Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame Vote

On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) vote for enshrinement to the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be revealed. The BBWAA holds the keys to such an elite fraternity, which must be a daunting task. They are voting on players to proverbially sit next to Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Mathewson and the like.  As done in years past, I will provide my ballot as if I were a BBWAA member.

Here is the full 2018 Ballot (courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com)

There are a few major factors that cannot be ignored when it comes to voting.

1) The specter over the Hall will continue to be Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) use in baseball primarily in the 1990s, an era for which many players accused are now appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot.  There are players whose performance clearly merits first ballot election, however because of their associated with substances that enhanced their performance, members of the BBWAA has been hesitant to cast votes their way.  This may have taken a turn in the 2017 vote when Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two who have the most clear credentials, surpassed 50% for the first time.  This could be in response to the induction of Mike Piazza who many believed used PEDs but was not directly linked.  Many believe the same for Ivan Rodriguez, who was implicated by Jose Canseco, a source who has proven reliable at times, and not so much other times.  Will this break down the mental conundrum that may writers have?  Early returns show more support for Bonds and Clemens.  Because the official voting rules include the words "integrity, sportsmanship, and character" and integrity, so their reluctance is justified in my mind.  For my selection, I will not presume guilt, but if there is legal (including Mitchell Report) or strong anecdotal evidence of PED use, I will strongly weigh against voting. 

2) A batch of candidates making their way onto the ballot or relief pitchers who specialized in finishing games in which their team was winning by 3 or fewer runs.  In other words, closers.  To date, Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, and Goose Gossage are the modern day versions in the Hall.  Two candidates on the ballot have more saves than each of them.  It's a measure of how the game has changed (with the advent of the specialty closer) whether or not they get strong consideration from the BBWAA.

3) A final point of discussion is how to handle starting pitching.  Whereas the 300 win plateau used to be a norm, it's become increasingly more difficult to get wins in the era of specialty relievers with starters leaving the game before the end of the sixth inning many times in close games.  Conversely, however, one would think this would benefit starting pitchers ERA by seldom going through a lineup more than 3 times.  In the end, I strongly weigh dominance over a discernible period of time, along with Cy Young Awards, All-Star games, Win titles, and ERA.

4) There is also first and last ballot bias.  First ballot some BBWAA voters will hold their vote to protect some sort of integrity of being a "first ballot hall of famer".  Evidence, three voters who did not include Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016.  Likewise, when a player is on his last ballot, as Tim Raines was last year, voters who previously withheld tend to pay a bit more attention to their candidacy considering it's a final shot.  So a bump is normal (up to 15% for a candidate close to election).

With a limit of ten players on a ballot, here are the players I would put on my ballot (in order of credibility).  I don't use all ten votes.

1) Chipper Jones - One of the best third basemen of all time, one of the best switch hitters of all time, and he played plus defense.  He won an MVP, a batting title, and eight All-Star games.  Consistent post-season hitter (And tons of post-season at bats).  He would have been rookie of the year if not for the imported Japanese veteran Hideo Nomo.  It's hard to find a flaw in his game.  Chipper was well loved and respected by the media, he should have no problem getting on his first ballot with a very high percentage of the vote.

Factors against him: Short of 500 HR, could have won more World Series titles, first ballot bias

Chipper is pretty much a slam dunk.  First ballot bias may keep him around 95%, but there is hardly a case against him (the above is pretty weak).

2) Jim Thome - Power power power.  His 612 HR sits eight on the all-time home run list (and two ahead of him have been implicated for PED usage).  While like many power hitters, he did strike out a lot, he also walked a lot, having led the league in bases on balls three times and finishing with an on base percentage over .400 (despite a pedestrian .276 career batting average).  His career seemed to be steady for about 15 years, where he wasn't among the Top 3 or 4 in the game, but always among the Top 10

Factors against him: Never won an MVP, never won a World Series, only led the league in HR once, never led the league in RBI, first ballot bias.

Because of the power era in which he played, some may discount his power.  He never looked the part of a PED user.  He won't get as many votes as fellow 600 HR member Ken Griffey Jr., but should finish in the mid to upper 80% range and get in on the first ballot.

3) Vladimir Guerrero - I'm surprised he did not get in last year.  Clearly has the numbers, so it must have been first ballot bias.  Vlad was a five tool player (.319 average. 449 HR, top arm/glove in the league, and plus speed). Nine All-Star Games, an MVP, and a hit title.  His career numbers fall short of some major benchmarks (like 500 HR) as he retired at age 36.  If he had taken PEDs he might have played another 5 years and approached 600 HR.  No doubt one of the most feared hitters for a decade or so.

Factors against him: Lack of single team identity, no World Series titles, short of 500 HR

To me, he meets all of the criteria and should get in with about 80% of vote.

4) Trevor Hoffman - Another one who should have gotten in last year and was just five ballots short.  One of two members of the 600 career save club (and we know the other will get in first ballot).  That's 40 saves per year for 15 years (average).  Seven All-Star appearances and twice finished runner up in the Cy Young, which is rare for a reliever.

Factors against him: reliever bias, played in a small market, was probably never the best reliever in the game at any given time

This is his year. The NL reliever of the year award is named after him, he'll get in with 81% of the vote or so.

5) Larry Walker - I've been pushing Walker for several years now.  He was another 5-tool player, finished his career with a .313 batting average, higher than anyone else on the ballot besides Vladimir Guerrero.  Let me repeat that, second highest batting average of anybody on the ballot. Also stole 200 bases, also hit 383 home runs. He has so many gold gloves he probably had to build an extra section on his trophy case. Like 2017 inductee Jeff Bagwell, he won one MVP. He's also a member of the .400 OBP club (with Manny Ramirez, Jones, Thome, Bonds, and Edgar Martinez the only six on the ballot).

Factors against him: Perceived higher numbers due to playing in Colorado, soft-spoken personality, injury-prone (only 4 seasons of 140+ games).

He only received 22% of the vote last year (very slight up tick), that needs to trend up significantly for people to start noticing. He's not going to make it.

6) Edgar Martinez - He's of the mold of the previous two players. Hit for high average, good (but not awe inspiring) power, gets on base all the time. While I am not a fan of the DH, if MLB has it as a position, you can't hold that against him. Edgar was a career .312 hitter, with .418 OBP (highest on the ballot besides Bonds), slugged .515 (more than Fred McGriff). He's also a member of the 300 HR club for a guy who didn't try to lift the ball as much as others.

Factors against him: Primarily a DH, played in small market, lack of speed

He was voted for the affirmative on 59% of last years ballots, moving up 15% which was a big jump.  I've seen more buzz about Edgar this year than in years passed.  This is his penultimate appearance on the ballot and I think he falls just short at 73%.  Then gets in on his last ballot.

7) Billy Wagner - The more I see Billy the Kid, the more I think he's getting short changed.  Especially when comparing to the four biggest specialty relief pitchers already in the Hall (Eckersley, Sutter, Fingers, and Gossage) as he has 30 more saves than the best of them.  And a lower ERA.  And a better K/9 IP.  His 7 All Star Game appearances are comparable to all as well.  He sits sixth in career saves and his stuff was dominant.  I noted above we're teetering on how to treat relievers, I believe we're going to see fewer relievers going forward with huge career numbers because so many are going to flame out with arm problems given their use.  Wags should get strong consideration.

Factors against him: relief pitcher bias, lack of postseason success

He got about 10% vote each of his first two years.  He needs to start climbing or I don't think he can ever reach the top.  I'm guessing he never gets in during the 10 year window, but may get in on a veteran ballot in decades to come once the Hall figures out how to handle relievers.

8) Jeff Kent - Quietly one of the top offensive second basemen of all time.  His line across the major stats is .290, 377, and 1518.  He has an MVP in his closet, and three other Top 10 finishes.  Add to that six All-Star appearances.  His power numbers dwarf Ryne Sandberg and Roberto Alomar, but is getting very little buzz or momentum.

Factors against him: Very average on defense, played in a power era in which his home run numbers aren't considered extraordinary, cold to media

With about 17% of the vote the last two years, no reason to think he'll move significantly now, or over the next five years.

First four out

9) Mike Mussina - Without 300 wins or a dominant ERA, he's not quite Hall worthy in my opinion.  No Cy Young Awards, a one-time 20 game winner, five All-Star games.  Career ERA is 3.68, not spectacular even in the power era (considering he didn't face line ups four times in most starts). 

Factors against him: Doesn't have 300 wins, not dominant, played on winning teams but never won a World Series.

At 52%, he has surpassed Curt Schilling and may be on a trajectory for eventual induction, which was not looking as good last year. 

10) Fred McGriff - You can't ignore the near 500 home runs, but he hung on a while to get so close and wasn't elite enough in his prime to warrant the Hall. Average defense, below average speed, not an outstanding OBP. He also never broke 110 RBI in a season.

Factors against him: Unspectacular batting average, lack of dominating seasons, lack of speed

At only 22% last year, he's not moving much. I doubt he gets much closer in this, or his final year on the ballot in 2019.  Could be a veteran ballot candidate, was very popular with teammates and media and did things the right way.

11) Curt Schilling - Seems to get way more media discussion than others as deserving (like Kent or Mussina or even a Bagwell).  3.46 ERA and barely over 200 wins (216).  For careers starting after World War II, only Don Drysdale has fewer wins in the Hall (six fewer seasons, ERA half a point better).  Postseason success aside, it's not a strong case at all.  His willingness to share his unpopular political views also seem to reduce his support.

Factors against him: Low wins, unspectacular ERA, political opinions

At 45% of the vote, he took a step back in 2017.  While sharing of ones political opinions, whether popular or controversial, should not be a factor in the Hall election, it seems to be.  The more he talks, the less support he gets.  I think he will never cross the 75% threshold and is also unlikely to get in on a veterans ballot.

12) Andruw Jones - Power, speed, and defense, he was a 5-tool player.  Started his career at 19, but wore out at Age 35, he still hit well over 400 HR.  His .254 batting average really drags him down, with a lack of huge walk numbers it leaves him only .337 OBP.  His defense was his calling card, but also won a Silver Slugger and narrowly missed the MVP in 2005 to Albert Pujols.

Factors against him: Low batting average, barely was a factor after age 30.

The remaining repeat candidates fall into the PED category.  Their stats are more than deserving, even before they might have juiced, but would not get my vote): Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield.  All would easily be in without it.

Newcomers that might stay on the ballot (besides those mentioned above): Scott Rolen, Johan Santana

So my opinions aside, here's who I think gets in (in order by vote percentage).
Chipper Jones
Jim Thome
Trevor Hoffman
Vlad Guerrero

They will join "Modern Baseball" enshrinees Jack Morris and Alan Trammell along with J.G. Taylor Spink Award (writers) winner Sheldon Ocker and the Ford C. Frick Award (broadcasting excellence) winner Bob Costas.  The Modern Baseball ballot is intriguing in the recency of the inductees to the writers ballot and may be discussed on a future Blog.  The induction ceremony is a homecoming of baseball elite, and will be July 29, 2018.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/24/2017

'Tis the Bowl Season and while many of the games among higher ranked teams begin this week, last week featured several great games (and a few blowouts).  While some curmudgeons posit that there are too many bowls, don't tell that to teams that are just glad to play one more game this year, and for many, in their life.  South Florida ended a successful 10-2 season with a dramatic 38-34 Birmingham Bowl win over Big 12 opponent Texas Tech.  And they were led by a senior quarterback who literally did it all.  Quinton Flowers overcame a slow start to throw for 311 yards and 4 TD.  None were bigger than a 26 yard toss with under 20 seconds left after Tech had scored less than 80 seconds earlier.  Flowers was also the Bulls leading rusher with 106 yards on 14 carries and another TD, thus having a hand in all five of his team's touchdowns.  While Flowers may not project to the NFL as a passer, don't count him out on potentially switching to an all purpose back or defensive player.  He's a darn good football player and the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Bowl Picks Special

Cowboy hat tip to BDB
And that's a wrap.  An amazing college football season is winding down as we enter the lesser bowls before Christmas before the main course starts shortly thereafter.  We've been on break for a few weeks, so we'll catch up with some final thoughts on the playoff selection, overview of the final week of predictions (and season wrap up), and then delve into our picks for the big Bowl games leading to the New Years Day playoffs at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) Alabama or Ohio State.  Ohio State or Alabama.  That was the 12 hour debate leading up to the college football playoff selection show.  There was no right or wrong answer, but someone was going to be left out.  After the last two years, it turns out conference championships aren't as important as people think.
2) I still won't hear arguments that there are too many bowls.  If you don't like them, don't watch.  Meanwhile Group of Five programs get more exposure, more practice, and a chance for a national audience.  All good things.  Access to bowls is one of the elements of the NCAA that doesn't bias toward the Power Five conferences.
3) I'm still not in favor of expanding the playoffs to eight teams.  Unless you get rid of conference title games and have the first round that weekend (since outright conference titles are apparently devalued by the committee).  It's actually easier to choose between the 4th through 6th or 7th team than the 8th through 16th team.  Much more gray area.
4) Annual warning not to look at bowl records and surmise conference strength.  It's a short set of data, you have all kinds of factors (coaches leaving and the latest being underclassmen skipping the bowl game to prep for the draft).
5) One of the best things about the College Football Playoff matchups is that both games are within a field goal point spread.  Hoping for good semifinal games (which has not happened much lately).  And thank goodness they moved off of New Years Eve.

BDB basking in the Championship glory!
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  This week we'll of course take the playoff games, Texas, then two of the other Big Six bowls.  A nice spread of all the Power Five conferences for sure.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan "Bulldog Babe" (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo).  She's been amazing this year and a great blog partner!

Last week
JR: 3-2 S/U, 3-1-1 ATS
BDB: 3-2 S/U, 1-3-1 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 43-26 S/U, 38-28-1 ATS
BDB: 51-19 S/U, 44-24-1 ATS

Recapping the Conference Championship weekend, considering BDB and JR disagreed on every winner besides Georgia (which both got right), not too bad.  BDB unfortunately had a couple of straight up winners not cover to dent her ATS number, but no threat to her insurmountable lead.  I hereby declare BDB the winner of the 2017 Longhorndave College Football Pick Blog!  She is the Picks Queen of 2017 (get it, it rhymes)!

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl
Wednesday December 27, 9:00 p.m. EST, Houston, Texas
Texas (6-6) (+2.5) vs. Missouri (7-5)

JR Ewing:
Intriguing matchup of second tier SEC and Big 12 teams.  Texas defense was able to shut down good offenses like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.  But their offense was a work in progress that never finished.  Missouri finished the season with 6 straight wins, but has no wins over a team with a winning record.  Beating 6-6 Texas won't help that stat.  Texas played even with big teams like USC and OU and has the better team here.  Wins in a low scoring affair.
Texas 21, Missouri 17

Bulldog Babe: 
Both of these teams have been down in the dumps this year, in my opinion. It’s a surprise to me that they were able to sneak into bowl season. With that being said, this will be an interesting matchup. I think both teams have a chance at winning either a blowout or a close one, bowl season is always unpredictable. I have a feeling Missouri will win this one.
Missouri 34, Texas 20

Goodyear Cotton Bowl
Friday December 29, 8:30 p.m. EST, Arlington, Texas
Southern California (11-2) (+7.5) vs. Ohio State (11-2)

JR Ewing:
It's too bad the Rose Bowl could not have hosted this matchup, since it is rare in today's climate to get the true Big 10 and Pac 12 conference champion in a bowl game.  The Cotton Bowl is certainly a stalwart traditional game, so it will have to do.  Both teams won their Conference Title game over strong opponents.  Ohio State was the first team out of the playoff so this is about how they respond.  Last time they did well in defeating Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.  USC doesn't seem to have the horses to keep up.  I am really looking forward to the QB matchup in this one.  But Ohio State wins it relatively easily.
Ohio State 31, Southern California 21

Bulldog Babe:
This is probably gonna be one of my favorite matchups of the bowl season. Two strong teams who have had their fair share of high and low points. I think this will be a close matchup with both teams bringing their A game. I’ve been riding the USC train almost all season, but Ohio State to me just seems like the better team. OSU wins it.
Ohio State 24, Southern California 17.

Capitol One Orange Bowl
Saturday December 30, 8:00 p.m. EST, Miami Gardens, Florida
Miami (10-2) (+6.5) vs. Wisconsin (12-1)

JR Ewing:
A battle of two teams that were undefeated when we carved the turkey on Thanksgiving weekend but came up short in their conference title games.  Both against better teams. This is a very intriguing matchup as Miami has lost two straight and looked awful in both.  But when they play in south Florida, they were unbeatable.  Wisconsin always plays well in bowl games, but I think the "U" magic is back and Miami pulls off an upset.
Miami 31, Wisconsin 26

Bulldog Babe:
Probably two of my favorite teams besides Georgia to watch this season. I had so much confidence in Miami to get in the playoffs, but they came up just a bit short. There couldn’t be a better bowl matchup for them than Wisconsin though, I feel like this game will be interesting and entertaining to watch. I feel like Wisconsin may be the stronger team, but I can’t get off the Miami train just yet. I think the Hurricanes will win a close one.
Miami 30, Wisconsin 24

Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual
Monday January 1, 2018, 5:10 p.m. EST, Pasadena, California
Oklahoma (12-1) (+2) vs. Georgia (12-1)

JR Ewing:
A game with teams fitting of the "Granddaddy of them All."  Oklahoma and Georgia had just one hiccup throughout the season.  Going back to last year, Oklahoma is actually 22-1 in their last 23 games.  Both teams have impressive out of conference wins at Ohio State and at Notre Dame  Both were dominant in their conference title game.  If I'm looking for an edge here, I like the more experienced quarterback in Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.  While freshman Jake Frohmm has been impressive, this is a whole new stage. He'll get his title in a year or two, but this year belongs to Oklahoma.
Oklahoma 35, Georgia 27

Bulldog Babe:
The first of the two CFB Playoff games. I am so excited for this game because Georgia and Oklahoma are both really strong and both teams deserve to be in Pasadena playing in this game. While everyone is riding the Oklahoma train, I feel like Georgia has enough mojo to win this game and get to the national championship game for the first time in over 30 years. Georgia wins a close one.
Georgia 34, Oklahoma 24

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Monday January 1, 2018, 8:45 p.m. EST, New Orleans, Louisiana
Clemson (12-1) (+3) vs. Alabama (11-1)

JR Ewing:
Perhaps I have not flip-flopped any more than this game.  Both teams are so good and of course they have met in the last two playoffs (in the Championship Game).  It's hard to see how either team loses.  But I do like Clemson.  They're not intimidated by Alabama, and last we saw the Tide, they looked pretty helpless on offense.  I think they miss Lane Kiffin more than they know.  Clemson's defense is stronger than they get credit for, allowing only 30 points in their last 4 games combined (all wins of 17 points or more).  I think Clemson wins the rubber match of this three game series and takes away the dynasty moniker from the Tide as the flagship team in college football.
Clemson 24, Alabama 14

Bulldog Babe:
Part 3. Another matchup between the Tide and the Tigers, so crazy to think how these teams somehow keep getting matched up to play each other. Alabama’s defensive line keeps getting mauled with injuries and I think Clemson is strong enough to keep up with them once again. They will be able to take advantage of that injury plagued defensive line. Clemson wins.
Clemson 34, Alabama 20

Enjoy the Bowl Season everyone!  We may or may not do a Championship Game Blog (it might depend on whether Georgia makes it)!

- JR and BDB

Monday, December 18, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/17/2017

As the calendar turns toward the Winter Solstice, basketball moves to the forefront of anything non-football.  The story of the NBA season has been the Houston Rockets, and their ascension to best team in the league can be traced to a key acquisition.  Chris Paul has not lost a game as a starter for the Houston Rockets.  15-0 through Monday.  As a complement to perennial MVP runner up James Harden, Paul forces the other team to guard two good ball handlers and shooters which has proven to not be feasible.  But for this week, Paul shot 54% from the field, including 46% from 3-point, missing just 1 free throw in 19 tries. Throw in 25 rebounds and 31 assists in 4 games in which the Rockets went 4-0 (and haven't lost a game since he returned from injury), and you have a solid Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/10/2017

Sometimes it's not about an entire game. Sometimes it's not about being the best athlete on the field.  Sometimes it's about making a play.  A play that will live in history.  That helps your team win.  In one of the biggest rivalries in college sports.  That's our Sportsman of the Week.  From 2002 to 2015, the Navy Midshipmen dominated the Army Navy game.  That's from just a year after 9/11 through nearly the last year of Barack Obama's presidency.  In fact, our Sportsman of the Week was only 6 years old when Army won before their upset in 2016.  But was it an upset? Because they won again in 2017.  John Voit was a big reason why.  With Navy leading 10-7, the best athlete on the field Malcolm Perry cleared most of the Army defense on his way to what looked like a 57 yard TD run to put Navy up 17-7 early in the third quarter.  But senior defensive lineman John Voit took the perfect angle and stopped Perry from scoring.  The 6'3" Montana native ran down the speedy Perry and got him by a shoelace.  Or splashed snow on his cleat.  Whatever it was, Navy settled for a field goal.  And never scored again.  Army scored a TD to win 14-13.  Voit's football career is likely over after the bowl game.  He'll likely never suit up again.  But for one day, he stopped Navy.  And gave Army a win.  History will remember this.  As will our Blog, as he is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/3/2017

The college football season ended with a climax as for the first time in the College Football Playoff era, all Power Five conferences had a title game.  Two were presumably winner gets in, two had a higher ranked team that needed to get in, and one was not going to matter.  Well, in one where the winner gets in (a de facto Round of 8 game), the Georgia Bulldogs punched their ticket to the playoffs and won the SEC for the first time since 2005.  And it was a defensive player that led them.  Roquan Smith was the man of the match.  From sideline to sideline, he kept Auburn's offense at bay.  He finished the day with 13 tackles, including a sack, and had two fumble recoveries.  The Auburn offense could only muster 7 points (none after their first possession) and 259 total yards. Running it, 3.7 yards per play. Passing it, only 4.5 yards per play.  While Georgia heads to the Rose Bowl College Playoff Semifinal matchup against Oklahoma, Smith walked away with the SEC Championship Game MVP and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Conference Championship Week

I might just have to pull for TCU this week!
It's officially time for playoff talk.  Much talk before Thanksgiving is really just a waste of time.  Not that debating football or anything is a waste, it's just too many what if scenarios.  Well, the what if scenarios are down to a manageable lot.  It's do or die time with probably 6 teams controlling their own fate to make the playoffs.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) Alabama got exposed. If you looked at their schedule, their biggest wins were over LSU (which also lost to Troy) and Mississippi State (which also lost to Ole Miss).  They didn't look that good. Even their offense was pretty much just throw it up to Calvin Ridley and hope he comes down with it.  I'd be hard pressed to include them in a playoff at one loss.
2) Like Jason with an axe through their mask, Ohio State also won't go away.  Solid win on the road at Michigan has them in the playoff conversation.  One thing they are good at is playing their best football at the end of the year.  They seem to catch breaks!
3) Last week I threw out seven favored road teams at risk of losing (Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Notre Dame).  Three did.
4) To me, the SEC Champion is the only certainty in the College Football Playoff.  Oklahoma, Clemson, and Wisconsin are in if they win.  If Miami beats Clemson, watch out for politicking for the more recently power schools like Ohio State and Alabama.  If TCU wins too, it could be SEC winner, Alabama, Ohio State, and Miami barely.
5) Still not sure why Georgia is out of the Top 4.  Better losses than Oklahoma and Clemson.  Fewer losses than Auburn.  If it were up to me, it would be Wisconsin, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson in that order.  Followed by Auburn.  I know Auburn beat Georgia, but they also lost twice.

It's revenge time on Auburn. We're taking the SEC, baby!
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  The Longhorns are done until bowl season so no game there.  For each week's games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. This week's slate is easy.  All the Power Five title games.  The largest point spread is still single digits.  Three of the five are rematches (note that the Big 12 Championship Game will always be a rematch).

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan "Bulldog Babe" (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo).  Don't let her innocent cute look fool you.  She's quite the handicapper.  Just look at the ATS she's featuring below!

Last week
JR: 3-2 S/U, 3-2 ATS
BDB: 3-2 S/U, 3-2 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 40-24 S/U, 35-27 ATS
BDB: 48-17 S/U, 43-21 ATS

BDB and JR both plodded through a winning week.  Neither had the Auburn or Texas upsets for straight up losses.  Although both had the Auburn cover and JR had the Texas Tech cover.  BDB had Georgia and Washington covers, JR had Michigan for his third.  Not a bad effort by our two experts.  BDB definitely wins the crown for this season!

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: #12 Stanford (+4) vs. #10 Southern California
FRIDAY 8:00 p.m. EST, Santa Clara, California

JR Ewing:
Somewhat the forgotten game of the weekend because it doesn't have playoff implications, but these two could beat any playoff team on a given day.  They met earlier in the year and USC rolled.  But that was barely September.  I like the way Stanford as been improving and they have won 8 of 9 games.  Meanwhile USC hasn't been good away from home against good teams.  I think Stanford is the better all around team and wins easily.
Stanford 31, Southern California 21

Bulldog Babe: 
SC is another sleeper team. They have done very well all season and I think they’re strong enough to come into their game this weekend and completely show out. Stanford I think just won’t be able to keep up, so I have USC in this one. 34-20.
Southern California 34, Stanford 20

Game 2: #11 Texas Christian (+7) vs #3 Oklahoma (12:30 EST)
12:30 p.m. EST, Arlington, Texas

JR Ewing:
It's hard to beat a team twice.  Especially when the second game is in the defeated teams' backyard.  Oklahoma has cruised lately, but their defense is very soft.  TCU has the much better coach to make adjustments and wants revenge.  What will Oklahoma do when punched in the mouth?  Or if Baker Mayfield has a bad game?  Probably fold.  Frogs in an upset.
Texas Christian 35, Oklahoma 28

Bulldog Babe:
This is another tough matchup to predict. Just like all of the conference matchups this weekend, these teams are more than deserving to be in this position. Oklahoma is a sleeper team in my opinion. If they have a good game this weekend, I believe it’ll solidify their spot in the playoffs. Baker Mayfield has a lot of mojo and he’s my pick for the Heisman this year, and Oklahoma is also my pick to win this weekend.
Oklahoma 31, Texas Christian 28

Game 3: #6 Georgia (+2) vs. #2 Auburn
4:00 p.m. EST, Atlanta, Georgia

JR Ewing:
Again, beating a team twice is difficult.  Plus the Alabama game had to take a lot out of Auburn's emotions.  Georgia suddenly is an underdog for only the second time this year.  The last time they were underdogs, they won a hard fought game.  This game is in Georgia mind you.  They outlast a tired Auburn team and win on revenge and more talent.
Georgia 27, Auburn 20

Bulldog Babe:
The rematch. Georgia had a whipping last time they faced Auburn, but I feel like this time will be different. It’s on a neutral site and the fan turnout will be 50/50. I think Georgia will be able to pay attention to what went wrong three weeks ago and turn it into a playoff spot. They will win against Auburn and win the conference title for the first time since 2005.
Georgia 34, Auburn 20

Game 4: #1 Clemson (-9.5) vs. #7 Miami
8:00 p.m. EST, Charlotte, North Carolina

JR Ewing:
Clemson is hitting their stride.  They've been here so many times the last few years and know how to win.  Miami is just learning to win and coming off a very disappointing performance at Pittsburgh.  While Miami could put it together in their biggest home game, this one away from south Florida will be impossible.  The Tigers roll the Hurricanes.
Clemson 35, Miami 14

Bulldog Babe:
Two of the strongest teams in the ACC, by far. This will be one of the top two best matchups of the weekend. Clemson, the defending national champions looking to go back to back. Miami, the Cinderella story team. Miami may have lost last weekend, but I don’t think that will slow them down. In my honest opinion, I feel like Miami will play their best football and they will upset Clemson but it will be close.
Miami 24, Clemson 20

Game 5: #8 Ohio State (-6) vs. #4 Wisconsin (8:00 p.m. EST)
8:00 p.m. EST, Indianapolis, Indiana

JR Ewing:
Ohio State favored over the higher ranked Wisconsin?  By nearly a touchdown?  It's true.  And deserved.  Ohio State also knows how to win this game.  Wisconsin just hasn't played enough tough competition and lacks the athleticism of the Buckeyes.  I see a relatively easy Ohio State win.
Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 24

Bulldog Babe:
This is one tough matchup. Both teams have their strong points to their teams and they both have been impressive over the course of the regular season, but there can only be one winner and I think it’ll be Wisconsin. They have a very strong case with their team making the CFB Playoff and I think they will play their best game this weekend. Ohio State will keep it close, but Wisconsin will come out on top.
Wisconsin 34, Ohio State 24

So sad that the College Football regular season is over.  I want to thank Bulldog Babe for her partnership in the Blog this season.  Her involvement made it ten times as entertaining as we walked through a magical Georgia season and fun college football season overall.  Look for her expertise here maybe on the College Football playoffs, NFL playoffs, and NASCAR 2018 as her time allows!  And don't forget to check our her outstanding work in the NASCAR blog the Ladies in Black!

- JR and BDB

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/26/2017

Football and Thanksgiving is a sports tradition going back generations. The Los Angeles (or San Diego) Chargers on Thanksgiving.  Not as much.  At least since 1969.  But the Chargers crashed the usual Dallas Cowboys late afternoon Thanksgiving party with a thumping that even the turkey had to hide his eyes.  Led by veteran QB Philip Rivers, the Los Angeles Chargers shredded the Pokes to the tune of 434 yards and 3 TD.  Practically throwing against only air, Rivers passes only hit the ground six times in 33 tries.  I dropped more spoonfuls of stuffing than that.  Rivers and the Chargers coasted to a 28-6 win, winning their fifth in seven games and moving within a game of the free-falling Kansas City Chiefs for first place.  Could playoff football be back in LA?  It will if Rivers has anything to do with it.  He is our Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Thirteen

My Longhorns are back! God Bless Texas!
The Thanksgiving feast is here people!  A long weekend of rivalry games and ranking shakeups.  It's sad that we're to the last weekend of regular season for the five Power Five conferences (all of which have title games this year for the first time).  And also teams jockeying for Bowl position.  As the saying goes, the more you win, the warmer your destination gets.  A shout out to my Texas Longhorns for a big road win to be come bowl eligible (which I predicted last week). Six or seven wins and a bowl isn't what Texas expects to be.  But for this season, it's a step forward.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) Last week was a complete fizzle.  As expected since a lot of teams scheduled weekly.  Outside of a somewhat eye brow raising loss by Oklahoma State to Kansas State (this just in, the Big 12 is deep), not much movement.  The Playoff Committee decided to jockey Clemson and Miami in the 2/3 spots.  Basically correcting a bad ranking the week before.  We could have a whole other debate how Georgia's loss to Auburn is worse than Clemson's loss to Syracuse.
2) It remains to be seen whether the Big 12 title game will help or hurt the conference. Oklahoma is likely to have to beat TCU again.  But without it, I could see a scenario of passing up the Big 12 for some combination of two SEC teams, plus Wisconsin (or dare I say Ohio State) and the ACC winner without the extra data point.  One would think a head to head win for Oklahoma over Ohio State might carry weight, but ask Penn State about that can work out.
3) I predict a big shakeup this week.  So many of the better ranked rival teams are on the road.  Alabama.  Clemson.  Miami.  Georgia. Wisconsin.  Ohio State.  Notre Dame.  Some of these will lose.
4) I can't think of two rivalry matchups I want to watch more than Ohio State going to Michigan, and Alabama to Auburn.  You just don't get better than that.  Two different regions, but complete hatred.
5) Don't be surprised to see a big upset for a team not expected to lose.  I'm looking at you Miami, Wisconsin, or Oklahoma.

I cannot stand [Georgia Tech] & we will give
them a...beating on Saturday
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  For each week's games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. Georgia is done with their conference schedule and now focuses on a revenge game against Georgia Tech, who defeated them in Athens last season.  Texas is fresh off a solid win on the road against West Virginia and now faces Texas Tech (instead of real rival Texas A+M because feelings are still hurt since the Aggies defected to the SEC).   We had to add the Iron Bowl and Michigan vs. Ohio State game.  And add the Apple Cup, which will be a factor in deciding the Pac 12 North Champion.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan "Bulldog Babe" (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo). She's as tried and true a fan of her team in any sport of anyone I know.

Last week
JR: 4-1 S/U, 2-3 ATS
BDB: 4-1 S/U, 3-2 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 37-22 S/U, 32-25 ATS
BDB: 45-15 S/U, 40-19 ATS

BDB jumped back last week for another solid effort.  Didn't predict the Texas upset, but otherwise had all the covers except Wisconsin.  Still hitting over 2/3 ATS, which is better than JR can do straight up.  Meanwhile, JR was also solid, although missed a couple of underdogs that didn't cover, including Michigan.  Got that Texas game, which is what is important.

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Texas Tech (+9.5) at Texas (FRIDAY 8:00 p.m. EST)

JR Ewing:
A rivalry game it is not, but there is a lot on the line for the Longhorns and Red Raiders.  The Longhorns have secured a bowl berth at 6-5 but want to angle for a top tier bowl, which if they finish the conference at 6-3, they'll be no worse than third in the conference.  Meanwhile, Tech needs a win to be the eighth Big 12 Bowl eligible team (out of 10).  All that being said, the Raiders typically play well in Austin and keep in close.  But the Longhorns win in the end.
Texas 31, Texas Tech 27

Bulldog Babe: 
Texas Tech/Texas is one of many rivalry matchups this weekend. I think that Texas is the better team, but they will have their hands full with Texas Tech because they’re wanting to become bowl eligible and this is their last opportunity. I have Texas in this one though because I think they’re the better and more complete team.
Texas 34, Texas Tech 24

Game 2: Ohio State (-12) at Michigan (Noon EST)

JR Ewing:
I'm going to say this a few times.  A rivalry game between two good teams shouldn't be double digits to the road team.  It's tough to win on the road.  Michigan is very hungry after an overtime defeat last year extended their losing streak to five.  They're hungry.  Will they win?  Probably not.  Will it be close.  Yes.
Ohio State 31, Michigan 28

Bulldog Babe:
Another nasty rivalry. Same as the Georgia/Georgia Tech rivalry, they HATE each other and so do the fans. I think that Ohio State is the better team, period. They have really come out the last few years against all of their opponents and I think they will win on Saturday.
Ohio State 26, Michigan 10

Game 3: Georgia (-11) at Georgia Tech (Noon EST)

JR Ewing:
See my note above.  Georgia is very much better than Georgia Tech.  But in Atlanta this will be close.  Throw in the upset last year, either Georgia fights back and dominates or it is close.  I think Tech keeps in close.  Again, within double digits.
Georgia 27, Georgia Tech 20

Bulldog Babe:
Clean old fashioned hate. This is a way of the world, Georgia hates GT and GT hates Georgia. This is a nasty rivalry and it’s shown that Georgia is completely the better team because they have always dominated GT minus a couple of bad years, but overall, Georgia is the better team and they will come out and completely dominate the Yellow Jackets. Georgia wins.
Georgia 34, Georgia Tech 17

Game 4: Alabama (-4.5) at Auburn (3:30 p.m. EST)

JR Ewing:
Perhaps the game of the year.  Alabama is relatively untested believe it or not.  Jeff Sagarin has their strength of schedule as worse than Wisconsin.  Mostly because of the bad out of conference teams they played.  But still.  Auburn seems to have gotten better as the season has gone along.  And is at home.  It's going to finish right at the line, Alabama wins.
Alabama 24, Auburn 20

Bulldog Babe:
The Iron Bowl. My second favorite rivalry. Alabama and Auburn are both very strong this year and I think that this won’t be a smooth sailing ride for Alabama. They have a lot of starters out for the rest of the season due to injuries and Auburn is completely healthy, so it will be a chest bumping match. Alabama I think will come through, but it will be very close.
Alabama 32, Auburn 28

Game 5: Washington State (+10) at Washington (8:00 p.m. EST)

JR Ewing:
Lest we forget about the Pac 12, there's some good football up there.  The conference is deeper than most, just without a couple of title contenders.  This is going to be a huge game for both teams.  Washington State can still win the Pac 12 North with a win.  They're an unpredictable force and I'm not sold on Washington.  I do think the Huskies win, but it will be tighter than the experts think.
Washington 35, Washington State 31

Bulldog Babe:
Washington State at Washington This is a hard matchup to predict considering they’re both ranked in the top 25 and their records are the exact same. So you basically have to look at who you think is the stronger team, and I think that is Washington. They’ve come out completely over the last year and they will win this weekend.
Washington 34, Washington State 21

We wish all our Blog readers a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  Enjoy your weekend of football and be nice to one another.

- JR and BDB

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/19/2017

Our blog always loves an underdog and a new champion and both were served in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Championship race on Sunday.  And a veteran pulled through.  Martin Truex Jr. and his number 78 car was the best team all season with a Series high 8 wins and over 2250 laps led in 2017.  But at the Ford EcoBoost 400 in Homestead, Florida, was a winner-take-all and it was a chess match all race.  Kyle Larson (not in the playoff four) led much of the race (including the first two stages), but it was Kyle Busch and Truex Jr. who seemed to have the better cars (over Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick, the other two contenders).  Truex Jr. continually won the race off pit row on cautions and built a lead that the faster Busch could not run down. Busch got to Truex Jr.'s rear bumper on the last lap, but that was it.  The 37-year-old Truex Jr. broke through, and is a deserving Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Twelve

Yeah haw, this has been a season of making dough
After a huge week of key matchups that shook up the college football rankings, we get a little break this week.  Not that anybody wanted it.  Most teams are gearing up for their rivalry games on Thanksgiving weekend, then many for conference title games the following week.  Meanwhile, the air is crisp, the pads are popping, there is still a lot that could go wrong for a number of teams this weekend.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) One main reason to discount early polls...just wait until they play the games.  Teams get better or worse over the season. Have off weeks.  Injuries.  By the end, it all works out.
2) The only comment I'll make about the college football playoff is that I hope the committee avoids two teams from a single conference.  Exception might be an 11-1 non SEC East champion Alabama.  Otherwise, it should basically be four conference champions. Don't care who, don't care from which conference.
3) The college football coaches free-for-all got serious quickly, with Tennessee joining Florida in the immediate hunt.  To go with Ole Miss.  Maybe Arkansas and Texas A+M.  And that's just one conference.  This year is going to be a doozy.
4) Last week we noted road games are always dangerous.  Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, Washington all faced big tests.  Only Alabama won.  Barely.
5) The three teams with the most to lose this week are Wisconsin, Georgia, and TCU.  All are favored, but face dangerous conference opponents.  The pressure is getting intense!

My Dawgs may be down, but just like me, they'll be back!
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  For each week's games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. Coming off a difficult loss, Georgia faces a beatable but dangerous Kentucky team.  Texas is fighting for bowl eligibility with yet another tough Big 12 conference game in Morgantown, WV.   We also add a Group of 5 game, there really aren't that much to pick from.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan "Bulldog Babe" (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo). Can we give some love to BDB's hot new profile photo? A tribute to T-Roy from Montgomery Gentry.

Last week
JR: 4-1 S/U, 3-2 ATS
BDB: 2-3 S/U, 1-4 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 33-21 S/U, 30-22 ATS
BDB: 41-14 S/U, 37-17 ATS

Last week BDB had by far her worse week.  It was just one of those times when nothing goes right.  Her season numbers are still amazing at over 68% ATS.  You could make good money in Vegas on that!  .  Both pickers missed Georgia and Michigan State ATS.  J.R. successfully picked upsets (S/U) for Miami and Stanford while also getting Oklahoma (for which DBD picked a TCU upset).  BDB last minute changed her pick to Miami (see below) salvaging one ATS and another S/U.
Will she do better this week? My money is on "yes".

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Michigan (+7.5) at Wisconsin (Noon EST)

JR Ewing:
I've been a Wisconsin doubter all year. Not for anything other than they haven't played anybody.  I guess Michigan is anybody, but they are still barely in the Top 25.  Wisconsin gets the game at Madison and the crowd will be pumped.  I like Michigan in the role of spoiler here.  They have a variance on performance wider than most teams.  Harbaugh has them ready and they win. 
Michigan 28, Wisconsin 24

Bulldog Babe: 
Michigan @ Wisconsin: I think this is gonna be a good game. Wisconsin is having one strong season and it’s very impressive! I don’t think Michigan will be able to keep up with Wisconsin, but they will keep it close. Wisconsin will win though. 32-28.
Wisconsin 32, Michigan 28

Game 2: Texas (+3.5) at West Virginia (Noon EST)

JR Ewing:
As mentioned Texas is fighting for bowl eligibility.  Outside of Week 1, all their losses are to teams in the Top 13, two in OT, only one at home.  This is the time that Coach Herman has them ready for an upset.  And the point spread is tight on the road for a team ranked in the AP poll.  Texas wins a close one.  Maybe overtime.
Texas 28, West Virginia 26

Bulldog Babe:
West Virginia has impressed me a lot this season, they are a very put together team. Texas on the other hand has gotten stronger with every passing week. I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with WVU though, WVU will definitely continue bringing their A game and WVU will win this weekend.
West Virginia 34, Texas 20

Game 3: Central Florida (-14) at Temple (Noon EST)

JR Ewing:
Central Florida is rocking an undefeated record.  But the pressure mounts.  Tough road game in cold weather has this game closer than the spread.  UCF wins, but not by that much.
Central Florida 31, Temple 24

Bulldog Babe:
UCF is one of those surprising teams this season. They’re ranked in the top 15 after tonight’s (11/14/17) CFB playoff rankings and they definitely deserve it. Temple on the other hand won’t be able to handle the tough UCF team, so UCF will win.
Central Florida 34, Temple 17

Game 4: Navy (+18) at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. EST)

JR Ewing:
One of the greatest David vs. Goliath rivalries in college football.  Disciplined Navy vs. Behemoth Notre Dame.  Notre Dame is coming off a very disappointing loss while Navy is scrappy.  I see this as reasonably close, but the Irish win.
Notre Dame 31, Navy 20

Bulldog Babe:
Notre Dame is the second team that got exposed last weekend, with a blowout loss against the Miami Hurricanes. Despite that, I think they will come back and win this weekend against Navy. They’re too good of a team to be kicked down like that. Notre Dame wins.
Notre Dame 40, Navy 25

Game 5: Kentucky (+21) at Georgia (3:30 p.m. EST)

JR Ewing:
This is dangerous for Georgia.  Licking their wounds from a thumping at Auburn, they return home to face a hungry Kentucky squad.  Kentucky is probably better than experts think.  Will Georgia bounce back?  Yes.  But they're looking forward to rivalry week as well as the SEC title game so this one again is closer than experts think.
Georgia 38, Kentucky 24

Bulldog Babe:
Georgia definitely had one of the toughest losses of last weekend against Auburn. While it severely dented their CFB playoff hopes, it’s not all over for the Bulldogs. If they win their next three games (Kentucky, Georgia Tech, SEC Championship), they will be back in the top 4. I think the Dawgs will bounce back in dominating fashion and it will be a smooth sailing win this weekend for UGA.
Georgia 35, Kentucky 7

Amazing the season is winding down.  But the excitement is reaching peak with rivalries and playoff talk.  Enjoy the penultimate regular season college football weekend!

- JR and BDB

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/12/2017

Same sport.  Same conference.  Same state.  New Sportsman of the Week.  The Big 12 has been a wide open offensive football league since the days of Mike Leach and Art Briles but there seems to be no bounds to the video game stats put up.  And before you say it doesn't work against good defense, reminder that the conference went 4-2 in bowl games last year (losses to Georgia and Miami who turned out to be on the upswing).  But back to the gridiron, Oklahoma State's senior quarterback Mason Rudolph is rolling through the meat of Big 12 play.  This was the Cowboys' third ranked team in three weeks, 2 of 3 on the road.  This week's stats were 25/31 for 376 yards and 3 TD in a key 49-42 victory over Iowa State.  That's only 6 incompletions.  Two of the TD came in the last 3 minutes as Oklahoma State scored the last 15 points of the game for the win.  Even in the loss to Oklahoma last week, he threw for nearly 450 yards and 5 TD but  came up short against last week's Sportsman of the Week.  Rudolph would be right in the Heisman talk if not for the slinger from Norman.  But he is our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Eleven

Texas no longer worthy of picking
We are in the home stretch of the college football season.  In two weekends, we'll be to the big Thanksgiving finale of rivalries, conference championship posturing, and yes, playoff talk.  There are some huge games this week that will help separate contenders to pretenders.  And we have you covered picking all the big games.  But enjoy this fans. Weather is getting cooler.  Teams are hitting their stride.  And it's going to be an entertaining final month.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) It seems like this is the year of conference parity. Other than the SEC which has two clear an away great teams, the rest literally have 4 or 5 that could win the conference.
2) The Big 10 is deeper than I have been giving it credit.  If Michigan State and Iowa can beat Penn State and Ohio State, then legit, it's got more than just a handful of good teams.  I still have an eye on Wisconsin for weak schedule.  I think if they win the Big 10, they'll get trucked by whomever they face.
3) Alabama will actually face a good team on the road.  Vanderbilt and Texas A&M is all they've faced in enemy territory. Since they don't play non-conference true road games by policy, they really limit their exposure to losses well with only four on the year.  And reap the benefits of 7 home games plus a neutral.
4) Road games are always dangerous.  Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, Washington all facing big tests.  Expect a shake up.
5) The Miami vs. Notre Dame game brings back so many amazing memories from the 80s and 90s.  Jimmy Johnson, Lou Holtz, the Ibis with the fire extinguisher, the "Catholics vs. Convicts" T-Shirts.  Those were good times.

Don't doubt the Bulldogs.  The team, or me, the Babe.
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  For each week's games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. Georgia faces its biggest test this year at Auburn while Texas faces Big 12 punching bag Kansas.  That game will not be picked.  So many good games to pick from, but we definitely spread the love around the country!

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan Bulldog Babe (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo). 

Last week
JR: 4-1 S/U, 3-1 ATS
BDB: 5-0 S/U, 4-0 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 29-20 S/U, 27-20 ATS
BDB: 39-11 S/U, 36-13 ATS

Last week BDB missed like nothing.  She never misses nothing.  Like seriously?  Almost 75% against he spread?  How is this happening?  In two to three sentences she's telling us every week what's going to happen.  Heck, I'm happy at 7 games over .500.  But I'm so far behind.  Oh well, credit where credit is due.  No truth to the rumor I'm going to start a picks service with her as my expert!  Meanwhile JR only missed Oklahoma State.  Which could have gone either way.

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Washington (-6) at Stanford (10:30 EST)

JR Ewing:
Stanford is a very tough team at home.  All three losses on the road so far this year, and they have a history of spoiling championship runs in Palo Alto.  This week should be no different.  They are well coached and Washington isn't really tested.  I see a Stanford win straight up. 
Stanford 31, Washington 24

Bulldog Babe: 
I feel like this is gonna be an easy one to predict mainly because of the teams’ record on the season. Washington is a really strong team this year, and as Ohio State proved in 2014, you can still get in the CFB Playoff being ranked below the top six. I think Washington has a good resume this year and they will win this weekend.
Washington 27, Stanford 14

Game 2: Michigan State (+14.5) at Ohio State (Noon EST)

JR Ewing:
Michigan State coming off a big win.  Ohio State coming off a big loss.  The Big 10 has had more surprises than I expected.  I think Ohio State exerts their will at home and wins but close. I think too many people are seeing the vintage Buckeyes and not the ones that can get frustrated offensively. 
Ohio State 31, Michigan State 24

Bulldog Babe:
This matchup will be interesting to see the outcome of, considering Ohio State is a 14.5 point favorite. I don’t think it’ll be that easy for them, I think Michigan State will give them a lot of competition. Will they win? Time will tell, but I optimistically think they will pull out the win. 28-17.
Ohio State 28, Michigan State 17

Game 3: Georgia (-2.5) at Auburn (3:30 EST)

JR Ewing:
Here we go for Georgia.  This is their biggest test.  Well, since they went to Notre Dame.  Auburn is tough, but really has just one good win against Mississippi State.  I've been on the Georgia train, only picking them to win close in large point spreads. They'll be ready to invade Jordan Hare Stadium and win a close game.
Georgia 24, Auburn 16

Bulldog Babe:
This game, in my opinion, will be the best of the SEC games this weekend. Georgia is crushing their opponents left and right and that week 2 win against Notre Dame is looking better and better as the weeks go by. Everybody thinks Auburn is gonna ruin their season, I don’t think so. Auburn won’t be able to keep up with Georgia’s run game and they will be intimidated. I think Georgia will win this one and continue their dream season.
Georgia 37, Auburn 14

Game 4: Texas Christian (+6.5) at Oklahoma (8:00 p.m. EST)

JR Ewing:
Oklahoma is the current and future king/champ of the Big 12 until someone stops them.  TCU is a good road team, but I think Oklahoma is getting better.  They have so many good wins at Ohio State and Oklahoma State.  They'll focus in this on and win comfortably.
Oklahoma 41, Texas Christian 30

Bulldog Babe:
This matchup will be one of the best of the weekend, in my opinion. It consists of the first two teams out of the College Football Playoff top four. I️ think Oklahoma has more than proved themselves, but I think TCU has the stronger team. So I’m taking TCU in this one.
Texas Christian 37, Oklahoma 27

Game 5: Notre Dame (-3) at Miami (8:00 p.m. EST)

JR Ewing:
To be honest, I don't see either of these teams as Top 5.  That being said, Miami being undefeated seems to be overlooked by experts.  Mark Richt has this team believing and Notre Dame will have a stiff road test.  I think the Hurricanes announce their arrival back on the national scene with a close victory.
Miami 31, Notre Dame 30

Bulldog Babe:
This will be one of the top two matchups of the weekend. Notre Dame still looming with the one loss to Georgia earlier in the season and with the second rankings out, it looks like they have the third seed in the CFB Playoff locked down (unless a major upset happens of course). Miami is a dream team this year, like I said last week. I’m so excited to see what Coach Richt is doing with that program. I don’t wanna pick against them, but it’s gonna have to happen this weekend. Notre Dame has a stronger team on both sides of the ball, give me the Irish in this one.
Notre Dame 37, Miami 24

Bulldog Babe and I want to give a huge shout out to our Veterans on this Veterans Day weekend.  It's the Home of the Free because of the Brave.  My grandfather was of the Greatest Generation in World War II and both of us have cousins who have dedicated their life to being in the service and have our respect.  Thank a veteran this weekend and fly the American Flag proudly.

- JR and BDB

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/5/2017

As the calendar turns from October to November, football takes center stage.  While it's always too premature to discuss playoff options prior to Thanksgiving, the Oklahoma Sooners are in a strong position to win the Big 12 and that conversation thanks to a surging Heisman favorite.  Baker Mayfield, a former walk on quarterback, is putting up video game numbers.  But not against bad competition, but rather the best in the conference.  This week in a huge rivalry game, on the road, against a ranked team, he lit up the scoreboard.  Oklahoma scored 62 points.  He finished the day just 2 yards under 600 (school record from a school with a ton of Heisman QB winners) with 5 TD passes.  On only 24 completions, that's about 25 yards per pass completion.  A quarter of the field.  Before you jump on Oklahoma State's defense, against two likely bowl teams the two previous weeks, they snatched 5 INTs and held both QBs combined under 550 yards.  Oklahoma is in good hands with Mayfield, and he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/1/2017

Special edition this week, we extended the Sportsman of the Week to include all the World Series.  And we have an obvious winner.  The Houston Astros secured their first World Series championship behind their lead off hitter.  But it wasn't walks or stolen bases that got his team going.  It was home runs.  After a disastrous World Series opener (0-4, 4K, it was against Clayton Kershaw), George Springer set the pace for the Astros.  Over the final six games, he hit 5 HR (record), 3 2B, and also walked 5 times.  He ended the series batting .379 (in what was a low hitting series, other than Springer, only Evan Gattis and Joc Pederson hit over .300 with 10 AB or mor,e and both teams hit .230 or lower).  Houston, you have a title.  And a Sportsman of the Week!

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Ten

I will never pick against Texas again
Is it really Week Ten? Like double digits? But it seems like the season just started!?  Nevertheless, as evidenced by the first College Football Playoff poll, we are entering the stretch.  It is November.  Rivalries are kicking up.  And conference races are about to be decided.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) Ohio State with their backs against the wall once again take hold of the Big 10 East race.  With a two game lead over Michigan, tiebreaker on Penn State, and Michigan State at home, they're in the drivers seat.
2) Can we take Iowa State seriously yet?  Having defeated both Oklahoma and TCU, they're in the middle of the Big 12 race. The Big 12 so deep, though, they still have to play another Top 15 team, and then road trips to previously ranked West Virginia and Kansas State.  I do think the Big 12's depth is it's biggest barrier against a playoff appearance.
3) Alabama has no wins over a team currently ranked this year.
4) We had our first major program head coaching axe to fall at Florida. Now it becomes a land grab, with other schools (Tennessee, Texas A+M, or Nebraska) behind the coach hunt curve if they do indeed part ways.
5) Miami is back on top for teams in the state of Florida.  First test (really, they've played no one decent) this week vs. Virginia Tech, then Notre Dame next week.  I hope the "Catholics vs. Convicts" 30 for 30 plays all week next week.

I'm hot, baby, don't doubt!
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  For each week's games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. Georgia faces a scrappy South Carolina team while Texas faces their 4th Top 12 opponent in seven games at TCU. It's that time of year when finding only five huge games is difficult.  LSU/Bama and Michigan State/Penn State didn't even make the cut!

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan Bulldog Babe (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo). 

Last week
JR: 2-3 S/U, 2-2 ATS
BDB: 5-0 S/U, 4-1 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 25-19 S/U, 24-19 ATS
BDB: 34-11 S/U, 32-13 ATS

Last week BDB only missed a Georgia cover.  She had them by 13 against a 13.5 point spread.  That's it.  She has been amazing, almost 75% ATS, not missing any straight up either!  J.R. did miserable picking Baylor and West Virginia and Penn State (although Nittany covered)

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: South Carolina (+23.5) at Georgia (3:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Georgia just keeps rolling.  A couple of non-covers, but only the one tight game in South Bend.  They have been starting fast (sign of a good game plan and well prepared players) and this week will be no different.  South Carolina has six wins, but none are overwhelmingly impressive.  Georgia wins but under the number.
Georgia 34, South Carolina 14

Bulldog Babe: 
The Gamecocks are Georgia’s second to last SEC East matchup of the season, but it won’t be that easy for South Carolina. They’re headed into a tough fan environment to play a team that is undefeated and statistically one of the best teams in the nation. South Carolina players have already given some bulletin board material on this weekend’s game, I feel like that will once again give the Dawgs a lot of motivation. Georgia wins.
Georgia 34, South Carolina 17

Game 2: Clemson (-7) at North Carolina State (3:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Clemson gets some new life from the playoff committee overlooking their single loss.  They're on a mission now and it starts in Raleigh.  This was a tough matchup for them last year, that will be this year, also.  Clemson wins, but close. 
Clemson 26, North Carolina State 23

Bulldog Babe:
NC State almost upset Clemson last year, but they fell just short of that feat. I don’t think they’ll come close this time around. Clemson is so strong on both sides of the ball and they have completely exceeded my expectations, despite the one loss against Syracuse. Clemson wins it this weekend.
Clemson 30, North Carolina State 14

Game 3: Oklahoma (+3) at Oklahoma State (4:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
It's Bedlam.  One of the best rivalries in the Big 12 and the teams have the talent to match.  Oklahoma has been sputtering a bit, Oklahoma State is in a tough stretch of their schedule.  I like the home team here.  Better offense.  They're hungry.
Oklahoma State 37, Oklahoma 31

Bulldog Babe:
The two teams of Oklahoma are completely dominating this year, despite both of them having one loss on the season. Oklahoma was put as the first team out in the CFB playoff rankings and I think if they continue their winning ways, they have a case to sneak in the top 4. Baker Mayfield has a case for the Heisman as well, he’s a great quarterback who I think has been doing so well this season and it will continue into this weekend. Oklahoma wins.
Oklahoma 27, Oklahoma State 17

Game 4: Texas (+7) at Texas Christian (7:15 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Remember when I said I wouldn't pick against Texas again (see caption above)?  I lied.  After all, I am J.R. Ewing so that shouldn't be a surprise.  TCU has had Texas' number the past few years.  None of the games close.  And TCU is wounded.  The Frogs roll the Horns.
Texas Christian 35, Texas 7

Bulldog Babe:
TCU has exceeded my expectations at the halfway point in the season. They have one loss on the season and they have talent on both sides of the ball. Texas has been sloppy from start to finish. Currently at 4-4, they’re struggling just to become bowl eligible. I think TCU will come out and dominate this game against Texas.
Texas Christian 37, Texas 7

Game 5: Virginia Tech (-2.5) at Miami (8:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
This is a sneaky greatest game of the day.  Both of these teams have ACC title aspirations and deservedly so.  Both are well coached (with new coaches).  Miami may be getting their 1980s swagger back.  At night in the Orange Bowl (or whatever their stadium is).  Miami wins and puts out notice they are a force to be reckoned with.
Miami 31, Virginia Tech 14

Bulldog Babe:
I am LOVING what Coach Richt is doing at Miami. Leaving Georgia has worked to his benefit and it’s so awesome seeing him do so well in his second year. Miami definitely deserves all of the hype they’re receiving. Virginia Tech in my opinion is one of my top 2 one loss teams. Even they have exceeded my expectations on this season. This is a tough matchup to predict the winner, to be honest. I gotta go with my gut feeling, I think Miami will win it but in another close game.
Miami 27, Virginia Tech 20

November is the best time of the college football calendar!  Have a fun Saturday!

- JR and BDB