Archive for January, 2011

>

By Evan Ream

During the course of his career, Michael Bradley has faced almost no competition for playing time. At every club that he has been at, he has clearly been the best player at his position and thus the default starter. Until now.

With the news officially broken earlier today that Bradley will be loaned to Aston Villa FC of the English Premier League for the rest of the season with a club option to buy, Bradley will face his stiffest challenge yet. Villa, who finished sixth last season but sit in just 13th place with 14 games remaining, have a stacked midfield. Villa already have Stiliyan Petrov and the newly signed Jean Makoun, who play the same position as Bradley, and one would think are the first choice players at the moment. This is of course part of the reason I like the move.

 

Bradley will finally get day in day out competition for a starting spot, which is so important for a player as competitive as he is. Furthermore, though Villa have underachieved so far this season, the team is loaded with talent and a team that is capable of being competitive every week; something that Borussia Monchengladbach was not. Villa are still alive in the FA Cup and therefore Bradley will likely be able to see some playing time with 15 matches remaining.

 

No American has ever had a career progress this far this fast. From becoming an everyday starter in MLS at age 17, to scoring 18 goals for SC Heerenveen at age 20, then starting in the Bundesliga at 21, Bradley has come a long way in a short time. At just 23, he will be in contention to play at one of the better teams in the EPL, something that has never been said about a USMNT player before.

 

This Saturday, Aston Villa FC play host to Fulham FC in what is a must-watch fixture for USMNT fans. We should all tune in to see if Bradley can make the successful jump to the Premier League against Clint Dempsey’s Fulham.

Jozy Altidore to join Bursaspor on a six-month loan

Jozy has confirmed via Twitter that he will join Turkish Champions Bursaspor for the next six months. Bursaspor aren’t a traditionally strong Turkish club, having won just their first title last year, but despite being knocked out of the Champions League already, they sit in second place this season.

 

Bursaspor list just two forwards on their current roster; something that USMNT fans should revel at as Jozy will likely find playing time here. Though the Turkish Süper Lig isn’t nearly the same quality as La Liga, Altidore should be able to play much more than he had been. Looking forward to the Gold Cup, it is good that USA’s only proven forward will likely now get consistent playing time instead of just riding the pine for a great team. Should Altidore help lead Turkey to the league title (which is very possible as they are only two points out of first place with one more game played than the league leaders), he could parlay that into more playing time at Villarreal or a permanent move to another club. We must remember that Jozy is still 21 years of age and needs time to develop; this is a great move to help him do just that.

 

When looking at these two moves, I can’t help but think that both of these players are taking positive steps in their career and positive steps for the USMNT to ensure that both them, and the USMNT will be successful in the near future. I can’t help but love both of these moves.

Advertisements

>

By Nick Gallaudet

 

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about what the difference between sports and games and what qualifies as what (for example, I felt that poker was a game, but table tennis and golf were sports). We went back and forth on a couple things, but mostly agreed, until we got to bowling. My friend refused to call bowling a sport. I spent a while trying to convince him otherwise, but he wouldn’t have it. Bowling certainly isn’t the first thing to comes to mind when thinking of popular sports, but it most definitely is not just a game, and by the end of this article, you will know why.

big_lebowski_kobal-3262

Most of what I knew about the culture of bowling came from The Big Lebowski., and the only bowling leagues I had seen were full of beer bellies and Cubans in purple jumpsuits. Recently, however, my co-worker, Kayla, introduced me to the bowling culture. Kayla is on the UC Davis Varsity Bowling Team and invited me to be on her team in her super-duper competitive bowling league. Okay, maybe it’s not that competitive, but as far as I was concerned, she just asked me to go pro. I’m not a very good bowler: I routinely struggle to break 100, and nearly destroyed a bowling alley last year with a laser gutter ball, but despite my less-than-stellar bowling ability, I love to bowl and I jumped at the opportunity.

 

After I graduated high school, my friend Andy and I went out, bought our own bowling balls and bowling shoes, and went bowling almost every day that summer. I have always enjoyed bowling, but I was never able to take my game to the next level. I tried everything; I recorded bowling tournaments on ESPN and broke down their form’ I looked online for help on getting my stroke down, but no matter what I did, my score hovered around 140 that summer until I finally gave up on it. I figured that after watching my scores stagnate despite all the work I put into it, I just wasn’t cut out for bowling. I thought it was like any other sport, either you had it or you didn’t, and I just didn’t have it.

 

My bowling ball and bowling shoes just sat in my closet after I gave up on my dream of being on the PBA Tour as a cruel reminder of what I could never be. Kind of. I really didn’t care that much, but being invited back into the world of bowling by Kayla reinvigorated my drive to be the next Walter Ray Williams, Jr. I was so excited for the league that I spent hours looking for uniforms worthy of my new team, and I am embarrassed to report I still haven’t settled on one yet (but the INFERNO is in the lead). I recruited another one of my friends, Danny, and together, we were ready to take down the Wednesday night Davis bowling league.

ifL

 

At first, I was nervous to play in this league, because the only time I had seen Kayla bowl; she bowled a 230 like it was nothing. I was astounded. I didn’t know average humans could bowl like that, and I was afraid Kayla was going to kick me out of the alley the first time I failed to break 100. She quickly assuaged my fears, however, and let me know it was just a casual league, and scores didn’t really matter, so I was okay with the fact that I was going to kill our team’s average.

 

 

The time had finally come for our first game. From the second I walked into the bowling alley that Wednesday night, I knew I was in for a surprise. I have never seen a bowling league in person before. Sure, I had seen many bowling tournaments on TV, but I figured they were an anomaly; no regular person had five bowling balls, right? Wrong. I brought my single bowling ball out of retirement, and feared I would look silly bringing my own ball to this league, but I could not have been more wrong. It was like I brought bike helmet to a football game. It was not uncommon for a person to wheel out a suitcase with three balls in it. People had little leopard-print booties to cover the sole of their bowling shoes, wrist braces, and four billion different colors of athletic tape. People were taping their fingers all different colors and used rosin bags like they were Cliff Lee, I had no idea there was so much extra stuff used for bowling.

 

I could not have felt more out of place, but I didn’t care. I was soaking up the atmosphere and observing the rituals people went through before every shot. As a baseball player, I do the same thing before every pitch, whether it is in the field or in the batter’s box, I have a routine I stick to. It is no different in bowling, when real bowlers step up to toe the line; they focus the same way a hitter does before the pitcher delivers. I could write an entire article about how similar bowling and hitting are, and I wasn’t the only person who noticed it either. Danny, one of my teammates on the UC Davis Club Baseball team, made the same comparisons I did. We both recognized when we were thinking too much, when we were feeling uncomfortable with our “swing,” and once I recognized that, I felt like I was ready to bowl.

 

I bowled a 181 that first game, and followed it up with a solid 70. You read that right, 70. I broke down. I hit a wall. I felt like Jamie Moyer after 6 innings. My left leg was dying, my shoulder and wrist were sore, and my fingers were hurting. I know this makes me sound like an old man…a fat old man. I swear I’m not, I exercise every day, but doing 20-plus lunges swinging a 16-pound ball just isn’t one of the exercises I do, and I still had two more games to bowl after the 70. I have never had a muscle ache the way my hip ached the next day, and I was sore for a week. It was a rude awakening for me, I figured bowling four games in a row was not going to be a big deal, but I was dead wrong. However, the physical pain wasn’t enough to keep me out of the next two games, I was tired, but I wasn’t letting my team down.

 

As a team, we bowled a solid first two games, but I didn’t want to be that guy. I wasn’t going to be the weak link. I dug deep, and using my teammate Andrew’s 198 and 199 in the first two games as inspiration, I came back strong and bowled a 150 in the third game. That was when I figured out the game was 90% mental. If you think you’re going to bowl well, you will bowl well. Having overcome the physical and mental barriers, I was ready to attack. I only bowled a 130 the last game, but that’s okay, because I didn’t expect to break 120 all night, and I did it three times.

 

I learned a lot from that one night of bowling. Kayla and Andrew have been bowling their whole lives, work with coaches, and bowl two to three times a week. 60%-70% of the bowlers in the league were on the UCD Bowling Team, according to Kayla, and by the looks of it, they exhibited the same commitment as my teammates. These athletes are dedicated to their craft, spend hours at the lanes, and are constantly honing their stroke. They have so many different bowling balls because not every lane has the same oil pattern and adjustments need to be made, since different balls allow for different degrees of movement. It takes time to feel out a lane, and it’s not a whole lot different from a batter making adjustments against a pitcher. I can’t even begin describe the respect I have for these bowlers and how silly it was for me to think that one summer of bowling with my friend would make me a real bowler. It takes dedication and knowledge of the sport to really reach your potential, and it’s not something you can just pick up and expect to be great. The physical conditioning it takes to make sure your form doesn’t break down through the course of a tournament is much greater than you would expect, and all it takes is one gutter ball to throw you of your game, mentally. Bowlers need to prepare for a big competition the same way any other athlete would, plus, they have sweet uniforms, and that’s really, what defines a sport.

By Will Robinson

I think it’s safe to say that I have some animosity towards one Jay Cutler. Sure, he put up good numbers while playing for Denver. He did not handle the trade talks involving him when Josh McDaniels was hired well, but he did hold the physical skills to be a great NFL quarterback. The rest of his stay in Denver is now history, as he was traded to the Chicago Bears for a slew of draft picks and Kyle Orton. Clearly, he had success during the 2010 regular season, but Sunday was perhaps the lowest moment of his career. Even if I may be biased, this next statement is how I feel after watching him play Sunday: I do not believe Jay Cutler is mentally strong enough to become a great NFL quarterback.

Calm down (Danny) and let me explain myself. Yes, Cutler did not have the caliber of offensive line he had at Denver and was in the first year of a new system in Chicago with offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Cutler still put up good quarterback numbers with over 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. The Bears made the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 2006-07 season, but the year fell apart in the second half.

Cutler began the second half of the NFCC against the hated, rival Green Bay Packers, but was pulled about halfway through with an apparent knee injury. To the viewers at home, at Soldier Field, and the Twitter public, Cutler was seen standing on the sideline and was only briefly seen by doctors, and thus looked like the injury was not serious. Yet, Cutler remained on the sideline. The reports are coming out now that Cutler suffered an MCL sprain, and had the Bears won, he would have missed the Super Bowl due to the three to four week recovery window. Maybe he was too hurt to play, but his body language and demeanor on the sideline was reminiscent of LaDainian Tomlinson a few years ago when playing the New England Patriots in the playoffs: an air of defeat and quit.

photosI find it hard to believe that Cutler was too hurt to play, as one of his peers played with a far more serious and critical injury. In 2007, Philip Rivers played the Patriots with a TORN ACL! Emmitt Smith played with a separated shoulder and carried the Cowboys on his back in 1993. Jack Youngblood played with A BROKEN LEG! Donovan McNabb had a broken ankle! Rivers was even asked about Cutler’s situation, and replied, “I’d have to have been taken off in a cart” to not finish the game. Cutler said the coaches and trainers told him to stay out of the game, and that he did not want to be hobbled for the rest of his life, but a true, strong player would never let anything stop them from playing in the biggest game of his career. The player Cutler was supposed to succeed played through a whole year with a bum shoulder, the next season with frequent cortisone shots, and a bum right leg with at the tail end of his career. Granted, this was before injuries were taken more seriously, but the point still stands. If Cutler had made it extremely clear to the staff he wanted back in, the Bears could have waited from playing Caleb Hanie with 51 seconds left in the 3rd quarter at the very least. In doing that, the Bears prevented themselves from using any other quarterback for the entire fourth quarter. Sure, Cutler did the best for him and his future for after football, but he extremely damaged his reputation for not even looking like he wanted to get out and continue playing. Sure, he could transform into a great quarterback within the next few years, but he hasn’t made a believer out of me yet.

>By Evan Ream

I just back from taking in Saturday’s international friendly against Chile. Normally, I would rate all the players, but I don’t really think we can actually take much from this game other than a few tidbits. Brek Shea is still too young and too raw to contribute; Dax McCarty is a solid player, but will likely never be good enough to challenge for a starting spot because of the depth that USA has at center mid; Zach Loyd had a promising debut; and Marvell Wynne should never play for USA ever again. Anyone who watched the game can tell any of this. I’m not going to even talk about Juan Agudelo because, if you have been keeping up with the scene for the last couple of months, you know what he is capable of.

I want to talk about Teal Bunbury.

We all saw that he took a great penalty, and that he scored, and played pretty well, and the announcer was funny etc… Bunbury played pretty well in the game. I want to discuss his mentality. We have always praised Brian McBride as the model forward; we have praised him for being humble. Brian McBride was a great player, but he was limited. His attitude was not conductive of a good forward. I want the cocky players. I want the player who takes penalties that they have no business being near because a goal is a goal. I want the players that need to score. I want Zlatan. All the best forwards in the world have this cocky attitude, but USA has never had one. I want more players like this. Teal Bunbury is like this, and he is what we need. Everyone is excited about Juan Agudelo, but I think Teal Bunbury will have the better career just based on his attitude.

Moving on, this weekend was a great one and without further interruptions, here is our TSL game report (this weekend can best be described as epic, we have the pictures to prove it:

If we were going to party with The American Outlaws, we needed our share of Golazo!

We support the US, the US, the US, and that’s the way we like it, we like it, we like it…

6 of the 7 AO Davis members getting ready to leave

As good as Golazo is, someone should tell Russell that this isn’t the best way to drink it

He got what he deserved in the end

Matt and I with former USMNT and MLS player Kyle Martino. Thanks Kyle!
The Shock Top mascot did manage to make an appearance.

No USMNT fan can say that they disagree with this.

Shortly before the game.

My brother getting his 2nd Cap.

Early free kick for Chile.

Rimando was very good in limited time. 

Halftime. 

This is what we wanted to do at halftime. 

Brek Shea: solid for 20 minutes, invisible for the rest of the night. 

Chile reacts to their goal. 

Bunbury with the equalizer. 

KAMMARMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

In all, it was an enjoyable experience. Bunbury’s goal was the highlight of the night, but we would just like to thank The American Outlaws for the great game day experience. We had a great time with them!

>By Will Robinson

 
photosThat was another great and crazy weekend in the NFL. This past weekend we saw two blowouts, an intense, close game that went down to the wire, and a flat-out beating. A quarterback had a Bill Walton ’77 esque performance; another one had a coming out party; Pittsburgh’s main man had another typical comeback performance; and the Jets’ signal caller notched his fourth road playoff win in his second year of starting. Unfortunately, with New England being eliminated, my Super Bowl match-up has been squelched; however, my Super Bowl champion is still in the race. Let’s cut the crap now and get to the two conference championship games.
SUNDAY
NFC
#6 Green Bay Packers (12-6) at #2 Chicago Bears (12-5), 12 p.m. PST, FOXphotos
 
Aaron Rodgers had a performance for the ages, with his 31/36, 366 yard, three-touchdown performance against the #1 seed Atlanta Falcons. Rodgers completed his passes to eight different receivers en route to the 48-21 rout. The run game, led by James Starks, was not very affect as the Packers compiled 96 yards on 31 attempts. The run game will need to be more efficient against Chicago so Rodgers is not overly exposed to Julius Peppers and the Chicago defense. Green Bay’s defense was phenomenal last week, led by Clay Matthews’ two sacks and Tramon Williams’ two interceptions. They disrupted Matt Ryan and completely stopped Michael Turner. The Bears are also coming off a dominant win at home against Seattle, and Jay Cutler became the first quarterback in playoff history with two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns. Matt Forté had an average day running, with 80 yards on 25 attempts. The team had 176 yards total on the ground. The defense was great shutting down the Seahawks until the fourth quarter, when they reeled off 21 points. Granted, the game was out of reach, but a three-touchdown quarter is nothing to completely disregard. This should be another hard fought game at Soldier Field.
Prediction: Green Bay 27-23
 
AFC
#6 New York Jets (13-5) at #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4), 3:30 p.m. PST, CBS
The Jets executed a great game plan to shut down the high-powered Patriots offense, only rushing three or four on Tom Brady and covering EVERY SINGLE RECEIVER. Darrelle Revis is now back to his all-pro form, and played fantastically against New England. Shaun Ellis also did a phenomenal job getting to Brady, sacking him twice and constantly pressuring him throughout the game. Mark Sanchez looked back to his typically mistake-free playoff self, throwing for 195 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene ran the ball very well, which they will need to do against Pittsburgh this week – which will not be easy. Pittsburgh started rough against their chief rivals, but managed to pull off a great win. Ben Roethlisberger is extremely underrated, and I would have him as a top-five quarterback (Brady, Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Roethlisberger) in the league. Forget what he has done in the past in his personal life. He has two rings (one of them he was a nervous, second year quarterback. The other was Ben coming through in the clutch). Roethlisberger’s last loss in an AFC Championship game was his rookie season. The defense was also great against Baltimore, allowing 126 yards. Safety Ryan Clark played the game of his career, forcing a crucial fumble and picking off Joe Flacco. Their offense made some bad miscues early, which allowed Baltimore to score with a short field. The main issue is the Pittsburgh’s patchwork offensive line, which was down to their last suited lineman last week. I expect a slugfest.photos
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24-17

>

By Brent MacDonald
Carmelo to be Traded?
This would probably be one of the worst things Carmelo could do this season, besides holding an hour-long TV special to spotlight his decision to go to New Jersey. The trade is supposedly going down sometime next week, and would involve transactions from Denver, New Jersey and Detroit. 
           
Off the court, ‘Melo isn’t a Jersey Shore type of guy; he just wouldn’t like it there. Besides the money, I don’t see the other benefits he would be getting from signing with the Nets. $65 million over three years is a hell of a figure, and with pockets like Mikhail Prokhrov, it’s just another drop of a dime. But is that dime even worth being dropped?
           
Carmelo has always been just another high-scoring star with no real pieces around him to help the nuggets journey past the first round of the playoffs. Plus, at the rate New Jersey is going, they’ll be getting another high first round draft pick come this summer. There’s really no point in starting to win now, they’ll only end up with a worse draft pick and zero chance at playoffs.
           
Denver needs to keep Carmelo for the remainder of the season and try to ride him a little further into playoffs, then allow other teams to begin bidding in the summer. If not, it looks like Pauly D might have a new GTL pahtna.

College Basketball
           
College basketball is the most unpredictable sport in America. Florida State proved this fact by knocking off top-ranked Duke this past week in a battle that must have left Dick Vitale’s windpipe in more pain than usual.
  
Just days earlier, FSU had lost to Auburn, arguably one of the worst major-conference teams in the nation. But the Seminoles put together a gameplan that involved highlighting the weaknesses of the Blue Devils…yes, even coach K has weaknesses.
           
‘To live and die by the 3’ is a term often heard in college basketball. For Duke, the past few years have garnered success off of ‘living’ by the 3, and rarely (if at all) ‘dying.’ They shot 11-35 from beyond the arc. Singler missed key shots down the stretch and was well beyond his range for many of them. You could credit that to poor shot selection or great defense, but from my perspective I’ll have to go with the latter.
           
This season of college basketball is proving to be a good one, Ohio State is 17-0 for the first time in 20 years, and currently ranked number one overall. But don’t expect that ranking to last long. In this sport, it often doesn’t. 
Lebron assumes role of villain:
            LeBron James recently made public announcements that he has embraced and assumed the role of ‘hated villain.’
            I don’t really give a shit, and you shouldn’t either.
Allen Iverson back in America:
           
But apparently not for long. The Answer has been having trouble with his right leg, and has returned from his stint playing in Turkey to get treatment. It has been rumored that he may not return to play in Europe, however Iverson has repeatedly stated that he would like to play in Turkey again.
           
Playing in America would mean that a potential championship team would want to pick up a veteran point guard for a reasonable amount of money. I don’t see the Celtics, Heat, Lakers or Spurs offering A.I. a deal anytime soon, and I don’t see Iverson wanting to go anywhere without hopes for a championship.
           
He’s loved in Turkey, and playing out his years with a fan base overseas would be the best option for him at this point.
NBA Awards: Pre-All star break:
MVP: Derrick Rose
           
Rose has led the Bulls to a 25-12 record as of Friday, good enough for third place in the newly-competitive Eastern Conference. 24 points and better than eight assists per game are phenomenal numbers for a point guard, and Chicago’s playoff hopes continue to look brighter with D-Rose bringing the ball up the court.
Rookie of the Year:
           
John Wall: Wall has proven himself to be a huge playmaker and distributor for the Wizards so far, he’s averaging more than ten assists in four of his past seven games, and fifth overall with 8.8 dimes per game.
           
DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins had been called a ‘bust’ by many earlier this year, but has been playing like an all-star the past few games. His ppg average has increased to 21.2 over the past six games and he’s getting 9.2 boards for Sactown. Sacramento might be the first team to have two ROY’s in a row, and still not improve a single bit.
           
Blake Griffin: Griffin has been part of the league for two years now, and in my eyes, does not deserve to be discussed in Rookie of the Year voting.

>

By Dylan Davis

Even though the 41 combined points were what many thought the winning team would score in the championship game, it was still a highly entertaining chess match between the two most explosive offenses of the year. Let’s take a look back at what transpired and how Auburn was able to escape with a last-second field goal.

Pregame: Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi manage to waste their field passes with “insightful” questions. Learning that Oregon is confident in their game plan and Auburn is trying to play like they have all season is exactly what I needed to get pumped for this game.

 

15:00: Auburn kicks off to Kenjon Barner and Josh Huff to start the most anticipated championship game in years. Huff slips twice on the return which sets and important precedent for both teams. You would think the championship field would have a playable surface…guess that’s not very important.

 

14:53: My cousin Chris Davis is injured (slipping even though no one hit him) on the opening kickoff leading to the ESPN executives celebrating being able to jam in even more commercials into the game opening.

 

14:21: Darron Thomas has an easy first down on an option but decides to make the brilliant play of pitching to LaMichael James over the top of a defender. James ends up losing yards (and slipping in the process) and the Ducks are forced into 3rd and medium. Another theme in this game is Thomas making terrible decisions that knocked the Ducks off rhythm time and time again.

 

13:20: The Auburn defense holds and forces a terrible punt and Brent Musberger makes the point that this is what the Auburn defense wants to do against the up-tempo attack of Oregon. Wait, they want to stop the Oregon offense from getting yards and scoring? What a novel idea! Before Auburn starts their drive, Brent somehow manages to recount Cam Newton’s college career without mentioning his laptop, cheating, or money issues. Well Played Brent.

 

12:32: Auburn does a Statue of Liberty play that fails followed by a fake of the same exact play. The Oregon defense is marginally competent so they bust through the line on the second play and force a Newton fumble that an offensive lineman recovers. Usually you run a play action after a run works, not after you get stuffed. And I thought Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was a genius.

 

11:44: At the start of the drive, ESPN puts up a graphic about Newton being 19/19 on opening drives. Of course, his first pass of the game falls incomplete on 3rd and 19 to force a punt. Forget the SI cover curse or Madden jinx, the ESPN graphic hex is the hottest new trend in curses.

 

11:34: As ESPN goes to commercial, Brent says that there was supposed to be a ton of offense and asked what happened. Yeah, because 3 and a half minutes is a good enough length to judge how a game will go. Just ask the New York Giants, you don’t need to play the whole game, especially the last 8 and a half minutes.

 

10:52: James catches a middle screen and scampers for 20 yards and a first down. Every time Oregon ran any variation of this play, they gained good yardage because the Auburn d-line was so dominating. Of course, they only ran it about 5 times, go figure.

 

9:19: Thomas overthrows the 5’11” Barner and gets picked off by Auburn. This is the first of many passes that Thomas just missed a big play on. If his accuracy had been halfway decent, Oregon’s playmakers wouldn’t have looked awful for half the game.

 

8:40: Minutes after almost getting beaten deep, Oregon corner Cliff Harris picks off a Cam Newton overthrow and returns is to midfield. Both quarterbacks look rusty and I’m left wondering why 36 days off in between their last game and this one is a good idea. Looking rusty for half the game before picking up in the second half is exactly what the fans want, right?

 

6:30: Thomas completes a pass to James and Musberger calls him LaMichael. I didn’t realize they were on a first name basis. This bothers me with sports announcers. If their last name is shorter (and even if it’s not) why do announcers feel like they can use player’s first names only? Do they think it makes them seem cooler? In his honor, I will only be calling him Brent by this point forward.

 

5:25: Oregon throws an inside screen for another first down. Every time you can only use a great play 4 times in a game that matters, you have to do it.

 

5:01: Oregon comes out in a 5 wide receiver set which immediately alerts Auburn to the fact that it’s going to be a pass. Why would you take away the threat of a run? Unless you’re Tom Brady, it’s not worth the extra receiver to only have one dimension. Thomas throws another horrific pass behind his target and it’s picked off at the 15-yard line. Alex Smith could have completed that one.

 

4:45: Jeff Blake’s son catches a quick pass and Brent comments on Jeff’s “remarkable career as an NFL quarterback.” I didn’t realize 99 career interceptions and a 78.0 rating was worthy of being called remarkable.

 

3:57: Onterio McCaleb runs around the end for a first down. At this point the Auburn offense is getting their plays off much faster than Oregon, but since this is going against the announcers talking points, it’s not mentioned by Herbstreit or Brent.

 

0:48: Oregon runs the same exact dive play 3 times in a row and catches Auburn with too many men on the field. This is one of the only times in the entire game where Oregon was able to use their tempo to wear down the Auburn defensive line. After killing Auburn up the middle, Oregon decides to go outside where they lose 4 yards. Another instance of Chip Kelly getting too cute instead of going with what works.

 

0:00: One of my other cousins in this game (DJ Davis) catches a pass down to the Auburn 5 to end the quarter.

 

Second Quarter

 

15:00: As they come back from commercial, the ESPN cameras show Ahmad Rashad on the sideline as the honorary Oregon captain. For some reason this made me lose some hope for Oregon’s chances.

 

14:56: Thomas doesn’t give the ball to James who would have walked in for an easy touchdown, and subsequently gets destroyed by Nick Fairley. Oregon settles for a field goal for the first points of the night.

 

12:23: Newton slips and manages to twist around a throw to a wide-open McCaleb for a first down causing Herbstreit and Brent to have an orgasm about Newton’s balance and skill. If he had played as well as Vince Young did in 2006 both of them may have ejaculated on live TV.

 

12:09: Newton overthrows an open receiver and manages to hang him out to dry and almost throw a pick without getting criticized by either of the announcers.

 

12:00: Oregon has their first defensive breakdown as Newton hits former quarterback Kodi (yeah, his name is spelled Kodi) Burns for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Outside linebacker Kenny Rowe gets beat for the first, and definitely not the last, time in the game. Auburn’s pace caused a ton of confusion on that drive within the Oregon defense.

 

11:55: Oregon tries an end-around on the kickoff and they end up on their own 10. Like Auburn’s failed play-action call earlier, why do you call a trick play off of a failed earlier play? It’s not like Oregon lit the world on fire with their first return.

 

11:43: Thomas hits Jeff Maehl on an 81-yard strike to the Auburn 13 yard-line. Ironically because of his last name (pronounced mail, as in mailing it in), this was a Randy Moss-esque play by the receiver.

 

10:59: Oregon runs the Bill Simmons’ approved play where the quarterback sprints to one side then throws back to a wide-open receiver on the other side. James waltzes into the end zone to put Oregon up 9-7.

 

10:59: Kelly calls a sweet sprint-out option play with the holder and kicker on the extra point. The holder waits until the last possible second to get crushed and pitches to the kicker who breaks the plain to put Oregon up 11-7.

 

7:16: Brent compares Cam Newton to Ben Roethlisberger. Is there a more apt comparison between two players both on and off the field?

 

3:44: A player named Smith slipped and dropped a wiiiiiiiiiiide open touchdown. Good thing this was a first. This was on 4th and goal from the one-yard line, so I applaud Gene Chizik for taking a calculated risk here.

 

3:26: Oregon runs a brilliant shovel pass out of their own end zone to the 10 yard-line but gets called for an illegal shift. On their next snap from the half yard-line they run their only play of the whole game from under center and James gets hit in the backfield for a safety. Why did Kelly not stick to his guns with a shotgun run? Yet another baffling decision from the offensive “genius.”

 

3:21: On the return Demond Washington slipped (what a surprise) and gets out to the Auburn 35 yard-line.

 

1:47: Emory Blake makes a more important play than his father’s entire career as he slips out of the backfield and catches a wide-open touchdown pass. Rowe is beaten once again as Newton shows that he can hit wide-open receivers to pad his stats.

 

1:41: Eric Smith is once again in the spotlight for the wrong reasons as he commits a vicious personal foul with a kick to Dion Jordan’s face.

 

1:01: Chip Kelly has the creativity to throw 4 straight wide receiver screens as Oregon has to punt from inside Auburn territory. This is a huge missed opportunity to put some points on the board before halftime.

 

Halftime Score: Auburn-16 Oregon-11

 

12:31: Newton hits his tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchengheyahsalfkvnxmz (ok so it’s Lutzenkirchen) on a 39-yard pass to the Oregon 20-yard line. So far this half the Tigers have run Newton to set up big chances in the passing game and it paid off big time on that play.

 

12:18: Cliff Harris knocks down a quick swing pass that he was half a step from taking to the house. This was one of a half dozen plays Oregon didn’t quite make would have ensured their victory. This is the difference between being a champion and being the Buffalo Bills.

 

11:30: After a horrible 3rd down incompletion by Newton, the Tigers are forced to settle for a field goal to keep it a one-possession game. 19 and 11 are both highly difficult scores to reach in football, yet both are in play now. Go figure.

 

11:30: They show offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn chewing out Cam Newton and it made me wonder how smart Malzahn really is. He was the high school coach of highly recruited Mitch Mustain, which is how he got the offensive coordinator job at Arkansas. While there, he coached Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis in the same backfield. Now he has Heisman winner Cam Newton at his disposal, so is he really an offensive genius? More than likely, he has just gotten incredibly lucky with some amazing offensive talents, but I digress.

 

11:24: As Oregon’s offense sets up for its first second half possession, Herbstreit remarks that Darron Thomas’s arm was a big factor in the first half. I’d say it was a big factor for Auburn.

 

11:12: Nick Fairley lives up to his reputation as a dirty player as he slams LaMichael’s head to the turf after Oregon’s first down. Usually he gets away with his shenanigans, but right in front of the referee on national TV is probably not the best place to commit a heinous foul.

 

9:30: Fairley dominates what look like two junior high school offensive lineman on his way to forcing a Thomas fumble. Oregon is lucky to jump on the loose ball but Fairley is starting to show why he’s a surefire top-5 pick.

 

8:30: On third and 11 Maehl, catches an inside screen pass but slips (again) and Oregon has to punt from the Auburn 40.

 

6:26: Newton misses a wiiiiiiiiiiiiide open Darvin Adams on 3rd down pass that shows why Cam is still a major work in progress when it comes to being a pro prospect. Adams was behind the defense by 7 yards and even a mediocre throw would have gotten a huge gain.

 

5:07: Oregon lines up to punt from their own 40 and Auburn puts 10 guys on the line to sell out for a fake. The Oregon punter takes the snap and rolls out before hitting an open man for a first down. Brent tells us that Chip Kelly has an automatic fake punt on if the punt coverage team sells out for the block. That would have been nice to know before the play actually happened.

 

4:39: Lavasier Tuinei makes an outstanding bobbling catch and looks to be heading for the end zone before Brent jinxes it by yelling out touchdown right before the receiver is tackled at the 3-yard line. This will be important in a few minutes.

 

2:25: Oregon runs the same exact play on 3rd and 4th and goal and don’t manage to get into the end zone. Somehow, I don’t think running a sweep with Kenjon Barner twice from inside the 5 is the greatest idea.

 

No one scores for a while and the action really picks up in the middle of the fourth quarter let’s go there.

 

Fourth Quarter

6:21: Oregon has the ball on their own 25 with what seems like their last opportunity. After catching a quick out for a first down Brent calls Jeff Maehl “sneaky fast.” That’s a euphemism for “surprisingly good white receiver” Oregon ends up having to punt the ball back to Auburn.

 

5:00: Newton runs for a short gain on first down but gets up wincing after leading with his shoulder, this will be important for the rest of the game.

 

4:56: Casey Matthews makes a brilliant defensive play by punching the ball away from Newton and Cliff Harris pounces on the loose ball. Newton looked to shy away from contact and Matthews was able to hit from behind.

 

4:40: Without any pressure, Thomas throws into double coverage but the Auburn defense can’t come up with the pick. Fairley and the rest of the Auburn defensive line has been getting such consistent pressure that Thomas is starting to get the Peyton Manning happy feet.

 

4:11: On 4th and 5, the umpire sets a perfect pick to spring DJ Davis for a 29-yard completion to the Auburn 11. If this was the NBA I would bet anything that the umpire had “heard something” from David Stern about how this game needed to be exciting. However, it’s college football where the leaders are too busy giving unfair punishments to fix anything, so it wasn’t fishy.

 

2:33: Oregon scores to bring the game to two on a shovel pass to James. The best Oregon plays (shovel passes, middle screens, rollouts, and perimeter passing) haven’t been called nearly enough by Kelly. It’s like the offensive “genius” didn’t see the obvious speed advantages and offensive line disadvantages his team have and call plays accordingly. On the two-point conversion try, Thomas rolls to the right and flings a prayer to Maehl in the back-left of the end zone. Maehl wins a great jump ball and the game is suddenly tied.

 

 

1:56: Dyer makes the play that will be remembered forever by fans on both sides. He looks to have been wrestled down by Eddie Pleasant at the 35-yard line, but after everyone stops he gets up and sprints to the Oregon 23. After a lengthy review, the referee tells the crowd that the only part of Dyer that was ever down was his hand. The balance and strength Dyer showed to break away from Pleasant is remarkable and he showed why he was the top running back recruit this past season.

 

0:02: As Auburn lines up for the game winning kick, Brent makes the most shameless sponsor plug in the history of sports as he proclaims, “this is for all the Tostitos.” Is now the time Brent?

 

0:00: Auburn chews the clock and kicks an extra point-sized field goal to win as time expires. Brent has the most underwhelming call in sports history as Auburn storms the field as 2011 national champions (for now).

 

While Auburn may (will) someday be stripped of that national title, for now they are the best team in college football and proved it on Monday night. Came back next week for a season wrap-up. Have a great weekend.