Sunday, November 27, 2011

Roger Federer: Still The Greatest!

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CONGRATULATIONS to Roger Federer on winning the ATP World Tour Finals for a record 6th time. Federer defeated World No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6-3, 6-7, 6-3) to win the year-end event of the world's Top 8 players.

The victory was his 70th career title (4th all-time) and the final's appearance was the 100th (5th all-time) of his stellar career, making him arguably the best player ever.

With the win Federer will end the season as the No. 3 player in the world behind World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Wold No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

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At 30, the man still has a lot of good tennis left in him, that's for sure.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving’s 10 Most Memorable Football Games

Football is just as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey, dressing, and your annoying, inescapable relatives. As a matter of fact, when the turkey is burned and your drunken uncle Ronnie won't get out of your ear, you can always rely on one of the games to serve as a welcomed distraction. Listed below are the best Turkey Day matchups since the beginning. These captivating performances and memorable finishes were sweeter than grandma's pumpkin pie.

1. Decatur Staleys 6, Chicago Tigers 0, (1920)

Nothing quite like a "loser goes home — forever" clash on America's favorite holiday. According to legend, the outcome of the Chicago Tigers' and Decatur Staleys' second matchup of the NFL's (then known as the American Professional Football Conference) first season determined which team would become Chicago's second representative in the league — the Cardinals already had dibs. The Staleys won the low scoring affair — characteristic of the time period — and eventually became the Bears, forming an intense rivalry with the Cardinals while enjoying loads of success during their first three decades in the league. The Tigers, of course, folded, becoming the first franchise to hold that unfortunate distinction.

2. Chicago Cardinals 40, Chicago Bears 6 (1929)

Bragging rights for the 1929 edition of the heated rivalry belonged to the Cardinals. Ernie Nevers trounced the Bears on his own, accounting for all 40 of their points, a record — along with his six rushing touchdowns — that still stands today. Remarkably, he converted on four-of-six PATs, demonstrating his multi-dimensional gridiron talent. An exceptional athlete, he also served as a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Browns, tallying a 4.64 ERA in three seasons.

3. Chicago Bears 19, Detroit Lions 16 (1934)

Detroit's Turkey Day football tradition started in 1934, when owner George A. Richards came up with the idea in an effort to attract more fans. New to town, the team got off to an impressive 10-1 start, but the turnstiles weren't turning at a satisfactory rate, and more support was needed to justify the franchise's move from Portsmouth, Ohio. The Lions played before a packed house and nationwide radio audience on NBC, the latter of which was a first. Although they lost in a close one, the game certainly served its purpose.

4. Dallas Cowboys 24, Washington Redskins 23 (1974)

One of many emotional slugfests in perhaps the NFL's greatest rivalry, the Cowboys' 1974 comeback victory still stings for longtime Redskins fans. Up 16-3 in the beginning of the second half with Roger Staubach out of the game due to an injury, the Skins were poised to lock down a spot in the playoffs. The Cowboys, who began the season 1-4, were in the midst of a 7-2 finish, and weren't ready to quit without their field general. Backup quarterback Clint Longley tossed two touchdown passes, including a 50-yarder to Drew Pearson with 28 second left in the game. Their playoff hopes were kept alive, and the Skins were left to recover from their most heartbreaking loss of the season.

5. Detroit Lions 27, Buffalo Bills 14 (1976)

It was a record-setting day for arguably the greatest running back of all time. OJ Simpson again carried the load for his Bills, gaining 273 yards while compensating for the poor play of his quarterback. Gary Marangi, competing in his only season as a starter, completed just four of 21 passes for 29 yards, tallying a passer rating of 19.7. The Bills' miserable season ended with 12 losses, second worst in the AFC — the Buccaneers became the first team to finish a season with no wins. Of course, 32 years later, the Lions became the second team to suffer a winless season.

6. Chicago Bears 23, Detroit Lions 17 (OT) (1980)

Battling with the Vikings for a spot atop the NFC Central and a playoff berth, the Lions couldn't afford to drop a home game to the 5-8 Bears. Their motivation was apparent through the third quarter, as they maintained a 17-3 lead — until Bears quarterback Bob Simmons led his team back with two touchdowns, one passing and another rushing. In overtime, the game ended when it started — the opening kickoff was returned 95 yards for a touchdown by the Bears' Dave Williams, giving Chicago fans something to cheer about in an otherwise underwhelming season.

7. Green Bay Packers 44, Detroit Lions 40 (1986)

The Lions have played the Packers, their longtime division rival, the most on Thanksgiving, providing Midwesterners with plenty of early afternoon drama. None were as captivating as the 1986 affair, in which the teams exchanged multiple 10-point leads, the latter of which belonged to and was relinquished by the Lions. The Packers' Walter Stanley had the game of his life, collecting 207 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning 83-yard punt return with 41 second remaining that secured the victory for the Packers. It still stands as the highest scoring game in Thanksgiving history.

8. Miami Dolphins 16, Dallas Cowboys 14 (1993)

In the process of defending its Super Bowl title, America's team encountered a few bumps in the road during the 1993 season. A fourth loss by Thanksgiving was seen as a disappointment, especially given the fact that it would've been a win if not for a mindless mistake by Leon Lett, who was mercilessly panned for his fumble of a would-be touchdown in Super Bowl XXVII. With the Cowboys up 14-13 in the waning seconds, the Dolphins' Pete Stoyanovich attempted a 40-yard field goal only to have it blocked by the Cowboys' Jimmie Jones. Lett foolishly proceeded to touch the ball, allowing Miami to recover it and attempt another field goal from the 19-yard line. Stoyanovich nailed it, giving the Dolphins the win and Lett more shame.

9. Detroit Lions 19, Pittsburgh Steelers 16 (OT) (1998)

Here's a game the NFL would prefer you forget. At 7-4, the Steelers were making a playoff run, and couldn't spare a loss in the competitive AFC. As they struggled to maintain a consistent rushing attack, the team's bread and butter, the Lions remained within striking distance. Jason Hanson's 42-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter forced overtime, and the Lions received the ball first despite the Steelers' Jerome Bettis clearly called tails — after calling heads — during the coin toss. It landed on tails, but referee Phil Luckett went with Bettis's original call, and the Lions proceeded to drive down field and kick the game-winning field goal. The Steelers finished the season with five straight losses, missing the playoffs.

10. Denver Broncos 24, Dallas Cowboys 21 (OT) (2005)

With both teams atop the standings in their respective divisions, it wasn't a surprise that the game came down to overtime. The Broncos and Cowboys traded touchdowns until regulation ended, scoring three apiece. The star of the game was Ron Dayne, who had been declared a draft bust after departing from the Giants after the previous season. He made the most of his seven carries, gaining 98 yards and scoring a touchdown. His 55-yard run on the second play of overtime enabled Jason Elam to connect on the game-winning 24-yard field goal.

This article was provided courtesy of Online Certificate Programs. To read original article , click here.


LSU-Arkansas: Road Kill For The Mighty Tigers!

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Well it looks like there's no stopping the No. 1 LSU Tigers and their quest for the national championship. The Tigers annihilated the No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks, 41-17, in what was supposed to be a "tough test" for them. Well, so much for tough test. Next up for the Tigers is a date with the No. 13 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game. And even if the Tigers lose the SEC title game (highly unlikely!), chances are they will still play for the national title.

So who will clash with the Tigers for all the marbles?

From the looks of things, it's highly likely LSU will get their rematch with the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide for the national title. All Alabama needs to do is take care of the No. 24 Auburn Tigers in the Iron Bowl and they're "in like Flynn".

We got to this point because last week was a BCS nightmare as then-No. 2 Oklahoma State, then-No. 4 Oregon and then-No. 5 Oklahoma all sputtered their national title hopes. The Oregon loss to USC (38-35) was a heart-breaker for me as it was no secret I wanted the Ducks to play for the national title. But as the old adage says, "that's why we play the games".

Oklahoma State's inexplicable loss (37-31 2OT) to Iowa State was (by far) the biggest stunner of last week. The Cowboys were in the title game's driver's seat and somehow they found a way to screw it up. But the Cowboys, however, still have a SLIM shot at the title game if Alabama loses to Auburn. The BCS Standings were very generous to the Cowboys placing them at No. 4, ahead of No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 6 Stanford. This gives OK State the upper hand in the event that Alabama (somehow) stumbles. They already know that No. 3 Arkansas became "road kill" for undisputed No. 1 LSU, so the Cowboys must win out and hope that Auburn can pull of a miracle.

In the end, however, the stars are aligned for Alabama to avenge their nail-biting, teeth-grinding, heartbreaking, 9-6 OT loss to LSU on November 5.

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And make no mistake about it, LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the nation, so this time around the BCS will get it right.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Go Easy On Tim Tebow!

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I must say I'm one of these people who's happy to see that Tim Tebow is having success in the NFL. Since taking over the starting QB job for the Denver Broncos, Tebow, although not pretty, has compiled a 4-1 record and 3 of the 4 wins have been in comeback fashion. Tebow with the help of a superb defense is becoming a nightmare for NFL teams in the fourth quarter. The latest victim of Tebow-mania were the New York Jets who were stunned last night, 17-13, by Tebow who pulled off another Elway-like drive late in the fourth quarter.

Three of his four wins have been by scores of 18-15, 17-10 and the Jets dagger of 17-13. It hasn't been pretty but the kid is winning. And in his defense he doesn't throw INTs which, more often than not, are usually a nail in the coffin for teams. Just ask Jets QB Mark Sanchez.

The Broncos (after a 1-4 start) are now 5-5 and in excellent position to win the AFC West and make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Tebow has been criticized, hated-on and has heard repeatedly that he doesn't have what it takes to make it as a quarterback in the NFL. Well, he's 4-1 and is building a reputation as the new "Comeback Kid". At the end of the day winning is all that matters, so his critics can all go jump in the lake.

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With a take-no-prisoners defense, a University of Florida-style offense and Tebow's incredible work ethics, it looks like the Broncos know something the rest of the NFL doesn't. So (take that!) critics.

Good for you, Tim! Just tell your boss John Elway to teach you how to be a better pocket passer and you'll be OK.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Road to the National Title

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The road to the national title game in college football is now in the control of two teams-- the No. 1 LSU Tigers and the No. 2 Oklahoma State Cowboys. All LSU and OK State need to do is run the table and the tickets are theirs.


As the old adage says, "that's why we play the games"!

Personally I believe LSU will get the job done and play in the national title game. They have a tough game against the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks on Nov. 25 and then they will most likely play the No. 14 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game. Both are very winnable games for LSU, so pencil in the Tigers in the national title game.

Oklahoma State is a different story. They have a date with the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners on Dec. 3, which is no walk in the park. Although it's a home game for the Cowboys, I believe the Sooners will prevail and dash all of Oklahoma State's national title hopes. But without the luxury of a Big 12 Championship Game this year, it'll be hard for the Sooners to make a move in the polls and muscle their way to the No. 2 ranking.

So that leaves us with the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide and the No. 4 Oregon Ducks. They are neck and neck in the polls as only a few points separate them from the #3 and #4 ranking. They are also joined at the hip as their only loss has been to #1 LSU. As I expected, the Ducks made their move back into the Top 5 and back into the national title conversation by crushing the then-undefeated Stanford Cardinal, 53-30, on the road. The loss pretty much eliminated Stanford from the national title conversation. For the Ducks, unlike Alabama, they have the luxury of a conference championship game which (if they win) will earn them enough ranking points to leapfrog Alabama. Unfortunately for Alabama, if LSU runs the table there will be no SEC Championship Game for them.

So the Oklahoma State-Oklahoma game is extremely huge right now because it'll decide OK State's national title destiny and open the door for Alabama and Oregon.

If the voters want to see a rematch between Alabama and LSU then it wouldn't surprise me if the computers are tweaked in Alabama's favor. But if Oregon wins the Pac-12 Championship Game, it's going to be extremely difficult to deny the Ducks.

So in my book, it'll be LSU and Oregon for the national title in a rematch of their Week 1 showdown, which LSU won 40-27. That is, of course, if Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State.

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It looks like Oklahoma is Oregon's best friend right now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Ducks Look Mighty!

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There is no question that last week's game between the No. 1 LSU Tigers and the then-No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide has been the game of the year so far. The game was so close (9-6 final score) that not much changed atop the BCS Standings. The Tigers remained No. 1 and the Crimson Tide fell only one spot to No. 3. So with all things considered, it didn't turn out all that bad for the Tide.

Tomorrow we switch from the SEC to the Pac-12, where we will have what is perhaps the second biggest game of the season between the No. 7 Oregon Ducks and the undefeated No. 4 Stanford Cardinal.

For Stanford the game is huge because with a win they will more than likely leapfrog Alabama and take over the #3 ranking. A win by Oregon can quite possibly land them at #5, leapfrogging #5 Boise State and #6 Oklahoma. And it will keep the Ducks alive in the national title conversation.

As for all those who were left with a bitter taste in their mouths after the LSU-Alabama game, there is still a strong possibility that LSU and Alabama can meet again for the national title. The key is the No. 2 Oklahoma State Cowboys. If the Cowboys loss a game and LSU and Alabama run the table, then we will perhaps have a rematch between No. 1 LSU and new No. 2 Alabama for the national title. This scenario is highly conceivable since the Cowboys do have a date with the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners on Dec. 3. It's a game which I think Oklahoma will win and take out OK State from the national title conversation.

But it all starts with Oregon-Stanford tomorrow. A Stanford win could be a dagger for Alabama. However, I think Oregon will go into Stanford tomorrow and stun the Cardinal. Call it a gut feeling. Hey, I was right about LSU beating Alabama by a whisker, right?

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Let's just say-- No luck for Luck against the Ducks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Farewell Joe Paterno

"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more." -Joe Paterno

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Seasons at Penn State: 61 [1950-1965 as an assistant] [1966-2011 as head coach]
Record: 409-136-3

Not in my wildest dream did I ever imagine that legendary coach Joe Paterno's career at Penn State would end the way it did. Paterno, who has been with the Nittany Lions for 61 years, was fired yesterday amid the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the university.

I must say, I am TOTALLY speechless.

But I will muster enough words to say this-- If Paterno knew anything about what that scum Sandusky was doing to young boys and kept quiet about it, then the board of trustees did the right thing by firing him. Yes he's a legend and yes he's been the face of Penn State football for 6 decades, but this is a situation that not even a legend can escape from. Sorry Joe, if you knew something and swept it under the rug-- then you gotta go! Period.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Unofficial National Championship Game

The No. 1 LSU Tigers vs. the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

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The game of games is upon us!

The winner of this monster game is more than likely to run the table and earn a trip to the national title game. So consider it a semi-final match.

Looking into my crystal ball, I see the following scenarios unfolding--
  • LSU edges Alabama by a whisker. The Tigers run the table, win the SEC championship game and earn a spot in the national title game.
  • After the Tiger's huge win over Alabama, the Top 4 will look like this: #1 LSU, #2 Oklahoma State, #3 Stanford, #4 Boise State.
  • The No. 6 Oregon Ducks go to Stanford on Nov. 12 and stun the No. 3 Cardinal in what will be dubbed a huge upset. The Ducks put an end to Stanford's perfect season and eliminate them from all national title conversations. The win catapults Oregon to No. 3, one spot ahead of the undefeated Boise State Broncos. The Top 4 will then look like this: # 1 LSU, #2 Oklahoma State, #3 Oregon, #4 Boise State.
  • The No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners go into Boone Pickens Stadium on Dec. 3 and crush the No. 2 Oklahoma State Cowboys, ending OK State's perfect season and all hopes of a national title run. The win leapfrogs Oklahoma all the way to No. 3, one spot ahead of undefeated Boise State. The Top 4 will then look like this: #1 LSU, #2 Oregon, #3 Oklahoma, #4 Boise State.
  • Oregon wins the Pac-12 championship game and holds on to the No. 2 ranking.

The National Title Game: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Oregon

The game will be a rematch of their Week 1 showdown which LSU won 40-27. While everyone else chose to run for the hills and play a softy in Week 1, then-No. 4 LSU and then-No. 3 Oregon chose to play each other in a TOUGH, TOUGH game right out of the gates. They knew that a loss would put a dent on their national title chances early but chose the brutal Week 1 game anyway. They deserve a lot of credit for that and a rematch in the national title game will definitely be poetic justice.

This time around, however, I think Oregon will prevail. Oregon 28 - LSU 20.

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NOTE: If Alabama beats LSU tomorrow, it'll be No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Oregon for the national title. I still believe Oregon will prevail. Oregon 19 - Alabama 16.

And finally--

As for the undefeated mid-major Boise State-- they will earn an at-large BCS bowl invitation to the Fiesta Bowl, just for the sake of political correctness. Sorry Boise, get your butts into a Power-6 Conference if you want your undefeated seasons to matter when it comes to the national title picture.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Say What?! World No. 4 Roger Federer?

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It looks like "father time" is starting to catch up to World No. 4, that's right, World No. 4 Roger Federer. Well, sort of. On Oct. 17, Federer, then No. 3, lost a ranking spot to Andy Murray dropping him out of the Top 3 for the first time since June 2003. That's right, June 2003.

While most players never see the light of day at No. 4, for the great Federer this is uncharted waters. Federer had spent 432 consecutive weeks in the Top 3, which is the equivalent of 8+ years. And in the world of tennis, 8+ years is an eternity.

Here's a break down of Federer's consecutive streak in the Top 3:
  • Weeks at No. 1: 285 (237 consecutive, an ATP record).
  • Weeks at No. 2: 91
  • Weeks at No. 3: 56
Federer currently trails new No. 3 Andy Murray by 295 points. Here's a look at the Top 4:

1. Novak Djokovic - 13860
2. Rafael Nadal - 10375
3. Andy Murray - 7825
4. Roger Federer - 7530

To be fair, at 30, Federer is still one of the best players in the world but having a #4 before his name is something that tennis fans are just not used to seeing. I know I was blown away when I found out he was no longer in the Top 3. I guess Mr. Federer set the bar TOO HIGH by being so dominant for so long.

But I'll dare say-- something tells me he ain't done just yet.

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For the record, the last time Federer was NOT in the Top 10 was October 7, 2002, which is a mighty long time ago.