Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week 10 rankings

Even though I think it would be unfortunate if a 1-loss Alabama team bypassed undefeated Boise State, at this point the most intriguing national title game could be Bama-Oregon. The Ducks can't be stopped, they proved that last night against USC. Boise State has two more chances for above average wins against Hawaii and Nevada. I'm still picking Alabama to knock off Auburn and end the Tigers' fairy tale run.

1. Oregon
2. Boise State
3. Auburn
4. TCU
5. Alabama
6. Wisconsin
7. Utah
8. Stanford
9. Ohio State
10. Oklahoma
11. Nebraska
12. Arizona
13. Michigan State
14. Iowa
15. LSU
16. Missouri
17. Arkansas
18. Oklahoma State
19. South Carolina
20. Virginia Tech
21. Mississippi State
22. Baylor
23. Florida State
24. Syracuse
25. Hawaii

Dropped out: Miami, USC, East Carolina

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Packers-Vikings game blog

I'm going to make a modest effort to blog during the Packers-Vikings game. If Brett Favre plays like he did last season against the Packers then I may be too angry to keep going.

Do I believe the Packers have a roster talented enough to contend for the Super Bowl? Yes. Maybe they're too injured to live up to their potential, but I see other teams around the league making something of their season despite injuries. If this is going to be something more than a mediocre season, then games like tonight are a must-win. With the exception of Mark Tauscher, and perhaps Al Harris, the Packers have all the guys they're going to have for the duration playing tonight.

Let's see how it goes (although the local NBC affiliate is not showing the start of the game because of severe weather, which is maddening).

Well this is a rare form of torture. An enormous game for Green Bay and NBC Ch. 4 isn't showing it because of thunderstorms in counties surrounding Nashville. You'd better be saving dozens of lives Ch. 4.

So without the aid of television, I'm listening to the game online. Things start out well for the Packers, who forced the Vikes to go 3-and-out and then drove all the way into the red zone. Then Aaron Rodgers, who's looked a lot more like Jay Cutler this season than Steve Young, throws an interception and gives Minnesota the momentum. Yikes.

OK, now NBC is doing a split screen with the game and the rural tornado coverage. The best of both worlds, but why the CUSS didn't they do that from the start? An angry Rodgers makes up for his interception by storming down the field and then Brandon Jackson caps it with a touchdown run. Percy Harvin then brought Minnesota back with a long kickoff return. It's gonna be a dog fight.

The Packers followed up their pitiful special teams coverage with pitiful defense as Minnesota marches down and scores as Harvin skips threw the secondary untouched on a draw. Keeping the pitiful streak going, NBC Ch.4 continues zeroing in on this thunderstorm block-by-block. Rest assured, Columbia, Tenn., Ch. 4 is keeping you safe!

I just want to add that my least favorite thing about the 2010 Packers is the fact Pat Lee is the kick returner.

Rodgers pokes his head out from behind Brett Favre's shadow. Apart from that pick on the screen pass, he's been unconscious. A laser to Andrew Quarless leads to a touchdown. 14-7 Packers.

And Minnesota answers thanks largely to Percy Harvin who the Packers have not been able to handle the last two years. 14-14.

Sucking out all hope that this could be a decent season, the Vikings storm down the field and score on a pitch-and-catch throw from Favre to Shiancoe. Stupid challenge from McCarthy is under way, but assuming the obvious play stands, it will be Minnesota 21-14.

Scratch that. The challenge overturns the touchdown and Minnesota settles for a field goal. If Green Bay is going to win this game, it will have to be by way of a shootout. And Cullen Jenkins, one of their top defensive players, is apparently hurt. Vikings 17-14.

Corona is getting dangerously close to joining Subway on the list of companies whose products I won't purchase because their commercials are so aggravating. If this happens, my future Mays will be ruined.

Another Rodgers interception kills a drive deep in Minnesota territory. Also add Ryan Pickett to the list of injured Packers defenders.

Vikings 17-14 at the half.

A pair of silly Favre throws lead to interceptions and Packers scores. But then Harvin answers and helps the Vikings cut the lead to 28-24. As I said, a shootout is in order. The Vikings secondary is awful, but so is the Packers defense.

Packers win on one fourth down with John Kuhn but then lose on the next one with McCarthy dialing up the exact same play. As outgoing Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beatwriter Greg Bedard just tweeted, "Eeesh."

Packers win 28-24 with me setting the world record for longest time holding your breath. I don't think I come up for air until about 30 seconds after Favre's awkward lob out of the back of the end zone.

This is one beleaguered team, but tonight they played their hearts out and got a satisfying win. Next week looks like a tough task at the Jets, who are coming off a bye.

It wasn't pretty, but it came against the Vikes and Brett Favre, so I'll take it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 9 rankings

These rankings presuppose that Boise State takes care of business on Tuesday night. I am still envisioning an Oregon-Boise championship game, but now I've flipped those two teams. That sets up the distinct possibility that a one-loss Alabama team leapfrogs Boise State, and perhaps TCU, for a spot in the title game. Oregon seems like a tough out, but they'll get tested this week against USC. Finally, C-USA registers in the top 25 with East Carolina, which has quietly put together a very good season.

1. Oregon
2. Boise State
3. Auburn
4. TCU
5. Michigan State
6. Alabama
7. Missouri
8. Utah
9. Wisconsin
10. Ohio State
11. Oklahoma
12. Nebraska
13. Florida State
14. Stanford
15. Arizona
16. LSU
17. Arkansas
18. Iowa
19. Oklahoma State
20. Miami
21. South Carolina
22. Virginia Tech
23. Mississippi State
24. USC
25. East Carolina

Dropped out: West Virginia, Texas

Football Saturday live blog

11:34 a.m. Ali and Mad Dog are in North Carolina getting their corn dog on at the state fair. That means I have nothing better to do than watch college football all day. Last night I initially had trouble getting to sleep because there was a creepy truck with its lights on and no license plate parked outside our apartment.

When I finally did fall asleep, I didn't wake up until 10 a.m., which is by far the latest I've slept since we found out Ali was pregnant.

Sleeping in left me little time to prepare for my day of nothing, but somehow I managed. The college football extravaganza begins with Michigan State at Northwestern, which I told my buddy Paul, a diehard NU fan, was a highly likely upset.

NU had two weeks to prepare. Michigan State is one of those quintessential teams that isn't as good as its BCS ranking (No 7) and it's an early morning game. As I'm typing this, Northwestern is up 7-0 and Michigan State just fumbled the ball away. So we'll see where this goes.

I'm also excited for Auburn-LSU and Oklahoma-Missouri. This is a great "prove it to me," weekend for a lot of teams and LSU is one of them. LSU is one of the weirdest teams in the country. They've kind of stumbled into some bizarre wins against Tennessee and Florida, but you look at their schedule and they've won some nice games against the likes of West Virginia and Mississippi State. So we'll see. Missouri is a team I have at No. 16, but the BCS has at No. 11. We'll see who's right when they face OU at home today.

12:29 p.m. Northwestern is up 17-7 at halftime. I've watched most of the game on mute, with my Itunes on shuffle because Bob Griese and company are incoherent. Other upsets across the country: Iowa State is leading Texas, Syracuse is leading West Virginia and Navy is leading Notre Dame, though maybe that's not an upset any more.

25 Songs on Shuffle

1. De Novo Dahl -- Sky is Falling
2. Menomena -- Rose
3. Fleet Foxes -- Medlowlarks
4. The Shins -- Weird Divide
5. The Walkmen -- Canadian Girl
6. Velvet Underground -- Sunday Morning
7. Animal Collective -- Taste
8. Brian Wilson -- Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
9. The Raconteurs -- Many Shades of Black
10. Dead Weather -- 3 Birds
11. The Decemberists -- Yankee Bayonet (I will Be Home Then)
12. Zwan -- Endless Summer
13. Eric Carmen -- Hungry Eyes
14. The White Stripes -- I'm Slowly Turning Into You
15. The Features -- The Drawing Board
16. The Selmanaires -- Let's Go There
17. The Beatles -- Yellow Submarine
18. The Non-Commissioned Officers -- Ellie
19. Reel Big Fish -- Join the Club
20. Pearl Jam -- Rats
21. Led Zeppelin -- Communication Breakdown
22. My Morning Jacket -- Run Thru
23. The Beastie Boys -- Slow Ride
24. Joshua James -- Soul and the Sea
25. Those Darlins -- Who's That Knockin at my Window?

1:04 p.m. I deliberately waited until after noon so I could clear the deviant cut-off for when it's OK to have a first beer. And I have an unfortunate total of just four beers in my fridge, which sets up an immediate predicament. Do I drink them all in succession now, leaving room for more and then take a buzzed-drive down to Kroger; OR do I just go now and and interrupt the game, which is currently at 17-14 with Michigan State starting its inevitable comeback? I chose the former. We'll see how that goes.

1:52 p.m. Northwestern holds a tenuous 27-21 lead. The Spartans have kept it close after a fake-punt led to a touchdown on the next play. Note to MSU opponents: if it's one of those questionable 4th-and-medium situations, the Spartans are prolly gonna fake it. Meanwhile Navy is romping Notre Dame and Iowa State is up 28-6 on Texas. Between the close game I'm watching, the satisfaction of seeing those upset scores and my second beer/frozen pizza lunch, this is turning out to be quite a Saturday.

2:07 p.m. Northwestern gives up the lead with under two minutes left then commits a personal foul on its first offensive play. Not looking good for the Cats. One notable final: Ohio State beat MAC foe Purdue 49-0. Let me take this chance to recommend my best friend and Purdue alum's blog site.

2:11 p.m. And just like that the upset bid goes down the drain as Dan Persa goes blind on the Wildcats' final possession. Meanwhile, Syracuse did manage to knock off West Virginia, a team I predicted would go on a winning streak just a week ago. The Big East should have its BCS bid revoked. You know your conference sucks when U.S. senators from other states want to revise the BCS formula so that the Mountain West gets equal footing with the Big East. OK, onward and upward. Tiger Bowl! LSU-Auburn!

2:39 p.m. Kickoff is inexplicably late, but Iowa State has officially beaten Texas for the first time. Go Cyclones. As for LSU-Auburn, I'll take the Tigers. But seriously folks, Auburn in a close game, even though my instincts say LSU is better.

2:49 p.m. We interrupt college football Saturday for a frustrated Packers fan to get up on his soap box. The Packers have seven players on their injured reserve list, including four starters (Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, Morgan Burnett). That number will grow to nine with key defensive contributors Mike Neal and Brady Poppinga apparently set to be placed on IR as well. This team has good depth, but not good enough to overcome this rash of injuries. They're 3-3 right now, but I'm guessing 6-10 for the season with some satisfying upsets among the wins. Tough to swallow after such high expectations, especially considering there may not be a season next year. I know it's a little early to be talking like this, but if there's a season in 2011, next year could be special. And, on the bright side, the draftaholic in me is having fun watching college football games for potential upgrades at running back and outside linebacker/pass rusher.

3:18 p.m. Watching LSU on 3rd-and-long is equal parts painful and awkward. 7-3 Auburn in the first quarter. Someone needs to reprogram the BCS computers to calculate how good LSU would be if they had a college-level quarterback. The roster is literally stacked at every other position.

Returning to my iTunes shuffle... coolest album title: Max Tundra's Parallax Error Beheads You.

4:18 p.m. The score is 10-10 after a nondescript first half. I'm giving serious consideration to watching Modern Family instead of the third quarter.

6:48 p.m. Auburn ends up winning a close game that was a lot less exciting than the final score indicates. You'd think a 24-17 game between two top-10 teams would have been a nail biter, but not so. Even with the game in doubt, it was hard to watch LSU's offense. Auburn's rushing attack is impressive and Cam Newton looked great. I'm definitely not sold on him as a pro quarterback. Gary Daniels pointed out that Newton was in the same ballpark as Jamarcus Russell and Tim Tebow. I'm not sure that fact works in his favor.

Other notable results: a battered Wisconsin team wins on the road against Iowa. Nebraska wins a shootout against Missouri. Nate polishes off his 4-pack, but replenishes with a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada.

So now I'm waiting for the Oklahoma-Missouri game to start by watching some scraps. Tennessee-Alabama, Vandy-South Carolina. Not looking good for the in-state teams. Also, Miami is playing North Carolina, a program that for all intents and purposes deserves the NCAA death penalty. Anyhow, the football marathon continues...

10:43 p.m. Missouri pulls off an upset, proving that the BCS computers were wrong, yet again. Oklahoma was the BCS No. 1, but that honor will surely go to Oregon now. In addition to watching the Tigers earn the win, I sprinkled in some baseball and watched the Giants reach the World Series by beating the Phillies. I thought Philly was unbeatable heading into the playoffs, especially after Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter in his first start. But then their bats went silent, and give the Giants credit. What a likable rag-tag team of castoffs.

Anyhow, I might keep this going and watch some of Arizona-Washington before I head to sleep. As I sign off, it appears Mizzou's student section is about to celebrate as if WW3 has come to an end. In fact, the Tiger fans were on the field during the last play.

Today I did nothing. And it was everything I ever thought it could be. Tomorrow could set up to be another football crazy day, but the Packers don't play Brett Favre and his crocks until the night game so I'm not so sure. That's all for now...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week 8 rankings

Don't look now football fans but we could have an all-left coast national championship game. I know biased voters from the Midwest and Southeast will do their best to prevent it, but Boise State and Oregon are nicely positioned to run the table and justifiably lay claim to the BCS title game. Look out for West Virginia, I could see them make a nice run too. It will be interesting to see how Ohio State responds to its loss.

1. Boise State
2. Oregon
3. Oklahoma
4. Auburn
5. TCU
6. Michigan State
7. Alabama
8. LSU
9. Utah
10. Iowa
11. Wisconsin
12. Ohio State
13. Florida State
14. Stanford
15. Oklahoma State
16. Missouri
17. Arizona
18. Nebraska
19. Arkansas
20. West Virginia
21. Miami
22. South Carolina
23. Texas
24. Virginia Tech
25. Mississippi State

Dropped out: Nevada, Michigan, Florida, Air Force

Angela Surf City

by the Walkmen. My gift to you:


We watched How to Train your Dragon last night. It was a very good animated movie, but I'm not quite sure it deserves Oscar hype. Even in the Best Animated Film category, my pick would be Toy Story 3. Still very good though, especially visually.

And while I'm on the topic of movies, don't forget to check out Make-out With Violence when it releases on Oct. 26. It will be available on Netflix and iTunes and you can order it online if you're feeling adventurous and trust my taste.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 7 rankings

Alabama's luck finally ran out and they lost a close game. Winning on the road in the SEC is insanely difficult and I still think the Tide will be in the discussion for the BCS at the end of the season. Boise State becomes my No. 1 because I feel like the Broncos have looked better than Oregon or Ohio State this season. Big jumps for Michigan State and LSU for their big wins.

1. Boise State
2. Ohio State
3. Oregon
4. Oklahoma
5. Auburn
6. Nebraska
7. TCU
8. Utah
9. Michigan State
10. LSU
11. Alabama
12. Nevada
13. South Carolina
14. Arkansas
15. Iowa
16. Florida State
17. Stanford
18. Oklahoma State
19. Michigan
20. Missouri
21. Miami
22. Arizona
23. Florida
24. Air Force
25. West Virginia

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Week 6 rankings

I still believe Alabama and Boise State look like the best teams so far, although Oregon had an impressive win. The Ducks' defense is suspect, but their offense looks unstoppable. Michigan State proved this week it is better than I thought. The Big Ten is hanging in there so far this season. I'm predicting South Carolina-Alabama in the SEC title game, as of today. I'm guessing the actual polls don't punish teams like LSU, USC, Florida and Wisconsin nearly enough for their bad performances today.

1. Alabama
2. Boise State
3. Ohio State
4. Oregon
5. Oklahoma
6. Auburn
7. TCU
8. Nebraska
9. Arizona
10. Utah
11. Nevada
12. Michigan State
13. Michigan
14. Miami
15. South Carolina
16. Arkansas
17. Iowa
18. Florida
19. LSU
20. Stanford
21. Oklahoma State
22. Northwestern
23. Air Force
24. Florida State
25. Kansas State

Sometimes an album finds you where you are

A recent discussion about someday leaving Nashville was rattling around in my brain when I finally sat down to listen to the new Jamey Johnson album, "The Guitar Song."

This is an album for and about the real Nashville -- its songsmiths and its high-brow, artful self-loathing.

I can't possibly say more about The Guitar Song than Jon Caramanica did in a recent New York Times feature. The Guitar Song takes all the great aspects of Nashville music -- its scientific songwriting style -- and combines them with an outsider's shadowy recognition that Music Row is one phony stretch of road. Listen to this album by yourself with your headphones on, or when you're on a long drive. Listen to this album when you're having writer's bloc.

It's a work summoned up from the depths of life lessons learned at the expense of personal relationships. Whether any of us want to admit it or not, we can all relate to the subject matter.

In many ways, Nashville is a jacked-up, insulated, judgmental place. But when you can't beat them, write about them. The album has two sides, black and white. Like the town where it was recorded, there are two sides to the story. Nashville is also a friendly place full of amazing people, who came here to create and to make it big. Johnson's album is a collection of whiskey-drenched anthems for those who fall into that category.