried to fire their’s (LSU).

Yes a higher ranked recruiting class gives you a better chance to be successful than a lower ranked recruiting class. However at what point do people stop and say ‘hold on a minute, these are just kids we are putting up on a pedestal. Maybe they should earn it first before we shower them with praise’?

No? Well maybe that won’t happen but even the craziest of people has to admit that this is getting a little out of control.

Harbaugh: Doing It His Way

Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Jim Harbaugh has been anything but boring since returning to the collegiate ranks. He brought Michigan back to the double-digit win mark in his first season and is now making headlines with his antics on the recruiting trail. Some are not happy about Harbaugh’s recruiting methods but there is precedent for what he is doing.

During this last recruiting push before national signing day (February 3rd) Harbaugh has done just about everything one could imagine.

He’s tried to climb a tree

Had a ‘Netflix & Chill’ night

and even sleepovers.

While the jury is still out on if these tactics worked (getting a recruit to commit doesn’t mean he’ll be a contributing player) it has ruffled some feathers especially to those recruits who’s scholarship commitments he pulled.

 of the Detroit Free Press wrote a great piece about how recruits, opposing coaches and even writers are upset about Harbaugh pulling scholarship offers from long standing commitments.

While it appears harsh it is not without precedent. Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville literally walked out of dinner with recruits while at Texas Tech to take the job at Cincinnati. Later, he and his staff pulled scholarship offers once they arrived.

And this is at a non-Power five school!

While some recruits should be angry about the how they were treated by Harbaugh, Tuberville and others, this is a cutthroat business after all. Coaches get paid millions to win NOW. While we’d like to think that coaches are there to educate and develop young men, bottom line is they have to win to keep their jobs and sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Is a coach going to pull offer from kid A and give it to kid B if he feels kid B gives him a better chance of winning? Damn right he is. There are only so many scholarships to go around after all. Let’s also not forget, these scholarships are for a year and can be revoked. It’s cold blooded but it’s the system that has been allowed to grow due to the money that is involved with college football.

The good side, it’s life lesson kids are learning early. Just because you are qualified doesn’t mean you get the job. Just because everyone likes doesn’t mean you won’t be let go in a round of layoffs. Just because you have an offer doesn’t mean that the you are set for the next four years.

Harbaugh has a track record of winning in college and in the NFL. He clearly knows what he’s doing and the type of player he believes will help him win at Michigan. Like it, don’t like it but you see how the San Francisco 49ers did after he left. At the very least he’s entertaining and giving us something to write about besides “what school will this “5 star” kid select?” when we all know that this kid may never make any kind of impact for the school he signed with.

 

What To Watch Thurs. 11/26 – Sun. 11/29

All times are Pacific.


Thursday November 26th

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – 9:30am FOX: Well, we’d like a better matchup but hey, it’s what we got.

Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:30pm CBS: The Cowboys have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back so this could actually be a good game.

Texas Tech at Texas – 4:30pm FS1: Texas has to win out to be bowl eligible and that’s a big deal for a young team. Texas Tech is good but beatable.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 5:30pm NBC: Awaken from the food coma in time to see if they Packers can win back-to-back games or if the Bears will finally put it together.

 

Friday November 27th

NY Rangers at Boston Bruins – 10am NBC: Ice, skates, rivals. Not a bad way to start Black Friday.

Keenan ReynoldsNavy at Houston – 9am ABC: Winner gets to represent the West in the American Atheletic Conference championship. Also get a chance to see the NCAA all time leader in touchdowns in Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.

Marshall at Western Kentucky – 9am FS1: Last year the final score was 67-66. Just sayin.

Washington State at Washington -12:30pm FOX: The Apple Cup is the most underrated rivalry in college football. Always a solid game.

Armstrong JRIowa at Nebraska – 12:30pm ABC: Nebraska is a lot better than there 5-6 record indicates. Iowa is undefeated and looking for a spot in the College Football Playoff. This rivalry will get a lot more heated after this game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 2pm NBCSN: Both teams are better than their record indicates and still a whole bunch of talent on the ice.

Baylor at TCU – 4:30pm ESPN: It doesn’t really matter what quarterback plays for Baylor but it does for TCU. Points a plenty in this one.

Miami Heat at NY Knicks – 4:30pm NBA.TV: The Kicks aren’t bad this season but the Heat may be a little bit better.

 

Saturday November 28th

Ohio State at Michigan – 9am ABC: Our first taste of Meyer vs Harbaugh. Add in Ohio State having to put a tough loss behind them and this should be one heck of a ball game.

Louisville at Kentucky – 9am SECN: Kentucky is one win away from bowl eligibility and their cross state rivals would love nothing more than to keep that from happening.

UCLA at USC – 12:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Battle of LA and for the Pac-12 South.

Penn State at Michigan State -12:30pm ESPN: Michigan State controls it’s own destiny when it comes to winning the Big 10 Eastern division.

Wisconsin at Minnesota – 12:30pm BTN: Dude, it’s the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe! It also gives us a chance to show this video from 2003.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State – 4:15pm ESPN2: The Egg Bowl and if Alabama loses, a chance for Ole Miss to grab the SEC West crown.

Notre Dame at Stanford -4:30pm FOX: Huge game for the Irish against a very, very good Stanford team.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State – 5pm ABC: Bedlam is here. Winner probably has a legit shot at the College Football Playoff.

 

Sunday November 29th

NY Giants at Washington Redskins – 10am FOX: The winner controls first place in the NFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – 1:25pm CBS: Steelers have been able to keep it together and succeed despite a rash of injuries. The Seahawks looked like the Seahawks for once this season last week. Good luck hearing the play call Pittsburgh.

FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – 2pm ESPN: 2nd leg and Dallas got an all important road goal in leg one. They did lose 3-1 however which should put the Timbers in the drivers seat.

103rd Grey Cup – 3pm ESPN2: Live from Winnipeg with Fall Out Boy as the halftime entertainment. Oh its the Edmonton Eskimos vs Ottawa RedBlacks.

NY Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew – 4:30pm FS1: The Crew won first the first leg 2-0. NYRB has it’s work cut out for them if they want to advance to MLS Cup.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: The best offense in football goes against the best defense. More or less. Broncos start Brock Osweiler for a second straight week.

What To Watch – Fri. 10/30 – Sun. 11/1

All times are Pacific.

The best time of year because we have NFL, College Football, NBA, NHL, MLS Playoffs and World Series not to mention Nascar and F1.

Friday October 30

Dartmouth at Harvard – 4:30pm NBCSN: Both are 6-0 and tied for first place a top the Ivy League.

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 3 with the Royals up 2-0. This one is in NY though and that can make a huge difference.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets – 6:30pm ESPN: Defending champs go on the road to a team that is one of their main challengers this season.

 

Saturday October 31st

Chelsea vs Liverpool -5:45am NBCSN: Liverpool looks for it’s first win under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp. Chelsea looks to turn the season around.

2015 Rugby World Cup Final – 9am NBC: It’s Australia vs New Zealand.

Florida vs Georgia – 12:30pm CBS: We don’t care, it’s still ‘The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.’

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech – 12:30pm ESPN: Plenty of points and a tough place for the Pokes to get a win.

Nashville Predators at LA Kings – 1pm NHL Gamecenter: The Preds are the best in the West and LA isn’t far behind.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: Sidney Crosby heads to the heart of the hockey world.

Michigan at Minnesota – 4pm ESPN: Michigan is a hard nosed football team and Minnesota will be playing with a heavy heart as their head coach retired due to health reasons.

Notre Dame at Temple – 5pm ABC: Huge game for the undefeated Temple Owls. First visit by ESPN Gameday, they’ve never been undefeated this late in the season. The question becomes, can they handle it all?

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 4.

Stanford at Washington State – 7:30pm ESPN: For the lead in the PAC-12 North believe it or not.

 

Sunday November 1st

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers – 10am CBS: Boy these two teams are good this year and the Steelers look like they might get Big Ben back under center.

goalDC United vs NY Red Bulls – Noon ESPN: One of the longest standing rivalries in MLS. NYRB took home the Supporters Shield again this year but will Jesse Marsch be able to lead them to an MLS Cup?

NY Jets at Oakland Raiders – 1pm CBS: No seriously, this game should be really good.

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 2pm ESPN: If you didn’t watch arguably the most exciting MLS Playoff game ever the other night then…well you missed out. Portland was able to survive and now they host Cascadia Cup foes Vancouver.

Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Two undefeated teams square off in the Mile High City. Can the Broncos find their offense?

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas – 6:30pm FS1: FC Dallas has arguably the toughest road to MLS Cup. Why? Your first playoff game is going to be in front of the largest crowd in typical Seattle wet and cold conditions.

 

If none of these do it for ya, Twitch is running a marathon of ‘The Joy of Painting.’

What To Watch Thurs. 2/19 – Sun. 2/22

All times are Pacific

Thursday February 19th

Nashville Predators at NY Islanders – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: A battle of division leaders.

Vancouver Canucks at NY Rangers – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: Well if the game on Long Island doesn’t do anything for you than this one should.

San Antonio Spurs at LA Clippers – 7:30pm TNT: Just a fun match up.

 

Friday February 20th

Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks – 4pm NBA League Pass: Division leaders square off in HotLanta.

Boston Bruins at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: St Louis is probably the best team in the NHL. The Bruins are fighting for a playoff spot. Should be fun.

Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames – 6pm NHL Gamecenter: These Ducks have to fly north for a night and try to knock off the surprisingly good Flames.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: Defending champs head into Oakland to take on one of the best teams in the league.

 

Saturday February 21st

Iowa State Cyclones at Texas Longhorns – 11am ESPN2: Frank Erwin Center in Austin can be a tough place to pay. Upset alert!

Pittsburgh Penguins at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: Tough back to back games for the Blues but if anyone can handle it it’s them.

Toronto Raptors at Houston Rockets – 5pm NBA League Pass: Plenty of star power in Houston for a Saturday night. n

UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats – 6pm ESPN: Something tells us that Arizona should be careful.

LA Kings at San Jose Sharks – 6:30pm NBCSN: Outside at Levi Stadium. It would be more fun if it was at old Candlestick Park but we’ll take what we can get.

 

 

Sunday February 22nd

Southampton vs Liverpool – 8am NBCSN: If the season ended today, Southampton would be in the Champions League and Liverpool wouldn’t. Crazy

Dayton 500 – 10am FOX: Nascar is back. Jeff Gordon in his final season took the pole in Daytona. Let’s go racin’!

Ohio State at Michigan – 10am CBS: It’s usually a good football and a lot of times a better basketball game.

Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks – Noon NBC: It’s hockey day in America. You’re welcome.

Memphis Grizzlies at Portland TrailBlazers – 6pm NBA League Pass: A nice way to end a great sports weekend.

 

 

College Football Free Agency

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Vernon Adams. It’s ok if you have never heard of him but he is the one causing a major ruckus on the college football landscape. Not because of what he has done the past three seasons at Eastern Washington but because he’s leaving there to play his final season at Oregon.

Vernon Adams

Adams is a 22 year old from Pasadena, CA. He started at quarterback for three years at Eastern Washington but since he is graduating in May he is taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows him to transfer without having to sit out a year. While Eastern Washington is letting him go they are making it very clear that they do not like the rule. They don’t like it so much that they are barring Adams from using the football facility or working out with his former teammates while he finishes up his degree.

Other coaches at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level are not happy with what this could mean for the future.  Montana State coach Rob Ash is among those speaking out against the rule because it makes the FCS seem like a developmental league. The fear is that this could start a trend where fifth year FCS players leave for the big schools like Oregon or a Michigan who get to reap the rewards of a veteran collegiate player.

Adams on the move

It’s not just the FCS that has to worry. Ohio State head coach expressed his unhappiness with certain members of the media trying to entice Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller to transfer. Nor is transferring a guaranteeing you a starting spot. Just ask Jake Coker who transferred from Florida State to Alabama this past summer.

Transfers are nothing new to collegiate athletics. Players have been doing it for years and it mostly goes unnoticed. When it comes to quarterbacks though, it tends to get a lot attention. Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson left North Carolina State for Wisconsin and promptly led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl. While Wilson’s case was unique (he was essentially told by the NC State coaching staff that future pro Mike Glennon was going to play over him) it now seems that everyone is looking for an experienced QB to step in and lead the team to the promised land. With all of the pressure put on coaches nowadays can you blame them for looking for an experienced QB to step in?

Players always have their reasons for transferring. It’s not fair to Eastern Washington that Adams is transferring but neither would be holding him back because you don’t want him to leave. In the business world there are ‘non competes’ and there is a similar thing in college football too where a coach will put restrictions on where a player can transfer. Eastern Washington could have done this since they play Oregon the first week of the season but it would have been a bad PR move.

Is Adams setting a trend for FCS players? Probably not because too many things have to fall into place for something like this to happen. Are you going to see more situations like this? Sure but it’s no sure fire way to win championships. Remember, Russell Wilson may have led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl but they ended up losing to Oregon.

The Sunday: Clemsoning And The Upset Fans

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Four weeks into the season and some fan bases are already calling for the head coach to be fired. Upsets continue to happen in games you do not expect and some teams ended up acting like they always do.

The Mighty Have Fallen

Michigan lost again and it wasn’t really close. Head Coach Brady Hoke is on the hot seat as more and more people are calling for a change. Florida couldn’t compete with Alabama despite four Bama turnovers. Head Coach Will Muschamp is on the hot seat but his QB Jeff Driskel was just dreadful.

Fans from both schools are about at their wits end with these once mighty teams. All is not lost though as Michigan has yet to play or lose a conference game and Florida has only lost one conference game but it was to a team in a different division.

Clemsoning

It’s not an official word but one that makes its way around college football circles after the Clemson did what they did against Florida State. Clemson was able to rip defeat from the jaws of victory as they failed to capitalize on the poor performance of the number one team in the country who was without their best player.

Clemsoning is not owned by Clemson. California did a West Coast version of it by blowing a 28-6 halftime lead to lose 49-45 to Arizona on a last second Hail Mary.

 

B1G Body Blow

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It was bad weekend for the Big Ten Conference (B1G). The conference went 8-5 but they lost convincingly in 3 of the biggest games they played and two others came down to the final drive of the game against opponents that should have been beat by a far bigger margin. All in all, things could have go worse for the conference but not by much.

B1G

The 3 high profile games the conference was a part of were Michigan St at Oregon, Michigan at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at Ohio State. Credit to the conference for scheduling these games in the first place as opposed to the SEC who had 3 teams on their schedule on Saturday from the Southland Conference.

The issue here isn’t that the B1G lost the high profile games but that they ended up losing going away. Michigan State was up on Oregon 27-18 but then Oregon ran off 28 unanswered points. Ohio State was exposed badly by Va Tech and Michigan didn’t score a point against Notre Dame in a 31-0 debacle.

Meanwhile other teams in the B1G like Nebraska and Iowa needed game winning drives with time running out to stay unbeaten. Wisconsin was only up 9-3 at the half against Western Illinois before pulling away in the second half and Purdue was manhandled by Central Michigan.

It hurt the conference because, although it is early, the odds of a B1G team making it to the 4 team playoff at the end of the year now seems highly unlikely. That could hurt recruiting, perception and financial standing in college football.

The B1G has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with the ACC, PAC 12 and SEC. It may start with beating the teams they are suppose to beat like Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. Until they do, they will be on the outside looking in of the college football playoff.

What to Watch Sat. 3/29 – Sun. 3/30

Again, it’s March Madness. Enjoy it while you got it!

Saturday March 29th

Manchester City  vs Arsenal – 10:30am NBCSN: It’s a Saturday and you have two of the top teams in the Premier League on the pitch. Yep, it’s gonna be a good day.

Florida vs Dayton – 3pm TBS: Florida is a team to bet on to win the NCAA tournament but Dayton is this years Cinderella.

Detroit Red Wings @ Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: Four teams in the Eastern Conference are tied at 80 points. These are two of them. Let’s do it.

Wisconsin vs Arizona -6pm TBS: The top two seeds meet to see who gets to go to the Final Four.

Toronto FC @ Real Salt Lake – 6:30pm MLS Live: TFC is the story of this young MLS season. But RSL is still RSL and Rio Tinto is a very tough place to play. You’ll also see the two of the top mid fielders the US has to offer in TFC’s Michael Bradley and RSL’s Kyle Beckerman.

Columbus Crew @ Seattle Sounders – 7pm MLS Live: Columbus is one of the surprise teams in the league this year. But it’s tough to get three points in Seattle. Even if the Sounders are without the services of Clint Dempsey.

Anaheim Ducks @ Vancouver Canucks – 7pm NHL GameCenter: Vancouver is five points back of the final playoff spot in the West. Anaheim is in but they are still fighting for a better playoff seat.

Sunday March 30th

Liverpool vs Tottenham – 8am NBCSN: Tottenham is still in the mix for a spot in the Champions League next season. Liverpool is looking for the same thing but has 12 points on the Spurs. We’ll see what happens.

UCONN vs Michigan St – 11:20am CBS: Final Four is on the line.

Michigan vs Kentucky – 2pm CBS: Michigan gets another shot at the Final Four.

Chicago Blackhawks @ Pittsburgh Penguins – 4:30pm  NBCSN: Since the Chicago embarrassed the Pens outside at Solider Field the Blackhawks haven’t been as dominate. They are still a top team in the league but let’s be frank, the Pens want revenge.