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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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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week One

JR is back to make you money
That crisp cool air has moved in and we are ready to start 2017 College Football!  Okay, one of those two things are true.  Ready or not, College Football 2017 is here.  So many surprises await the next 15 or so weeks, including:

1) Has the SEC become a one trick pony with Alabama or is there a chance a second team makes the playoff?
2) Is the Big 10 really ready to establish itself as the best overall conference in 2017?
3) How will Lamar Jackson follow up his Heisman winning 2016 season?
4) Will new coaches at Texas and Oklahoma finally put the Big 12 back on the national map?
5) Is USC finally beyond its penalties and ready to legitimately contend for titles?
6) How will Clemson rebound with the loss of Deshaun Watson and other key players for their back-to back title runs?
7) Will Michigan regress with the loss of several upper classmen?
8) Is Notre Dame in a downward spiral or was last year a blip?
9) Will Miami reestablish itself as a national power?
10) Will Georgia or Tennessee finally break through in the national rankings?

Frankly, we probably don't even know what questions to ask, that's why college football is the most unpredictable sport in the country.  Along with the fact that there are 50+ games of highlights, upsets, tailgates, cheerleaders, bands, and campus fun.  Strap yourself in!

As always, this blog (via J.R. Ewing, our resident rich Texan drinking gambler) gives you picks each week.  Against the spread, because that's how we roll.

The lovely Bulldog Babe is here to tell you what's up
This year, we are excited to add Bulldog Babe (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert throughout the season (so long as her schedule allows).  Bulldog Babe is an amazing sports fan located in North Carolina, but bleeds Georgia Bulldog Red.  Follow her during a Georgia game and you'll know what I'm talking about.  She's intense. You also need to check our her NASCAR Blog (The Ladies in Black).

Instead of focusing on the five games I think give you the best angle (which by the way, carried you to a 3.8% profit last season), we're going to go to the three top marquee games of the week, plus Georgia and Texas.  Georgia for Bulldog Babe, and Texas because it's the greatest team in the greatest state.

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

So for week one, here we go.  First team listed is the pick for JR Ewing.


Game 1: Maryland (+18.5) at Texas (Noon EDT)

JR Ewing:
Lots of unknowns here. My Texas Longhorns are ranked, despite going 5-7 last season and swapping head coaches.  Maryland started last season 4-0, won 3 conference games (including Michigan State), and made a bowl game.  I'm cautiously optimistic that the Horns are ready to make a statement, however, 18 points given the unknowns is too much.

Texas 34, Maryland 17


Bulldog Babe: 
The Texas Longhorns are a force to be reckoned with, in my opinion. They have been getting stronger and I think they're gonna start the season off with a win against the Maryland Terrapins. While the late and great NASCAR broadcaster Steve Byrnes was a Maryland grad, you would think I'd automatically go with them but I think Texas takes this one.

Texas 24, Maryland 17


Game 2: North Carolina State (-5) vs. South Carolina (3:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Two middling teams make this an intriguing Week 1 matchup.  ACC/SEC is always competitive as well.  I like the trending of NC State better than South Carolina.  It'll be close, but at home, the Wolfpack wins by a TD

North Carolina State 27, South Carolina 20

Bulldog Babe:

This is a tough one, but I think that NC State will take this one. South Carolina has declined over the last few years, but they're slowly getting back into the grind. While I think that, I also think NC State is gonna beat them.

North Carolina State 24, South Carolina 20


Game 3: Michigan (-4.5) at Florida  (3:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
This game has so many implications.  John Harbaugh has made no bones about wanting to raid other states for their High School talent, and here he is in the heart of Florida.  Meanwhile, Florida is coming off an SEC East Championship, but is also missing a number of players due to suspension.  Michigan seems to be poised for a win here, I think they get it.

Michigan 24, Florida 17


Bulldog Babe:
Florida and Michigan is always a great showing. The Wolverines are getting better with John Harbaugh as their coach, but Florida is known for success. Not this time! A lot of Florida's players have been suspended for week 1, most of those players who are starters. That opens the door for Michigan to steal a win and I think it will happen.

Michigan 27, Florida 17


Game 4: Georgia (-14) vs. Appalachian State (6:15 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Georgia is poised to fill the void of SEC East strength.  With Tennessee perpetually falling short of potential, and Florida spinning its wheels, to me, Georgia is ready to make a leap.  Curiously tight spread being that the game is in Athens, even though Appalachian State is solid.  I just don't see it being that close.

Georgia 38, Appalachian State 14

Bulldog Babe:

Of course, I gotta go with my boys in UGA/App State. Jacob Eason's coming back & I have so much faith that he'll be better in year #2, so many returning defensive players, our two running backs returning, I have a good feeling for UGA.

Georgia 34, Appalachian State 17


Game 5: Alabama (-7.0) vs Florida State  (8:00 EDT, Atlanta)

JR Ewing:
Alabama thrives in neutral site games to start the season.  They wisely angle for marquee neutral site games instead of doing home and home so that every other year they don't have to bite off a potential rabid crowd. But kudos for scheduling a Top 3 matchup.  But game one is about preparation and game plan without film, and Nick Saban can't be beat in that arena.  They've done this before, they'll do it again.  Great early season win.

Bulldog Babe:
Alabama is coming back with vengeance to win title #17 & FSU is coming off of a pretty decent season, going 10-3 overall & 5-3 in the ACC. Two strong teams, two champion teams. It won't be a cakewalk.

Alabama 27, Florida State 20

Big thanks to Bulldog Babe for participating and enjoy the opening week of College Football!

- JR (and BDB).

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/27/2017

The baseball pennant race continues to dominate the sports headlines, and our Sportsman of the Week has leapt from potential to reality in a week, or at least this month.  Former number 2 overall pick Byron Buxton (taken one spot after Houston Astros 2015 Rookie of the Year and 2017 All Star Carlos Correa) is meeting his potential.  And in the process, has the underdog Minnesota Twins in a position for their first playoff berth since 2010.  Over eight road games, Buxton went 11-33 (.333) with 5 HR, 11 R, 10 RBI.  He also chipped in two steals and made one of the defensive plays of the year (link).  Buxton may finally be ripening into one of the greats like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Aaron Judge.  But he for sure is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/20/2017

The Major League Baseball pennant race is heating up, as is the chase for individual glory.  It's individual glory that we focus on this week.  The best power hitter in baseball, Giancarlo Stanton, is on a tear and could approach 60 HR by seasons end.  He padded his stats this week, going 8 for 20, with 3 HR and an astounding 7 bases on balls.  In all six games this week, he reached base at least twice resulting in a .556 on base percentage, and .700 slugging percentage.  He started the week finishing off a six game home run streak, which ended Wednesday, but was picked back up later in the week with a home run.  If he gets to 60 or 61, many may regard him as the legitimate single season home run champion, as records posted in the 1990s and 2000s are widely regarded as Performance Enhancing Drug induced.  Stanton is great for baseball, and the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Editors note: this is Stanton's second Sportsman of the Week, his first reads eerily similar for almost exactly three years ago to the day and similar stats!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/13/2017

There's a new era of golf, and the young guns are taking over.  With the abrupt collapse of Tiger Woods career, with the aging of current legends like Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, a crease was opened and the likes of 2017 British Open Champion Jordan Spieth, U.S. Open Champion Brooks Koepka, and now Justin Thomas are busting through.  The latter put together a masterful four days at the 99th Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour Championship, to capture his first major win at age 24.  This follows British open winner Spieth who is also 24, and Koepka, also born after 1/1/1990.  Thomas was the only golfer who finished under 70 the last three rounds.  Coming home in the second group, he only needed bogey to win.  By two strokes.  Lack of drama fits Thomas personality, his stoic, surgical approach to hitting fairways, making putts, and keeping pressure on rivals should suit him well over the next three decades.  Thomas is our Sportsman of the Week, and will be a golfing force for years to come.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/6/2017

Age is just a number. But in Bartolo Colon's case, it's kind of big. Like an entire Olympiad past 40. But for one night, he pitched like a hurler 20 years younger. Colon sipped on the fountain of youth for one night, pitching a complete game in an 8-4 Twins victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday. He becomes the oldest pitcher since Nolan Ryan to complete a game after age 44. He was efficient using only 106 pitches, scattering nine hits, including five for extra bases. Already released once this year and not necessarily the portrait of fitness, Colon knows he's probably done after this year. But for one night, he was brilliant, and our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/30/2017

The dog days of summer are usually associated with baseball.  On the weekend of the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction, a rarity within the sport indeed occurred.  It's one thing to get a walk off grand slam home run once in a career.  Let alone twice.  The same week.  Against all odds, the Toronto Blue Jays Steve Pearce did just that.  The career .255 hitter with fewer than 100 HR teed off twice in ... days, once off Liam Hendricks of the Oakland A's, then off of Bud Norris of the Los Angeles Angels.  The second being more dramatic in that his team was trailing by 3 runs, and it capped off a 7 run ninth inning rally for an 11-10 Blue Jays win.  For the week, Pearce was but 5-26, but add two doubles to the two grand slams and he wins our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!