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The NCAA released its graduation success rates rates this week, and the Top 10 schools in the FBS included #8 Stanford (#5 in graduation rate) and two programs previously ranked in the Top 25 this season, Northwestern (#1) and Notre Dame (#3). We don't know what to do with #7 Miami (#10 in graduation at 86%); should a team with a 10-year history of rules violations be included? Let's give "The U" an asterisk.
Match-Ups of the Week
Pigeons vs. Ducks
An enormous pigeon surveyed the field during a recent Oregon Ducks practice session. Perhaps he (reportedly, the bird's name is Timothy) was keeping an eye out for the next special Ducks uniform. Ducks look good in pink. We hear Timothy prefers earth tones.
Our pick: Timothy.
Penn State (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) vs. #4 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten)
The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes don't share much history. The two teams have only met 25 times and lack the storied backstory of many Big Ten match-ups. But Saturday could prove a turning point in the latent rivalry. Some commentators are eagerly anticipating Penn State's pro-style QB Christian Hackenberg taking on the mediocre OSU secondary, but Nittany Lions are probably a year (or two) away from competing in games at this level.
Our pick: Ohio State 39, Penn State 30.
Oranges vs. Beaches
The Miami (nee Florida) Marlins play on the former site of the Orange Bowl in the Little Havana neighborhood in, well, Miami. The Marlins left Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, in 2011 to take up residence in Marlins Park, which was built on the grounds of the old Orange Bowl in South Beach.
The original Orange Bowl stadium opened in 1937, was demolished in 2008, and only a commemorative art installation outside Marlins Park remains, a weird reminder of the site's storied history.
The enormous spaceship that is Marlins Park will now host the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl in 2014, which will, get this, "feature a team from the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East) and Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference or Sun Belt Conference, with preference likely given to FIU if the Panthers are bowl-eligible and available."
Organizers signed an agreement with Marlins Park through 2019, but details regarding TV tie-ins, hotel deals, "and other bowl-related events" have yet to be announced. If the organizers can't close a deal with a name brand sponsor, we suggest the Dr. Neil Zemmel Miami Beach Blepharoplasty Bowl.
Our pick: The Miami Beach Bowl, by a tummy tuck.
Bill Murray vs. Lee Corso
Can we get a rematch?
While Corso looked like an idiot, especially within the context of the ongoing controversy over derogatory team nicknames, football blowhards failed to take Florida State's longtime relationship with the Seminole Tribe into account.
Still, let's reiterate: Lee Corso is an idiot. An entertaining idiot at times, but still an idiot.
Our pick: Murray.
Boise State (5-2, 3-1 Mountain West) vs. BYU (5-2, Independent)
This Friday night duel may get overlooked, as most Friday games do, but there is a certain level of intrigue at play; the Broncos maintain the top spot in the Mountain division of the MWC, and hope to gain the Mountain West's automatic bid to the Las Vegas Bowl. If Boise has aspiration for any more illustrious berth (as if any bowl could surpass the LVB, as it's known on the street), wins against prominent non-conference foes like BYU will be key.
Our pick: Boise State 45, BYU 41.
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota vs. All Other Heisman Contenders
If the survey results from USA Today this week are any indication, Mariota will run (and pass) away with the Heisman this season.
Mariota leads other vote-getters by a large margin, both in overall points (cumulative votes for first, second, and third place) and in first place votes, should the season end today. Our favorite dark horse candidate: Oregon State QB Sean Mannion, who boasts huge numbers. Let's compare. Mannion's passing yards: 2,992 (Mariota: 2,051); passing TDs: 29 (19); INTs: 3 (0); completion percentage: 68.6% on 334 attempts (62.4% on 197). The two will face off in the final game of the season for both schools on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. We suggest tuning in.
Our pick: Mariota/Mannion over tryptophan.
#21 South Carolina (5-2, 3-2 SEC) vs. #7 Missouri (7-0, 3-0 SEC)
SEC fans began to worry following last week's spate of upsets. Following a series of losses by Top 25 conference teams, only Alabama (#1) and Missouri represented the SEC in the first week of BCS rankings, at #1 and #5 respectively. Rather than the outright dominance of past years, southerners may need to settle for just "better than any other major conference" rather than "overwhelmingly better than any other conference."
Our pick: Missouri 30, South Carolina 27.
Rivalry Game of the Week
Miami, Ohio (0-7, 0-3 MAC) vs. Ohio (5-2, 2-1 MAC)
We didn't know the "Battle of the Bricks" was a thing. The name for the Miami, Ohio-Ohio rivalry apparently stems from the "beautiful brick campuses" of both schools, a theme embodied in Ohio's new uniforms debuting on Saturday against the visitors from Oxford.
Battle of the Bricks sounds suspiciously like a made-up marketing ploy by a joint committee of aspiring MBAs from both programs; what's next, the War of Escalating Tuitions between Kenyon College and Denison University?
We would like to see a more realistic rivalry between Miami and OU: The Battle of the Beer Bongs, or maybe the two could vie for control of the Old Pony Keg.
The universities compete off the field for the arguably greater prize: A top spot in the Princeton Review's annual rankings of party schools. The Bobcats fell to seventh this year, continuing a two-year slide from first in 2011, but still out-partying the Redhawks, who slipped to 16th from ninth in 2012.
Our pick: Ohio, after a second-half boot and rally, 36, Miami 10.
Bonus: For a true brick battle, check this out. Be warned, the pace is very slow until the five-minute mark, and then unsettlingly violent considering the actors are Legos.
The College Football Report Sacred Chicken Seven-Year Plan
Our favorite fowl spent the week worrying about Timothy. Is the Pigeon the new Chicken? We don't yet know . . . we may need to start running the Pigeon's Picks in the following weeks. Calls to the bird's agent went unreturned as of press time.
#19 Oklahoma State (-12.5) vs. Iowa State
#25 Nebraska (-10) vs. Minnesota
#9 Clemson (-16.5) vs. Maryland
Temple vs. Southern Methodist (-14)
Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.
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