by TOM WEPPEL
It seems every year the football season almost jumps on us, simply because we aren’t expecting it to start so soon! A lot of folks are either a) still taking in the Summertime, or b) giving thought to what they want to do for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
But here it is! And it starts with the college football season.
Of course, for a majority of the top 25 teams, the first week is nothing more than a ‘practice’ game…a chance to get on the field and compete against an opponent. Usually, that opponent is a small college team that hasn’t played very well in the past and isn’t so strong. For all intents, you can consider it a guaranteed win.
Case in point…
LSU is a 43-point favorite at home against North Texas (Hopefully they will get that one in, after this Hurricane blows through)…Georgia is a 38-point favorite at home against Buffalo (NOT the Bills!)…Florida is a 29-point favorite against Bowling Green…Texas is a 30-point favorite at home against Wyoming…and homestanding USC is a 40-point favorite against Hawaii!
So…here is my first thought. If you are the Head Coach of the underdog team in all these situations, how do you approach this game? How do you prepare your team to simply get their ass handed to them? Face it…you KNOW your team isn’t going to win! What do you say to them before the game?
HEAD COACH: “Okay, so I know we are going to get blown out in this one, guys…but I want you to go out there and give it your all, even though you will get laid out and beat up by the first half! Play hard and fight like you want it, fellas! Give it your all for our little rinky-dink school…you will be a better team because of this awful loss you’re about to take!”
And so we will see a slew of games that will end up with lopsided scores. Hopefully, none of the star players will get injured on some freak tackle.
On the other side, we will indeed see some pretty interesting games being played, involving teams with solid programs going head-to-head. Those games include Tennessee (by three pts.) at N.C. State, Alabama (by 13) and Michigan (played in Dallas), and Clemson (by three points) at Auburn. Also, Notre Dame will play Navy over in Dublin, Ireland.
Finally, the team oh so many of us will be curious to watch and follow this season…beloved Penn State…will host Ohio University. The Nittany Lions start this season for the first time since the 1950’s without Joe Paterno on the sideline! Bill O’Brien is the new Head Coach. Many Penn State followers and alumni feel cheated and tainted by all the goings-on in dealing with the Jerry Sandusky case. It certainly has changed the dichotomy and perception of the school and the football program.
Overall, a lot of people dimply don’t know what to expect from these guys. And with that said, the Nittany Lions are only a six-point favorite in this ball game! It makes things that much more interesting…we shall see!
The college football season is here! Off we go…
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
After almost five months of playing, we now go into what can easily be considered the stretch run for Major League Baseball. Every single team carries a slightly different agenda, and they will all show indeed what they are all about.
In so many ways, it is amazing how things have evolved. Honestly…if someone told you back in April that the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds would have two of the best records in the National League, you probably would’ve laughed and said to forget about it!
Yet that is exactly what we see. Why?
Both squads have very good pitching staffs. Washington has the best ERA in the National League and two starters (Strasberg, Gonzales) with more than 15 victories. They also have a good closer in Tyler Clippard (28 saves). Meanwhile, the Reds have FOUR guys with 10 or more wins, and a solid closer in Aroldis Chapman (31 saves, 1.31 ERA, 112 K’s).
So, look for the Reds and Nationals to continue their winning ways, although people are still wondering how long the team will allow Strasberg to perform.
Of course, the other storyline now deals completely with the Dodgers and what they will do, now since they pulled off that wild trade. L.A. has a decent pitching staff, but they have to find their hitting. Consider…the Dodgers are one of only THREE teams in MLB with less than 100 HR’s hit so far this season!
In the AL, the Texas Rangers have been playing the best ball lately, and it is all because of Adrian Beltre, who has simply been on a tear! In one game, he hit THREE home runs. In another game, he hit for the cycle! In a four-game stretch, he was hitting over .500! Face it…he simply has fueled the Rangers run production.
There are many other storylines to follow, and we will be doing so in the coming weeks, as things come down to the finish line. Should be fun!