BUFFALO. OK, I got burnt picking them last year, and I’m tempted to jump right back in. They are a shining example that defense does not win championships, as they 5th in the NFL in scoring defense, but a truly inept offense kept them from even approaching .500. Have they done anything to improve? Not really. The o-line is still arguablythe worst in the league, allowing 10 sacks for 100 pass attempts, a remarkably awful number. And the QB play is still poor.
MIAMI. An even better defense than the one in Buffalo (3rd in scoring), and just as many questions on offense. Ricky Williams’ sudden retirement saves them from the shock of losing him in week five due to overuse. Their o-line isn’t nearly as bad, but it’s not that good, but the QB play has even more questions (AJ Feely?). And without a big-time back, Miami’s now thinking how they can go 8-8.
NEW ENGLAND. #1 scoring defense in the league plus a pretty good offense. The Tom Brady as Joe Montana storyline is overdone, he’s a good QB who the Pats simply ask to play smart. The key here is that every player, even Brady, is expendable. This is the ultimate team, a sum much greater than the parts, which works because of a ball-hawking defense par excellence. The team lacks elite level players, but they win because every single starter is above-average. There’s no holes.
NY JETS. Pennington’s healthy again and he’s easily the key to the season. The Jets ask a lot of the backs, but if Martin goes down, they are reasonably confident they won’t miss a beat with Jordan. The d-line has four former #1 picks, including our favorite whipping boy Dewayne Robertson. Hey, maybe he’s just not that good? Once the Jets figure that out, their defense will catch up with the rest of the division.
1. New England 2. Buffalo 3. NY Jets 4. Miami

Gioia's pick I can't argue with picking the Patriots. They're the defending champs. The only big loss was Ted Washington, but they play so well as a team unit. It's tough to see them failing to win the division. Buffalo is a big question mark.I'm curious to see how Willis McGehee will do this year. I think you underrate the Jets a bit. Herman Edwards is great at getting the most out of his players. Miami has the stout defense, but the coach is inept and their offense just got gutted.
1. New England 2. New York Jets 3. Buffalo 4. Miami

BALTIMORE. Boller is a truly terrible QB, and the Ravens have chosen as his backup the even worse Kordell Stewart. Seriously, in my BCR rankings, they ranked as the two worst starters in the league, and itwasn’t close. The defense, as usual, will be asked to bail out an inept offense, and as usual, it should be good enough to win a fairly mediocre division.
CINCINNATI. The team took giant steps last year, but they are probably a year away from being really good. The defense is still pretty bad, though you can expect it improve under Lewis, it’s just not there yet. And I love the offense. If Kitna can succeed here, so can Palmer. And while Dillon’s a great back, he was also a huge distraction. The falloff to Perry and Johnson shouldn’t be too bad. The o-line is developing into a force. Next year, they should be the team to beat in the division. Just not this year.
CLEVELAND. If it weren’t for the Ravens, the worst offense would reside in Cleveland. However, unlike Baltimore, the Browns tried to do something about it. They signed for Garcia, posted bail for Greene, and signed Winslow. So that makes them, what? A decent offensive team? The defense just isn’t good enough to win games on its own.
PITTSBURGH. How can a team with a receiving corps this spectacular be so ordinary on offense? Just play Roethlisberger… what do you have to lose? Cowher always keeps the Steelers together with duct tape and bailing wire and this year should be no different. Just good enough to not got fired.
1. Baltimore 2. Cincinnati 3. Pittsburgh 4. Cleveland
Gioia's pick I was going to go with the Bengals, but I'm reluctant to put such confidence in a QB who will be cutting his teeth this year. This is Baltimore's division to lose. Boller can't possibly hurt them as much as he did last year, so presuming the team can stay out of jail, they should win the North. For some stupid reason I still think Cleveland will be competitive.
1. Baltimore 2. Cleveland 3. Pittsburgh 4. Cincinnati

HOUSTON. Progress has been made, but the team still isn’t that good. Playing in an absolutely loaded division will make them look worse than they are. The o-line, which was once historically bad, is now just below average. The defense, which was once inept, is now just mediocre. They finally have some offensive weapons in Davis and Johnson, but let’s not kid ourselves, losing less than 10 would still be a real feat.
INDIANAPOLIS. First one to 30 wins. Dungy made his reputation as a defensive guru, but three years into his tenure, the Colts stillcouldn’t stop a eunuch from scoring. Freeney is a spectacular rush end, but he’s the only defensive player (aside from Doss) who would start on most teams. So, it comes down to the Trifecta again. How far can Manning, Harrison, and James take this team? Can you win the Super Bowl without a defense?
JACKSONVILLE. Offensive line play is remarkably underrated, and the Jags have one of the best lines in league, despite its lack of starpower. The team also boasted a stout rushing defense, rare for a team with a losing record (teams run out the clock with the run), but an awful pass defense. A rebuilt secondary could key a surprise run if Leftwich blossoms into a legit starter.
TENNESSEE. It’s a simple as this, I rate McNair as the best QB in the league. They will go as far as he can take them. The pass defense was bad last year, an ominous sign in pass-happy division. This is an old team trying to keep it together for one last run. That rarely works the way you think it will.
1. Indianapolis 2. Jacksonville* 3. Tennessee 4. Houston
Gioia's pick Well, I'm inclined to agree on the Titans-- their window appears to be closing. McNair gives them a fighting chance. I think Indy made a big leap last year in finally getting a playoff win. I'm expecting more this year. Houston and Jacksonville will both be improved, making this a very tough division.
1. Indianapolis 2. Tennessee 3. Jacksonville 4. Houston

DENVER. When did Jake Plummer get good? He was fifth in the BCR’s last year, after a career of complete mediocrity. Part of that is getting to play behind one of the best offensive lines in football. The defense didn’t make big plays last year, but they added Champ Bailey and John Lynch to do that. And it’s not like the defense was no good. They excel at nothing, but do everything well. 10-6 seems about right again.
KANSAS CITY. The defense is widely ridiculed, but they finished 19th in scoring, smack in the middle of the league. Sure, they give up tons of yards, but better to give up yards than points. The Colts, by contrast, pull the opposite trick. This an old team, and they did nothing to improve the defense aside from bring in Cunningham as a co-ordinator. This team also pays attention to special teams, and Dante Hall wins them games.
OAKLAND. Last year, they couldn’t score or stop anyone from scoring. Time finally caught up with an aging roster. The Raiders solution? More aging players! Collins has parlayed one good year with the Giants into another starting gig. The special teams are uniformly terrible. Frankly, this is not a good team anymore and they still think last year was a fluke. It wasn’t.
SAN DIEGO. I rated their line as second in the league, but only one starter returns. In a bid to stay alive, Philip Rivers waited to sign a contract to cost himself the starting gig. The defense couldn’t stop anybody last year. And really, the only viable weapon the team has is LT. They’ll ride their back very, very, very hard.
1. Kansas City 2. Denver* 3. San Diego 4. Oakland
Gioia's pick I wish Tomlinson were on a good team so that he'd get his due. Man, he's a yardage machine. In KC and Denver I see great potential, but I also have a feeling that both are paper tigers. I'm just not sure which one. I am pretty confident that Oakland is going to get its world rocked again. I'm inclined to agree with your list.
1. Kansas City 2. Denver 3. San Diego 4. Oakland

New England (bye) Kansas City (bye) Baltimore Indianapolis Denver (wild card) Jacksonville (wild card)

AFC Championship NEW ENGLAND over DENVER. The Broncos are the Patriots-lite. But really, it’s a pretty underwhelming crop of teams. Outside of the Patriots, every team has pretty obvious holes. Sure, somebody could sneak into the Super Bowl, but this is really the Patriots’ title to lose. And yes, I know I was harsh towards the Pats in the last preview and now I’m saying they are all but unbeatable, but I finally understand what they are doing. The players really have bought into the system and the lack of star powerisn’t a real problem for them. So, better late than never on the old bandwagon.

Gioia's pick The Pats are a good pick, but I'll come up with a viable alternative to provide variety.
Indianapolis (bye) New England (bye) Baltimore Kansas City Denver (wild card) New York Jets (wild card)

AFC championship. If Indy gets home field advantage, watch out. They'll air it out on their home court. So, I'll predict the Colts over the Pats for a trip to the Super Bowl.

DALLAS. No team pulls off the great defense, crappy offense split more than the Cowboys. The offense isn’t just a little bad, it’s among the very worst in the league. They have lousy backs, receivers, and quarterbacks. The line isn’t terrible, but it’s not a strength. However, on defense, this team is loaded. Adding Wiley should dramatically improve the pass rush, and the secondary is just painfully stacked. And we haven’t even gotten into the core of the team, a smart bunch of undersized linebackers. They won’t be able to score, but it’ll be tough to score against them.
NY GIANTS. I have no reason to believe they aren’t the worst team infootball. They ranked in the bottom 10 in just about every category the NFL tracks (except sacks, Strahan is a machine), and they didn’t exactly improve in the offseason. The players are already revolting against Coughlin, and they have a much-improved division. This could be a very long year in New York.
PHILADELPHIA. Just like the baseball team, they keep adding stud players and keep falling short. Well, this looks like a last gasp.The Eagles added Owens and Kearse to some already well-stocked units, so there is absolutely no excuses now. It’s win the Super Bowl or bust.
WASHINGTON. I love Joe Gibbs. I think the world of Clinton Portis. I even think their secondary is real good. But you cannot win withoutquality line play and the Skins lack quality lines on both sides of the ball. It will kill them this year. Again.
1. Philadelphia 2. Dallas 3. Washington 4. NY Giants
Gioia's Pick The Giants aren't good, but they may surprise and be mediocre this year. I'd pick Dallas, but they have no viable QB. Philly wins the division by default.
1. Philadelphia 2. Dallas 3. NY Giants 4. Washington

CHICAGO. The Bears are talking about establishing the run, a bad idea considering their line isn’t that good and their running backs are awful. They are playing into their weaknesses. The defense likes to take chances, but without any pass rush, that’s a tall order. If Lovie Smith gets these guys to 8-8, he would have done a remarkable job.
DETROIT. I ranked Harrington as the third-worst starter in the league. The good news is that if he just cut down on his NFL-high 22 INT’s, he’d be a league average QB. He only got sacked 9 times, a credit to a great pass-blocking line. If Kevin Jones can contribute at running back, they have instant offense. The defense is a huge question mark, but if they can just be average, they could contend for the playoffs.
GREEN BAY. You tell Brett Favre he’s finished. This is one of the most productive offense in the game. Keyed by the very best line in the business. Throw in a deep receiving corp to go with the killer combo of Favre and Green, and you have an offensive steamroller. The defense is another one in this division which aspires to be average.
MINNESOTA. Their offense is good, but just a little bit worse than the Packers everywhere except receiver. Of course, that receiver is RandyMoss, the ultimate wideout stud. I think the defense could be a huge surprise. The linebacking unit of Henderson-Thomas-Claibourne is young, raw, and extremely talented. They could blossom this year. And the secondary is one of the most underrated in the game, lead by Chavous. I think this is a sleeping giant. Can Tice wake them up?
1. Minnesota 2. Green Bay* 3. Detroit 4. Chicago
Gioia's picks Oddly enough, the Bears came together in the latter end of last season. But I'm inclined to agree with you top to bottom on this group. Minnesota was my pick a year ago, and they missed out on winning the division after a miracle play by Arizona. Green Bay has a chance so long as Favre and Green are playing. Detroit might have some offensive firepower, but Chicago sure doesn't.
1. Minnesota 2. Green Bay 3. Detroit 4. Chicago

ATLANTA. Seeing a team live and die by one player so much is actually kind of neat. Provided you don’t actually root for the Falcons. What makes Vick so good is his explosiveness and creativity in the open field, the exact same attributes which will get him injured. He’s got receivers who can’t catch, runners who scare no one, and a mediocre line. And the defense is god awful. DeAngelo Hall better be the second coming of Night Train Lane. When he gets healthy.
CAROLINA. An average team blessed with a crappy division and easy schedule, the Panthers came within seconds of winning the Super Bowl. But teams that win tend to view even their shortcomings as reasons for victory, and this team did little to improve a pedestrian offense. Davis rushed for a ton of yards, but a lot of that was getting a ton of carries. They’ll ride him hard again, but the defense just isn’t good enough to play the “just get us 14 points and we’ll hold ‘em” philosophy of, say, the Ravens.
NEW ORLEANS. How can a team this loaded be so average? There’s talent everywhere on offense, but that just don’t score a bunch of points.They have solid playmakers at almost every defensive position, but the defense is average. And that sums up the team: average. If somebody, anybody, stepped up, they’d run away with the division. We’re still waiting.
TAMPA. The defense is still awesome. Yeah, they lost Sapp and Lynch, but they kept Brooks, the best linebacker in the league not named Ray Lewis. And their top-tier corners and loaded d-line shouldn’t really miss the loss. The offense, believe it or not, should just air it out. Their backs are subpar and the pass protection is as good as the run blocking is bad. It’s time to just throw caution to the wind and justbe a high-flying offensive attack.
1. Tampa Bay 2. New Orleans* 3. Carolina 4. Atlanta
Gioia's pick The Bucs reloaded. Last year was a fluke. Speaking of flukes, we have Carolina. Their defense will keep them in the hunt, but pretty soon their lack of offense is going to bite them in the ass. The Saints have the opposite problem with a lack of defense; they'll find a way to blow it. Atlanta is a popular pick because they have everyone's favorite athlete to hype, but I don't have much confidence in their new coach.
1. Tampa Bay 2. Carolina 3. New Orleans 4. Atlanta

ARIZONA. I don’t think Dennis Green is a good coach, but it’s nice to see a black guy make the old boy network. He inherits a team that finished dead last in both scoring offense and defense last season. That’s remarkably bad. The good news is that they have a pretty nice crop of receivers for McCown to throw the ball at. And the defense? Well, it can’t get worse. Unlike the Giants, the Cardinals know they stink and are trying to rebuild which is the first step of recovery.
ST LOUIS. They had one of the worst offensive lines in football, despite its star power. This is primarily due to terrible a running game, averaging 3.6 YPC, a good a half yard below league average. The moment Marshall Faulk shows signs of wear, this offense will completely derail. The defense has always been better than people gave it credit for, but it needs to be better this season as the points won’t be as frequent on the offensive end.
SAN FRANCISCO. Things could be very bad. I really like their line play, but it’s the people behind those lines which are substandard. If the answers are Dorsey and Rattay, you don’t want to know the question. The receiving corp is one of the worst in the league, and the running backs aren’t very good. Outside of Plummer, the secondary is horrific. Teams are going to throw all day on the Niners, and the only thing sparing them will be teams rushing the ball to run out the clock.
SEATTLE. Six games against this division have to make Seahawk fans salivate. They made a science last year of giving away winnable games, losing five games by less than a touchdown. Hasselbeck is the most underrated QB in the league and Alexander is a superstar back. The receivers lack a standout, but it’s a very deep group. And the defense has spent the last few years acquiring pure hitters. The personnel doesn’t matter much upfront as Ray Rhodes’ system is beyond proven. Ifthey get decent play from the front seven, they will certainly win the division, and maybe a lot more.
1. Seattle 2. St. Louis 3. San Francisco 4. Arizona
Gioia's picks I see Seattle winning this in a laugher. San Francisco may be playing for the #1 draft pick. They lost their best QB, WR, and RB. I don't think St. Louis will be a really strong team, but they're better than SF and Arizona, and that's 4 wins to help them in the wild card hunt.
1. Seattle 2. St. Louis 3. Arizona 4. San Francisco

Seattle (bye) Philadelphia (bye) Minnesota Tampa Bay Green Bay (wild card) New Orleans (wild card)
NFC Championship. SEATTLE over PHILLY. Unlike the AFC, the NFC is stacked with contenders. Outside of the west, the divisions are three-team races (the south is a four-team race). And this let up will be the advantage for Seattle. Just like Carolina parlayed its success in some easy matchups into the confidence to make a Super Bowl run, so can Seattle. Only this team has much more talent than last year’s Panthers. And the curse of Philly continues…

SEATTLE over NEW ENGLAND. OK, I’d feel like a fraud if a suddenlypicked the Pats

Gioia's pick Seattle (bye) Tampa Bay (bye) Philadelphia Minnesota Green Bay (wild card) St. Louis (wild card)
If Green Bay gets in, they'll go on a tear. According to what I predict,they'd have to win at Minnesota and probably Seattle. Not easy, but I'm game. Green Bay over Tampa Bay. Indianapolis over Green Bay.

That's good for a laugh.

posted by Poseur 9/09/2004 02:37:00 PM

World Cup 2006 Qualifying

It's still early, but work is in progress. Here's a recap of some recent scores...

USA escapes with a draw, again.

In CONCACAF we're in the 2nd of 3 rounds. There are three groups of 4, and the top 2 from each advance to round 3. While Mexico can kick back to face off Trinidad & Tobago, St. Kitts & Nevis, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines (yeah, that's only 4 nations), the US is in with El Salvador, Jamaica, and Panama.

Halfway through the round, the US has the lead, thanks to two draws salvaged in the last minutes. In the opener, Brain Ching scored in the 89th minute to earn a 1-1 draw. On Wednesday, the US needed an equalizer in injury time to escape with a draw. Really, we should be killing this group, but having the lead is a near miracle. Those late equalizers are the difference between leading the group by 1 point and trailing two teams by 3 points each. More good news: two of the remaining three games are at home.

France without Zidanne...not pretty

If you look at EUFA Group 4, you'll see 4 nations tied at 4 points each. I said earlier that France would have a hard time qualifying, but that was before I saw the group: France, Israel, Switzerland, Ireland, Faroe Islands, and Cyprus. Upon further review, I think they'll still have trouble despite the weaknesses in the group. The Swiss and the Irish are the threats to beat France, and they've played to a draw. France has a win and a draw too, but those points came against the cupcake teams. France played Israel to a scoreless draw last week, and that game was played in France. Wednesday they beat the Faroe Islands by 2-0. Ordinarily a 2-0 win is fine, but against a rinky-dink team like that, it's embarassing. To put it in context, Switzerland beat the Faroe Islands 6-0.

Dutch finally beat Czechs

Recently the Czechs have had their number, but not this time. As fate would have it, the Dutch & Czechs are in Group 1 (with Romania!). This is a huge game in Group 1 as it's the opener for the two favorites. Yeah, both teams were without big stars (Nedved, van Nistlerooy), but Baros, Koller, Davids, and van Hoojdonk were all there. The thing is, we know this group will come down to how the Dutch and Czechs fare against each other. Game 1 to Holland, decisively.

Spain stumbles in opener

We've got to stop having high expectations for Spain. They choke so much that it's not even choking anymore. This time it was a 1-1 draw to Bosnia.

Group 2: FUBAR at the start.

Group 2 has EURO champs Greece, WC2002 semifinalist Turkey, and Denmark, which made the second round of EURO2004. So, who leads the group? Georgia, followed by Ukraine, then Albania. Then come the good teams.

It's early still. Don't panic.

Croatia over Sweden

Much like the Czech--Dutch group, this one will be defined by how Sweden and Croatia do against each other. Advantage Croatia--they won the first meeting 1-0. But when will Sweden be scored on again???

Anyone hate Italy?

Well, you'll be upset to know that they changed the game plan and decided to win their first to matches to grab the early lead, as opposed to screwing up and having to come from behind at the end of qualifying.

posted by uberschuck 9/09/2004 01:30:00 AM


Serena gets screwed, throws a hissy

"At first I thought it was another Wimbledon conspiracy," Williams told reporters, referring to an incident earlier this year when sister Venus was the victim when an umpire called an incorrect score during her match against Karolina Sprem.

"I thought she (Alves) just got the score wrong and I just wanted to clarify that I had won the point naturally because I know my shots and I saw the ball. And I knew it was in."

You go, girl!

Serena got undeniably screwed. All three calls were wrong, and two of them weren't particularly close. While Serena's wrong to complain of a conspiracy, her comments are worse when printed on the page. Watching the news conference on ESPNEWS, she said everything in between giggles. Sure, she was flaming pissed, but in context, she didn't seem out of bounds. And she's helped by the fact she was in the right.

Which isn't to say she would have won the match. Had Serena even won that game, it's still 5-5 in the third set. And Capritati's no chump. Bad calls were a deciding factor in the match, but that doesn't mean Capriati wouldn't have won anyway. The truth is, we'll never know.

So rage against the machine. What else can you do?

posted by Poseur 9/08/2004 09:22:00 AM


College Football Weekend

Well, we almost got the official Wake Forest upset out of the way in week one, and by all rights, they should have won this game. Tommy Bowden needs to contend for the title to keep his job and right now, that ain't happening.

Maryland's pretty famous for starting 1-2 and finishing 9-1. They made the first step in kicking that habit by outlasting Northern Illinois. NIU's not as good as they were last year, so the Terps can't be too thrilled with a close win, but considering they gagged on this one last year, they will take it. Virginia's also trying to stake out the third-best-ACC-team monkier, and a thrashing of Temple doesn't hurt. It doesn't help, really, as Temple blows.

Big East
Wow, does this conference suck. West Virginia looks like a real team and Kay-Jay Harris just scored another touchdown. But taking out WVU's dismantling of a lousy C-USA team,and you're left with a dismal first weekend.

UConn beat Murray St. Whoopee. BC beat Ball State, but barely. And Rutgers notched the big one against MSU. Which, if you're Rutgers, is a big win. Temple got pounded and syracuse, supposedly one of the better teams in the Big East, got 51 hung on 'em by Purdue. 51.

Big Ten
It was Beat Up on the MAC Week! Considering it hasn't gone that well the previous years, the conference has to feel good about this week's showing. Only two teams lost, and one of them was Northwestern, which hardly counts.

Purdue looked absolutely awesome. So did Iowa and Minnesota. They all were playing the scrubs by halftime, and Minnesota and Purdue did it against teams that may actually be decent. Heck, even Illinois won. The only black mark was that Ohio State looked pretty ordinary, but they always look ordinary. And Michigan may have a QB controversy on its hands with the play of Henne.

The Buffs, or as I like to call them, the Team Representing All that Is Evil, stopped a run from the one yard line on the last play of the game to preserve one of those rare victories over CSU. There is no God.

Oklahoma State responded well to the loss of its offense, but the question now is: Is OSU good or does UCLA just stink? Anyway, a quality win is a win. And boy, does Baylor suck. Losing to UAB is one thing, losing 56-14 is quite another. Most of the conference enjoyed their opening cupcakes.

If Oregon State only had a kicker... Actually, the Beavers should feel great about this game, as Anderson showed heart that no one knew he had. This guy is famous for bad interceptions and lacksadasical play, and against LSU he was limping around making big plays (and admittedly, throwing some picks). If Anderson keeps this up, they have a shot this season.

First, the bad news. Washington got absolutely dominated by Fresno State. UCLA was simply no match for Okie State. And Wazzu got a gift against New Mexico. This conference usually has a brutal middle, but this year it looks pretty soft.

The good news? Cal lit up Air Force like a Christmas tree. It was close at the half, but then the offense got interested. And Arizona has a pulse! And, though they lost, OSU looked pretty darn stingy on defense.

Yes, LSU got a gift. But Ohio State won a title winning games just like this. The real problem is that now Saban has to choose between a freshman QB who will make rookie mistakes galore or a completely ineffective senior. That's a bad choice.

Vandy retruned 22 starters, this was their year to make a run at respectable. Well, forget that. USC's not a terrific team, but they looked like the Four Horseman running through Vandy's defense. It's gonna be a loooong year. Same with Ole Miss. There's no shame in losing to Memphis, as Memphis simply put, has more talent.

Oh, and did you hear Sylvester Croom was the first African-American head coachin the SEC? ESPN, we get it. No need to say it every 5 minutes on every game.

posted by Poseur 9/07/2004 01:58:00 PM

US Open heating up

Monday was a big day in the ladies' draw. In a battle of underseeded players, Lindsay Davenport beat Venus Williams 7-5, 6-4. Davenport's half of the bracket has been made easier after the upset of defending champ Justine Henin-Hardenne by Natalie Petrova. On Tuesday we'll have another great match between Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati.

The men's draw is really up in the air. Roger Federer and Andre Agassi have cruised thus far. Agassi won easily Monday, and Federer won without hitting a single ball--his opponent couldn't start because of an injury. They'll meet in a huge quarterfinal match. Tim Henman is on their half of the draw too, but I think we've seen Tim get this far and crap out a few times, so I don't really give him much of a chance of advancing to the final.

The other half of the draw will be in action Tuesday to set their quarterfinal pairings. Andy Roddick is the clear favorite to andvance to the final, but Lleyton Hewitt is lurking. Hewitt has been winning easily too, and he will not play another seeded player until the semifinal.

posted by uberschuck 9/07/2004 01:10:00 AM


USPS playing with Vuelta lead

The Tour of Spain started on Saturday with the USPS team winning the Team Time Trial. Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong's uberdomestique from the Tour de France, took the race lead after day one. On the next day he passed it to Dutch teammate Max van Heeswijk. In stage 3 a third Postie took over the race lead, Benoit Joachim taking the honors. As other riders have taken stage wins, USPS has sent its riders into the breakaways and forward for time bonuses in order to maintain the lead. The race is still a few days from the mountains, which is when it will really heat up. Then Tyler Hamilton, Roberto Heras, Joseba Beloki, Alexandre Vinokourov, and Alejandro Valverde will take control.

posted by uberschuck 9/06/2004 11:54:00 PM

College Football Review

The first week didn't have many great games. There were a lot of blowouts, only a couple close games, and no real upsets. But it's great to be back!

Game of the Week

#4 LSU 22
Oregon St. 21

OK, we came really close to having an upset. And it was a brutally sloppy game too. LSU was incompetent on offense all night, and after a 4th and goal play failed they turned over the ball with just a couple minutes remaining and an 8 point OSU lead. Somehow LSU put together a scoring drive to send the game to OT, then won when OSU missed their third PAT of the night.

OSU's defensive line was awesome, as was LSU's. The Tigers have some big problems on offense though, and it starts at the QB position.

Honorable mention

#15 Clemson 37
Wake Forest 30

"Death Valley" wasn't an easy play for the home team on Saturday, but Clemson survived too. They were up 19-3 in the 3rd quarter, but Wake came back and took the lead after a 50 yard TD run. Charlie Whitehurst led Clemson back with some key passes in the game-tying drive, and then the game winning TD in the second overtime.

That's how lop-sided the game were this week--these were the best two.

Beat down of the week:

Well, there were lots of beat downs. How to select just two...

#24 Purdue 51
Syracuse 0

How do you drop a place in the polls after winning by 51? Kyle Orton put on a clinic. Purdue held the 'Cuse to under 200 yards of offense. There were lots of thrashings in week 1, but I don't know that any were by as wide a margin or against a team from a BCS conference. AP pollsters smoke crack.

#25 Minnesota 63
Toledo 21

Sticking with the Big 10...Holy cow! Minnesota rolled up 704 yards of offense. The Gophers are replacing Asad Abdul-Kaliq with Bryan Cupito. All he did in his first start was go 10 of 12 for 279 yards and one measley TD. Toledo, no chumps, scored twice in the last 10 minutes to make it "close."

Upset of the week

Gee, there weren't many

Rutgers 19
Michigan St. 14

Michigan St. isn't a good team, but any win for Rutgers is an upset.

Troy St. 17
Marshall 15

Wait a minute...Marshall is the team that's supposed to upset other teams. It is all backwards.

Honor Roll

Kyle Orton, Purdue. 16 of 30, 287 yards, 4 TDs.
Alex Smith, Utah. 21 of 29, 359 yards, 3 TDs, 76 yards rushing, 2 TDs.
Bryan Cupito, Minnesota. 10 of 12, 279 yards, TD. Yeah, 83% completions.

Kay-Jay Harris, W. Virginia. 25 carries, 337 yards 4 TDs. Um, that's pretty good.
Darren Sproles, Kansas St. 42 carries, 221 yards, 1 TD. Typical day for the Heisman candidate.
Cedric Benson, Texas. 15 carries 181 yards, 2 TDs. Ditto.

Taylor Stubblefield, Purdue. 5 catches, 121 yards, 2 TDs. Someone was catching Orton's passes.
Airese Currie, Clemson. 9 catches, 152 yards, TD.
Jared Ellerson, Minnesota. 4 catches, 140 yards. Nice average.

posted by uberschuck 9/06/2004 01:12:00 PM

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