Friday, October 31, 2008

Oregon vs. Cal

I am headed over with a group of 13 to Berkeley tomorrow. It is a mixture of Ducks and Bears but we have one thing in common, we are family. Any time you can get the family out for a football game it is awesome. We are leaving early in the morning so we can tailgate with breakfast burritos, pastries and beverages of one's choosing. It all has me wondering if I am even going to be able to sleep tonight. The threat of rain (90% chance) does not bother me at all. Though sunshine would be nice, the opportunity to see the Ducks trumps that. There is not a single Duck fan that follows this blog that wants me to make a prediction so I won't. My upset specials have been anything but special. I will predict a couple of things though.

First, my brother-in-law (a Duck grad) has no idea how happy he will be that he got Lasik surgery done today. Though he may not be fully recovered, without the surgery he would have had zero chance of seeing the Cal video board. Now with those wicked shades the doctor provided him there is hope that he will be able to see a Duck touchdown on the screen.

My other prediction is that the game will be close. I do not see the Ducks winning a blowout and Tedford's ultra-conservative playcalling when in the lead means this one will be a nailbiter. I'll provide a layman's breakdown of the key positions.

The Ducks appear to have the advantage on the lines since Cal's O-line is banged up. The quarterback position isn't necessarily a strength for either side but if forced to I would give the slight edge to Oregon since for whatever reason Riley has not been the man for the entire season.

Running backs end up being a draw for me and that is because of the linebacker play. As long as I have been a Duck fan the linebackers have never been better than servicable. This year's bunch doesn't strike fear into anyone and when healthy (not sure how healthy he is at this moment) Jahvid Best is the type of runner that wreaks havoc on unathletic linebackers. On the other side the Ducks running backs are solid and so are the Cal linebackers. That is likely where the game will be won or lost.

I think both secondaries are overrated and more so if the weather is wet. If I'm Masoli I throw at whoever Syd'Quan Thompson is covering. Though he appears to be a Strawberry Canyon favorite I have not seen anything from him that suggests he can actually cover a receiver. His name gets called a lot because he has a knack for tackling the receiver that just caught the ball in front of him. Hopefully the Ducks defensive line is able to make a mess of the pocket so that Riley doesn't have time to find the open receivers.

I admit to knowing very little about the special teams play for either team. Contrary to popular belief I actually have a life. So you have to figure the kickers, along with the weather, is what will decide the game since I have not broken them down. As for the prediction: I'm going 30-27.

2008 Upset Special Week #10

My success with this weekly post has been phenomenal. It's a minor miracle that a major news network or Vegas casino hasn't hired me. This week I'm heading to the SEC. I see that Auburn is a 6.5 point underdog at Ole Miss. Auburn has had a terribly disappointing season. My hunch is that their defense will hold Ole Miss to less than 10 and score at least 10 on their own. In essence I am picking the Auburn defense to defeat Ole Miss.

Last Week: Do you even have to ask?

Season to Date: 1-7. When all is said and done the record will show that the Pac-10 refs screwing UW in week two did more than cost Ty Willingham his job.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cal Game Prelude

This should have been posted a while ago but now is as good a time as any. I went to the Cal vs. ASU game a few weeks ago. First things first, it sure brought back terrible memories. The last and only time I had been there before was the site of "The Drop." If my memory serves me right, a Duck who shall remain nameless dropped a crucial pass right in front of the seats I was sitting in for this game. What a horrific moment to relive.

Now some random observations from the game:
  • The atmosphere at Cal games is very weak. They seem to think they are a big time bunch of fans but they have a dudeleader yelling into a megaphone/pa system telling them what to do. For me a lot of Duck fans are major homers but that sure beats having a trust fund, frat kid reminding me to get "moderately louder so that the opponent has difficulty converting on third down and long, which is defined by being seven yards or greater." So maybe those weren't his exact words but they were similar.
  • It's no wonder the fans need to be clued in on what's going on. If the folks sitting around me are any indication of the fan base then I would guess they prefer to attend art shows, not football games. The man seated right in front of me was a nice guy. He seemed like the type of guy that has two or three advanced degrees and works in a bookstore. Here are some of his gems:
"Hard yards, but well earned." (After a decent five or six-yard run.)
"One more opportunity to shine." (After a big play was called back on a holding penalty.)
"That was a work of beauty." (After a touchdown pass.)
"No creativity on that run." (After an unforgettable kickoff return.)
"Not a very distinguished series." (After a patented second half drive by a Tedford team that goes three and out, giving the impression that he has no desire to score and wants the opponent to stay in the game.)
"I hope you have a bulletproof car." (Yelled at referee after a questionable call. This one came out of nowhere but no one else seemed to think it was a weird thing to yell when the stadium was completely silent. And it got me thinking: What if a fan from say the Southeast or Midwest had said the same thing would the tolerant liberals of Berkeley had shrugged it off as no big deal? Oh, I am sure they would have. What am I thinking?)
  • I did not go to Cal but was offended by what they call a video screen. As a California resident who pays taxes that support the school I can't believe that is all the athletic department can muster. From the other side of the field it looks like nothing more than a 47" tube television seen at any number of grandparents' homes across America. Simply pathetic.
  • If this does not describe Cal then nothing does. Between the first and second quarter the UC Chief of Police was honored for doing such a wonderful job handling the tree protesters. Are you kidding? This is government at its finest. The man does nothing for over a year and gets recognized publicly for it. And to top it all off the crowd actually stands and claps for him. My conscience does not allow me to respect a place that thinks law enforcement's job is to do absolutely nothing and let hippies run anything but a commune.
  • I did not spend all of my time trying to rip on Cal. Through squinting eyes I did notice that they did a great job on one video shown on the big screen. As part of Homecoming they had a recent graduate spend a couple of minutes describing the fun she had as a Cal student. The genius part of the thing was that this recent graduate was very good looking. For a brief moment in time I wondered what it would have been like to go to Cal and I was not the only one. One gentleman I went to the game with who is 47-years-old seriously considered pursuing baccalaureate studies after the video ended.
  • Finally, I did learn something worthwhile that day. I now know how to determine if a college football rivalry is a real rivalry. Notre Dame is involved in the equation. If you hate Notre Dame more than the team in question then a rivalry does not exist. A true rivalry is like Cal vs. Stanford. When the score was announced that Notre Dame had beaten Stanford there was a unanimous cheer celebrating the Stanford lost. In comparison, I'm pretty sure the typical Duck fan is still tickled pink about Oregon State's Fiesta Bowl win way back when. To prove my point further let's pretend we are at Autzen. If Oregon State is beating Western Washington there is polite applause and a few cheers. If Notre Dame is losing in the first quarter by one point to Virginia it sounds like Oregon just scored a touchdown, minus the horn. So when someone tries to tell you that a rivalry is fierce just add Notre Dame to the equation to see if it really is. And if anyone can explain to me the vitriol Ducks fans have for a team that they have not played or had any reason to care about in the last 30 years please tell me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #9

I promise I have not seen the results. Just got home from a long day. My pick this week is SJSU over Boise State. I heard on the radio that the spread was 7 so I should be good. This pick is simple. Boise State's schedule is as offensive as the preseason Oregon men's basketball schedule the last few years. Not this year though. Now that we have all freshmen we play harder teams, go figure. Rest assured I will delve into that phenomenon soon. Back to Boise State, I can't stand their schedule. You hear about people ripping on the SEC preseason schedule for being lame. Well, Boise State plays that schedule for an entire season. For all of the faithful Boise State fans out there I do know they beat Oregon this year. There is nothing I can say about that. Let's hope in turns out being a good Oregon team. Only time will tell. Now onto to see if I am already wrong.

Last Week: Nothing is working for me.

Season-to-Date: 1-6, still doing better than the Bengals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #8

My apologies for missing last week. I am sure whatever team I was going to pick was heartbroken that I did not take the time to do it. I have a good excuse for missing though. I was busy planning a Grand Opening for the family's new business I am working for. Here is the website if you are interested.

Due to my tailbone (read the post below) I am making this quick. Iowa State is the pick. I do not even remember who they are playing. After scouring the lines earlier in the week that is the one that stood out to me. I could take the easy way out and pick Washington State over USC but have decided I want that second correct pick to be something special.

Two Weeks Ago: Loss, real shocker there.

Season To Date: 1-5. Just think, if I were a Bengals fan I would be thrilled to see that in the AFC standings!

I Miss Eugene

I never thought I would say the above words. Eugene is a nice enough place but let's just say Eugene and I do not agree on much of anything. I think transients are a bad thing, Eugene advertises to the transient demographic that it is a wonderful place to stay. I like to have parks for kids to play in, Eugene likes to have parks for dogs. I tend to think drug use is not a redeeming quality, Eugene prefers that one uses drugs. I could go on and on but you get the picture.

Well, tonight I wish I was in Eugene. That is assuming there is a softball league in Eugene that plays this late into the year. The one thing I learned from Eugene is that sometimes things aren't worth caring about. For me that is city league softball. It is fun to get out there but I will not dive, I will not slide and I do not really care if my team wins. There are far too important things to worry about in a typical week for me to get stressed out over softball. In our city league down here some people live for their city league game each week. They wear pinstriped baseball pants, cleats, fitted baseball hats, batting gloves, etc. Just for reference I wear tennis shoes, no hat, shorts and a long sleeve dri-fit.

Let's cut to the chase. In tonight's game I got completely ran over by a guy in pinstriped baseball pants as he was running the bases. My team has me playing third because the only reason I played varsity baseball was because I could field and throw. My hitting is not so strong. It probably reflects that I am not that strong to begin with but that is not important right now. Said moron in baseball pants at a city league softball game had no reason to run home so he stopped on third base. Knowing this is what he was going to do I did not move from standing on the foul line between third and home in the event of a throw. However, this guy decides that because I am in the base line he will take two or three steps, charge me, shove me and knock me flat on my back. For someone that is not a landscaper or road construction worker I thought the guy went a little too far to prove I was in the baseline. His teammates thought he was a hero and wondered why the umpire would not let him advance to home for my mistake of being in the baseline.

After getting up and realizing my tailbone is going to hurt like crazy tomorrow (why I am writing this now and not going to bed, just trying to delay the inevitable) I said a few things as I am prone to do. I made fun of the guy for caring way too much about city league softball and told the fat guy coaching third base to shutup and think about getting exercise. (Later in the game the fat third base coach guy sprained his ankle running the bases and I reassured him he would be okay since he is in such good shape.) I ashamedly admit to using a bad word at one point when yelling at their bench. It truly is out of character for me and looked even worse because I am playing on my church's softball team. At least it was a word I have seen in the Bible before. Jesus rode one of them on what we celebrate as Palm Sunday in case you cared. Hey, everyone has their faults and I am the first to admit it.

I tell this lengthy story because I know if I played a game in Eugene tonight no one would have cared enough about something so meaningless to make my tailbone's weekend miserable. It does make me feel good that the moron that ran me over has an arm at shortstop that is more suited for a co-ed division, if you know what I mean. If I threw like he did while wearing pinstriped baseball pants at a city league softball game I would probably try to act like a jerk too. It is far more acceptable to be remembered for being a classless punk than it is to throw a softball like my seven-month old daughter throws pacifiers. And you know I let him know I was impressed with his throwing arm, I just couldn't resist myself.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #6

Since I am heading out the door to Berkeley for some California vs. ASU football I have to make this quick. My strategy this week was to pick the first game I came to on the list with a spread near seven. Lucky for me it was the first one. NC State (+8) will beat Boston College at home. There is no doubt in my mind. If you are a Wolfpack fan, I am sorry for doing this to you.

Last Week: Don't even ask.

Season-to-Date: 1-4