Big Weekend in College Football!

 

I could probably write an article about it being a huge weekend in college football every weekend.  However, this weekend seems different to me.  It might be because of a massive showdown in the Big Ten or another match up of top ten teams in South Bend.  The Big 12 and Pac 12 both have early season battles featuring top 25 teams.  Duke and Kentucky are both ranked in the polls, wait is this football or basketball?  Let’s take a look at the weekend ahead!

West Virginia is just outside of the top ten and they are playing Texas Tech at home this weekend.  The computers seem to think that Texas Tech will emerge victorious, but I am not sure of that.  Playing in West Virginia will not be an easy task, their offense will not be as seamless in a hostile environment, unless they jump on them early and quiet the crowd.

I mentioned that Duke and Kentucky are in the top 25. It is not too big of a surprise that one of them is ranked, however, for both of them to be ranked at the same time is quite the surprise.  That is for good reason, it has not happened since 1957, over 60 years ago! Check out this article for a little context.

On Saturday night in Happy Valley, the Big Ten East could possibly be decided.  This game could also decide playoff contenders.  It may be too early to discuss those benchmarks, but that is what makes college football so fun and entertaining, every week matters. The game I am discussing is Ohio State visiting Penn State in a “white-out” game.  Seeing that atmosphere makes me want to be there for Saturday’s game.  Both teams have great offenses and very capable defenses.  The game will surely be a shootout, but I have a feeling home field advantage will be hard to overcome for Ohio State.  I think Penn State will end up victorious in a very close game.

The #7 Stanford Cardinal will invade South Bend on Saturday night to take on the #8 Fighting Irish.  This is another huge game with National title game implications.  These teams are ranked highly, but they do not seem to be juggernauts like OSU or Penn State.  Stanford beat Oregon last weekend, but was flirting with disaster before a huge turnover and touchdown completely changed the game and Stanford came roaring back.  Notre Dame was able to handle Michigan early on, but they seemed to struggle at home vs. Ball State and Vanderbilt.  Which teams will show up on Saturday night?  I think it is tough to say, but I do know that winning in South Bend at night will be a difficult chore for Stanford.  The last game at Notre Dame featuring top ten teams was very memorable, the “Bush Push“.  Hopefully this game can live up to the hype.

Predicting the winners of these games is very difficult, there are many factors involved.  I think it is especially difficult considering the players are not professionals.  Here is an article with predictions for each of the four big games this week.  While I can not really predict the outcomes of the games, I can certainly enjoy them.  I believe these games all have playoff implications and will go a long way in helping decide who is left standing at the end of the year.

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

Browns Win!

Normally, I would not really get too worked up over a football game in week three.  Especially when the winning team is not your favorite team.  However, the losing football team is my favorite so I was watching the game closely.  I wanted to briefly touch on the game from the Jets side, but mainly wanted to discuss the Browns getting a win for the first time in a long time.  We can also talk about the Browns having a rookie quarterback that came in and led them to a win. What does the future hold for these two teams?

The Jets won their first game of the year in convincing style, they lost their second game in a tough battle, and they just lost their third game to the Browns.  In fairness, this was a tough game for the Jets.  They were expected to travel into a hostile environment on a short week and win with a rookie quarterback.  That was a task that proved to be too tough for Sam Darnold!  Sam Darnold seems to be the type of quarterback that will end up making a difference for his team.  The question is, when will the Jets be good again?  Let’s check back in a few years.

As mentioned before, the Browns got their first victory in 635 days last night.  That’s right, 635 days!  That is a long time between wins, but the Browns fanbase was able to make up for the lack of wins with a great celebration.  Bud Light had a genius promotion by placing locked refrigerators around the city.  The premise was that when the Browns finally got a win, the refrigerators would be opened and the fans would get a free beer.

The Browns started the season by taking the Steelers into overtime and eventually tying them in a tough game.  In the second game at New Orleans, the Browns were in control until very late when Drew Brees led the Saints to a late win.  The Browns had plenty of chances to win, but suffered a few special teams issues that eventually cost them the game.  The Browns were thoroughly outplayed in the first half of the game against the Jets.  However, their starting QB, Tyrod Taylor was pulled with a concussion.  This meant that their number 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, was called into duty.  He led the Browns right down the field for a field goal.  Things continued to be bright for Mayfield as he led the Browns on 3 more scoring drives with the final one around the 2 minute mark being enough to win the game.  It looks like Mayfield will end up being named the starter next week.  I think Mayfield has enough talent to stay on the field the rest of the season and that should help the Browns get a few more wins this season.

Baker Mayfield seems to be a real talent and he may end up leading the Browns out of the gutter.  However, I believe this year’s version of the Browns is different.  They have plenty more talent and certainly seem to be headed in the right direction.  They would have earned a couple of wins this year even without Mayfield at QB.  They could be sitting at 3-0 if they would have made a few kicks in other games.  Is it out of the question that the Browns end up in the playoffs this year?  Can you imagine that story, winless last year and in the playoffs the next?  I know I will be watching, how about you?

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

The Season is Coming to a Close!

The baseball regular season has roughly 2 weeks remaining and it will produce plenty of drama down to the wire.  Baseball is a marathon season that is full of ups and downs.  Many times you can predict the winners of a division, but you can also bet that there is always a surprise team.  A few months ago I wrote a mid-season article and not a lot has changed since it was written except for one surprise team!  I wanted to touch on the division races as well as the wildcard races.  Who will end up in the playoffs and who will be sent home?

Let’s take a look at the American League races.  In the AL East, the Boston Red Sox have ran away with the division and they are on their way to winning 110 games or more.  If they manage that feat, they will end up in pretty strong company.  They will join an elite group of teams and end up having one of the most wins for a season in history.  The Indians have a stranglehold on the AL Central.  They have had a nice season, but the division is not very good and they have been able to sleep walk through the regular season.  The AL West is very competitive this season.  The Astros are currently in the lead by 3.5 games and they should end up winning the division.  The team in second place currently is a surprise team, the Oakland A’s. Very few, if any, people would have predicted they have such a strong season.  The three division winners will await the winner of a one game playoff.  Barring something miraculous, the game will feature the A’s and the Yankees.  It is a very scary game as anything can happen in a one game play in scenario.

The National League is not quite as concrete as the AL.  It looks as if the NL East should be wrapped up by the Braves because the Phillies have really faded down the stretch.  The NL Central is not wrapped up at all, just ask the Cubs!  The Cubs have held the division for some time now, but the Brewers have been chipping away while the Cubs have struggled down the stretch.  The Cubs currently lead by 1.5 games over the Brewers.  You can also make an argument for the Cardinals.  They are in 3rd place, but they are within striking distance, being 4.5 games out of the lead. The NL West is also a 3 team race.  The Rockies have a 1.5 game lead on the Dodgers and a 4.5 game led on the Diamondbacks.  Sorting out the divisions will be dramatic enough, but remember that two of those teams will end up in a wildcard slot.  There are 4 teams with a legitimate chance of getting the wildcard, but only 2 slots!

As mentioned before, the season is an absolute grind.  There are always ups and down for every team.  The Yankees have a chance to win 100 games and many would have thought their season was a roller coaster ride.  The American League does not have that much drama compared to the National League.  You can see many of the scenarios in this fantastic article.  Normally with a season that is this long you do not feel the intensity of the game.  I think that will change starting this weekend and all through the playoffs.  I am not sure who will eventually win the races, but it sure will be fun watching!

—Victor Mandalawi