Tuesday, August 16, 2016

0 Arsenal: Where to Start?

By Kenny Howell

I have been trying to write a column on Arsenal, but it took me forever to know where to start. Or even what to focus on at this point.

After the 4-3 thrashing against Liverpool Sunday, something I felt could happen, I am left just shaking my head. We all knew this was coming. And it's more than just one thing. But one glaring thing is obvious, and it is the transfer market.

I feel like when i was a kid and would go car shopping my dad. My dad always hated to leave money on the table, so we would go to several lots, haggle down to $100 apart from each other, not make the deal, then go somewhere else until someone else agreed to his price. Nowadays, I appreciate that because I have obviously benefited from his ability to negotiate, but at the time I just wanted to go home and play with Batman toys.

Arsene Wenger doesn't want me to play with my Batman toys. He wants to wait for the perfect situation, but Arsenal doesn't have time for that. Manchester United isn't waiting. Manchester City isn't waiting. All the Big 6 won this past weekend, except for Arsenal. Granted, they were playing one of the other big 6, but still.

Everyone knows that Arsenal needs a central defender and a striker, but Wenger keeps thinking he needs to keep his cards close to his vest, thinking no one else does I know a tiny fraction of what Wenger knows about soccer, but it is so blatantly obvious. Instead he is playing with the cards turned around facing all the other players. He has access to a huge pile of money, but we are going on like week 5 of trying to sign Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi, who we probably could have just plopped down a pile of cash and moved on, but instead we are becoming extremely cautious. Same with Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette, who notched a hat trick in his first match of the season. And Inter Milan's Mario Icardi. And Julian Draxler. And just anyone please.

I am not going to jump on the #WengerOut bandwagon, because more than likely, Arsenal will finish in the top 4. It might be more difficult with the collection of managers in the Premier League now, but history tells us it will happen. It would just make it a lot more of a guarantee if the Arsenal pocketbooks were opened. And I don't know, we actually won a title.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

0 College Football Top 25, Week 3

By Kenny Howell

I am starting to wonder if there is a best team in college football. Just when it seems that someone separates themselves, they get knocked down a peg. Maybe that means that parity is at its best this year, so it should make for an exciting first playoff.

1. Oregon (3-0) (2) - The Ducks hold the most impressive win while still being undefeated and convincing in three wins.

2. Texas A&M (3-0) (3) - The Aggies didn't blow out Rice like they should, only 38-10, so it keeps them out of the top spot.

3. Florida State (2-0) (4) - The Seminoles didn't play, but they are still the defending champs, so they get a seat at the table.

4. Alabama (3-0) (5) - The Tide seem to be ironing out their problems against some weaker opponents before getting ready for SEC play.

5. Auburn (2-0) (7) - The Tigers didn't play, but should be in the mix.

6. Oklahoma (3-0) (10) - The Sooners defense is for real, but the Tennessee defense showed their offense has some problems closing things out. Might show up against elite opponents.

7. LSU (3-0) (8) - LSU got its second straight shutout against an inferior opponent, but their offense definitely needs some work.

8. Georgia (1-1) (1) - Georgia seemed to be the chosen one after the first week win, but then you have to go on the road in the SEC and you drop quickly.

9. Notre Dame (3-0) (11) - The Fighting Irish didn't look overly impressive against Purdue, but they came out with the win.

10. Missouri (3-0) (13) - Mizzou looks like they are coming together after a solid win over Central Florida.

11. South Carolina (2-1) (16) - The Gamecocks got a much needed win when they needed it, knocking off my previous No. 1 Georgia.

12. UCLA (3-0) (17) - The Bruins looked kind of unimpressive again, but it was without starting quarterback Brett Hundley. Still undefeated right now.

13. Michigan State (1-1) (15) - The Spartans were idle, still reeling from the whirlwind that is Oregon.

14. USC (2-1) (6) - The Trojans looked poised to be the team that challenges Oregon for the Pac-12 possible spot in the playoffs, but then they lay a dud against Boston College.

15. Stanford (2-1) (9) - Stanford's loss to USC looks a little bit more questionable after the Trojans went down to Boston College.

16. Clemson (1-1) (14) - The Tigers loss to Georgia looks a bit worse now that Georgia is in the column.

17. Florida (2-0) (12) - Kentucky may be much improved, but there is nothing really impressive about the Gators being taken to 3 OTs against the Wildcats.

18. Arizona State (3-0) (18) - The Sun Devils weren't impressive against Colorado, but they did get the win.

19. Baylor (3-0) (19) - Still not sold on this Baylor team. They can score a lot of points against bad teams is all I know right now.

20. Ole Miss (3-0) (20) - Ole Miss had no trouble against La.-Lafayette as expected.

21. BYU (3-0) (24) - BYU struggled against Houston, but stayed undefeated.

22. Kansas State (2-0) (NR) - This might not last long as the Wildcats host Auburn this weekend.

23. Ohio State (2-1) (23) - The Buckeyes let out some frustration against Kent State, running up 66.

24. Nebraska (3-0) (NR) - The Cornhuskers are winning, but haven't played anyone yet.

25. Duke (3-0) (NR) - David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils off to another undefeated start.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

0 College Football Top 25, Week 2

By Kenny Howell

Things become clearer week by week, and a few teams have separated themselves through big wins. I try to do my top 25s based on what you have done as opposed to what you haven't, so the teams that have proven themselves early on are higher in the rankings. Each team will be followed by their ranking as well as what they were last week.

1. Georgia (1-0) (2) - The Bulldogs didn't play this week, but South Carolina's underwhelming performance against East Carolina tells me that Texas A&M's win is not quite as big. So I gave the Bulldogs the top spot because they have had the most impressive win so far.

2. Oregon (2-0) (7) - The second most impressive win belongs to the Ducks, who put up 46 on a usually stingy defense of Michigan State. The Ducks are still tough.

3. Texas A&M (2-0) (1) - The Aggies didn't drop too far, and are still one of the most impressive teams so far.

4. Florida State (2-0) (3) - The Seminoles are still probably an elite team. Just haven't showed it too much yet.

5. Alabama (2-0) (4) - The Tide had a storm shortened blowout of a terrible team, so still not a lot shown yet, but it will come around at some point.

6. USC (2-0) (10) - USC got a little help from Stanford, but they did get it done, and that moves them toward the top.

7. Auburn (2-0) (5) - Auburn looked impressive again, but once again against a bad opponent.

8. LSU (2-0) (8) - LSU holds a solid win against Wisconsin this season, but they definitely have some problems to fix.

9. Stanford (1-1) (6) - I still think Stanford is a pretty solid team, just met the better team Saturday.

10. Oklahoma (2-0) (9) - The Sooners haven't really been tested yet, but they have been impressive against two bad teams. Competition will get a tad tougher against Tennessee this week, but they should still be OK (see what I did there).

11. Notre Dame (2-0) (14) - The Fighting Irish have looked pretty good so far, dominated Michigan, 31-0.

12. Florida (1-0) (16) - The Gators finally got to play a full game, and they looked pretty solid doing it, shutting out Eastern Michigan, 65-0.

13. Missouri (2-0) (18) - Mizzou had to go on the road for some reason against Toledo, and they dominated in what some saw as a trap game.

14. Clemson (1-1) (17) - Clemson bounced back with their first win of the season, a 73-7 win over South Carolina State.

15. Michigan State (1-1) (13) - The Spartans got a dose of reality in the second half as Oregon went on those Oregon like runs that saw the game slip away in a few minutes.

16. South Carolina (1-1) (15) - The Gamecocks got their first win, but it wasn't very impressive against East Carolina.

17. UCLA (2-0) (12) - The Bruins looked pretty mediocre for the second week in a row against a below average team. They still got the wins.

18. Arizona State (2-0) (20) - The Sun Devils scored a lot of point against New Mexico, but gave up quite a few too.

19. Baylor (2-0) (21) - Baylor played another nobody and scored a ton of points.

20. Ole Miss (2-0) (23) - Ole Miss had no trouble with a lost Vandy team.

21. Louisville (2-0) (25) - The Cardinals put up big numbers for their second win.

22. Virginia Tech (2-0) (NR) - The Hokies went on the road and knocked off an Ohio State team that looks good on paper.

23. Ohio State (1-1) (11) - The Buckeyes are searching for answers right now.

24. BYU (2-0) (NR) - BYU made Texas look silly again. Different coach, same result.

25. Tennessee (2-0) (NR) - This won't last long as their next couple of weeks are going to be brutal. They have exceeded expectations so far. We'll find out how good after going to Oklahoma, Georgia and hosting Florida.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

0 College Football Predictions, Week 2

By Kenny Howell

I started strong in week 1, going 13-1 in games picked. I just missed Texas A&M beating the dump out of South Carolina, but I wasn't the only one. There is a bunch of cupcake games this week, so it should be a pretty easy week for picking.

No. 2 Alabama 56 Florida Atlantic 3
No. 3 Oregon 20 No. 7 Michigan State 10
No. 4 Oklahoma 42 Tulsa 17
No. 5 Auburn 52 San Jose State 14
No. 8 Ohio State 35 Va. Tech 14
No. 11 UCLA 41 Memphis 17
No. 13 Stanford 30 No. 14 USC 21
No. 15 Ole Miss 41 Vanderbilt 10
No. 16 Notre Dame 31 Michigan 20
No. 17 Arizona State 42 New Mexico 7
No. 20 Kansas State 45 Iowa State 14
No. 21 South Carolina 31 East Carolina 10
No. 22 North Carolina 34 San Diego State 31
Toledo 35 No. 24 Missouri 31

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

0 College Football Top 25, Week 1

By Kenny Howell

The top 25 will be a bit altered this week because I have actually seen teams play now. The top of the rankings are drastically different as two teams I think set themselves apart from the pack.

1. Texas A&M (1-0) (17) - That's a heck of a jump from No. 17 to No. 1, but they had the most impressive weekend. Unlike Georgia, who was also really impressive, the Aggies did their butt kicking on the road against a really talented team.

2. Georgia (1-0) (13) - How many elite running backs to the Dawgs have? Todd Gurley had nearly 300 all purpose yards, and freshman Nick Chubb might actually be better when his career is over. And they still have a few other guys. Dismantled Clemson.

3. Florida State (1-0) (1) - Not sure if they were a bit pleased with themselves winning the National Championship, or they just aren't as good, but Oklahoma State took the fight to them. They were outcoached and outplayed, but the Seminoles just had too much talent.

4. Alabama (1-0) (2) - Have people figured out Saban's defense? It's starting to seem like it as a once dominant group seems like it might could be a liability. If West Virginia was able to do that against them, what is Texas A&M going to do?

5. Auburn (1-0) (3) - It took until the second half, but Auburn exploded on Arkansas who handed Head Coach Bret Bielema his 9th straight SEC loss.

6. Stanford (1-0) (4) - Don't really know too much about them yet because they played UC Davis. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

7. Oregon (1-0) (7) - Oregon murdered a no name team, but they are still Oregon.

8. LSU (1-0) (6) - LSU turned it on the second half to come back from 24-7 down against Wisconsin. LSU has some issues most notably whoever is playing QB, and I am not sure the Badgers are that good. If the Tigers are the team in the second half, they will stay here, but if the first half team comes back, they will drop.

9. Oklahoma (1-0) (11) - A lot of people think Oklahoma is the elite power. They looked good against La. Tech, but it is La. Tech.

10. USC (1-0) (12) - The Trojans looked pretty solid in their debut against Fresno State.

11. Ohio State (1-0) (5) - The Buckeyes will get better, but Navy gave them a fight. New QB J.T. Barrett might have just needed to get his feet wet.

12. UCLA (1-0) (9) - The Bruins looked a little sloppy on the road at a mediocre Virginia team, but they got the win.

13. Michigan State (1-0) (14) - The Spartans played Jacksonville State, so it's hard to tell, but they are still pretty good.

14. Notre Dame (1-0) (18) - The Fighting Irish were solid in their debut against Rice.

15. South Carolina (0-1) (8) - Time will tell if the Gamecocks are that bad or A&M is that good.

16. Florida (0-0) (16) - The Gators debut was halted by storms, so I will keep them where they were last week.

17. Clemson (0-1) (10) - The Tigers ran into a buzz saw of a Georgia team in week one. Will probably still be OK.

18. Missouri (1-0) (15) - Mizzou was not very impressive in their opener against South Dakota State.

19. Texas (1-0) (19) - The Longhorns weren't overwhelmingly impressive in their opening win over North Texas. Keep them at 19.

20. Arizona State (1-0) (20) - The Sun Devils did what they had to do against Weber State.

21. Baylor (1-0) (21)- Bryce Petty was banged up, but the Bears still got a shutout of SMU.

22. Michigan (1-0) (22) - The Wolverines had no trouble with Appalachain St.

23. Oklahoma State (0-1) (NR) - Cowboys lost, but took the defending National Champion to the wire.

24. Ole Miss (1-0) (NR) - Their defense shut down Boise State long enough for their offense to get going.

25. Louisville (1-0) (NR) - The Cardinals got their first ACC win over visiting Miami to restart the Bobby Petrino era.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

0 College Football Predictions, Week 1

By Kenny Howell

For a week one, there are actually some pretty good games. The move to the power conference structure is leading to some marquee games in the earlier in the season, and we have a good one to get kicked off, starting tonight. Here are my predictions for this weekend's games. I won't do teams playing FCS schools. I'm basically playing it safe this week because we don't really know much as of yet.

No. 1 Florida State 44 Oklahoma State 31
No. 2 Alabama 35 West Virginia 9
No. 4 Oklahoma 45 La. Tech 10
No. 5 Ohio State 52 Navy 10
No. 6 Auburn 41 Arkansas 17
No. 7 UCLA 34 Virginia 28
No. 9 South Carolina 35 No. 21 Texas A&M 23
No. 10 Baylor 49 SMU 20
No. 12 Georgia 28 No. 16 Clemson 23
No. 13 LSU 35 No. 14 Wisconsin 20
No. 17 Notre Dame 42 Rice 14
No. 18 Ole Miss 35 Boise State 21
No. 22 Nebraska 38 Florida Atlantic 20
No. 25 Washington 42 Hawaii 17

Thursday, August 21, 2014

0 College Football Preseason Top 25

By Kenny Howell

So, I have been quiet for quite some time. Been taking time to raise my first child, but it's college football season, so she'll have to wait. Not really, obviously, but here we go.

I did this last year, and I determined the National Championship would be Alabama and Texas, so this is obviously a fool proof system that will never steer you wrong. I had Florida State No. 7 and Auburn No. 18, (to be fair, not many people even had them in the top 25) so...nailed it.

I look at the computer rankings at the end of last season, recruiting for the last four years and how many starters each team has coming back. My rankings are really based off potential more than anything, which I think is really all you can go on at this point. I like to be a little crazy with it at this point because that is the way College Football is. I saw a lot of people talking about how Alabama and Stanford would be the National Championship last year, some even mentioned Louisville. So nobody really knows at this point. So here we go. Trying to do the impossible.

1. Florida State - It's still Florida State's to lose. They return 14 starters from a really talented team that included a Heisman trophy winner in Jameis Winston. It will be hard to repeat, but they have the talent to do it.

2. Alabama - Alabama has had the top recruiting class the last four years, so it is obvious that they are loaded. They just need to find a quarterback, have the new defensive starters settle in as smoothly as they have in the past, and stop the high tempo offenses. Having the best running back group in the country will help slow down opposing teams by keeping them off the field.

3. Auburn - People are sleeping on Auburn, but they still have Guz Malzahn at the helm and have recruited pretty well the last few years. They won the SEC last year, and could do it again this year.

4. Stanford - Stanford is still trying to make the next leap into a National Championship caliber team, and I think they will at least get into the playoffs this year, so they might get that chance.

5. Ohio State - Even without Braxton Miller, this team has a lot of talent. And Urban Meyer has been pretty successful along the way. Plus, the schedule is way easy.

6. LSU - LSU is loaded with talent as always, and I think it will be enough to get them back in the elite category this season.

7. Oregon  - Marcus Mariota is back for another year, and he should keep the engine running on the Ducks high powered attack. They still have that roadblock of Stanford each year who seems to have them solved enough to get a chance to win.

8. South Carolina - The Gamecocks have been consistently good the last few season, just some hiccups hold them back. I think they will win the SEC East, but the power of the West side will be too much for a SEC title.

9. UCLA - The Bruins have been on the rise the last few years, and they have the talent stocked to compete with the big boys of the Pac-12. I still think they are a small step behind.

10. Clemson - Clemson was pretty humbled last year by Florida State, plus they lost Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins. But Dabo Swinney has a good thing going, and I still think they will be a legit team.

11. Oklahoma - People have jumped on the OU bandwagon this year because of their great performance in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. But this is a team that got beat by a not very good Texas team and got throttled by Baylor. They struggled much of the year, but were able to come out on the winning side. They are still good, but let's not anoint them yet.

12. USC - Another Pac-12 team in the rankings, as they conference is probably on par with the SEC now. Steve Sarkisian takes over this year and should get the most out of a pretty talented roster.

13. Georgia - The Bulldogs had their entire team seemingly injured last year, and didn't have the season they expected. But they are back and healthy and going to ride Todd Gurley to a pretty good year.

14. Michigan State - Michigan State rose to the top last season after winning the Big 10 and a Rose Bowl victory. But they aren't going to surprise anyone anymore. And does their success work against them a bit. Still should be in the hunt for another Big 10 title.

15. Missouri - Missouri surprised everyone and came away with a SEC East title last year, and a Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State. They only return 10 starters, and haven't been stellar in recruiting, but Gary Pinkel seems to know what he is doing.

16. Florida - After a miserable season last year, which was also marred by a ton of injuries, the Gators are ready to get back on top. They are still loaded with talent and should be able to compete if everyone stays healthy.

17. Texas A&M - No Johnny Football or Mike Evans, but Kevin Sumlin is still an excellent coach. They have recruited well the last few years and should still be able to stay relevant.

18. Notre Dame - Everett Golson returns after a year away, and should bring some fight back to the Fighting Irish. Schedule is pretty tough as usual for the Golden Domers.

19. Texas - Can Charlie Strong get the Longhorns back where they need to be? Not totally yet, but he will fix the defense, and he has a lot to work with.

20. Arizona State - Yet another Pac-12 team. The Sun Devils are probably not going to be competing for a conference title, but they will make some noise and probably knock someone else out of it.

21. Baylor - The Bears just return eight starters from a 11-2 last year, one which got humbled twice down the stretch by Oklahoma State and Central Florida in the bowl game. Offense is still going to be clicking at times and get them wins.

22. Michigan - The Wolverines under performed last year, but they have recruited well, it just needs to gel.

23. Central Florida - UCF obviously lost the terrific Blake Bortles, but they return 15 starters from a team that won a BCS game.

24. Miami - The Hurricanes are still trying to recover from the scandals of the past few years, but have recruited well enough to be competitive in the ACC.

25. Washington - Washington lost their coach, but probably got a slight upgrade as Chris Peterson left his position at Boise State to take over the Huskies. Only four returning starters on offense will slow them a bit.


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