Monday, September 25, 2023

Browns bully Titans 27-3

     The Cleveland Browns had to wonder how they would respond in a short week after a heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The response was more than sufficient as the Browns pummelled the Tennessee Titans 27-3 by Lake Erie to improve to 2-1 on the season.

DeShaun Watson finished with 289 yards passing with two touchdowns with Amari Cooper catching seven passes for one hundred sixteen yards and one of the Watson touchdown passes.

Cleveland finished with five sacks with three and a half of those sacks from Myles Garrett alone.

Cleveland will host 2-1 Baltimore next Sunday before their off-week.

Brownie Bits

1)  The game could have been even more lopsided after one of the worst calls that you will see made against the Browns in the first half.

DeShaun Watson hit Amari Cooper down the sideline for what would be a twenty-five-yard gain and Cooper avoided the tackle try of Kristian Fulton and raced to the end zone uncontested.

But the whistle had blown as Cooper was ruled out of bounds after the catch.

Replays showed Cooper not only didn't step out of bounds, he wasn't even close to stepping out of bounds.

2) While the terrible call didn't cost the Browns the game in a 27-3 win, Cleveland would not score a touchdown on the drive, settling for a Dustin Hopkins field goal but it did cost DeShaun Watson a third touchdown pass and a three hundred yard passing day.

Watson showed a few signs out of the pocket from his days in Houston and he avoided the mistakes that cost the Browns so badly in Pittsburgh.

3) Much of that was due to an improved performance from the offensive line, who did allow three sacks of Watson but was much better than in their defeat in Pittsburgh.

Dawand Jones virtually eliminated the Titans' best pass rusher, Harold Landry, from the game, not allowing Landry a sack and only one solo tackle.

They may not have been perfect but their effort allowed DeShaun Watson to relax and perhaps for the first time as a Brown, allow the game to come to him rather than act out of impatience.

4) Kareem Hunt did play after being signed earlier in the week, carrying five times for thirteen yards, and while Hunt's numbers were far from outstanding, simply having the faith of Kevin Stefanski to see the field after only a few days of practice is a good thing and shows that Hunt is entering the season in good shape despite missing training camp.

5) It didn't hurt the Browns but the reviews on the first game for a Nick Chubbless running back group were very mixed.

Jerome Ford did catch a touchdown pass and ran for another score but his rushing numbers were a tiny nineteen yards on ten carries, the most for any Brown.

Pierre Strong's twenty-seven yards on six carries led the Cleveland ground game.

6) And then there was the Cleveland defense, which notched its third dominant game in as many outings.

Cleveland held the Titans to 94 yards of total offense, sacked Ryan Tannehill five times, and Derrick Henry to only twenty rushing yards on eleven carries.

Dominance in the numbers and on the field.

7) The key play of the game was late in the first half, with the Browns leading 13-3 but Tennessee was in the Cleveland red zone without a timeout.

Ryan Tannehill has a shot at the end zone and knows he has to go to the end zone because anything in-bounds will end the half with Tennessee getting zero points for the drive.

Myles Garrett runs over his man, Tannehill doesn't have the slightest chance of getting rid of the ball and Mike Vrabel starts walking to the locker room, not even trying to get his field goal team on the field.

The game was only 13-3 but you could sense Tennessee had the life taken from them.

8) Tennessee's second-half possession is as follows; punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game.

Tennessee didn't gain more than nineteen yards on any possession in the second half and didn't run more than six plays on any of those possessions.

9) Myles Garrett must have heard the talk after the Steeler loss comparing him to T.J. Watt and not favorably so.

While Watt is a more consistent player, Garrett's peak games might be better than those of Watt but those don't appear every week.

Garrett had one of those games this week and he just wrecked every Titan in his wake.

At his best, Myles Garrett can be the best pass rusher in the league, he just needs to play that way more often.

10)  Now the Browns will host Baltimore, who were upset in overtime at home by the Colts, who were playing Gardner Minshew at quarterback.

That's a really ugly loss and Baltimore will come to town ready for redemption.
Cleveland needs the win going into their bye week as they will be hosting San Francisco, who looks as strong as any team in the league through the three weeks following the off week.

Cleveland is the only team in the league with four home games in their first five games and at minimum need to be 3-2, so in order to have no pressure against San Francisco, a win against the Ravens is a must.

Baltimore hasn't dazzled in their wins over Houston and Cincinnati and today's loss to Indianapolis is a bad one but they will be ready as they always are for the Browns.

It should be a good one.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Ohio State nudges past Notre Dame 17-14!

     Chip Trayanum burrowed his way into the end zone with one second to play to give the Ohio State Buckeyes a 17-14 win over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in South Bend in a game that will be remembered for a long time by both teams and their fans.

Kyle McCord finished with 240 yards and notched his name into Buckeye history with a final drive that saw him throw for third or fourth down conversions three times.

TreVeyon Henderson finished with 104 yards rushing with sixty-one on a third-quarter touchdown gallop with Emeke Egbuka leading the receivers with seven catches for ninety-six yards.

Ohio State improves to 4-0 and will have next Saturday off before playing currently undefeated Maryland in two weeks,

Olentangy Offerings

1) Jim Ross used to call particularly intense matches in pro wrestling as "one of the most physical battles etc...." and that phrase came to mind watching this game as both teams pounded away at each other with offenses that may not have been terrific but with power.

The hitting was hard and the grit was through the roof, so that's what one loves to see from high-level college football.

2) Ryan Day may have given Buckeye fans what they have been looking for with his post-game comments with NBC's Kathryn Tappen (more on that later) but his play calling again ranged from great to questionable.

His going for it in this first half rather than kicking a field goal made the game-winning drive more stressful than it had to be and I wondered about his play call on 4th and one with a jet sweep with Emeka Egbuka.

Day talked about toughness after the game which I liked but with the game possibly on the line, Day rolled the die with a finesse play.

3) The winning touchdown drive by Kyle McCord was one that no matter how McCord's career plays out will make him a player memorable to Ohio State fans.

McCord's cool demeanor allowed him to convert two third downs, including a third and nineteen to move the ball to the Notre Dame one and a fourth down on the final drive to give OSU the win.

I wouldn't say that McCord has taken away every worry about the offense but he did come through when Ohio State needed him most.

4) The forgotten play might be Kyle McCord hitting Julian Fleming for exactly seven yards on a fourth and seven.

McCord put the ball exactly where he needed to and give Julian Fleming credit for driving forward against the Notre Dame tackler because where Fleming caught the ball, he needed to push past the defender to be assured of reaching the first down line.

5) Some of the reasons that Notre Dame began to wear down the Buckeye defense was the amount of time that the defense was on the field in the second half.

Ohio State had only two possessions in the third quarter and one of those drives lasted only one play when TreVeyon Henderson ran sixty-one yards for a touchdown.

When a physical team like Notre Dame has the ball for that much time, any defense will wear down a bit.

6) Still, the Ohio State defense stood tall against Sam Hartman and looked very good for most of the game.

They didn't force turnovers but for the most part, they made the stops when they needed to (with the exception of the last Irish score) and it is easy to be generally happy for the defense.

7) And the final drive never happens if the defense doesn't step up and stop Notre Dame on five plays shortly after Ohio State was stopped on a fourth and one.

Sam Hartman hit Rico Flores for a twelve-yard gain on first down and Aurdic Estime ran for eleven on the next play, and it wasn't unrealistic to think one more first down could put Ohio State against the wall and two could mean never touching the ball again.

8) Instead, the Buckeyes dropped Sam Hartman for a loss of five, J.T.Tuimolau blew up a Hartman screen pass, almost intercepted the ball, and he would have walked into the end zone then and there for a score before stopping a run play for three yards to force a punt.

9) In the first half, Chip Trayanum was barreling over the Irish, and with a third and goal from the one, Trayanum came out and Miyan Williams came in and was stopped cold.

Ryan Day decided to go for it and Kyle McCord's pass was incomplete, leaving the Buckeyes with nothing to show for a strong drive.

10) My issue with Ryan Day's playcalling in clutch situations is this- all too often the play he calls on third down suits fourth down better and vice versa.

Take the example of number nine, the time to catch the defense off guard when they expect a run and have Kyle McCord throw is on third down and on fourth down, when the defense has to count for any possibility, that's when you slam the ball at them.

11) The short yardage game needs some work, failing on two fourth and one opportunities, and making the Chip Trayanum game-winner much closer than it had to be, especially against what proved to be only ten Irish defenders.

You can bet your Buckeye that Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin are watching the Buckeye struggles in short yardage and taking notes.

12)  Marvin Harrison Jr. injured his ankle in the third quarter but did return to the game after checking out medically.

Harrison did move the chains with a diving catch for nineteen yards on the final drive but I'm glad that Buckeyes have an off week next Saturday to give Harrison some time to hopefully return his ankle to the lineup.

13) Finally, the Ryan Day promo to Kathryn Tappen.

Day was fired up by something former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz had said earlier in the week, picking Notre Dame because Ohio State was always soft in the clutch.

Day got pretty emotional about Holtz's comments and discussed his teams' toughness along with the doubts that some in the media have had on the topic.

Ryan Day hasn't always been easily accepted by the fanbase as someone from outside of Ohio as the head coach and his rant has to be embraced by Buckeye fans.

I understand why he is sensitive to the criticism of the program's perceived toughness and it has to feel good to win a game than came down to toughness to a degree.

14) I really liked the Notre Dame green jersey and like it better than their regular navy blue version.

Wish the Irish would consider using them more often.

15)  All things considered, this wasn't the smoothest game ever or the biggest win but it might rank near the top for Ryan Day, and it might be a win that helps a young team gain confidence in themselves for a road win against a top ten rated team.

How important it eventually becomes will play out over the season but it was a win that Ohio State needed for their state of mind and for the perception of the program.

Boxing Challenge: Zhang Poleaxes Joyce

     Joe Joyce made the case after his loss to Zhilei Zhang that Zhang never hurt him and it was only the swelling of his right eye that cost Joyce a victory as Joyce was wearing Zhang down and would have finished him late as Joyce did to Daniel DuBois and Joseph Parker.

Joyce will be unable to make a similar case after being knocked out by Zhang in the third round of their London rematch with a brutal right hook that sent Joyce to the floor and unable to beat the count.

Joyce looked like he tried some things in the first round to get around the southpaw stance of Zhang but he didn't solve anything and Zhang landed some thudding lefts and the right hook that would end the fight began to be a factor in the second.

Zhang controlled the third round and with seconds remaining, Zhang landed a straight left that led Joyce into a crunching right hook that sent Joyce to the floor to be counted out after the bell rang.

Joyce couldn't be saved by the bell and it didn't matter as he couldn't get up in time anyway, so Zhang is in line for a potential 2024 shot at Oleksandr Usyk, although he called out Tyson Fury after the fight and that is more intriguing to me on matchup alone.

While I could see Usyk outboxing the lumbering Zhang and taking an easy decision, Tyson Fury might be a different story.

It's true, that Fury has the boxing skills to easily outpoint Zhang but I don't think as highly of Fury's chin as many do. While Zhang isn't the puncher that Deontay Wilder is, Zhang has the size and body frame to bang with Fury in the trenches that other Fury opponents have lacked, which may render Fury's tactic of leaning and lying on the opponent to wear them down obsolete.

You would favor Fury, of course, but I must admit I'd give Zhang a chance of pulling the upset, and I would like to see how Fury fares against an opponent of similar height and weight.

As for Joe Joyce, I'd say his future isn't bright at 38, his second loss in a row, and for a fighter that has relied on his chin taking punches to wear the opponent out, being knocked out takes away some of his invulnerability.

I'm not willing to say Joyce is through, it could be that he just can't figure out Zhilei Zhang, and things like that in boxing have happened before but Joyce will need to be matched carefully to rebuild his confidence and there may be some money still with opponents inside the U.K. but one more loss would be the end of the line for Joyce as a plausible contender.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 148 Pts (2) 
Ramon Malpica: 135 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 103 Pts (2)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Boxing Challenge

     The boxing challenge will have only the main events of two cards as the sport waits for next weekend's Canelo Alvarez's title defense against Jermell Charlo.

ESPN+ is live in the afternoon from the UK with a heavyweight rematch that may see the winner gain an eventual championship chance as Zhilei Zhang of China attempts to keep his minor WBO title and more importantly his spot as the eventual WBO mandatory challenger against Joe Joyce, who formerly held that position.

"The Juggernaut" Joyce had looked indestructible in his wins over Daniel DuBois and former WBO champion Joseph Parker as Joyce took the best shots from both fighters and wore them down in late-round knockout victories before losing to Zhang as the heavy favorite.

Zhang hit Joyce with every jab that he threw, closing Joyce's right eye, and forcing a stoppage in round six.

Joyce activated his rematch clause and should he win, he would be back into the slot that was in before the first fight- holding a minor WBO title and back in line as a future mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk.

Should Joyce lose, however, Joyce might never receive a title shot at his age (38), and even with only two losses, Joyce could be headed to heavyweight purgatory.

Zhang had no choice but to take the contractually obligated rematch but Zhang is even older than Joyce at forty, and a defeat would cost him all that his victory had given him.

I had Zhang ahead by one point at the time of the stoppage, so it's not unreasonable to think Joyce could reverse the result but Joyce will have to change tactics to reduce the jab that closed his eye in the first fight.

Joyce has the better chin, as Zhang was hurt badly in his draw with Jerry Forrest, and Joyce is at least the equal if not better puncher, so I can see Joyce winning- if he can make Zhang miss even a little with the jab

It may come down to that one factor- can Joyce avoid the right jab of Zhang?

Over on DAZN on a Matchroom card from Orlando, Florida, the main event will be a junior welterweight ten-rounder with durable former world title challenger Jose Zepeda battling unbeaten prospect Richardson Hitchins, who is taking his leap into contention against world-class opponents.

Zepeda has lost three times with all three defeats against former world champions (Terry Flanagan, Jose Ramirez, and Regis Prograis)  and took a pounding from Prograis, who stopped Zepeda for the first time in his career, in the eleventh to win the vacant WBC title.

Zepeda won an easy decision over journeyman Neeraj Goyat in his only fight since the Prograis loss.

Hitchins has an excellent jab and will base his gameplan around smacking Zepeda from the outside with the jab but Hitchins has fought no one near Zepeda's quality.

Hitchins isn't a big puncher but it will be interesting to see how Zepeda takes punishment after losing in brutal fashion to Regis Prograis.

I lean toward Hitchins here based on style and some concerns about Zepeda possibly being past his best days but Hitchens has never been tested and if Zepeda is in form, this could be an excellent fight.

Boxing Challenge

Heavyweights.12 Rds 
Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce
Ramon Malpica: Zhang KO 5
TRS: Zhang KO 9
Vince Samano: Zhang KO 6

Junior Welterweights  10 Rds
Jose Zepeda vs Richardson Hitchins
All: Hitchins Unanimous Decision

Friday, September 22, 2023


   The PPM is back after a strong week in college but a lesser week on the NFL side.

Last Week: 10-6 
Overall: 31-11

Ohio State over Notre Dame 30-24
Texas Tech over West Virginia 34-24
Boise State over San Diego State 30-21
N.C. State over Virginia 26-17
Oregon State over Washington State 36-32
Georgia Southern over Ball State 29-14
Ohio U. over Bowling Green 17-13
Tennessee over UTSA 32-17
LSU over Arkansas 34-20
Colorado State over Middle Tennessee State 31-26

Games of the Week
Oregon over Colorado 45-17
Utah over UCLA 27-17

Browns over Titans 17-10
Vikings over Chargers 34-31

Games of the Week
Eagles over Buccaneers 31-14
Packers over Saints 24-21


Thursday, September 21, 2023

I Tell Ya Herbie

    We are back for another edition of I Tell Ya Herbie, our weekly bootful of thoughts and notes from the world of college football.

Also, I have gotten one note about the gentleman to the right- Super Toe and I plan on a future post on the long (or short) range kicking toy of the 1970s!

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                           I wouldn't go as far as to say that I am all-in as a believer in the Deion Sanders experience in Boulder with the Colorado Buffaloes but I will say this, no matter if you are rooting for or against the Buffs, they are a fun team to watch.

Colorado's wild double-overtime comeback win over rival Colorado State may have been aided by a meltdown by the Rams but Colorado has been fun to watch win or lose and even though I believe that the wheels are about to come off as Colorado plays Oregon this week and without Travis Hunter, the Buffaloes are still worth watching.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            I'm not sure who Michigan State hires to replace Mel Tucker but that job isn't nearly as attractive as it could have been in the past.

The Spartans will be playing in an even tougher Big Ten next season with the new teams arriving and adding in what seems to be some sort of scandal every few years, Michigan State, while still a very desirable job, may not be what it once was.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            Mel Tucker may not be very smart or at least did a very dumb thing on his phone sex charges but one thing cannot be denied- Michigan State jumped on an opportunity to prove their commitment to the treatment of women in the workplace after their past issues with Larry Nassar in the athletic department but even more important (to them) was having the chance to shed themselves of the ridiculous contract that they signed Tucker to of their own making.

Michigan State signed Tucker to a ridiculous ten-year, ninety-five million dollar contract in 2021 when Tucker won his first eight games in East Lansing that most people thought was a premature extension for much more than a relatively unproven head coach should have been signed for.

Tucker's teams are 10-9 since the extension and it's no secret that Michigan State would have loved a reason to get out from under that contract.

Tucker's behavior may have answered Michigan State's prayers.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            Has the year finally arrived for the mighty SEC to not be the best conference in college football?

While Georgia is ranked first, Alabama appears to be in the midst of a down year, LSU has lost to Florida State in a game that wasn't close, Tennessee was pounded by Florida, the same Florida that was punished by Utah, and other than Missouri's surprising win over Kansas State with a sixty-one-yard field goal at the gun, the league lacks a big non-conference win.

It is possible at this point that both the Pac 12 and Big Ten could be better than the SEC by the end of the year.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                           The Mountain West looks to be the best league in the Group of Five and this past week proved it in losses along with wins as Colorado State almost stunned Colorado in a double overtime loss and Wyoming gave Texas all they wanted in Austin two weeks after the Cowboys upset Texas Tech.

Fresno State shut out Arizona State 29-0 in Tempe, two weeks after beating Purdue on the road, UNLV knocked off SEC member Vanderbilt on the last play of the game, and that is before counting the two usual powers of the league in Boise State and San Diego State.

The Mountain may not grab the G-5 bid to a New Years Bowl but they look to be the best of the group at this stage of the season. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Browns sign Kareem Hunt

  The Cleveland Browns had been rumored to be considering trades for running backs to try to replace Nick Chubb after his catastrophic injury on Monday night.

And while no matter who would be added to the roster, very few could be expected to approach the production that Nick Chubb provided other than maybe holdout Indianapolis runner Jonathan Taylor, and Taylor could be far too expensive for a team that has spent three years on first-round draft picks on DeShaun Watson.

The Los Angeles Rams have reportedly shopped Cam Akers around the league but Akers's injury history and spotty production would have been a risk for more than a late-round pick.

Akers would be traded with a 2025 seventh-rounder to Minnesota for a 2025 sixth-round later in the day.

But the back that made the most sense was living in the area, knew the offensive system, and would cost the Browns money instead of draft picks, so Cleveland signed veteran Kareem Hunt to a contract for the remainder of the season for what could be up to four million.

Hunt rushed for 468 yards and caught thirty-five passes last season as the primary support for Nick Chubb and he'll be backing up Jerome Ford and possibly Pierre Strong on the backfield depth chart.

Hunt was never the back for the Browns that he had been in Kansas City but he was a solid performer and on a team with Nick Chubb, Hunt was never going to be given the carries that he did as a Chief to match those statistics.

I would say this about the signing, if the Browns and their fans are realistic about their expectations for Kareem Hunt, this could help the team in their time of need.

At 28, Hunt still runs with power and breaks tackles well with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, so Hunt isn't washed up by any means but he doesn't have the speed that he once did and he has never been a runner that has been known for his speed.

Kareem Hunt is a signing that builds the depth behind Jerome Ford and may be able to allow Ford to take the occasional breather on the sidelines.

However, should Hunt be placed in the lineup for an extended period of time in the event of a Ford injury, I'm not sure how long Hunt would hold up or how effective he might be as a full-time back.

Hunt may not be a high-reward signing but under the circumstances, he is at least low-risk and a popular choice with the fan base.

Hopefully, the Browns will have the luxury of parceling out his snaps and will not have to hope that Hunt can carry the load as an every-down player.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Browns lose Nick Chubb in Steeler loss

   The Cleveland Browns defense did its job and other than one play deserved to win.

Instead, the Browns received awful play from most of their offense, handed Pittsburgh two of their three touchdowns, and even worse, looks to have lost Nick Chubb for the season to a devastating knee injury in a 26-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Nick Chubb rushed for sixty-four yards on ten carries before his knee injury and the Browns received 106 yards with a receiving touchdown from his replacement Jerome Ford.

DeShaun Watson finished the game at a mediocre twenty-two of forty for 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Cleveland falls to 1-1 with the loss and will host the Tennessee Titans next week in Cleveland.

Brownie Bits

1) Before I get into the game and the many criticisms, I don't always feel bad for players when they are injured. 

Of course, I don't wish for them to be injured but injuries are part of the game and most players are paid well to play.

However, Nick Chubb is a player that does everything right.

Chubb plays hard, leaves all on the field, is a team player, and you hear nothing negative about him off the field.

He's exactly the type of player that you want representing your team and to suffer an injury to the same knee that needed major reconstruction at Georgia at minimum makes him unlikely to return in a similar manner as he has performed thus far in his career, well I feel bad for Nick Chubb and wish him the best in his recovery.

He deserves all the thoughts that he's been receiving all night.

2) Now the Browns have claimed to be "All In" this season, should the Browns consider trading for Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor?

Depends on the cost as the Browns have the previous two drafts and next year's first-rounder gone to Houston for DeShaun Watson and would have to move their 2025 first-rounder.

Can Cleveland afford to lose four first-round picks in a row?

3) Jerome Ford played very well in replacing Nick Chubb but he didn't look great in short yardage and there is only Pierre Strong behind Ford.

Could the Browns make an overture to Kareem Hunt, who is still available, it would make sense but Hunt and the Browns didn't part on great terms it seems.

4) DeShaun Watson wasn't good.


I won't fault Watson for either of Pittsburgh's defensive touchdowns as Harrison Bryant should have caught the ball that ricocheted to Alex Highsmith on the first play of the game and Watson was crunched from the blind side and never saw Highsmith coming on the play that decided the game as T.J. Watt grabbed the loose ball and scored the winning touchdown.

5) But otherwise, I saw very little to get excited about other than a few good throws and there weren't more than a smattering of those.

Watson's inaccuracy was almost Mayfeldesque and he never seemed comfortable all evening.

I'm not sure if the problem is DeShaun Watson or his fit into Kevin Stefanski's system or both but one thing is for sure- If this is the player that the Browns are paying sixty-five million in each of the next two seasons and mortgaged the franchises draft picks for, someone is going to pay with their job and it better be the whole damn bunch.

Not only one of DePodesta, Berry, and Stefanski- ALL of them.

6) While I'm running out of patience as some continue to excuse Watson's play last season and this, the one break that I can give him is the offensive line has been unable to protect him.

Andrew Berry has invested big money into Watson's protection and while Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller were fine and rookie Dawand Jones was decent enough for his first pro start against T.J. Watt, Jedric Wills was terrible and seemed to give up after he was beaten and Ethan Pocic was called twice for holding penalties.

7) Considering the money the Browns are paying out, even a strong pass-rushing team like Pittsburgh shouldn't have collected six sacks, and without Watson's mobility, the total could have been in double digits.

From what I saw against Pittsburgh, a concrete statue of Bob's Big Boy might be a better option at left tackle than Jedric Wills.

8) Amari Cooper deserves kudos for his seven catches for ninety yards considering that he was playing with a groin injury that appeared to have kept him out of the lineup as late as Monday afternoon.

Cooper made a key catch in the fourth quarter that had Watson not fumbled on the drive, might have been the talk of Cleveland.

Not bad from a guy that wasn't going to play.

9) The Cleveland defense gave the Browns every chance to win this game.

Other than the blown coverage on a 75-yard touchdown by George Pickens (and boy am I glad Andrew Berry was scared off by his "character" questions), you could not ask for more than the defense did in this game.

10) The Pickens score was the only touchdown allowed by the defense and they confused Kenny Pickett throughout the game.

11) I have one thing that I cling to from this game.

Pittsburgh has tied their future to Kenny Pickett and he looks pretty pedestrian to me as the Steelers quarterback for the next few years at least.

I'm pretty sure on this one, Pittsburgh isn't going to be able to win every game like they did this one, and sooner or later, this will bite the Steelers.

Watching the Browns and their parade of below-average quarterbacks, I like to think I know what a bad quarterback looks like, Pittsburgh may have one.

12) Grant Delpit intercepted a pass (although he fumbled it out of bounds) and continued his strong play and the secondary played well all around other than the one big play.

13) I could add even more and maybe I will later in the week but the Browns season looks to be in big trouble at 1-1 when they could have jumped to a large advantage over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

With a questionable quarterback, their top offensive weapon out for the year, little depth behind him, and an expensive offensive line that is offering the type of pass protection that one would expect from security at the local Dollar Tree, the Browns will play their next three games at home against Tennessee, Baltimore, and San Francisco.

Any less than winning two of those three games and the Browns season could be behind the eight-ball with twelve games to go.

This loss was that bad...

Monday, September 18, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Teraji, Nakatani retain titles

   Early Monday morning in the United States on ESPN+, two champions retained their titles in Tokyo, Japan against solid but overmatched opposition.

In the main event, Kenshiro Teraji kept his WBA and WBC junior flyweight titles with a ninth-round knockout of former strawweight and light flyweight champion Hekkie Budler.

Budler did reasonably well in the early going as he was very aggressive and managed to back Teraji up in the first two rounds.

Teraji started to turn the tide in the third when his counters started to find their mark against the rushes of Budler, who never stopped coming forward but was less effective by the round and was hampered by a damaged right eye

Teraji stung Budler late in the ninth with a strong right and jumped on the hurt veteran along the ropes, throwing punches until Budler appeared almost ready to go down with the referee ending the fight to allow the brave former champion to end the fight on his feet.

Teraji mentioned and is expected to make a unification match next with WBO champion Jonathan Gonzalez, which was scheduled for earlier this year with Gonzalez falling out of the fight when he caught pneumonia two weeks before the fight.

In the co-feature, Junto Nakatani made a successful first defense of his WBO junior bantamweight title with a unanimous decision win over veteran Argi Cortes.

Cortes gave WBC champion and future Hall of Famer Juan Francisco Estrada a difficult fight in 2022 but he struggled against the taller Nakatani, who knocked Cortes down twice in the fifth round and once in the ninth with bodywork.

Give Cortes credit for hanging tough enough to last the distance and battling through several rocky periods but Nakatani was easily the winner by scores of  119-106 (X 2) and 118-107.

I scored Nakatani a 119-106 winner as well.

Rumors are flying of a possible unification match between Estrada and WBA champion Kazuto Ioka and Nakatani would be interested in the winner, especially if Ioka would emerge with two titles as Ioka held the same WBO title that Nakatani holds but gave it up to face then-WBA champion Joshua Franco in a rematch of a 2021 draw rather than face Nakatani in what would draw a large gate in Japan.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:  146 Pts (3)
Ramon Malpica: 133 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 101 Pts (3)  

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Zepeda rolls over Gesta

   The Saturday main event from Golden Boy/DAZN from Commerce, California listed lightweight contender William Zepeda as a prohibitive favorite over Mercito Gesta in their twelve-round battle.

Prohibitive may have been too close to describe Zepeda's destructive domination as he backed Gesta up from the opening bell, firing both quantity and quality punches to the head and body with Gesta often trapped along the ropes, reserved to only throw an occasional punch to try to stave off the Zepeda attack.

Those attempts had the success of a fly against a window- it may connect but it's not hurting the window.

And midway through the sixth round, Gesta's corner decided that they had seen enough and gave their man an honorable surrender after five and a half rounds of a brutal mismatch that proved only that Zepeda is ready to face the best of the division to see how he sizes up against those at the top.

The problem for Zepeda is that Golden Boy doesn't have a top-level lightweight to face Zepeda to see how good he is unless Ryan Garcia could be convinced to return to lightweight, which is unlikely due to Garcia's issues making 135 pounds and Zepeda being the definition of high risk, low reward for Garcia, who is coming back from his first loss.

Zepeda is ranked second by the WBA but should Devin Haney give up that tile, Gervonta Davis will likely be promoted from minor champion and defend against the WBA number one contender Isaac Cruz in a rematch of their 2021 fight.

The WBC has Zepeda ranked fifth and he was offered a chance at Shakur Stevenson for the vacant title but he was unavailable as he had the Gesta fight signed that took precedence.

In the IBF rankings, Zepeda is sixth ( the IBF currently lacks a number one) but each of the contenders ahead of him are affiliated elsewhere, George Kambosos and Vasyl Lomachenko (Top Rank) Cruz (PBC), and Maxi Hughes (Matchroom).

The WBO ranks Zepeda seventh behind Lomachenko, Cruz, Stevenson, Denys Baranchyk, Angel Fierro, and Frank Martin.

I don't know if Baranchyk has an American promoter, Martin is with PBC, and Fierro is with Matchroom, so maybe DAZN's involvement with Golden Boy and Matchroom could help make an exciting All-Mexico battle that I would favor Zepeda to win.

Zepeda overwhelmed Gesta with volume and I wonder how effective he would be against the division's best.

Zepeda has been knocked down in the past and while I wouldn't say that his chin is vulnerable, I would say that I wonder how his chin will hold up against better fighters than he has been fighting in his career.

One thing that I will say about William Zepeda is this- whenever he receives the chance against a top opponent, Zepeda is going to leave everything in the ring.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:  143 Pts (1)
Ramon Malpica: 131 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 98 Pts (1)  

Ohio State crunches Western Kentucky

   Kyle McCord celebrated his first start as the designated first-team quarterback by throwing three touchdown passes as the Ohio State Buckeyes blew out the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 63-10 at Ohio Stadium.

Marvin Harrison Jr. caught five passes for one hundred twenty-six yards, one of the catches a seventy-five-yard touchdown and Emeka Egbuka caught two touchdowns out of his four scores.

TreVeyon Henderson rushed for eighty-eight yards with two touchdowns and the Buckeye defense scored two touchdowns on their side of the ball.

Ohio State improves to 3-0 and will travel to Notre Dame next Saturday night for their first season test against the Fighting Irish.

Olentangy Offerings

1)  Ryan Day announced earlier in the week that Kyle McCord had finally won the starting quarterback job over Devin Brown and the decision seemed to allow McCord to relax a bit.

McCord completed nineteen of twenty-three passes for over three hundred yards and three touchdowns and for the first time this season, looked comfortable and poised in the pocket.

2) McCord also played more than you would expect in a non-conference pummeling but that was more to get McCord extra snaps, which carries the risk of injury.

However, getting a quarterback who hasn't played that much in three years as many snaps as you can before the biggest game of the year to date is worth that risk.

3) Marvin Harrison Jr.'s seventy-five-yard touchdown catch and run showed why the numbers don't always matter and why he is still the nation's best wide receiver.

Give McCord credit for the throw but Harrison had five yards on the defensive back and it was just flawless how he shifted gears.

4) The offensive line protected Kyle McCord and later Devin Brown well in the game and the Hilltoppers finished with just one sack on the afternoon.

5) The Buckeyes scored thirty-five points in the second quarter and few teams can match that output but the thing that I liked best was getting the ball back with under a minute to go in the first half with Ryan Day throwing the ball to go for the throat of the Hilltoppers, ending with a fourteen-yard strike to Emeka Egbuka.

Day can be such a strong playcaller but tends to almost show mercy at times.

When Day is aggressive, Ohio State is tough to defeat!

6) Ohio State forced four turnovers, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries and while Western Kentucky isn't a top team, they do move the ball and rank among the best offensive teams among the Group of Five level, which is very encouraging as far as my hopes for the defense.

7) I loved the physical play from the linebackers and secondary!

Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock both delivered jarring hits that forced Western Kentucky fumbles that Ohio State recovered with Burke's hit resulting in a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Tyleik Williams.

8) TreVeyon Henderson has often been criticized for running "soft" but I have seen a difference this year with a willingness to put his shoulder down a bit more.

Perhaps that is due to the competition being smaller but Henderson is gaining a bit of physicality to his game, hope the trend continues.

9) The defensive breakout player so far has been defensive tackle Tyleik Williams, who made more impact than his fumble recovery in the end zone.

Williams finished with a sack, and a tackle for loss, and was in on seven tackles on the afternoon.

Williams is stuffing the run well and adding a pass rush up the middle from the interior line.

10) And now the preliminaries are over, it's on to Notre Dame and the conference schedule and even though the opener against Indiana is a league game, the feeling is that the real season starts next week in South Bend.

Things appear to be rounding into shape a bit but we will know far more after next Saturday!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Lopez fends off Gonzalez

  In Corpus Christi, Texas (an underrated fight town by the way), Luis Alberto Lopez fended off the challenge of Joet Gonzalez to retain his IBF featherweight title by a unanimous decision

The scorecards were wider than I thought Gonzalez deserved at 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112, although I gave Lopez the narrow edge at 115-113.

Lopez started faster, putting many of the early rounds in the bank and causing bruising around both of the eyes of Gonzalez with sharper punches than those of the challenger.

Gonzalez did make a late charge to make the fight closer, winning four of the final five rounds but Lopez's earlier work was enough to win on my card and the fight clearly wasn't in question on the official slates.

I feel bad for Gonzalez, who was making his third and likely final try at a world title unless he works his way back to a title chance in the future and he may be doomed to a fate of being good enough to be a solid top ten boxer but missing that little something that puts him over the top to grab a championship.

Although let's be honest, Gonzalez had this shot fall into his lap being a Top Rank fighter at a time when Top Rank has two of the four featherweight champions in Lopez and WBO boss Robiesy Ramirez and looking for opponents in the 126-pound division.

As for Lopez, who defended his title for the second time, his mandatory isn't due yet and he may have a choice in unification fights with Ramirez and his WBO belt as a fellow Top Rank fighter and while WBA champion Leigh Wood and his challenger next month, former IBF champion Josh Warrington, are signed with Matchroom, the companies worked together before when Lopez dethroned Warrington last year, Lopez is known in the UK after his wins over Warrington and Michael Conlan, and should Warrington win, a rematch would be very viable.

Should Wood keep his title, Wood vs. Lopez would make sense but lacks the natural storyline of Lopez-Warrington II.

An interesting portion of the Top Rank/ESPN+ card was Timothy Bradley's trip to a judging seminar and Bradley stated- damage doesn't count in scoring pro boxing.

And it's not supposed to but unless you see something occur such as a headbutt for example, damage is accomplished through punches and it is not a reach to say that is fairly easy to see.

However, some fighters bruise up more than others and it's not always a fair way to judge who won or lost a fight but it can sway fans that don't watch the entire fight or watch the match closely and influence their thoughts on who deserved the win.

I don't think I learned anything that I didn't know from Bradley's visit but it did make me think a little about the above statement and perhaps that has a lot to do with the constant disagreements with jidgeing by fans.

The fight may be the same but the judges and the fans are looking at the fight from two different aspects of what is and isn't important.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 142 Pts (1) 
Ramon Malpica: 129 Pts (1)
Vince Samano: 97 Pts (1)

Friday, September 15, 2023


  The PPM returns after a strong week two with another football weekend.

Last Week: 13-3
Overall: 21-5

Ohio State over Western Kentucky 45-20
Texas Tech over Tarleton State 43-14
Boise State over North Dakota 24-10
UTSA over Army 21-13
Wisconsin over Georgia Southern 38-21
N.C. State over VMI 39-10
Oregon State over San Diego State 30-21
Middle Tennessee State over Murray State 31-17
Michigan over Bowling Green 41-10
Arkansas over BYU 24-21

Games of the Week
West Virginia over Pitt 30-28
North Carolina over Minnesota 43-18

Browns over Steelers 24-14
Chargers over Titans 30-17

Games of the Week
Lions over Seahawks 28-17
Bengals over Ravens 27-21

Boxing Challenge

 The boxing challenge will be spread out over three days this week with bouts on Friday, Saturday, and Monday morning with three world titles and a top contender in action. 

Friday night on ESPN will be in Corpus Christi, Texas for Luis Alberto Lopez's defense of his IBF featherweight title against Joet Gonzalez.

Lopez won his world title on the road in England with a majority decision win over Josh Warrington in 2002 and defended it in May with another road victory, stopping Michael Conlan in the fifth round in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Gonzalez won his first twenty-three fights before being dominated by Shakur Stevenson in 2019 for the vacant WBO featherweight title and again by Emmanuel Navarrete in 2021 for the same title.

Both losses were by unanimous decision, so Gonzalez's chin is steady and his exciting 2022 split decision loss to Isaac Dogboe could have been given to either man but Gonzalez might be in his last try for a world title as he only has a decision win over Enrique Vivas in April since losing to Dogboe.

Saturday night, Golden Boy and DAZN are in Commerce, California with their exciting lightweight contender William Zepeda as he battles veteran Mercito Gesta in a twelve-rounder.

Both men have decisioned former junior lightweight champion Joseph Diaz in the last year but Zepeda looks to be a possible star and at least a top-notch action fighter at worst.

Gesta's win over Diaz was his second win in his two-fight comeback after taking three years off from boxing and while Gesta is a solid underdog, he is expected to make Zepeda work for the win and it should be an action fight.

ESPN+ takes back the spotlight Monday morning from Tokyo with two world title fights.

In the main event, Kenshiro Teraji will defend his WBA and WBC junior flyweight titles against former strawweight and WBA and IBF light flyweight king Hekkie Budler of South Africa.

Teraji has looked unstoppable in his three fights since his only loss to Masamichi Yabuki, which he immediately avenged with a third-round knockout to regain the WBC title that he lost to Yabuki.

Teraji then added the WBA title of countryman Hiroto Kyoguchi when Terajo stopped Kyoguchi in seven and Budler accepted a payment to step aside so Teraji could attempt to add another title in a unification fight against WBO boss Jonathan Gonzalez in April.

Gonzalez dropped out with an illness and Terajo stopped late replacement Anthony Olascuaga in nine rounds. 

Budler has won three straight since losing his titles to Hiroto Kyoguchi by tenth-round knockout in 2018 with the biggest win over former WBO champion Elwin Soto in Soto's native Mexico.

The co-feature will pit Junto Nakatani in the first defense of his WBO junior bantamweight title against Argi Cortes.

Nakatani defended the WBO flyweight title twice before moving up to win the vacant junior bantamweight title with a final-round knockout over a game Andrew Moloney of Australia to stamp him as a star on American television.

Cortes is best known for his surprisingly tough effort against Juan Francisco Estrada in losing a unanimous decision last year.

Boxing Challenge

IBF Featherweight Title. 12 Rds 
Luis Alberto Lopez vs. Joet Gonzalez
Ramon Malpica; Lopez KO 10
TRS: Lopez KO 6
Vince Samano: Lopez KO 8

Lightweights. 12 Rds
William Zepeda vs. Mercito Gesta
R.L:  Zepeda KO 9
TRS and V.S: Zepeda Unanimous Decision

WBA/WBC Light Flyweight Titles. 12 Rds
Kenshiro Teraji vs. Hekkie Budler
R.L: Teraji Unanimous Decision
TRS: Teraji KO 11
V.S: Teraji KO 7

WBO Junior Bantamweight Title. 12 Rds
Junto Nakatani vs. Argi Cortes
R.L: Nakatani KO 6
TRS: Nakatani KO 10
V.S: Nakatani KO 8


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Road Trip: Fayetteville

     The trip back was scheduled to be a lazy day of just driving around and seeing what turned up to be worth a stop.

We did a lot of driving around stopping here and there, with a stop at a Walmart that was all grocery items, which I didn't know existed!

Most of the visits were misses except one but I was able to find another Partridge Family item for Rachel- with two bonuses.

Our last stop in Fayetteville before the stadium was The Shops at 213 Hay Street and I found an assortment of old basketball programs all in a plastic bag for five dollars.

I'm not sure that I would have bought them individually but all for five bucks, well, I couldn't resist.

They included a 1951 program from the University of Chicago, a 1955 program for a game between California and Santa Clara, and media guides from the early seventies from Duquesne and Texas.

There also was a Partridge Family album among a box of albums lying on the floor, and while I look for Partridge albums for Rachel, they are easier to find than single 45s such as I found for her in Mount Airy.

However, when I picked the album up to examine it, a Partridge Christmas card fell out and that clinched the purchase for Rachel's collection but when I placed the card back into the album cover, another item was there, a book cover of David Cassidy.

Now for younger readers (and Cherie did have to explain just what a book cover was and how it was used as Rachel had no idea), a book cover is what was used in school to "cover" textbooks for your use for the school year in order to save some of the wear and tear that textbooks would receive and therefore protect them to be used for many years rather than one or two.

Our afternoon food choice was Smithfield's BBQ in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

Yes, named after the famous ham company located in North Carolina, Smithfield's has forty locations, most in North Carolina with a few in South Carolina, and I had stopped at one when I went to Jacksonville with Ryan in 2022.

I like the vinegar-based sauce that Smithfield uses and the cashier was very helpful with their various sauces she even said "I can tell you all aren't from around here from the way you talk!"

The sauce was used on both my sandwich of pulled chicken and cole slaw and if you see a Smithfield's, give them a try.

I've heard for years about the struggles of Fayetteville and their city from multiple persons and minor league baseball had been there before with the South Atlantic League's Fayetteville Generals and the renamed Cape Fear Crocs from 1987-2000.

The franchise wasn't one of the stronger teams as far as attendance and they were purchased and moved to New Jersey as the Lakewood Blue Claws but the decision was made for (ahem) a downtown ballpark that will help revitalize... You know the rest.

The Woodpeckers were created in 2019 playing in the Carolina League for the previous two seasons as the Buies Creek Astros while Segra Field was being built.

After the canceled Covid season of 2020 and MLB taking over the minors, the Woodpeckers were moved to the SAL for 2021 and Segra Field once again completed North Carolina for seeing every affiliated stadium for my list.

The good news for Fayetteville is that they have built a very nice stadium and one that I preferred on a facility basis over Kannapolis, which I had visited the night before.

The sightlines are terrific, the concourse is very wide, and the team shop is large, filled with various items, I liked it better than Kannapolis, which had a far smaller shop with limited offerings compared to the Woodpeckers.

The employees were incredibly helpful at various points inside the park and should there have been a need, security was available yet not obtrusive either.

The crowd was very small, even for a Wednesday, and I wonder if the Woodpecker's attendance isn't hasn't reached its peak already.

I wish I could say the same for outside the park.

I've never been to a city its size ( 208,000) with the number of let's say undesirables around the city and the ballpark and once you move a block from the ballpark, it gets even worse.

The parking is distant from the stadium and honestly, I wasn't thrilled leaving it where it was parked.

A large building that seemed to be part of the renewal project looked mostly vacant to me (this could be due to the time and that I only saw the building from one view) and other than a small roundabout near our parking area, I didn't see anything else that was developing.

What appears to be a cautionary tale for Hagerstown for their new stadium opening next year is the results in Fayetteville from admittedly a one-day sample, and one that would be interesting to keep an eye on in the future.

The drive home would see lots of late-night traffic on the always wonderful I-95 due to construction and end the baseball road trip season with a whimper but despite its small size, I enjoyed my trips as always.

Next year is already in the planning with trips to New England to Portland, Maine, and Manchester New Hampshire and Tennessee to visit our friend Corey White for the Tennessee Smokies' final season in Sevierville before their return to their former home (with a new stadium) in Knoxville. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Cavaliers bring back Tristan Thompson

  The Cleveland Cavaliers brought back a popular player to serve as a backup center as the Cavaliers signed Tristan Thompson to a one-year contract at the veteran's minimum of 3.2 million dollars.

The contract is not fully guaranteed, although it would become guaranteed if Thompson is still on Cleveland's roster on January 7th. 

The 6'9 Thompson was selected fourth overall by Cleveland in 2011 and would play nine seasons by Lake Erie, playing for all four Eastern Conference championship teams and the Cavaliers World Championship team in 2015-16.

Thompson has played for five teams since leaving Cleveland in 2020 and didn't play at all last season until signing with the Lakers last April, where he played in six playoff games, averaging five minutes of playing time with points and rebounds of under two points a game.

Thompson owns career averages of nine points and eight rebounds a game and will fill the backup position that Robin Lopez was used in last season.

Thompson will turn 33 near the end of the season and hasn't played a full season since he left Cleveland, playing 54 and 57 games in the two seasons before last season's playoff cameo with the Lakers.

I don't know what Thompson has left but he should at least equal Lopez's output (three points and one rebound in 37 games averaging eight minutes a game) and likely play a bit more for the Cavaliers.

Thompson should add a little veteran presence and an occasional high-energy boost off the bench (similar to Anderson Varejao) should the team not play him too many minutes on aging legs.

Remember that Thompson played just one college season and players that come out really early (high school or one year of college) tend to have a lot of wear on them and can age very quickly.

I don't think that signing Tristan Thompson is going to mean a lot in the big picture as a big man far down the bench but signings like this are good for fans of the team to see a fan favorite winding down their career in a role that isn't a key one.

Veterans like Thompson can help younger players like Evan Mobley by teaching the game, showing how to deal with off-the-floor distractions ( although Thompson might not be the guy to teach that with his experience with the Kardashians), and since Thompson knows and likes the city, he can help with where to go and not go in the area.

I'm okay with this mainly because the Cavaliers won't be asking much from a veteran that's past his prime and someone would have to be in that slot, so why not a popular player at a low cost? 

Browns lose Jack Conklin for season

  It was expected that the Cleveland Browns were going to lose starting right tackle Jack Conklin for the remainder of the season after his injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener and the news didn't bring a pleasant surprise as Conklin will miss the season with a torn ACL and MCL.

Conklin signed a four-year contract extension in the off-season and even though it was unlikely that Conklin would be around for all four seasons, the Browns certainly didn't expect to have Conklin play less than one game.

Conklin played fourteen games last season after returning from an injured Patella Tendon in the twelfth game of the 2021 season.

Cleveland will start fourth-round draft pick Dawand Jones in the spot vacated by Conklin and hope that the learning curve isn't too steep for the Ohio State rookie.

Jones played well against the Bengals in pass protection and is very nimble for a man his size (6'8 375 pounds) but will need to step up his game in the run-blocking department.

The Browns moved veteran Michael Dunn to the active roster from the practice squad and Dunn is a solid reserve lineman that would have made the roster for many teams out of camp, so while Dunn isn't as good as the players in front of him, the definition of depth is to have as many people as possible that are capable if they are needed to play.

Seldom are backup players the same level as the player they are replacing but the key is to lose as little as possible from the starter.

Dunn's best position is guard but he can play tackle in a pinch and 2022 fourth-round draftee James Hudson will be the main backup for Jones (and left tackle Jedric Wills) and Hudson will likely see a few snaps here and there when needed.

Another player to remember is former first-rounder Alex Leatherwood, who has struggled since his 2021 selection by the Raiders and was signed to the practice squad.

I think Bill Callahan may be the best offensive line coach in the game and I would be anxious to see if Callahan's expertise can turn around a player that was thought to be extremely talented when he entered the league from Alabama. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

I Tell Ya Herbie

     Time for more college football thoughts with "I Tell Ya Herbie", our weekly ramble on various topics in college football.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                           I'm not sure I see the hand-wringing on the rule changes in an attempt to shorten college games which really do last much longer than their professional counterparts but while the changes haven't made a big difference in game times, there has been one change that wasn't anticipated.

Undermanned teams are attempting to milk the clock in an effort to shorten the game and improve their chances of winning.

There is nothing wrong with that at all and I even applaud those coaches for giving their teams their best chance to win.

I've said a million times- when you are undermanned, you either play super conservative, run the clock and hope for some breaks or throw everything at the wall- anything in between is doomed to fail but it's been boring football often and it isn't solving the problem that it was created to solve.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            Most of the chatter after Miami's win over Texas A&M was about the status of the contract that now looks to be the most questionable in the game (Pending Mel Tucker at Michigan State) of the Aggies with Jimbo Fisher but give the Hurricanes some credit as well for fortitude in victory.

In recent years, Miami had tended to fold their tent once things turned against them, and in the first half, Texas A&M blocked a punt and recovered a fumble on a punt with the Aggies scoring on both chances.

Jacolby George was the player who muffed the punt but would catch three touchdowns in the second half and the special teams that were so bad in the first half would return a kickoff for a score in the second in the 48-33 victory.

In a season that already is stuffed with schools that are supposedly returning to past prominence, I'm not ready to give Miami that credit yet- BUT playing in the ACC and should they survive October games on consecutive Saturdays at North Carolina and home against suddenly questionable Clemson, Miami could be 9-0 entering Tallahassee for what could be an undefeated old school showdown against the Seminoles.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                           I'm a Big Ten guy and I rarely root against Wisconsin but I had to feel good for Washington State's upset of the Badgers in Pullman.

The constant churning of conference realignment appears to have doomed Washington State and Oregon State to an eventual fall to the Group of Five status unless their lawsuit to hold the Pac 12 name and dollars wins and forces much of the Mountain West to join the "new" Pac 12 eventually.

Even that may not matter if the playoff committee decides under the circumstances to drop from six automatic bids to the new playoff next season to five but unless they are playing your team, it will be very hard for any college fan to root against either the Cougars or the Beavers this season.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            There won't be any Group of Five threatening to be a playoff buster this season as after two weeks of play there isn't one ranked G-5 team.

It's going to be very interesting to see who emerges with the New Year's Day appearance with  San Diego State and Tulane with a defeat, Boise State with two, and the loss of Cincinnati, BYU, and Central Florida to the Big 12.

I'm even going to make an early season prediction- I think the Sun Belt will earn their first automatic bid to a New Year's Day bowl and only such a deep league could cost that bid.

Marshall may be the league's best team but will play Virginia Tech and N.C. State in two of the next three weeks, Appalachian State lost in double overtime to a ranked North Carolina team on the road, Georgia Southern dumped UAB and if they could pull over a massive upset in Madison against Wisconsin this Saturday would be in the hunt.

Add James Madison, who beat Virginia last week, if they are deemed eligible by the NCAA and the Sun Belt has several contenders, if only they don't knock each other off!  

Monday, September 11, 2023

Buckeyes pound Youngstown 35-7

   Kyle McCord threw three touchdown passes to lead Ohio State to a 35-7 home victory over Youngstown State.

Marvin Harrison Jr. caught seven passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns with Emeke Egbuka catching five tosses for ninety-four yards and a score to lead the offense.

Ohio State will host Western Kentucky next week in their final tuneup before Notre Dame.

This will be a little shorter than usual as I did miss some of the second half due to work issues.
Olentangy Offerings

1) Kyle McCord looked better than he did against Indiana and to me, clearly established himself as the starting quarterback.

McCord throws a pretty pass and while he still needs to show what he can do against better teams, I think McCord is the best option under center.

2) I was happy to see Devin Brown receive some playing time but Brown finished seven of thirteen passing and lost a fumble.

Brown's skills and style make me think that he might have been a better fit in an Urban Meyer offense rather than a Ryan Day version.

3) I also hate Brown being number 33.

While I like the respect for picking 33 to honor Sammy Baugh, I always think it's a trick play from the fullback when I instantly see 33.

4) Twenty-five percent of the offense moved through Marvin Harrison and Emeka Egbuka, which was a radical change from the Indiana game, but I think the Buckeyes are looking for a happy medium from the two games.

5) I expected the pass rush to explode against the Penguins and it didn't finishing with two sacks.

That will have to improve as the season progresses.

Bengals Burrowed Under-Browns win Opener!

    The Cincinnati Bengals may have returned Joe Burrow in time for the league opener in Cleveland against the Browns. Still, it did them little good against their defense as the Cleveland defense bullied the Bengals in a 24-3 win in Cleveland!

Nick Chubb ran for 106 yards while DeShaun Watson ran for one score and threw another to Harrison Bryant for the Browns two touchdowns.

Cleveland is 1-0 and will travel to 0-1 Pittsburgh next Monday night.

Brownie Bits

1) Cleveland only finished with two sacks of Joe Burrow but the Browns pass rush was consistently forcing Burrow to throw the ball before he wished and the Cincinnati offense was out of sync all game.

Cleveland has to be pleased with the results of their pass rush and I think it was the number one factor in their win.

2) Burrow threw for a career-low eighty-two yards and even though the Browns didn't intercept Burrow, the play of the defense didn't allow Burrow to regain the chemistry with even his returning players.

Burrow's preseason absence likely contributed to some of the struggles but the defense of Cleveland seemed to be a larger factor.

3) I've been a Grant Delpit believer since the Browns drafted him and Delpit has disappointed me at times but gave me just enough hope to keep me on the hook.

Delpit led the team in tackles against the Bengals and seemed to be in on every play.

It's a long season but I'm encouraged that this is the breakout year for Grant Delpit.

4) I think DeShaun Watson was okay, not great and you still have to hope the Browns will receive better play when you consider what the Browns paid for him but he avoided the big mistake and he was good enough to win on a bad weather day,.

5) The weather was rotten with a hard rain falling throughout the game and that likely contributed to neither quarterback producing big statistics on the day.

6) The Browns did have some problems protecting DeShaun Watson at times as the Bengals sacked Watson three times and had success rushing him.

I wouldn't say I'm concerned yet but considering the investment in the offensive line, I will be paying attention to the protection next Monday in Pittsburgh.

7) The offensive line might have taken a severe hit already as tackle Jack Conklin was carted off the field by cart and Kevin Stefanski said "it doesn't look good" for Conklin after the game.

The fourth-quarter injury put a damper on the win and fourth-round draft choice Dawand Jones finished the game in Conklin's place.

8) Nick Chubb was his usual dependable self finishing with over one hundred yards and was the one offensive player that could be counted by either team.

Chubb averaged 5.9 yards a carry on his eighteen carries.

9) The Bengals converted just two of thirteen chances on third downs and only converted six first downs all day. 

10) Tee Higgins may be the Bengals number two receiver but he's one of the best number two's in the league, yet the Browns held him without a catch in eight targets.

11) The Browns defense looked great, the offense not so great and the weather likely helped and hurt both sides of the ball.

Either way, it's a big win on a sloppy day and an interdivisional win on a day where the Ravens lost a key contributor for the year in J.K. Dobbins and Pittsburgh was pounded at home, a win in the opener could be big at the end of the year.

Saturday, September 9, 2023


     We return to the PPM after a college kickoff weekend and now we move on to the NFL season to pair with the collegiate version.

Last Week: 8-2

Ohio State over Youngstown State 60-3
Oregon over Texas Tech 37-30
Boise State over Central Florida 40-34
Notre Dame over N.C. State 27-17
Bowling Green over Eastern Illinois 30-17
UTSA over Texas State 24-17
Arkansas over Kent State 45-20
Missouri over Middle Tennessee State 30-21
Oregon State over UC Davis 52-7
Georgia Southern over UAB 28-24

Games of the Week
Alabama over Texas 30-24
Ole Miss over Tulane 31-21

Browns over Bengals 24-21
Chargers over Dolphins 30-27

Games of the Week
49ers over Steelers 24-17
Bills over Jets 34-24

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

I tell Ya, Herbie

    It's time for I Tell Ya, Herbie, which is a weekly post- filled with notes from the previous weekend in college football.

I make no promises of being able to do this every week, although that is my intent.

I loved writing "Herbie" two or three years ago when I started it and I just didn't have the time last season but I really want to do it regularly this year.

I Tell Ya Herbie: 

                            I was surprised by Deion Sanders and his Colorado Buffaloes' upset in Fort Worth over the TCU Horned Frogs but I'm not ready to give the Buffaloes too much credit too soon.

I do think they will beat Nebraska handily this week after watching Matt Ruhle's Huskers struggle against Minnesota on offense and they may beat a team or two that will be considered upsets but the offensive line looks questionable and they have depth issues that will cause them to lose one or two surprises as the season moves along.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            I wasn't disappointed to see Clemson pounded in their opener by unheralded Duke mainly because I'm not a fan of the pious Dabo Swinney and I'm not going to throw too much dirt on the grave of the Tigers as a national power quite yet but it does seem that Clemson's time as a school that you could place as a top-four team before the season and be right more times than wrong may be winding down.

Swinney's reluctance to change with the times (recruiting, transfer portal, and offensive rigidity) could be beginning to catch up with the Tigers, and losing games like this shows cracks in the foundation.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                           The Big 12 took a beating in week one with Texas Tech (2 OT Wyoming), TCU (Colorado) Baylor (Texas State), and West Virginia (Penn State) all taking losses.

While West Virginia was a heavy underdog and expected to lose on the road, the other three were big favorites, and only one (Texas Tech) lost on the road, so it's understandable to have some questions about each.

Texas Tech looks the best of the three but they could be 0-2 after this weekend as the Red Raiders are hosting nationally-ranked Oregon, TCU may have defensive issues but no one looks worse suddenly than Baylor, who looked dreadful in their loss to Texas State.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            The Power Five team that looks to be in biggest trouble this season?

Arizona State, who not only will be taking a one-year absence from postseason play for recruiting violations under former coach Herman Edwards, might have won the one game for their season.

The Sun Devils barely defeated 1-AA Southern Utah by three points at home and might not be favored in a game for the rest of the season.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            Colorado's Travis Hunter is already drawing comparisons to 1997 Heisman winner Charles Woodson of Michigan.

If Hunter remotely approaches the number of snaps that he played in the Colorado opener, he will far exceed the number of Woodson's stats in 1997.

Woodson, who really didn't deserve the award over Tennessee's Peyton Manning, did play both ways but his offensive impact was limited as Woodson caught eleven passes for 231 yards for an excellent twenty-one-yard average and three touchdowns.

Hunter caught eleven passes against TCU alone and defensively made three tackles with a pass defended and an interception.

It is asking a lot for Hunter to play that much all season but should he be able to come even close, Hunter is going to give anyone a run for their money for the Heisman.