Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekend Viewing Guide

Not nearly as packed a weekend for sports watching as it was a week ago, but there's still some quality out there. No Michigan, which judging from the Notre Dame debacle, is probably the best thing at this point in the Rich Rod era. But you can't help but smile seeing how much West Virginia is struggling without its old coach. Seriously, I watched parts of last week's East Carolina-West Virginia game and then watched most of last night's Mountaineer-Colorado game, and I couldn't get over how atrocious the clock management and play calling were.

Onto the games to watch:

Friday Night
Quince Orchard High School vs. Damascus High School, 630 p.m.
Westfield High School vs. Chantilly High School, 730 p.m.

Being the sports editor (yes that is my official title here in Virginia and I have the business card to prove it) I had to include a couple high school games ... even though I'm not attending either and there's no chance any one can even watch them on television (If you can, let me know what channel). But these are the two biggest regular season games in the DC area this year, and they both happen to fall on the same weekend. Damascus beat QO for the state title a year ago, but QO now has a team with something like five or six guys who are going to play D-1 football, including a couple top100 players in the nation. Westfield is the defending state champion in Virginia (which is saying something), but appear weaker than last season. Can Chantilly (a perennial power) knock them off? Apparently there's supposed to be close to 10,000 people going to that game later tonight.

East Carolina at NC State, Noon ESPN
Will the Pirates keep their undefeated streak alive. Something tells me this is the game they trip up in. I have no real reason for supporting this, though. It's just a hunch.

Virginia Tech at UNC, 330 p.m. ABC
Florida at Tennessee, 330 p.m. CBS
Notre Dame at Michigan State, 330 p.m. ESPN

UNC was mighty impressive in that win over Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights look like trash this season. I want evidence that the Butch Davis era is for real. A home game against a suspect Va. Tech team will do a lot to validate the Tar Heels as a potential ACC champion ... The Florida-Tenn. game meant a whole lot more back in the days of the Ol' Ball Coach, Spurrier, when this game would ultimately decide the SEC East. Hell, the Vols can't even seem to fill their own stadium these days thanks to the administration actually making students pay for tickets (Gasp!). I would say the Gators win this one in a landslide, but you never know what can happen in an SEC road game. ... And last and least, the matchup between my two least favorite teams in all the college football world. Is there a way both teams can lose or maybe at least tie or something? The only reason I might want a ND win is that it would officially signal the end of all this "Mark Dantonio is really onto something there in East Lansing" business.

Apparently the game against UAB didn't inspire this type of attendance.

LSU at Auburn, 745 p.m. ESPN
Georgia at Arizona State, 8 p.m. ABC

I've been working on this story for a couple weeks here in Virginia. It's about these three high school football teams I cover that all switched over to this system called "The Tony Franklin Offense". Who is Tony Franklin, you ask? Well he was the offensive coordinator at Troy until getting the same such job at Auburn this past off season. He has this unique scheme that is apparently really easy to implement and even has an 800 number for coaches to call when they have questions. Well, I want this story to come off as if I've discovered the next big thing. The only problem is Auburn has blown on offense thus far. And by terrible offense, I mean really terrible, as in they beat Mississippi State 3-2 last week. For my sake, I need everyone to root for this LSU game to be the Tigers (the Auburn version) coming out party offensively. ... As for the Georgia game, the only reason it is of consequence is that if the Bulldogs struggle in this one, we can make it official that this whole BCS thing is a two-team race between USC and the winner of the Big 12 this season.

Cardinals at Redskins, 1 p.m. FOX
Raiders at Bills, 1 p.m. CBS
Panthers at Vikings, 1 p.m. FOX

As I stated earlier this week, the Skins looked good, real good against the Saints. It won't mean much, though, if they don't beat the upstart Cards. Especially with two road games at Dallas and Philly looming in the two ensuing games. Even with a full complement of secondary players (Springs, Smoot, Rogers) and the addition of a talented rookie (Chris Horton), the Skins will struggle with the likes of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. But here's the thing about Kurt Warner: he doesn't handle pressure well. If the Skins can get past that offensive line, especially without having to blitz, I don't think the Cards do all that much. But that's obviously easier said than done, because if Warner has time he'll pick this defense apart. As for the offense, I think CPort should be plenty motivated considering his shenanigans the past week. I'm looking forward to hearing Brian Mitchell on the Skins pregame show (it only airs in the DC area). I'm curious to see how the wideouts respond after a brilliant game a week ago. Is that the standard for the season or was last week an anomaly against a weakened Saints secondary? Plus with the injuries to Malcolm Kelly and James Thrash, does Devin Thomas do anything this week? All that being said, let's remember these are still the Cards and the last time that franchise started a season 3-0 was 1974.

You get to grow up quickly this weekend young Devin.

As for the other games, I promised I would pay attention to the Bills if they went to Jacksonville and won. Now they get to feast on the Raiders and Lane Kiffin's dying coaching corpse. Seriously, look at Buffalo's schedule, its next three games are Oakland, at St. Louis, and at Arizona. It's not out of the realm of possibility to see them at 5-0 heading into the bye week. But I've got a weird feeling the Bills might just choke this week (or at least make the score way too close to comfort) because I'm not ready to accept a 5-0 Buffalo team as part of the NFL landscape. ... Panthers and Vikes is on here solely for the return of Gus Frerotte to relevance. It seems like just yesterday I was chanting "We Want Gus" at my first football game at RFK as Heath Shuler sucked a nut on the field. The fact that Gus still has a job somewhere indicates to me just how easy it is to be solely a quarterback that can form complete thoughts. Because that's all Gus really brings to the table. he certainly won't be leading some obscene playoff run out of nowhere.

Saints at Broncos, 4 p.m. FOX
Jaguars at Colts, 4 p.m. CBS
Steelers at Eagles, 4 p.m. CBS

Gutsy call by Mike Shanahan last week, which I liked a whole lot. But it turns out, according to Tuesday Morning Quarterback's Gregg Easterbrook of, it was the right call if you go by the percentages:

The invaluable Pro Football Prospectus reports that since 2003, deuce attempts have succeeded about 55 percent of the time, which sounds better than trotting on to overtime. True, in the past 15 years, teams that have gone for two to win in the final minute won three times and lost three times. That's still no worse than proceeding to overtime -- and tells you how rare going for two in this situation is. TMQ suspects that if coaches went for the win in this situation more often, they'd do better than 50/50.

My thoughts on the battery charges for Brandon Marshall? One man's battery is another man's way of teaching someone a good lesson.

Was a 3-0 Bronco team part of preseason prediction of a playoff berth? No, but the more wins the merrier. ... If the Jags lose this week, I think they might have next to no shot at winning the AFC South. I'm not the type that panic too much over 0-2 starts, but a third loss against a division rival would be devastating. I guess this is a perfect example of what happens to teams not used to being hyped ... Big Ben vs. Donovan might be the matchup of the week. It's scary to think the Eagles could be 1-2 after this week considering how impressive they have looked so far. Man, I hate it when Philly is good.

Cowboys at Packers, 8 p.m. NBC
Orioles at Yankees, 8 p.m. ESPN

The Boys look like the team to beat in the NFL, but Aaron Rodgers can officially get the Brett Favre monkey off his back if he has another impressive game in this one. Remember, the Cowboys-Pack game a year ago was the one Rodgers came in to relieve Favre after a hand injury, so he shouldn't be too intimidated by the situation ... And the last game ever played at Yankee Stadium. It also might serve as the last game for the modern era Yankees as we know them because this team needs (and is likely going to get) a gigantic makeover this offseason.

No comments: