Monday, December 31, 2007

Tuesday 01/01/08: New Year's Day Mania!

Happy New Year!

Today's Names to Know: New Year's Day Bowls! Darren McFadden! Tim Tebow! Mike Leach! Chris Long! Ron Zook! Colt Brennan! Knowshon Moreno! (And non-Bowl names: Brian Billick, Randy Mueller, Roger Clemens, Andre Woodson, Jonathan Stewart, Eddie Sutton, NHL Outdoor Mayhem and More!)

Start your new year with this: My annual must-read list of What's "Out" and what's "In" for 2008 – a tradition dating back to the late 90s and a list I have compiled through the years for ESPN.com, SI.com and, the last two years, Deadspin. Enjoy!

Settle in, with your New Year's Day elixir of choice...
for fans of teams ending their seasons today (as with fans whose teams have played all month long in other bowls), it's a long way until the 2008 season opener (or, at least, the spring game)...

Outback: Wisconsin vs. Tennessee. Every year Wisconsin plods in, looking like they'll get worked by some high-flying team from the Pac-10 or SEC. And every year, the Badgers pummel their way to a win. Pick: Wisconsin.

Cotton: Missouri vs. Arkansas. One of the nation's most telegenic passing offenses vs. one of its most telegenic running offenses. Catch you last glimpse of Darren McFadden before he takes over the NFL. Pick: Missouri, but I see this as the toughest call of the bowl season. (1 of 32 Confidence Points, if you've been watching the ESPN "Bottom Line" Ticker...)

Capital One: Florida vs. Michigan. Lloyd Carr's final game as Michigan coach, spoiled by the spread effectiveness of Florida and Tebow. Florida comes out of this game as the preseason No. 1 team for 2008. Pick: Florida.

Gator: Texas Tech vs. Virginia. Here's an interesting match-up: The Red Raiders' prolific pass offense vs. the nation's best pass-rushing end (UVA's Chris Long, son of Howie and Top 5 NFL Draft pick in 2008.) Pick: Texas Tech.

Rose: Illinois vs. USC. For Ron Zook and the Illini, it's just about getting to the Rose Bowl that matters. Because this could be uglier than what USC did to Michigan a year ago. (I actually think Illinois gives the Trojans a game.) Pick: USC.

Sugar: Georgia vs. Hawaii. The Bulldogs were my No. 1-ranked team at the end of the regular season, worthy of half a split title if they clock Hawaii. Here's the thing: They won't. I give Hawaii a puncher's chance; if the Warriors go unbeaten, beating many folks' No. 1 team in the process, how about half a national title for Hawaii? Pick: UGA Hawaii, if Knowshon Moreno isn't at full-strength (see below).

To be clear: If Georgia beats Hawaii, even if you think Hawaii isn't that good, I think that the AP voters should give Georgia their share of the national title, leaving the coaches to crown the winner of Ohio State-LSU. If Hawaii beats Georgia, I think the same thing: AP voters should put Hawaii at No. 1 and split the national title.

A split champ: What could be more appropriate for a season like this?

More for today:

Sugar Bowl Update: Georgia's insanely talented RS freshman RB Knowshon Moreno won't start because of an ankle sprain. Remains to be seen how much this affects him, but it's a game-changer.

However: If Hawaii beats Georgia but it isn't a full-strength Georgia, it's just not the same, when it comes to deciding whether to give Hawaii a No. 1 vote. I couldn't support it.

(The whole point of voting Hawaii No. 1 if they beat UGA is that they would be beating the team playing better than anyone in the country at the end of the season; without a healthy Moreno, that's not Georgia anymore -- no real college football fan or "expert" could claim that.)

NHL Winter Classic: I'm not much of a hockey guy, but today's "Winter Classic" (massive outdoor game) is something I will have on the second TV in my house. It's the most clever marketing the league has produced in years (certainly since trying to put the league on YouTube), and it's exactly the type of thing that casual (or non-) fans would tune in for. It's not just a great day for college football fans, but for hockey fans, too.

Ravens fire Brian Billick: This was such a long-time coming that it is almost anti-climax. Still: The guy DID win a Super Bowl title; there's no question that he will find work as a head coach, soon. Meanwhile, all signs point to the Ravens wanting a win-now coach, who will be hamstrung by the team's lack of a reliable QB.

Bill Parcells fires GM Randy Mueller: Hopefully, there's still a seat at the table for him with ESPN.com Insider for the NFL Draft, where he can talk all about taking wide receivers as a reach. (Jeff Ireland, the Cowboys' lead scout and a Parcells guy, is the top name to replace him.)

NFL Draft: I was originally right yesterday (and wrong in the "Update"). The Falcons, Chiefs and Raiders will have a crazy coin-flip in order to determine the 3-4-5 order in the NFL Draft, because they all had the same strength of schedule.

Here's the complexity: The Falcons and Raiders flip for the 3-spot to start. If Atlanta wins, it will go ATL-OAK-KC. If Oakland wins the flip and 3-spot, KC and Atlanta will then flip for the 4-spot.

Where are the Jets in all this, you ask? By beating the Chiefs in OT in the season finale and having a tougher strength of schedule than the other three 4-win teams, the Jets got bumped all the way to No. 6, rather than locked in at No 3.

College Bowls: Auburn nudges past Clemson... Oregon waxes South Florida (Jon Stewart: Sun Bowl-record 253 yards rushing, 2 TDs)... Kentucky survives short-handed Florida State (behind Andre Woodson's 4 TDs and 350-plus passing yards to end a stellar college career)... Cal ends bad season on a good note... Fresno State overwhelmed Georgia Tech early, then ran away... Zac Robinson accounted for 5 TDs and Oklahoma State ended one of the weirdest seasons of the year in college football with a win over Indiana, which endured one of the most difficult seasons of the year in college football.

Clemens Watch: Texas high school baseball coaches sell their soul and approve Roger Clemens as a speaker at their annual convention. You can already see the hedge when they say that they could change their mind if there's a "media circus." Well, no shit there will be.

NBA: Blazers winning streak ends at 13 after a loss to the Jazz. Now we'll see how the young streaky Blazers really respond.

CBB: Eddie Sutton is still two wins away from 800 career wins in his single-minded self-absorbed mission to hit the milestone at the expense of a San Francisco team no one cares about. Wouldn't it be karmic payback if the team, demoralized, didn't win a single game for him?

Meanwhile, Kentucky crushed Florida International to nudge its record under first-year coach Billy Gillispie to a mighty 6-6, just in time for the new year... Xavier earned a really quality "name" non-conference win by crushing Michael Beasley and Kansas State by 26.

Not about sports: One of my favorite newspaper features of the year comes out on January 1. The Washington Post's annual list of what's out and in for the new year.

-- D.S.

6 comments:

sigszilla said...

Out: Anti-blogger attitude among mainstream journalists.

In: Stockholm Syndrome? -- Bloggers selling out and becoming mainstream journalists, and absorbing the air of self-entitlement.

God, I hope not.

Kevin said...

Florida as the No. 1? Are you kidding, they can't even go into half with a lead on a mediocre Michigan team. You can't just pick them to win, you have to through in a completely baseless No. 1 prediction. If OSU wins and doesn't lose all 13 juniors that are testing the NFL waters, how do you place Florida over them? You might want to wait until some games are played before making baseless predictions and then being to afraid to face up to them. If your going to take credit you should take the shame in your terrible predictions.

Jeff said...

Remember what I said Dan. Those who crow the most eat the most crow.

I expect to see a big bowl of crow beating eaten by you.

Michigan 41 - Florida 35

Johnny b said...

Does this make Florida the best 4 lost team in the country now?

SDW said...

SO... Michigan still not one of the top 10 coaching jobs in the country? Seems like you took the Wolverines' affection for Coach Carr for granted in this one. This was a win for him.

Woody Bombay said...

Ouch.

Good case for pushing the Heisman voting back until after the bowl season.