Will Grier & West Virginia Could Take Over The Big 12 in 2018

The Big 12 has almost always consisted of a few great teams and a handful of decent ones. Last season, it was Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU who lead the way in the conference. Then there were teams like Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virginia who were decent but couldn’t quite get over the hump.

The one team that always stood out to me despite being average at best was West Virginia. After a quick glance at their roster, you’d think this would be a 10 or 11 win squad but that wasn’t the case in 2017. The Mountaineers put up a disappointing 7-6 record while going just 5-4 in conference play. WVU simply failed to show up in their biggest games. The question is: Why?

You know the saying “Defense wins championships”? Well, the whole idea of defense is nothing but nonsense in this conference. To contend for Big 12 titles there is nothing more important than having a fast-paced and high-powered offense that can put up a ton of points. This is something West Virginia certainly does not lack. Especially at the quarterback position. In 2017, Will Grier was one of the nation’s top QB’s but was hidden in the shadows of Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. Putting up points wasn’t a problem for the Mountaineers. The conference was just loaded with much stronger offenses.

This year, the Mountaineers have the best opportunity in years to finally take over the conference and potentially even snag a Big 12 title. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both will be recovering from tremendous losses on offense and TCU also had their fair share of departures. This alone makes the Big 12 wide open and I believe West Virginia is more than ready to pounce on the opportunity. Will Grier (Heisman hopeful) and David Sills (Biletnikoff Award finalist) will arguably be the nation’s top QB-WR duo heading into the season with the addition of Alabama transfer wideout, T.J. Simmons. WVU also returns a highly reliable Gary Jennings and four starters on the O-Line. As for the defensive side of the ball, the Mountaineers are loaded fresh young talent while returning their biggest defensive leader in linebacker David Long.

Overall, West Virginia has all the pieces to put together a magical season. It won’t be an easy task of course as Oklahoma is still the heavy favorite to win the conference but I certainly like WVU’s chances. It’s definitely going to be entertaining to witness how the Big 12 plays out in 2018 and I’ll especially be keeping my eyes on this WVU squad.

– Collin Borron

Photo Credit HERE

 

 

 

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Why Doesn’t The World Know Who Mike Trout is?

Mike Trout is easily the best player in the MLB. He has already surpassed several Hall of Famers in WAR, and he is only 26. He’s been nothing short of spectacular since his rookie year, and the scary thing is he’s improving every year. So that begs the question, why isn’t the MLB promoting Mike Trout like their life depends on it?

The easiest answer is that the MLB just plain sucks at marketing its superstars. If you are not an avid baseball fan, like me, then you may have trouble naming some of the best players in the league, especially if they play in a small market. The average sports fan should know exactly who Mike Trout plays for and how good he has been over the past seven seasons. Instead, they know he exists and that he is good, they don’t know that he is historically great. If Mike Trout was in the NFL or NBA he would be nationally known to sports fans and non-sports fans.

Another reason could be that he doesn’t play for any of the teams that actually do get frequently covered like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs. Mike Trout’s own team is also not helping him. The Angels have been pretty mediocre during Trout’s career. He has only seen the Postseason once, and his team was swept out of the playoffs. Another part of being on the Angels that hurts Mike Trout is the West Coast time zone. A lot of the country doesn’t get a chance to see Trout because they are already in bed. The West Coast games don’t usually make it on to national television.

Some of those reasons are to be expected. The national media will always pick favorite teams that get a majority of the attention. That doesn’t make any excuses for the MLB not making the Angels one of those teams though. The Angels have been trying to get a winning team around Trout but so far this year they have been plagued by injuries and some bad contracts. Mike Trout playing on the West coast should not be a roadblock either for the MLB promoting their best player and a future Hall of Famer. Some giant stars have been on the West Coast and it hasn’t stopped the NBA or NFL.

Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said that Mike Trout has to market himself better. That is not his primary job. Trout is also very active in his community. He is an excellent role model for kids everywhere. Mike Trout is extremely talented and extremely humble. Mike Trout has done his part in marketing himself. He has deals with Nike and Subway among other companies. He needs the extra push from his sport to push him into international superstardom. There has not been a talent like him, putting up the consistent historically great seasons that he has put up in a very long time.

MLB… PLEASE market Mike Trout like your life depends on it.

– Guest Writer, Brett Grashorn

Photo Credit HERE

2018’s Deepest Dark Horse Heisman Candidates

Predicting in the preseason who will be in the running for College Football’s greatest individual accolade can be, depending on the year, extremely difficult or a walk in the park. Today, we’re going to look at who I think are the deepest of dark horse candidates for the Heisman trophy.

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – A key reason for many players winning the Heisman is the MVP factor they bring to their respective team, and Justin Herbert is a key example of that type of player. Herbert, a junior for the Ducks, makes Oregon tick. When he wasn’t out with a broken collarbone last season, the Ducks’ offense thrived. Herbert put up a 6-2 record as the starter and managed to pass for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns in those 8 games. However, when he was sidelined, Oregon managed more than 14 points and won only once in five games when looking to one of his backups. Even though Willie Taggart left to take the helm at Florida State, a lack of offensive continuity shouldn’t be an issue, with last year’s offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal getting promoted to head coach in the offseason. The loss of veteran running back Royce Freeman to graduation (a Heisman contender as well last season) will also mean more touches should go to the experienced hand in Herbert, which bodes well for his chances.

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan – The athletic freak that is Rashan Gary is getting more looks as a mouth-watering NFL talent than a college awards candidate. I believe most of that comes down to playing opposite of the slightly overhyped Nick Bosa in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Nevertheless, Gary has been named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player, after last season’s stat line of 66 tackles and 12 tackles for loss. Playing in multiple national spotlight games this year and having two all-Big Ten linebackers in the same squad as him in Khaleke Hudson and Devin Bush (who are also on the Bednarik watch list and could probably be on this list as well) bodes well for Gary’s chances of being a defensive contender for the Heisman trophy.

David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State – Sometimes, schools spring up with Heisman candidates out of nowhere, and Iowa State has one in its workhorse of a running back, David Montgomery. Although he doesn’t get the national attention he deserves playing for ISU, that didn’t stop Montgomery from rushing for 1,146 yards as a sophomore in 2017. The Cyclones’ breakout 8-5 season was highlighted by Montgomery and his near perfect record toting the rock. His only fumble came on a questionable call on a review during the Liberty Bowl. Montgomery can beat teams with speed or by running over defenders and breaking arm tackles, and he is sure to do more of the same this season in an offensively stacked Big 12 conference.

Penny Hart, WR, Georgia State – He may be 5-feet 8-inches tall and play in the Sun Belt conference, but Penny Hart’s game is bigger than that. Hart leads all active FBS wideouts in career receiving yardage with 2,291 yards, and he’s only played two seasons for the Panthers. Being one of Georgia State’s lone offensive threats will allow defenses to key in on Hart, but another season of big-time production could lead to some national attention and trophy talk for the diminutive but capable junior.

Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky – It’s tough to break through as a player if you aren’t playing for a year-in-year-out power in the top-heavy SEC, but occasionally a stud like Benny Snell Jr. can find the space to shine. Snell Jr., a 5-foot 11-inch junior, returns for the Wildcats after posting 1,333 yards on 262 attempts last season. He finished behind only Nick Chubb and Kerryon Johnson in the yardage category (both of whom are gone to the NFL). Now, Kentucky needs to replace its quarterback, and having the stability in the backfield with Snell Jr. (along with four returning starters on the offensive line) means Snell will probably get an even larger workload this season. I think that bodes well for his Heisman hopes.

Nathan Rourke, QB, Ohio – Nathan Rourke didn’t enter the 2017 season as the starter, but once he had taken over the job, he played like a returning fifth-year senior, despite just being a sophomore. Now, going into his junior season, Rourke and the Ohio offense will look to improve upon last season and his ridiculous numbers, specifically on the ground. Rourke rushed for 912 yards and a school-record 21 touchdowns while also throwing for 2,203 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. The Bobcat offense is nearly unchanged from last year, so Ohio should figure to make a run for MAC supremacy while Rourke goes for individual glory.

– Guest Writer, Joel Devick

Photo Credit HERE

3 CFB Teams Whose Seasons Depend on a Week One Victory

If you look at the title of this post, one may wonder what on earth I’m talking about. An argument can be made that every team’s week one game is a must-win, which is essentially correct. In reality, there are teams that can get away with a week one slip up and still be in good shape. Alabama is a prime example of this.

So who are the teams that must win week one for the sake of their seasons?

Florida Atlantic – I know what your thinking. Why and how is FAU on this list? Work with me here. Lane Kiffin’s Owls open their season up with a trip to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the mighty Oklahoma Sooners which of course is no easy task. Believe it or not, last season, FAU was actually a force to be reckoned with but was hidden in the shadow of a weak Conference USA. The Owls have earned more respect from many people and I included. Lane Kiffin is building something special at a school nobody thought he could. A week one win in Norman will shape the rest of their season. Quite honestly, FAU would have a solid shot at going undefeated and could end up in a New Years Six bowl. A loss could result in another season of dominant play hidden behind weak opponents. This is a big opportunity for Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic to put themselves on the college football map.

Washington – The Huskies open up in this year’s arguably biggest week one matchup against Auburn. The only reason I don’t have both Washington and Auburn on this is the difference between the strength of conference. Now don’t for one second think I’m biased towards the SEC because I’m most certainly not. The fact of the matter is, is that the Pac 12 is simply not very strong. Other than Auburn, the Huskies toughest opponents this year are Stanford, UCLA and maybe Washington State. As for Auburn, they have to go through Alabama, Georgia, and LSU. A loss doesn’t necessarily end Washington’s chances at the Playoff, but it definitely won’t look too great on the resume with a weak Pac 12 schedule.

Miami – Last season, the Hurricanes took over College Football for a good chunk of the season. If they want any shot of that happening again, they’ll need to take down LSU in their opener. It won’t be easy but, LSU has a history of not being as a great as advertised and I definitely believe the Canes could pull this one off. A win against LSU would set the tone for the season and personally I could see them run the table and play Clemson in the Conference championship for a spot in the Playoff. There’s no more important game on Miami’s schedule than this one against the Tigers from down south.

Overall, the 2018 season is filled with teams that could make some serious noise but, some need a bit more help than others.

– Collin Borron

Photo Credit HERE

From Fantasy to Reality: A Lakers Fan Reaction to LeBron James Joining L.A.

On the evening of July 1st, it finally happened. After all of the rumors, speculation, and reports, LeBron James signed a 4 year, $154M contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was something I was personally expecting to happen but, actually seeing it become a reality was still somewhat of a surprise.

As the news broke out, it was no surprise to see social media and the sports world as a whole, erupt into complete chaos. From what I’ve seen so far, the majority of Lakers fans seem absolutely thrilled but, there are actually a fair amount of people who aren’t too thrilled about LBJ being in the City of Angeles. This confused me. How on earth can a fan be upset that the best player in the world and arguably of all time joined their team? It didn’t add up to me. I need answers!

Luckily, I’m good friends with a die-hard L.A. fan. His name is Dylan Hall and I requested to get some of his opinions on having “The King” join his beloved Lakers. Here’s what he said:

First things first, how does it feel?

It might be a slight understatement to say it feels good. For real though I haven’t been this excited about the Lakers since they beat Boston in 2010 (NBA Finals).

What does this signing mean for the team, fans, and overall city of L.A.?

I think at this point it’s almost an expectation from Lakers fans. This is exactly what they’ve done their entire history, but after struggling as much as they have, this feels a little different. It means everything from a team standpoint. Magic delivered and they’re in a better position then they’ve been in for a long time.

There isn’t a lot, but, I’ve seen a surprising amount of Lakers fans not too thrilled with this signing. What would you say to these fans to sway their feelings toward picking up LeBron?

He’s the best player in the world. If that isn’t enough then you might not be a real Laker fan.

When did you realize there was a legitimate chance LBJ could end up in L.A.? How confident were you that it would actually happen?

After Game 1 of the Finals. I knew there was a chance he could leave Cleveland but, my strong opinion was that he would stay if he made the Finals. I think after the way they lost that Game 1 it became clear he was on his way out. Following that, the Lakers and 76ers became the only realistic options. I wasn’t too confident until the allegations with the 76ers GM happened. After that, it really seemed like there was no other option for LeBron that made sense.

What are your honest expectations for the first year?

I might just sound like an obnoxious Lakers fan but, I’m a lot more optimistic than most people. I think that this team is at least a 3 seed, 50 win team. I think that with Trevor Ariza leaving, L.A. is better than Houston and while they aren’t better than the Warriors, when you have Lebron James you’re going to be a legitimate contender to beat them.

Now that LBJ is in L.A. and Paul George is staying in OKC, do the Lakers snag Kawhi Leonard or stick with LeBron?

It seems unlikely that they get Kawhi. Their other free agent acquisitions have eaten up their cap space and they don’t seem to want to trade the three 1st round picks it would need to trade Deng. The nice thing is that the other signings they made similar to last year, were all one-year deals. At this point, I think they stay put and bring back Julius Randle with the ability to easily free up enough space to go after Kawhi or someone else next offseason.

There you have it, folks. It’s a rather simple concept. When the best player in the world joins your team, it is, in fact, a good thing. Shocking isn’t it?

– Collin Borron

Follow Dylan: Twitter@AbDylanJabbarInstagram @kareem_abdylan_jabbar

Photo Credit HERE

FIFA World Cup: Predicting Every Round of 16 Winner

The 2018 FIFA World Cup has been a magnificent rollercoaster thus far and I don’t expect it to be any less outrageous in the knockout stage. Before I get further into this, let me just share the fact that I am not a huge soccer fanatic and I don’t follow the sport as close as I do others. Although, I do in fact absolutely love the World Cup and completely immerse myself into it when the spectacle arrives. There is no sporting event that can even compare to it. Witnessing the world come together the way it does for the World Cup is something no other sport can replicate. It’s also just really fun to watch, so that’s always nice.

Nonetheless, we’ve reached the knockout stage and it’s time to predict the Round of 16 matchups.

Uruguay vs Portugal – This one is simple really. One team has the worlds best player and the other doesn’t. Cristiano Ronaldo has been nothing short of sensational so far in this tournament and has given Portugal some serious momentum heading into the knockout stage. It’ll be close, but Portugal will pull this one out.

Winner: Portugal

France vs Argentina – A couple of the biggest Futbol countries battling it out in the Round of 16? Yes, please. Seriously this is a World Cup Final caliber match. Argentina may have struggled a bit in the group stage, but it’d be foolish to sleep on them. Is France the better team? Probably. Will they win? Chances are yes. Will I pick them? Nope.

Winner: Argentina

Brazil vs Mexico – This is a tough one. Mexico may not have ended the group stage on a high note, but they had a couple of pretty impressive wins. As for Brazil, well, they’re Brazil and they have some unfinished business to attend to. If I’m being honest, this game is a coin toss for me. I’m going to go with my gut feeling on this one.

Winner: Brazil

Belgium vs Japan – Admittedly, I’ve only watched Japan play one match in this years tournament, but that one match was one that they won and looked pretty impressive. As for Belgium, they’ve looked ridiculously good. All while going undefeated in the group stage. I’m going to go with the clear favorite in this one.

Winner: Belgium

Spain vs Russia – Russia’s victories against Saudi Arabia and Egypt were as dominant as they get, but they were also against the weakest competition in the entire tournament. Spain drew Portugal, defeated Iran and drew Morocco. Also, Spain is on an unbeaten streak of 23 games in international play. A much more impressive resume if you ask me.

Winner: Spain

Croatia vs Denmark – Croatia is arguably the hottest team in the entire tournament and I’d be silly to not ride with them…Right?

Winner: Croatia

Sweden vs Switzerland – Here sits another toss up for me. I’ll go with the one with no losses.

Winner: Switzerland

Colombia vs England – This is the match I’m most excited for. Why? In each World Cup, I root hard for Colombia (when the U.S. is out of course) and they’ve looked fantastic since their little stumble against Japan. The thing is, England has looked ridiculous as well. I’m a bit nervous, to say the least. Viva Colombia.

Winner: Colombia

This Round of 16 has so many great matches, I’d highly recommend watching as many as you can. I know I will.

Photo Credit HERE

College Football’s 7 Most Consistently Overrated & Disappointing Teams

When it comes to overrating teams, the college football universe does it like no other sport. From pre-season hype to snagging a big week one win, fans and analysts seem to feel the need to declare teams elite when they clearly aren’t. There are a handful of teams that get this sort of hype year after year despite almost always disappointing. Today we look at those teams.

Tennessee Volunteers – Can we please stop making this mess of a team a pre-season playoff contender every single year? Honestly, I believe the Vols have been expected to potentially reach the playoff every season since the first year of the playoff. To no surprise, they have yet to even come close. Tenessee’s best record since 2011 is 9-4. The last time they even won at least 10 games was in 2007.

Texas Longhorns – Remember in 2016, when Texas defeated 10th ranked Notre Dame in a double OT thriller? Remember after the game-winning touchdown, Joe Tessitore said: “Texas is back, folks!”. I sure do. Man, was he wrong and everyone else that believed that nonsense. The Longhorns finished that season 5-7 including a loss to 1-9 Kansas. Last season, the Longhorns slightly improved to a bland 7-6. All in all, this has been the Texas norm for many seasons now and it doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.

Texas A&M Aggies – Believe it or not, the Aggies were ranked 4th in the playoff rankings for a short time just two years ago. A very short time. Texas A&M almost always starts out hot, but then proceeds to crash and burn the rest of the season. Even when Johnny Manziel was in College Station, they still underachieved. Now that Kevin Sumlin is gone, will Jimbo Fisher turn the program into a real contender? Who knows, but until then they’ll remain on this list.

Florida Gators – Being a Gator faithful, this one hurts to add to the list, but it’s the truth. It’s actually incredible how they’ve managed to accomplish almost nothing since Tim Tebow left. Honestly, it’s been almost a decade now of awful coaching, horrific offense, poor QB play and championship caliber defense. Without that defense, I’m almost certain the Gators would have fallen off the face of the planet. Overall, it’s been a rough eight and a half years. Dan Mullen, please save my Gators…

Nebraska Cornhuskers – This team just makes me laugh. Living in Nebraska, I’ve noticed most of the fans have the same expectations every season: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OR BUST. It’s quite amazing actually. To constantly see those “expectations” get crushed is always solid entertainment as well. Of course, not all the fans are like this, but a lot are. The Huskers have had some decent seasons over the past decade, but nothing more. Whenever they reach the top ten, they quickly get beat soundly and disappear for the rest of the season. I will admit I am intrigued with Scott Frost taking the helm. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Huskers actually not be disappointing for a change.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish – The Irish are arguably the best team on this list, but similar to the previous teams listed, never fail to disappoint. Last season, it looked like they were finally going to reach the playoff. That was until they got manhandled by Miami and then again by Stanford just two weeks later. Notre Dame simply fails to show up when the spotlight is on them.

Miami Hurricanes – South Beach was rocking last season. Well, until it wasn’t. The Hurricanes had the college football universe in their grasp for 10 straight weeks only to lose their final two regular-season games and the Orange Bowl. So much for being “back”, Miami? Besides last year, they’ve been pretty average for a while now despite consistently getting some of the nations best recruits.

Honorable Mentions: LSU, USC, Virginia Tech, Michigan and Michigan State

– Collin Borron

Photo Credit HERE