Monday, November 14, 2011

LSU vs. Oklahoma State... Unless...*

Stanford lost. Boise State lost. The only unbeatens left are LSU, Oklahoma State, and Houston. With Houston's schedule, they're not going to get a national title shot without lots of help. So the Championship game will be LSU's stifling defense (allowing 10.7 points per game), against Oklahoma State's relentless offense (scoring 51.7 per game). Unless either of them lose, of course.

And that's possible. LSU still has to play #6 Arkansas. Oklahoma State must face #5 Oklahoma. If either team fails to win these big games (or any other game), then the BCS becomes a mess. And based on the history of the BCS, I think we're destined for a mess.

If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, how do you shut them out of the title game? How about Oregon, who only lost to LSU? What about Alabama, who only lost to LSU? Then again, if your only loss is to LSU, doesn't that mean you had an opportunity to win a title shot and failed? Is it more damaging to lose to a contender than it is to lose to a random team like Texas Tech? Should it be more damaging?

If LSU and Oklahoma State run the table, then the BCS has done its job. If not, then a playoff would be the only answer to solve the National Championship puzzle.

Bruins Slice Sabres

The Bruins extended their winning streak to 5 and also ended Buffalo's at 4. I think it's safe to say that the Bruins turned a corner on November 1st against Ottawa. Since then, they've scored 30 goals, and allowed only 10.

One of the biggest reasons for the onslaught of goals is Tyler Seguin and the Seguin-Bergeron-Marchand line. They were +3 Saturday night and Seguin has already matched his 2010-11 total with 11 goals. He's on pace for 60. The only Bruin to ever score 60+ goals in a season was an Italian guy named Phil. He did it three times. The last Bruin to score 50+ was Cam Neely in 1993-94.

It's not just one line, though. While Seguin is scoring the pretty goals, Lucic and Horton are generating ugly ones. They've combined for 8 goals during this streak. Neither of these guys were producing at the start of the season and it was killing the team. But now they're both playing physical, and allowing the game to come to them.

Apart from Seguin, this team doesn't have a pure scorer. They rely on depth, and being able to grind their opponents down. Right now they have two lines playing very well, a third line that's producing (Chris Kelly had a goal and an assist) and the 4th line is doing what the 4th line is supposed to do. Not only that, the defensemen are contributing with timely pinches and breakout passes.

Everything is clicking right now for the Bruins. This level of play is difficult to maintain for very long, but the Bruins just need a few of these parts playing well at the same time in order to succeed. As opposed to back in October when it was just Thomas and Seguin playing well.

Bruins host the Devils Tuesday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Pats Soar Over Jets

A lot of people didn't give the Patriots a chance in this game. But I was cautiously optimistic. Why? Because I don't think the Jets are that good.

Sure, the Pats' defense was a slapped together hodgepodge of obscure practice squad players. During player introductions, I was surprised NBC had photos for all of them. And it's not like the Patriots' defense has been a dominating force before this latest rash of injuries. But Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense are not well equipped to take advantage of these weaknesses.

This game featured a weak defense facing a weak offense, and a strong offense facing a strong defense. And it came down to which team made the most/biggest mistakes, and which team best took advantage of those mistakes.

The Jets made the biggest and the most mistakes. A muffed punt, a missed 24 yard field goal, they gave Brady the ball back with time before the end of the half, Greene couldn't catch a ball and that turned into a pick, and Sanchez threw an interception that was his own fault. The Jets also looked confused at all times. They were never entirely certain what they were doing, let alone had any idea what the Patriots were going to do.

The Pats took advantage of these mistakes. And they didn't make many of their own. There was a botched shotgun snap that Brady was able to recover. And the safety, of course. That was basically it. The Pats didn't turn the ball over, they didn't allow many big plays.

The Pats also improved as the game progressed. Especially Tom Brady. Up until that drive before halftime, he was 6/14 for 129 yards (76.2 rating). He finished the game 20/25 for 200 yards and 3 TDs (139.6 rating). He was two different quarterbacks. One was clumsy and random. The other was efficient and ruthless.

The Pats were still in the game despite the slow offensive start because of the defense. Andre Carter and Rob Ninkovich had career games. Carter was credited with 4.5 sacks, and Ninkovich intercepted two passes. It wasn't pretty, but the Red Zone defense was tight, they didn't allow big plays, and they occasionally got to Sanchez.

Rob Gronkowski had yet another monstrous performance. 8 catches for 113 yards and 2 TDs. Did you know that Belichick drafted him? That's right. The guy everyone has been critical of as a GM drafted Gronk in the 2nd round. He's already caught 18 TD passes in his just-starting career.

By the way, Wes Welker's 46 yards put him over 1,000 yards for the season. It's Week 10.

Chad Ochocinco made the most noise he's made all season. 2 catches for 65 yards, one of them was a huge 53 yarder. He's not going to get cut. He might not be a significant positive contributor, but unlike Haynesworth, he's not a negative.

So things weren't as bad as we thought they were. But this win isn't unbelievably impressive either. The Jets are a 5-4 team and they played like a 5-4 team. The Pats' schedule from here on out is very easy, and with 2 wins against the Jets in their pocket, and Buffalo struggling, there's no excuse to not win the AFC East.

Pats host Kansas City on Monday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo