Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vick's Apology Overshadows Actions

Before I begin my rant on the most recent Michael Vick story have it be known I have never been a big fan of the fellow. I can not stand his attitude, king-like demeanor, and the whole Ron Mexico story. (That's a tale for another time.)
This past Sunday the Atlanta Falcons lost for the fourth straight week. The team is 5-6 and criticism is everywhere in Hotlanta. Fingers are sure to be pointed, and in Sunday's case...flipped. Vick was frustrated after having rushed for 166 yards on 12 carries (not bad) and watching a number of his passes flat out dropped by his receivers. When fans heckle, retatilation is a big possibility. (Isn't that right Michael Richards?)
I am here to say as a Saints' fan I forgive you Mr. Vick. I mean come on who hasn't flashed the bird? We all have whipped it out at a party, behind someone's back, during church. (Okay I apologize. The last one crossed the line.) The point is Vick made a mistake and recognized it. Him manning up to his actions and paying the fine is the most important part. It's over so move on and start worrying about other issues!

(Such as the Saints putting up a goose egg against the 49ers this Sunday.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

NFL Network: Road to $Greed$

This past week I had the joy of going home to see my family and friends, while enjoying a good Thanksgiving dinner. And as always, I watched the annual Thanksgiving NFL games that concerned the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. Though for some reason this year was different. Not because for once a night game was going to be played on Thanksgiving, but rather the fact that this "night game" was something the typical homeowner had to pay a little extra cash to be able to watch. The Kansas City Chiefs were hosting the Denver Broncos in a critical AFC West matchup. The game was probably going to be a lot better than the Detroit/Miami and Dallas/Tampa Bay games. For some reason the NFL looked past the simple concept this was a national holiday and instead looked at the only thing that seems to matter nowadays: money. I was interested in the game, but I was not going to call up my cable provider in order to get the NFL Network, just to watch a silly, non-Saints game. To me, this financial-cheapshot move is something that reminds me of another sport that revolves around nothing more than money. Good ole boxing. Keep it up NFL! I am sure Thursday Night football is going to be great for the 2% of the country that actually gets the NFL Network, but that doesn't matter. As long as you get your money things will be just fine. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thoughts on Weekend's College Games

LSU vs. Arkansas

-Darren McFadden is the best running back in college football. Against one of the best D lines in the nation, McFadden had 182 yards. Oh and his backup Felix Jones had 137 yards rushing.

-Not playing Mitch Mustain when Casey Dick was having so much trouble showed me how little faith Houston Nutt truly has in his freshman quarterback.

-Tigers won, but again they made mental mistakes. 2 fumbles by the Tigers inside Razorback territory changed the whole outcome of the game.

-LSU has recovered well from their 2 losses. This team has proven they are BCS bowl worthy. Les Miles's team deserves to play with the absolute best.

USC vs. Notre Dame

-In the past years I was not quick to give USC much credit because of how weak the PAC 10 was. This year the team had to replace Leinart, Bush, White, and more, yet this team is in position to play in the BCS Championship Game. Bottom line: USC is for real. Especially that defense.

-Brady Quinn had a rough game all night, but his receivers did not help. Dropped passes killed the Irish. Senior Rhema McKnight dropped a big 4th drown that was crushing to the Irish comeback. Mental mistakes like that can not exist when playing someone like USC.

-Looking back at the game, Notre Dame got blown out because they missed their opportunities. I lost count of how many 4th down plays the Irish failed to convert. More importantly, Weis's team did not capitalize on the turnovers the defense created.

-I feel putting the Irish in the BCS bowl picture is a biased decision. ND has not had the hardest schedule this year, and in their 2 hardest games the team lost by multiple scores. Is this team really that good to be considered for a BCS bowl or is it just the fact that this is Notre Dame, the notorious Catholic school? I am going to say it is the second one.

Texas vs. Texas A&M

-Longhorns got hosed on a touchdown early in the 1st half. Down 6-0, McCoy threw a touchdown pass inside the red zone. The referees called an awful penalty saying offensive pass inference was present. Replays show that was not the case.

-Yes, UT got hosed on a call, but in general the team was not ready to play Friday. The team looked like they were going through the motions.

-A&M coach Dennis Franchione was on the hot seat coming into this year. If his team can get a nice bowl victory, I think you can say that Franchione has cooled off the critics.

Florida vs. Florida State

-I did not think the Gators should of had that much trouble with FSU. Was Urban's team maybe looking ahead to the SEC Championship?

-Freshman Percy Harvin of UF is as fast as you thought he was. His injury is critical to the team because his presence on the field adds that necessary spark.

-Seminoles are in trouble. From the looks of it, this program looks like it may be going down the same route as Penn State. (Old coach, team losing, fans restless, change wanted)

Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State

-Since Les Miles departure the OSU program definitely took a step back. With that said, the school is making progress with 2nd year head coach Mike Gundy. After going 4-7 in 2005 where the defense was atrocious, the Cowboys are 6-6 after a close loss to the Sooners.

-Sooners lost their starting QB before the season and Adrian Peterson at about midseason. Fighting all of that the team has managed to lose only 2 games (the iffy Oregon game and Texas). By A&M beating Texas and Oklahoma beating OSU, the Sooners will be able to play in the BIG 12 Championship. Well done, Stoops, well done.

-When Adrian Peterson went out, the nation felt the Sooners' running game would deeply suffer. Not so fast! In came Allen Patrick. Prior to being the starter, Patrick had only 62 yards rushing in 4 games. For the past 4 weeks Patrick has been the starter. In 4 weeks Patrick has rushed for 665 yards and 3 touchdowns with an impressive 4.7 yards per carry. His success comes out to about 151 yards rushing per game. Not bad at all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

For Some It Ain't All About Money

Fresh off of winning the National Championship, the Florida Gators are ready to make a run at title #2. Behind this team's hopes is junior forward phenomenon Joakim Noah. As dominating as Noah was last March, his impact will be felt even more after he decided to pass up on the being the #1 pick in the NBA draft. The quote below is one said by Noah in a recent interview. It is nothing short of powerful.

"People say, 'You could have been the Number 1 pick in the NBA draft! Why did you come back?'" says Joakim Noah. "I'm not in a situation where I need money to put food on the table, and I just feel like it would be that more special for me and my teammates to stay as a group. There's nothing like the college environment. My stock might drop- and it probably will with Greg Oden around- but it's not about that."

Honestly, how can you not have respect for a guy like Noah? He is someone who passed up millions because quite frankly, he was not ready to leave the college environment.

When his time is done at Florida, I will not be surprised if years down the road they are still talking about him...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sloppy Saints

A week off of a 7 point loss to the Steelers, the Saints were determined to go back to N.O. and beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, winning in anything is hard to do when you shoot yourself in the foot. Sure Brees threw for 510 yards, but 3 INTs? Yeek. 2 INTs where thrown by Drew inside of the Cincy 10 yard line. It doesn't get more painful than to watch your QB throw an INT that close to the end zone. To make matters worse, the 3rd INT was not thrown deep inside the Bengals' territory. Instead, it was thrown around where it was taken back for 6 points.

Main reason for the Saints recent slide is...

1. Defense. Earlier in the year they were a consistant, effective unit. Now, N.O. is giving up 200 yards rushing one game, followed by 200 yards receiving another.

2. Get the ball to Joe Horn more. I know he's still recovering, but #87 has always had a knack for making the big play. Use that ability.

3. Stop beating yourself, getting silly penalties. Make the opponent have to beat you. Ex: Throwing 2 INTs inside the opponents 10 yard line.

Next game: @ ATL

The Night Thanksgiving Was Saved

November 18, 2006

LSU (8-2) vs. Ole Miss (3-7)

In their final home game of the season, many LSU faithful had a confident feeling the LSU Tigers would have no trouble with a Rebel team that was once again going to be left out of the bowl picture. Looking at their schedule clearly showed that the Ole Miss Rebels were better than their record indicated. Going into the game, Ole Miss had lost to Auburn, Georgia, and Alabama by an average of 5 points.

Right from the get-go LSU got jumped. I do not whether LSU was down after having seen Arkansas win or the fact that they were playing Arkansas next week. Whatever it was LSU looked flat out sloppy and unprepared.

As an LSU fan, I like to refer to this game as The Night Thanksgiving Was Saved. I was looking forward to a Top 10 showdown the day after Thanksgiving between LSU and Arkansas. I never expect for LSU to fall flat after going up 7-0. Not only were 20 unanswered points given up, the defense was not nearly as dominating without LB Darry "Uncle Trouble" Beckwith. As for the offense, Russell was off. His throws were off to the point it cost LSU at least two touchdowns.

I will be honest. When the score was still 20-7 and there were about 10 minutes left, I was starting to give up. Again, I have to point my finger at Russell. Things were getting so aggravating at Tiger Stadium last night that I was simply letting it be known if Russell could not pull himself together, than he lost a lot of my support.

Still, the team hung in there. The D kept giving the offense plenty of chances. When LSU scored to make it 20-14, I thought taking the lead would be no problem. Like so much of the game, the Ole Miss defense was aggressive and tough for the Tigers to penetrate.

Late in the game LSU got the ball at midfield. The offense was finally starting to come together and one more score seemed definite. A few plays later LSU was punting. That was a drive where Russell's throwing was off yet again. Ball at midfield and you could not squeeze out any points?

Right before LSU got the ball for one more final try, I anxiously watched the Ole Miss punt. When I saw the flag thrown for roughing the kicker, I was certain the penalty was 15 yards, automatic first down. LSU was toast with no timeouts left. Turns out it was only 5 yards as the call was a mere running into the kicker.

That final drive Russell kept chipping away at the Ole Miss D. All day Russell had struggled, but yet no INTs had occurred. That thought alone terrified me. Play after play LSU continued to get closer. But as each play ended, more time ran off the clock. With under 2 minutes remaining, Russell was sacked in a way similar to the final moments of the Auburn game. Something like that was not happening again.

After the Tigers got into a 1st & Goal and Russell overthrow Bowe slightly, I was free of stress knowing LSU had plenty of tries. Before I could realize what was going on, Jacob Hester dropped the potential GW touchdown on 3rd & Goal from the 6. The game came down to one play. At this point in the game my heart rate was around 200 beats a minute.

Tiger Stadium was rocking and in a single motion the play had started. The crowd quieted as everyone waited to see how one of the greatest LSU/Ole Miss games would end. After not finding his initial receivers, Russell threw a rocket to Bowe. Bowe caught it and the stadium was chaos.

For much of the final drive, my friends and I were in certain standing positions because of our crazy superstitions. After Bowe caught that touchdown, I lost my footing. Sure the blocking was the reason for the missed kick, but hey I did not do my part. Blaming that missed kick on Colt David is a crime. Blocking was the sole reason OT happened.

Thankfully an Ole Miss player did not return the blocked kick for a TD. I will not lie. That ball bounces different and Rebel fans are talking about winning the game on a blocked field goal.

Overtime was an eerie feeling. The stadium had generated so much momentum in the 4th quarter. To all of a sudden be in OT after a missed field goal, frankly, killed the crowd somewhat.

Winning the coin flip was huge. Playing defense is always preferred. Thanks to some hard tackling, LSU was fortunate to scoop up a fumble. That final OT drive was nothing but Hester, Hester, and so more Hester. Watching the final kick was too painful to watch. All I could think about was that missed PAT. I closed my eyes and after the hollering began, I knew that LSU had indeed just saved Thanksgiving.

Final Thoughts

1. Dwayne Bowe played awesome. 2 touchdowns in clutch moments. With that said, I still feel our most reliable receiver is Early Doucet. Game in and game out, Doucet makes crucial receptions. That 4th down catch overruled is something I am not sure I agree with, but 9/10 Doucet makes that catch with no questions asked.

2. Jimbo Fisher's calls were a bit odd at times. A run up the middle again when the last 10 times did nothing? LSU NEEDS TO THROW THE BALL MORE!

3. Did I mention the defense without Darry "Uncle Trouble" Beckwith is phenomenally different.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Saints vs. Bengals

Synopsis: Saints are coming off of a tough road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. New Orleans is heading back home at 6-3 to take on a tough 4-5 Cincinnati Bengals team. If N.O. felt they left one slip away, than Cincy must be going crazy knowing they blew another game. The Bengals blew a 28-7 halftime lead against the San Diego Chargers.

Why Saints Will Win: Gary Gibb's D gave up 2 70+ yard runs to Willie Parker of Pitt. Just in general, the D was missing tackles and playing a flat out sloppy game. As for the offense: fumbles. Payton was ticked when Bush fumbled, and he was even more ticked when Terrence Copper fumbled at the end of the game. Payton will be sure to motivate his team to step it up. Surrendering 38 points, missing tackles, and fumbling is something the new ball coach does not want associated with this Saints team. Besides with Drew Brees leading the NFL in passing and rookie Marques Colston leading it in receiving, the only thing that needs to be fixed is that D.

Why Bengals Will Win: Cincy is 4-5. They are not a 4-5 team. Last week was such a hurtful loss for them. You don't think Marv Lewis will have his team pumped up? Carson Palmer had his best game as a pro last week. Going up against a D that surrounded 38 points to a struggling Steelers team must look very appetizing. Also, Chad Johnson seems to finally be playing to his potential. With over 200+ of receiving yards last week, you can be sure Cinco Ocho is licking his chops as well when he goes against a weak cornerback crew.

Prediction: Both teams are coming off tough losses. The one difference is Cincy's was must more devastating. Conclusion? Bengals are going to be coming out of the gate firing on all cylinders. N.O. will once again fall in a hole like they did against Baltimore a few weeks ago. Coach Payton welcome to a two game losing streak!

Bengals 34 Saints 21

One more thing, I have recently been receiving getting these comments on my blog about how the "Saints suck." I am not sure on who the culprit is, but I have a hunch. I, for one, am not falling down into that old New-Orleans-Saints-suck hole. This is a new Saints team. Hurricane Katrina marked the beginning of a new era for the black and gold. No longer shall we compare this Saints team to the "old chokeful Saints" of the past. This is a new era. Reread that. Laugh if you want. Bicker, or do whatever. But for me this is a start of something good. Something good for a franchise that has always had the worst of luck.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Saints Meltdown Up North

Going into the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers were an uncharacteristic 2-6. The Saints at 6-2 going into the game knew that Pittsburgh was much better than their record indicated. Nonetheless, Saints came out flat, started playing well, and finished flat.

The 38-31 loss against the Steelers was a disappointing one. Not because of the mere fact N.O. lost, but how they lost. Turnovers and sloppy tackling. Coming into the second half, Saints had a 24-17. In the 30 minutes of play that were left in the game, Saints gave up 2 70+ yard runs by Willie Parker, 2 fumbles on offense by Reggie Bush and Terrence Cooper, and an inability to make tackles.

Now there were some positives in the game. Drew Brees. His play was excellent. When a play breaks down, Brees has the unique ability to make a play. That throw to Aaron Stecker for 48 yards is a perfect example.

Along with Brees the other impressive performance was by Marques Colston. As a rookie this Hofstra graduate is making plays like a seasoned veteran. 10 catches for 169 yards? That's amazing and Offensive Rookie of the Year material.

Next week: Cincinnati Bengals.

Off of a tough loss to the San Diego Chargers 49-41, Cincy will be coming into New Orleans.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ruthless College Football Predictions: Round 2


#3 Louisville (8-0) @ #15 Rutgers (8-0)

Another Thursday Night battle of the undefeateds. For the second straight week, I will be watching. Rutgers are having a historic season and I want to say they win...but that inexperience at QB is what turns me away. After a tied halftime, Cardinals will jump on the Scarlet Knights. Brian Brohm will be at his best here. Despite a valient effort, Rutgers will do too little too late.

Louisville 37 Rutgers 28


Georgia (6-4) @ #5 Auburn (9-1)

Earlier in the year I would have said Bulldogs have a better chance. Not so much now. Georgia is struggling more and more every week. Richt's team has lost to Vandy and Kentucky in the same season. The QB situation is a mess. Auburn is looking to try and squeeze into the SEC Championship. Tuberville will have this team very focused and ready to play.

Auburn 38 Georgia 13

South Carolina (5-4) @ #6 Florida (8-1)

It has to be rough this year to be a Gamecock fan. All four of the team's losses could easily have been wins. In Spurrier's return to the Swamp you would like to think his team triumphs...but this is a Florida squad with one loss. A loss to Auburn they practically gave away. Let's not forget, the Gators did just get into the SEC Championship game for the first time since 2000. Possible trap game?

Florida 25 South Carolina 23

#21 Oregon (7-2) @ #7 USC (7-1)

Ducks have been a fun team to watch this year. Especially RB Jonathon Stewart. USC is out to put on a good whoopin' to show America that the Oregon State loss was nothing more than a fluke. I always hear this will be the year the Ducks bring it to the Trojans. Sorry, not having it. USC will clip the Ducks wings from kickoff.

USC 45 Oregon 20

#13 Tennessee (7-2) @ #11 Arkansas (8-1)

Tennessee is coming off yet another tough loss. Arkansas is rolling on all cylinders and control their destiny to Atlanta. If Ainge plays he will still be banged up. Auburn faithful will surely be yelling "Rocky Top!" during this game. This just in: Arkansas is better than anyone gives them credit for. This team is dangerous. Especially Darren McFadden, the best running back in the SEC. Look for UT to suffer from a hangover and get defeated in Arkansas.

Arkansas 40 Tennessee 24


Saints (6-2) @ Steelers (2-6)

The defending Super Bowl champs are not getting into the postseason. There I said it. None the less, winning in Pitt is always a tough task. Saints have a difficult schedule that does not seem to have any easy games. I was thinking Big Ben and Co. might jump on a possibly cocking Saints team. In the end, I think Payton gets the crew focused for yet another road victory.

Saints 24 Steelers 13

LSU/Tennessee Post Game Thoughts

Yes, I realize it is late in the week for me to be giving my thoughts on a game nearly a week ago. Well too bad cause here they are.

First things first, LSU beat an 8th ranked Tennessee Volunteer team in their own backyard. Don't overlook that. Neyland Stadium is a 100,000+ seat stadium that can be incredibly intimindating for a visiting team.

Anyway, here are my thoughts postgame....

1. For yet another LSU game, Tigers got screwed on a blown call by the refree. I am sorry but to me it looked pretty doggone convincing that on that punt the ball did hit a fellow Vols hand.

2. LSU still is shooting themselves in the foot. Twice up 21-17 LSU got into Tennessee territory and turned it over. The game should never have come down to that Russell touchdown pass.

3. JaMarcus made some dumb mistakes, but he made up for it by having 3 solid touchdown drives. The player I was most disappointed with was Dwayne Bowe. I could not believe how many balls went right through his hands...and that fumble at midfield. Those are freshman mistakes by a senior.

4. Les Miles's comments after halftime were a very good thing for the Tiger Nation to see. LSU fans have always had the impression Miles does not have much emotion. That all changed Saturday. He needs to continue to do that. No not cuss at reporters but show that extra emotion.

Next game: Alabama

Prediction: Bama is coming off of a home loss to Mississippi State. I think that is the first time in six years the Bulldogs have won a SEC road game. LSU is coming off an emotional win against the Vols. This could be a trap game for the Tigers. These teams are rivals so you never know. Alabama's season is already down the drain so they have nothing to lose. Regardless, I feel Tigers get a good grip on the game.

LSU 31 Alabama 14

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ruthless College Football Predictions: Round 1


Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3) @ #17 Wisconsin Badgers (8-1)

Last Year: Penn State 35 Wisconsin 14

Synopsis: Wisconsin is the most unappreciated one loss team in the nation. In his first year, head coach Bret Bielema's only loss has come to the hands of the undefeated, #2 ranked, Michigan Wolverines. With Penn State you really never know what to expect. One week they get destroyed by Notre Dame 41-17, the next week they give up a late touchdown to Michigan to lose a close one 17-3.

Why Wisconsin Will Win: Senior quarterback John Stocco has thrown 14 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Running back PJ Hill, Jr. leads the Big 10 in all purpose yards as well as rushing yards per game with 136. The team has the offensive talent to throw the Nittany Lions off course.

Why Penn State Will Win: Against a tough defense like Michigan's, Wisconsin only put up 13 points. Penn State is third in total defense in the Big 10 and safety Anthony Scirrotto leads the league with 5 interceptions. Besides, Joe Pa has still got some magic left.

Outcome: Both teams have the defenses, but only Wisconsin truly has an effective offense. Penn State will hang with the Badgers most of the game. Regardless, once Wisconsin keeps on scoring, Penn State will not be able to keep up.

Wisconsin 29 Penn State 14 ___________________________________________________________________

#16 Boston College (7-1) @ #22 Wake Forest (7-1)

Last Year: Boston College 35 Wake Forest 30

Synopsis: BC is really starting to develop into what could be the ACC Champions. The Eagles only loss was an early season game against NC State. With under 15 seconds left in the game, a 40 yard heave was amazingly got by a Wolfpack WR. Wake Forest is the underdog story of the year. The Demon Deacons were not given much respect coming into the season. Well here we are over two months into the season and Wake Forest has only one loss. Nearly one month ago, the Deacons lost their only game to the Clemson Tigers 27-17.

Why Boston College Will Win: Quarterback Matt Ryan leads the ACC with 237 yards passing per game. He will be going against the 10th ranked ACC pass defense. Ryan is surely licking his chops. Did I mention the Eagles also average 381 yards of total offense a game?

Why Wake Forest Will Win: Alphonso Smith. This guy is currently tied at 3rd in the nation at punt return yardage. He currently averages 34 yards each time he touches the ball. His skills could easily let Wake Forest win the field position battle. And as we all know, more times than not, the team who wins the field position battle wins the game. Quarterback Riley Skinner is 1st in the ACC in passing efficiency. Skinner is a smart QB who plays within his range of talent. He understands his limits and so far he has been excellent with that.

Outcome: In the past, this would of been the perfect game for BC to put up a goose egg. Not this year. Wake Forest may be the underdog story, but this BC team is a serious ACC contender. Though the one thing that sticks out is BC has a good passing offense and Wake Forest does not have a good passing defense. 'Nuff said.

Boston College 36 Wake Forest 28

#12 Arkansas (7-1) @ South Carolina (5-3)

Last Year: South Carolina 14 Arkansas 10

Synopsis: The Razorbacks control their own destiny in getting to the SEC Championship. Arkansas is currently first in the SEC West with a one game lead over Auburn after dismantling the "Tigers" 27-10 earlier this year. Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks have three losses and two of them could very well have been victories. On the final drive of the game, South Carolina threw an INT to lose to Auburn 24-17. Last weekend South Carolina cut the Tennessee Volunteers 14 point lead to 7. In the end, the Vols won 31-24.

Why Arkansas Will Win: Arkansas has the #1 rushing attack in the SEC. Darren McFadden leads the SEC with 102 rushing per game, while running back Felix Jones leads the SEC in all-purpose running with 127 yards a game.

Why South Carolina Will Win: The Gamecocks have let some games slip away. Spurrier's team is bound to finally get one right. The defense of South Carolina yields only 11 points per game. A stingy defense with a turnover margin of +2 going against a team with a turnover margin of -4 can only mean good things.

Outcome: Toughest game yet. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Spurrier's team does indeed get it right Saturday night. Arkansas will be jumped on from the get-go. You can be sure the Auburn faithful will be watching this game.

South Carolina 27 Arkansas 23

#18 Oklahoma (6-2) @ #21 Texas A&M (8-1)

Last Year: Oklahoma 36 Texas A&M 30

Synopsis: The Sooners come into this game two weeks off of Adrian Peterson's devastating injury. Against a surprising Missouri team last week, Oklahoma played with a lot of emotion. It showed as Stoops's Sooners rolled 26-10. For A&M head coach Dennis Franchione, coming into this season he knew he was on the hot seat. Right now, 9 games into the season with only one loss, that seat is cooling off a bit. The Aggies are fresh off of muzzling a rising Baylor Bears squad by the score of 31-21.

Why Oklahoma Will Win: Oklahoma is playing angry right now. From Rhett Bomar, to the Oregon game, to Peterson's injury, this team has had their share of bad luck. In my opinion nobody wants to play these guys. The biggest reason is the turnover savvy defense. The 11 men on D have caused 11 turnovers so far.

Why Texas A&M Will Win: Jorvorskie Lane is 3rd in the nation in scoring with 102 points. Also A&M has the best pass defense in the Big 12. That can only be good news when you are going against an inexperienced QB in Paul Thompson. But the real reason is the Aggies are 5-1 in games decided under 7 points. Their only loss came to Texas Tech on an spectacular touchdown catch.

Outcome: Oklahoma is angry and Texas A&M is out to prove they are for real. A&M may have Kyle Field in their favor, but this Oklahoma team is determined to prove doubters wrong. Stoops is out to show that his squad is better than their 2 loss record indicates.

Oklahoma 30 Texas A&M 20

#13 LSU (6-2) @ #8 Tennessee (7-1)

Last Year: Tennessee 30 LSU 27 OT

Synopsis: LSU comes into this game fresh off of a bye week. LSU has two tough road losses this season to Auburn (7-3) and Florida (23-10). If Les Miles's crew falls to 0-3 on the road after this weekend, then you can be sure people in Baton Rouge will be calling for his head. Tennessee had a nightmare of a season last year at 5-6. As of now those awful memories seem as ancient as the Romans. With new offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, QB Erik Ainge is firing on all cylinders.

Why LSU Will Win: Losing a 17 point lead in Tiger Stadium was a humiliating experience for the Fightin' Tigers. No player on that team has forgotten the feeling that had after that game. The team has had a week off to prepare for this game. LSU has the #1 ranked total defense (212 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (85) in the nation. They also have the #2 ranked scoring defense (8 ppg).

Why Tennessee Will Win: Erik Ainge is having a great comeback season. So far he has thrown for 16 touchdowns and only 8 INTs. His favorite WR Robert Meachem is 4th nationally in receiving yards per game with 109. The team's mere loss of the season was against Florida (21-20). Also the team is 1st in total offense in the SEC. To prove their for real, they hung 51 points on a widely-respected Georgia defense. Oh and one more thing: the game is in Neyland Stadium.

Outcome: This one will for sure be a nail bitter. Despite his success against Georgia, Ainge has never gone against a defense like the Tigers. For the short time Ainge was in the game last year, LSU suffocated him. Look for Cutliffe to play an intense chess match with LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. In the end, it will be Pelini was says "checkmate."

LSU 16 Tennessee 14

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NFL: 5 Struggling Teams Showing Impressive Improvements

1. Oakland Raiders

-Two weeks ago sport web sites across the US were talking about Oakland going winless this season. I applaud Coach Shell for squeezing this 2 game winning streak out. Ever since losing to Bucs in the Super Bowl, Oakland has been awful. I still think this will be a rough year for the Raiders, but for now a win cures all.

2. Green Bay Packers

-In their first five games Green Bay was victorious in one single game. Brett Favre coming back was starting to look like a bad decision. Since being 1-4, the Pack have had a bye week, followed by a nice 2 game winning streak. At 3-4, Green Bay will be playing Buffalo this weekend. A 4-4 Packers team is a very high possibility.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

-Losing Trent Green + starting the season 0-2 was a perfect recipe for yet another KC season ending without a playoff ticket. Not so fast. Since their bye week KC has won 4 out of their last 5, including victories against San Diego and Seattle.

4. Baltimore Ravens

-Ravens started the 2006 season 4-0. In only a couple of weeks the happy days of Baltimore seemed to be flipped upside down. After losing back to back weeks, Coach Brian Billick fired his Offensive Coordinator Jim Fassel. Good move? You tell me. During his first week as the man calling shots, Billick's Ravens beat the Saints at home. More importantly, the Ravens put up 28 points in the first half during their 35-22 victory.

5. New York Jets

-I realize they just lost to the Browns, but at 4-4 New York is surprising everyone. A lot of uncertainity was floating around the Big Apple this past offseason. So far QB Chad Pennington has shown that he is in fact back in the swing of things.