Monday

Announcement, Week 3 Post-Mortem & ST Mailbag


Hello again everybody...

It's the start of another work-week and I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was excellent, as you're about to read (*cough* 3-1 *cough*). Plus I've got a short week this week as I have some vacation time coming, so you'll get no complaints from me!

Before we get to the main body of the column today, I have an announcement to make. Now that we're starting to get into the meat of the college football season, it's time for the debut of the Sports Take Top 10 College Football Poll. That's right, we're going to have our very own poll, the AP and ESPN/USA Today be damned! I've spoken to some of you privately to gauge your interest, but there may be some of you that I haven't reached yet that would be interested in becoming a voter. It's terribly simple. All you have to do is let me know you're interested and I'll email you a ballot on Monday, which you'll need to return to me by Wednesday. The poll results will be released with the picks on Thursdays.

So if you want to be a voter, send me an email by Monday at: dcook93@yahoo.com.

For the rest of today's column, I'll be conducting the Week 3 Picks Post-Mortem, and then be answering another of your questions in the Sports Take Mailbag. So let's get to it!

"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."
- John Adams (1735 - 1826), second President of the United States.

Adams was a fascinating curmudgeon. And this sums his attitude up pretty well. Oh and by the way, he was the lawyer that defended the British soldiers charged after the Boston Massacre. And he was also one of the founding members of the Continental Congress. I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin...


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Starting us off this week it's time for the Week 3 College Football Picks Post-Mortem!

USC -10.5 vs. Ohio State: Final Score - USC 35, OSU 3

This one went nearly exactly how I figured. Star Buckeye RB Beanie Wells didn't play (which you'll recall I predicted). And the Ohio State offense was extremely ineffective as a result. Todd Boeckman is a serviceable quarterback, but when you're relying on him to win you a football game, you've got problems. And freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor certainly has the potential to become a dynamic play-maker, but he wasn't going to be able to get it done against USC's defense in only his third game.

Meanwhile, USC QB Mark Sanchez was efficient and accurate. After a bit of a spotty start, he and the USC offense got into a rhythm and moved the ball nearly at will against OSU's defense. And what kind of superlatives can accurately describe the play of the USC defense? Granted, I just called the OSU offense quite ordinary. But to only give up 3 points to a team that played in the National Championship last year? That's impressive.

What Dan Learned: Not much honestly. This one went pretty much to form. OSU's highly over-rated without Wells and USC's one of the best teams in the country.

1-0 and looking good.

Next...

East Carolina -13 @ Tulane: Final Score - ECU 28, Tulane 24.

Woops. Sports Take reader Lon in Forest Lake said it best: "13 points is too much to cover". Especially when you're an emerging team on the road.

(Unrelated Aside: Word has just made it to the Sports Take offices that the Milwaukee Brewers have fired manager Ned Yost. Apparently losing 7 of 10 in a late-season Wild Card race will do that. Ouch. More on this Wednesday.)

I didn't see the game, so I can't talk too much about the specifics, only that the Pirates had to make a late-game comeback to earn the win. So ECU goes to 3-0 and retains their status as a potential BCS Buster.

What Dan Learned: No matter how anemic Tulane's offense looked against Alabama, I can't give up 13 points when taking a team like ECU that relies as much on heart and good coaching as it does on talent. At least when they're on the road that is!

1-1. .500, thy name is Sports Take. Oof.

Thirdly...

Notre Dame +2 vs. Michigan: Final Score - ND 35, Michigan 17.

This was a lot uglier than the score would indicate. I only saw bits and pieces of the game, but there was something like 6 turnovers by the Wolverines 4 of which turned into Notre Dame touchdowns. Ouch.

For those Michigan fans out there, I'd love to point out that it was raining most of the afternoon in South Bend, and that had a lot to do with the ball-protection issues, but it rained on the Irish sideline too, and they managed not to put the ball on the ground as much as Michigan. Sorry Hammer, I tried.

What Dan Learned: This was my "home field matters" pick of the week. And it held up. Because honestly, if this game was in Michigan, I'm not sure the score wouldn't have been exactly reversed. There's no way anyone can really argue that the Irish are 18 points better than the Wolverines at this point. Michigan had a bad day to be sure. But it's a lot easier to have a bad day on the road than it is at home.

2-1... please Georgia Tech... I'll root for you the rest of the year if you get me to 3-1!!!

Finally, it's the Sports Take Flyer Pick of the Week:

Georgia Tech +6.5 @ Virginia Tech: Final Score - Va Tech 20, Georgia Tech 17.

Yes! We did it! The Yellowjackets had this game tied late at 17 and as I told Sports Take reader Josh in Shoreview, "We're rooting for field goals!!!" And it worked out. The 6.5 we were getting was enough to get us the win.

Again, I didn't get to see any of this game, so I can't give you much in the way of details. I'm just gonna be happy with the win.

What Dan Learned: Sometimes you can bet on a road dog. You just have to be sure that the team they're playing is struggling and the team you're betting on has it in them to surprise people. It worked this week anyway!

So that's 3-1 this week and 7-5 on the year. Those of you who were with me last year know how astounding this is. Those that weren't? Just take my word for it. This is an amazing turn-around from a tough season last year. I only hope I can keep it rolling. Please God? Please let me keep it rolling?

Finally today, it's this week's version of The Sports Take Mailbag. This week's question comes from Mary in Plymouth:

"What the heck is with the Gophers? Is this a sign of the apocalypse?"

What Mary (a proud Badger fan) is referencing is that the U of M Golden Gopher football team has experienced a Sports Take-like turn-around from their 1-11 season last year and are 3-0 as they go into their last non-conference tilt of the year this week against Florida Atlantic.

No Mary, we aren't experiencing the End of Days just because the Gophers are beating teams they ought to beat.

But it is a marked improvement from what was a dismal year last year. So what's the difference? A couple of things I think.

First of all, I think head coach Tim Brewster has a much more realistic idea of what he faces running a program like Minnesota than he did last year. Part of what got Brewster the job in the first place is the sheer force of his personality. There's no question that Brewster can sell it. The question is whether he can coach it or not. And I don't think we've had that sufficiently answered. At least not yet.

But there's been a distinct downgrade in the hype that was coming from the head coaches office this season. While it's true that there's still a piece of "Rose Bowl Turf" growing in the Gopher locker room, you don't hear hear the cries of, "Why not this year" that were being tossed around last year.

And before you can turn a corner with a program, you have to have a realistic idea of what you've got and who you are. It seems to me Coach Brewster has a much better grasp on that this year.

The other reason is that they've upgraded some talent. It's been highly publicized that big time recruits like Sam Maresh and Marquise Gray aren't available to the Gophers this year for various reasons. But Brewster brought in a bevy of junior college transfers to try and upgrade the speed and talent on his team. And it seems to be working.

To a point.

Remember, the Gophers have beaten Northern Illinois, Bowling Green and Montana State. Granted Bowling Green beat a 25th-ranked Pittsburgh in Week 1. And beating them on the road was impressive given where the Gopher program has been. Eventually, that's a win you should expect to get, but nobody who watched that 1-11 squad last year could realistically have automatically chalked this game up as a win. But NIU is not a good program and Montana State is an FCS team (the division formerly known as I-AA).

So 3-0 is 3-0, sure. But if they get to 3-0 in the Big Ten, given that Ohio State and Illinois are 2 of their first 3 conference games, then we can start worrying about brushing up on the Book of Revelations!

Thanks for the question Mary. Remember, if you want your question to make it into the Mailbag, drop me an email at: dcook93@yahoo.com.

That's all for today folks. I'll be back on Wednesday with more baseball talk. Until then, thanks for reading!

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