Category Archives: Off-Campus

The world of college athletics outside of Foggy Bottom.

CFB Playoff Scenarios + Conference Championship Game Predictions

By: Daniel Stettin

It’s Championship week in college football, with every conference having their championship game except for the Sun Belt. With that, no team is set in stone for the College Football Playoffs and this week’s slate of games brings a set of numerous possibilities. I see 8 teams having an opportunity to make the playoffs: Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Sorry to Pac-12 fans, you are going to be the conference that is held out this year, as they were in the 2015 season.

ACC – #1 Clemson vs #7 Miami 8 PM ABC:

The ACC champion is in, regardless of what happens in this game. Many believe that Clemson still would have an opportunity to make the playoff if they lose a close game here, but I don’t see how that would happen. The Winner of this game is going to the playoff, the loser is going to the Orange Bowl plain and simple. I see Miami’s loss to Pittsburgh as equivalent to Clemson’s loss to Syracuse. If you switched the date of both teams loss, you can make the argument that Miami would be #1 and Clemson would be #7. The committee says they don’t have recency bias but it appears they did just that dropping Miami from #2 to #7. In terms of the actual game, Clemson should have massive home field advantage with Charlotte being driving distance from Campus compared to three states away for the Hurricanes. Clemson QB Kelly Bryant has had a good year, but nothing special. He’s a much better player than his stats say he is but it says something when he only has 12 passing touchdowns all year. Miami QB Malik Rosier is going to need a bounce back game after getting benched against Pittsburgh. If Rosier plays up to his potential, I don’t see how Miami loses this game. Miami: 27 Clemson: 21

Big Ten – #4 Wisconsin vs #8 Ohio State 8 PM Fox:

For Wisconsin, its fairly simple: Win and you are in. As much as the committee doesn’t want to put Wisconsin in the playoff, they are an undefeated power conference school. Their best win may be over Lane Kiffin’s FAU team, but again they are an undefeated power conference school. No matter what anyone says, if the Badgers win, they are in. Ohio State, on the other hand, will need some help. Ohio State will need to win this game and Oklahoma would need to lose. It would also need to be a big win over Wisconsin as they would need to jump Alabama and thats only going to happen with a big win (two scores or more). It is really hard to ignore that 55-24 loss at Iowa where JT Barrett threw 4 interceptions and fumbled the ball once which I think will make the committee struggle to put Ohio State in the field. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, their strength is one of Ohio States biggest strength’s as well, so freshman RB Jonathan Taylor will have a lot to handle against Ohio State’s top 15 run defense. Wisconsin is the national leader in rushing defense so Mike Weber and JK Dobbins will have a lot to handle as well. The real difference in this game is Ohio State QB JT Barrett, who rebounded from a slow start to have an unreal senior season. 6 of his 7 interceptions came in back to back weeks and he has otherwise been perfect. I don’t believe in Wisconsin to get the win in their toughest matchup of the season. Ohio State: 41 Wisconsin: 24

Big 12 – #3 Oklahoma vs #11 TCU 12:30 PM Fox

For TCU, they aren’t making the playoff no matter what else happens. They are playing for the possibility of playing in a News Years Six Bowl. Oklahoma on the other hand is in a win and they are in scenario. A loss and they are most likely going to a New Years Six Bowl. With Heisman trophy favorite Baker Mayfield under center for the Sooners, they have been unstoppable. Although Mayfield has had his fair share of childish antics, he is downright the best player in College Football. The astounding part of this Sooners offense is that they don’t have an 1000 yard rusher or receiver this year. These two teams faced off a few weeks ago in Norman and Oklahoma walked away with a 38-20 victory. Similar to Kelly Bryant, TCU QB Kenny Hill is much better in person than from stats but doesn’t offer as much of a running threat. This game means nothing to TCU in terms of their postseason destination so I see them firing out of the gate but ultimately losing a close one. Oklahoma: 34 TCU: 31

Pac 12 – #10 USC vs #12 Stanford 8 PM Friday ESPN

There aren’t any playoff indications here, unless you think USC could jump both Alabama and Ohio State. The reality is the winner of this game is gonna play in a New Years Six Bowl and the loser isn’t. The real story in this game is really whether Bryce Love can make a great final impression on the Heisman voters. For as good as Christian McCaffrey was for Stanford, Love has been even better. Coming off a big win vs Notre Dame, Stanford will need Love at his best. He didn’t score a TD for the first time all season vs Notre Dame but don’t expect that scoreless streak to last long. USC has a much more balanced offense with future Top 5 draft pick Sam Darnold under center. This may be the least important Power 5 championship game, but it sure will be entertaining. USC: 27 Stanford: 17

SEC – #2 Auburn vs #6 Georgia 3:30 PM CBS 

Just like the ACC, this is a win and you are in game. Many are discounting Auburn since they have two losses but they happen to be both on the road against LSU and Clemson. But they also have wins against two #1 ranked teams (Alabama and Georgia). Add in a blowout win vs a top 25 Mississippi State squad which makes it hard top Auburn’s resume. Georgia has a pretty great resume as well, with wins over Notre Dame and Mississippi State and winning seven games by at least four scores. Freshman QB Jake Fromm has been phenomenal considering he’s an 18 year old. The two headed attack at RB of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb have combined for 2001 yards and 26 TD’s. In the loss to Auburn, the two combined for 20 carries for 48 yards. If Georgia can’t improve those numbers, Auburn might run away with this. Jarrett Stidham, whose two worst games of the year came in the two losses, was great in the win over Georgia throwing for 3 TD’s. The former 5-star recruit has lived up to all expectations after transferring from Baylor. Kerryon Johnson also was dominant in the win over Auburn, having over 230 total yards and a one TD. With a more neutral crowd, the score will be closer but Auburn’s heading to the playoffs. Auburn: 27 Georgia:16

It is important to note that #5 Alabama will most likely find their way into the playoff with either a Oklahoma or Wisconsin loss.

American: #14 UCF vs #20 Memphis 12 PM ABC

UCF is criminally underrated by the playoff committee but they aren’t a top 4 team so it really doesn’t matter. If they beat Memphis, a team they beat by 27 in October, they will be the highest rated Group of 5 team and will play in the Peach Bowl. If Memphis was to win, they would most likely take the Group of 5’s spot in a News Years Six Bowl. UCF has been dominant all year under Scott Frost, who has been tied to a number of high profile jobs recently. McKenzie Milton, a 5-11 Sophomore from Hawaii has taken major strides in his second year in the system, upping his completion percentage 12 points, total yards by over 1700 yards, and 23 more touchdowns. Memphis has only one loss all year to UCF and NFL Prospect Riley Ferguson has been great in his two years after transferring from Tennessee. Look out for sophomore RB Darrell Henderson, he’s got over 1000 yards rushing on 9 YPC. I expect this to be closer than the original matchup and with a score resembling the UCF-USF game last weekend. UCF: 52 Memphis: 42

Conference USA – FAU vs North Texas 12 PM ESPN2

You can’t deny the unreal work Lane Tiffin did with FAU this year, taking a team that went 3-9 three years in a row to a 9-3 records and one on a 8 game winning streak. FAU rolled over North Texas 69-31. Running Back Devin Singletary might be the most under appreciated player in the country after he ran for 1600 yards an 26 touchdowns this year. The passing game may be suspect but Singletary makes up for it. Sophomore Mason Fine made big strides from his freshman to sophomore year and he actually was not horrible in the blowout loss to FAU. Unfortunately for the Mean Green, this game is in Boca so FAU will be able to take this home crowd to their first ever 10 win season. FAU: 49 North Texas: 17

MAC – Akron vs Toledo 12 PM ESPN

We got some MACtion in Detroit as Akron takes on Toledo. This game is fairly similar the Conference USA championship game with Toledo having beaten Akron 48-21. Logan Woodside is a future NFL QB and he carved up a Miami team in September. Akron at just 7-5 hasn’t done anything significant on offense or defense and will likely have a true Freshman in Kato Nelson being under center. Toledo is a three score favorite in this one and they should cover in a blowout win. Toledo: 41 Akron: 10

Mountain West – #25 Fresno State vs Boise State 7:45 PM ESPN 

People go wild over the job that Lane Kiffin did at FAU, but how about Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford, the former Cal coach. They went 1-11 in 2016 and he got them to 9-3 in his first season. While not doing anything special on offense, they rode a dominant defense to an appearance in the championship game. This isn’t the Boise State team’s we’ve seen in the past but they still have been solid this year. Despite constantly rotating QB’s, they managed a 9-3 record. Fresno State took this one at home last week but this one is in Boise which will give them the edge. Boise State: 24 Fresno State: 13

Sun Belt – Various Games 

The Sun Belt won’t add a championship game until next season which will leave two teams most likely sharing the Sun Belt title this season. Arkansas State and Troy, who famously upset LSU in Death Valley, will face-off in Jonesboro with both sitting at 6-1 in conference. Arkansas State’s offense has been rolling all year with former Oklahoma QB Justice Hansen under center. Troy has had a great defense all year but I don’t see it being enough to stop this Arkansas State defense. Meanwhile, Appalachian State is 6-1 in conference and they face off against a Louisiana team that is looking to get bowl eligible. The Mountaineers had high expectations this year with the return of Taylor Lamb, Jalin Moore, and Terence Upshaw but they suffered from numerous injuries and are sitting at 7-4, but 6-1 in the conference. With a win over Louisiana, they would clinch a share of the Sun Belt title. App State should be able to easily take this one with the Rock most likely rocking in the home finale. At the end of the day, App State and Arkansas State will split the Sun Belt Title.

Playoff Prediction

If the Championship games go as I have predicted, the final four will most likely look like:

  1. Auburn
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Miami
  4. Alabama

The committee has already said they are not gonna change up seeding to avoid a rematch. With that, I think that Alabama will get into the playoff as the #4 seed as the the Committee will want to reward a Miami team that won their conference. Choosing who to send to the Rose Bowl would be extremely difficult as Geography does go into who gets sent to which Semifinal location. None of the teams are located anywhere near Pasadena so it’ll be interesting to see who gets sent out there. The bias in me would have Miami winning this final four but we shall see with some great games left over the next few weeks.

Slick Twist: Has A Change in the Ball Changed This Fall Classic?

By: Arthur Pescan

As a self-professed fanatic in the religion that is baseball, there were two things I was praying for as this World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, the two best teams in baseball, rolled around: one, the prospect of my hometown Dodgers winning their first World Series since 1988 (not to mention in their first appearance since that storied season), and two, the potential for amazing pitching duels in what promised to be a thrilling Fall Classic.

Now, Dodger-nation is certainly not down and out just yet as the series heads back to Los Angeles for game six, despite the Dodgers bearing the stings of that iconic and ever-so-grueling, 10-inning, five-hour, 13-12 loss to the Astros in game five. As long as Dave Roberts and Co. continue to sling and slug within the walls of Chavez Ravine, I shall retain hope to the end.

And certainly, this World Series has lived up to the predicted hype and then some, with each game becoming an exercise in baseball magic. Exemplified in the home-run heroics of Jose Altuve and George Springer, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig, every night has seen the teams falling, tying, pulling ahead, fighting for every run, every base, every hit, every inning. The number of times in five games I’ve heard the phrase, “They will not go quietly into that dark night!” on a broadcast is shocking just in itself (I’m looking at you Rick Monday and Charlie Steiner).

But for all the thrilling highs and heartbreaking lows, this World Series has disappointed in one key aspect: the lackluster performance of some of the greatest arms in the game today on the biggest stage of their lives. Save for Clayton Kershaw’s immaculate game one performance, a seven-inning, eleven-strikeout outing which instilled short-lived hope in LA fans everywhere that Kershaw’s post-season woes had finally come to a close, game after game of this series has seen the early exit of ace after ace.

Astros’ ace Dallas Keuchel was rocked on his very first pitch of game one for a Chris Taylor bomb to the left bleachers, setting the tone for a 3-1 victory for the Dodgers, while teammate Justin Verlander gave up back to back home runs to the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson and Corey Seager in game two. Yu Darvish was chased off the mound by his former Astros in game three after giving up four runs in less than two innings. Ken Giles, Houston’s version of Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez, gave up five runs in the ninth to allow the Dodgers a 6-2 victory in game four. LA’s Kenley Jansen, the best closer in the majors, has given up runs in three consecutive save attempts, the first time in his big-league career.

And perhaps looming largest of all in a World Series of shortcomings on the mound, game five saw Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher of our time, falter in five innings, giving up six runs and turning a 4-0 Dodgers lead into a 7-4 deficit. Up until that moment Sunday evening, Kershaw had a career record of 100 wins to one loss in games where he had a four-run lead for support.

Even in a game where superstitions and famous curses hold a special place in explaining the unexplainable, the faltering of pitcher after pitcher on the mound over the last five games has prompted speculation on what exactly is causing this World Series to be so taxing for the rotation and bullpen, much of it focusing on the baseball itself.

While reports of a more “juiced” ball have popped up in discussions of the high home run rate over the last two seasons, this Series has brought talk of a “slick” baseball, one where the leather on the specialty balls used for the World Series both feel and look slicker than those used in the regular-season.

Complaints over the last few days of a slicker baseball have come from pitching coaches, managers, and even the pitchers themselves.

Verlander had this to say, “The World Series ball is slicker. No doubt. I’m telling you, we’re in here signing [World Series] balls before the game, and it’s hard to get the ink on the ball sometimes. It’s different. I noticed it especially throwing a slider. It didn’t feel the same. The home run I gave up to [Joc] Pederson was a slider.”

Verlander’s comments, as well as similar ones from Yu Darvish and Ken Giles, have potentially alluded to a slicker ball, with less friction against a pitcher’s hand and therefore less control of pitches, being responsible for the slump in pitching prowess this World Series. Indeed, this Series has seen feared pitches in an ace’s arsenal like the slider, fastball, and curveball, stay above the plate longer, leading to an onslaught of home runs over the last five games. Twenty-two home runs have been hit in this Fall Classic through five games, already the most homers in World Series history, edging the previous record of 21 set by the 2002 Angels-Giants series, a series which went to a full seven games.

The historic rate of home runs in this Fall Classic certainly makes for entertaining and iconic moments for baseball fans across the country watching in the ballparks, behind TV’s, at sports bars, or if you’re like me, listening next to an ancient radio. But when the dust has settled on home plate in this legendary Series, the world of baseball will have to address the concern that a slick ball could have skewed not only the prowess of its greatest pitchers, but the result of what is shaping up to be one of the most iconic World Series ever.

But until that time, let’s enjoy some historic fall ball while we still can. And remember…It’s time for Dodgers baseball!

With Watson Out, Anxiety sets in for Phoenix

By: Tristan Graney

With the firing of head coach Earl Watson, the Phoenix Suns are in desperate need of leadership to prevent having the worst regular season record in the league. The young team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2009 and it does not look like they’ll be back anytime soon.

Eric Bledsoe, the team’s franchise player, expressed his desire to be traded before the season began and sent out a tweet reiterating these feelings on Sunday. With promising talent in young players like Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, the Suns need to trade Bledsoe and begin a rebuild.

The next step? Lock up Booker in the offseason and offer him a sizeable extension with the intent of making him the core of the team and its growth. They should model their rebuild in the same fashion the Kings have. Start by getting rid of toxicity by trading Bledsoe, draft well in 2018, and pursue veteran players that will be willing to mentor the younger players and fill a bigger role on the floor.

Maybe Steve Nash will come out of retirement to find Derrick Jones Jr. above the rim.

Wild Card Game Preview (AL+NL)

By: Cam Ventola

Tonight at 8 the Minnesota Twins (85-77) will try to down the New York Yankees (91-71) in the Bronx to advance to the ALDS. On the mound for Minnesota is Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA), and Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) will toe the rubber for New York. The Twins have improved significantly since last year–where they finished with over 100 losses. The team boasts some above average offense (7th in the ML in runs scored and OBP), but suffers from lackluster pitching (19th in the ML in ERA, 24th in quality starts). The Yankees, meanwhile, got productive seasons out of their young talent–Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino most notably. New York was spectacular offensively and defensively, ranking in the top 5 in the ML in runs scored, OBP, slugging percentage, ERA, WHIP and BAA. The matchup will be difficult for Ervin Santana, who played in only one game against the Yankees this year, which he lost after giving up 2 runs over 5.2 IP. Not to mention the Twins will also be missing slugger Miguel Sano. That being said, Severino got rocked for 3 runs over 3 innings when he squared off against the Twins earlier this season. This game seems clear-cut to me, though–the Yankees are going to win it.

Tomorrow at 8, the Colorado Rockies (87-75) will take on the Arizona Diamondbacks (93-69) to advance to the NLDS. Colorado’s Jon Gray (10-4, 3.67 ERA) will face off against Arizona’s Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20 ERA). The NL-West proved to be surprisingly competitive this year, with 3 of its teams making the playoffs. Colorado rolled into the playoffs with a high-powered offense that saw 3B Nolan Arenado drive in 130 runs while hitting .309. The team had roughly league-average pitching to back up the offense. Arizona boasted a strong pitching staff, led by Greinke, and an offense that saw 1B Paul Goldschmidt lead the team in HR, RBI and BA–36, 120 and .297 respectively. The pitching match up will be worth watching, with both Gray and Greinke putting up near-identical numbers against the opposing team. Gray went 2-1 through 3 starts against Arizona with a 3.50 ERA, while Greinke went 2-1 through 5 starts against Colorado with a 3.41 ERA. Arizona won 11 games against Colorado this year, with Colorado winning 8. While the statistics slightly favor the Diamondbacks, I’m going to go with the Rockies on this one–Jon Gray put up stellar numbers in the last month (4-1, 2.57 ERA) while Greinke slipped (1-1, 3.90 ERA).