Posts Tagged ‘Alabama’

Laces out!

College football opening week normally is set with boring match ups between powerhouse schools and Division 2/NAIA cup cakes.  Most teams are looking for those easy wins to get their team off to a nice start all the while hoping to find some consistency in their teams starters.  2012 brought us a few interesting match ups but mostly it was much of the same boring crap.  If you woke up early enough you might have caught Notre Dame making a joke out of Navy.  Or maybe you decided you’d wait to catch the most hated program Penn State taking on the mighty University of Ohio.  Sadly that’s what a tuned into, I thought Bill O’Brien did a great job preparing the kids from Penn State only to fall flat on their faces in the second half.  I’m sure most of the nation was happy about this, I know I didn’t mind it, but really at this point I hold no ill will to this new administration or the players who decided to stick it out.

If you were smart you would have started with the Northwestern/Syracuse game.  Not because either of these teams are in the upper echelon of college football, but they put on a great show.  Syracuse did a great job of battling back only to watch a second string QB come in and save the day.  Speaking of which, what an odd coaching decision by Pat Fitzgerald.  Who brings in a back up to lead the team to victory?  Talk about taking a huge risk!

At this point you were left with watching a few ranked teams that should (key word here is should) take care of their opponents with much ease.  That however was not the case for both Wisconsin and Florida.  Both would eventually win their first games but neither looked very good in doing so.  I decided to take in the Iowa/Northern Illinois game.  Yes, that same Husky team who owned the longest winning streak in the nation.  I was surprised at how Northern took it to Iowa, but after playing 3 ½ quarters of football they gave way to the Big 10 conference.  The bigger story in this game might have been the turf at Soldier Field.  Sounds as if the city of Chicago may need to invested in an artificial turf of some sorts.  Sad to think that the legendary Soldier Field, in all its upgrade glory, forgot to worry about the most important part of the stadium, the field.  Paging the Sod Father!!

The rest of the day was largely uneventful with most teams doing exactly what they should do.  So I waited for the big time matchup between Michigan and Alabama.  This was the game that had bowl implications resting on both teams.  After watching the first quarter you could totally tell that Michigan was well overmatched.  Alabama on the other hand is a team to be reckoned with and should be odds on favorite to win the SEC this year.

Best Performances:

Le’Veon Bell MSU:  Maybe the best game of the week was between Michigan State and Boise State.  Michigan State had to really battle for this opening day victory and who better to lead the way then Bell.   Bell shouldered the load by touching the ball 50 times (44 rushing attempts) racking up 210 rushing yards and 2 rushing TD’s.  Maybe Montee Bell will have a little competition in the Big 10 this year.

Austin Franklin WR NMST:  This will most likely be the only time you will see me mention New Mexico State.  Franklin had one of the best games in the past week hauling in 8 catches while totaling 236 yards and 2 touchdowns.  What’s most surprising is that last year the sophomore had a total of 524 yards.  Talk about having a career day.  I’ll keep an eye on this kid, but when you’re playing Sacramento State I’d hope you’d have a chance to run up the score.

Gino Smith QB West Virginia:  Nobody should be really shocked that senior Gino Smith put up good numbers against Marshall.  Throwing for 323 yards while completing an impressive 32 for 36 should be something to pay attention to.  Smith last year finished 4th in total yards last year and I would not be surprised if he challenges for the top spot this year.

Bjoern Werner DE FSU:  Picking up 4 sacks against anyone is pretty special.  Sure Murray State is not Alabama, but you can only play who’s on your schedule.  We may never hear another thing about the German Werner, but he still should be proud of getting to the QB as many times as he did.

What to watch for this week:

 #24 Florida vs. Texas A&M:  Texas A&M comes into the 2012 season with a lot of question marks.  New coach, new conference and a freshman quarterback trying to lead the way.  Florida came off a win against Bowling Green which was not really impressive.  The Gators had to work for their season opening victory, coming up with two touchdowns in the 4th quarter to hold off a feisty MAC team.  Florida should win the game, but if A&M can keep Johnny Manziel he will have many senior targets to throw to.  Manziel threw for over 3500 yards and 44 td’s his senior year at Tivy Antlers in Texas.

Vanderbilt vs. Northwestern:  It’s kind of a boring week of college football matchups when I put up a game between these two teams.  I’m trying to get excited for an Illinois team and I guess this will be the one I focus on for a while.  Vanderbilt comes in to Ryan Field after losing 17-13 to a very talented South Carolina team.  Northwestern, as mentioned earlier, just survived against a poor Syracuse team.  Vegas has Vanderbilt favored by 3.5 points, but don’t count the Wildcats out.  Fitzgerald clearly has a good read on his team and will have them ready for their home opener.

In other news:

– Savannah State  might not care about taking a 84-0 drubbing by Oklahoma State last week.  The Tigers will take away a hefty 385 thousand dollar check.  But what does this say to the student-athletes?  Sure you made some easy money, but nothing can make a team feel much worse than knowing they were whored out for money.

– Who is Sam Durley?  I know I asked myself that same question.  The Senior quarterback for Eureka College in Illinois broke the single game passing record last week.  Durley threw for 736 yards while leading the Red Devils in a come from behind 62-55 finish.  Durley is not new to holding records as he holds his high school record for passing yards with 375 passing yards, but this one has a little more meaning to it.

Gambling notes:

Last week 1-0-1    Season 1-0-1

This week

If I were you I’d save my money this week, most of the spreads are not worth staking your hard earn money on.  But knowing myself I’ll probably wait till half time on a few of these games.  So if you’re following my bets check out my twitter feed as I’ll post some of my plays there.

aw@99sportsproblems.com   twitter: spike1057

Laces out!

by: Andrew Welebir
twitter: @Spike1057

As summer fades into fall and students make their way back into the swing of school, it only means one thing. Another season of college football is upon us. However, this offseason seemed more like a bad dream. With the constant stories surrounding Penn State University and the mishandling of child rapist Jerry Sandusky, it seemed like last season never really ended. Normally I’m really excited for a new college football season to begin, not so much this year.

I won’t lie to you Chicago is not really a college sports town. When local media shoves Notre Dame down your throat, located 90 miles away from the city, it’s hard to really get excited. Sure Northwestern, a member of the Big 10, is much closer but for some reason they never garnered the excitement of University of Illinois. One team who we should be talking about is University of Northern Illinois. Here’s a team that will go into the season with the longest running winning streak (9) in college football. You read that right, but again the only people who care about these stories are alumni. This is probably why you won’t be hearing much college talk this year. Nobody really cares in Chicago.

So let’s just talk about 5 teams you should pay attention to this season.

  • 1.USC – Matt Barkley is back to finish off a very solid career at USC and make a run at a National Championship. The senior had an outstanding season last year throwing for 3,528 yards and 39 Touch downs and is a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year. USC just finished off a two-year ban from post season play, and once again find themselves on top of the AP poll. This season has two big road blocks ahead, Sept. 15 against Stanford and Nov. 3 against Oregon. The game against Stanford has the chance to be a trap game with in state rival California Golden Bears waiting in the wings the following week. If Barkley and his talented group of WR can maintain the hype they will be receiving all season long then this might be their march back to dominance.
  • 2.Alabama – Nick Saban has proven he knows what he’s doing as a College football coach. After a tough first year at Alabama, Saban has led the Crimson Tide to a 44-4 record and won 2 national titles. So why not another national championship? Trenton Richardson has left for the NFL and with that he takes away a huge weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Taking his place is Eddie Lacy, who has been a solid back up the last two seasons. Two years ago he finished with a thousand yard season and last year he averaged over seven yards a carry. A.J. McCarron will once again be under center, but his core of wide receivers have since left and he will have to adjust.

    The defense has many questions this season after losing two of the best linebackers in college football. However, under Saban this team has continued to find players to make it work and I have a hard time thinking they won’t again. The SEC is always full with tough matchups and will challenge Alabama all season long. Make sure to check out the opening week matchup between Alabama and Michigan, this should let us know what type of team we’re going to see this season.

  • 3.Florida State – Finally there is something to cheer about in Tallahassee, Florida, after being one of the greatest college football teams through the better part of two decades. Last season was a huge disappointment for the Seminoles. Injuries plagued the team costing their players 40 games, more than any other team in college football. What should have been an awful season saw the Seminoles finish at 9-4 losing to Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.

    So why am I so optimistic for this Florida State team? Let’s start with the Defensive side of the ball. The team is one of the nastiest teams around. Last season they finished ranked as the 4th best defensive team and they only got stronger. The defensive line is stacked with many reserves that could be starters but the depth is such that they will rotate in. The offense should see improvements all around the field.

    The offensive line which was hit hard with injuries and bad play should bounce back nicely. The running game is nothing special but will help to take some of the load off talented EJ Manuel. Manuel has so many options at wide out that the sky is the limit for this kid. I think this team has an inside track at pulling off an undefeated season and taking on USC for the National Championship.

  • 4.Wisconsin – It’s not the team I’ll be watching this season. The only reason I care to watch a Big 10 team is because they have one of the most electric backs in all of college football. Montee Bell was about as good as possible last season. He only racked up over 2,200 total yards from scrimmage. Oh yeah he had 39 touch downs!! For some reason he felt he needed to return to Madison, Wisconsin for another season. Maybe he shouldn’t have seeing how he had a run in with three guys who bashed his head in. Hopefully he can take what he’s learned and do with it that others from Wisconsin could not do in the NFL. Time will tell.
  • 5.Texas – Truth be told I’m a huge Texas Longhorn fan, started with my love of Ricky Williams and Major Applewhite. By the way, I hate Chris Simms with a passion. I’ll never understand how that overrated trash could steal Applewhite’s starting position. Just because daddy was a NFL quarterback you deserve the starting nod over a guy who at the time owned every Texas football record. Screw you Simms!! Glad I got that off my chest.

    I’ll be honest I would love to see this team win another National Championship but I’m not stupid. The defensive side of the ball is solid, in fact they are the best in the Big 12 this year. Sure the loss of Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson at linebacker will hurt but the depth up front should help to overcome the inexperience at linebacker. Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat are two of the very best defensive ends in all of college football and should make for some great pass rushing.

    Running back Malcolm Brown shined last season as a freshman and should be the lead back again this season. If he can help shoulder the load and take pressure off a passing game which is very poor then this can be a Big 12 champion. However, if Brown struggles all eyes will move to David Ash and Case McCoy (brother of Colt McCoy) who will need to become more consistent than they were last year.

Notes:

-If you are looking for the next RG3 then look no further than Denard Robinson. Robinson will be working on his third straight season of 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing. He’s proven he has the ability to move around the pocket but does he have what it takes to sit back and light up the field with his arm? If the Wolverines plan to take that next step one would think that’s a must.

-If Northern Illinois plans on keeping that 9 game winning streak intact then the Defense will have to step up and lead the way. With quarterback Chandler Harnish gone all eyes will be on Junior QB Jordan Lynch. Lynch helped lead NIU to the Go Daddy Bowl title last year when he took over at the end leading NIU to a come from behind victory. NIU opens up against Iowa who they have never beat. (0-4)

-If LSU plans to get back on top they will have to do it without DB Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu was kicked off the team for failing a drug test. Mathieu aka The Honey Bear will be missed he was one of the most exciting football players on the field last year.

-Surely there are plenty of talented players I did not mention. Hell I didn’t want to rewrite the book just let you know what I’m watching for. So sadly I did not include a long piece on Marcus Lattimore. Look for something on this kid next time.

Gamblers note:
I love to gamble so each week I’m going to include a few games my money will be on.
Alabama -14
Michigan St -7
If you have anything you’re betting on send me a message or post it on the Facebook page.

“People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they’re African American. They’re not us. They’re impostors”

-Torii Hunter

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52 

Note: This article is the start of something, the history of the Afro-Latino in baseball cannot be summed up in one blog post or even a series of blog posts. It began as a simple email response and it has grown into an ongoing project whose end date I’m not sure of. This is a snippet.

It’s pretty clear that people just don’t know what to do with Latinos. In the Trayvon Martin case Zimmerman was labeled a minority by some because he has Spanish roots, thus making him Mexican or something. The Ozzie Guillen story provided an interesting chance for Latinos to have a serious conversation about race and hate within the community, instead we got an overreaction to the suspension with no real discussion on why what he said stung so much. One of the more surprising aspects of this controversy was the lack of cultural awareness when it comes to Hispanics. People genuinely did not know that Castro is seen as a tyrannical despot on the level of Hitler with the Cuban community. The caricature was the only impression people had of him and were shocked that Ozzie’s comments cut so deep.

The inspiration from this commentary, however, came from a nugget of information that Dan Bernstein gave us 2 weeks ago. The Chicago Cubs are currently shopping most of their big league roster, and it’s been speculated for months that Marlon Byrd will be traded. Should he find a new home between now and April 15, Jackie Robinson day, Chicago will have no African-American representative on #42’s day. That is a rather interesting piece of information, and I don’t have much issue with it. A caller brought up the name Alex Rios, who was born in Alabama and is considered Puerto-Rican-American.

And that’s what really got me thinking about what Jackie Robinson day means. For the purposes of his point, I can somewhat see where Mr. Bernstein was coming from, he dismissed Rios as a Latin born player and not African American in the typical sense of the term. However, I think this is a classic example of the media, and the world in general, having no idea what to do with Afro-Latinos. Torii Hunter’s quote above illustrates that point as well. Afro-Latinos are not properly represented nor are they accounted for in America.

The implication that Mr. Bernstein was making is that Afro-Latinos shouldn’t count as proper representatives for Jackie Robinson Day. That’s a dangerous implication to make and I think it’s one that a lot of people make. The inverse of this is also dangerous however, to consider Alex Rios as simply black without considering what his heritage and his lineage is. The point of Jackie Robinson day is to celebrate the tearing down of the color barrier. That’s a broad term, color, and it’s one that’s classically been assigned to African-Americans throughout history, with a good reason. It was the label that an oppressive white society put on blacks to strip away their sense of worth. But color is a defined differently today as it applies to a broader population.

The truth is that the gentleman’s agreement about “colored” players extended beyond just the African-American players. If you sent Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, Alex Rios, Carlos Marmol, Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez, Hector Santiago, and even Geo Soto back into a time machine set for the 30’s, not a one is playing in the Majors. They would all be New York Cubans.

The history of the New York Cubans is muddled, which is common for a Negro League team. For the purposes of this column, understand that they were a Negro League team comprised of mostly Afro-Latinos, but occasionally they took on lighter skinned Latinos because MLB didn’t want anything to do with people of color. They began in 1899 as the All Cubans, became the Cuban Stars in 1907, folded in the late 20’s and were recreated by a former member of the Cuban Stars, Alex Pompez, in 1930. If that name rings a bell White Sox fans, it’s because he scouted Minnie Minoso and brought him over from Cuba to play ball in the US.

The New York Cubans employed players of color that were not allowed to play in the Majors. These were not strictly African American players that fit neatly into a small category. The NY Cubans took on all that were of color and shunned by MLB, until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and opened the door to all people of color, not just American born Blacks. The Negro Leagues were where Minnie Minoso got his start in professional baseball.

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson was 0/3 with a RS, but on that day he began the process that cemented himself as arguably the most important player in baseball history. In the wake of integration  we had Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Minnie Minoso. That’s a lot of talent that MLB was ignoring before Jackie. A date that should be similarly remembered is May 1, 1951.

The “Cuban Comet” paved the way for Latino players, but is remembered by the White Sox as being their first black player in the post Jackie Robinson era. On May 1, Minnie paved the way for Latino players to enter the Majors, which of course came at the price of discrimination, racism, and untold stress and heartache. Reporters rather famously phonetically spelled his quotes in print, he was called all sorts of names everywhere he went, and he had to use the “Coloreds Only” stalls as well.

It’s irresponsible to dismiss Afro Latinos because they aren’t the “right kind of black.” I think it’s about time to have a serious discussion about race in America, one that centers around Hispanics. The race issue is alive and well in America, it’s disguised as other things and somewhat hidden, but we Hispanics have a lot of issues to resolve with ourselves. There’s an alarming trend of self hate and lost identity within our community. Ozzie’s insensitive comments confront us with an uncomfortable reality that we aren’t as unified as we’d like to think sometimes. I’m guilty of talking shit to Puerto Ricans, and I’m sure most Hispanics have similar stories. We’ve come a long way since Minnie, but we still have a long way to go. Our story is frequently misunderstood in America, let’s work on that.