The College Playoff Flaw

If there was ever a legally criminal organization, there is no doubt it would be the NCAA.       The NCAA gets the criticism it deserves more times than not and in truth there is no resolution in the near future to remedy all of its issues.  Student athletes will continue to be taken advantage of, and will continuously make money for the universities that they, the players, will never see a penny of.  This is the situation, and we all have to deal with it.
With that being said, keep in mind that the NCAA makes no adjustments and no changes unless it benefits them financially.  So when the NCAA “did away” with the BCS system in favor of a “four team playoff” it was not to find a true champion year to year in college football and it definitely was not to appease those fans and writers that wanted it.
The NCAA made their money off the BCS and now they will certainly find a way to benefit from the college playoff.  Terrific.  Congrats to them.
But back to the football side of things. . .
Does a playoff give us a “true championship team?”  Or does it just appease those who grew tired of the power house schools like Alabama finishing on top nearly every year?  A playoff certainly is NOT the way to find the BEST team in the country.  The BCS did that and did it well.
The BCS was designed, by a series of mathematics that goes way beyond my comprehension, to put the best teams in the country against each other at the end of the year.  Was there any denying that the years Florida, Auburn, Alabama and most recently Florida State won the BCS National Chamipionship, that they were the best in the country?  Absolutely not.
The BCS system put the focus on the number one spot.  Every team wanted to be “#1″ and every other team wanted to “knock off” the “#1.”  Now, because of the four team playoff system, being “#1″ doesn’t matter anymore.  This season, before Mississippi State was beaten by Alabama, nobody cared that Mississippi State was number one.  Instead people were in an uproar about TCU being number 4 and Alabama being number 5.  THAT was the discussion.  Four and Five – NOT, number one.
Instead of trying to be the best in the country, teams are focused on “just getting in.”
You know what playoffs do?  Give a chance to a team that didn’t deserve it in the first place.  It tells a team that was clearly the best, or #1 – it doesn’t matter, because #3 and #4 have just a good a chance as you do anyhow.  Where’s the pay-off for being number one, especially for the student athletes who won’t be getting paid for playing an extra game?
Does any fan want to see a possibility of a Mississippi State vs TCU championship game?  Ohio State vs Oregon championship?  It could happen.  Are you willing to take the chance on those being the games determining who the “best” team in college was all year?  Get over yourselves.
The truth of the matter is, the BCS got it right each and every year.  The best teams played for the National Championship – the two teams that played the best all year and deserved a shot at the Championship, played for it.  People want a playoff because they are obsessed with David taking on Goliath.  People love silly things like a Boise State or Northern Illinois team saying they deserve a chance to play for the championship because they went undefeated and won their Tom,Dick and Harry conference.  Just stop it.
Welcome to the college football world you wanted America.  Where being number 4 is just as good as being number 1.
G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio

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NFL & Thanksgiving, MOST Relevance in recent memory

Over the years, the rumblings of the teams that played on Thanksgiving could be heard louder than most people's stomachs waiting for their Thanksgiving feast. Always the Cowboys and always the Lions. Two teams that for years have not had relevance in playoff situations, so why subject the viewing public to these teams? Well NFL fans REJOICE for your appetite for competitive football on Thanksgiving will MATCH your Thanksgiving feasts that sit on your tables.

In the first game, it lands in Detroit where the Lions look to bounce back after their loss to the Patriots, to knock out their most hated rivals, the Chicago Bears, who seem to be finding their groove on offense. Then again, the Bear last win was against the Bucs, so cannot tell too much from that. HOWEVER, the Lions are 7-4, a returning MEGATRON continues to get healthy and in game shape. All signs are that Reggie Bush will return for this game and the Lions defense looks to redeem itself against a QB who at times can be an easy lunch in Jay Cutler. YES, the Lions are relevant and in the playoff and this game can make or break the season for either team. Oh, and was it not mentioned that it is a division game as well? Just saying division games always seem to be close and competitive, just as the Oakland Raiders who beat the heavily favored Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday.

THE second game of the day, moves us from the frozen streets of Detroit to the sandy billion-dollar play-pin that is Jerry World. The NFC East is UP for GRABS in this big time match up between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles once again are relying on QB Mark Sanchez to manage the game and RB LeSean McCoy had himself a game last week, looks to do even better against the Cowboys. After another tough victory, the Cowboys look to take complete control of the NFC East. QB Tony Romo continues to play well and not make too many mistakes. RB DeMarco Murray continues to pad his stats and solidify his case for league MVP honors. Dez Bryant continues to reaffirm he is the BEST WR in the NFL and deserves a long term contract. This game is for all the NFC East marbles for whoever wins, controls their OWN destiny. If last season tells anything, it is that ALL teams want to control their OWN destiny, never to leave it up to others to finish for them.

The nightcap match-up takes us to the wild wild west of the NFC. Two teams that are currently looking up and the first place Arizona Cardinals. The Seattle Seahawks travel to Levi Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers in a must win game for BOTH teams. After a HUGE win for the Seahawks, is where they held the Cardinals to just 3 points, the "Legion of Boom" looks to be back in full swing. QB Russell Wilson continues to grow and perform for the Seahawks and Marshawn Lynch is BEAST-MODE for a reason. On the other side, the 49ers are coming together at the right time. The return of Aldon Smith it up the team as they annihilated the Redskins and RGIII last week. QB Colin Kaepernick continues to get the ball to his key play makers. Anquan Boldin continues to be one of the BEST clutch WR in the game and the RB duo of Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde are too much for opposing defenses to handle up front. This is a battle for playoff survival in the NFC West. Whoever wins, gets in. Whoever loses, might wanna begin making travel plans for the off-season.

It has been a very VERY long time since Thanksgiving in the NFL has had an ENTIRE day of relevance. This Thanksgiving, enjoy the food, the family, the comradely and YES even the football.

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Breaking News from WWE ... STING debuts

This coming Sunday, is the Thanksgiving tradition known as Survivor Series in the WWE. The second longest running pay-per-view event in the companies history and it will LIVE on the WWE Network. For all NEW subscribers, this event is only the cost of FREE-ninety-nine. Yes FREE for all the month of November.

While most hardcore fans will tell you the product is watered down a bit, there has been a slow shift and apart of that shift is to bring in more sales and more revenue as the company sees it bottom line slowly moving in the constant downward position.

So WWE creative has been working to try to find a new money consistent money draw. That man is a man who once said he would never set foot in an WWE ring. That man is known by ONE name, STING who through multiple reports from numerous wrestling insider websites, will make his long awaited debut IN the FLESH at this years Survivor Series.

The fans of WWE were teased once before with a Sting debut but there were no confirmed reports at that time of his physical presence at a Monday Night Raw. Sting has been a strong part of promoting the new WWE 2K15 video game, as he is a special character any player can work to uncover and use.

The name STING is on the same level as the name Hulk Hogan. Two of the most noticeable, most marketable, most memorable names in wrestling history. Did I mention they trained together too?

Sting was WCW's version of Hulk Hogan Even when TNA was born, it was not long before they brought Sting into the fold and his presence drew up numbers and revenue. While Sting has gotten up in age, he still is a great ring general and his mic skills are atop some of the best in the business.


The Survivor Series main even features the traditional Survivor Series Elimination match between Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Russian Brute Rusev, Corporate Kane, Mark Henry and an up and coming star in Luke Harper). Team Authority battles Team Cena consisting of (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, The Big Show, and another up and comer Eric Rowen). TWO stipulations have been added. One, if Team Cena wins, then Team Authority, led by Triple H and his wife, the daughter of the chairman of WWE Vince McMahon, Stephanie. YES, Triple H and Stephanie are REALLY married, married with kids in fact. Back to the stipulation, if Team Cena wins, Triple H and Stephanie must step down from running on air operations. But if Team Authority wins, then all but John Cena will be fired.

YES, the writing could not be more on the wall that Team Cena will win. Not just because of how ticket sales would raise of fall because of the outcome and surely not because John Cena continues to be the most marketable face for the WWE, but with these latest reports of STING debuting at Survivor Series, it gives the WWE a new authoritative figure that has prior management experience on air and who fans respect admire and who can continue to be a huge ticket draw for nightly shows as well as pay-per-view events.

It has been over two decades in waiting but this coming Sunday it will finally happen. STING will set foot in an WWE ring, at a WWE event, at a WWE pay-per-view, Survivor Series 2014.
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Message to fans of losing record teams

This is the reality check time in the NFL season. Time when teams separate themselves from the pack, for the most part. Where the winners win and losers lose. Where playoff contenders contend and where playoff pretenders pretend. This message is for the teams who are completely out of the running for the playoffs, no question. So the ENTIRE NFC South is out because they are all in the playoff hunt. Same for AFC North where ALL teams are over .500 and fighting for playoff positioning. Check to see if your team is here.

AFC East:
1. New York Jets (2-8): The season that is once again a waste for the Gangrene gang. The Eric Decker free agency ended up a bust as he has not produced as he did while in Denver. Constant troubles at the running back position with health, same issues at the defensive back position, especially at corner-back. Oh and the nightmare at the quarterback position does not help either. Sorry Jets fans but the season was doomed before it ever began because of the front office mistakes and the 2-8 record, another season OUT of the playoffs, just reinforces the mistakes that the NY Jets have made.

AFC South:
1. Tennessee Titans (2-8): The Titans have been in rebuilding mode since last season. It really became a rebuilding season when Jake Locker got hit with yet another injury and so enter rookie quarterback, Zack Mettenberger out of LSU. One of the bright spots of the Titans has been their receiving core, Justin Houston and Kendall Wright. Tight End Delanie Walker has had his ups and downs, in and out with injuries, primarily concussion issues lately. The defense that was once to be a strength for the Titans has regressed to a shell of its former self, barely keeping themselves in games. Titans fans there is some light in the future, but definitely not this season.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9): Without question, this is a rebuilding team. With free agent running back Toby Gerhart in and out with leg injuries, it has been a "running back by committee" season, most recently former Wolverines QB turned RB Denard Robinson has taken the reigns. Rookie quarterback Black Bortles from the University of Central Florida, has had his rookie up and down moments. The Wide Receiver positions are just as bad of a revolving door as their running back position. From rookie out of USC Marqise Lee to Cecil Shorts III to Allen Hurns to rookie Allen Robinson. Never the same lineup to start the game the entire season, causing some struggles for the rookie QB Bortles. Defense also has its holes but is showing signs of improvement. This is a rebuilding season, but with the rebuilding of the team and the renovations to the stadium, the Jaguars seem to be working on a solution for the long haul.

AFC West:
1. Oakland Raiders (1-9): Raiders always seem to play the "spoilers" in the AFC West every season over the last number of years. As they beat the Kansas City Chiefs last night and got their first win of the season, the Raiders almost beat themselves out of that very victry. When veteran Justin Tuck called the timeout late in the fourth quarter after two rookies were celebrating a sack 20-yards down-field, it just proves the lack of discipline and experience this team has had for years. No stability in the coaching ranks, lack of discipline both on and off the field by players and coaches, the Raiders being out of the playoffs are as clockwork as the New England Patriots being IN the playoffs as long as Brady and Belichick are on the team. The one bight light to the Raiders future is in their rookie QB Derek Carr, out of Fresno State, who seems to fitting right into the NFL. He takes his lumps as every rookie does but seems to be maturing into the league as expected, quick and efficient.

NFC East:
1. Washington Redskins (3-7): Sorry not this year Redskins nation. The loss of RGII was too much to handle. Add the early injury to Alfred Morris who was out for a good portion of the season, you get a poor offense. Add the bad chemistry between Kirk Cousins and his receivers, you get the 3-7 record. The defense of the Redskins has shown some signs of life but it cannot win games on its own. The offense, especially the offensive line is a problem and one that will not fix itself this year. Get hog wild all you want Redskins fans but this season is just not your season.

2. New York Giants (3-7): To show that I am an equal-opportunity critic, I am going to lay into my personal favorite team to prove my unbiased opinion. Eli Manning has not only regressed this year, but he can not avoid throwing an interception as much as his brother Peyton can not avoid throwing at least one touchdown every game. His pocket presence is one filled with fear because his offensive line is a complete disaster. The running game also has not been able to produce as planned. What is the problem, the offensive game plan. Just cannot decide to either run "shotgun no huddle" or "under center ball control" and that continues to leave Eli Manning served up as an easy meal for defenses, whether through sacks or interceptions. The defense has played like it couldn't stop a cold, let alone NFL offenses. Ranked close to last in most defensive categories, the Giants defense of old, what won them their two championships in three years, is no where near there. One breakout player is tight end Larry Donell, who thrives in the Giants offense and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. out of LSU is finally healthy and looking like the receiver they expected to get. Sorry Giants fans, no feelings of Go Big Blue Go Big Blue, this season will leave all of you just feeling BLUE.

NFC North:
1. Chicago Bears (4-6): The Bears once again, has let their season slip away because of errors on both sides of the ball. The Bears defense has not been able to withstand he onslaught of opposing offenses. The "Tampa Two" has become an easy target to prey on. The offensive skill players are solid but the play of quarterback Jay Cutlet, his inconsistencies, his bad decision making, Cutler has proven once again, to be the Achilles heel on offense. The 4-6 record clearly shows it and even once #1 Cutler cheerleader WR Brandon Marshall has begun to show signs of frustration for his own quarterback. Never heard of before and now Marshall is not too happy with his once best bud in the NFL. The Bears have the offense if Cutler does NOT beat himself and if the defense can somehow turn things around. This season looks to be a wash for the Bears and the coaching skills of Marc Trestman will seriously be questioned from here forth.

2. Minnesota Vikings (4-6): The Vikings were thought to be in a rebuilding mode, even with the revolving door at quarterback. Starting Matt Cassel and then moving onto the future with Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings defense seems to be finding their stride, ranking much better than expected in the preseason. Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr out of UCLA has seem to found a home and is making some very good contributions on the football field for the Vikings. There is room for improvement on the defensive side and as for the offense, all the drama with Adrian Peterson may not yet be over, but the issues at running back remain the same. What is worse is that now their primary offensive weapon, Cordelle Patterson, is struggling in his sophomore season (right on cue). Playing in an outdoor stadium for two years while the NEW Metrodome is completed plays a decisive disadvantage as well as the dome was a home field advantage in itself.

I can not yet count out the St Louis Rams as they have proven to be a very strong opponent to their NFC West opponents. Their recent victories, even with their QB issues, has impressed me and their defense is becoming stronger every game. With the 49ers and Seahawks at 6-4, this division from second on down is separated by 2 games.

So these teams that are mentioned, pack those off-season bags, get those new fishing poles/hunting guns cleaned and loaded for your teams will have an early vacation when the regular season ends.
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The Route 4 Sports Podcast: LIVE (7:00 - 9:00 EST)

Today Jason and LaShawn talk about the NFL including Adrian Peterson's suspension, players walking off the field, a look back at week 11 and looking forward to week 12.  Plus the fellas will talk MLB with the Giancarlo Stanton contract, Alex Rodriguez return to pinstripes and the recent trade sending Jayson Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals.  But wait, there's more!  We're going to discuss the NCAA football top 4 teams as they are revealed during the show and hit the court with the latest in the NBA.  With the fantasy football playoffs approaching don't hesitate to call in for advice with your line-up, potential trades or anything else on your mind.  If you love talking sports then call the guys tonight and have some fun! (516-418-5946).

Click here to listen to The R4S Podcast
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College Football Playoffs: Success of Bust

When the idea of the College Football Playoffs came up, there were mixed emotions. Entering this year, the team of 13, NOW 12, were placed to pick the "best teams" out of the country who would give us the most entertaining playoffs for college football, very similar system to the NCAA Tournament in college basketball. When the season began, the fear was that the SEC teams would dominate the top four spots, leaving out other potential candidates. But as the season proves, that is not necessarily the case.

The obvious undefeated comes from the ACC and the reigning, defending champion Florida State Seminoles. One loss teams in the running are from the SEC, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Big XII conference leaders, the TCU Horned Frogs and Baylor Bears, The Pac-12 Oregon Ducks and Big Ten Conference The Ohio State Buckeyes, ALL vying for a seat at the big kids table come Bowl season. If you count here, you count seven teams listed.

This four-team playoff system is a DRAFT of what the future of the College Football Playoff system is going to be. Ideally, the system should include eight teams,. No more and no less.

There is no question that the SEC has the best competition within themselves. But put them on a neutral field against another top team from another conference and you just never know what is going to happen. Do people need to be reminded of Boise State vs Oklahoma?

The job of the playoffs is to give MORE chances,  MORE opportunities for other conferences to get that bigger piece of the money pie from college athletics and into their programs, to help their recruitment futures.

Will the College Football Playoffs succeed, only time will tell. One thing is for sure that is settled, the continuing talks that were thought to be missed by the BCS being eliminated were SORELY mistaken. Lots to talk about and debate when it comes to whose in/whose out of the College Football Playoffs.
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My Message To Bears Fans

When your favorite team loses, the last phrase you want to hear is: "It's only a game."
Of course it's, "only a game," but that's not the point.  
It's about dedication.  It's about an unwavering loyalty, which to some who are not familiar with the sports world, may call "insane."  That's an acceptable notion.  It's about the team colors, rivalries and tradition.  The Chicago Bears organization has had one of the most loyal fan-bases in American sports and the fans have gotten little in return. 
Let's not talk about the 1930's, 40's or 50's teams, please.  Let's not speak of Red Grange and Sid Luckman.  Lets not even speak about Gale Sayers and Dick Butkis.  Oh, the Super Bowl XX Champions?  Yeah, let's bring that up every time we're backed into a corner about our relevancy in the league.  Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, fine.  Bring those names up, at least they were relevant in the age of color TV.  
Walter Payton was the last player the Bears had of any real relevancy, and he retired in 1987.  Think about it, over the last 20 years the Lions, Vikings and Packers (all division rivals) have had arguably the best player at their position in their times.  Detroit: Barry Sanders and now Calvin Johnson; Minnesota: Randy Moss and Adrian Peterson; Green Bay: Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.  
What was that?  Oh, Brian Urlacher.  Sure he was without a doubt, our guy, but have you heard Urlacher recently?  Ever since his career ended on bad terms with the Bears, he has been nothing but overly critical and at times seems spiteful in his speech towards the team he spent his entire career with.  Yeah, that's our guy. 
Under head coach Lovie Smith, there was as a definite resurgence in the organization.  Smith led the team to the top of the division three times and made the playoffs a total of four times.  Smith led the Bears to Super Bowl XLI where they lost to the Colts 29-17 and was awarded with an extension soon after.  Although through his defensive scheming, Lovie Smith brought back the "Monsters of the Midway" - it was the Bears' offense which seemed to be it's achilles heel, year after year.  
In 2013 the Bears decided to think "outside the box" and hire Marc Trestman . . . and that brings us to present day.  
The Bears are currently 3-6 in a season that many thought would find them at the very least,  a wild-card team in the playoffs.  Those three wins included a ridiculous fourth quarter run against the under-achieving 49ers, an 8 point win over the lowly Jets and win over the Falcons, which doesn't mean what it did two years ago.  Let's not forget, all those wins were on the road as well.  The Bears are currently on a three game losing streak including blow-out loses to the Patriots and Packers where the Bears gave up 51 and 55 points respectively.  
The players have seemingly tuned out head coach Marc Trestman, and along the way have lost a feeling of urgency, accountability and pride.  The Bears defense, lacks any talent or leadership, and those woes were supposed to have been cleaned up with free agency.  Jared Allen was brought in, if not to be the force he was with the Vikings - to at least be a leader on and off the field, but even a player who's character has been noted as one of the most excitable players in the league, has found himself muted. Lamaar Houston is a bust and this group of line backers may collectively be the absolute worst in the NFL.  Add to the fact that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has no business in this league and you have a disaster on your hands. 
Offensively, this was supposed to be a top five unit.  This is where Trestman supposedly excels and yet, it's as confused a bunch as there is in the league.  The offensive line is inconsistent (with play and health), the play calling is borderline juvenile and there is no trust - in Cutler, or Cutler in this offense.  Jay Cutler continues to turn the ball over, which has brought about frustration in the locker room but even then - nobody seems to care.  
Cutler never gets yelled at or even spoken to on the bench after a bad read.  Marc Trestman doesn't get his head out of his play calling chart and the defense shakes their heads after nearly every play, while defensive coordinator Mel Tucker makes no adjustments. Yet, after getting blown out on national television by the rival Packers, ending the season in week 10 for Chicago - nothing changes.  Head coach Marc Trestman still has his job and even in his press conference reassured the jobs of those on his coaching staff.  Why hasn't general manager Phil Emery made a move?  Or ownership? Because it's "da Bears."
So my question to you, fellow Bears fans: "Why should we care?"
We have spent our hard earned money on tickets, jerseys, hats, food and grills for tailgates - we've shunned away family events because "the game is on," - we strategically plan our Sundays around that three and a half hour time frame that the Bears are playing.  We have let our Monday mornings be destroyed by the heartache of losses like November 9th's 55-14 slaughter at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.  We have tossed remote controls against the walls, broken many i-Phone screens slamming them to the ground (I've had my screen fixed four times in the last two years) - and we keep on coming back.
It makes no sense.  It's like the guy who goes back with an ex girlfriend who's cheated on him twice before.  You know how it will turn out and you still put yourself in a situation where you know you'll get hurt.  You're the idiot who thinks to yourself: "This time it will be different." 
In truth, this time it is a little different.  This is one of the more embarrassing times to be a Bears fan.  Although the records in the league tell you that the Jets, Titans, Raiders , Bucs and Jaguars all have worse records - when the Bears play badly, they outplay all the bad of those teams combined.  The worse thing this organization did, was give us expectations that this year would be different.  We're the fools for believing. 
In closing, my message to my fellow Bears fans is not to quit being a fan of the team - we all know, you can't quit love - but stop being the fool.  Stop going to the games, stop buying the merchandise.  Stop giving this team money and they might start to give a damn about the product they put on the field.  Maybe they'll get people in the right places in this organization to give it's fans what they truly deserve.  And this goes beyond deserving a championship - we as the fans deserve some respect. 

Sincerely, A Bears fan for life
G.W. Gras 
twitter @GeeSteelio
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Heisman WATCH: Who is making the trip to NYC

As the first week of November comes to a close for the college football weekend, it was indeed a crucial one for individuals making their case for Heisman consideration. So lets review the top four candidates and see if things have changed a bit.

1. Marcus Mariota, University of Oregon: The preseason favorite continues to put up numbers in the Ducks offense that are insanely incredible. To date, Mariota has thrown for 2,780 yards with 29 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Add in the 524 yards rushing with eight touchdowns and you have an offensive weapon that defenses just cannot seem to game plan for. With the exception of the University of Arizona, who gave the Ducks their lone loss on the year so far, the Ducks have dominated their competition. Just last night, they clinched the Pac-12 North title as they beat the Utah Utes. Mariota is the lead dog and pending a complete collapse, expect to hear Marcus Mariota name as one of the finalist invited to NYC for the Heisman Trophy awards ceremony and if I were a betting man, Mariota is as close to a sure thing this year as Cam Newton was several years ago.

2. Melvin Gordon, University of Wisconsin Badgers: With just over 1,500 yards rushing this season, Melvin Gordon has proven himself to be the top running back in the nation. His 19 touchdowns also add to this very impressive resume. But it is not just the numbers, but how these numbers are reached. Good old-fashioned ground and pound offense. RUN RUN RUN and see if you can stop Gordon for the Badgers and their offense. Opposing defenses know what's coming, and whether they put eight men in the box, or even more than that, Melvin Gordon just bulldozes his way straight through. While the Badgers may not be fighting for a Big Ten title this year, it most certainly is not the fault of Melvin Gordon. NYC be ready for Melvin Gordon and his running style are coming to the Heisman show.

3. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State Bulldogs: While Dak's numbers pale in comparison to those of Marcus Mariota and other potential candidates, Dak STILL has led the Bulldogs to be atop of the college football world. His key decision-making, his timely play making and ability to not make that crucial mistake to cost his team the game, shows what a true Heisman winner is expected to do. Dak has thrown for 2,231 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions (kind of a high number there). But his rushing attack makes up for it as Dak has 779 rushing with 11 touchdowns to date. With key wins against a number of ranked opponents, Dak Prescott has proven to be a very valuable asset for the Bulldogs and also earned his way to a trip to NYC.

4. Amari Cooper, University of Alabama Crimson Tide: When was the last time that a wide receiver was considered a true favorite for the Heisman Trophy JUST AS a wide receiver? Been a long long time but Amari Cooper looks to make his case to be the latest. With 79 catches to date for over 1,215 yards and 10 touchdowns, Cooper this season has become the Crimson Tide's all time leading receiver. Regardless of who was under center for the Crimson Tide, one constant remained, Amari Cooper continued to bring in the balls, score touchdowns and pile up numbers that continue to keep Alabama dominant in the SEC and the college football world. There is no question a seat is reserved for Amari Cooper in NYC and the Heisman ceremony. Can he win it with just his wide receiver numbers though, that is the question that remains.

OTHER players to consider:

1. Brett Hundley, UCLA Bruins: Granted Hundley did struggle with some injuries during the season, when he is in and when he is on, he is the best NFL prospect coming into next season's NFL Draft because he has the most experience playing in a "pro-style" offense. His 2,547 yards passing beats out Dak Prescott of Mississippi State (a favorite) and Hundley's (17 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions) touchdown-to-interception ratio ALSO beats out Prescott's numbers.

2. Trevone Boykin, TCU Horned Frogs: Oh what a difference a year makes and for Boykin a year has proven to lead to a much more improved, more mature QB for the Horned Frogs. Boykin and his offense are capable of putting up fifty burgers on any team they face. Boykin has thrown 2,691 yards passing with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions (a much better touchdown-to-interception ratio than last season). Add in Boykin's 544 rushing with seven touchdowns and you almost have a mirror image of Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks. One final factor that could have Boykin making the trip to NYC for the Heisman awards is there is always one play that stands out and against Kansas State just last night, Trevone Boykin has his Heisman play, when he scrambled in for a touchdown and got flipped over into the end zone while STILL holding onto the ball. The one major drawback is the fact that the Big XII is STILL without a championship game, an obvious disadvantage to Boykin's campaign.

So as the college football season ends come near, be sure to reflect on these predictions for the Heisman as the awards ceremony draws near. Will the Heisman favorite take it or will someone rise to dethrone said favorite. Which player will be able to have the title of "Heisman Trophy Winner" added to their resume?
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NFL: 8 Weeks - 8 Things to Know

We're at the halfway point of the season and although some teams have played one more game than others as the bye weeks continue, we are beginning to get a much clearer picture of who's going to be playing playoff football in January.  As always we have our surprises and disappointments as the 2014 season progresses and it's safe to say that from here on out some teams will go on winning streaks and others will fall apart.  Which teams they are remain to be seen but I have learned at least 8 things about this NFL season that should hold up for the rest of the year.

1.  Andrew Luck is a top tier quarterback.  He's not Peyton, Brady or Rodgers but he is elite.  The man carries his team and has brought them to the playoffs since he arrived in Indianapolis in 2012 and the Colts appear on their way back to a division title.  Much like when Peyton was running the show for Indy, Luck doesn't have a great defense to support him so he has to make plays all game long and thus has a bag full of comeback victories only 2 and half years into his pro career.  The determination and will to not give up was shown in his greatest comeback victory against the Chiefs in the post season last year.  He leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns in which he has 22.  His career best is 23 and there's still 8 games to go!

2.  Never count out Tom Brady.  After the Patriots got beat down a few weeks ago against the Chiefs and people began to write them off, Brady began to play his best ball of the year.  He's had 14 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the last 3 games in wins versus the Bears, Jets and Bengals.  He's made his fantasy football owners very happy (including me).  He still doesn't have the best weapons in the league and makes due with what he's got.  But Brady always seems to get better as the season goes on and builds that rapport with his yearly stock of new wide receivers.

3.  Antonio Brown is as good as any receiver in the league.  He's not the biggest and he's not the strongest wide out in football but he is one of the fastest, best route runners with superb hands.  He belongs in the conversation with Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and the rest of the top receivers like Dez Bryant.  Brown is Big Ben's go to guy and the defense knows it and can't stop it.  He can run any route and then outrun his opponents almost every time.  When you discuss the best WR's in the NFL you better not leave out Antonio Brown's name.

4.  It's not easy to repeat as champions.  How many knowledgeable football fans believed the Seahawks would be (4 - 3) right now and 3rd in their own division after half a season?!  Not me and I'm a Niners fan.  If not for Russell Wilson who is just a phenomenal player, Seattle may be under .500 and in even worse shape as they have scratched out late wins in a few games already this season.  They still have to play Arizona and San Francisco twice a piece so the champs may be the chumps come week 17.  They've lost significant players and every team plays their best ball when they face the defending champs.

5.  Arian Foster is the best running back in the league when healthy.  Yes this is a scientific fact.  He can rush with the best of em' and pass catch out of the backfield with the nest of em'.  Just look at what he's been doing over the past few weeks...his stats are ridiculous.  People quickly forget how great he actually is when he's on the field.  He may be the biggest threat in the league that doesn't play quarterback.  All due respect to Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray and the other top running backs in the NFL but Arian Foster can do everything those guys can do and do it better.  He's a human joystick for XBOX.

6.  The Cowboys are for real.  I'm aware they lost Monday night to the below average Washington Redskins, but that was in overtime and a divisional game which are always tricky.  They lost by a field goal and the only other loss they have this season at (6 - 2) is against the 49ers in a game they outplayed the opposition.  The ball bounces funny sometimes and DeMarco Murray must get a good laugh at it because he has issues holding on to the ball.  Nevertheless, the Cowboys offensive line, running game and defense have all improved.  Combine that with an underrated Tony Romo and boys like Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams then we're talking about a legit contender.

7.  Peyton Manning is officially on the NFL QB Mount Rushmore.  Now that he's broken many of the top quarterback records of all time and is still going at an incredible pace makes Peyton and immpotal in the NFL universe.  I'll be the first to admit that he doesn't play as well in the post season as he does the regular season.  You can attribute that to a lot of things such as playing the better teams in the playoffs so the games are tougher.  Not to mention the lack of a running game and way below average defense for the majority of his career.  He's an old school player in the sense that he's a coach on the field and calls the game himself at the line of scrimmage.  He brought back this lost art and now many teams have tried to follow in his footsteps.  Everyone says Peyton makes his players better.  And they're damn right!  He's been to 3 Super Bowls on two different teams and although he's only won 1 Lombardy Trophy, just getting there 3 times and never missing the playoffs for about 95% of his career is amazing in itself.  Plenty of folks have Dan Marino on their Mount Rushmore of QB's.  Well he only went to 1 Super Bowl and they lost.  So.....

8.  Defense and rushing the ball are once again becoming the keys to victory.  All you have to do is look at the best teams in the NFL over the past 3 years or so.  Okay we can take away Peyton and Brady because they are NFL legends but how bout the reigning champions in Seattle?  Or their biggest competition in San Fran and Arizona who are winning by running the ball and playing solid defense.  How about the Bengals and Cowboys!  This may be the era of passing the ball but the teams with the best records in the league either have a top level QB or have adopted the old school smash mouth football that would make Jim Brown and Dick Butkus proud.

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McCoy's MNF Moment

October 27th’s Monday Night Football game was more than a close contest which involved one of the games greatest rivalries. It was more than the 6-1 Cowboys playing host to an underwhelming Redskins team.  And it was more than a 3rd string quarterback starting against “America’s Team,” – or was it?
The Redskins third string quarterback Colt McCoy received the start due to the benching of back-up Kirk Cousins in the previous week, who was keeping the seat warm until Robert Griffin III returned from injury.  McCoy hadn’t started a game in 3 years but McCoy is a different breed of  “third string quarterback.”
Colt McCoy was once the pride of the state of Texas. He was selected to Texas’ All-State first team as a high school football player and he who found his way to the University of Texas where his legend had been cemented. Before McCoy finished his collegiate career at Texas, he accounted for over 30 of the school’s passing and total offensive records.  He also set NCAA records which included “highest completion percentage in a season (76.7%)” and tied the record for “most touchdown passes thrown by a freshman (29).”
The 2010 BCS National Championship game was supposed to be the storybook ending to his collegiate career, but things went sour quickly.  McCoy sustained a shoulder injury early in the game, forcing him to watch his team lose to Alabama 37-21.
Colt was dealt a pretty raw deal when entering the draft as NFL pundits questioned his arm strength, size and just how healthy he would be come draft time.  For all the talk that associates quarterbacks with wins – a kid who was seemingly allergic to losing, was about to get the short end of the stick.
Colt found himself drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns.
For a kid who had known nothing but success at a prestigious university he was in for a rude awakening in Cleveland. McCoy had some flashes, but mostly struggled while in Cleveland as it was a team lacking much talent or much of an identity. While at Cleveland, McCoy’s completion percentage was below 60% and had a quarterback rating of 74%.  This was a far cry from what the world remembered out of the two time Heisman Trophy candidate.  In 2013 the Browns traded McCoy to San Francisco where McCoy recorded one pass, for one completion, for 13 yards.
That brings us to Monday Night.
For a kid who’s glory days of playing high school and college football in the state of Texas — playing in prime time, against the Dallas Cowboys – this was going to be the biggest moment in his professional career.
The Redskins (who entered the game as a nine point underdog ) put up a fight most didnt think they would muster. Colt McCoy at times looked a bit flustered and did throw a poor interception in the first half, but by Halftime the Redskins were only down. 7-3.
The second half showed the Colt McCoy of old. The Colt McCoy that ruled the state of Texas.
McCoy put his head down and ran a gutsy 7 yard touchdown to put his team up 17-10 in the fourth quarter. He was greeted with excitement by his fellow teammates in the end zone who seemed happier than he was about the score.  Moments after the dramatic run, McCoy’s jubilation may have turned to nerves as he played off the moment with a poker-face on the sideline. When the game went into overtime, McCoy outdid the showing of “grit” on his run, by escaping a Dallas pass rush and scrambling to the left.  While on the run, McCoy spotted tight end Jordan Reed and directed him to run into a fade route.  What resulted from that, was a beautiful touch pass from McCoy received by Reed who showed off his acrobatic like balance along the sidelines to make the catch.
In short, McCoy was able to put the Redskins in position for the game winning field goal. Sure, he had to wait and see his defense do their job and stop Dallas from scoring any points on their next drive – but a win is a win, and for Colt McCoy it felt as good as a winning touchdown pass in the final play of the game.
With Robert Griffin III rumored to return next week, maybe this will be the end of McCoy’s story.  Then again, he is backing up a quarterback who, for all things considered, is injury prone – so maybe all is not over for McCoy.  In two games, McCoy has completed 85% of his passes for an average of 10 yards a clip.  No need to draw up a quarterback controversy – RG3 is the Redskins’ man, but this is Colt McCoy’s moment.
G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio
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