Playoff Poll Watch: Week Four

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By Ben Sieck

It’s late November and Alabama is back atop the College Football Playoff rankings. Did you expect anything less?

Alabama replaces Mississippi State as No. 1 in the nation after the Crimson Tide rolled through the Bulldogs last Saturday.

Oregon comes in at No. 2, and Florida State, the last unbeaten Power 5 team, ranks third.

Cries of Florida State fans screaming #SECBias can be heard throughout the Internet, but their schedule remains a farce. The Seminoles have struggled against mediocre opponents, and despite winning all their games, aren’t worthy of the No. 1 spot.

Looking further down the list, Mississippi State edging out TCU for the final spot is an interesting development. The Bulldogs appear to be in control of their own destiny. Win out and they’re in.

Ohio State coming it a No. 6 would be hilarious if it there wasn’t a possibility of the Buckeyes sneaking in.

Virginia Tech beat this team by 14 points. Yes, the worst team in the ACC Coastal beat the pride of the Big Ten by TWO TOUCHDOWNS. Yet because the Buckeyes only have one loss, they come in ahead of at least six or seven higher-quality teams.

Baylor fans have to be nervous sitting one spot behind the Buckeyes. Baylor is a legitimate title threat with a weak schedule. Ohio State is just a team with a weak schedule. Could you imagine a Bama-Ohio State matchup in the first round? Actually don’t do that to yourself, its not worth the nightmares.

Monday Morning Coffee: 3 sports articles to read

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Matthew VanTryon | Butler University

Here are three sports pieces to read this morning…

1. Sports executives often shy away from the media. So, the notion that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would write an op-ed piece for the New York Times–about the controversial topic of legalizing sports betting, nonetheless–is nearly unheard of. That is what Silver did, and he makes some very intriguing and compelling points.

2. Was it really 10 years ago that Ron Artest went into the stands after being hit with a beverage? Was it really 10 years ago that the Pacers began a downward spiral into the laughingstock of the NBA, for discord on and off the court? Indianapolis Star reporter Candace Buckner takes a fascinating look back at the “Malice at the Palace” on its 10-year anniversary.

3. In the aftermath of the Colts being thrashed by their long-time nemesis New England Patriots on national television last night, Indianapolis Star columnist Greg Doyel asks a question: are the Colts a playoff team that strikes fear in the players on the other sideline? His answer might be frightening for Colts fans.

Wizards Off to Best Start in 39 Years

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By William Beal

The year was 1975, a little company named Microsoft had just been founded and head coach Randy Wittman was just starting his freshman year of high school .  It was also the last time the Washington Wizards (uh, Bullets) started a season 6-2.

After losing the season opener to the Heat down a few men thanks to this, the Wiz have been hot, losing only to the Raptors.

They’ve done it behind the power of John Wall, averaging 20 points, 9 assists, and 2.6 steals through the first eight games.  He also has five double-doubles already.

We’re also getting ever closer to the return of Bradley Beal.

While Garrett Temple filled in nicely in Beal’s absence, shooting 14 of 27 from three-point land in the first five games of the season, he has cooled down recently, shooting just 1 for 10 in the last three games.

The Wizards are also getting big contributions from a place they didn’t much last year; the bench.  In separate games this season, Rasual Butler, Kevin Seraphin, and Otto Porter Jr. have added 18, 13, and 21 points, respectively, off the bench to contribute to wins.

We will find out a lot about this team in the coming weeks as the face off against the powerhouse Cavaliers team twice in six days, possibly with Beal returning in the first matchup.

So take a deep breath Wizards fans, and enjoy the moment.  The season only gets more fun from here.

Five sports articles to read this week

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Here’s five sports articles to read this week:

1. Indiana Pacers radio play-by-play announcer Mark Boyle reflects on his brother dying. A very poignant piece. Boyle is stoic and poised behind the mic, and it is considerate of him to let the veil down and let readers see his human side. Of course, best wishes to Mark, his family, and everyone affected by that situation.

2. A-Rod had managed to stay out of line of fire from New York columnists as he served his suspension. With new information concerning the steroid allegations surrounding the third baseman comes a new opportunity to look into what propels one of the highest profile athletes of our time. This New York Post column by Joe Sherman does a poignant job of saying what we already know: For Rodriguez, it’s all about the cash.

3. This piece by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star takes a look at the polarizing figure of Rob Gronkowski. While ‘Gronk’ may not be in the spotlight as bright as he once was, Keefer says that he will be force to be reckoned for the Indianapolis Colts come Sunday night.

4. Speaking of profiles about ex-superstars, this profile on Brett Favre provides an interesting insight into one of football’s all-time greats. For all there is to be said of Favre and his retirement antics…just kidding…maybe not…it is interesting to get a look behind the scenes at someone who, at the end of the day, is just another guy.

5. Now that a few years have passed, what is the lasting legacy of Randy Moss? This Grantland piece puts his career is perspective.

Playoff Poll Watch: Week Three

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The new College Football Playoff Rankings will certainly have people #TalkinBoutTheNoles.

Undefeated Florida State dropped from the No. 2 spot to No. 3 in the latest committee rankings. One-loss Oregon takes their spot.

Florida State has faced a who’s who of college football nobodies week after week, and looked very pedestrian doing so. I’m not sure Oregon is the team deserving to leapfrog them, but I’m glad the committee had the sense to ding the Seminoles for their performance.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see TCU rewarded for a more impressive victory than Alabama. TCU’s shellacking of Kansas State was an authoritative win, while Alabama was lucky to escape Baton Rouge with a victory.

Baylor continues to rank behind TCU, despite having an identical record and the head-to-head advantage. TCU’s résumé is more impressive, but Baylor fans have a legitimate gripe.

Auburn is the highest-ranked two-loss team at No. 9, as it should be. However, placing Ohio State ahead of them is a questionable decision.

Ohio State, like Florida State, has played a no one impressive. The Michigan State win was significant, but the Spartans look more and more like a paper tiger.

However, the Buckeyes do have a blemish on their record — a home loss to Virginia Tech by two (!!) touchdowns. This is the same team that is 4-5, and 1-4 in the ACC.

The Buckeyes’ record is as much a testament to the weakness of the Big Ten, as it is to the strength of Ohio State.

Giants look ahead to familiar foe, Warriors reflect on season

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Ben Davis achieved a milestone it had not accomplished in some time with its 40-36 win over Warren Central Friday night—it claimed it’s first regional title since 2008.

The opponent Friday night will look similar to the contest in 2008, when they line up against Center Grove. However, the Giants are hoping for a different outcome this time around.

The Trojans beat Ben Davis 49-21 in their semi-state meeting six years ago.

But that was then, and this is now. The Giants blanked Center Grove 28-0 in the team’s regular season meeting in mid-September, but the teams have split the six games since the title game in 2008.

The bottom is line is this: expect another nail-biter if you are a Giants fan.

The Trojans are winners of eight straight after dropping two of three games to start the season, and they have outscored their opponents 392-124 over that span.

To say they are hot is an understatement.

Nevertheless, the Giants will be riding high after their thrilling win Friday night. Frankly, the Giants were one Warren Central penalty away from seeing their season come to an end. As it is, they live to see another day.

Warren Central, meanwhile, will not return to the turf until next season.

The Warriors finished their 2014 campaign 9-3.

Warren Central opened its season with seven straight wins before dropping its first contest of the season to Carmel. A second straight loss came the following week to St. Xavier.

The Warriors won the first two games of the state tournament by a combined score of 59-0 before their season-ending loss.

Leading the way for the team on offense was senior quarterback Jordan Leach. Leach finished the season with 869 yards passing and six touchdowns through the air.

Leach also rushed for 10 touchdowns.

Tirone Young added nine scores on the ground.

The team’s defense that allowed only 176 points was lead by a pair of seniors.

Mykelti Williams led the team with 51 tackles and five interceptions. Antonio Williams chipped in 50 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

The Warriors will have plenty of holes to fill, with 45 seniors graduating. However, with a pair of state titles in the last four years, the foundation has been set for a successful future.

Giants dethrone reigning state champions in thriller

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Down three points. Under two minutes to play. Season on the line—and the defending state champions standing in the way.

Ben Davis was up to the challenge, and came away with a 40-36 win in the Class 6A regional championship over Warren Central.

When Giants quarterback Kyle Castner found Trew Smith in the end zone with 12 seconds to play, it was the final touch to a back-and-forth affair against the Warriors.

In what was the latest chapter of his record-setting season, Castner threw for 196 yards and four touchdowns.

The second half alone featured four lead changes and a tie. The Warriors had the game all but wrapped up with under two minutes to go after Schulyer Nehrig hit a 45-yard field goal to cap a 13-play, 57-yard drive, but Ben Davis had the last word.

Ben Davis tailback Chris Evans did his part to lead the Giants. Evans finished with 155 rushing yards and 43 receiving yards with four touchdowns—two through the air and two on the ground.

The Warriors took a 27-24 lead to open the second half, as Tirone Young took the opening play from scrimmage 64 yards for the score.

Evans rushed for his fourth touchdown of the game to regain the lead for the Giants, but the Warriors tied the game with under 11 minutes to play. Mykelti Williams took the ball seven yards for the score.

Williams also had a 39-yard touchdown run in the first half, and had 137 yards in the game.

The Giants took a 20-17 lead into the break, despite three turnovers.

Castner found the end zone three times in the opening half.