|Clemson was the first winner in my 7-0 Saturday. (AP photo)|
Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida, Washington, Miami, Oklahoma and Stanford all came through with victories to make a start-to-finish fantastic Saturday for my picks. It was a bonus that I took over the overall lead in the season standings, as Craig went 4-3 and Anthony 2-5. That’s a far cry from my 1-6 start to the season and people saying I was already out of the race.
Since that opening week disaster, I’m a whopping 12-1-1 against the points. That is a truly unbelievable run. To put a money total on it, I’ve gone from down $560 on a standard $110 bet to win $100, to up $530 in just two weeks. That’s a swing of $1,090 in 13 games. Put any adjective in there you want, it would fit for the run I’ve had in college football.
Saturday was just as spectacular for my fantasy baseball semifinal in my 12-team pay league. I was the top overall seed but found myself down 11-2 in the 18-category matchup against the four-seed. I needed a miracle and I got several on Saturday. My team batted .367 with seven runs, four home runs and 11 RBI. I turned a rout into a close matchup, cutting the deficit to very manageable 6-4. I gave myself a chance in something I thought was impossible 24 hours earlier.
When I went to bed I was beyond excited for the next day. I already had a perfect college football week in my back pocket and now I was close to pulling out a fantasy baseball victory, which would have put me in my third straight final. I also had high hopes for my fantasy football team, especially after scoring a ton in Week 1. And, oh yeah, the Jets were playing the Jaguars that afternoon.
|Jamaal Charles was my No. 1 draft pick. (AP photo)|
Things couldn’t get any better. But I found out rather quickly on Sunday things could definitely get worse.
First, it was my fantasy football team losing Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles for the season. He ended up getting two points for me. My quarterback, Tony Romo, left with a punctured lung and broken ribs, although he did return to post a solid number. Who knows what his status will be for next Sunday. My opponent? His entire team had what seemed to be career days and I ended up losing big even before the Sunday night game started.
Over in fantasy baseball, the Saturday power numbers my squad put up went away on Sunday. Meanwhile, my opponent saw a resurgence and ended up taking back all of the categories I either tied or won on a wild Saturday. The only slight chance I had on Sunday night was Cole Hamels and a pair of Phillies backups I was forced into signing off the free agency wire because my first baseman and catcher were both sitting out.
Even with all of the stats in my opponent’s favor I could have gotten the score to 7-7, which would have given me the win based on tiebreakers, if I got a double and two RBI from my two batters and a masterful performance by Hamels. Well, Brian Schneider and Ross Gload (yeah, I know) went a combined 0-for-7 and Hamels let up a two-run home run in the first inning to Albert Pujols. That was it.
|Albert Pujols homered off Cole Hamels. (AP photo)|
To have the match swing from being done, to being in control, to done again is a horrible emotional swing. It took several hours to get the pain in my chest to disappear, knowing that my season was over. I almost don’t think I can handle fantasy playoff matchups, as it creates a ton of stress, with making the right decisions to following every single pitch of nearly every single game. Believe me, I’ll never stop playing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the damage it does to my body and mind.
I’ve got to believe other fantasy players around the world feel the same way. Then again, maybe it is just me.
At least now I won't have to worry about what pitcher to claim or what outfielder I'll have to start if my regulars aren't in their real-life lineups. I can focus on football and try to limit the stress until that playoff time comes around.
One great thing did happen on Sunday, so it wasn’t all bad. The Jets destroyed the Jaguars, which was even sweeter because a ton of “analysts” had that game as their upset alert. The Jets defense made the Jaguars look like a high school team, forcing four interceptions and holding quarterback Luke McCown to a 1.8 passer rating. So that was a silver lining in an otherwise terrible day.
They’ll be more days like Saturday and they’ll be more days like Sunday. Hopefully, for me, there’s more Saturdays in my future.
Now, here are some quick notes on the weekend that was.
Ohio State coach Luke Fickell should be fired immediately. What he did at the end of the game against Miami was downright disgraceful. His Buckeyes were trailing 17-6 when Miami took over with 9:21 to go. The Hurricanes drove downfield and had a 1st-and-goal from the OSU six-yard line with time running out. That is when Fickell did the unthinkable. He didn’t call a timeout, even though the Buckeyes had three at their disposal.
|Luke Fickell doesn't believe in timeouts. (AP photo)|
As the clock moved, the camera showed Fickell on the sideline completely confused at the game situation. At best, he decided there was no way his Buckeyes would win the game, so there was no need to burn a timeout. At worst, he had no idea what was going on. Either way it was an embarrassing moment on the sideline.
Every football fan knows what to do in that situation. You use all three of your timeouts because if you hold them to a field goal, the lead is 14. If the Buckeyes score a touchdown and get an onside kick in relatively quick fashion, there would be time to tie the game. It sounds like a long shot, but just look at what Auburn did to Utah State in Week 1. Anything is possible.
Only Fickell didn’t believe so. Or he didn’t know he could call a timeout. Or he completely forgot to call one and it was too late to save face when he realized he messed up in epic fashion. Anything is possible … unless you give up.
Ohio State will be looking for a new coach this offseason, but they should do it a lot sooner than that. Fickell embarrassed himself and the team on Saturday. He doesn’t belong as a head coach. We all witnessed it Saturday night.
Writing about embarrassing moments on television, have you seen the McDonald’s commercial where the guy is eating with what appears to be his wife when she tells him she’s disgusted because her sister’s boyfriend said Sundays are only for football? The guy goes into thought for a moment before answering, with the wrong response possibly resulting in him being kicked out of his house. He comes to his senses and says the guy is a jerk. All is happy.
But all this proves is that if you eat McDonald’s you’ll become a giant wus. Get a freaking backbone and stand up to your wife, who is apparently so heartless that if you answer against her thoughts, she’ll kick you out of the house. Oh, what a gem she is! But continue to live your life in fear, loser.
What a terrible commercial. No wonder McDonald’s has gone from the top fast food chain to an afterthought to everyone I know, including myself. It’s overpriced and has crappy food, so it’s no surprise their commercials are the same way.
Now, on to the breakdown:
This Week: 7-0 (spread); 7-0 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 13-7-1 (spread); 19-2 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $530 (season)
Craig's Week: 4-3 (spread)
Craig's Season: 12-8-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: UP $320 (season)
Anthony’s Week: 2-5 (spread)
Anthony’s Season: 9-11-1 (spread)
Anthony’s Money: DOWN $310 (season)
No. 21 Auburn +3 at Clemson
My Pick: Clemson 49, Auburn 42
Actual Score: Clemson 38, Auburn 24
Auburn jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, but Clemson rolled from there, outscoring the visitors 38-10 the rest of the way for the victory. This was all about the fourth quarter, where Clemson led by 14 after an early field goal. Auburn responded by driving the field in just six plays to reach the Clemson 13 yard line. But that is when Clemson shut the door for good, intercepting a pass and followed by keeping the ball for the next 9:34 until giving the ball to the referee because the final horn sounded. Nine minutes, 34 seconds is absolutely insane, and it gives me a victory to start the day. Craig and Anthony both take losses in the opener.
|This was a must-win for Brian Kelly. (AP photo)|
No. 15 Michigan State +4.5 at Notre Dame
My Pick: Notre Dame 33, Michigan State 27
Actual Score: Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 13
Craig was none too happy when it was obvious I would pick up a victory on Notre Dame. He says my reason for picking the Irish was flat-out dumb – that picking a team simply because I didn’t believe they would start 0-3 was bad analysis and a disservice to my readers and viewers. Craig, of course, isn’t looking at the big picture. Of course the fact Notre Dame was 0-2 played into my selection. I didn’t see Notre Dame falling to 0-3. But that’s not everything; it’s just the final piece of the puzzle. One, picking games sometimes comes down to the law of averages. When I was picking this game, I thought right away it would be nearly impossible for Notre Dame to drop to 0-3, with two of those coming at home. Add in the fact the Irish were playing Michigan State, a team of similar talent, and there was no way I wasn’t picking them. The spread was a rather high 4.5 points, but again, all those factors led me to believe Notre Dame would cover. (Not that it was easy, mind you.) Craig’s point of contention was that I would have picked Notre Dame against anyone because I believe the Irish wouldn’t go 0-3. But if the Irish were playing Oklahoma, I would have the Sooners winning big. So, picking this game, and any other for that matter, is a lot deeper than what I may get to say on-air and in print. Remember, everything is under time and space constraints. The one thing that isn’t is the score. While Craig protests, I get the victory to start 2-0. Craig and Anthony both take losses and begin 0-2.
Tennessee +9.5 at No. 16 Florida
My Pick: Florida 38, Tennessee 27
Actual Score: Florida 33, Tennessee 23
I don’t think I’ve ever been a fan of a college football kicker, but I am now. Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals, including the biggest of them all, a 42-yarder that gave the Gators a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter against Tennessee. Every time Florida stalled in Vols territory, three times, he put points on the board. That is anything but typical in college football. Florida did have to stop Tennessee late in the game, but Matt Elam picked off a pass and the Gators were able to run out the clock for the close victory. Craig again was talking crap about this game, saying Tennessee dominated play. I saw it differently, surprise, surprise. I start 3-0 while Craig and Anthony drop to 0-3.
|Washington scored 21 points in the fourth. (AP photo)|
Washington +17 at
No. 11 Nebraska
My Pick: Nebraska 34, Washington 21
Actual Score: Nebraska 51, Washington 38
This was by far the best game of the day when taking the point spread into account. When Nebraska took a 44-17 lead with under 13 minutes to play, I was trying to come to grips with my undefeated week coming to a sudden end. After all, it would have taken a minor miracle for my unbeaten start to continue with my pick of Washington. But less than three minutes later the Huskies gave me hope from out of nowhere, scoring two straight touchdowns to bring the score to 44-31. Of course, nothing is easy, so Nebraska came right back downfield and scored a touchdown of its own to regain a 20-point lead with 4:42 to go. Again, back to being a huge Washington fan, I was rewarded just 15 seconds later as Keith Price hit James Johnson for a 52-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 13 again. Nebraska drove the ball downfield yet again, but this time the Huskies made a stop deep in their own territory on fourth down. Washington couldn’t do anything with the ball and threw a pick that ended the game, but I got all I needed. That back and forth action in a game that was all but decided is why adding the point spread is a great way to enjoy college football. It’s also great that it ended with me winning the game. I improve to 4-0 as Washington joins my short list of teams I’ll always cheer for. Craig was finally able to cheer for a victory, as his Washington selection gets him to 1-3. Anthony is having yet another rough outing, dropping to 0-4 with the incorrect Nebraska pick. It’s a long way from when Mullet Power was all the rage back in Week 1.
No. 17 Ohio State +2.5 at Miami
My Pick: Miami 27, Ohio State 23
Actual Score: Miami 24, Ohio State 6
Miami scored 14 first-quarter points and rolled to an easy win. I also roll to an easy victory to improve to 5-0 on the day with two to go. This is getting interesting. Craig also goes with his Hurricanes to improve to 2-3. Anthony was the only one to go with Ohio State and is paid back by falling to 0-5. Wow. At least he joins Craig and I with the same picks in the last two games of the night, so his luck might actually turn around.
|Landry Jones beat Florida State. (AP photo)|
No. 1 Oklahoma -3 at
No. 5 Florida State
My Pick: Oklahoma 28, Florida State 24
Actual Score: Oklahoma 23, Florida State 13
Even though Oklahoma never led by more than 10 points in the game featuring two top five teams, I never thought the outcome was in doubt. The Sooners were dominating and the Seminoles couldn’t do anything offensively, so I was convinced this would end no worse than a tie. Yes, a draw would have been terrible, as it had the possibility of taking the luster off a possible 7-0 week. Then, out of nowhere, the game was tied as Florida State scored on a 56-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-28. Sometimes you just can’t explain things, and that was the case here as I still wasn’t worried. This was Oklahoma’s game. And 2:32 later, Landry Jones put the Sooners back on top with a 37-yard scoring pass. Oklahoma then intercepted a pass, kicked a field goal and forced a four-and-out to win the game by 10. I improve to 6-0, Craig moves to 3-3 and Anthony finally gets a victory to go to 1-5.
|Andrew Luck got the win for Stanford. (AP photo)|
No. 6 Stanford -10 at Arizona
My Pick: Stanford 42,
Actual Score: Stanford 37,
In my quest for single week perfection, Stanford only made me suffer for one half (although it was after 1 a.m. here on the East Coast). The Cardinal scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to win the game going away and, more importantly, giving me my first 7-0 week in as far back as I can remember. I actually can’t remember anyone reaching that magical record in the seven yeas I’ve been doing this column. So, this is a historic moment for the column and the web show. It was such a perfect Saturday I didn’t even care it became official at 2 a.m. So, to wrap up the week, I finish 7-0 and take the overall lead in the season standings. Craig finishes strong, winning three in a row to finish at 4-3. Anthony wins his second game in a row to take some of the sting off a 0-5 start. Maybe it’s time for a haircut. But, then again, what would I talk about in the show’s opening? Reverse Mullet Power! We’re back this Thursday with our college football web show and the column debuts Friday just in time for Week 4. See you then.