A 2017 college football preview extravaganza, featuring Rick and Morty

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BYKE.

LEEEEGOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I’m not going waste time with some flowery introduction to the pomp and pageantry of college football, because if you’re here, you already know that and love it as much as I do. I’ll instead say that this offseason suuuuuuucked.

It felt like forever ago that Deshaun Watson hooked up with Hunter Renfroe to stun Alabama in the final seconds of the national championship game. The only thing that sustained me through the longest winter and summer ever was muting political buzzwords on Twitter; getting knee-deep into Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s twisted masterpiece Rick and Morty; and rewatching games from a typically crazy 2016 college football season.

Now, we’re hours away from the start of the 2017 season, so we must once again venture into the unknown. Almost like traveling into another dimension. Preferably not one with hamsters stuck in people’s butts.

If you haven’t guessed (it was in the title, you blind fool), this preview will be centered around Rick and Morty, so if you’ve got a problem with that,

Let’s get to it.

 

The Pressing Questions

Is Alabama really that much better than everyone else? Kinda. There’s no denying as long as Nick Saban coaches the Crimson Tide, they will be as talented as any team in the country. And while there’s already a wealth of talent returning from a team that was seconds away from repeating as national champs, the new pieces could be just as exciting. Jalen Hurts is extremely gifted and can only improve on his freshman campaign, but then Saban recruited Tua Taigovailoa. Bo Scarborough shined down the stretch and is a legit Heisman Trophy candidate, but then Saban recruited Najee Harris. Calvin Ridley gives the Tide a big play weapon in the passing game, but then Saban recruited Jeury Judy. And that’s before we talk about the defense. The point is, Alabama constantly reloads to where you can’t say they got worse.

So, who got better enough to compete with ‘Bama? The list is longer than you might think. Penn State, Florida State and USC were red-hot at the end of last season and will look to carry that momentum over into 2017. Ohio State should be great again if they figure out how to get their offense on track from last season’s miserable finish. Washington and Michigan will be contenders once again. Heck, within their own conference, Alabama will have to deal with an improved Auburn squad, LSU, Georgia and Florida. Oh, and there’s that Clemson team. How’d they do last year?

Wait, Oklahoma wasn’t on that list of title contenders. What about the Sooners? Alright, so here’s the thing about Oklahoma. Let’s pretend Bob Stoops didn’t suddenly retire within the last month and hand the program over to offensive coordinator Lincoln Reilly. Even if Stoops is still coaching this team, can you name one player on the roster outside of quarterback Baker Mayfield? You can only do that if you’re a hardcore fan or you Googled their roster to spite me. Oklahoma lost a lot and has a first-year head coach. Plus, as we’ll discuss a little bit later, the Big 12 is a lot deeper than many have given it credit for.

Should Lamar Jackson really be this much of an underdog to repeat as the Heisman winnerHell. No. Did we just forget how electrifying Jackson was after the rest of Louisville’s squad collapsed in the final 3 games last season. Sure, Mayfield joins USC’s Sam Darnold and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley in a loaded field of contenders, but Jackson is the most exciting and impactful player in the nation when he plays up to his potential. If he does that, he’s joining Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner.

Who’s this year’s Washington? Chris Petersen fast-tracked his building of the Huskies into a powerhouse program with a Pac-12 title and a trip to the College Football Playoff after many pegged U-Dub as a darkhorse team in the preseason. If we use Washington as the model for a surprise CFP team, you need a young but experienced quarterback, a solid run game and a ferocious defense. Louisville and Georgia jump to mind, but if Tom Herman works his magic right away and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando can orchestrate a big-time turnaround in Austin, the Texas Longhorns seem like a prime candidate. And yes, I know I made this prediction last season, so yes, it’ll probably be wrong.

…These predictions are terrible. Why do you keep writing these? 

 

The Conferences

ACC

Who’s Hot: Clemson Outside of losing the best quarterback in school history and a dozen or so other offensive weapons, the Tigers are in pretty good shape. No, I’m not being sarcastic. Dabo Swinney has his team more than primed for a repeat run. The defense will be nasty led by lineman Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell. If Kelly Bryant does a serviceable job at QB and CJ Fuller and Tavien Feaster emerge as weapons in the running game, the Tigers will be right in the thick of the ACC race all year long.

Who’s Not: Virginia 2 wins last season in Bronco Mendenhall’s first year leading the Cavaliers. It won’t stay like this forever, but it’s also getting better right away.

Lukewarm: Miami (FL) Mark Richt is a real good coach who also always seem to finish 8-4. No reason the Hurricanes do any better or any worse than that again.

Best Player: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson In a league loaded with D-line talent like North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb and Boston College’s Harold Landry, Wilkins is the guy that can slide out to end at 310 lbs and not blink. He’ll be one of many first-round picks the ACC produces in the trenches this coming spring.

Champion: Clemson If they don’t knock off Alabama in Week One, presumptive favorite Florida State will have to run the table from that point out to get to win their own league, let alone get to the playoff. Even though I think Louisville can knock them off on the road in Week Three, home victories over Auburn and the ‘Noles should be enough to get the Tigers back on top.

American Athletic Conference

Who’s Hot: Memphis Mike Norvell’s first season leading the Tigers was a smashing success, but the bowl loss to Western Kentucky left a sour taste in their mouths. If Riley Ferguson improves on nearly 3,700 yards passing and 32 touchdowns, there might be something cooking on Beale Street besides barbecue.

Who’s Not: UConn I mean, at least a lot of players return? Ehhhhhhhhhh

Lukewarm: Temple They won’t achieve the 10 wins last year, but there shouldn’t be a major drop-off in Geoff Collins’ first season with the return of running back Ryquell Armstead and wide receiver Ventell Bryant.

Best Player: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston He could easily be the top prospect in the upcoming draft class if he was eligible. As a freshman, Oliver picked up 23 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, so if the logic follows that they can get better, look out.

Champion: South Florida Charlie Strong inherits a program that Willie Taggert was already building into a mid-major force. QB Quinton Flowers is one of the most dangerous dual threats in the country.

Big 12

Who’s Hot: Oklahoma State Mason Rudolph is a trendy Heisman candidate largely because of the ridiculous talent around him. Receivers James Washington, Jalen McCleskey, Marcell Ateman and Chris Lacy team with Freshman All-American running back Justice Hill to give the Cowboys arguably the most explosive offense in America.

Who’s Not: Iowa State They’re not even enjoyably bad like Kansas, which leads to fun moments like the win over Texas. They’re just…bad.

Lukewarm: West Virginia Will Grier gives them stability at quarterback, and Justin Crawford returns as one of the best backs in the conference, but they just never win the big games to truly break through to the top of the league.

Best Player: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State He averaged 19.4 yards per catch in 2016 and has 26 career touchdown catches. If the best is yet to come, you’re looking at the best receiver in the country.

Champion: Texas THAT’S RIGHT, WE’RE DOING THIS AGAIN. 

I will preface this by saying I think Oklahoma State is a close second. However, if Herman gets Shane Buechele to another level; the run game of Chris Warren and Kyle Porter pounds out the yards; and Orlando turns the defense into a force, the ‘Horns can win almost every game on their schedule, especially the Red River Rivalry with Boomer Sooner.

Big Ten

Who’s Hot: Penn State Other than Okie State, it’s hard to find a more stacked offense than the Nittany Lions. Barkley is a Heisman stud, Trace McSorley has a penchant for the big play, and DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki provide plenty of weapons on the perimeter.

Who’s Not: Rutgers WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK (although Janarion Grant is a fun player)

Lukewarm: Iowa Kirk Ferentz’s absurd contract extension means an unending cycle of 7-8 win seasons until Iowa City finally burns to the ground.

Best Player: All the Ohio State defensive ends Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa would start anywhere else in the country and be All-Americans. Instead, they team up with Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard to form the most formidable defensive line in the land.

Champion: Penn State The conference crown will again come down to the showdown between the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions. My bet is James Franklin has just enough to get past Urban Meyer one more time.

Conference USA

Who’s Hot: Louisiana Tech Skip Holtz really has done a great job making the Bulldogs a scoring machine every year. It doesn’t hurt to recruit studs like do-everything back Jarred Craft.

Who’s Not: Rice The only thing that came out of Week Zero was learning that the Owls are terrible. Alternative uses for Rice Stadium?

Lukewarm: Middle Tennessee Probably gonna win a few games, pull one big upset. Brent Stockstill should again be solid at quarterback. Nothing real special here.

Best Player: Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky Threw for 4,363 yards and 37 TDs last year and could get even better.

Champion: Western Kentucky Even with new head coach Mike Sanford taking over for Jeff Brohm, weapons like D’Andre Ferby and Mik’Quan Deane won’t let the Hilltoppers slow down.

MAC

Who’s Hot: Miami (OH) Chuck Martin’s squad made a bowl game and only lost by a point to Mississippi State. A defense that was top-40 in the country in the major categories should make the Redhawks tough again.

Who’s Not: Buffalo or Kent State Take your pick, it’s ugly either way.

Lukewarm: Western Michigan PJ Fleck’s departure means they won’t be the best Group of 5 team in the land, but Tim Lester should stabilize things enough to stay in the hunt for the conference title.

Best Player: Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo The senior can flat sling it, leading the Rockets to the tenth-best scoring and seventh-best passing offense in the country.

Champion: Toledo Jason Candle’s first full season showed the Rockets wouldn’t slow down, and now that WMU is taking a step back, the league crown should be theirs.

Mountain West

Who’s Hot: Wyoming Craig Bohl is working magic, guiding the Cowboys to 8 wins and a bowl game, both unheard things around Laramie. Josh Allen might be the best NFL draft quarterback prospect.

Who’s Not: Fresno State Yuck.

Lukewarm: Hawai’i Probably a bowl team that will score a lot of points but will play waayyyy too late at night for you to watch.

Best Player: Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State He can sling it, but he was actually better as a freshman than he was last season. Plenty of time to impress NFL scouts this fall.

Champion: Boise State San Diego State will again make a push for the league crown, but there are just too many weapons around Rypien for Bryan Harsin’s team to be held down for long.

Pac-12

Who’s Hot: USC I can actually prove that hotness, as Darnold’s arrival into the starting lineup resulted in a 9-game win streak to finish last season, currently the longest active one in the country.

Who’s Not: Arizona Things have gone south for Rich Rodriguez really fast. Remember 2 years ago, when many thought they were a playoff contender? Never trust a preseason prediction.

Lukewarm: Stanford David Shaw will have a good team, and Bryce Love is going to be a star behind that massive offensive line, but their standard is a conference championship these days, so if they fall short, they just did OK.

Best Player: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC Darnold isn’t the only reason everyone’s so high on the Trojans. Jones had his best games down the stretch when Southern Cal got hot, and he’ll have help from highly touted freshman Stephen Carr.

Champion: USC Jake Browning and Dante Pettis give Washington a fighting chance, and UCLA should be much better, but the Trojans are back to being one of the best teams in the nation. Rasheem Greene will give the defense a premier pass-rusher, and the linebackers are deep with Porter Gustin and Cameron Smith leading the way.

SEC

Who’s Hot: Georgia Kirby Smart is a mad genius defensively and has all 12 starters returning to that side of the ball. Combine that with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel running the dang ball (love you, Mike Bobo, and Jacob Eason’s potential to be a star quarterback, and the Dawgs should finally live up to expectations, or even exceed them.

Who’s Not: Kentucky No waaayyyy they duplicate last season if everybody in the league is better. Only Ole Miss will have it worse because of their bowl ban.

Lukewarm: Auburn Yes, Gus Mahlzahn should string together back-to-back solid seasons with the addition of Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham at QB, and the run game will again be solid with Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, but 9 wins still probably doesn’t win this league.

Best Player: Derrius Guice, LSU Leonard Fournette getting hurt didn’t completely lsow down the Tigers. Ed Orgeron is gonna run the ball a lot, and Guice will have a chance to ascend into the Heisman conversation because of it.

Champion: Alabama While Auburn, LSU and Florida can all pose threats, and Georgia will make the SEC Championship game mean something, I’m not falling into the trap of doubting Nick Saban again, especially when his team has ample motivation.

Sun Belt

Who’s Hot: do you even care

Who’s Not: ’cause I sure don’t

Lukewarm: Can we wrap this up

Best Player: Jalin Moore, RB, Appalachian State Ok, we’ll take this semi-seriously. He’s the best player on the best team in the league and will try to build on his 1,400 yards from a year ago.

Champion: Appalachian State Troy will make a push, but the Mountaineers are a solid football team, good enough to throw a scare into Georgia in Week One.

The Rankings

25. South Florida We’ll sneak them in here because they should be the Group of 5 representative in the New Year’s Six.

24. Tennessee We’ll sneak the Vawls in here too because Butch Jones certainly has recruited the talent to be a top-25 team.

23. Virginia Tech Justin Fuente made the Hokies an immediate winner. A chance to put up a spectacular season rests on freshman quarterback Josh Jackson.

22. UCLA Josh Rosen is back, and there’s way too much talent for Jim Mora Jr. to not make some type of run. Which is why, naturally, they won’t live up to this prediction.

21. Oklahoma Yep, we’re putting them all the way down here. Mayfield gets them to 9 wins, but with a road trip to Ohio State and Bedlam looming, that’s it.

20. West Virginia Grier gives the offense enough of a boost to be the fourth-best team in the Big 12, but that’s it.

19. Miami (FL) Mark Walton runs the ball a lot, just not enough to make this team like the ‘Canes of old.

18. Kansas State Jesse Ertz leads a veteran bunch, which always seems to spell success with Bill Snyder at the helm.

17. Florida Jim McElwain has loaded the Gators up at every position except the most important one. Either Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire or redshirt freshman Felippe Franks needs to step right away against Michigan.

16. Wisconsin Paul Chryst has built a consistent winner, but the Badgers aren’t quite ready to ascend past “best 3-loss team in the nation” status.

15. LSU They have all the talent in the world, but like Florida, they’ve struggled for so long to find the right guy at quarterback. Danny Etling doesn’t exactly scream upgrade, but new offensive coordinator Matt Canada worked wonders at Pitt.

14. Stanford Here’s hoping Keller Chryst takes a step forward at QB, otherwise the ceiling in 9 wins.

13. Michigan Jim Harbaugh will not struggle to recruit and coach talent, but only having Wilton Speight back as a significant player is a lot of talent to replace.

12. Florida State Yes, they are loaded for bear, and yes, this will probably the most wrong prediction on this stupid thing, but having to start with Alabama and still have to go to Clemson later in the year is a tall task, even for Jimbo Fisher and highly-touted freshman running back Cam Akers.

11. Auburn Stidham provides a spark at quarterback, but visiting Clemson Week Two is a trick task. Oh, and they have this little game called the Iron Bowl they have to play.

10. Oklahoma State Only suffer 2 losses, but one is in the resurrected Big 12 championship game with a playoff spot on the line.

9. Clemson They win them all but Lousiville, which just denies them a third straight ACC crown.

8. Washington Browning and the Huskies can absolutely make it back to the Pac-12 title game again, but they’d also have to take down USC. They just barely miss out on a repeat.

7. Ohio State They’ll just miss out this year after sneaking in last season.

6. Georgia What the heck, let’s make a bold, ill-advised prediction and say the Dawgs make it to the SEC title game unbeaten.

5. Louisville We’re in literal toss-up mode here for the last playoff spot. Jackson is even better in winning his second straight Heisman, guiding the Cardinals past Clemson but not avoiding the road date against Florida State. If they go unbeaten, they obviously get in. If not, the committee will have a decision to make, and I think they choose…

The Playoff

4. Texas Yeah, we’re doing this again. PLEASE STOP LAUGHING.

Buechele is better than last year’s pretty solid freshman campaign; Chris Warren and Kyle Porter are a force running the ball; and Malik Jefferson, Chris Nelson and Poona Ford lead a defensive turnaround. They just miss out on knocking off to USC in Week Three, but the Longhorns do beat Oklahoma, knock off Oklahoma State twice and force the committee’s hand by having a victory over a team securely in the playoff.

3. USC Darnold plays his way to New York for the Heisman ceremony. Jones and Carr run the ball well enough to give the Trojans a diverse offense that goes 13-0 and gets back to the Rose Bowl. This time around, however, it doesn’t work out as well as last season’s epic.

2. Alabama HAHAHAHAHAHAHA YOU THOUGHT I FINALLY PICKED THEM TO WIN IT ALL IN YOUR DREAMS. In all seriousness, the Crimson Tide should get back to the national title game, but not without major hurdles of facing Florida State in the opener, Auburn on the road, Georgia in a huge SEC Championship game and Texas in the Sugar Bowl. However, they have way too much talent in place to not overcome those. Just not enough to beat…

1. Penn State McSorley and Co. light up scoreboards, and Barkley just misses out on the Heisman behind Jackson. The defense takes a step forward behind defensive end Shareef Miller and All-American safety Marcus Allen. The Nittany Lions don’t lose a game, but even if they do, they don’t drop the important ones, like at Ohio State, another Big Ten title clash with Wisconsin, a Rose Bowl rematch with USC and an epic national championship game with Alabama.

Don’t like it? Too bad these are the facts. Peace oot.

 

A Beginner’s Guide to the 2017 Oscars

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One of the biggest Sundays on the calendar has finally arrived. After weeks of anticipation and hype, the time has finally come for an American tradition like no other:

The Daytona 500.

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GO IN A CIRCLE. GO IN A CIRCLE. GO IN A CIRCLE.

Kidding. This Sunday’s not that important, but the 89th Academy Awards will be handed out in recognition of the greatest achievements in film in the last year.

It’s always confused me why the Oscars, if they’re all about “achievements in cinema,” don’t also recognize the movies that achieved a new level of terrible. Like, Collateral Beauty was bad, but it was a new kind of bad. That’s technically an achievement.

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Poor Will. Poor Kate. Well, anywho.

The movies you saw in 2016 that you liked best will not win an Oscar. They probably arent’t even nominated. But it’s ok. Most of the films and people who can win deserve to do so. So if you’d like to learn more about some movies you haven’t seen that you’d probably really like, as well as, obviously, sounding smarter than everyone else while you watch the show Sunday night, then come along. We’re going to decide who should win, who will win, and why Leo had to make love to a bear to win.

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Best Original Screenplay

Who will win: Manchester by the Sea

Who should win: The Lobster or Hell or High Water

Manchester is the most depressing film of all time that you should only watch if you really think the world is just too good a place and you need to balance things out. The other options are a surreal comedy with some really smart dialogue or a western with Jeff Bridges. Choose both of these every time over a movie that makes you feel bad for people from New England.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who will win: Arrival

Who should win:  Arrival

I will gush more about this movie later, but just note the greatest strength of this film is its script, so this is a massive upset that I will get legit angry over if it doesn’t win.

Best Visual Effects

Who will win: The Jungle Book

Who should win: The Jungle Book

I’m not against Doctor Strange  or Kubo And the Two Strings pulling an upset here, they are visually stunning films, but Jungle Book had one real human character on screen the whole time and you still totally buy it. Plus, there are few things as scary as Idris Elba Tiger.

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(Wets pants)

Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing

Who will win: I don’t care

Who should win: Neither should you

Best Production Design

Who will win: Passengers

Who should win: Hail, Caesar!

I honestly believe Passengers earned this. It’s a sleek-looking movie. The sets are gorgeous. But this should go to Caesar for two reasons: 1) the ability to recreate the sprawling movie sets from the ’40s and ’50s should not be underestimated; and 2) the Coen Brothers are geniuses who need to have another piece of comedy gold recognized just so that more people will watch it.

Best Original Song

Who will win: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land

Who should win: “You’re Welcome,” Moana

For the first time, we choose one not on the final ballot. Lin-Manuel Miranda got an Oscar nom this year, just for the wrong song. Hell, of all the songs to pick from La La Land, they went with the two that were just okay. “Audition” is a big, long, loud power ballad, the “Climb Every Mountain” of the movie. But when you watch the film, it’s just Emma Stone sitting in an audition for a movie and suddenly breaking into song, with the camera spinning around her because there’s nothing to cut to. It sounds pretty sure, but where’s the skill involved here? You know, like turning a former WWE superstar into a Disney animated classic character and singer?

This is a real thing that happened. The man behind Hamilton is such a miracle worker that he turned the Rock into a song-and-dance man. Either that, or the Rock is so supremely talented that he could sing this whole time and we just didn’t know about it. Regardless, this is both a really catchy tune and perhaps the final stroke in Dwayne’s master plan to take over the world.

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Voldemort can’t, but I can.

Best Original Score

Who will win: La La Land

Who should win: La La Land

There isn’t really anyway around this. At this point, it’s pretty clear director Damien Chazelle likes jazz music. Chazelle likes jazz a lot. He likes jazz as much as Augustus Gloop likes chocolate. If there was a river of jazz, Chazelle would dive into it and drown, and Wonka would be like, “Oh well, he gave into gluttony, his fault not mine.”

But here’s the thing: as much as Chazelle acts like jazz is the greatest thing since sliced bread, he has a buddy named Justin Hurwitz that also likes jazz. Hurwitz composed the score for Whiplash, and he came back for La La Land. And if there’s one thing you should know about Justin Hurwitz, it’s that he is damn good at composing jazz.

This is the opening number. Four minutes in, you are already tapping your toes, fully convinced you will never hear a song so catchy ever again. Repeat this process five more times, add in fantastic non-lyrical pieces, and you see why, chief among any other characteristic, the score is the biggest reason why people gush over this film.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Who will win: Star Trek Beyond

Who should win: No one.

Suicide Squad is nominated for an Oscar because of this category. Suicide Squad is a poorly-edited music video, which means it’s a steaming pile as a movie. This category is dumb. The Oscars are kinda dumb.

Best Foreign Language Film

Who will win: Toni Erdman

Who should win: Toni Erdman

I’ve heard from reliable sources that this movie is pretty good. I’ll never see it, at least unless that rumor of the American remake with Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig is true.

Best Editing

Who will win: La La Land

Who should win: Arrival

This is one of the many categories where the Academy’s unrequited love for La La Land led to the film being nominated for a category that makes no sense. There is literally no logic to giving an editor an award for a movie where 60% percent of the film is shot in one take and the editor didn’t have to do anything. On the flip side, the twists and turns of the plot in Arrival force the editor to really be on his toes and shaping the film in a way that makes sense. If he slips up, the reveal at the end of the film falls apart.

Best Short Documentary

Who will win: The White Helmets

Who should win: All of them

They’re all really good and really educational. Check the full list of nominees.

Best Feature Documentary

Who will win: OJ: Made in America

Who should win: OJ: Made in America

I would normally say again that all the nominees are deserving and worth your time. But OJ was a game-changing piece of media. Ezra Edelman’s a bonafide genius in the art of the documentary, and if you can stand to get through eight hours of film, you walk away with a startling new appreciation for one of the most famous incidents in American pop culture history.

Best Costume Design

Who will win: La La Land

Who should win: The Nice Guys

Another off-the-ballot choice. Everyone in La La Land dresses in bright primary colors, almost as if Warner Brothers finally took heed of all the notes from Batman v Superman about how color is not evil. I’m giving this one to Shane Black’s comedy because it wasn’t nominated for anything, which is unbelievably stupid because it’s the funniest movie I saw all year and is competing with Arrival for my undivided affection.

Best Cinematography

Who will win: Silence

Who should win: Silence

Proof of how much I loved Arrival is that Bradford Young managed to pull off shots I don’t generally notice when watching a movie but somehow jumped off the screen this time around. But I’m lying if I didn’t say director Martin Scorsese made a brilliant choice in Rodrigo Prieto. Silence is a long haul of a movie, but it’s beautiful to look at, and camera work had a lot to do with that.

Best Animated Feature Film

Who will win: Moana

Who should win: Kubo And the Two Strings

If you don’t know who John Musker and Ron Clements are, they’re the duo who came up with most of your favorite classic Disney animated films, and they did it again with Moana. It’s a great movie, I won’t deny, but Kubo is special. Not only is it the most ambitious and most visually stunning film ever from Laika, the kings of stop-motion animation, but the story feels straight out of Legend of Zelda. I adored Kubo, both for its storytelling and its animation, so it checks off every box you need to hit for this category except “made by Disney, who owns the TV network that broadcasts the Oscars.”

Best Director

Who will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Who should win: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival or Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Look, it’s a movie about how great Hollywood is, of course Hollywood loves it. And there’s no doubt Chazelle is extremely gifted-Whiplash is still my favorite movie of 2014-so it’s not that he’s unqualified for this. Far from it, La La Land is a darn good movie. But Villeneuve created such a unique film, so beautiful in its visual style but never bombastic about its design choices, while staying true to a character and emotion-drive story. The same goes for Jenkins, who ended up making the other-saddest movie of the year and deserves some credit for guiding the cast to a powerhouse performance.

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win: Viola Davis, Fences

Who should win: Naomie Harris, Moonlight or Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Of the two leads in Fences, Davis is the more powerful and attention-grabbing (Yeah, I said it, come at me Denzel). But here’s the thing: Davis already has a Tony Award for her performance in Fences when she played the role on Broadway. And not only is 80% of the adaption from stage to screen just the same as the play, the sets never change in the movie, just like a play! Why on earth did they film the play with a movie budget when I could do it for free by bringing a camcorder into the theater?!?!?

That’s really more Denzel’s fault that Viola’s, but if we’re talking strictly great movie performances, this is a tie between what I think, regardless of category, were the most stirring pieces of acting put to film in 2016. Williams and Harris own every moment they are on screen, which is saying a lot given the amount of talent surrounding them. They steal every scene and ended up providing us with the best scenes of the year. Both worthy winners.

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Who should win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight or Dev Patel, Lion

It’s really hard to parse out one great performance in Moonlight when the whole cast is just so gripping, but I understand and agree with why Ali is being picked out. Honestly, this whole group of nominees is really solid, so much so that Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals) was shunned in favor of Michael Shannon from the same film. Jeff Bridges is delightfully at home in Hell or High Water, and Lucas Hedges was really solid in Manchester. I’ll split it between Ali and Patel, who honestly should be nominated for lead actor but shouldn’t be overlooked for how good he was because the Academy isn’t good at their jobs.

Best Actress

Who will win: Emma Stone, La La Land

Who should win: Amy Adams, Arrival

You wanna know how stupid the Oscars is? You wanna know why people don’t take them seriously anymore? Meryl Streep was in a movie called Florence Foster Jenkins that no one saw and critics considered to be average at best. Meryl got an Oscar nomination for that film. Hailee Steinfeld, fresh off killing it in The Edge of Seventeen, is confused because she’s not old and bitter like the rest of us who know Meryl could sneeze and if it’s captured on camera it would win an Oscar.

Amy Adams, meanwhile, was snubbed while being the lead in the best movie of the year. She is forced by the script to carry that film, and she does that and more. Adams was transcendent, so of course she isn’t even nominated, because Meryl gave a speech at the Globes and we have to find some way to generate ratings. Because the Oscars are really just a TV show.

See, I knew I’d get mad about this totally unimportant event if I tried hard enough. Yay!

Best Actor

Who will win: Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Who should win: Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Just like Fences, the female lead has a more engaging performance in La La Land, to a point where the Academy doesn’t screw up and correctly identifies Stone and Gosling as co-leads, which should have happened with Denzel and Viola.

Casey Affleck was the lead dog in the clubhouse for a while for Manchester, and he has the Golden Globe to back up the sentiment he could still win, but I feel like the great performances by the supporting cast really propped him up. Also, there is that slight problem about him having no respect for women.

Gosling learned to play piano for the role, which is cool, but at least it doesn’t show as badly as his song-and-dance training (Props to Ryan for taking it on, but if I look at my feet when doing a choreographed dance routine, a professional probably shouldn’t).

But that’s being nitpicky. Gosling was magnificent as a bumbling P.I. in The Nice Guys, so I’ll allow it. At the end of the day, only one actor truly carried a film on his shoulders. That actor is not nominated because: 1)he wore a superhero costume through 70% of the movie; and 2) if Reynolds won, you know he would accept in character, wearing the full red spandex, and give the most sexed-up, pop-culture referenced, unapologetic, inappropriate, profanity-laced acceptance speech ever uttered, resulting in television being permanently shut down by the FCC.

Best Picture

Who will win: La La Land

Who should win: Arrival

I have said before I like La La Land. I get the hype. It’s a film buff’s paradise, an ode to jazz of the past, a beautiful looking film with a phenomenal musical score. I am not here to begrudge you if you feel the same way or even stronger. I will say it didn’t lean all the way into embracing the fantastical nature of musicals, which sort of confused me about what sequences were real and were just fantasies.

I will also say that Fences is a really good play that shouldn’t be winning awards for movies; Lion is a good flick about the power of family that shows Dev Patel is a super star; Manchester by the Sea is really sad, but becomes an unintentional comedy when you realize that all the characters are probably Patriots fans and therefore the worst kind of people; it’s wonderful to see a story like Hidden Figures get recognition; it’s wonderful that films like Hell or High Water keep getting made; Hacksaw Ridge is a film about a pacifist that’s strangely proud of its violence and gore, so yeah, Silence got the shaft; and Moonlight is a tour-de-force of acting that would be my runner-up choice if I was in charge of this whole crazy process.

I will finally say this about Arrival: it was my favorite movie of 2016. It was stellar in every aspect of film making, all while telling a brilliant and emotionally moving story. I have a bias. But all I’d say is this: this movie is so great because I really can’t tell you what happens. I don’t want to spoil it. Please, do yourself a favor and watch most of these movies, but go check out Arrival. Then come back and tell me if that isn’t a film you won’t remember in 20 years. Because you will, just like you forgot something called The Artist won this stupid award once. Enjoy the show, and see you at the movies.

A Love Letter to the Chiefs

I can’t really describe my relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs outside of any terms besides a pair of lovers. I mean, I could try some different analogies. I’m just not sure they’d fit very well.

You really want something different?

…ok, I’ll try to change it up a bit. Here’s a few, tell me what you think:

  • My relationship with the Chiefs is like a farmer and a cow. All they do is violate my udders every time I’m unprepared.
  • My relationship with the Chiefs is like a bee and a flower. I am a beautiful creature that dies every time the Chiefs bumble over to suck out my nectar.
  • My relationship with the Chiefs is like being robbed at the Dollar Store. It’s terrible and frightening until you realize there’s not really anything they can take from you anymore.
  • My relationship with the Chiefs is like watching Batman vs Superman. It’s quite a long process that is mostly painful; partly hilarious in its ineptitude when Lex Luthor-Matt Cassel shows up asking for Jolly Ranchers; but pretty good for those brief moments when Wonder Woman-Jamaal Charles appears to kick ass and chew Amazonian bubble gun.

Hmmm. Pretty good. Let’s see what you guys think:

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Ah. I see. Romance analogy it is.

There are times I cannot stand the Chiefs. They can just be the absolute worst. They’re needy, incompetent, sloppy, and generally unable to support themselves. I have to do all the work. have to wake up and be there on Sundays. have to invest all my emotions and quite a bit of my money. Don’t give me this nonsense about “you don’t play on the team.” Sir, I am a fan. I am basically the team.

Then there’s the times I just can’t get enough Chiefs. Nobody is nicer, funnier, more entertaining, sexier and genuinely more awesome. The moments this team has given me over the years become moments because despite all the tough times we go through, me and my baby still click. We just get each other, you know?

We have a connection, me and the Chiefs. An unbreakable bond strengthened and forged in the fires of love. Despite my grumbling and complaining, the years have been good to us. So many good memories. You know, like-

Ok, not that, but what about-

Alright, that’s not great, but how ’bout-

&*((%^&*)%(%&($&%^*($^*$^(!!!!!!!!!

…why do I like this team again.

Seriously. I think it’s a fair question. What reason do I have for enjoying nothing but soulless, unending pain?

Year after year, I put myself through this. I accept that life is simply unfair and that I am meant to forever wear a jersey of some guy no one will know 30 years from now and get real excited when it’s 14-0 against the Houston Texans (who have a mascot that looks like an overweight, 40-year old demon wearing face paint) and think, “Yup, this is the year! This year they won’t suck as bad! I can feel it!” only to see the Texans erase this deficit on their way to another triumphant season of winning the worst division in sports with a 5-8-3 record and a $72 million dollar failed surfboard model that calls himself a “quarterback.”

I know who Eddie Kennison is. Do you know who Eddie Kennison is? I do. Because I have no life.

“But what about Tony Gonzalez, the greatest tight end ever? What about Priest and LJ? Trent Green? Dante the Human Joystick?” Congratulations, you remember the little bit of fun we had in 2003. You tasted the good life, but only a sip. You were there when we flew too close to the sun. We got burned, ironically by a man who has to put an inordinate amount of SPF 40 on his forehead.

2003 is not the highlight. It is the tragedy that defines this tragic team. It is my burden.

Eddie Kennison. Sammie Parker. Scott Fujita. Kawika Mitchell. Jamell Fleming. The Rotting Corpse Formerly Known as Dunta Robinson.

Junior Hemingway. Jonathan Baldwin. Mike McGlynn. Jackie Battle.

Damon Huard. The aforementioned Whitest Cassel. Elvis Grbac. Steve Bono. Brodie Croyle. Tyler Thigpen. Tyler F. Palko. TYLER F. PALKO.

I know who these people are. I know them because I was supposed to love them.

But how on earth are you supposed to love something that’s not going to love you back?

I need a drink. I’m getting something from the fridge.

(Gets up, trips over the Internet)

…what

…I…I like that.

Heh. Hehehehe. Hahahahaha. Yes. Yes. More.

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YES. YES. MORE. MORE.

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AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA MORE MORE!!!!!

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AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

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COME HERE, BABY. I’M SO SORRY I EVER SAID THOSE THINGS ABOUT YOU.

Alex Smith, sweet naive Alex, never willing to make a mistake to a point where I forget how good you are.

Travis Kelce, lord of the dance, Zeus, the man-beast that puts Gronk to shame on and off the field.

Ware and West. Mitch (both of them) and Big Fish. J-Mac. Conley. The Sausage.

Tyreek. I know the past isn’t great. I also know you’ve been a first-class guy from the moment you came to town, on top of being a first-class playmaker.

And when the lights come on, Tyreek. Ohhhhhhh, Tyreek.

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MMMMMMM YEAH BABY THAT’S IT.

Chris Jones, the Big Dawg. Nacho. Zombo. Ramik. Ghost Parker. Dirty Dan. Eric Murray. Steve Nelson.

Terrence Mitchell, the surprise hero. Tamba, the old vet. Dee Ford, the emerging star.

Marcus Peters, the next great shutdown corner. Eric Berry, the purest definition of man and warrior. Justin, the pass rusher that makes you wonder if DT came back for one last run. Hungry Pig.

HUNGRY PIG.

SNORT IT UP.

I even have room in my heart for you, Demetrius Harris, Albert Wilson and Phil Gaines. It’s not a lot of room, but it’s there.

Ever since Andy Reid and John Dorsey came to town four years ago, Big Red is not just a nickname or a guy with a costume and a Chinese menu. It’s who we are. It’s what we’ve become. Being a Chiefs fan used to be worse than the scarred histories of Cleveland or Detroit, always so close but falling just short. The Chiefs don’t come close. They’re just boring.

Being a Chiefs fan is not boring anymore. It’s not predictable, it’s not orthodox, and it’s not good for my heart. But it’s also not soul-crushing, not joyless, and it’s actually the best heart medication ever.

The epic comebacks against San Diego and Carolina. Ron Parker’s Peanut Punch to beat the Saints. EB’s epic homecoming in Atlanta. The doink in Denver. The Hungry Pig Christmas. Slobberknocking the Raiders when they’re supposed to be good again.

2016 has been the height of a new era of the Kansas City Chiefs, but the last four years all together have been magical. We take for granted what we’re witnessing. And now, with the best offense on a storied franchise coming to the biggest game Arrowhead has hosted in almost 20 years and God himself trying to intervene, waving his Terrible Towel and shaking down ice upon the earth, I’m not worried. I’m not scared. Sunday is not the most terrifying experience of my life.

Well, ok, that’s a lie, it’s absolutely terrifying.

But I also know it’s not the be-all end-all. The Chiefs might win that thing that would have Hank Stram’s name on it if that stupid Lombardi hadn’t coached the greatest team ever. They never win it. They might not.

And at the end of it all, it won’t matter to me. Because the Chiefs have won the battle and the war. The Chiefs aren’t just good, they’re good to me. It’s fun to love the Chiefs again. And what’s the point of being in love if it’s not fun?

Here’s to us, baby. 20 years and still going strong. I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side. See you Sunday.

Five for Five: Week Five

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This is a weekly series of five lists of essential information for the coming college football weekend. This week, we talk Louisville-Clemson, freshman running backs and the best of Les Miles.

Five Reasons Why Miami (FL) Is For Real

The defense is crushing opponents The ‘Canes have give up just 23 points total, best in the nation, and are second allowing only 217 total yards per game. They’ve only given up one touchdown pass and less than two yards per rushing attempt, numbers that will surely go up but are certainly a noteworthy start.

The pass rush makes quarterbacks uncomfortable 13 sacks in three games is another good pace to be on, led by Chad Thomas’ 2.5 QB take-downs.

Mark Walton is tearing up defenses The sophomore has emerged out of nowhere to be the lead back for a Hurricane rushing attack that is averaging 272 yards per game and just under eight yards per carry. Walton himself averages eight yards a pop and is coming off a great performance on the road against a good Appalachian State defense (16 carries, 130 yards, two TDs).

The deep ball is a strength The top three receivers-Ahmmon Richards, Stacey Coley and David Njoku-have all caught a touchdown pass of at least 54 yards and are averaging at least 12 yards a catch. Richards and Njoku are each averging 19 yards per completion, so with the run game staying strong, big plays over the top will be there.

Brad Kaaya can get better The junior quarterback is completing 66 percent of his passes and averaging nine yards per attempt, but he’s also thrown three interceptions and just now had his best game and broke the 200-yard mark, completing 21 of 27 passes for 368 yards and three TDs against App State.

Five Fabulous Freshmen Running Backs

Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin can still recruit speed, with Williams the latest example of Ricky Bobby’s mantra “I like to go fast.” Williams has piled up 280 yards and 14 yards per carry in the last two weeks alone, a pair of SEC wins for the Aggies away from home.

Chris Evans, Michigan The diminutive runner is a ball of energy that defenses can only hope to contain. Evans has piled up 213 yards and seven yards per carry in part-time work alongside De’Veon Smith, and he could be an X-factor versus Wisconsin’s stingy defense.

JaMycal Hasty, Baylor Forgive the trend, but before being held in check against Oklahoma State, Hasty had averaged nine yards a pop and provided a home run threat to counter the power running of Terence Williams and give the Bears some relief while Shock Linwood continues to round into form.

Mike Weber, Ohio State Despite being maybe the third-or-fourth most interesting part of the Buckeyes’ wildly entertaining offense, Weber’s still pounded out 351 yards and 6.5 yards per tote.

Joshua Jacobs, Alabama Nick Saban’s still searching for a lead dog in the backfield, and Jacobs made his case against his coach’s alma mater, rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns against Kent State.

Five Keys to Louisville-Clemson

How does Louisville handle the moment? We’re not talking about the national stage-Florida State proved they can more than handle the spotlight-but the pressure of playing what should be a four-quarter, down-to-the-wire affair at night in Death Valley. The Cardinals are beating opponents by an average of 41 points a game. Will cooler heads prevail for Bobby Petrino’s team when they absolutely have to make a play?

The performance of each team’s best cornerback We know receivers James Quick and Mike Williams have been studs for the Cardinals and Tigers, respectively. So the men tasked with shutting them down have a lot of work ahead of them. Clemson will ask Cordera Tankersley to keep up with the, well, quick Quick (I apologize), while Louisville will likely use Shaq Wiggins to try and play physical at the line of scrimmage with Williams and make up for a vast height difference.

Turnovers The element you can’t predict, and the one that often proves to be the difference. Clemson’s +3 in the TO differential, but the Tigers have given it away six times. Louisville’s at +2, but the Cardinals may have a case of the fumbles, with four of their six total lost.

The punt return game This week’s highlight matchup quietly pits two of the best punt returners in the ACC. Jaire Alexander averages 17 yards per return and took one to the house against FSu, while Ray Ray McCloud has arguably been better on the same number of returns with 18 yards per runback.

Tackling It sounds basic, but these are two absurdly good spread offenses with the best athletes in America, so wrapping up in space is important, especially in the backfield either disrupting the zone option game or getting a pass rush on the quarterback. Per SportSource Analytics, both teams are averaging at least 8.5 tackles for loss, so the defenses don’t lack for athleticism either.

Five Reasons You’ll Miss Les Miles

He killed the BCS Not only did he lead a two-loss team to a national championship, Miles also sunk title game ratings to an all-time low with 2011’s rematch with Alabama, leaving corporate sponsors fuming and college presidents scrambling for money so desperately that they actually listened to the general public and made a playoff a possibility.

The Mad Hatter Whether it was 5/5 on fourth down in ’07 against Florida, or the multiple fake field goals that left special teams coaches looking slack-jawed and fulfilled every kicker’s dream, Les was Riverboat Ron long before it was cool.

He’s a Michigan Man That’s supposed to be important, I guess. It also should have made us more prepared for Jim Harbaugh. We really should have seen it coming.

His 2007 SEC Championship pregame press conference Quite a few gems, but this was the one that introduced me to Les, and I’ll never forget “my DAMN STRONG football team:”

Eating grass 

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Godspeed, old friend.

Five (or More) Stone-Cold Locks

Record on the Year: 35-21

Record Last Week: 11-8

Houston (-29.5) at Connecticut One of the more absurd lines you’ll ever see. It’s also pretty accurate. Houston 42, UConn 7

Stanford at Washington (-3.5) The Huskies had been stellar up until last week when they barely escaped Arizona with a win. David Shaw keeps finding ways to win these types of games, no matter how much he wants to punt them away. Chris Petersen’s team is still a little too young to take the next step against the Cardinal. Stanford 27, Washington 24

Texas at Oklahoma State (-2.5) This becomes one of the real barometers on how much Charlie Strong’s team has matured, as the Longhorns will try to regroup from the loss to California. Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes will move the ball, but can the defense get some stops this weeks against Mason Rudolph and James Washington? I’ll take a swing and say just enough. Texas 45, Oklahoma State 35

Navy at Air Force (-7) Nothing like a battle of undefeated service academies. Always wise to take the home team in this type of game, especially when the Falcons have six different runners over 100 yards on the season. Air Force 28, Navy 24

Miami (FL) (-7) at Georgia Tech The Yellow Jackets have had more than a week to get the, erm, sting (again, I apologize) of the loss to Clemson out of their mouths, and they will come to play. Kaaya and the ‘Canes’ defense will really have to make its mark in Atlanta, and I was impressed enough by the win at App State to say they will do so. Miami 31, Georgia Tech 14

North Carolina at Florida State (-10) The Seminoles are fine. At least, their offense is, thanks to the return to form of Dalvin Cook. But defensive coordinator Charles Kelly still has some work to do, especially with Mitch Trubisky and the high-flying Tar Heel passing attack coming to Tallahassee. ‘Noles in a shootout. Florida St 49, North Carolina 42

Wisconsin at Michigan (-10.5) It will be physical, it will be hard-hitting, and the Badgers will come to play. A game worthy of a great weekend of college football likely comes down to which power-run offense can make a few more plays passing the ball. Wilton Spieght has Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson for targets, which I favor over Alex Hornibrook’s second career start and tight end Troy Fumagali. Michigan 24, Wisconsin 17

Tennessee (-3.5) at Georgia Hey, the Volunteers beat Florida! Everything’s fixed now, right? Well, kinda. Saturday’s second half versus the Gators was the best Tennessee has looked all year, and if that level of play carries over into Athens, they should come out on top. In the mean time, Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs are smarting from the whuppin’ they got from Ole Miss. Jacob Eason and Nick Chubb will have enough of an impact to make it entertaining, but the Vols may have finally turned the corner. Tennessee 31, Georgia 28

Oklahoma (-3.5) at TCU Are we sure the Sooners aren’t just the product of playing two really good teams early in the season? Maybe, but this is another tough one on the road. Take the home side in a close shootout, and for goodness’ sake take the over. TCU 48, Oklahoma 45

Utah at California (-1.5) The win versus Texas at home and the ridiculous numbers Davis Webb is putting up make the Golden Bears a threat and a slight home favorite in Vegas. This is also the matchup Kyle Wittingham inexplicably wins every year by having the better offense. Not sure about that this time around. Cal 44, Utah 31

Missouri at LSU (-13) One of the best passing teams in the country takes on a team terrified of the forward pass. In the midst of a wild week in Baton Rouge, remember that Ed Orgeron takes over as interim coach with Miles’ departure. Interim Coach O is the sole reason that line is not ridiculous, because Interim Coach O is the only thing in college football you can absolutely count on. LSU 31, Mizzou 21

Arizona State at USC (-10) Sneaking this one in because that line is disrespectful as all get to undefeated Sparky, and while I thought desperation would get the Trojans through last week, I’m not so sure this time around. Arizona St 35, USC 24

Louisville (-2) at Clemson What could very well prove to be the game of the year in college football will come down to the small things, but I’ll take one big thing I never thought I would say at the beginning of the year: Lamar Jackson is far and away the best player in college football and is the closest thing to Cam Newton we’ll ever get, if not possibly better. Somehow, he’ll find a way. Louisville 38, Clemson 34

Five for Five: Week Four

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This is a weekly series of five lists of essential information for the coming college football weekend. This week, we talk Heisman, Woo Pig Sooie and Jabril freakin’ Peppers

Five Heisman Contenders that can Catch Lamar Jackson

Greg Ward Jr. It feels like the player set up the best to chase down the Louisville quarterback is another quarterback who will face Jackson later in the season. One choice is the Houston signal caller, who’s been excellent in his first two games, throwing for 647 yards and scoring five total touchdowns while playing through pain. This week’s visit to Texas State might be a good chance to rest Ward Jr.the same way the Cougars did against Lamar so that their star will be ready for the conference wars.

Deshaun Watson This would be the other QB that will get a direct shot at Jackson, specifically next week in a nationally televised primetime affair. Watson has thrown for 692 yards and seven touchdowns, but Clemson’s centerpiece has also been picked off three times and rushed for less than 100 yards against lesser opponents. He’ll need to pick up his play with a tough road test at Georgia Tech looming.

Christian McCaffrey Big shock, I know, but Stanford’s Mr. Everything, like Watson, is just getting warmed up. Per ESPN Stats and Info, McCaffrey is working on an eight-game streak with at least 200 all-purpose yards, the longest in the FBS in the last decade. He’s the leader in rushing, receiving and return yards for a Cardinal team that plays the toughest schedule in the nation, so McCaffrey actually stands a chance of running away from Jackson in Heisman voting if his teams keeps winning.

J.T. Barrett The Ohio State field general looks better than he did as a redshirt freshman, when he finished fourth on the final Heisman ballot. Considering he hasn’t had a big rushing game to go along with 10 touchdown passes and a completion percentage just under 70, he too may only be getting started.

Curtis Samuel The other Buckeye in the spotlight after the thrashing of Oklahoma is Urban Meyer’s best all-around athlete ever. And yes, I’m including Percy Harvin and Braxton Miller in that group. Samuel leads the team in receiving yards, is second in rushing and averages a little less than 11 yards every time he touches the ball. Go ahead, try to win a foot race with this:

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Five Ridiculous Numbers Jabril Peppers Has Put Up this Season

25 tackles Peppers is playing linebacker at 205 pounds. And he’s better than everyone else at it.

2.5 sacks Or a humble pace of 10 for the season, which would turn Pepper into one of the best pass-rushers in the country as well.

22 yards per punt return Peppers essentially flips field position every time he goes back deep for a return. Please, special teams coaches, do the dumb thing and keep kicking to him so we get more returns like his TD against Colorado.

81 kick return yards Jim Harbaugh did the sane thing and finally put Peppers back to take kickoffs last week. He got that output on just two returns, including a 55-yard sprint that set up a score.

278 all-purpose yards Considering Peppers primarily plays defense and has just two offensive touches total on the season, he’s making big plays and putting up stats on an equivalent with McCaffrey or former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack at the heights of their do-it-all powers.

Five Reasons Arkansas can Beat Texas A&M

They can throw it Quarterback Austin Allen has quietly completed 67 percent of his passes (the same number as Barrett) for 655 yards and 7 touchdowns. Keon Hatcher is an explosive target averaging 18.5 yards a catch, Drew Morgan is a reliable slot receiver, and Jeremy Sprinkle leads a talented array of tight ends that prove the Razorbacks are not just a one-trick pig.

Their run defense is on the rise The Hogs only allow about 99 yards rushing a game so far. While the Aggies are not exactly a power-run-game type of offense, having an ability to stand up against the run on first and second downs creates a better shot at third and long.

They will get after the QB when third and long comes Jeremiah Ledbetter leads a pass rush unit that has 10 sacks already and will have its ears pinned back when Trevor Knight drops back to throw Saturday night.

The D does some scoring of its own Arkansas has two pick-sixes on the year and three total interceptions, so Knight has to play smart when the heat is on.

This is the game Kevin Sumlin always finds a way to lose Sumlin is up-and-down against Top 25 opponents with a 14-12 record. But when you consider that, sans Johnny Manziel’s 2012 Heisman season, Sumlin has gone just 5-9 against ranked teams, the noise around his job security doesn’t seem so crazy.

Five Teams that Aren’t Going to the Playoff

Oklahoma Sad Boomer Sooner! Aw, what the heck, one more run for that ridonkulous Noah Brown catch!

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Mercy.

Notre Dame I was very wrong about how good Michigan State can be, which is what the win over the Fighting Irish should be about. But, instead, it’s got to be about Sad Leprechaun.

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Missouri #SurrenderCobra LIVES

North Dakota State Well, probably not. The Bison should be a FBS team. If you disagree with this statement, you either aren’t paying attention or you are still a very hurt Iowa fan who is just now reading the details of Kirk Ferentz’s contract extension and wondering if life has any meaning left. Shhhh, it’s going be ok.

Auburn Look, War Eagle, Arkansas State is reaaaally bad. You should have known those 700 yards of offense was just a fling, a one-night stand. True love is a fickle mistress. Enjoy Leonard Fournette. It can’t get much worse than last year.

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Five (or More) North Dakota-Cold Locks

Record on the Season: 24-13

Clemson (-9.5) at Georgia Tech Fun fact, the Tigers have lost their last five road games against the Yellow Jackets. Dabo Swinney said this week his coaches had been installing game plans to face the triple option back in fall camp. That preparation should pay off this time around. Clemson 42, Georgia Tech 21

USC at Utah (-3) This is USC’s last stand if they want to at least stay in the running for a New Year’s Six bowl. Road games at Rice-Eccles Stadium are always tricky, but the Trojans are in a desperate spot. USC 28, Utah 27

Georgia at Ole Miss (-7) Ah, Rebels. So young. So naive. So convinced all three-touchdown leads hold up. Reality has hit Hugh Freeze’s young team hard with the blown chances against Florida State and Alabama. Now comes a Bulldog team that led by freshman QB Jacob Eason, who already has “game-tying touchdown pass on fourth and long in the final minutes while trailing on the road” checked off his list. If Nick Chubb gets going again, this could get ugly, but it’s also UGA we’re talking about. Georgia 31, Ole Miss 21

Florida State (-5.5) at South Florida The unbeaten Bulls have a dynamic duo in QB Quinton Flowers and RB Marlon Mack, and we’ve already seen that the Seminoles defense has holes in the run game. Don’t be shocked if FSU gets knocked off again, even on a week where redemption for the #BEATEMDOWN at Louisville will be on their minds. USF 38, Florida St 31

Wisconsin at Michigan State (-5.5) In what quietly looks like the game of the week, the Badgers and Spartans will essentially be looking into a mirror. Both teams play great defense, and both are predicated upon power run games. I think Wisconsin has the better defense, but I like the tandem of LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes from Sparty as opposed to Corey Clement. This might come down to quarterbacks Tyler O’Conner and Alex Hornibrook. For the time being, I’ll take Mark Dantonio and the home-field advantage as the slightest of edges. Michigan St 24, Wisconsin 21

Boise State (-13) at Oregon State All the mid-major love has gone to Houston, and rightfully so. But keep an eye on the Broncos and sophomore QB Brett Rypien, who leads the eighth-best passing attack in the country. Boise St 42, Oregon St 17

BYU at West Virginia (-7) A game that at least promises entertainment, Skyler Howard should lead the Mountaineers to a 3-0 start by the slimmest of margins. West Virginia 35, BYU 31

Florida at Tennessee (-6.5) C’mon, Vols. The Gators have former Purdue QB Austin Appleby stepping in for the injured Luke Del Rio. If the losing streak reaches 12 years, you’re not getting my sympathy. Tennessee 24, Florida 10

Pittsburgh at North Carolina (-7) Look, it matters in the ACC Coastal division race and I have a serious problem. If you don’t want to watch it, fine, but James Conner and Ryan Switzer on the same field is my kind of drug. Pitt 38, UNC 24

Penn State at Michigan (-18.5) God might intervene and turn this into a 60-point blowout for last week’s Joe Paterno memorial. Michigan 42, Penn St 10

Colorado at Oregon (-10.5) The Buffs are at least good enough again to throw a scare into Michigan on the road. But beating a Duck team still stinging from the loss at Nebraska in a second straight road game, however…Oregon 42, Colorado 17

LSU (-3.5) at Auburn See that spread? That’s what happens when you have transcendent players like Fournette and Arden Key but you can’t win a game unless you have a former Purdue QB starting. Danny Etling, profession fixer. LSU 28, Auburn 7

Army (-14.5) at Buffalo Big ups to the Black Knights, who have started 3-0 after so many bad years and have rallied together in the wake of the death of teammate Brandon Jackson. Army 31, Buffalo 7

Nebraska (-7.5) at Northwestern Why this line doesn’t read -infinity is one of life’s great mysteries. Nebraska 34, Northwestern 7

Oklahoma State at Baylor (-8) This week marked the first time the Big 12 didn’t have a team ranked inside the AP Poll top 15. Baylor seems like the leader in the clubhouse at the moment. The Bears and Cowboys will score a lot of points, but just like if the mascots were real, take the bear big. Baylor 52, Oklahoma St 28

Stanford (-3) at UCLA Josh Rosen will do all he can to keep the Bruins in it, but McCaffrey and a continually stout defense will be too much. Stanford 28, UCLA 17

Arkansas vs Texas A&M (-5.5) Knight really hasn’t done anything spectacular, and he doesn’t have to with the complement of weapons around him. They should be enough again to shrug off Bret Bielema and Co. Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 28

California at Arizona State (-4) OH MY GOD HOOK THIS GAME UP TO MY VEINS AND INJECT DIRECTLY INTO MY BLOOD STREAM. Soooooo many points. Quietly, the Sun Devils can start 4-0. Davis Webb and the Golden Bears won’t make it easy, but Sparky should find a way to claim the win, especially if Kalen Ballage gets a lot of touches near the goal line again. Arizona St 55, Cal 52

Washington at Arizona Nick Wilson is a talented tailback for the Wildcats, but Chris Petersen’s young Huskies have looked great to start 2016 and should continue that trend against a down Rich Rodriguez-led squad. Washington 38, Arizona 21

Five for Five: Week Three

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This is a weekly series of five lists of essential information for the coming college football weekend. This week, the conference games are here and booooooy are they good.

Five Reasons Lamar Jackson Can Keep Putting Up Ridiculous Numbers

He’s a better runner than passer The numbers that matter most to the Louisville quarterback’s torrid start: 318, 9.9 and six. That’s the rushing yards, yards per carry and rushing touchdowns Jackson has amassed in the first two games, fresh off a freshman season where he ran for 980 yards and 11 touchdowns in part-time duty. Jackson’s still learning how to beat defenses with his arm, so the fact that no one has slowed his legs down is a good sign.

He catches defense sleeping on early downs On first downs with an average distance of eight to 10 yards or more, Jackson has completed 21 of 30 passes (an even 70%) for 468 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 210 yards and an average of just over 13 yards per carry. Defenders have to be aware that the playbook is wide open for Jackson on first down, and the ball could end up anywhere with big-play results.

He has two of the most underrated tackles in the nation Florida State proved against Ole Miss it has more than enough athletes to attack a mobile quarterback, led by pass-rushing menace Demarcus Walker. But Jackson will have left tackle Geron Christian to protect his blind side. The 6’6″, 314-pound sophomore has started all 15 games of his college career and has proven to be much better than anyone could have expected, earning All-ACC honorable mention after having just two years of high school ball under his belt. Throw in 6’6″, 316-lb redshirt sophomore Lukayus McNeil at right tackle, and pass rushers will have an even tougher time catching the already-elusive Jackson (read this great profile of McNeil by ESPN.com’s Jared Shanker here).

ACC defenses look a little suspect Only two teams-Boston College and Miami-are allowing less than 200 yards per game, and the conference as a whole is surrendering an average of 306 yards per game. Jackson will only see one or two truly elite defenses like the Seminoles the rest of the season, so he has a chance to put up bigger numbers as he progresses throughout the year.

He doesn’t make costly decisions Jackson’s completion percentage is on the rise, up five points from last year, and he’s only thrown nine interceptions in 14 college games and 309 career pass attempts. He also doesn’t fumble much as a runner, so game-changing turnovers will be hard to come by for opposing defenses.

Five Things Oklahoma Has to Do to Beat Ohio State

Don’t turn the ball over Ohio State leads the nation with seven interceptions and a +7 turnover margin through the first two games. Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker have proven to be feisty ball hawks for the Buckeyes, so QB Baker Mayfield has to be careful with where he puts the ball.

Get Joe Mixon more involved One safe way to avoid turnovers is to hand the ball off, and one Sooner who needs to see the ball more often is the 6’1″, 226-lb sophomore. He does lead OU in rushing yards with 157 and is averaging 15 yards per reception, but most of those touches came in the first half of the loss to Houston. If offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley wants to beat the Buckeye defense, he needs to use Mixon’s potential to the fullest.

Know where Curtis Samuel is at all times The versatile junior not only leads Ohio State in receiving with 239 yards (17 yards per catch), but he’s also rushed for 162 yards and is averaging just under 8 yards a carry. Urban Meyer has used dynamic players with world-class speed all over the field before, going back to his Florida days with Percy Harvin and more recently with Braxton Miller and Jalin Marshall, and Samuel is the next X-factor defenses have to find if they don’t want to get burned.

Watch out for the pass over the top Of J.T. Barrett’s six touchdown passes, five have traveled at least 25 yards. Barrett is averaging just over nine yards per pass attempt, so the Bucks are more than capable of going deep off of play action.

Make the game come down to a field goal kick Senior Tyler Durbin is a first-time kicker who’s yet to attempt a field goal from outside of 29 yards. Forcing him to take his first long kick on the road in a hostile environment with the game on the line heavily favors the Sooners.

Five Teams that Need to Play Better This Week

Clemson You can excuse the lack of fireworks to open the season on the road against an improved Auburn defense, but Troy? Really, Tigers? Deshaun Watson issued a public apology for the team’s performance through the first two weeks, which might be a bit too much, but the offense does need to pick it up, especially rushing the ball, where their 136.5-yards-per-game average is tied for 92nd in the country.

Tennessee The Volunteers spotted Virginia Tech a 14-0 lead one week after escaping Appalachian State in overtime. If Ohio gives them trouble, you might want to think about putting some money on Florida making it 12 in a row.

LSU The defense has been quietly solid, but the offense’s woes for the last year finally reached a breaking point for Les Miles, as quarterback Brandon Harris was benched for Purdue transfer Danny Etling last week against Jacksonville State. Leonard Fournette is back, and Derrius Guice had a stellar game in his place a week ago, but unless Etling can help the passing game take the next step, even this week’s home date with Mississippi State might be a tall task.

Georgia Kirby Smart can’t pick a quarterback heading into the first true road game of the season. Not great. Whether it’s Jacob Eason or Greyson Lambert under center, the Bulldogs have to do better than only beating Nicholls State  by two if they want to come out of Missouri unscathed.

Arizona An opening-week loss at the horn to BYU was followed up by a lackluster effort against Grambling State. If Hawaii comes to Tuscon and makes some noise, Rich Rodriguez might want to start looking over his shoulder.

Five Players That Will Be Crucial to Their Team’s Success This Week

Matt VandeBerg, WR, Iowa North Dakota State remains the class of the FCS, so the Hawkeyes don’t have it easy this week. C.J. Beathard needs to continue to play smart, which means continuing to find his security blanket VandeBerg, whose 11 catches is five more than any other Iowa receiver.

A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss The 6’1″ freshman has big-play potential, exactly what Chad Kelly and the Rebels need to if they want to make it three straight against Alabama.

Devonte Fields, OLB, Louisville Last time the junior pass rusher saw a young pocket passer like Deondre Francois, he had three sacks in the Music City Bowl versus Texas A&M. The Cardinals need the pass rush to rattle Francois the way it did in the first half of FSU’s win over Ole Miss.

Torii Hunter Jr., WR, Notre Dame The most experienced target for the Fighting Irish is back from a concussion suffered versus Texas and will need to get open if Deshone Kizer wants to move the ball against the always-stingy defense of Michigan State.

Darreus Rogers, WR, USC JuJu Smith-Schuster gets all the attention at receiver for the Trojans, and rightfully so, but Rogers proved last week against Utah State he can be an excellent second option. He will need to get loose to help the Men of Troy sling it around The Farm against Stanford.

Five (or More) Stone-Cold Locks

Record on the Season: 17-5

Houston (-7.5) at Cincinnati Greg Ward Jr.’s back, which means the Cougars will be running at full speed. Hayden Moore will sling it enough for the Bearcats to score some points and make this fun for a while, but Tom Herman has too good a team this year for a let down. Houston 45, Cincinnati 24

North Dakota State at Iowa The Bison always come to play for their annual FBS road trip, but the Hawkeyes have looked better than many expected to start the year. Iowa 27, North Dakota St 17

Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State (-6) The last-second loss that never should have been against Central Michigan was a just a precursor of things to come. The Cowboys don’t have what it takes to slow down James Conner and the Panthers’ multifaceted run game Pitt 31, Oklahoma St 17

Miami FL (-3.5) at Appalachian State The Hurricanes have blown away their first two opponents, led by RB Mark Walton’s five TDs. But this is easily the biggest home game in program history for the Mountaineers. Kidd Brewer Stadium, AKA “The Rock,” will be rocking, and App State will get the upset they missed out on against Tennessee. App St 31, Miami 28

Florida State (-2) at Louisville Jackson will put on a show, but the ‘Noles are just too talented. It was enough to get out of a 22-point hole in Week One, and it will be just enough here, with Dalvin Cook having his first big game of the year to remind you he’s still a legitimate Heisman candidate. Florida St 34, Louisville 31

Alabama (-10.5) at Ole Miss Jalen Hurts’ first career road game is something to ponder, as is Hugh Freeze’s success against Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide are also stacked with the best roster in the country, which is a thing you should ponder more. Alabama 38, Ole Miss 21

Oregon at Nebraska (-3) That the Ducks are road ‘dogs according to Vegas is a little surprising. Dakota Prukop has looked solid leading the high-powered offense in Eugene to 97 points in the first two games. What’s not surprising is the development of Huskers signal-caller Tommy Armstrong, who looks much more comfortable as a passer this year and should have enough tricks up his sleeve to win a shootout. Nebraska 41, Oregon 34

Texas A&M vs Auburn (-3) The Tigers look improved, but the big challenge now comes when Myles Garrett and a ferocious Aggie defense roll into town. Throw in a good start to the year for QB Trevor Knight, and Kevin Sumlin has a team that can make some noise in the SEC West. Texas A&M 35, Auburn 21

Mississippi State at LSU (-14) The Bulldogs so far have lost to South Alabama and hung on at the end to beat South Carolina. Relief is on the way, Bayou Bengals. LSU 31, Miss St 7

UCLA (-3) at BYU Josh Rosen has already faced one tough road test this year and come up short. A second would seriously damage any playoff hopes the Bruins still hold to. Sadly, Taysom Hill has a flair for making that sort of damage occur. BYU 28, UCLA 24

Georgia (-6.5) at Missouri Tigers QB Drew Lock absolutetly torched Eastern Michigan last week, but he’ll need some help in the trenches. Mizzou has to run the ball better and stop the run if they want to knock off UGA, and that’s something Nick Chubb won’t let happen easily…unless Lock goes off again 😉 Mizzou 31, Georgia 24

Texas (-8) at California Texas road games matter again! Davis Webb can sure spin that magic bean, but the Golden Bears’ defense is bad enough to lose a shootout with grind-it-out San Diego State. Why can’t Shane Buechele and the Longhorns come to Berkeley and light it up as well? Texas 45, Cal 31

USC at Stanford (-8.5) Clay Helton needs a statement win to prove the Trojans are a program to be reckoned with again. It’s not coming against Christian McCaffrey, especially when he’s looking to do better than his 206 all-purpose yards against Kansas State. Stanford 31, USC 14

Michigan State at Notre Dame (-8) The Irish look right again with Kizer taking the snaps, and Sparty looked mighty suspect in a close home win against Furman Notre Dame 34, Michigan St 17

Ohio State (-1.5) at Oklahoma The closest line of the week should also provide the best game. Mayfield and Barrett will duel in a heck of a matchup, but the Buckeyes have a more talented defense, which will get just enough stops to earn a win. Ohio State 31, Oklahoma 28

Five for Five: Week Two

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This is a weekly series of five lists of essential information for the coming college football weekend. This week, we try as hard as possible to not talk about Week Two.

Five Things We Learned from Week One

Alabama is still the best Let the warmth of the joys of the best first opening weekend in college football history wash over you, because the largest takeaway from Week One was the soul-crushing inevitability of the Crimson Tide beating everyone in their path with extreme prejudice. You can argue USC was unprepared, undisciplined and unmotivated Saturday night, and you might be right. But you can’t say the Trojans aren’t a talented veteran team that would have given any other opponent fits. When the Tide come calling, you not only have to be ready, you have to acknowledge that they are straight up better in every facet of the game than anybody else. That includes breaking in new quarterback Jalen Hurts, who could be the best signal caller Nick Saban has ever had, and running back Damien Harris. ‘Bama’s only getting warmed up, and Saban wasn’t wrong when expressed disappointment in his team’s performance in a game they won by 46 points. Be very afraid.

Brandon Harris is still that bad All the LSU quarterback had to do was be marginally improved in the offseason and the Tigers could contend for a playoff berth. Not too hard, right?

C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT QBR
Brandon Harris 12/21 131 6.2 1 2 6.9

[Hurls]

That LSU title pick was soooo good, right? 

What an unbelievable mess. As talented as the Tigers appear, Harris managed to hold them down enough to fall versus Wisconsin, and he’s not getting replaced anytime soon. Good luck, Bayou Bengal fans.

Florida State is fine, better than fine actually Take away the porous start that allowed Ole Miss to grab a 22-point lead, and you have a 39-6 Seminoles victory that mostly came in the span of one quarter. Not too shabby. Once Deondre Francois settled in at QB and the defensive front seven started making Chad Kelly’s life miserable, the ‘Noles looked like the title contender they are.

Houston is for real It’s not just that Saturday’s win over Oklahoma makes for back-to-back double-digit wins over Power 5 programs, but the Cougars showed out a roster stacked with talent that could compete with any team in the country. Lance Dunbar, Steven Taylor, Brandon Wilson and, of course, Greg Ward Jr. all could play at the next level, but they’re just fine with winning now and making the CFP committee sweat out what to do if the Cougs can get to 13-0.

JoeTess miiight be right that Texas is back Few things make as loud a noise as knocking off a top-10 opponent in double overtime after finishing below .500 the last two seasons. The offense looks to have shifted into another gear under new coordinator Sterlin Gilbert; Charlie Strong is wielding a dual-quarterback system like it’s the sword Excalibur; and the defense has potential to get better later this year led by DE Naashon Hughes and LB Malik Jefferson. It’s important to note that the Longhorns blew a 17-point lead to Notre Dame, but they way they got back up after getting knocked to the mat was an impressive potential sign of things to come.

Five (or More) Players Who Dominated Week One that You Should Watch in Week Two

All the freshman quarterbacks Francois, Texas’ Shane Buechele and Georgia’s Jacob Eason all made plays ranging from impressive to extraordinary in big wins and will be starting later this year in games that mean even more. How they respond from last week against mostly lesser opponents is going to be a big indicator of their maturity

James Conner and Saquon Barkley Conner’s return to the field from thyroid cancer and knee injury was one of the most inspiring moments from last weekend, and he scored two touchdowns. Getting a chance to watch the Pitt star square up against the emerging sophomore from Penn State is going to be an absolute treat.

Nick Chubb Talk about announcing your presence. Chubb also came back in Week One after suffering a devastating knee injury, a game coaches were unsure he would be totally healthy for. Chubb responded with 32 carries for 222 yards. I think he’s fine, and I think Nicholls is in a lot of trouble.

Mike Williams  One more welcome back is in order for the towering Clemson receiver, who suffered a head injury in Week One last year when he ran into the goal post catching a touchdown. Williams made mincemeat of an improved Auburn defense with nine catches for 174 yards, and he should dice up Troy as well.

Chris Evans The 5’11” freshman ran for 112 yards and 2 TD’s on just eight carries against Hawai’i, and the Wolverines have yet to really unleash the sprightly running back as a receiver or on special teams. Jabril Peppers might have some competition for best athlete on the team

Five Images of Tyrone Swoopes’ Triumphant Sunday Night That Will Warm Your Soul

 

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Image result for tyrone swoopes notre dame

Image result for tyrone swoopes notre dame

Image result for tyrone swoopes notre dame

Five Things You Could Do Instead of Watch The Terrible Games This Week

Mow the grass Gonna be getting to fall weather soon, which means the last few precious hours spent riding on the zero-turn jamming out to Meghan Trainor are slipping away. You guys do that too, right?

Complain about the AP Top 25 poll Wisconsin all the way up to 10? LSU all the way down to 21? USC and North Carolina banished from the polls for losing to good SEC teams? No, I’m sure these decisions won’t look foolish in three weeks (Synchronizes watch).

If you are of age, drink Might as well get a jumpstart, right Tennessee fans? I’m kidding (kind of). My recommendation would be Milwaukee’ Best Ice, of which I found out I can buy two 30-ounce cans for $3.50 at my local gas station. I say this because I am a poor white man without any taste or culture.

Watch a movie There’s apparently animated films depicting the sinking of the Titantic. They are supposedly terrible. Like, painfully terrible. You might want to take suggestion number 3 beforehand. Or you could just go buy Captain America: Civil War like a sane person.

Just watch the games Don’t kid yourself, you’re a degenerate who cares about Kentucky-Florida with every ounce of your being just like I do. We are all ill, and the only prescription is to feed the beast and bet the under on Tulsa-Ohio State.

Five (or More) Milwaukee’s Best Ice-Cold Locks 

Record on the Season So Far: 8-1

Louisville (-14.5) at Syracuse Lamar Jackson is legit, in case his eight total touchdowns didn’t make that clear. At least this conference game doesn’t feature South Carolina. Louisville 42, Syracuse 14

Penn State at Pittsburgh (-5) I have the Panthers as my pick to win the ACC Coastal divison (because my preseason predictions are going soooo well), so I’ll stick by Conner and Quadree Ollison. Pitt 28, Penn St 17

Central Michigan at Oklahoma State (-20.5) Most of the picks made the list this week just because I think they’ll be closer games than people think. The Chippewas are a veteran team that won’t be daunted. Oklahoma St 48, Central Michigan 35

UCF at Michigan (-35.5) Ok, I said most of the picks. Godspeed, Scott Frost. If you don’t give up the spread, you did good. Michigan 45, UCF 3

Akron at Wisconsin (-24) Here’s a game worth watching to see how quickly the Badgers bounce back from a juiced atmosphere at Lambeau Field last week. Very quietly, Zips QB Thomas Woodson threw for 407 yards and six touchdowns (!!!!). Bucky has to be ready to stop the passing game that never challenged them a week ago. Wisconsin 34, Akron 28

Western Kentucky at Alabama (-28.5) The Hilltoppers can sling it, as new QB Mike White debuted last week by throwing for 517 yards (!!!!!). Still, this is ‘Bama, so even if they don’t have their best game, the Tide will still roll (boy, does that sound familiar). Alabama 45, Western Kentucky 21

Arkansas at TCU (-7.5) Both squads struggled in Week One against talented little guys, so they’ll look to shake off the rust. Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs should have just enough, but it feels like a toss-up. TCU 31, Arkansas 24

Iowa State at Iowa (-15) The Cyclones are not very good despite having a very good receiver in Allen Lazard, so he could make a highlight play or two. Iowa 35, Iowa St 7

BYU at Utah (-3) HELL YEAH HOLY WAR LEGGGGOOOOOO. Good to see these bitter rivals enjoyed last year’s Las Vegas Bowl matchup so much that they’re duking it out again. This should be the game of the weekend. BYU 24, Utah 21

Texas Tech at Arizona State (-2.5) Ho hum, Red Raiders QB Pat Mahomes threw for 400 yards in the first half last week. If he does that again, Sparky’s getting shocked at home. Texas Tech 38, Arizona St 31

Washington State at Boise State (-11.5) Hehehehe, some of you thought the same Wazzu team that lost to an FCS team last week was going to win the Pac-12. Boise St 34, Washington St 24

Virginia at Oregon (-24.5) Why is this game a thing. Oregon 50, Virginia -14

Virginia Tech vs Tennessee (-11.5) This game holds the biggest draw of the weekend not because of the matchup, but because they’re going to play the game at a NASCAR race track. Because, you know, the South and stuff. Tennessee should win, but you’ve watched them the last three years, all bets are off. Tennessee 24, Virginia Tech 10