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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Does football even really matter?

With the pall of possible felony charges hanging over this weekend's matchup against Syracuse, it's pretty tough to get excited about the FSU game.  Instead of Florida State fans being able to revel in their #2 BCS ranking and a likely impending Jan. 6 date with Alabama or quarterback Jameis Winston's Heisman candidacy, Nole Nation is instead wondering if their adoration for their redshirt-freshman wunderkind is misplaced or if he is just another victim of an overzealous national media.

Given the dearth of facts, I'll not comment on the alleged sexual assault that occurred on Dec. 7 of last year.  The Tallahassee Police Department has turned the case over to State Attorney Willie Meggs who will evaluate the facts and make a decision on whether or not to move forward with a prosecution.

I must say that I am disgusted by the coverage this story has been getting.  Absent facts in the case, hacks all over the nation are passing off opinions and conjecture as the story.  There has been nothing which specifically names Winston as a suspect in the case, nor has there been anything (other than statements made by his attorney, Tim Jansen) to definitively indicate that he was not involved.

The story is that something might have happened but rather than wait for that story to unfold, it is front-page news and the lead story on ESPN.

Of course this machine exists to get eyeballs on the target.  If the unwashed masses weren't reading and watching, the media wouldn't keep pumping it out.

Karl Marx once famously said that religion is the opium of the people.  I have come to believe that this is no longer true.

I believe that sports is the opium of the people.  None more than football, and college football in particular.  But that is a different subject for a different time.

Given the quality of "journalism" seen over the past week, It's no wonder that the print press is on life support and electronic media is dominated by reality television.

I weep for the consumers of this drek, both because it's being fed to them and because they continue to eat it.

Yes, those are my shoes.  Don't judge me.

OK, on to the game.  From a purely football standpoint, it's good news for the Noles is that the game in at Doak.  Were it on the road, Winston would likely be bombarded by insensitive and likely humorous attempts to distract him.

As it is, the Noles and Nole fans will rally around Winston who has shown a preternatural ability to  elevate his game under the greatest pressure (just ask Clemson).

This, of course, is a whole 'nother level.  This isn't football pressure; it's a potentially life-altering situation.

Bottom line is this:  Syracuse is bad and Florida State is mad.  The spread is between 37.5 and 38.5.  It might as well be 48.5.  Syracuse is only allowing 22.9 ppg but the Noles are second in the nation at 52 ppg.

The over/under, as usual, is a little tricker.  The sharps know what they're doing and are rarely more than a point or two off.

Winston will likely be on the bench by the end of the third, with another redshirt-freshman, Sean Maguire on to steer the FSU offense since Jacob Coker appears to be out for the season following knee surgery.

But the Noles #4 ranked scoring defense (12.0 ppg) will still keep the door slammed on the 87th-ranked Syracuse offense.

Noles will win easily, somewhere in the neighborhood of 49-6.  So lay the points and take the under.  Better yet, lay the points and stay away from the over/under.  Your wallet will thank me tomorrow.

And keep your eyes on Tallahassee over the next few weeks to see which is back:  Florida State Seminole football or this FSU program:

Image stolen…er, borrowed from

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rah! Rah! Wake Forest Rah!

To begin, I cannot think about Wake Forest without thinking of James Caan as Brian Piccolo singing the Wake fight song in "Brian's Song."

"I love Brian Piccolo.  And I'd like all of you to love him, too.  And tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him." 

"It's not how he died that Brian will be remembered for, but how he lived.  And he lived!"

Pause for the men in the crowd tip a 40 for Pick and wipe the tears away.  Greatest sports movie ever.

Unfortunately, this trip down cinematic history will be the highlight of the Demon Deacons' day when they kick off at noon.

And the outcome should be decided by about 12:15.

So why bother with a blog about a nothing game?

Well, there are some interesting dynamics at play.  Yes, the last time the Noles rolled into Winston-Salem the slinked out with their tails between their legs on the wrong end of a 35-30 score.

But since then, the Noles have won 27 of 30 and -- thanks to a little help from the Stanford Cardinal -- are not looking at the very real prospect of taking on the Alabama Roll-Damn-Tides for the National Championship in Pasadena on January 6.

Today's game will not be close.  Yes, the Noles are positioned for a letdown after last week's beatdown of Miami and the fact that their path to the championship game is now in their hands.  Style points mean less to the Noles now; all they have to do is win.

And, yes...Wake gave Miami a scare before falling 24-21 and they've beaten Maryland (34-10) and NC State (28-13).


They're ranked 119th in the nation in rushing (fewer than 90 yards per game) and 110th in scoring offense (just 19.4 ppt).

This one will be over early.

The interesting part is the line on today's game.  The spread is running between 34-35 points, with the over/under ranging from 55-56.5.

So the question isn't "will FSU dominate."  It's "by how much will they dominate?"

It's very possible that Jimbo will send the Noles out with the intent of shortening the noon game (after all, who will be watching?) by pounding the Demon Deacs on the ground.  Get in, get out, get no one hurt.

On the other hand, with Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater throwing out tepid numbers on Thursday and Friday, respectively, this could be a chance to showcase Jameis Winston and bolster his Heisman candidacy.

Either way, watch early because it's likely Winston and the FSU starters will be out of the game by late in the 3rd quarter.  The bad news for Wake Forest is that the Nole backups are still better than they are.

FSU will win decidedly but 35 points -- or as they call it in Oakland, a "Nick Foles spread" -- is a lot of points to lay on the road, even for this team.

Oh, what the hell...let's call the final score 49-10.  Lay the points and play the over.  After all, it's only money.

Smokey Joe

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, as a die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool, dead-in-the-water Oakland Raiders' fan, I have repressed the full extent of the humiliation meted out at the right hand of Nick Foles.  A 35-point spread is not the "Foles Spread."  Thirty-five points represents only five touchdowns, not seven, as Foles laid on my once-proud fellas in Silver & Black.  To reach Foles-ian levels, a team would have to be favored by 49 points.

The horrah...the horrah...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Little help from down on the Farm?

Dear Palo Alto-nians -
I hope this missive finds you well.  Things here back east are just fine as both the leaves and the season have started to fall.  Get it?  "Fall" the season and "fall" as in what the leaves are doing?  I guess y'all don't get that kind of quality humor way out Cali-for-nee way.

I guess you're wondering why I'm writing.  Fair question; let me get to the point:

Please beat the shit out of Oregon tomorrow night.

Yes, I know that's a tall order, even for a quality football program such as yours.  After all they rock the number 2 ranked rushing attack in the nation, averaging more than 331 yards per game and the second best scoring offense, averaging 55.6 points per game.

In other words, they are averaging more points than you've scored in any single game this year.  In fact, only twice have they failed to score more than 55 points in games, both against top 20 ranked teams and both times they topped the 40-point mark.

I never said this would be easy.

On top of that, their quarterback, Marcus Mariota, is currently leading most Heisman Trophy straw polls, his strongest competition coming from a renegade in Texas and a guy in Florida whose game turns as big as Texas after Renegade runs onto the field.

Which brings me to my real point:  things would be so much simpler if Oregon just lost a game.

And by "simpler" I mean for the Florida State Seminoles.  Oh, sure, they're currently #2 in the BCS rankings, meaning they are in line to play little Nicky Satan's Alabama Roll-damn-Tides for the National Championship if the season ended today.  But all indications are that if both Oregon and the Noles win out, the Ducks will jump to #2 since Florida State's remaining opponents suck so much.  Even the once-proud Florida Gators will offer no real competition to help the Noles' ranking.

And, does in fact give me great pleasure to refer to Florida as "once proud."  When the Gators suck, the sun shines just a little brighter in the Sunshine State.  Because even God knows the Gator fans are insufferable.

But I digress, albeit for a good reason:  to rub Gator fans' noses in a steamy pile of Renegade's road apples.

So please don't let the BCS screw one more team in its final year of existence (see: Auburn, 2004).  Rather than having three undefeated real contenders to fit into two spots in the championship game, it would be so much easier if you just beat the living shit out of Oregon tomorrow night, just like you did last year.


Other than that, things here are good.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday season out there in the land of fruits and nuts.  Just know that the turkey will taste a whole lot better if served with a side of roasted duck.  You know...the Oregon Ducks?  "Roasted" as a euphemism for beating them tomorrow?  Get it?  Oh, well...I guess y'all just don't appreciate good humor.  After all, isn't Robin Williams from the bay area?

Enough out of me.   Besides, I have to go.  I've got to get a letter written to Les Miles before Saturday.

Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease,
Smokey Joe

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gamboling vs Gambling

Good thing this is just play for me or I'd be broke like a joke.  Two weeks in a row calling the spread (following my brilliant Maryland insight) but missing the over under.

Headed back down to the mancave to study game tape, analyze tendencies, and monitor weather reports.*

Early line on FSU-Wake Forest has Noles laying 35.  They need to show some serious "style points" (read: Urban Meyer-esque embarrassments of lesser opponents) so 35 is within the realm of possible against the Demon Deacons.

Check back later this week for my real predictions and analysis, including a breakdown of what to expect from the morons determining Division I/FBS National Championships...err...the BCS.

In the meantime, watch this:

Love, Peace, & Chicken Grease,

* Watch YouTube video of cats, eat peanut butter out of the jar, and nap

Friday, November 1, 2013

Look for Noles to dominate at Doak

There was a time, way back in the 1990’s, when Florida State v. Miami was the type of game that captured the attention of the entire football watching nation.

Probations, an aging legend of a coach who lost a few mph’s off his fastball, some more  probations, the SEC’s rise to dominance, followed by even more probations meant the FSU-Miami game drifted off the national radar like a botched field goal drifting wide right.

Tomorrow night at Doak Campbell, however, the spotlight returns to this modern-era rivalry.

But before you get too excited, I never said it would be a good game.  I just said there would be a lot of attention.

Most of this attention will be focused on the Florida State Seminoles and their wunderkind red-shirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston.  While the Canes are undefeated coming into the weekend, don’t expect them to head back down to South Beach with smiles on their faces.

I mean, except for the fact that they’re headed back down to South Beach.

The Noles opened the week favored by three touchdowns and that wasn’t enough to entice the reluctant Miami money.  It wasn’t until the spread got as high as 22 before bets on the Canes started rolling in and there was just enough to drop the spread back down to 21 or 21.5 points (depending on which group of Vegas sharps you believe).

The oddsmakers clearly expect the Noles to continue their offensive onslaught.  FSU is ranked #3 in scoring offense at 52.6 ppg and if Miami is to have a chance of losing by fewer than 21 points -- and let’s face it, beating the spread is the best they can hope for -- they’ll have to rely on their #24 ranked rushing offense (214.7 ypg).  Even at that, the Noles are allowing just 135.7 rushing yards per game so the Canes must be ready for a turf battle.

And Miami’s only hope is the ground game because their passing game will be shut down.  The Noles are ranked #1 in the nation against the pass, allowing just 153.7 passing yards per game and their defense boasts the #4 ranked scoring defense, allowing just 13 ppg.

So even though this is the highest spread ever between two top-10 ranked teams (the next largest was Texas mnus-12 over Oklahoma in 2008) and despite the fact that Miami has covered seven of the last eight spreads against Florida State, the smart money is on the Noles.


While FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher has publicly dismissed talk of the Noles needing “style points” to position themselves ahead of Oregon in the BCS rankings, both Jimbo and his team know very well what it will take to get to Pasadena on January 6 to face little Nicky Satan’s Alabama Roll Damn Tides for the crystal football.  After all, Jimbo worked for Saban from 2000-2004 at LSU where in 2003 they teamed to bring Baton Rouge its first National Championship in 45 years.

More important than knowing what it takes is the killer instinct it takes to do it.  Florida State demonstrated that ability in spades on October 19, dismantling then-#3 ranked Clemson Tigers 51-14.

The Noles are on a mission, have the talent and killer instinct to close games out, and are playing one of their two most hated rivals in the Miami Hurricanes.  Knowing they have to shine against highly-ranked opponents, look for Winston and the Nole offense to hang half-a-hundred on the Canes, while Lamarcus Joyner, Timmy Jernigan, and the rest of a very nasty defense to hold Miami to one first half touchdown, plus another in junk time.

Final score:  55-14.

Take FSU minus 22 and bet the over.