There are only a few college games I care about this weekend, but most of those that I do care about are because of rivalry reasons (Ohio State-Michigan, Virginia-Virginia Tech). But, I am not worried about that. I am wondering what we will see on the turf in Lubbock as Texas Tech welcomes in Oklahoma.
I have no idea what the experts are picking, but I assume they will be thinking that the safe pick is the Sooners. They win big games and their opponent, the Red Raiders, generally fold in the biggest games against their Big 12 South superiors.
But, Not so fast. This sets up perfectly. Tech loses to Oklahoma State. Oklahoma beats the Aggies. One team is feeling great. One team is feeling embarrassed. And let’s not forget the prize. Oklahoma doesn’t want to play in the Cotton Bowl. Texas Tech would be flattered to play there. (Note: Actually, they should both avoid this game since another SEC blowout is on the menu.)
Anyway, I feel pretty good about picking Tech tomorrow. Just a hunch, but give me a rocking home win for Texas Tech.
Battle for the Cotton Bowl is in Lubbock …
Texas Tech players are motivated to help coach Mike Leach erase his 0-5 record against Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, his former boss, when the teams meet Saturday in Lubbock in a showdown with Cotton Bowl implications.
"They [the Sooners] have owned Tech in the last five years," quarterback Cody Hodges said. "It's a big challenge for us ... to get a win for coach Leach against his former team."
Leach discounts the theory that OU defends his team better than other opponents because of increased familiarity with his offensive system.
"There is no more legitimacy to that than the fact that everyone else has had trouble with them, too," Leach said. "I am in a long line of people that have struggled with Oklahoma."
Rangers not interested in going to 5 years on Burnett …And I think I am fine with that…
Rangers shift interest to Matt Morris …Now we are talking. I never felt good about Burnett given his price, but it would seem to me that Morris is A) more accomplished and B) I would think somewhat cheaper. I would be very excited to see Morris land here.
Morris, 31, was 14-10 with a 4.11 ERA for St. Louis this year. He missed the 1999 season because of elbow surgery, but, over the past five years, he is 79-45 with a 3.82 ERA.
That ties him for the eighth-most victories by a major league pitcher in that stretch. His 993 2/3 innings over the past five years are 18th among major league pitchers.
The Rangers like him because he is strong, durable and keeps the ball low. Paul Byrd, another free agent, fits that description and is also high on the Rangers' list.
Paul Byrd is known as the “Major League Player that most looks like Kelsey Grammer”.
Owens back in Philadelphia for his hearing today …
It is believed that the Eagles were trying to cut some sort of deal with Owens and the NFL players' union in an attempt to keep the case from being ruled upon by Richard Bloch, the arbitrator assigned to the hearing.
Team president Joe Banner was in meetings late Thursday and did not return a phone call last night.
Owens returned to Philadelphia on a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta, but he granted no interviews and apparently did not return to his home in Moorestown, N.J., the site of his news conference 10 days ago after Eagles coach Andy Reid announced his four-game suspension without pay.
If Owens' case goes to a hearing Friday, it will be argued by lawyers from the players' union and the league.
Richard Berthelsen, the general counsel for the NFL Players Association, has said the union would argue that the Eagles' punishment of their star receiver for conduct detrimental to the team was excessive.
Berthelsen said the offense has a four-game suspension limit and the Eagles have said that they plan to deactivate Owens during the final five games of the season, which the union will argue deprives the receiver a chance at earning incentives and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Sources with the Eagles have said that the money in this dispute does not matter to the team as much as ridding it of the headaches the controversial receiver has caused. Owens stands to lose $823,529 if Bloch rules against him. The Eagles have also maintained that they are entitled to $1.8 million of the receiver's $9 million signing bonus from last year because they believe Owens violated his contract terms when he failed to show up at a mandatory post-draft camp in the spring.
With more than $2.6 million at stake, the Eagles could dangle that money in front of Owens in the hope that he would agree to end his dispute and cut ties with the team.
Detroit News does a feature on Drew Bledsoe …
"I have some guys around me that are really playing well, and my guys up front are giving me good time to throw the ball," Bledsoe said in a conference-call interview. "I've had room in front of me so that I can step into most of my throws, and when I do that, I am fairly accurate."
"Fairly accurate" is an understatement. Bledsoe has completed 64.6 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 96.8. He and Marc Bulger of the Rams are the only NFC quarterbacks with a rating higher than 90.
Bledsoe's throwing ability never has been in doubt, but he is more of a drop-back passer than a scrambler. He has been sacked 22 times this season.
The Canadian Press looks at the Stars resurgence …
The Stars, meanwhile, are improving on the power play, which is the way to succeed in the new NHL. They've scored at least one power-play goal in 10 straight games, although they still sit only 19th overall with the man advantage after a slow start this season.
"That's one area we'd love to improve on to win a few more games and maybe get up in games by a few more goals," Arnott said.
The Stars have also tightened up defensively, giving up only 13 goals in the last
seven games for a 1.86 average.
Goalie Marty Turco is a major reason for that with his stellar play as he has rebounded after a slow start of his own this season.
Heika tackles the attendance issue in hockey …
1 Race Left; It is Smoke’s Cup to lose in Florida …
The 10-race Chase for the Championship, in its second year, started with 10 drivers and is down to the final four. Stewart leads Jimmie Johnson by 52 points, Carl Edwards by 87 and Greg Biffle by 102.
Stewart is guaranteed the title, which comes with a bonus of more than $5 million, if he finishes ninth or better at the Ford 400.
Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said even under the best circumstances the first time around is always tough.
''You feel extreme amount of pressure from the competition, from the media, from every direction,'' Gordon said. ``And it's hard to handle that. I think the second time around is always sweeter and I think he's doing a fantastic job with it.
``And I think everybody will agree that Tony has matured and I don't know, maybe his therapy is finally working. Who knows, but I think he's really come a long way. And that makes him a real threat for this championship this year and future ones.''
FWST Media Insider …
Must be fun being an Atlanta Hawks fan Mavs 87, Hawks 78 …
A couple of notes from the game:
Josh Howard was great (10-13, 25 points).
Everyone else struggled (22-68 for 32%).
The Mavericks exploded for 11 points in the first Quarter and despite winning both home games this week have put together amazingly pathetic offensive performances.
Big Damp responded from his 0-0-0 job on Tuesday with 0 points, 8 rebounds, 0 assists, 6 fouls and 6 turnovers. Looks like he has turned things around.
Oops. I forget UFC 56 picks. Of course, since I don't know much about the opponents, my picks should not matter at all.
But, give me Hughes over that loud-mouth Riggs, and while I think Quarry-Franklin is much closer, I will stick with the champion, Franklin.