First College Football Playoff Ranking Is Out, What Does It Mean?

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colorlindPICASO

Since their inception, however many decades ago, college football rankings have been inherently flawed. They've been constrained by everything from the "watch habits" of their constituency to their early season release leading to uninformed narratives.

We always thought to ourselves "Man, wouldn't it be nice to have a college football poll that started at least halfway through the season, and had a constituency that was mandated to watch at least some of the games?"

Not coincidentally, we've also been clamoring for a college football playoff for decades as well.

Well, guess what? NOW WE HAVE BOTH!

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Zapruder Analysis Of Portly Chevy Exec Butchering World Series MVP Presentation (VIDEO)

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...y'know, technology and stuff
If you're wondering where baseball ranks on the compelling, blog-worthy content scale for me (as a writer) right now, here is all you need to know:

As I type this, we are less than an hour removed from the first Game 7 road win in a World Series since 1979 (the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates!). The 2014 World Series' Game 7 came down to the final out, with the suddenly dynastic San Francisco Giants (three titles in five years) beating the small market Kansas City Royals 3-2, with the Royals leaving the tying run on third base to end the game.

Series MVP Madison Bumgarner closed out the win with five innings of relief to run his series record to 3-0 with a microscopic ERA of 0.43. (All the other Giants starters had a combined ERA of 9.92.) It was truly an historic individual performance, and a dramatic ending to a World Series.

And still, I was cobbling together a post about the first College Football Playoff rankings instead, because baseball just doesn't do it for me these days (and gets less traffic than football year round in Houston).

Thankfully, though, there is a prize for the World Series MVP. It's a Chevy truck, and fortunately someone has to present the truck to Bumgarner. And lucky for all of us, Chevy chose Rikk Wilde to handle the honors.

Who? Rikk Wilde, that's who....

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Howard, Bryant Smack Talk as Rockets Roll Over Lakers in Season Opener

Categories: Basketball, Sports

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Scoreboard, Kobe. Scoreboard.
In a game that saw the Houston Rockets lead the LA Lakers for all but 21 seconds and go on to lead by 27 before finishing off the Lakers 108-90 at Staples Center, there were a couple of memorable highlights, neither of which involved basketball.

Late in the fourth quarter, former teammates Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant got into a jawing match after Bryant, pressuring Howard defensively, took an elbow to the face. The two were separated but dropped a handful of verbal jabs at each other. Howard seemed to be saying, "I know you," while smiling a wide grin. Bryant, losing by a wide margin, was less forgiving, at one point saying, "Soft" to his former center.

Their much publicized breakup has been punctuated by a recent article quoting anonymous sources who said Bryant was the reason the Lakers were unable to attract any marquee free agents.

Moments after the altercation, Lakers first round draft pick Julius Randle went down hard and remained seated on the floor under his own basket. He was carted off the floor on a stretcher in an air cast. The team later revealed he suffered a broken tibia. It was that kind of night for the Lakers, who will test the patience of Bryant, new coach Byron Scott and the LA fans.

And while the Rockets didn't exactly look like world beaters the entire night, they certainly had enough firepower to dismantle the Lakers in easy fashion.

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Rockets Season Preview 2014-15: Uphill Climb in the Stacked Western Conference

Categories: Basketball, Sports

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They're back, but will they be enough?
Since 1997 when the Rockets took a dagger to the heart in the form of a John Stockton three pointer in the Western Conference Finals, the team has toiled in mediocrity. Sure, they've made the playoffs on several occasions, but they have made it past the first round exactly once in 16 seasons, including last season. Since then, the Rockets have been through multiple iterations of star player lineups including Steve Francis, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. They've moved from the Summit to the Toyota Center and been on two different sports networks -- soon to be three, but more on that in a moment -- with similar results.

Last season ended with a fresh new stake to the heart when Damian Lillard hit a three pointer (from roughly the same spot as Stockton in 1997, just on the road instead of inside the Summit) and sent the Rockets home with yet another first round exit to put on a resume that for the last decade and a half looks like something from a middle manager who took a few too many three-martini lunches in his last few jobs.

The good news is it's a brand new season. The bad news is the Rockets appear to be, at least for now, talent poor compared to last year's season of promise. The big names are back, but the role players have changed as GM Darryl Morey continues playing Whack-a-Mole with the roster trying everything possible to make a roster that can finally get back to the promised land.

The question is whether or not the Rockets have the horses to make that run this year or if they will remain mired in NBA purgatory.

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Gambling! NBA Season Win Total Best Bets

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The 2013-2014 wagering year was a strange one for me personally.

By the way, for your information, the "wagering year" is defined as the last week of August (early season college football bets, season win total and futures bets in college and NFL) through late June (NBA Finals, the occasional Tiger Woods wager back in the day). July and August are the "wagering offseason" (baseball, soccer and the occasional awards show -- yeah, you heard me! Don't judge!).

So back to 2013-2014. In football wagering last season, I was a mess, barely cracking the 40 percent mark in my NFL and college football Best Bets I posted here, to the point where I created a a quasi-Mendoza Line benchmark for negativity called the Pendergast Line. Yeah, it was BAD.

However, go look at my NBA season win total picks for last season. Go ahead, look at them! No, I implore you, LOOK AT THEM!

I was a goddamn BEAST!!

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The Rice Owls Are the Best Football Team in Houston

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The Owls are flying high and winning games
The most entertaining football team in Houston is not the Houston Cougars. The most professional football team in Houston is not the Texans. The best prepared, and easily the most motivated, football team in Houston is the one that plays in Rice Stadium, the Rice Owls.

Most of Houston ignores the Owls, judging by the attendance figures at Rice Stadium. The Owls don't get high ratings and generally play games at awful times. Nobody talks about the team on the radio (well, aside from N.D. Kalu). And when the Owls do get prime time games, they have to go on the road to places like South Bend and College Station because the big-boy schools refuse to travel for the likes of Rice.

The Owls won their fourth straight game on Saturday afternoon, defeating the North Texas Mean Green (2-6) by a 41-21 score to improve their record to 4-3. The Owls scored on the first play from scrimmage when quarterback Driphus Jackson hit a wide open Jordan Taylor on a nice pass over the middle then watched as Taylor sprinted the rest of the way for the 82-yard *88-yard touchdown.

It was a fun play to watch unfold in realtime. But after the game, learning that Rice had figured out earlier in the week what the North Texas defense was going to do, and then learning that Jackson and the offense were ready to run the play once they hit the field, just made it that much better.


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Texans 30, Titans 16: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

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Photo by Groovehouse
Last week, on the post game show for the Texans' 30-23 Monday night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, as we were trying to assess just exactly where the Texans rank among NFL teams, my colleague Mike Meltser had a general observation that I thought was accurate:

In the NFL, there are about five or six teams that are definitively bad football teams, and about the same amount that are unequivocally good football teams. The remaining 20 or so teams are all in the middle and are separated by a handful of "turning point" type plays throughout the season.

Very true, and for what it's worth, I'd put Oakland, Jacksonville, the Jets, Washington, and Tennessee in that first category (with about 3 or 4 teams knocking on the door), and I'd put Denver, New England, and Dallas in the latter category (with like 7 or 8 teams shuffling in and out of a league-wide top five all season long).

On Sunday, if nothing else, we got confirmation that the Texans reside firmly in the meaty part of the curve, one of the most predictable of the middle couple dozen teams. Why are they predictable? Well, it's pretty simple...

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College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets

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Parker Anderson
Before we get to the Best Bets for the week, I'll use this space (and perhaps a lengthier column in the future) to salute the recently laid off employees at the soon-to-be-sold-and-renamed-and-lobotomized Comcast Sports Net Houston.

As you all are probably aware, painfully so if you're a non-Comcast subscriber, the fledgling Astros- and Rockets-owned network was never able to get distribution traction in Houston but, after a lengthy bankruptcy proceeding, is on the verge of being sold to AT&T/DirecTV fans rebranded as Root Sports Houston.

If you had a chance to watch the CSN product, then you know what I'm about to say -- the product itself was amazingly well done, as the slew of Emmy nominations for the network indicate. The crew there, on air and behind the scenes, are some of the best, most creative people I've worked with since getting into radio. I was fortunate to be a panelist several times on Sports Talk Live, and the place always had an air of fun and teamwork.

The issues that led to the network's demise were certainly not content-based; they were the product of a muddled distribution strategy and ownership partners with drastically divergent agendas. Again, the "why" of all this is another column for another time.

I just wanted to use a few paragraphs here to wish the best to all of those folks leaving CSN (and, many of them, likely leaving Houston), and thank them for making me better at what I do.

I think this seven minutes of video, a farewell between Bill Doleman and Calvin Murphy, perfectly sums up the culture of a network and a crew that deserved so much better than what they got...

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Kelvin Sampson Takes Over the Coogs (Just Don't Expect a Tourney Visit This Year)

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The Cougars try to rebuild once again.
The Houston Cougars come into this basketball season with a new coach. They have new players, and supposedly a new culture. But some things never change, and just as with last season, the Cougars are going to lose a lot of games.

Kelvin Sampson's the new guy in charge. The former assistant coach for the Houston Rockets, Sampson's had numerous NCAA stops, getting Oklahoma and Indiana into the NCAA tourney on multiple occasions. But he lost two of the team's best players shortly after he was hired when TaShawn Thomas transferred to Oklahoma and Danuel House transferred to Texas A&M. Another key player, L.J. Rose, has a broken foot and is out for the foreseeable future. And if the season started today, walk-on Wes VanBeck would be seeing major minutes at point guard.

"We're building this program," Sampson said Tuesday. "This year is what it is. We're establishing culture and getting these guys to play the way we want to play. When people see our style of play, they're going to be excited to watch us. This is going to be a fun team to watch. I'm excited about it."

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Texans-Titans Preview: 2014 Season on the Brink

Categories: Football, Sports

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Photo by Groovehouse
Three weeks ago the Texans sat at two games over .500, ready to attack a difficult upcoming three-game stretch that would define the first half of the season.

All three games would be against playoff contenders and/or played in a tough environment in prime time. Despite showing some fight in each of the three games, the Texans were unable to get a win in any of the three -- a 20-17 overtime loss in Dallas, a 33-28 Thursday night home loss to the Colts and a 30-23 mistake-fest Monday night in Pittsburgh.

So after a three-game losing streak, the Texans sit at a game under .500 now with a game this weekend against a team that will give them an opportunity to "get well," the Tennessee Titans.

If this entire arc of a scenario looks familiar, it should.

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