Friday, November 30, 2007

Clement’s Weekly Picks and Prognostications…Week 13

Just when things start to seem amazing (I’ve been on a roll like no other in picking professional and collegiate games), I dive head-first into this potential roadblock.

Perhaps, I can storm through it. Perhaps, my winning streak will continue. Perhaps, it’s all downhill from here too.

On a more sports-friendly note, this weekend offers a ton of enticing matchups. This is especially considering that losing teams have favorable spreads against winning teams (Arizona ov er Cleveland, New Orleans over Tampa Bay, and even Philadelphia over Seattle).

NFL Picks: [22-14-1]
Detroit @ Minnesota [-3]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Anybody else notice how the Vikes are 2-0 without A-Pete? Trust me, it’s an anomaly. With that being said, Brad Childress would be the world’s biggest moron to not make sure Peterson is 1000% healthy, not just 100. What isn’t an anomaly is the recent swoon of the Lions defense. While everything seems to be playing towards a Vikings win, the Lions are savvy enough on the road to bust this spread and save their season. I can’t believe I just called the Lions ‘savvy’.

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis [-7.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

can silence the doubters and put their typical stranglehold on the AFC South division. However, even at home, that won’t be so easy as David Garrard has not thrown so much as one INT the entire season. While I believe Indy will pick him off, I won’t take the Colts to cover this large of a number straight up.

NY Giants @ Chicago [+1.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Don’t kick to Devin Hester! With the Giants preparing for the annual second-half freefall in the standings, here are the Bears at 5-6 clinging to whatever playoff “hopes” they can muster. Unfortunately, even at home, the Giants pass rush should be more than enough to force Rex Grossman into a day filled with mistakes. While picking the Giants in December is toxic, so is assuming Grossman can spark a “winning-streak” for the Bears.

NCAA Picks: [15-6]
Tennessee @ LSU [-7.5] {Atlanta, Georgia}

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Interestingly enough, with another loss, it’s very likely LSU won’t be attending a BCS Bowl. Period. They would join last year’s national champs, Florida, as Georgia (idle) is the likely at-large choice. While their rushing offense is far from stable, Erik Ainge is dynamite in the redzone and good enough to keep the Vols under this spread.

Missouri @ Oklahoma [-3] {San Antonio, Texas}

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Playing for a spot in the BCS Title game, Missouri needs to take a cue from Texas Tech and protect the ball and start early. Despite losing earlier this season in Norman, Mizzou Heisman hopeful QB Chase Daniels has the Tigers on the cusp of the school’s biggest game in over 50 years. However, Oklahoma poses enough mismatches – particularly with a healthy Sam Bradford at QB – to force yet another #1 team to drop from the polls.

Boston College @ Virginia Tech [-4.5] {Jacksonville, Florida}

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

A spot in the Orange Bowl would be nice for either team, especially since the Hokies are still feeling snake-bitten following their 2-minute collapse at the hands of Matt Ryan and the Golden Eagles. Eventually, all this pro-Boston sports love has to end. The Hokies will help that in winning by at least a touchdown.

3 Must Starts and Must Sits
…Last Week…
Santana Moss: Fumbling on the first snap is never a good sign.
Bernard Berrian: That was a sensational touchdown catch, in spite of Rex’s throw.
Leonard Pope: Disappointing when Warner throws for nearly a half grand that Pope barely nets 35 yards.

…This Week…
Donte Stallworth: He’ll get a deep ball or two with Ed Reed draped all over Randy Moss on Monday night.
Chester Taylor: Even if A-Pete goes, Taylor is likely to see enough carries to merit a start.
LJ Smith: Another one of those tight end feelings I can’t get enough of.

…Last Week… Steve Smith: On the short list of this year’s biggest fantasy disappointments. Donovan McNabb: Now, he has a QB controversy with some actual legs. Laurence Maroney: Despite the TD, his preseason expectations were complete lunacy when you look back.

…This Week…
Willis McGahee: Don’t depend on this Raven in primetime on MNF.
NY Jets D: Despite playing the Fins with ??? at RB, never start this “defense”.
Shaun Alexander: Even if he suits up, he’s bound to split carries (at best) with Mo Morris.

Until next time…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PHSports 2008 NFL Mock Draft: Week 12

Via conference call, here is our second official mock for the 2008 NFL Draft. Our next mock draft (two rounds) will take place after Week 17 completes.

Feel free to share your thoughts – good, bad and terrible.

Team Allocations
Clement: NY Jets, Cleveland (belongs to Dallas), Dallas (CLE and own pick), Tennessee, Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis

Paymon: Miami, Baltimore, Indianapolis (belongs to San Fran), Philadelphia, Kansas City, Detroit, Carolina, Arizona

Sum: New England (has SF's pick), San Francisco (has Indy's pick), Jacksonville, Cincinnati, NY Giants, Denver, Green Bay, New Orleans

Armin: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Washington, Houston, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Minnesota

1. Miami – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. NY Jets – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland – Chris Long, DE/LB, Virginia
5. New England (from San Francisco) – Derrick Harvey, OLB/DE, Florida
6. Atlanta – Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
7. Baltimore – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
8. Carolina – Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami
9. Kansas City – Sam Baker, OT, USC
10. Cincinnati – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
11. Arizona – Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
12. Houston – Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
13. New Orleans – Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
14. Buffalo – Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
15. Philadelphia – DeSean Jackson, WR, California
16. Chicago – Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky
17. Minnesota – James Laurinitis, MLB, Ohio State
18. Washington – Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
19. Denver – Dan Connor, OLB, Penn State
20. Tennessee – Adarius Bowman, WR, Oklahoma State
21. Detroit – Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
22. NY Giants – Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
23. Tampa Bay – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
24. Seattle – Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
25. Dallas (from Cleveland) – Early Doucet, WR, LSU
26. Jacksonville – Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
27. San Diego – Reggie Smith, S, Oklahoma
28. Pittsburgh – Alex Boone, T, Ohio State
29. San Francisco (from Indianapolis) – Quentin Groves, DE
30. Green Bay – Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
31. Dallas – Jeff Otah, T, Pittsburgh
32. New England – Forfeited Pick

Here is a brief summary of players who have had their stock altered the most since the last mock draft.

High Risers
Sam Baker
Rashard Mendenhall
James Laurinitis
Darren McFadden
Vernon Gholston

Free Fallin
Frank Okam
DeSean Jackson
Andre Woodson
Calais Campbell
Keith Rivers

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

R.I.P. Sean Taylor

Taylor was a 1st-round pick in 2004.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

I was saddened yesterday during an airing of ESPN's PTI, to hear the breaking news that Washington Redskins All-Pro safety Sean Taylor had been wounded by a gunshot to his femoral artery. While encouraging signs had begun to develop late last night, including Taylor reportedly waking and responding to doctors following an extensive seven-hour surgery, Taylor passed away this morning.

He was 24.

While memories of names like Drazen Petrovic, Korey Stringer, Patrick Dennehy, Jerome Brown, Reggie Lewis, and countless others will once again be evoked today and for the coming weeks, today is about the passing of a 24-year-old father, not just a football player.

While his past may have been checkered, including a DUI arest and an off-field incident involving armed assault, Taylor was no bad apple.

While he played with reckless abandon on the field, which led to a nickname of "meast" (half man/half beast), reports had surfaced as of late that Taylor had begun to turn his life around. He was beloved by the entire Redskins nation and was enjoying perhaps his finest NFL season, his fourth, in 2007.

Sadly, he leaves behind a young girlfriend and their one-year old child. The same child who slept in the room in which Taylor was fatally wounded following an apparent break-in and attempted robbery.

While the specific details can be left to the appropriate news media outlets (take your pick: CNNSI, ESPN, Yahoo!), we here at PHSports would all like to give our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and community, including the Washington Redskins, who mourn the passing of a man. Clearly, sports must take a backseat during such tragedies.

In the coming weeks, as more details may surface, unrelated banter and debate may sadly engulf this story. Whether it be related to the continued violence surrounding the University and city of Miami, the violence in professional sports or the recent upswing in crime against athletes is irrelevant.

All that truly matters right now is that a family must bury its son, its brother, and its father. Nobody should have to face such an atrocity. Never.

Most of us only knew Sean Taylor as a football player. However, that hardly tells the complete story of a man whose life was taken at far too young of an age. Unfortunately, his death may define him more than any accomplishment he had in life.

All we can do now is mourn his passing and hope that in the future we are spared from such sorrowful events.

"His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me," said Richard Sharpstein, Taylor's former lawyer. "It's a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans."

I can't think of any fonder words to remember Taylor and his untimely passing than these:
Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. ~Albert Einstein

Tuesday Forecast: Week 12

Be forewarned. I won’t mention the words “Eagles” or “Patriots” in this upcoming article. Well, not as much as you might expect me to. Honestly, unless you’re brain-dead, you’d be clueless not to have heard too much analysis on the following issues:
1) Donovan McNabb’s job status in relation to AJ Feeley
2) The “blueprint” to beat the Patriots (or at least give them a close game)
3) The emergence of Wes Welker as perhaps the elite possession receiver in the NFL
4) Bill Belichick’s constant stress of fall fashion

Moving along…

#1. Cleveland and Tampa Bay are “those teams”

Almost every season, the AFC and NFC deliver a team or two that surprises all preseason expectations and makes the playoffs. Whether it is a team like the Jets last year (I need to promote something positive out of NYC this week), it’s ironic how quickly 6-10 expectations can turn into a 10-6 reality. This year is no exception. The AFC has the surprisingly 7-4 wild-card slotted Cleveland Browns and the NFC has the NFC South leading 7-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (by 2 games over the Saints). Yesterday, Washington was in the Christmas spirit a month early and the Bucs were given a key victory. This was a victory that last year’s team was unlikely to win. But things change that quickly in the Not For Long. Similarly, the Browns took care of business against a pesky Houston team despite a shaky first half. Whether Derek Anderson is the future in Cleveland is a legitimate question. Ditto for Earnest Graham in Tampa. So much for high-draft picks, right? More importantly, two coaches on the tip of the hot seat at season’s beginning are suddenly looking at potential extensions. To think that these two teams were overwhelming choices in August and early September to lose double-digit games is an afterthought. Now, they’re legitimate playoff contenders.

#2. Welcome to Seattle, Patrick Kerney

Two years ago, the Seattle Seahawks overcame their playoff dropsies and marched to Super Bowl XL. They played a flat game and lost out to some trick plays by Steelers, and yes, some dropsies when it mattered the most. So they dumped All-World guard Steve Hutchinson and picked up two players for a little over $100-million. While I commend them for making a push for then-injured Julian Peterson, WR Nate Burleson was a waste of money. Big time. Especially considering that money could’ve easily gone to Hutchinson (who could’ve spent his entire career side-by-side with potential Hall of Famer Walter Jones). This off-season, the Hawks addressed a gaping hole. One never filled by underachieving Grant Wistrom. Enter Patrick Kerney.

While missing 7 games last season and only registering 4.5 sacks, the Hawks didn’t hesitate in doling out the big bucks to Kerney. In return, through 11 games, he has delivered them 10.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Not a bad investment for a team with a two-game division lead and a potential 1st-round home playoff game at 7-4.

#3. Don’t do it! DON’T!

Why Mike Shanahan would choose to kick directly at All-World Kick Returner Devin Hester, three times no less, is beyond me. Sure he can burn you once, or twice, but why allow him three times? I know you’re thinking about checking the box score to make sure Hester didn’t take a hat trick worth of TDs back. Don’t worry…he didn’t. However, Todd Sauerbrun tried to kick the air of the ball during his last punt. Of course, it wound up blocked and the Bears received the ball inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line. The cliché, “a loss that may haunt them at season’s end” has never been so poignant. Funny how things work out when you’re terrified of the NFL’s most dominant return man ever. Sorry, Vai Sikahema.

#4. Turkey Day Tanking

I know the schedule makers have their work cut out for them every season; however, this year’s Thanksgiving Day games just plain stunk. Detroit lost by 99 more than 9, the Jets had more punts than first downs until late in the game and I won’t even mention the atrocities coming out of “Hotlanta” this season either. While it was nice to see three stud QBs (Favre, Romo and Manning, respectively) at very different times – or perhaps “primes” – in their career, the opposing QBs (Kitna, Clemens and Harrington, respectively) ruined what could’ve been a holiday tripleheader delight.

Until next time…

Monday, November 26, 2007

PHSports BCS Rankings & Bowl Projection

Clement filling in for the remainder of the season

Another weekend, another unranked opponent defeats another Top 5 team. In fact, another #1 lost at home this year. Frankly, it wasn’t that surprising to see Arkansas, led by Heisman hopeful RB Darren McFadden (aka Run DMc), pull the triple OT upset. LSU had been living a charmed life in the closing minutes of too many games. Not to mention, their redzone defense – healthy Glenn Dorsey or not – has been anything short of impressive.

With one more weekend to go, we now embark upon the second-to-last set of BCS ratings.

The saga continues…

Our view on pre-season rankings
Everything you saw back in August and September were simply suggestions by individuals who are supposed to be more knowledgeable than you or me. These “suggestions” serve as a reference point that allow for pundits without this season’s game tape to go off of.

How this ranking works?
This ranking will not be like a poll, which often drops a school’s ranking by a minimum of four spots for any loss regardless of circumstance. We will do our best to look at the full body of work. If you consistently win in unimpressive fashion, then I’ll note it. If you demolish teams and then produce a 60-minute brain fart on the gridiron, then I might forgive it to a degree.

Why only rank the top eight teams?
In a fantasy world, these top eight teams would participate in a playoff system, which would be played at seven current Bowl sites. If only the university presidents bought into this just and highly lucrative manner in which to crown a national champion.

1) Missouri: It seems as of late that being #1 in any poll, even this one, is a death wish. This may be more true than ever this week as Missouri tries its best to avenge its sole loss of the season (@ Oklahoma). Chase Daniel is the real deal but Oklahoma freshman QB Sam Bradford is more than legit. While seeing the Tigers in the BCS Title game would be a treat, I wonder if they can hold onto this slot longer than a week.

2) West Virginia: The Mountaineers started this season with high expectations, only to suffer a demoralizing loss early in the year in Tampa against South Florida. Fast forward a few months, and suddenly, they are the latest media darlings. Junior Pat White can do it all and has played in plenty of big-time games (including a magnificent Sugar Bowl as a freshman against senior David Greene and Georgia). While the “Backyard Brawl” against Pitt hardly seems taxing, Rich Rodriguez better convey to his team just how much a win would mean to a fading Pitt program.

3) Ohio State: Sitting pretty…or are they? Seemingly only 1 loss away from the BCS Title game, don’t make the mistake of thinking they are a lock to make the game in New Orleans. In fact, Missouri and WVU should enter as favorites (the Mountaineers much heavier ones). It could turn out that a guy named Juice may cost the Buckeyes repeat admittance into the season’s biggest game.

4) Georgia: Sit out the SEC Title game…enter the BCS Title game? It could happen, thanks in large part to a tremendous second-half surge led by a stud freshman running back. While they need far more help than the Buckeyes, Georgia isn’t as hard a sell as some may think. Honestly, I can’t find a sell for any team below them (assuming losses from Mizzou and WVU, of course).

5) Kansas: An ugly three quarters doesn’t mean this team deserves to take a freefall in the polls. Despite losing to who was clearly their best opponent, the Jayhawks should be BCS-bound, except for the fact that an Oklahoma win might make them the third choice from the Big XII. Hello, Cotton Bowl! Then again, that’s quite the achievement for the Jayhawks.

6) Hawaii: What’s this? While it’s not a crying shame that the Rainbow Warriors, the last undefeated team in the “Bowl Subdivision” deserves more than a BCS Bowl game. They beat every team in front of them. Now whether it’s the same in the WAC as that feat would be in the Big XII, SEC, or wherever is irrelevant. Enough said.

7) LSU: While they’ve been completely exposed, I won’t allow Va. Tech to overtake them in the rankings. Why? Even though the blowout victory seems seasons ago, it happened. It happened.

8) Virginia Tech: Maybe I’m not respecting them enough but who knows? Nevertheless, they’re one more win away from the Orange Bowl. It would also be more than sweet to avenge that brutal Blacksburg collapse to BC. This Glennon/Taylor duo is working quite well. If only Ore would turn it up, the Hokies could be a preseason favorite next season.

BCS Bowl Game Projections
Remember, we don’t assume any further games with these weekly projections.

BCS National Championship Game
Missouri vs. West Virginia

Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech vs. Arizona State

Fiesta Bowl
Kansas vs. Georgia

Rose Bowl
Ohio State
vs. USC

Sugar Bowl
LSU vs. Hawaii

Until next time...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Clement's Weekly Picks and Prognostications...Week 12

After a tripleheader of NFL action on Thanksgiving and a Pac-10 showdown with major Rose Bowl and BCS implications to close out the day, it almost seems greedy to ask for more this weekend. It also never hurts to have a 4-0 performance in predictions.

Greed is good, remember!

With the number of upsets this season, largely from unraked teams...
perhaps a playoff is already occurring weekly.


NFL Picks: [20-13-1]
Philadelphia @ New England [-22]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Whether McNabb plays or not may turn out to be irrelevant. He’s put together only two games of note this season (Detroit & @Washington) that would merit any non-Charles Barkley-driven praise (he’s fantastic!). Don’t even get me started on what the Patriots did last Sunday night in primetime (7 TDs on their first 7 drives). With McNabb’s status completely up in the air and the Pats seemingly ignoring the talent of Laurence Maroney, I’ll still take the Pats to cover this eye-popping number.

Washington @ Tampa Bay [-3]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Seemingly a yearly matchup, it’s rare that the Bucs enter this game a favorite. Showing signs of maturity, Redskins QB Jason Campbell may be opening up the offense just in time to save the struggling Skins. Ronde Barber will have a tough task with an improving Santana Moss lining up next to him. Jeff Garcia typically plays the Skins well, so avoid spending the dough, but pick the Bucs to cover somehow, someway.

Houston @ Cleveland [-3.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Anyone else think this would be a game pitting two teams without losing records? Despite losing twice to the Steelers, the Browns are legitimate AFC North contenders. Seriously. Houston is jam-packed into an AFC South that has no teams with a losing record. That will change after the Dog Pound witnesses another impressive Browns W.

NCAA Picks: [13-6]
#17 Boise State @ #14 Hawaii [-4]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Both teams are clinging to the hope of a BCS game spot. While the loser may leave the top 25 altogether, I believe the winner has a legit claim to a potential Sugar Bowl at-large bid. As for the game, the health of Colt Brennan worries me. However, since the turf isn’t blue, I’m taking the Rainbow Warriors (even at a pesky 4 points).

#3 Missouri vs. #2 Kansas [-2] {in Kansas City, MO}

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

The game of the year…is this? Don’t laugh. If you haven’t seen either team, definitely make it a point to check out this matchup in primetime on ABC. Both field incredibly talented QBs, have a heavy influx of underclassman talent and the coaches are larger than life. Well, one of them definitely is. Easy jokes aside, I’m taking Missouri. While neither team has been here often, the Tigers will be the next team (even though they’re ranked) to knock off the #2 team in the country.

3 Must Starts and Must Sits

…Last Week…
Chester Taylor: Duh. Every fantasy “expert” knew it.
Ryan Grant: A workmanlike 20 carries for 88 yards…but a TD would’ve been the icing on the cake.
Brandon Jones: Guess who caught a TD on Monday Night Football?

…This Week…
Santana Moss: Yep, it’s time to start pegging him as your #3 wideout for a week.
Leonard Pope: He’ll return to the endzone this weekend. I know it!
Bernard Berrian: Maybe not 100+ yards, but he’ll have a deep TD catch this weekend.

…Last Week…
Patrick Crayton: Just about zippie.
Nate Burleson: He just had to catch a TD.
Kevin Jones: The Lions rushing offense stinks. And that’s being very friendly.

…This Week…
Steve Smith: Healthy or not…sit him.
Donovan McNabb: Healthy or not…sit him.
Laurence Maroney: Healthy or not…sit him.

Until next time…

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Clement's Weekly Picks and Prognostications...Turkey Day Edition

Enjoy all the fixins and all the family (or good luck avoiding one or both of them) on your Thanksgiving Day.

If at all else, there’s always some NFL and NCAA action to wet your appetite. Not sure about “leftovers” though…

NFL Picks: [17-13-1]
Green Bay @ Detroit [+3.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

For the first time in recent memory, the Lions won’t be the underachieving squad trying to pull the Turkey Day upset. Despite two tough losses in a row (with zero rushing game), the Lions have a winning record and are legit wild-card contenders.
Green Bay won’t allow themselves to look forward to next Thursday (hosting the also 9-1 Cowboys). In fact, Favre and the soon-to-be 10-1 Pack will straight wallop the Lions mainly due to a set of stud CBs shutting down the phenom Lion wideouts.

New York Jets @ Dallas [-14]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Despite notching a home upset over the Steelers (woot!), the Jets get no respect. Tough times continue for a 2-8 team. Interestingly enough, the Steelers struggled most to run against a particular terrible Jets “rush D”. While Dallas hasn’t run the ball too well in recent weeks, their passing game is too much to handle for the Jets. Tony Romo will show Jets second-year QB Kellen Clemens a few tricks inside the pocket. Mainly, Romo will show why it’s nice to not have DeMarcus Ware on your bad side…or worse, your blind side. The Jets will score first and potentially keep it close for a half, and then be soundly walloped throughout the second half in a crushing defeat.

Atlanta @ Indianapolis [+11.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Obviously a game made for television well before the Vick dogfighting scandal broke, the Falcons are stuck with two bad quarterbacks and a lot of aging defenders. While Harrison is likely to sit, Peyton Manning has too much pride to not take advantage of a nice few extra days off following this game. The season will only get longer for Bobby Petrino, especially after a double-digit drubbing from the bruised and battered yet resilient Colts.

NCAA Picks: [12-6]
#11 USC vs. #7 Arizona State [+3]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Arizona State has plenty on the line. For starters, they win and they’re Rose Bowl-bound. However, there’s another team in the mix who doesn’t feel like getting shut out of the BCS, even if it isn’t the title game for the second straight year. While I’ve picked USC time and time again this season, the Sun Devils have squeaked out victory over victory as of late. In the end, I’ll stick with the Trojans…again.

3 Must Starts and Must Sits
…This Week…
Indianapolis D: Yep, a D start. The Falcons love to give up the defensive TD. They LOVE IT!
Julius Jones: You obviously want to start Barber III, but also peg Jones as the Jets rush D is nothing short of putrid (despite playing quite stoutly against Willie Parker last Sunday).
Alge Crumpler: As bad as the Falcons are, he is the only legit play.

…This Week…
Chris Baker: Even if your tight end depth is shaky, he won’t be a redzone target this week.
Warrick Dunn: The Indy D might be a little tired, but Dunn will be too.
Kevin Jones: Only in a flex league with 3 starting RB slots would I consider using the former Hokie, who may be lucky to crack 25 yards with his recent play.

Enjoy your holiday everyone.

Until next time…

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Inside the RPI of Non-BCS Conferences in College Basketball

The following data, extracted from, includes RPI ratings, aggregate records and strength of schedule for non-BCS conferences through games ending on Tuesday, November 20. Please note that this information does not capture results against non-Division I teams.





Mountain West




West Coast




Patriot League








Missouri Valley




Horizon League








Big Sky




Atlantic 10




Big West








Western Athletic




Conference USA




Metro Atlantic




Sun Belt




Ivy League








Mid Eastern




America East




Ohio Valley








Atlantic Sun








Big South




Summit League





Though we are only a few weeks into the young season, not much moving and shaking gets done among the non-BCS conferences once conference play goes full stream in early January.

Despite the cream puff schedules across the board, the Mountain West has surprised many with their early start to the season. A whopping two-thirds of the conference remains undefeated and five schools are in the RPI Top 100. On the flipside, only one – UNLV – has a strength of schedule (12th) that’s worthy of the top 100.

Remaining out west, St. Mary’s scored a big victory for the West Coast defeating Bryce Taylor-less Oregon, as they elevated the conference profile to include teams located outside of Spokane, Washington. Surprisingly, Gonzaga is undefeated yet only has the 4th highest RPI rating (70th) among WCC teams. Translation: Don’t schedule UC Riverside unless you are willing to accept a precipitous decline in your tournament profile.

Traveling more than 3,000 miles east [and not even coming close to the amount of steps Joakim Noah took at Florida], Colonial Athletic Association Commissioner Tom Yeager - in a private moment, of course - wishes he could trim the conference by three teams: William & Mary and relative newcomers Georgia State and Delaware. Combined, these teams are 0-8 and are all situated in the bottom 41 of 340 D-1 teams. To put things in perspective, seven CAA teams find themselves in the RPI Top 100 (six are in the SOS Top 100) and Old Dominion and Northeastern are knocking at the door.

Moving all the way down to the Conference RPI caboose, the Summit League probably regrets changing its name from the Mid-Continent Conference. Sure, the Summit League sounds cooler and the Mid-Continent Conference is a rather nebulous name. It appears bleak across the board as North Dakota State (151st), who is not eligible to participate in the conference tournament until next year, is the only Summit League team rated in the RPI Top 200.

Top 5 Winning Percentages (number in parentheses indicates overall ranking)
Mountain West .867 (1)
Atlantic 10 .648 (8)
Missouri Valley .615 (9)
Conference USA .583 (10)
Patriot League .576 (11)

Top 5 Strengths of Schedule (number in parentheses indicates overall ranking)
West Coast .5613 (1)
Colonial .5473 (2)
Mid American .5444 (3)
Big Sky .5378 (4)
Western Athletic .5327 (5)

The “Race” for the Heisman

To be honest, this year’s Heisman race has been close to non-existent. Nobody would throw too much of a fit if the award was given the year off for 2007.

In years past, we had drama. We had intrigue. We at least had a conversation or two about it.

Let’s take a quick glance into the past…

1997Charles Woodson, CB (Michigan)
In one of the more publicized races in recent years, Woodson overtook heavy preseason favorite Tennessee QB Peyton Manning down the stretch, due in large part thanks to a fantastic performance securing a Rose Bowl birth for the undefeated Wolverines against Ohio State. Woodson became the first primary cornerback to win the Heisman trophy.

1998Ricky Williams, RB (Texas)
Departing Texas the all-time leading rusher (at least for one season), Williams easily held off QBs Michael Bishop (Kansas State), Cade McNown (UCLA) and Tim Couch (Kentucky) en route to becoming the second Longhorn (Earl Campbell) to win the Heisman trophy.

1999Ron Dayne, RB (Wisconsin)
Leaving Camp Randall as the nation’s all-time leading rusher, Dayne trounced the competition (Georgia Tech QB Joe Hamilton was closest in voting with 94 to Dayne’s 2,042) as he became the 38th running back to secure the Heisman. Add on a Big Ten championship to his 2,000 yard season as well for the Great Dayne.

2000Chris Weinke, QB (Florida State)
Despite being bested by runner-up Josh Heupel’s Oklahoma Sooners for the BCS Title, Weinke led the nation in passing yards (over 350 a game) and followed up a national-title campaign with the nation’s top honor. Also receiving votes that season were names including LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Santana Moss, Rudi Johnson and Mike Vick.

2001Eric Crouch, QB (Nebraska)
Inching ahead of Florida QB Rex Grossman by only 62 votes in one of the tighter races in recent memory (Crouch was only separated by 600 votes from 8th-place Miami OL Bryant McKinnie), Crouch was only the 13th player in NCAA history to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards in one season.

2002Carson Palmer, QB (USC)
As polished a collegiate QB as the west coast had ever seen, Palmer maintained a comfortable voting edge over Orange Bowl nemesis Brad Banks (QB of Iowa). Palmer, owner of at least seven Pac-10 records, was able to overcome Larry Johnson’s 2,000 yard season at Penn State as well.

2003Jason White, QB (Oklahoma)
Struggling mightily down the stretch, White managed to hold off phenomenal wideout Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh) by a hair under 150 total votes. Tossing 40 TDs, 12 straight victories to open the season and securing a spot in the BCS Title game are nothing to push aside.

2004Matt Leinart, QB (USC)
After his Trojan predecessor, Carson Palmer, took home the award only two years earlier, Leinart took home the Heisman trophy (outlasting freshman RB Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma) after leading his Trojans to an undefeated season and a blowout victory in the BCS Title Game over Oklahoma.

2005 – Reggie Bush, RB (USC)
While QB Vince Young (Texas), second in voting, walked away a national champion, Reggie Bush dominated the first place voting throughout the country. Amassing over 1,500 yards rushing, 15 total touchdowns, and countless highlight reel worthy plays, Bush became the 7th Heisman trophy winner out of Southern Cal. Ironically, the sixth was his QB (Matt Leinart).

2006Troy Smith, QB (Ohio State)
Ohio State’s seventh Heisman trophy was easily tabbed thankfully before Smith's all too forgettable BCS Title Game performance, after collecting a slew of other awards en route to an 11-0 regular season and 30 touchdown tosses. Sophomore RB Darren McFadden (Arkansas) would finish second and instantly become a favorite for the award in 2007.

Interesting enough…
-Troy Smith may be the future QB of the Ravens or your insurance broker in 3 years.
-Reggie Bush appears to be the present and future of professional sports in New Orleans.
-Matt Leinart will continue to attempt to overcome being an Arizona Cardinal.
-Jason White is out of the NFL and has been for quite some time.
-Carson Palmer has overcome a devastating knee injury following his first playoff throw to become one of the league’s top-performing (and highest-paid) quarterbacks.
-Eric Crouch managed to finagle being drafted on Day One by St. Louis. He hasn’t played an NFL down of relevance.
-Chris Weinke maintained a backup job in Carolina for several years; however, he was drafted at age 29 and not 23.
-Ron Dayne has a little over 1/3 as many yards in the NFL as he did in Wisconsin. He is destined to be a platoon back (now in Houston) wherever he plays. He’s never rushed for 750 yards in a season, not even as the thunder in the Giants’ Thunder n' Lightning combination of the early millennium.
-Ricky Williams escaped New Orleans (thanks coach Ditka) to put together two fantastic seasons in Miami. However, his little buddy ‘marijuana’ got in the way just a little bit.
-Charles Woodson underachieved at times in Oakland and was plagued by a rather severe foot injury and the infamous ‘tuck-rule’ forced fumble from playoff history. He’s rebounded quite nicely in Green Bay and maintained his presence as a top-flight NFL cornerback and punt returner.

So whether your money is on one of the bigger names: Tim Tebow (Florida QB), Dennis Dixon (Oregon QB), Darren McFadden (Arkansas RB), Ray Rice (Rutgers RB), Andre’ Woodson (Kentucky QB), Pat White (West Virginia QB), or even Colt Brennan (Hawaii QB)
One of the up-and-comers: Chase Daniel (Missouri QB) and Todd Reesing (Kansas QB)

I’d like to see any one of these guys, or a combination, invited to New York:
Freshman WR Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech): 113 receptions, 1707 yards, and 20 TDs
Senior RB Matt Forte (Tulane): 297 carries, 1,813 yards, and 17 TDs
Junior RB Kevin Smith (UCF): 310 carries, 1,768 yards, and 23 total TDs (22 rushing)
Junior QB Graham Harrell (Texas Tech): 4,876 yards passing, 74% completion, 43 TDs, 12 INTs

As for the ultimate victor? Only the voters will tell. That is, if they care.

Until next time…

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday FourCast: Week 11

Through eight weeks, a few constants held true. Through 11 weeks, there’s just one. The Patriots are downright dominant. Anything short of winning the Super Bowl will be a supreme disappointment. As the Patriots continue to solidify their role in history, uncertainty continues to be the superseding undertone among the NFL’s perceived elite. That’s where we start.

#1: What Has Happened in the Steel City?

Two weeks ago, I considered the Steelers to be not only the #2 team in the AFC, but also the second-best team in the NFL. Since that determination, Pittsburgh has forgotten how to do the two things they do best – run and stop the run. Additionally, their special teams coverage has been abysmal. While they only surrendered 163 yards from scrimmage against Cleveland, they gave up 28 points. Since their Monday night demolition of the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers defense has had exactly 3 sacks and 2 takeaways in 120+ minutes of football. Did I mention that not only did Big Ben get sacked seven times but that the Steelers were outgained by the Jets? Suddenly, the Steelers are suffering from a loss of identity.

#2: Carson Palmer is Overrated

While I tolerate the love that Carson Palmer is given by other contributors of this blog, much of that love is unsubstantiated. Playoff Games: One. Playoff victories: Zero. No matter how you bend reality, Carson Palmer is the quarterback of a 3-7 team. You can point to the lack of a defense. You can point to the health of Rudi Johnson and the beleaguered offensive line. You could even point to the ego of Chad Johnson. However, none of those players threw four interceptions yesterday in a must-win situation [and effectively resurrected the flailing career of Antrel Rolle] or lost seven fumbles last season. Despite his impeccable mechanics, Carson Palmer is and will remain overrated until he shows otherwise.

#3: Taking Out At Least Two Birds With One Stone

On Sunday, the Colts struggled to a victory over the depleted Kansas City Chiefs. After missing four straight field goal attempts, future Hall of Famer was in no frame of mind to make anything short of a gimmie. Peyton Manning had come off of his only 6 INT effort … ever and converting on 4th and 1 was not a sure thing. With less than two minutes left, Tony Dungy rolled the dice on 4th down and converted when a field goal was the simpler option. As a result, the makeshift offensive line got the necessary push and Adam Vinatieri may have gotten back on track. If such is the case, then Coach Dungy just took out two birds with one stone.

#4: Maurice Jones-Drew, Football Player

Two weekends ago at New Orleans, Jaguars QB Quinn Gray threw a last-minute interception of a game that was decided shortly before halftime. Did Jones-Drew jog and conserve energy for the following week’s tilt? No. He speared Saints CB Jason Craft and sent a message to the NFL that these Jags would not quit regardless of what the scoreboard dictates.

Up 17-10 yesterday against the 5-4 San Diego Chargers, the diminutive Jones-Drew had one of the memorable plays of the NFL season when he laid out Shawne Merriman. Sure, the play does not help your fantasy team unless you own either David Garrard or Mercedes Lewis. Nevertheless, the play occurred at a key juncture in a close game and turned out to be the decider for the Jags.