Top five improvements needed for Madden NFL 13

Calvin Johnson will be on the cover of Madden NFL 13.

With the Madden cover now in the sure hands of Calvin Johnson (apologies to all Lions fans), I thought it would be fitting to discuss the improvements EA Sports needs to make for it’s upcoming release of the popular video game. Sure, die-hard football fans will flock to the nearest store and buy a copy in August, but how can EA keep these fans from becoming disinterested and also bring in a bigger casual audience? EA is already hard at work to improve this year’s edition, and have already made Madden dreams come true by taking Cris Collinsworth out of the game. There is still plenty of work to be done, however, and here are 10 things they can do to make Madden NFL 13 one of the best yet.

Improve the game day presentation, make it feel real

This is one of the biggest things that can be done to draw in the casual football fan but make hardcore fanatics wet their pants with excitement. EA Sports has to make the game presentation completely bland so it doesn’t resemble watching a game on any of the major networks. Madden has the full NFL license, so why not take advantage and get NFL Network into the game? For example, you’re playing and exciting first half of football when halftime comes about. You can sit at the main menu and look at stats or even replay any play. That’s all well and good, but how about cutting to Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Steve Mariucci and Deion Sanders in the NFL Network studios for an analysis of the first half? Sanders can rant about the ineptitude of a defense, or Mariucci can praise your quarterback for throwing three touchdowns. Highlights can be shown and the crew can talk about what each team needs to do in the second half to win. A quick thirty second breakdown is all that’s needed, and can easily be done with the powerful engines of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Sorry, EA, but your post-game cut scenes are terrible. Everyone knows at the end of the game when coaches go to greet each other they’re surrounded by security, media and players. What the current edition of Madden has is a couple of scattered players here and there and a quarterback jumping to high five a fan, no matter what quarterback it is. Let’s crowd the field with all the players from both sides and a little huddle of cameras and microphones around the coaches as they say hi. Also, how about some off-setting penalties? Whenever there’s a holding call, I know I can easily get away with a pass interference or roughing the passer because it won’t be called, and let’s be honest, it’s fun to put a quarterback on his butt without the refs saying anything. This is not how the NFL conducts it’s business, however, so let’s, “Protect the players,” and penalize people for their actions. Last, but definitely not least, find a way to get Bill Belichick in the game. His scowl in a hoodie needs to be featured in every one of New England’s games, but instead we’re left with a bland, “NE Head Coach.”

Improve the NFL Draft

This is where the biggest football fans will get the most enjoyment. EA does a great job in allowing you to transfer players from your NCAA Football dynasty to your Madden dynasty every season you go through. In the most recent installment of each game, however, EA dropped the ball. NCAA Football would ask you twice if you wanted to export your players to Madden, and if you said yes the first time, your players weren’t transferred correctly. Once you did get them to madden successfully, several rookies would come out so strange it made you want to start your dynasty over. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon would appear to have bone-thin arms and overly huge shoulder pads, while punter Drew Butler would have the arms of a UFC heavyweight fighter. Or, Matt Barkley’s profile picture would turn out to be some scrawny guy with brown hair. It ruins the authenticity and makes one think, “Yeah, that’s not really Blackmon,” when he’s running over the middle and his shoulder pads are bigger than Ndamukong Suh’s thighs.

For aesthetics in the Draft, how about some more pre-draft hype? Maybe some mock drafts while you’re conducting combine workouts or rumors that certain teams will trade up to get a specific player because they have a huge need. All of that could appear simply in a small news portion of the off-season, and could even change your strategy if you realize you’re in a competition to draft a certain guy.

Adjust player proportions and progression

Certain players look way too big for their actual size. Quarterbacks like Rodgers or Alex Smith look like linebackers when shown in suits during a cut-scene. I’m glad most players have a striking resemblance in the game, but not every single one of them needs to look like an action figure. If EA is going to continue down this path, at least let the user edit the physical features of each player.

As far as progression goes, it’s unfortunate that if a player is given a B potential, he could never be more than an 89 overall. You could start Javon Ringer and give him record breaking season’s, but he’ll never be the best running back in the league unless you go in and change his attributes. There is no comeback player of the year for a guy who shouldn’t have a good season season but does, because the following year he’ll have stayed on the plateau EA has given him. This goes for rookies too. Not every late round pick is going to be a D or F potential. This doesn’t allow for players like Tom Brady or Marques Colston to come into the league, since being drafted so late means you’re nothing but free agency filler. Users should be allowed to take a player and develop him in practice, pre-season and regular season to mold him into the player they wanted from the beginning. Players should be rewarded with improvement for career high statistics. Make it happen, EA.

The limits of editing a player in superstar mode.

Drastically change superstar and create modes

NCAA Football has a great version of this mode where you take a player and make him earn everything from his starting position to the ability to audible at the line of scrimmage. You start off as a backup, and have to practice your butt off to earn a starting spot. In order to keep that job, you have to work meticulously to be near flawless. In Madden’s superstar mode, the player automatically gets a starting position and while playing the entire time forgets to do it’s job, taking the enjoyment out of playing. This can easily be tweaked to have a player actually want to compete, win and become a true superstar.

Creating a team, player or stadium should be all about customization to the very last detail. In previous Madden entries, gamers could edit a player’s hair, face, body type, height and weight. Now, you should consider yourself lucky that you could give a player a choice of gloves. As far as teams go, Madden should adopt something similar to what it’s younger brother, NCAA football, has; an online creation tool. If EA won’t provide better logos for created teams, let the customer upload or create their own image and create their team around that. This shouldn’t be too hard as Nike has recently become the provider for NFL uniforms, and you know how thrilled they are with making crazy uniforms. The create-a-stadium mode is nice, but stadiums should have more options as well. You can’t create a new stadium for a team in franchise mode without relocating the franchise, and that’s just dumb. What about teams with old or terrible stadiums? What if a user wants to have the 49ers play in their new stadium down the line?

Actually test the game before rushing it out

How many flaws were pointed out in this blog? Quite a few, I know. Now, how many of those flaws could have been corrected before the game was even shipped by simply testing it out? Yes, EA, I’m asking you grab a couple of guys, sit them down and play through a few years of franchise mode, superstar mode and online matchups to see how you can improve things. Let go of the, “We’re the only studio officially licensed by the NFL so people have to buy it,” mentality and make a game you’re proud of. How amazingly detailed are your other games, like Mass Effect or Crysis? Those games are built from the ground up, yet this one already has the groundwork laid and just needs tweaking or cleaning up. Football is arguably the most popular sport in the United States, yet Madden NFL is not even the best sports game out there as FIFA (also an EA Sports game) NBA 2K and MLB The Show pound Madden into the dirt. If the game were properly tested and fixed, it’s sales would exceed anything EA Sports could have imagined. EA, make more improvements than what you have, for both your sake and the fans.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft

This year, I decided to only do one final mock draft. In previous years, I would have different mock drafts from the time of the combine to draft weekend. This time around, I had rough drafts, if you will, and here is my final version as the first round approaches on Thursday.

A photoshopped image of Andrew Luck in a Colts uniform.

Here’s how I broke down my mock draft. Everyone knows Andrew Luck will be the first pick, which is no surprise. Robert Griffin III going second is not shocking either. So really, the draft begins with the Vikings at number three. Adam Schefter tweeted that an NFL general manager said, “Picks 3-16 are all trying to trade back.”People believe because of this, the draft will be a crazy ones with several teams trading up. I, however, am predicting the opposite. Several teams trying to trade back means few are looking to trade up. Draft day trades are made mostly when teams are looking to trade up for a specific player, not when there’s a scramble to give them away. So until there is a blockbuster trade on draft day which causes a chain reaction of dealing, teams will have little success in trading back.

It’s hard to predict draft day trades, as there is so many emotions and unexpected picks which trigger a deal. So in the interest of making this mock draft a bit more interesting, I included a couple of trades I can see happening. Some picks will have an explanation in this mock draft. Each pick does take need into account, but the best player available philosophy outweighs team needs in this mock draft. Two Arizona Cardinals scouting personnel members recently told me in an interview for North Valley Magazine that taking the best player available is a better way to draft than drafting based on needs in April. Best player available here is determined by who I feel would be the the ideal player remaining on the board. Also used to create this mock draft are reports of certain players rising on draft boards and others falling.

Now that I’m done rambling, here is my 2012 NFL mock draft. Enjoy, and please comment whether you agree or disagree.

  1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
  2. Washington Redskins- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
  3. Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil, OT, USC:

    Photo by Neon Tommy

    Although Minnesota is looking for a playmaker and are in need of a cornerback in the pass happy NFC North, the Vikings would be foolish to pass on Kalil. A huge reason for Matt Barkley’s success this past season was Kalil’s ability to keep him on his feet. Kalil would be able to protect quarterback Christian Ponder for years to come, if last year’s first round reach is indeed their quarterback of the future. Also, with Adrian Peterson recovering from injury, the Vikings will need all the help they can get in the running game. Just because Kalil is not a, “sexy pick,” does not mean he is the best pick.

  4. Cleveland Browns- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
  6. St. Louis Rams- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Blackmon is the best receiver in this draft, but Floyd is a very close second. The Jaguars are in a position where drafting Floyd is neither a reach or a consolation prize, and he will definitely help in the much-needed maturation of Blaine Gabbert.
  8. Miami Dolphins- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: To me, Tannehill is not a top ten talent yet, but several teams love him. As Brian Billick said, it’s better to reach for a quarterback of the future than to pass one up, and the Dolphins have done just that too many times.
  9. Carolina Panthers- Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
  10. Buffalo Bills- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
  11. Kansas City Chiefs- Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College
  12. Philadelphia Eagles (trade from Seattle Seahawks)- Mark Barron, S, Alabama: In a coup to beat their rivals Dallas Cowboys to the punch, the Eagles trade up to draft a player rising up draft boards. Barron is far and away the best safety in the draft, and the Eagles have not been the same on defense since Brian Dawkins left. Enter Barron to stop the likes of Griffin, Eli Manning and Tony Romo twice a year.
  13. Arizona Cardinals- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: At this point, this pick could either be Martin or David DeCastro, the offensive guard also from Stanford. Both have equal grades, but with offensive tackle Levi Brown not working out as expected, quarterback Kevin Kolb concussed most of 2011, John Skelton always finding himself under duress and the addition of guard Adam Snyder via free agency, Martin seems to make more sense here.
  14. Dallas Cowboys- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
  15. Seattle Seahawks (trade from Philadelphia Eagles)- Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
  16. New York Jets- Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
  17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland’s Carson Palmer trade)- Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
  18. San Diego Chargers- Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse: Not sold on Jones, but he is another player shooting up draft boards. No offense to Chargers fans, but their recent picks have not turned out too well. Only six of their past 34 picks have been starters, while ten are now on other teams. For every Eric Weddle lies a Craig Davis or Larry English. We’ll see where Jones lands on this scale.
  19. Chicago Bears- Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois: Mercilus ends the run on defensive ends/potential outside linebackers.
  20. Tennessee Titans- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
  21. Cincinnati Bengals- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Although the Bengals have a superstar in A.J. Green, he’ll need help at the other receiver spot. With Wright, the Bengals can have an explosive passing attack to expose the potentially flawed secondaries of Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Plus, the Bengals would prevent their in-state rivals in Cleveland from drafting the speedy wide receiver.
  22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta’s Julio Jones trade)- Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: For some reason, Upshaw is falling down draft boards, and Cleveland will count their blessings for this. Upshaw will be a Pro Bowl caliber player wherever he winds up.
  23. Detroit Lions- Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
  24. Pittsburgh Steelers-Dont’a Hightower, MLB, Alabama
  25. Denver Broncos- Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
  26. Houston Texans- Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
  27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans’ Mark Ingram trade)Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State: The most draft-trade-happy team in the NFL shocks the world and keeps their draft pick; well, one of them. McClellin is drawing a lot of late attention, and rightfully so. He is an often overlooked player who has tremendous talent and hustle. While comparison’s to Clay Matthews are a bit overboard, McClellin can definitely provide the pass rush New England has needed in the past couple of years.
  28. Green Bay Packers- Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
  29. Baltimore Ravens- Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
  30. San Francisco 49ers- Michael Brockers, DT, LSU:

    LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, left, vs. Auburn last year (AP file photo)

    It is tempting to predict the 49ers taking Coby Fleener, as he played under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. San Francisco could also take guards Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin or Cordy Glenn of Georgia to replace the recently departed Snyder, but it’s unfathomable that Brockers is still available at this point. The 49ers are in a prime best available position, and Brockers is definitely the most talented still on the board. Brockers would provide immediate depth on a great defense and could eventually replace Justin Smith when he hangs up his cleats.

  31. Indianapolis Colts (trade from New England Patriots)- Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: There’s no way the Patriots could go without making a trade in the first round. When the Colts come calling to jump over the Giants at 32 and Rams at 33, the Patriots happily accept to stockpile picks as always. The Colts currently have three tight ends on their roster in Brody Eldridge, Ryan Mahaffey and Kyle Miller. If you asked yourself who, no one will blame you. The tight end position is becoming extremely important in the NFL (just look at the success of New England, New Orleans and San Francisco) and the top pick in the draft currently has no safety valve to get the ball to. Who better to select than Luck’s Stanford teammate? Fleener has great potential and both he and Luck can be the next Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark.
  32. New York Giants- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
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2012 NFL Draft: Ryan Tannehill

In the 2012 NFL Draft class, there are two quarterbacks who stand above the rest: Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. There is a significant drop off after those two in my opinion. Many feel the next best quarterback would be Ryan Tannehill. In fact, experts have Tannehill as a top 10 talent, especially after his pro day. I, however, feel that taking Tannehill with such a high draft pick could be dangerous.

Photo by Dirk Hansen

Info:

  • Height:

    6’4″

  • Weight:

    221 lbs.

  • Arm Length:

    32 5/8 in.

  • Hand Size:

    9 in.

Initial thought:
There is no doubt Tannehill is athletic, continuing the recent trend of mobile quarterbacks being taken high. He has an ideal size for a quarterback in terms of his height and build. He has a strong grasp of playing offense after spending time at receiver for Texas A&M. His time at wide receiver displays a team first attitude after being a highly recruited quarterback coming out of high school. Spending two years at wide receiver though limited his time under center, however, as he only spent one full season as starting quarterback. Tannehill accumulated a total of 15 starts at Texas A&M. This reminds me a lot of Mark Sanchez, who spent one full season as starter in a pro-style offense at USC before entering the NFL Draft. Tannehill will be entering after playing in Mike Sherman’s spread offense. If Sanchez has struggled in the league after being coached by Pete Carroll, how will Tannehill far coming out of this offense? Another concern could be Tannehill’s throwing motion. I’m not a fan of his throwing motion as it’s not always consistent; it changes when from time to time, somewhat like Phillip Rivers does. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. Most concerning to me is Tannehill’s ability, or lack thereof, to lead a team in big games. Sure, Tannehill was largely responsible for A&M’s strong finish in 2010, but the Aggies entered 2011 as a top ten team and ended up disappointing several times. As NFL.com’s Charles Davis points out, Tannehill threw more interceptions than touchdowns against the five best teams A&M faced and the Aggies lost each time.

To quote Davis: “Tannehill only completed 54.7 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions… Tannehill didn’t make enough plays from the pocket to help his team take those competitive battles. Whether it was a critical interception or a poor throw on a pivotal third down, Tannehill appeared to come up short when it mattered most.”

Skills: When you look at the guy, you can see why Tannehill ran a 4.58 40 yard dash at his pro day; he’s built well with plenty of muscle, which most likely stems from his days as a wide receiver. Tannehill showed grit by coming back from a January foot injury to make up for lost time at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl with his performance at his pro day. He has a strong arm which allows him to make tight accurate throws even while on the run. It’s strong enough to make the deep passes needed from an NFL quarterback. Even when throwing off his back foot, Tannehill’s arm can get the ball where it needs to be. He has a confident gunslinger-type attitude, which many teams want in their quarterback. On top of this, Tannehill is smart, having made the Academic All-Big 12 first team. All of these are pluses for Tannehill which give him a lot of upside. There is no doubt he is talented, the question is simply whether or not he is ready for the NFL. His decision-making can be questionable sometimes, but the argument could be made that this comes from his having to play from behind a lot and forcing throws. He can be rattled sometimes when under pressure, but who wouldn’t be with barely over one full season as a starter?

Final thought: The point is, Tannehill has plenty of potential and could develop into a good starting quarterback. To consider him a top ten player is a bit too much though. This is not like last year in which I thought Ryan Mallett was a highly overrated quarterback who did not deserve to be drafted in the first round. I can see why there is intrigue in Tannehill as a first round quarterback, just not in the top ten. I wish him well and could be proven wrong, but my belief is if he is drafted that high by a team like Cleveland or Miami, he may be set up to fail. I’ll leave with this: In the 2005 NFL Draft, a smart, mobile, six-foot-four-inch quarterback from a similar offense was selected first overall. His name was Alex Smith. Many critics think Smith’s struggles are linked to his “small hands.” Well, Tannehill’s hands measured smaller at the NFL Combine than Smith’s in 2005. You be the judge.

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Top 10 sports stories of 2011

As the year 2012 kicks in, here are my top ten sports stories of 2011. Disagree with the list or the order? Let it be known in the comments.

10. Rematch for the BCS title game- This game is quickly approaching, but the build up during the season took up most of the talk in college football. It brought up the question of a playoff format for the game, as well as the fairness of a rematch. Due to voters letting Alabama in, we’ll never know what would’ve happened in an LSU vs Oklahoma State match-up.

Rioters run amok after game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Canucks and the Boston Bruins in Vancouver, June 15, 2011 (Jason Payne/Postmedia News Service).

9. Boston Bruins win Stanley Cup, Vancouver riots- The Bruins ended their Stanley Cup dry spell, but a beautiful city looked horrible due to one championship win. The Bruins made a remarkable run to win it all but it was overshadowed by what happened in Vancouver.

8. U.S. Women’s soccer falls short- At a time when there was very little going on during sports (the MLB All-Star break) Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach made a play which will live in United States sports history. The women’s soccer team made an emotional run to support their country and win the World Cup but fell short. The manner in which they lost to Japan allowed this to still be in the top ten, but had they won in penalty kicks this would’ve easily been in the top five of this list.

7. Tim Tebow- One former Heisman trophy winner polarized the country more than the nation’s politics do, so much so I had to write a post about how both sides needed to calm down and just let Tebow play. That still is the case, but Tebow’s play, both good and bad, made for compelling drama on a football field and had the NFL audience captivated. It’s because of this player that we have phrases like, “Tebowing” and “Tebow Time”. Ugh.

6. The Green Bay Packers- The Packers took the football world by storm in January 2011 by making an incredible run through the playoffs and beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. How do you follow that up? With an MVP-type season by Aaron Rodgers and threatening to go undefeated. The Packers took control of the NFL so much so that a survey during the year gave the Packers the nickname of “America’s Team” rather than the Cowboys. As we head into 2012, the Packers look to be the favorite to win the championship again.

5. Jeter and Rivera break records- Even if you weren’t a Yankee fan, you had to respect what these two accomplished during their careers and this season. Jeter’s accomplishment was especially remarkable. No previous Yankee, in the franchise’s storied history, had never had a 3,000 hits player before. Jeter reached this mark with a homerun and going 5-5 that day. While saves are sometimes considered a trivial statistic, it will be decades before someone passes Rivera’s mark.

4. Lebron James collapses- LeBron James developed a love-hate relationship with sports fans with his decision in 2010, and entered 2011 with fans hoping he would finally win his title and others wishing he’d fail. The latter got their wish, as James’ self-destruction versus the Dallas Mavericks became the punch line of many sports jokes. The whole world watched as the Finals favorites lost, and the blame was placed heavily on James.

3. Albert Pujols (finals and off-season)- The 2011 World Series was one to remember, and while David Freese won the MVP, much of the Cardinals win was due to what Pujols provided. Pujols had began the season with a huge debate on whether or not he deserved the huge contract he was asking for from St. Louis. Then, in a shocking move, Pujols surprised the sports world by signing with the Angels in the off-season, getting the big contract he was looking for from the beginning.

2. Scandals- There were far too many scandals to count in 2011: Ohio State’s NCAA violations and subsequent leaving of Jim Tressel and Terelle Pryor, Ryan Braun testing positive for steroids, David Stern denying the Lakers of Chris Paul, Syracuse’s Bernie Fine just to name a few. But nothing was more shocking and disgusting as the Penn State Scandal. If there was a list of all-time sports scandals, this would make a strong case for number one. The ignorance the university showed of the scandal, by both those involved and the students causing riots after Paterno’s firing was enough to make this a top story, but Jerry Sandusky’s alleged crimes are far worse than anything anyone could have imagined.

1. The lockouts- While the Sandusky story disgusted the country because of the alleged crimes, the biggest sports-only related story dealt with both the NFL and NBA lockouts. The NFL has become a huge part of American culture, and the threat of there being no football had fans on edge and taking sides for the players or owners. Almost every NFL off-season activity was changed in some way due to the lockout. Players, coaches, even team staffers were effected by the lockout. Finally, the NFL came to a deal and football resumed as scheduled. The NBA, however, was so dysfunctional it had to delay its season until Christmas day. It has yet to be determined just how players are going to be effected by this in-season, but it already made an impact by delaying the game, changing the schedule and giving Chris Paul to the Clippers rather than the Lakers. All in all, these two lockouts took up most of the year and had fans on the verge of an outrage if they lost their beloved sports.

Honorable mention: Peyton Manning injury, Auburn national title, Dan Wheldon death, NBA trades, Concussions, UConn men win national title/UConn women do not, Rory McElroy, Dan Marino’s single season passing yards record broken.

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2011-2012 NCAA football bowl predictions

Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide is tackled by Eric Reid #1 of the LSU Tigers during their game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (November 4, 2011 - Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 17th, 2 p.m. EST, ESPN
Temple vs. Wyoming

Winner: Temple. A team (Wyoming) which struggled for a half against Texas State does not get my vote of confidence.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Dec. 17th, 5:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Ohio vs. Utah State

Winner: Utah State. In what is quite possibly the worst named bowl game ever, this one should go down to the wire. I give the edge to the Aggies.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 17th, 9 p.m. EST, ESPN
San Diego State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Winner: San Diego State. Expect SDSU running back Ronnie Hillman to run all over the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl, Dec. 20th, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN
Florida International vs. Marshall

Winner: Florida International. Three C-USA teams will win a bowl game. Marshall is not one of them. Florida International has a very underrated team.

S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 21st, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN
(18) TCU vs. Louisiana Tech

Winner: TCU. Is this a joke? TCU will dominate.

Photo: Gregory Bull/AP

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 22nd, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN
Arizona State vs. (7) Boise State

Winner: Boise State. This would have been a great game at the beginning of the season. Now, it’ll be a disappointing end for both teams, as this is not the game Kellen Moore deserves in his last collegiate game and ASU will have finished far below expectations.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24th, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN
Nevada vs. (21) Southern Miss

Winner: Southern Miss. If the Golden Eagles can shut down Case Keenum, they can shut down Nevada.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, Dec. 26th, 5 p.m. EST, ESPN2
Missouri vs. North Carolina

Winner: Missouri. It’s had to pick against Mizzou when they finished on a three game winning streak and almost beat Baylor, while the Tarheels stumbled into a bowl bid.

Little Caesars Bowl, Dec. 27th, 4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Western Michigan vs. Purdue

WInner: Western Michigan. The first upset of the bowl season goes to the Broncos, the Michigan team playing in Detroit.

Belk Bowl, Dec. 27th, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN
Louisville vs. NC State

Winner: NC State. Quarterback Mike Glennon seemed to catch fire in the last two games for the Wolfpack, and should handle a young Louisville team.

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman, Dec. 28th, 4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Toledo vs. Air Force

Winner: Air Force. With head coach Tim Beckman leaving Toledo for Illinois, look for the Falcons to pull off the upset.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28th, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN
California vs. (24) Texas

Winner: Texas. Don’t expect Texas to go with ridiculous play calling or revolving quarterbacks in this one. Texas wins their bowl games under Mack Brown as long as a McCoy isn’t hurt.

Champs Sports Bowl, Dec. 29th, 5:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Florida State vs. Notre Dame

Winner: Notre Dame. Two overrated teams… I’m inclined to go with the one which chokes less on a big stage.

Valero Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29th, 9 p.m. EST, ESPN
Washington vs. (12) Baylor

Winner: Baylor. Big time.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 30th, Noon EST, ESPN
BYU vs. Tulsa

Winner: Tulsa. This game should see plenty of offense. I give the slight edge to Tulsa.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 30th, 3:20 p.m. EST, ESPN
Rutgers vs. Iowa State

Winner: Iowa State. Look for the Cyclones to prove there was a reason they’re the team responsible for the national championship rematch.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Dec. 30th, 6:40 p.m. EST, ESPN
Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest

Winner: Mississippi State. Although neither team was impressive this year, a month is a dangerous amount of time to have Dan Mullen gameplan.

Insight Bowl, Dec. 30th, 10 p.m. EST, ESPN
Iowa vs. (14) Oklahoma

Winner: Oklahoma: The Sooners win their bowl games… as long as it’s not for a national championship.

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl, Dec. 31st, Noon EST, ESPN
Texas A&M vs. Northwestern

Winner: Northwestern. Prediction- one more blown game by the Aggies to leave the Big-12 in style!

CB Conroy Black and Utah will try and put the clamps on Tevin Washington and Georgia Tech's triple-option attack. (AP Photos)

Hyundai Sun Bowl, Dec. 31st, 2 p.m. EST, CBS
Georgia Tech vs. Utah

Winner: Georgia Tech. Even though the Utes seemed to find their stride without Jordan Wynn, it’ll be tough to win without him. This will be a run heavy game, and I expect Georgia Tech to come out on top.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31st, 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC
Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt

Winner: Cincinnati. As long as Cincinnati doesn’t start fighting like their basketball team and quarterback Zach Collaros returns from his injury, I’m taking Cincinnati. I’m thinking Collaros sucks it up for his final collegiate game and gives a gritty performance for the win.

Kraft Fight Hunger, Dec. 31st, 3:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Illinois vs. UCLA

Winner: Illinois. Don’t let the little win streak in the Pac 12 fool you; the Bruins are not a good team. This snooze-fest will go down to whoever is on DEFENSE last.

Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31st, 7:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Virginia vs. (25) Auburn

Winner: Auburn. I put faith in Auburn running back Michael Dyer’s ability to take over a bowl game like he did against Oregon last year as a freshman.

TicketCity Bowl, Jan. 2nd, Noon EST, ESPNU
(19) Houston vs. (22) Penn State

Winner: Houston. All year, I said Penn State was overrated. Keenum should help prove my point.

Outback Bowl, Jan. 2nd, 1 p.m. EST, ABC
(17) Michigan State vs. (16) Georgia

Winner: Michigan State. This is one of the most intriguing games on the bowl season. I’m picking the experienced quarterback in Kirk Cousins to redeem his loss to an SEC team in last years bowl game.

Capital One Bowl, Jan. 2nd, 1 p.m. EST, ESPN
(20) Nebraska vs. (9) South Carolina

Winner: South Carolina: Expect the Gamecocks to rattle Taylor Martinez early and often, forcing him to make his usual throwing mistakes.

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 2nd, 1 p.m. EST, ESPN2
Ohio State vs. Florida

Winner: Florida. Look for the Gators to get some semblance of revenge in what is now the Urban Meyer Bowl.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio, Jan. 2nd, 5 p.m. EST, ESPN
(10) Wisconsin vs. (5) Oregon

Winner: Oregon. In one of the best games of the bowl season, look for recently declared NFL Draft entree LaMichael James to outperform Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, giving Wisconsin two straight Rose Bowl losses and ending Oregon’s skid.

Stanford's Andrew Luck finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy a second straight year, while Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award for the second straight season. (AP Photos)

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2nd, 8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
(4) Stanford vs. (3) Oklahoma State

Winner: Oklahoma State. This is by far my favorite matchup of all 35 games. In order for Stanford to win, coach Shaw will have to abandon his conservative playcalling, which I feel cost Andrew Luck the Heisman, and unleash the power of Luck.

Allstate Sugar Bowl, Jan. 3rd, 8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
(13) Michigan vs. (11) Virginia Tech

Winner: Michigan. Although I anticipate Denard Robinson having a big game, it’s Michigan’s defense that should stifle the Hokies enough to give them the win.

Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 4th, 8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
(23) West Virginia vs. (15) Clemson

Winner: Clemson. When teams like Boise State are left out of a BCS game and a Big LEast team makes it instead, you know there’s something wrong. Clemson will expose this flaw in the system.

AT&T Cotton Bowl, Jan. 6th, 8 p.m. EST, FOX
(8) Kansas State vs. (6) Arkansas

Winner: Arkansas. This should come down to who has the ball last. It should make for one exciting finish.

BBVA Compass Bowl, Jan. 7th, 1 p.m. EST, ESPN
SMU vs. Pittsburgh

Winner: SMU. June Jones almost became the head coach at ASU. Now, he faces the team whose coach actually did leave for ASU. Here’s to Jones staying at SMU another year.

GoDaddy.com Bowl, Jan. 8th, 9 p.m. EST, ESPN
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois

Winner: Northern Illinois. Arkansas State, caught up in the excitement over the Gus Malzahn hire, will fall to a more focused Northern Illinois team.

Allstate BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 9th, 8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
(1) LSU vs. (2) Alabama

Winner: Alabama. Les Miles is known for being unpredictable in a game, and sometimes that could backfire. Especially with a revenge-minded Nick Saban on the other sideline ready to throw everything in his arsenal back at Miles and the Tigers. The Crimson Tide win by a touchdown. Yes, a TOUCHDOWN will win the game. These two teams know those as when someone runs past the last white line with the ball in their hand. Final 17-10, Alabama.

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2011 NCAA football week 14 top 25

Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley celebrates USC's 50-0 win against UCLA after an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Jae Hong)

We are approaching the end of the college football regular season. Soon, it will be time for bowl games and wondering who is playing whom. There will be more here on Torres Sports about bowl game predictions later, but as for now…

How about Matt Barkley’s late push for Heisman? I realize the coveted trophy may be out of his reach, but no one has been playing better than Barkley the past two months. Since his less than stellar performance against Arizona State on September 24, Barkley has bounced back by outperforming Andrew Luck in a loss, upsetting Oregon and throwing a school record six touchdowns in a game twice. Barkley’s numbers since October 1 are 207 completions on 297 attempts for 2,409 yards, 29 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Even Southern California athletic director Pat Haden regrets not campaigning for Barkley as a Heisman candidate earlier. It’s a shame Barkley was never considered for the award and likely won’t be invited to New York for the ceremony because of the sanctions imposed on USC. At this point, Barkley may be one of the best college quarterbacks to never win the Heisman trophy, as it is highly unlikely he will return for his senior year. The question is, if he did, where would USC be ranked entering the season?

Unless Georgia is blessed with an early Christmas miracle, the national championship game will be a rematch of Alabama and LSU. Alabama’s season is over as they will not play in the conference championship game. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit believe that even if LSU were to lose to Georgia, they would still have done enough to play in the title game. I personally don’t believe if such a scenario played out, an LSU-Alabama rematch would be the most logical game. A championship game in which neither team won their conference? Please. The country is on an SEC high though, and there’s hardly any way we’ll see anything else. Once again, a plus-one system should be installed in college football to determine a true champion.

The game of the week goes to Michigan and Ohio State. Ohio State is not the team it once was, yet it still gave a highly ranked Michigan team a run for its money. Michigan responded by finally beating the Buckeyes for the first time since 2003. I guess that’s what happens when Jim Tressel isn’t with Ohio State anymore. The lead changed back and forth as each team gave the other its best shot like it were a prized heavyweight fight. In a prestigious rivalry game like Ohio State-Michigan, there’s not much else one could ask for. It may not have been as good as the epic 2006 “Game of the Century” but it sure beat any contest played between the two while Rich Rodriguez was at Michigan.

1- LSU Tigers

2- Alabama Crimson Tide

3- Houston Cougars

4- Stanford Cardinal

5- Virginia Tech Hokies

6- Boise State Broncos

7- Oklahoma State Cowboys

8- Oregon Ducks

9- USC Trojans

10- Arkansas Razorbacks

11- Georgia Bulldogs

12- Michigan State Spartans

13- Wisconsin Badgers

14- Oklahoma Sooners

15- Kansas State Wildcats

16- South Carolina Gamecocks

17- Michigan Wolverines

18- TCU Horned Frogs

19- Baylor Bears

20- Nebraska Cornhuskers

21- Clemson Tigers

22- Southern Miss Golden Eagles

23- West Virginia Mountaineers

24- Missouri Tigers

25- Texas Longhorns

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2011 NCAA football week 13 top 25

Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp reacts after missing a field goal during the final minutes of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 37-31 in double overtime.

My apologies for not posting my top 25 last week, everyone. It was a busy week and once I had the time to post, Oklahoma State was already in the middle of falling to Iowa State.

Speaking of which, the Cowboys were one of many to lose on upset weekend. Oregon lost to USC in a nailbiter. Clemson dropped a game they should have won against N.C. State. Oklahoma fell to Baylor in dramatic fashion. Michigan beat Nebraska in the battle of poor-passing running quarterbacks.

All of the chaos has resulted in much speculation as to what will happen. This is how I see it: a couple of weeks ago, I said Alabama did not deserve to have a rematch against LSU. This, however, came at a time in which there were other undefeated teams ahead of Alabama in my opinion. Now, those undefeated teams have one loss as well, and to inferior opponents. November in college football is all about surviving, and if no one else can survive ahead of the Crimson Tide, then they might as well get their rematch. The only valid argument for the number two spot I see would be if Houston wins out, because they are the only undefeated team not named LSU. While Alabama will not even play in their own conference title game, Houston will have broken records on their way to going undefeated. The only reason why the BCS and voters ignore Houston is because of previous teams like Hawaii who were unable to hold their own weight in a BCS game. Yet there are those who could; see the 2008 Utah Utes who beat an SEC team in Alabama. Anything can happen in the game of college football, so why not give Houston that chance to beat what I believe is an overrated LSU team? Every year the SEC churns out a near perfect football team, but LSU this season does not compare to previous SEC champions. Nevertheless, everything could change within the next couple of weeks. We’ll have to see exactly how things turn out.

As for the game of the week, I have a tie. The two prime time games on ABC were well worth watching, no matter which you ended up with. On one end, you had USC make it’s claim for college football relevance by upsetting Oregon. In the other, there was Baylor beating Oklahoma and Robert Griffen III putting himself back at the top of the Heisman discussion. Both were worthy of being instant classics, as USC dominated Oregon only to see the Ducks make a valiant comeback from a deficit of 24 points. The game came down to one final kick to send it into overtime, which was wide left. As for the other contest, we got to see a wannabe right-handed Tim Tebow in OU’s Blake Bell. Bell rushed for four short-yardage touchdowns as Baylor and Oklahoma went back and forth. Each touchdown run looked like a play stolen right out of Urban Meyer’s Florida playbook. The show belonged to Griffen, though. RGIII gave us a game winning touchdown pass that will be a highlight shown in college football videos for years to come. The ensuing celebration with Baylor students and fans rushing the field and chanting Heisman with Griffen in the middle of everything was special.

1- LSU Tigers

2- Arkansas Razorbacks

3- Alabama Crimson Tide

4- Houston Cougars

5- Stanford Cardinal

6- Virginia Tech Hokies

7- Boise State Broncos

8- Oklahoma State Cowboys

9- Oregon Ducks

10- USC Trojans

11- Georgia Bulldogs

12- Michigan State Spartans

13- Oklahoma Sooners

14- Wisconsin Badgers

15- Kansas State Wildcats

16- Clemson Tigers

17- South Carolina Gamecocks

18- TCU Horned Frogs

19- Michigan Wolverines

20- Baylor Bears

21- Nebraska Cornhuskers

22- Penn State Nittany Lions

23- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

24- Virginia Cavaliers

25- Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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Sandusky, LSU-Alabama and the week 11 NCAA football top 25

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 09: Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno watches his team during practice on November 9, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

There are several games coming this weekend that look to be very entertaining or will have a big outcome on the BCS race. Not much will be said about these games though until Saturday, as there is bigger news in college football.

As if conference realignment issues and NCAA sanctions across the nation didn’t put a black eye on the sport already, Penn State had to give it a kick in the crotch. I won’t go into the details of the story here (ESPN has a good timeline of Jerry Sandusky and the scandal), but it sickens me that the university would cover up such a hideous act. Everyone knows what Sandusky allegedly did was wrong, but what surprises me also is the reaction coming out of Happy Valley. Students and fans showing up at head coach Joe Paterno’s home and chanting, “We want Joe,” and, “Beat Nebraska,” after it was reported he knew about the scandal and never reported it to the police? People on campus marching in support of Paterno? No one linked to the scandal should be supported during this time. I understand Paterno is a living legend, but his continued presence at Penn State made the school’s fans look ridiculous in front of everyone else in the country. This is why he and president Graham Spanier are now out at Penn State. There is no excuse for Sandusky’s actions, nor the athletic department’s inaction. This is a crime against several kids. These children had their lives changed in a sadistic manner and each of them went unprotected for years. Anyone who thinks even one person involved was in the right is definitely in the wrong.

On a lighter note, but still full of defensive arguments, LSU edged out Alabama 9-6. Yes, the supposed game of the decade ended in a final score of 9-6. The game’s highlights were ineffective quarterback play by both teams and Alabama missing four field goals. This is why Alabama does not deserve to be ranked third in the BCS nor do they deserve a rematch in the national title game. The only way Alabama might deserve to play in the national title game now would be if LSU, Boise State, Stanford and Oklahoma State all lost in the upcoming weeks, and that’s still a maybe. If teams like Oregon and West Virginia, far less touted than the Crimson Tide, can put up over twenty points on LSU then Alabama should have performed better. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Alabama is a great team and perhaps even better than LSU still. But if all you can do is put up six points after being within striking distance four other times, you do not deserve a rematch. Michigan was more worthy of a rematch versus Ohio State in 2006, and everyone in the SEC was crying foul. Now that they’re the ones involved in a possible rematch, everyone is on board. The SEC bias in this country needs to die down. The SEC is not the end all be all in college football. They produce one seemingly flawless team every year, but the rest are teams with holes somewhere that can be beat by other schools.

Lastly, the game of the week certainly did not go to LSU and Alabama. That honor goes to Kansas State and Oklahoma State. In what was the exact opposite of the SEC dogfight, these two teams put on a show in a back and forth shootout. The only ones not entertained by the game would be each of the defensive coordinators. Either way, the game gave fans everything they look for in a college football game: excitement, scoring, clutch performances and a dramatic finish.

1- LSU Tigers: The Tigers proved they are the best… sort of. What happened to the monster offense we saw all season? Oh, that was only against average defenses. I see.

2- Boise State Broncos: This is me making the case that Boise State deserves the shot to play against all those who fear to schedule them in the middle of the regular season. To back up this theory, they have to take down TCU this weekend.

3- Stanford Cardinal: The Cardinal have a huge test against Oregon. Stanford kept up with Oregon last year for only the first half; this year they’ll have to put together four quarters of great football to beat the Ducks.

4- Oklahoma State Cowboys: Look for the Cowboys to be in yet another shootout against Texas Tech this weekend, although this one should fizzle out in Oklahoma State’s favor by the end of the third quarter.

5- Alabama Crimson Tide: The best team not playing for the national championship will have to do what Bob Stoops does at Oklahoma to win BCS points: run up the scoring on every remaining opponent. This shouldn’t be too hard to do against Mississippi State.

6- Oregon Ducks: The Ducks could vault the Crimson Tide in my opinion with a convincing win over Stanford. If they keep the ball away from Andrew Luck, they can do it.

7- Arkansas Razorbacks: The only team standing in LSU’s way of reaching the BCS title game will need to use their next two games to prepare for the Tigers.

8- Houston Cougars: Has Case Keenum broken another record? I’ve lost count. I’m sure he’s bound to against Tulane this weekend.

9- Oklahoma Sooners: I almost feel as if the BCS ranked Baylor in the top 25 this week just to give Oklahoma a more credible win.

10- Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies have silently fought their way back into the top ten, but can easily be taken out of it by Georgia Tech on Thursday.

11- Clemson Tigers: I feel for Wake Forest, Clemson’s next opponent. Two weeks is far too long for a team to be storing up rage after falling out of the top ten.

12- Penn State Nittany Lions: It feels so wrong to put Penn State so high up in the rankings not just because of the Sandusky situation, but because this team is not that good. Nebraska will most likely continue to put a hurting on Penn State.

13- Michigan State Spartans: Whether Michigan State gets the Iowa team that beat Michigan or lost to Minnesota is irrelevant. The Spartans should win either way.

14- Georgia Bulldogs: The Bulldogs could have an impressive win against Auburn to continue their seven game winning streak. Just don’t ask Mark Richt about suspended players in a disrespectful manner. The reporter could have received a far worse tongue lashing.

15- Wisconsin Badgers: Wisconsin will beat Minnesota. Moving on…

16- South Carolina Gamecocks: I’ll admit it myself, I have had South Carolina overrated far too many times this season. In reality they’re no better than this position right here.

17- Kansas State Wildcats: As long as the Wildcats don’t allow over 50 points like they did to the two Oklahoma teams, they should be in good shape against Texas A&M.

18- Nebraska Cornhuskers: The game at Penn State could get ugly in so many ways.

19- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The Yellow Jackets will have to open up their playbook a bit more if they wish to beat Virginia Tech.

20- Cincinnati Bearcats: The Bearcats are finally getting some credit after defeating Pittsburgh. They can make an even bigger statement by beating West Virginia.

21- Texas Longhorns: Missouri will be a nice tune-up for what looks to be a challenging three game final stretch.

22- Southern Miss Golden Eagles: Six points in week two are the reason why Southern Miss isn’t undefeated. They should go on to face an undefeated Houston team for the C-USA championship.

23- USC Trojans: The win over Colorado was expected, but that doesn’t mean the Trojans didn’t look good. Look for them to avenge last year’s loss to Washington on Saturday.

24- Michigan Wolverines: Michigan clearly does not play well outside of the Big House. They may not make it out of Illinois with a win.

25- TCU Horned Frogs: TCU can clear up the BCS picture a bit by upsetting Boise State in what has become somewhat of a rivalry between two underdogs adored by the country.

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The Curious Case of Tim Tebow

Photo: Ric Tapia/Icon SMI

On October 23, 2011, Adam Schefter retweeted something I thought would make for an interesting post. The tweet said,

“Tebow is everything his critics say he is and everything his fans say he is.”

This was after Tim Tebow underperformed for three and a half quarters and then led the Broncos back to tie the game, send it into overtime and win. The following game, Tebow had yet another sub-par performance as the Broncos were destroyed by the Lions.

Everyone knows Tebow’s hateful critics say he can’t play quarterback in the NFL and should move to another position. His crazed fanatics say he is God’s gift to quarterbacking and will revolutionize the league.

Now, here is the way I believe Tebow should be viewed by all:

Tebow was one of the best college football quarterbacks of all time. The reason why Tebow gets so much attention from the media is because of everything he accomplished at Florida. In case you forgot what he did in only three years as a starter, here’s a quick reminder:

  • Career Passing: 661 Cmp, 995 Att, 9285 Yds, 88 TD, 16 INT
  • Career Rushing: 692 Att, 2947 Yds, 4.3 Avg, 57 TD

Regardless of their accomplishments, no one athlete should receive so much media time, and I firmly believe this is one reason for the Tebow hate people carry. Like him or not, however, Tebow deserves respect as a college player.

But then came the NFL. In the months leading up to the Draft in 2010, Tebow worked hard at tweaking his throwing motion. Not only that, Tebow worked hard at preparing his body for a grueling NFL season. Yet none of this mattered because Tebow’s critics were too stubborn to see this and only focused on the fact that he was not perfect at the senior bowl. To this day, anti-Tebow fans will find anything and everything to critique about him. Criticism comes with being a starting quarterback. It’s almost like an unwritten clause in a quarterback’s contract: If you’re the starting quarterback, be prepared to take a lot of heat. The hatred carried toward Tim Tebow, however, is beyond regular criticism. Why do I say this? Well, let’s have a few comparisons.

Through five starts, Tim Tebow has gone 71 for 147 with 984 yards, seven passing touchdowns, four interceptions and three rushing touchdowns. His record through five starts is 2-3. These numbers, have doubters labeling Tebow a bust already (my definition of a bust is far too complicated to explain in this blog post). Yet with other quarterbacks in recent memory, the bust label was not thrown about so easily. Let’s take a look at three quarterbacks currently on NFL rosters: Eli Manning, Alex Smith and Vince Young. These are their statistics through their first five starts.

Name Yards Completions Attempts TD INT Rush TD Record
Alex Smith 551 50 109 0 9 0 0–5
Eli Manning 632 55 124 3 7 0 0–5
Vince Young 629 59 126 4 6 2 2–3

Now, when Manning failed to win any games as a starter after the Giants had already won five games, was his head being called for? No. Perhaps this was due to his last name, but Manning was horrific his first year and yet he got to keep his job. Years later, Manning made one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history and lifted the Lombardi Trophy.

I hardly ever see eye to eye with MTV, but this infographic may be right.

When Smith brought dishonor to the quarterback tradition in San Francisco, everyone said he needed more time to develop; he was not ready to be a starting quarterback. The system Smith played in at college did not help him prepare well for the NFL. Wait, who was the head coach at Utah while Smith was there? Oh yeah, Urban Meyer, the same coach who led Tebow to his success. I wonder why Smith gets a free pass while Tebow is ridiculed endlessly. Regardless, Smith is now leading a 49ers team which currently stands at 6-1.

Here is where I relate to you all, Tebow naysayers. I have had my grudges against quarterbacks as a fan, and I’ll admit they were over petty things. Young was one of these in which I’m referring to. I never thought Young was going to be successful in the NFL from the day he declared himself eligible for the Draft. Through his first five starts, he seemed to prove me right. Young, however, got better with experience, and won rookie of the year. He was so good he earned the cover of Madden. Therefore, I was proven wrong. Granted,Young has fallen out of a starting role, but that is not because of his lack of ability but more so his lack of character. Tebow’s leadership and character are second to none.

In other words, Tebow haters need to act like mature football fans and give the man some time to develop before crucifying him. He is nowhere near ready to be an elite quarterback or even a measly game manager at the position. How can anyone truly be judged after only five starts on an absolutely horrendous team and a new head coach? I believe with the recent emergence of solid rookie quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez have spoiled fans into thinking every quarterback should be able to start on day one and produce greatness. Even then, Tebow’s numbers compared to their first five starts are similar if not better. How long did it take for guys like Eli Manning and Alex Smith, two number one draft choices, to get better? Tebow was drafted twenty-fifth overall and was known to be a project player. There should not be such malice toward a quarterback who is simply taking his lumps on a path to getting better. If any hatred toward Tebow is because he is a man of Christianity and has claimed to be saving himself for marriage, that is sad. Even the most unwholesome player, Bill Romanowski, can’t hate Tebow for that.

Photo: Ron Chenoy/US Presswire

The intensity needs to calm down on the other side of the Tebow spectrum as well. Tebow devotees need to realize he is not the second coming of Christ. This, “Tebowing” ordeal needs to stop. There should be no such thing as, “Tebowing” because it is what thousands of players have done for years: kneeling for a quick prayer to whomever they choose to worship. Radio stations should not be offering to change their name to “The Tebow” with a Broncos victory. Tebow will not win every game for the Broncos, and when he does earn a victory, it won’t be pretty. Chances are, Tebow will not be the next Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. Tebow is more likely to end up like a Donovan McNabb or Jeff Garcia type of player than a hall of fame quarterback. Either way, when you watch Tebow on video, he has his flaws. He does not look experienced dropping back in the pocket and has trouble reading defenses. This has only been through five starts, but some of these mistake’s he’s made are inexcusable. He may make some amazing plays with his arm and legs, but I have seen him miss open receivers, and even rookies should make such a throw nine times out of ten. Tebow has not earned all the praise he has gotten from his crazed acolytes, and until he does, he should not be put on such a pedestal.

In summation, everyone needs to calm down over the issue of Tebow. He is not Jesus in cleats, but even if he were, that would not save the terrible Denver Broncos. He was a great college quarterback who is still learning in the NFL, but needs to prove he is worthy of all the attention he gets. I’ll leave you with this: A comparison between Tebow and arguably the biggest bust and best quarterback in NFL history through their first five starts. You’ll see he falls in between both, proving the jury should still be out on him (even though he has less interceptions than both).

Name Yards Completions Attempts TD INT Rush TD Record
Tim Tebow 984 71 147 7 4 3 2–3
Ryan Leaf 728 57 127 1 9 0 2–3
Peyton Manning 1129 93 169 4 12 0 1–4
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2011 NCAA football week 10 top 25

The top two teams will battle to find out who is the best on Saturday

The biggest game of the year is finally here. No. 1 LSU is set to take on no. 2 Alabama in a battle that could not only determine the future SEC champion, but possible the national champion. Personally, I believe Alabama is still the better team despite LSU having a few better performances. The game should be the true test and give the country an answer as to who the best team is. Look for sensational performances from all of the big names involved, but the game may come down to the final possession. My prediction is Alabama forcing one more turnover than LSU; enough to walk away with a victory. Alabama 27, LSU 24.

As I predicted last week, the game of the week goes to Stanford and USC. These two teams gave the country an instant classic. It had everything you can ask for: a newly heated rivalry, two star quarterbacks, a Heisman contender rising up to the challenge, replay controversy, and multiple overtimes. In the end, it wasn’t Stanford’s Luck that did the trick, but USC’s lack thereof which made the difference. Regardless of the outcome, the country learned from this game that USC is better than given credit for and Andrew Luck is every bit as good as advertised.

One last thing… I’m sick of conference realignment.

1- LSU Tigers: The Tigers can prove to everyone they’re the best team in the country on Saturday.

2- Alabama Crimson Tide: Ditto what was said about the Tigers above.

3- Boise State Broncos: Many have the Broncos lower than this, but I like to give where credit has been due for the past few years.

4- Stanford Cardinal: Some see the win over USC as Stanford not being as good as everyone thought. I see it as the Cardinal beating a team that deserves far more respect.

5- Oklahoma State Cowboys: This team seems to be on upset alert every week and yet they come through big. Next upset alert comes against formerly undefeated Kansas State.

6- Oregon Ducks: Can a banged up Oregon team hold off a Washington team attempting to prove their worth in the Pac-12? I say yes they can.

7- Arkansas Razorbacks: Big SEC game comes as Arkansas hosts South Carolina. I’m taking the Razorbacks.

8- Houston Cougars: Record setting quarterback Case Keenum should have no problem handling a 1-7 UAB team.

9- Oklahoma Sooners: It really shouldn’t matter which Texas A&M team shows up to play the Sooners.

10- Nebraska Cornhuskers: After losing to Wisconsin in their first Big Ten game, the Cornhuskers have won three straight conference games. Look for them to make it four games in a row.

11- Virginia Tech Hokies: Quarterback Logan Thomas had been playing great for three weeks before Duke slowed him down. He’ll have a week to right the ship before facing Georgia Tech.

12- South Carolina Gamecocks: The Gamecocks have only scored 14 points in their past two games. They’ll need more than that to beat Arkansas.

13- Clemson Tigers: Just as they were quickly becoming America’s favorite dark horse, the Tigers fell from contention as they lost to Georgia Tech.

14- Kansas State Wildcats: I predict a beating from one Oklahoma team will be followed by another. Poor Wildcats.

15- Michigan Wolverines: The Wolverines bounced back from their in-state loss to Michigan State by trouncing Purdue. Next is at Illinois.

16- Arizona State Sun Devils: The Sun Devils dominated Colorado on Homecoming night, and now face UCLA, the team in which Brock Osweiler faced when he first made a name for himself as the ASU quarterback.

17- Penn State Nittany Lions: The arguably worst 8-1 team ever should be brought back down to earth against Nebraska.

18- Michigan State Spartans: Speaking of being brought back down the earth by Nebraska, there was no miracle in store for the Spartans.

19- Georgia Bulldogs: After a five game winning streak against SEC teams, there’s no way the Bulldogs’ roll comes to a halt against New Mexico State.

20- Wisconsin Badgers: Injuries are no excuse for a team this talented to lose to Ohio State and their spiffy Nike pro-combat uniforms.

21- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Climbing back into the rankings are the Yellow Jackets, who knocked Clemson off the ranks of the unbeaten.

22- Cincinnati Bearcats: Cincinnati could be the best Big LEast team in the country. A win against Pittsburgh could further improve that statement.

23- Southern Miss Golden Eagles: More love to C-USA as the Golden Eagles climb to 23 after beating conference foe UTEP.

24- Texas Longhorns: Although Kansas is simply a horrible team this year, the Longhorns looked good in running over the Jayhawks.

25- USC Trojans: Despite the loss, this team showed the nation it is better than any other rankings give them credit for. Should Barkley and Luck both enter the NFL draft in April, they could continue their epic rivalry for years to come.

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