Thursday, December 6, 2018

Only seventy-five?

Tiny Tallywhacker's newest laughable Twitter claim? He's now convinced that if he wasn't a victim of presidential harassment by Bobby Three Sticks, his job approval rate would be 75 percent instead of the 50 percent that right-wing Rasmussen poll is alleging.

C'mon, Tiny. If you're pulling stuff out of your ass, why not make it a nice, round 120 percent approval rate?

Beloved by all

Friday, November 30, 2018

Football 2018: Conference Championships

The conference championship games will be televised tomorrow, and only two of them look like they could be somewhat interesting.

The ACC game has Pitt (7-5) vs Clemson (12-0), and Pitt is roughly a four touchdown underdog. College Football News expects Clemson to win a 44-14 blowout, and I can't imagine myself watching more than five minutes of it (maybe to check the score). Update: As expected, Clemson pounded Pitt 42-10.

The Big Ten offers another mismatch, Ohio State (11-1) vs Northwestern (8-4). The Buckeyes are a mere 14.5 point favorite, and the CFN score prediction is Ohio State rolling to a 48-24 win. The game is at 7:00 PM on Fox. The time and the place guarantee I won't waste time on this farce. Anyway, I hate Ohio State, and would only watch if there was a strong possibility they'd lose. Update: The Buckeyes won this game by three touchdowns, 45-24.

The Big 12 has a fairly competitive match, with Texas University (9-3) facing Oklahoma (11-1) as an 8-point underdog. CFN is predicting the Sooners will lose a 40-37 upset. The longhorns won the previous game, giving OU its only loss. The nice thing about this rematch is that one of them will lose, and if I had my way, the Sooners would kick the shit out of Texas U. The game's on ABC at 11:00 AM. Update: It wasn't the kind of blowout I would have enjoyed watching, but the Sooners won 39-27.

Finally, the SEC championship will be decided when Alabama (12-0) meets Georgia (11-1) at 3:00 PM on CBS. The Crimson Tide has been unbeatable so far, and is favored by nearly two touchdowns over a solid Georgia team. CFN believes Bama will barely cover the 13.5 point spread with a 34-20 win. I'm hoping Georgia finds a way to pull off the upset, but I expect to be disappointed again. Update: The prediction was off, and Alabama didn't cover the spread. They still won the game, even though Tua was replaced by Jalen Hurts in the 4th quarter. The final score was 35-28.

Final update: Not that anyone cares, but Washington won the Pac-12 championship game, beating Utah in a 10-3 shootout.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Football 2018: Week Thirteen

Will this be Lucky 13 for Texas A&M? Will the Aggies finally beat LSU as a member of the SEC West? Can the arrival of Jimbo Fisher be the transforming event that will enable the Aggies to nail down an 8th win in their final regular season game? For that matter, can the Aggies win a last regular season game against ANYBODY for the first time since 2012, when Manziel was in his prime?

Thanksgiving weekend is here, with the usual assortment of traditional rivalry games on television, starting tonight on ESPN at 6:30 PM. Mississippi State (7-4) is favored by 11 points against Ole Miss (5-6), and should win 37-24 according to College Football News. My formula requires me to hope the Rebels pull off an upset instead. Update: Mississippi State poured it on, 35-3. So much for that.

For some reason, Texas A&M is a narrow (2.5 point) favorite Saturday at 6:30 PM on the SEC Network. LSU's defense is strong, but the offense is fairly mundane. CFN thinks the Aggies can use ball control and special teams (punting) to grind out a 24-20 win. I've been expecting LSU to win this game since last summer, so an Aggie win of any kind, by any score, will be a pleasant surprise. I expect LSU will win 27-13, and I hope I'm way off the mark as usual.

Update 10:44 PM Saturday: The LSU @ Texas A&M game from hell... it simply refuses to die. Tied 49-49 after the third overtime. Somebody has to lose this motherfuckin' game eventually.

Last word, 11:58 PM Saturday: The Aggies won the game on the last play of the 7th overtime period, when Kellen Mond completed a pass for a 2-point conversion, making the final score 74-72. Before the game, I imagined at least a dozen ways LSU could win the game, and a couple of ways A&M might win it. None of them involved A&M scoring 74 points in a game with seven overtime periods. Un-fucking-believable. No one has ever watched the Aggies win a game like this one before tonight, since there have only been five of them in history.

Arkansas (2-9) plays at Missouri (7-4) on Friday (CBS at 1:00 PM) as a big underdog (three touchdowns), and Missouri is the CFN pick to win 48-31. I'd like to see the Razorbacks win this game, but it won't happen. Update: There's a reason Arkansas was 2-9, and they're 2-10 now. Missouri steamrolled them 38-0.

Saturday's rivalry games involving SEC teams, with CFN score predictions:
  • Georgia Tech (7-4) at Georgia (10-1) on SEC Network at 11:00 AM. The Bulldogs have too much of everything, and should roll 38-17. FINAL SCORE: Georgia 45-21
  • Florida (8-3) at Florida State (5-6) on ABC at 11:00 AM. Favored by 5 points, the Gators will knock off FSU by a touchdown, 34-27. FINAL SCORE: Florida 41-14
  • Auburn (7-4) at Alabama (11-0) on CBS at 2:30 PM. Auburn is a 24.5 point dog on the road, and Bama should handle them easily 38-10. I'm still pissed off about A&M blowing a late lead to Auburn a few weeks ago, and I want Alabama to give Auburn the whipping the Aggies couldn't deliver. FINAL SCORE: Alabama 52-21
  • South Carolina (6-4) at Clemson (11-0) on ESPN at 6:00 PM. This game is of interest to me only because TAMU played both teams this season. At the time the games were played, Clemson was a quality Aggie loss, and South Carolina was a quality Aggie win. In this one, Clemson is a huge (26.5 point) favorite, and should dismantle the Gamecocks 40-17. The formula says I want Clemson to lose, but it ain't happening. FINAL SCORE: Clemson 56-35

Friday, November 16, 2018

Football 2018: Week Twelve

Last summer, I believed Texas A&M's eleventh regular season game would be a fairly easy win against a cream puff, probably their seventh (and final) win of the season. The opponent, University of Alabama-Birmingham, appeared back then to be the kind of opponent A&M has typically been able to outscore even in their off years.

But UAB rolls into town with a 9-1 record against Conference USA competition and a salty, high-pressure defense, so this won't be the stroll in the park that I hoped the Aggies might enjoy. The home team is favored by 16, and College Football News anticipates A&M's ball control offense will outperform UAB's pressure defense in a 30-17 win. The way the Aggie season has gone, I'll take that result in a heartbeat.

Update 12:40 AM Sunday: A so-so SEC West team should be able to beat a very good Conference USA team by 20 points, right? Well, Texas A&M is definitely a so-so team at 7-4, but they're still good enough to thump U.A.B. by three touchdowns, 41-20.

The rest of the SEC television schedule is cluttered with a slew of non-conference mismatches like Rice vs LSU, and The Citadel vs Alabama. There are only two games with any viewing potential whatsoever, other than UAB at TAMU:
  • Missouri (6-4) at Tennessee (5-5) in the CBS showcase game at 2:30 PM. Missouri is a six-point road favorite, but CFN predicts Tennessee will pull off a mild upset (24-23) at home. I hate Missouri, so I want the Vols to win. Update: No upset here as Missouri goes wild 50-17 over the Vols. Shit.
  • Ole Miss (5-5) at Vanderbilt (4-6) at 6:30 PM on SEC Network. The Commodores are favored by a field goal at home and CFN expects they'll narrowly win a 41-37 shootout. I can never get enough of seeing Ole Miss lose. Update: Vanderbilt got by Ole Miss 36-29 in overtime. Hooray for Vandy.
Other scores I noticed: Mississippi State demolished Arkansas 52-6, and LSU whipped the Rice Owls 42-10.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Football 2018: Week Eleven

Another disappointing season of Texas A&M football wraps up with three consecutive home games. The first one matches two 5-4 teams when Ole Miss visits for a game that will be on CBS at 11:00 AM. For some reason, the Aggies are favored by 11.5 points, although they haven't won an SEC game yet by more than a touchdown. Ole Miss has a good quarterback and a passing game that's capable of producing explosive plays, unlike A&M's pedestrian aerial attack with Kellen Mond. The Aggies are vulnerable against an effective passing quarterback, as proven in the 4th quarter of last week's debacle at Auburn. On the other hand, Ole Miss has a pass defense that may allow Mond to look better than he really is.

College Football News predicts that the poor Ole Miss pass defense and A&M's ball control offense will allow the Aggies to hog time of possession and escape with a 34-26 win at Kyle Field. We'll see about that.

Update 2:37 PM Saturday: It was a struggle most of the way, but Texas A&M finally won an SEC game by more than a touchdown. This one ended up 38-24, and it looked like there were more good plays than bad ones.

The other SEC games, with CFN score predictions, are as follows:
  • South Carolina (5-3) at Florida (6-3). The Gators, favored by 6.5 points, win 27-23 at home.
  • Missouri, favored by 17 against Vanderbilt, should win 34-23.
  • Kentucky, favored by 6 points at Tennessee, gets a 23-14 win.
  • Mississippi State, a big 24 point underdog at Alabama, only loses 30-16 after the Crimson Tide has a mild letdown.
  • Auburn (6-3) at Georgia (8-1), with the Bulldogs favored by two touchdowns. Auburn keeps it close, but still loses 30-24. I'm pulling for Georgia in this game.
  • LSU (7-2), facing Arkansas (2-7) as a 13.5 point road favorite, wins 37-21.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Football 2018: Week Ten

Last summer, when the season was still a few weeks away, my outlook on Texas A&M football in 2018 was a mixture of general indifference with a small portion of curiosity. The last four years of Sumlin football was the sort of grind that turned my enthusiasm to dust, but Jimbo Fisher's arrival generated enough feverish conversation that I decided to peek at the Clemson game in case anything good happened.

As things worked out, the Aggies played well enough in a loss that could easily have been a win that my excitement level clicked up several notches. Their game against Alabama was the expected loss, but wasn't the type of ass-whipping that would've led me to throw in the towel. Then the Aggies produced consecutive hard-fought wins against three fairly respectable SEC opponents, and I realized the old habit was forming again. If the Aggies had gone to Mississippi State after their open week and kicked the shit out of the Bulldogs, maybe 27-10 or something like that, I would've been hooked, for better or worse.

Instead, Jimbo's team laid the kind of turd at MSU that Kevin's teams laid routinely starting in 2014, and I got the needed wake-up call.

Tomorrow, Texas A&M (5-3) is at Auburn (5-3) in an 11:00 AM game on ESPN. The Aggies are underdogs on the road (4 points), and College Football News predicts Auburn will be the better team at quarterback and defensive line. The final score should be 23-16, leaving Jimbo and his team a mediocre 5-4 with a probable loss to LSU still ahead.

If the Aggies regroup at Auburn with efficiency and effectiveness comparable to that shown against Clemson, Kentucky, and South Carolina, they might create enough late momentum to salvage a season that's coming apart. I haven't seen anything like that for several years now. Since it's an 11:00 game, I'll probably watch until Auburn gets ahead by more than ten points.

Update 12:30 Saturday: Texas A&M is up 17-14 at the half. The game has followed the pattern set against Kentucky and South Carolina: The Aggies are playing well enough to stay slightly behind or slightly ahead, but not well enough to establish a comfortable lead. I hate games like this.

Update 3:28 PM Saturday:

"Put that coffee down. Coffee's for closers only."
(Alec Baldwin to Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross)

The Aggies played well in the third quarter and added a touchdown to expand their lead to 24-14. But they aren't closers.  Midway through the 4th quarter, Kellen Mond tossed a pass that looked like he wanted it to be intercepted. Auburn quickly turned that gift into a TD to cut the lead to 24-21, and the collapse was underway.

Mond showed some promise early in the season but he's regressing now, and his turnovers resulted in 14 easy points for Auburn in their 28-24 win. Add another miss by Small on a short FG attempt, plus a defense that was nowhere to be found on Auburn's final scoring drive, and the decision has been posted: No coffee for these guys. Coffee's for closers only.

This is shaping up to be a 6-6 team, and I'm through messin' around with 'em. Really cannot understand why this bunch was ranked in the Top 25 last week.

The next opponent on the schedule, Ole Miss, hosts South Carolina in the 11:00 AM game on the SEC Network. This is a pick-'em game, and CFN expects Ole Miss to win a 38-34 shootout. I'm for the Gamecocks. Update: It was a shootout, but South Carolina won it, 48-44.

In the SEC showcase game at 2:30 PM on CBS, Georgia (7-1) visits Kentucky (7-1) as a road favorite. An upset win by Kentucky here would make A&M's win over the Wildcats look a little more impressive, but CFN forecasts a 23-14 victory for Georgia. Update: The Bulldogs handled Kentucky by doubling up, 34-17.

The biggest SEC game of the day should be Alabama (8-0) at LSU (7-1) at 7:00 PM on CBS. Bama has that usual unbeatable look and is a two-touchdown favorite. Can LSU shock the nation with an upset win? CFN says they can't, and will lose 31-16 instead. Update: No surprise here. Alabama keeps rolling 29-0.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Football 2018: Week Nine

There won't be many interesting SEC games on TV this weekend, since Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU have bye weeks. The SEC showcase game at 2:30 PM on CBS features Florida vs Georgia, two 6-1 teams ranked in the AP top ten this week. Georgia is favored by a touchdown, and College Football News expects the Bulldogs will cover the spread easily with a 30-17 win. Update: No surprises here. Georgia rolls over the Gators, 36-17.

Texas A&M plays at Mississippi State (4-3) on ESPN at 6:00 PM. The Aggies are a slight underdog on the road (2.5 points), but CFN thinks they'll win 20-17 because the MSU passing game isn't effective enough to take advantage of A&M's most obvious weakness on defense (the secondary). I'm nervous about this matchup because A&M has wobbled on the brink of disaster against Arkansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina. And since Johnny Manziel's last season (2013), Mississippi State has gone 3-1 against A&M, with the only loss at Kyle Field in 2015.

The losses against MSU in 2014 and 2016 were pivot points that turned promising 5-0 and 7-1 seasons into sickening 8-5 disappointments. Last year, the defeat began the skid that turned a semi-respectable 5-2 start into a 7-6 finish and the end of the Sumlin era.

Jimbo Fisher is already proving that A&M football during his tenure won't look like what we saw throughout Sumlin's post-Manziel fade into obscurity. Maybe he'll initiate a winning streak against Mississippi State this weekend.

Update 10:31 PM Saturday; In the old Southwest Conference and later in the Big 12, there were a few teams that seemed to be a regular pain in the ass for Texas A&M in football. Three that stick out in my memory were Missouri, Kansas State, and especially Texas Tech. Now, in the SEC West, the nemesis role is being filled by Mississippi State. I had a feeling all week long that A&M would find a way to embarrass themselves in Starkville, so I didn't watch the game on TV. Sure enough, they got rolled 28-13 in what was apparently a discouraging exhibition of incompetence. So much for those daydreams about a 9-3 season record.

Added 7:42 PM Sunday: Correction after re-reading my original post. Jimbo's team looked exactly like Sumlin's teams against Mississippi State, making the defeat even harder to stomach.