Monday, August 22, 2011

AP Top 10 MDK.

As I am sure you all probably know, the preseason AP Poll was released this weekend and our very own Horned Frogs are ranked 14th. It's like the billionth week in a row we've been ranked and our highest preseason ranking since... last year, when we were 6. But, naturally our goal is to be #1, which will likely include all of the teams currently ranked above us dropping a match or two. Once again, I'm here to pick those games. Same drill as last year, albeit much hastier as I will be sans interwebs for the rest of the week so I need to pound out real live work related things, and I can only deliver the top 10. Wisconsin, South Carolina and Goiter Tech will have to take care of themselves, although I reserve the right to offer up my arbitrary and callously non-objective opinions on the remaining 15 next week when technology will once again be my sexy mistress. I'm only hammering this out as my obligation to you, the readers. All 7 of you.

Also, many thanks to last year's commenter GTPanic3 who was so kind as to offer up some constructive criticism as follows: Worst analysis I've seen all off-season. Nowhere in your babbling incoherent rant filled with regional bias did you make one legitimate point about why Team A could lose to Team B. Huge puff piece. I expect better from this blog. F-

I hope I can shatter your expectations for incoherent puff piecery, GTP. And seriously - I am doing zero in depth research on this, so rest assured all of these prediction will be wrong and based on no actual facts. Except that aggy will not go undefeated. That is verifiable even at this early date. Whoooooossshhh....

#1 Oklahoma Sooners.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/17 @ #6 Florida State, 9/24 vs. #21 Missourah, 11/5 vs. #8 aggy, 12/3 @ #9 OSU.

When They Fall: If you've followed OU football at all this summer, you know they've had some personnel difficulties, some self inflicted and unfortunate - LB Austin Box, drug overdose - and others just plain unfortunate - LB Travis Lewis, broken toe in practice. So that second week game against Florida State looms REALLY large. Fortunately, after a presumed warm up game with Tulsa to open Labor Day Weekend, the Sooners gets two weeks to prepare for the Seminoles and, more importantly, nurse their injuries. I'll be honest though - I'm just not buying Florida State quite yet. They have clearly made some strides since sending Bobby Bowden into exile, but are they really top ranked material? Then again, for that matter, is OU? A lot of NCAA thinkers have tried to compare this year for the Sooners to 2009 when they had huge expectations, then lost Sam Bradford and got BYU'd, resulting in an 8-5 Sun Bowl year. They also lost a big battle in Florida early in the year, that time to Miami. Truthfully, if the Sooners get past Florida State, I don't see them being too challenged until the season capper in Stillwater due to the way the schedule breaks down. After all, the Sooners have only lost two game at home under Stoops. #Scoreboard. But, they've also been known to roll off an undefeated season only to crap the bed at the last possible moment (Kansas State). So without a Big 12 Title game, let's go with that. Predicted Slayer: Oklahoma State.

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/24 vs. #15 Arkansas, 10/1 @#22 Florida, 11/5 vs. #4 LSU, 11/12 @#20 Mississippi State, 11/26 @ #23 Auburn.

When They Fall: Last year I picked the Arkansas game to be the one where Bama was derailed, and I was almost correct. I'm also pretty sure most folks didn't pick South Carolina to be the one that made everything bad for them either, though. As long as Nick Saban is around, Alabama will always get the preseason hype, as they should because he is one of the best coaches in the country. But, did you know that Bama still doesn't have a starting QB? Sounds fishy for a second ranked team, no? Based on factual history dating back to less than a year ago, it seems like if the Tide are going to lose, it's going to be to a team that no one expects, which pretty much means Florida or Mississippi State. I'm going with the Bulldogs based on the simple fact that they're due for another mega upset and I really want aggy to be the only team battling Ole Miss for the title of Worst in the West when they finally get their invite. Predicted Slayer: Mississippi State.

#3 Oregon Ducks.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/3 vs. #4 LSU (Jerryworld), 11/12 @#7 Stanford.

When They Fall: I don't even need to do a sexy tease of this one - the Ducks are toast week one. This will look far more like an LSU home game than one in Autzen, and I have a feeling most casual fans will side with the Tigers as well. SEC, and what not. Besides, F those Phil Knight teat nibbling cheaters. Predicted Slayer: LSU.

#4 LSU Tigers.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/3 vs. #3 Oregon, 9/15 @#20 Mississippi State, 9/24 @#24 West Virginia, 11/5 @ #2 Alabama, 11/25 vs. #15 Arkansas.

When They Fall: Yeesh. There's a lot of shit, rightfully, talked regarding the SEC re: padding the non-con schedule, but I don't think anyone is going to toss any similar derogatories towards these Tigers. What a fucking gauntlet! To the point that I left 2 ranked teams off of their pitfalls list because it just seemed too cruel to bring it up. If LSU escapes this schedule unscathed, any bad juju still lingering from being the only 2 loss BCS Champ goes out the window. I'm not even sure where to start. Clearly getting Oregon right out of the gate will be brutal, but as I already picked the Tigers to win that one, I'll stick with it. So after a tune up home game against Northwestern State - yes, THAT one - the Tigers have a mid week road date with a much improved MSU team immediately followed by a trip to Morgantown, one of the most hostile environments outside of college football outside of their own. So, yeah... QB/Bar Brawler Jordan Jefferson needs to be much better than he has been in the past or the Tigers could easily be looking at 2-2 or 1-3 before October. But LSU has one thing on their side, and that is The Hat. Yes, the antics of Coach Les Miles are near legendary by now, namely the way he manages to win games despite seemingly trying his best to lose them. Future generations should be able to fill entire volumes with anecdotes about his clock mismanagement alone. So that is good for an undeserved win or two each year. Unfortunately, I think they will be good and used up by the time the Tigers head to Tuscaloosa to take on the Tide in what should easily be the game of the year in the SEC. The Tigers chould still challenge for the SEC West title though. Predicted Slayer: Bama.

#5 Boise State Broncos.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/3 @ #19 Georgia, 11/12 vs. #14 Frog.

When They Fall: Oh Boise. Boise, Boise, Boise. How I loathe thee. How much I would love for them to come in and lose 3-4 games. How much I would love for Kellen Moore to get a crippling case of syphillis and miss the season. But, alas, none of those things are likely to pass. However, I think it's entirely possible they lose their opener. Sure, they've clearly fared extremely well in high profile openers the past couple of years, but the luck has to run out eventually, right? And with Mark Richt is coaching for his career at this point, he almost HAS to take out a top 10 Boise squad, especially as they are playing in Atlanta. But while I genuinely want Boise to get crushed by Georgia to kick things off, SOS be damned - and, unless you think we're going to challenge for the national championship, you should too - wouldn't it be so sweet for Boise's first loss of the year to come at home against the team that spurned them? I honestly think I would sacrifice the Baylor or SMU games for this outcome. Just to see the kingdom come crumbling down at our hands would be unbelievably satisfying. Predicted Slayer: TCU.

#6 Florida State.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/17 vs. #1 OU.

When They Fall: Already picked OU to win, so by default, thar she blows.

#7 Stanford Cardinal.


When They Fall: Seriously, other than San Jose State or Duke, it could be any one of them. Andrew Luck is a great QB, sure. But really? Lightning can strike twice for the Cardinal? This looks like a 9-3 squad at best. At least Luck will get to nail a bunch of brainy Asian girls before he becomes an instant millionaire. Predicted Slayer: Arizona.

#8 aggy.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/4 vs. SMU, 9/24 vs. #9 OSU, 10/1 vs. #15 Arkansas, 10/29 vs. #21 Mizzou, 11/5 @1 OU, 11/24 vs. UT.

When They Fall: Wow... I don't even have anything negative to say about aggy after I looked at what they have to deal with this year on the field. I was also shocked to see that they managed to join the SEC yet only play one team this year? Curious... But seriously, check their schedule. Let's just say, probably not the best year to have the highest expectations in a decade. For one, I'm buying SMU this year a little more than in the past. I doubt they win at Kyle Field, but most folks probably didn't think Arkansas State would do the same a few years back. That OSU game should be a point shattering bloodbath, and the ags owe Arkansas one after getting whupped the past 2 seasons in Dallas. And then Mizzou and OU in back to back weeks? Yikes! If they manage to make it to November unbeaten, no chance they make it out of Norman alive, but I think the Hogs are the ones to send the must love dogs into their annual tailspin. Predicted Slayer: Arkansas.

#9 Oklahoma State.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/8 vs. Arizona, 9/24 @ #8 aggy, 10/22 @ #21 Mizzou, 12/3 vs. #1 OU.

When They Fall: Much like Florida State, I already called aggy to win this game, so defaulted.

#10 Nebraska.

Potential Pitfalls: 9/17 vs. Warshington, 10/1 @#11 Wisconsin, 10/29 vs. #17 MSU.

When They Fall: Meh, Wisconsin.

So by my logic, it will take the entire season for us to be #1. Hope you have a comfortable seat, although we could get to #2 much sooner which would be just as well. I'm pretty sure this is my weakest output to date, so that should please GTPanic3, although it probably won't help our standing as the fifth favorite blog amongst Eastern Bloc Blogmeisters.

Top Moments of the GP Era: #5

It's no secret that the breakup of the Southwest Conference was a painful experience for TCU. Seemingly overnight, four of their long-time rivals left them for dead to form the Big 12. Despite the best intentions of the Longhorns, Aggies, Red Raiders and tag-along Bears, the Frogs did not wither away- but instead thrived, fielding Top 25 teams, winning bowl games and churning out NFL talent. For the first ten seasons after the end of the SWC, none of the four visited Amon G. Carter Stadium even once. That changed, though, when #22 Texas Tech came to Fort Worth on September 16, 2006 to face #20 TCU.

But of course, there was more to this game than just the Big 12 chip on TCU's shoulder. The two teams had faced each other two years before in Lubbock, when the Red Raiders had overcome an early 21-0 TCU lead and hung 70 on the Frogs in a blowout win. As for the court of public opinion, the game was seen as a shot at redemption for Patterson's 4-2-5 defensive scheme against the Leach Air-Raid offense. It was the first sellout of a TCU home game in 22 years, and I still remember the oddity of seeing scalpers hawking second-hand tickets outside of the stadium.

After Texas Tech's first drive stalled out in TCU territory when Tommy Blake sniffed out a screen and tackled Shannon Woods short of the sticks on 4th down, the two teams traded field goals and the game was tied at 3 at the end of the 1st quarter. To the surprise of just about everyone except Patterson, his staff and team, that would be all of the points that the Red Raiders would score on the afternoon.

The rest of the game belonged to the Horned Frog defense. They held the vaunted Red Raider offense to just 204 passing yards and 242 total yards- compared to their season averages of 369 and 448. They allowed Tech to convert just 3 of 14 third-down conversions and 0 of 3 on 4th down. They sacked Graham Harrell 3 times, but hit him an additional three times and hurried him on just about every snap with a dizzying array of blitzes and confusing coverage schemes. When Harrell was able to complete a pass, which was just 23 times (compared to his average of 34 per game), a TCU defender was always right there to tackle them immediately.

As much as TCU's defense was dominating the Tech offense, though, the Horned Frog offense had trouble putting the game away. A field goal in the second quarter gave TCU a 6-3 halftime lead, which they extended to 9-3 with another field goal in the third quarter. Early in the final quarter, Jeff Ballard led the Frogs on a 13-play, 72-yard drive that took 6:29 off the clock and got the Frogs all the way to the Tech 1 yard line. A touchdown would've all but certainly put the game away, but Patterson decided to play it safe and sent in Chris Manfredini to kick his fourth field goal of the day to increase the lead to 12-3.

Tech's last-gasp drive started at their own 22 with just over 4:00 to play. Harrell drove the Red Raiders as far as the TCU 34, but an intentional grounding penalty (how could you really blame the guy after being chased by the Frog D all afternoon long?) put them in a 2nd & 21 when THIS happened:

With all of the backstory about the SWC and the Big 12 and all of the disrespect that had been spewed TCU's way by Tech and the rest of the conference that deemed the Frogs to be not worthy of membership, how fitting was it to see Red Raider wide receiver Robert Johnson laid out, his helmet having flown off his head as part of the violent collision with Marvin White, right on top of the MWC logo? It sent the message that, no, TCU doesn't have the fancy "XII" painted on it's field, but that doesn't mean shit. There was still two minutes and change on the clock, and I don't mean to gloss over Brian Bonner's 4th down sack that ended the drive, but everyone in the house knew the game was over right when Marvin White decapitated that poor kid.

I'd love to be able to wrap up what this game meant in a tidy, three-or-so sentence paragraph. But I'll let GP do that himself with his emotional post-game press conference from that day:

Frog Alumni Camp Report

-A quick recap from the Bengals-Jets preseason game: Andy Dalton was 8-for-19 passing for 86 yards and threw two picks for the Bengals. LaDainian Tomlinson had 26 total yards on 10 touches for the Jets, and Jeremy Kerley had 90 total yards on 7 touches- and a fumble, which was not lost. Bart Johnson didn't register any stats, but did get a write-up by one Bengals' wesbite.

-Curtis Clay had one catch for 14 yards in the Cowboys' game last night. Now I wish I had watched it...or at least tivo'd it so I could go back and see that part.

-Aaron Brown had 45 total yards on 8 touches in Detroit's preseason win over Cleveland, and is slated to make the Lions' 53-man roster, at least according to this Lions' blog.

-After a failed move to the right side, Marshall Newhouse was back to left tackle for the Packers against the Cardinals Friday night- and according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, is in the lead to be Chad Clifton's backup at that position.

-David Hawthorne recorded 4 tackles and Clint Gresham helped the Seahawks' punters average 46.8 yards in the team's preseason loss to Minnesota. There hasn't been a whole lot of talk about these two, although they are both expected to start.

-Jerry Hughes recorded 4 taclkes and half a sack in the Colts' game against Washington

-Quincy Butler, just days after signing a new contract with New Orleans, recorded one tackle in the Saints' preseason loss to the Texans.

“Don’t want to burst your bubble kid, but that’s 90 percent of the job.”

Last night's Breaking Bad opened with one of those outrageously, inhumanely violent scenes that put the show on the map...and then went into about 57 minutes of showing you Walt's hypocrisy in the different manner in which he approaches his relationships with Jesse and Skyler. We got to see a little bit more of the Mike/Jesse storyline, but I have to admit that I'm still not exactly sure what the writers are driving at there. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but really guys- no Uncle Hank after last week's last-minute revelation?

Season 4, Episode 6: "Cornered"

Morning Dump