I used a racial epithet in my last column. I didn’t mean to use one. It didn’t even occur to me that I had at the time. While sitting in my family’s home and digesting a holiday meal, I was thinking about which teams would come out on top in the upcoming football games. I wasn’t thinking about how my use of the name of the Washington, D.C. football team, the R-word, would denigrate an entire race of people. But none of that changes the fact that it did.
Week 12 started with the great tradition of Thanksgiving football. We’ve already watched the Vikings pull out a close one in Detroit, the Chargers dismantle the Cowboys in Dallas and the Redskins slay the Giants. Here are some additional matchups worth watching post-turkey coma.
It’s week 11 and the postseason picture is beginning to come into focus. This week’s matchups offer a glimpse of the playoff match ups to come. Here are some of the key games this weekend.
Rams at Vikings, Sunday, November 19th at 1:00 PM on FOX.
What a difference a year makes. The Rams are sitting at 7-2 thanks to Jared Goff and the league’s #1 scoring offense (32.9 pts/gm). They’ll be looking for a signature win this week against the Vikings and one of the league’s youngest and most talented defenses. Look for Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes to match up against the potent Rams passing attack while Case Keenum leans on the potent duo of Adam Thielen and Steffon Diggs to move the chains. These are two young and talented teams looking to make a deep playoff run for the first time in several seasons. This should be a spirited competition. Continue reading “NFL Previews, Week 11”
LSU at Tennessee, Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN
This week, the 7-3 Tigers travel to Knoxville to take on the 4-6 Volunteers. Tennessee has yet to secure a single SEC win and head coach Butch Jones was fired last Sunday after a 50-17 loss to Missouri – a team with four SEC losses of its own. Defensive line coach Brady Hoke has been named as interim head coach. Although he is in his first year at Tennessee, Hoke has prior head coaching experience – most notably at Michigan, where he lead the Wolverines to their first bowl game in five years during his inaugural season. Hoke has a solid track record of turning teams around, but it’s not clear how much he’ll be able to do in a single week.
This should be an easy win for LSU. The Tigers have collected four conference wins and looked strong since their September loss to Troy. However, SEC fans are acutely aware of the unpredictability of college football. We’ll have to tune in Saturday night to see if the Tigers bring home the victory.
– Megan Fitzgerald, 3L
Arkansas at LSU, Saturday 12 p.m., ESPN
This week, LSU and Arkansas face off in the Battle for the Golden Boot: a four-foot tall, 175-pound trophy that has traveled between Baton Rouge and Fayetteville since 1996. The rivals have played intermittently since 1901 – LSU leads the series 38-22-2 and has typically been the higher-ranked team. This year is no exception: the #24 Tigers are 6-3 with three conference wins, while the unranked Razorbacks are 4-5 with one SEC victory.
Continue reading “College Football Previews, Week 11”
This week’s trade deadline was one of the more active in recent years. We saw Jay Ajayi join the Philadelphia Eagles, and Jimmy Garoppolo left the Patriots to become the future of the 49ers franchise. Read on to see what else week 9 has in store.
LSU at Alabama, Saturday 8 p.m., CBS
After their Week 5 homecoming loss to Troy, everyone started looking up Coach O’s buyout and debating whether it would be more embarrassing to be sent to Shreveport or to not make a bowl at all (Shreveport. It’s definitely Shreveport). However, the following three weeks resulted in three SEC wins for the Tigers – including a victory over Auburn, whose only other loss is to Clemson. This win streak has reignited some of the optimism LSU had at the beginning of the season.
Meanwhile, Alabama has been rolling through their schedule in typical fashion, beating opponents by an average of over 30 points. Thus far, their SEC schedule has been mediocre at best. Their four SEC opponents have a combined SEC record of 4-16; three of those wins belong to Texas A&M, and the other was an Ole Miss victory over Vanderbilt (somebody had to win). Will LSU be the team to finally take Bama down a notch? Only the Football Gods can say, but they’ve got as good a chance as anyone and better than most.
– Megan Fitzgerald, 3L
Virginia Tech at Miami, Saturday 8 p.m, ABC
The matchup featuring the most closely matched teams is a battle for ACC Coastal dominance. Miami has gone undefeated so far, while Virginia Tech has only lost once, to Clemson. This year’s Miami team seems to only win close games; how much of that is luck or skill is unclear right now. However, with a stellar defense, they should be able to pull ahead. The winner of this match is all but certain to face Clemson in the ACC championship. The winner of that game is likely to make the playoffs.
October’s rolled around, and across the league, contenders are separating themselves from the pack. There’s an exciting slate of games to watch over the holiday weekend:
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: Sunday, October 8th 1:00 PM on CBS
Leonard Fournette and a revamped Jacksonsville defense have the Jaguars looking competitive in the AFC South. This week will give them an opportunity to win a statement game against the Superbowl favorite Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jacksonville secondary versus Pittsburgh’s strong passing attack should be a fun matchup.
Miami at Florida State, Sunday 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Regardless of the result on Saturday, the matchup between rivals FSU and Miami will likely serve as a historic point of inflection in the series. For the Hurricanes, a victory would not only snap their 7-game skid against the Seminoles, but would also serve as a breakthrough in the program’s revitalization efforts under Mark Richt, whereas a win for FSU would both extend their winning streak to 8 in the rivalry – longer than any steak either team has ever achieved over the other – and tie the overall series record for the first time ever at 31-31 overall. While coming into this season, the matchup may have seemed like a no-brainer for the Seminoles, the Hurricanes have thus far looked like the superior squad, having thrashed their (admittedly ineffectual) opponents to achieve a 3-0 record and #13 ranking, while the Seminoles – bogged down by both injuries and incompetence – disgracefully descended from their top-3 preseason ranking to their worst start in almost 30 years before escaping from last week’s aesthetically displeasing display against Wake Forest with their first victory of the season. Nonetheless, odds-makers seem to remain slightly skeptical of Miami’s chances to win, perhaps due to a combination of the uncertain status of star running back Mark Walton (who was averaging close to 10 yards a carry on the season before suffering a mild ankle injury last week against Duke), the disadvantage of playing on the road in Tallahassee, and the recent inadequacies of both the Canes and Mark Richt in struggling to win similarly important games against Conference rivals.
Nebraska at Illinois, Friday 8 p.m., FS1
Kneeling for the pledge has been in the national spotlight long before Trump publicly criticized it a year ago. In fact, last year, 3 Nebraska football players chose to kneel before their game. One player who did so, Michael Rose-Ivey, received messages saying that “since we didn’t want to stand before the anthem, we should be hung before the anthem.” When a university regent criticized the players, implying that they should be removed from the team and have their scholarships revoked, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley responded in kind: “I have complete confidence in what I believe in and how I handled it within this team. It was the right thing to do – because it’s their right.”
As someone who loves the game of football, I’ve spent the last few days thinking about the events of this past weekend – the national anthem protests which spread across the league. I’ve struggled to decide what, if anything, to say about the controversy that’s erupted.
In truth, I was tempted to say nothing. After all, I’m a middle class white male. And, frankly, I believe that there have been more than enough middle class white males offering their thoughts on the ongoing demonstrations. But, I also realize that to confront these events with silence – to present the next week’s slate of games with no reflection – would be a statement in itself. It would suggest that X’s and O’s are more important than the issues weighing on our country’s conscience.
After last week’s (admittedly poorly thought out) preview of canceled games, we return to real, actual, football games you can watch this weekend. What defines this week, compared to so many others, is the upset potential dynamic at work here. Three of the games featured here involve very interesting teams which will probably lose. Whether the result of a dynamic new head coach, a slow, steady climb up the division ranks, or by being Iowa, these teams have carved out a unique spot in the college football landscape for themselves in this season. Though each team is individually likely to lose, the chance that one of them pulls off a dramatic upset is relatively high. These are games worth looking forward to.
This week, we are trying to do something different. Usually, we cover the week’s most interesting looking football games. However, this week has seen a relatively limited slate of quality games. Indeed, the third best game of this week is probably Missouri against Purdue (after Clemson – Louisville and Florida – Tennessee). So we decided to try something different. This week, we will ask what could have been, and cover the games that aren’t going to be played, because of Hurricane Irma. At least next week will probably be better.
Out with the neutral sites, in with the home-and-homes and conference schedules. Last week went largely according to expectations – for all of the excitement about Florida State against Alabama, it turned out to be a grind to an Alabama victory. Other games, however, were far more exciting, particularly Texas A&M losing to UCLA after giving up a 34 point lead, and Tennessee beating Georgia Tech in triple overtime.
Most notable when looking at this Saturday is the upset potential. Last week saw only a handful of upsets among major programs, with the most significant perhaps being Maryland beating Texas (Cal over North Carolina, and South Carolina over NC State being the other two among power conferences). However, the games this week are between teams much more highly ranked, and much more closely ranked. One bad turnover, or one blocked kick, could be all it takes for any of the favorites to fall.
The wait is over. After months of trade rumors, mock drafts and off-the-field theatrics, the 2017 NFL season kicks off this Thursday.
Here are the games I’ll be watching this week:
- Chiefs at Patriots, Thursday, September 7th at 8:30 PM on NBC
The Kickoff Game of the 2017 season promises to be a good one. These two teams are in the playoff hunt again, and yet, both have serious questions to answer on Thursday. For the Patriots, who will replace Julian Edelman and LeGarrette Blount? For the Chiefs, how will rookie Kareem Hunt hold up in his first start at running back? The outcome of this game will depend on how each team rises to face their challenges. As an added bonus, on Thursday, the NFL is hosting a special noontime concert (with rumored guest Bon Jovi) at Christopher Columbus Park in Boston to celebrate the start of the 2017 season.