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Friday, October 12, 2012

Must See Sports – Second Weekend of October 2012

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record: 4-1
Must See Sports 2012 record (excluding series): 72-40
Advantage/disadvantage record in series, 2012: 11-7-1 

With so many different topics to discuss in the world of sports during the last couple of months, Must See had to take a back seat to the issues of the day. With the Major League Baseball playoffs getting red hot and the NFL getting into the meat of its regular season, this is as good a time as any to revive the series. Let’s jump in!

Friday, October 12


American League Divisional Series

Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees – Game 5
Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.43 ERA) – Orioles vs C.C. Sabathia (15-6, 3.38 ERA, 197 Ks) - Yankees

This series has had as much pitching drama as a fan could possibly ask for. Here are some bottom lines in my opinion. Jason Hammel must have a quality start. Hammel surrendered just two earned runs and struck out five in 5-2/3 innings, yet his team was blasted, 7-2 in Game 1.

The bullpen has been a collection of workhorses all year long but, with the exception of closer Jim Johnson (2-1, 2.49 ERA, 51 SV), the talent level has just been “good enough” this season. “Good enough” is not good enough in a Game 5 on the road. Ironically, it was Johnson who was plastered in Game 1, but Hammel has more non-quality than quality starts this season. He’s the ace; time to lead.

The Yankees…real simple. C.C. will hold it down. Get homeruns…you win. If you don’t…you lose. The Yankees are not getting enough singles and doubles. However, C.C. is the starter, he can go nine innings, and this game is being played in The Bronx.

Advantage: Yankees

This is Buck Showalter's face when he wins. I wouldn't want to be holding that mic after he lost.

National League Divisional Series

St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals – Game 5
Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94 ERA, 184 Ks) – Cardinals vs Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89 ERA, 207 Ks) – Nationals

This game will be decided by pitching. Who makes the fewest mistakes? Who makes the first mistake? If Adam Wainwright gets into trouble, on paper, the Cardinals will be in a lot of trouble because their bullpen has been consistently inconsistent all season. If the Cardinals find a way to jump on top of Gio Gonzalez early, which is very unlikely, it is probably over because the Nationals are not built to score runs in bunches.

The Nationals won 98 games in the regular season, the best in the league and 10 more than the Cardinals, who slipped in as the second and final Wild Card. On paper, this favors the Nationals. The game is being played at Washington. Again, on paper, that favors the Nationals.

My head says the Nationals should take this but my gut tells me that the defending World Series champions just find ways to win when everything is on the line. Until they fail to do so, I am picking St. Louis.

Advantage: Cardinals

I can read Strasburg's mind. "I'm not playing? Dude, SERIOUSLY?" 2

Saturday, October 13

NCAA Football

(3) South Carolina Gamecocks at (9) LSU Tigers

My alma mater, LSU, screwed the pooch in The Swamp against Florida last week. This team has a National Championship caliber defense, again, but it is struggling badly to find an offensive identity. The Tigers have an embarrassment of riches at running back in workhorse Kenny Hilliard (382 yds., 6 TDs, 6.6 avg.), fireplug Spencer Ware (185 yds. 4.6 avg.), and versatile, athletic running backs Alfred Blue (270 yds., 2 TDs, 6.8 avg.) and Michael Ford (238 yds., 2 TD, 5.7 avg.). They have a quarterback in Zach Mettenberger (1174 yds., 6 TD, 3 INT, 62% comp.) with a powerful arm, but it has not translated to points in SEC competition. LSU has only scored one touchdown in its two SEC games this year. That will never succeed against this South Carolina team.

After playing down to Vanderbilt in its first game, the Gamecocks have obliterated their competition, highlighted with an euthanizing of the then #5 Georgia Bulldogs. LSU is going to have to put on its most disciplined and diligent defensive effort of the season against incredibly capable S.C. quarterback Connor Shaw (733 yds., 7 TD, 2 INT, 76% comp.) and do-it-all running back Marcus Lattimore (549 yds., 9 TD, 4.7 avg.).

LSU has not lost a home game since October 10, 2009 – three years. Every streak has to come to an end and LSU’s offensive woes, along with South Carolina’s red hot play, make this week ripe for the occasion. Until I see LSU execute in the passing game in SEC play, I cannot count on it.

Advantage: South Carolina

Is that a play call or a message for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier? 3

(15) Texas Longhorns vs (13) Oklahoma Sooners – at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

This game will decide who drops out of the Big XII conference race first, in light of Kansas State's (5-0, 2-0) and West Virginia's (5-0, 2-0) better starts. Texas-Oklahoma is always HUGE and this is essentially a survival game.

Texas sophomore quarterback David Ash (1276 yds., 11 TD, 1 INT, 78% comp.) can light up the sky. The Longhorns are going to go as ash goes against the Sooners. Oklahoma has some potency in its offense as long as receiver Kenny Stills (29 rec., 344 yds., 3 TD) is healthy and on the field. His presence opens up the buffet of options for QB Landry Jones (1,032 yds., 7 TD, 2 INT, 63% comp.) and running back Damien Williams (341 yds., 5 TD, 7.8 avg.). Texas has become the latest in the epidemic of “defense optional” Big XII teams and for that reason I see Oklahoma seizing control of this game.

Advantage: Oklahoma


National League Championship Series – Game 1

San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals OR St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants

We will know after Game 5 of the Cards-Nats series later tonight. I think that St. Louis will overwhelm San Francisco with their bats in a seven game series. The Giants simply lack the power to keep up with the Cardinals, in my opinion. Should the Giants face the Nationals, we may get to witness one of the best pitcher’s duel series of this century. The difference between San Francisco ond Washington may be who will not be present, Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.

Advantage: Series - Cardinals (vs Giants); Giants (vs Nationals)

Sunday, October 14


American League Championship Series – Game 1

Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees OR Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers

We will have our answer early this evening. Both ALDS series took five games to decide. I expect a dramatic series, particularly if the Yankees advance. Either way, I expect their Tigers to defeat either of their possible opponents in a best-of-seven series.

Advantage: Series – Tigers

American League Championship Series – Game 2


Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (4-1)

The Ravens have been synonymous with “lock down defense” through most of the course of the franchise’s existence. In a Super Bowl or bust year for Baltimore, it is surprising that the offense has had to pick up the slack for the defense in its four wins this season. Last week, however, the Ravens held to Kansas City Chiefs to a paltry six points and knocked their starting quarterback out of the game. A sleeping giant may have awaken.

If so, that is bad news for the Dallas Cowboys. Its defense, with the #1 pass defense in the league, has given America’s Team a chance to win every week. However, quarterback Tony Romo (1,148 yds., 5 TD, 8 INT, 67% comp.) is getting zero rushing support, has an offensive line that isn’t sure which way is up at times, and gifted receivers who are dialed in when they are dialed in. When they aren’t….

Advantage: Ravens

New York Giants (3-2) at San Francisco 49ers (4-1)

This is a highly anticipated rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game. The drama may match that of the prior contest, which was decided in overtime. While a trip to the Super Bowl is not at stake, both teams need the win just to keep pace in their divisions.

I doubt that the 49ers expected to have serious competition from the Arizona Cardinals, but they do. A loss to the Giants is just the kind of hiccup that leaves doors open for upstart teams like the Cardinals. The Giants’ backs are against the wall. They could conceivably be in the NFC East cellar after Sunday with a loss.

The Giants one-two punch of Ahmad Bradshaw (333 yds., 2 TD, 5.1 avg.) and Andre Brown (198 yds., 3 TD, 5.2 avg.) has produced headaches for opposing defenses that the defending Super Bowl champions did not produce until late last season. The 49ers, while still excellent in all phases of defense, have not been bulletproof against the run as they appeared to be last year. The Giants have suffered two hard luck losses this season. I think they share that booby prize with their west coast hosts on the strength of their ground attack.

Advantage: Giants

Green Bay Packers (2-3) at Houston Texans (5-0)

The Sunday Night Football game is a big matchup on paper and I expect some entertaining moments in this game. However, the Texans, while needing a little work on special teams and needing to reduce their degree of reliance on the run if they expect to reach the Super Bowl, is completely in sync. The Packers have been everything but all year. In addition, they will be without starting running back Cedric Benson until very late in the season. As difficult as it is to fathom, I think the Packers fall to 2-4 while the Texans continue to roll at Reliant Stadium.

Advantage: Texans

Monday, October 15

National League Championship Series – Game 2

Tuesday, October 16

American League Championship Series – Game 3

Wednesday, October 17

National League Championship Series – Game 3

American League Championship Series – Game 4

Thursday, October 18

National League Championship Series – Game 4

American League Championship Series – Game 5


Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

This could be a real slobber-knocker of a game between two hard hitting defenses and two powerful ground games. This game could be played with possession of first place in the NFC West at stake. Neither team passes the ball much, but rookie quarterback Russell Wilson (815 yds., 5 TD 6 INT, 63% comp.) of the Seahawks is not passing the ball WELL yet. This game is at Candlestick. I think the venue and quarterback play will be the difference in this game.

Advantage: 49ers
There won't be a "13th man" helping the Seahawks in this nationally televised game. 5

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