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Friday, November 30, 2012

Memo To David Stern: Please leave Pop, Spurs Alone

So in case you've been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, NBA commissioner David Stern has threatened to impose some sort of sanction against the San Antonio Spurs or their head coach, Gregg Popovich, in light of recent events.

And, in case your not familiar with what those events were, I will be happy to refresh your memory. Popovich sat starters Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker in last night's game against the Miami Heat. Popovich was trying to give his stars, who had just played four games in the last five nights, a breather before their home contest Sunday versus Memphis. Although San Antonio would eventually lose the game, the 105-100 result was more than likely closer than expected.

So now Stern and his cronies want to punish the Spurs for an action that was clearly the coach's discretion. I mean, come on, I understand the fans pay good money to see a quality product on the court. But I was wondering if someone could please explain to me how a five-point contest isn't a quality product?

Look, if we're going suspend/fine/otherwise punish coaches/teams for doing what is in their best interest, I have a few other suggestions. About 10 years ago or so I went to a Lakers-Celtics contest in Los Angeles but I didn't get to see Shaquille O'Neal play because he was hurt. How about giving me and the rest of the people who bought a ticket that night a refund? No? Well, I also went to see the Spurs play the Wizards a few years before that, but David Robinson didn't play because he was hurt. C'mon commish, you need to punish the Spurs for that, too. I'm pretty sure if Pop wasn't the coach he was at least the GM at that point.

What's that, Commissioner Stern, cat got your tongue? That's what I thought. The proposals I made are just as ludicrous as the proposed sanctions you are about to levy on today's Spurs. I will admit, I am not a huge pro basketball fan, but if I do watch I sometimes root for the Spurs. Most people don't like them because they aren't flashy enough, but, as I have said before, I like the fact they play fundamentally sound team ball for the most part.

And yes, as a fan, if I was in Miami (not entirely out of the question, as I spent the last week two hours northwest of South Beach. Of course, I didn't get a ticket, as I was unaware the two teams played) and I had gone to the game, I would be upset that some of my favorite players were not even dressing. But at the end of the day, I would be happy that my team was in a position to possibly win the game.

So, commissioner Stern, leave Pop and the Spurs alone. There is no rule that says a NBA head coach can't sit his stars if he feels its in the best interest of the team. This is just another attempt by you to unnecessarily throw your weight around, and another reason why once avid fans like myself are becoming more indifferent by the day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The NFL Needs a New Thanksgiving Tradition

So with it technically being Thanksgiving and all, let me be the first to wish all my loyal readers a Happy Thanksgiving. J-Rod's Sportszone is thankful for those readers loyal to his blog, people who have just stumbled onto his blog, and those who have yet to stumble onto it. He is also extremely grateful for all sports, especially football in the falls. Many people don't get my obsession with this game but, like so many other things for other people, it is my happy diversion from the routine of daily life.

Also, with this Saturday marking the renewal of so many rivalries in college football, I would like to take an opportunity to suggest at least one sports-related Thanksgiving tradition that should be changed. That is the NFL's decision to broadcast only games hosted by either the Detroit Lions or the Dallas Cowboys on this day.

Now I do understand that later this evening(since it is technically Thursday morning) the New York Jets and the New England Patriots will play each other, but that is not the same thing. First, it will be broadcast on the NFL Network, which, in my humble opinion, might just be the worst invention in all of sports. I mean forget the fact that if my cable company didn't offer a free premium channel preview this weekend I wouldn't get to see Jets-Pats. I would rather watch the Big Ten Network than NFL Net. Ouch indeed.

But on to the point at hand. Despite pleas from Yahoo! that the Lions and Cowboys on Thanksgiving is a tradition not to be messed with, I don't agree. Certainly, however, I am not arguing for the Browns to be broadcast on this day, but, with Cleveland playing Pittsburgh this week, that might have been a better draw, seeing as that is one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL.

Or what about the Patriots and the Colts on Turkey Day? Certainly last Sunday's contest wasn't an edge-of-your-seat affair, but what if you put them in front of a national audience on a short week? Or how about the thriller that was Denver versus New England a few weeks earlier?

Or what about the most heated rivalry in all of professional sports, the Chicago Bears versus the Green Bay Packers? I don't know if you can go anywhere in the continental United States without running into a cheesehead or someone whose license plates reads 'Da Bears.' Wouldn't that game be more exciting than the Lions and the Texans?

And as much as the Cowboys may have been 'America's Team' in the late 80s and the 90s, I think their owner, Jerry Jones, has turned them into one of the most vilified franchises in the nation currently.  Isn't it quite possible, NFL, that by giving us a reprieve from the 'Boys on this holiday dedicated to food and football, it will allow those of us who aren't Dallas fans to bury the hatchet?

The point being is that, for the NFL anyway, today marks the largest captive television audience they will have all season. Yet they continue to squander such an opportunity for the sake of a tradition not nearly as old as the game of football itself.  Especially when they have already messed with two other hallowed traditions, namely kickoffs and overtimes, in the last two seasons.

It's time for the NFL to take a hint from the college ranks on this one. As conferences in collegiate football expand, some rivalries, like Oklahoma vs Nebraska, have died, while others, such as Nebraska vs Wisconsin, are born. So too, with the expansion of the NFL fanbase, should some of the old NFL traditions make way for new ones. And what better tradition to start anew than Thanksgiving Day programming.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Ohio State Fans Should Root For Notre Dame

So it is with a heavy hand that I write this. Okay, so not really, but I had debated about writing on the Duke men's basketball team or the NFL's resident blowhard, Rex Ryan, before settling on this topic.

However, seeing as the Ohio State football team's season is coming to a close, in it's annual renewal of 'The Game' versus their hated rivals from That School Up North, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on what has been on everyone's mind the last few days.

Make no bones about it, I don't like that team up north. Of course, I wouldn't go as far as ex-Buckeye Roy Hall, whom, if you listened to local Columbus radio 97.1  The Fan this afternoon, took his hatred for everything Maize and Blue to a whole other level. It was kind of comical. In case you missed it, you might want to go to youtube and type in 'Roy Hall T-Bone Michigan Week interview."

But I digress. The point being is that despite my dislike for Ohio State's opponent this week, I have to respect the ability they possess on the field, both offensively and defensively. It will be a challenge for this defense to stop a better than average passing quarterback in Devin Gardner, and Denard Robinson, if healthy, may be more of a threat in the Wolverines backfield than Fitzgerald Toussaint would have ever been. Needless to say, it won't be easy for the Bucks when they try to become only the sixth team in school history to finish a season undefeated.

What is interesting is that I actually admitted to one of my closest friends that if Ohio State had lost to Wisconsin last week I would have no reason to watch OSU vs. Michigan this weekend. To which he looked at me like I had gone mad. Of course I was going to watch the game, and root for the Buckeyes nonetheless, but the point was that without the potential to go to a bowl game or go undefeated, a victory over the Wolverines would seem somewhat hollow. I guess I have reached the point where beating U of M just isn't good enough; only perfection will do.

Which brings me to the ultimate point of this article. Many fans have wondered what Ohio State's fate would be had they self-imposed a bowl ban last season. Would the NCAA allow them to compete in postseason play this year? Well, hindsight is 20/20, and we can only deal with current realities. So OSU's bowl game is this Saturday, and I while I expect the first season of the Urban Meyer to end just as it began, with a victory, I am taking nothing for granted. Nor should any other OSU fan.

In that vein, OSU fans should stop wondering 'what if' Ohio State were to play Notre Dame in the BCS championship, and, instead, start rooting for the Blue and Gold to actually win it all. For starters, there is the distinct possibility that OSU could lose such a matchup, and the end result might not be pretty. Notre Dame has played an ostensibly better schedule than Ohio State, and held its two toughest opponents, Stanford and Oklahoma, to a combined total of 26 points. On the flip side, Ohio State has given up a combined total of 77 points to Inidana and Cal, two teams whose combined record is 7-16.

So, unlike some overzealous fans on Facebook, I do not think the Buckeyes would roll over the Irish. And I will admit I have been somewhat harder on the Irish than the pollsters. A part of me thinks that, despite playing the toughest schedule in the nation, they just don't measure up when it comes to the 'eye test.' And the other part of my assessment of Notre Dame lies on my preconceived notion that the media builds this program up year after year, only to see them let everyone down in the end. But could they actually be legit?

Well, seeing as how I have been burned horribly the last two weeks, I will not predict the outcome of this Saturday's clash between the Irish and the Trojans. I will, however, urge all Buckeye fans, after they have cheered the home team to victory, to root for Notre Dame to win out. Forget about your hatred of Notre Dame and Lou Holtz. The Irish may have the best chance to stop the SEC's BCS run at six. Which I believe is more important anyway.

What has been almost a nonissue this season is the mediocre play of the SEC. Alabama isn't the juggernaut it has been in the past. Not only did they lose to the Aggies, but they should have lost to LSU as well. An LSU team whose offense is boring as a Jim Tressel coached team. Seriously. Watch more than two minutes of LSU play, and I dare you to tell me that Les Miles isn't Jim Tressel Lite. No imagination on offense, and the only reason he is able to compete with the big boys is that, unlike Tressel, he is able to recruit speed on defense.

Even Florida has had issues moving the ball this season. Just ask Louisiana-Lafayette(whom I'm not even sure is a NCAA Division IA school), who almost upset the Gators. In Gainesville.

So, while it goes against almost every instinct that I have, I will be rooting for the football team from South Bend, Indiana, to win their next two games. Because, in the end, in order for the myth of SEC superiority to die, someone has to beat them in a meaningful contest.

Friday, November 16, 2012

College Football Week 12 Preview: Is Oregon No. 1?

So it looks like I bombed last week with my prediction that Alabama would remain undefeated. And now it appears that rather than the SEC winning another mythical national championship, a more likely scenario has them winning another heisman trophy.

Texas A and M's Johnny Manziel is no Johnny come lately to the college football world, even though he is only a freshman quarterback for the Aggies. Prior to last Saturday's victory over the Crimson Tide, Manziel had passed for more than 2500 yards and run for over 900 yards for the Aggies, who, at 8-2, have surprised almost everyone in the first year in the SEC. It is probably not out of the question that Texas A and M head coach Kevin Sumlin might also be the frontrunner for coach of the year.

But enough about last week, on to week number 12. This week's biggest game features the Oregon Ducks, and their video game-like offense, versus Pac-12 rival Stanford, who is also fighting for a berth in this year's Pac-12 championship. The key to this game, of course, won't be whether the Cardinal can stop Chip Kelly's high powered offense; but it will come down to the play of Stanford's offense, led by senior tailback Stepfan Taylor. If the Cardinal can establish the run early, and keep Oregon's offense off the field, they have a chance.

So, will Saturday mark the second straight week that a top three team falls from the ranks of the unbeaten? As much as I'd like to see it, I just don't think it is going to happen. Chip Kelly runs one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, and quarterback Marcus Mariota might be one of the more underrated players in the game. Not that people in Pac-12 country think that, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone on the East Coast who is mentioning his name for Heisman.

Mariota has quitely passed for 2164 yards and 28 TDs, while only throwing 5 interceptions at the same time. He has also added another 516 yards and 3 TDs on the ground for the Ducks, who should remain undefeated, dispatching of the Cardinal 38-20.

In other top 25 action:

10 Florida State at Maryland: EJ Manuel and company inch one step closer to the ACC Atlantic Divison crown, rolling over the Terps, 54-3.

Iowa at 21 Michigan: Will the real Michigan please stand up? Please stand up? Please stand up? Wolverines let the Hawkeyes stay in this one until the end, winning 27-24.

22 Rutgers at Cincinnati: Butch Jones has once again resurrected a program that Brian Kelly left. Impressive indeed. But can I really root for a team whose starting quarterback is named Munchie? Of course I will. Bearcats, 24-21.

Western Carolina at 4 Alabama: Crimson Tide, still mad their undefeated season is lost, go easy on the Catamounts. If you consider 40-10 going easy on someone. Eddie Lacy runs for almost 250 in the win.

Jacksonville State at  6 Florida: After last week's near embarrassment, Will Muschamp's Gators let Jax State hang around too before pulling away 28-14.

Wofford at 9 South Carolina: Jedevon Clowney 14, Wofford 3. Yeah, I think that's all that needs to be said 'bout this one. Gamecocks roll. Oh, wait, that's the Crimson Tide line. Gamecocks still win big, though.

Georgia Southern at 5 Georgia: Cause I'm already over the powder puff teams the SEC plays this week, Bulldogs win.

25 Washington at Colorado:Do I even need to say it?

18 USC at 17 UCLA: In what could probably turn out to be an even more hotly contested game than Oregon-Stanford, Matt Barkley and the Trojans get the inside track to the Pac-12 South title, 24-17.

Wake Forest at 3 Notre Dame: If only the Irish could mount some offense, they might be dangerous. Notre Dame, 28-10.

Ole Miss at 7 LSU: Tigers win big.

Sam Houston State at 8 Texas A and M: Aggies need another big game from Johnny Football to pull this one out, 42-28.

North Carolina State at 11 Clemson: Tahj Boyd, Sammy Watkins and company come up big against the Wolfpack, but it is not enough to wrest first place in the Atlantic from FSU. Clemson 45-17.

Minnesota at 14 Nebraska: Cornhuskers are going to Rose Bowl. You heard it here first. Nebraska 38-17,

23 Texas Tech at 24 Oklahoma State: Red Raiders win one for Leach. What? He doesn't coach there anymore? Well Red Raiders just win. Texas Tech 35-31.

Ohio State (unranked in BCS, 10 in J-Rod Sportszone's top 10 to be revealed later in this column) at Wisconsin: Buckeyes don't need Miller to Smith heroics this time around, winning 27-17.

Upset special of the week West Virginia (home) over No. 12 Oklahoma: Geno Smith, once frontrunner for the Heisman, puts on one of his better perfomances for the Mountaineer fan base, as Sooners are beat 35-28.

J-Rod's Sportszone's Top 10:

1. Oregon

2. Kansas State

3. Alabama

4.  Georgia

5.  LSU

6. Notre Dame

7. Texas A and M

8.  Clemson

9. South Carolina

10. Ohio State

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NFL Fantasy Football: Go With Your Gut

So as week 10 of the NFL season approaches, J-Rod's Sportszone would like to take the time to drop some fantasy football knowledge on his readers. After all, while he missed the Alabama-Texas A and M game by a mile, he did finish second in 2011 in his work-related fantasy football league, despite drafting 10th out of 10 teams.

If I have learned anything from my years of playing fantasy football (2012 marks the seventh consecutive season I will have played in any fantasy football league, standard or custom), it is that when choosing players for your team, always trust your gut. Always.

To further illustrate what I mean, let us take a look at my starting lineup for week 10:

QB- Philip Rivers, San Diego  Chargers

WR- Malcolm Floyd, San Diego Chargers

WR- Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

WR- Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys

RB- Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

RB- Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

TE- Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos

Flex- Desean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

K- Greg Zeuerlein, St. Louis Rams

Defense/Special Teams- Denver Broncos

Players on a bye this week: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, and Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers

Not a bad lineup, eh? Well, let's take a look at some of the top players by position (total standard scoring in 2012) and compare them to where I drafted some of these same players.


 Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

RG III, Washington Redskins

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Now, consider where I took Rivers, my starting quarterback: in the fourth round, 38th overall. Of those quarterbacks, only Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger and Brady were selected ahead of Rivers. Manning and RGIII, coincidentally, were selected in the fifth round.

This is interesting because many of you might remember an article I wrote before the season hyping up Peyton Manning's return to football. (You can find that here ) Additionally, I was well aware of the potential of both Luck and RGIII, having covered their Heisman campaign(s) all of last season.

Moving along, let us look at another position:

Running Backs

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns

My starting running backs are Rice, whom I selected in the first round at No. 3 overall, and Jamaal Charles, whom I selected in the third round.

I doubt anyone would question my selection of Rice, arguably one of the top five backs in the league, even at No. 3.

As for Charles, there are many who said before the season started they would be hesitant to draft him due to his uncertainty surrounding is ACL. I even went against my own strategy in picking him, as before the draft I told myself that if Richardson (the Cleveland Browns' rookie who I saw play on more than one occasion for Alabama) was available in the second round, I would select him. Richardson ended up being the first selection of the third round.

Finally let us examine the top scoring receivers thru week 10 of the regular season:

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Victor Cruz, New York Giants

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

My top two receivers selected were Larry Fitzgerald, who is a top-tier receiver hamstrung by woefully inadequate play from the Cardinals' quarterback position, and Greg Jennings, Green Bay's No. 1 target who has been injured for most of this season.

Needless to say, if I had selected Trent Richardson in the second round instead of Larry Fitz, both Green and/or Cruz would have been available for me in the third round.

This is not to say all is lost for me, however. I currently stand fifth in my league at 5-4, and, last season I placed second despite being the last playoff team in.  My point is merely that, as you choose your fantasy squads for the rest of 2012, make sure that at the end of the day you go with your gut.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

College Football Week 11 Preview: Will Aggies Upset No.1 'Bama ?

Without the drama of rivalries such as Florida vs. Georgia, LSU vs. Alabama, Notre Dame vs. Stanford or even Texas Oklahoma, week 11 of the college football season is more about survival for the BCS undefeateds.

Foremost among minds of many fans is whether the Alabama Crimson Tide can finish the regular season undefeated in pursuit of its second mythical national championship in as many years. While those in or near Tuscaloosa hope the Tide roll, it is safe to say the rest of the nation would love to see Alabama trip up somewhere along the way.

This week Nick Saban's gang host the Aggies of Texas AM that feature a high-octane offense led by freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Aggies' offense is ranked third in the nation in scoring (44.7 ppg), and they have scored more than 48 points in five of their first nine games. Manziel also leads the team in rushing with 922 yards, leading one to wonder why his name isn't mentioned more often in the Heisman Trophy discussion.

So what are the prospects for an Aggie upset this Saturday afternoon? Not necessarily good. They have struggled against Florida and LSU, two teams that play a defense similar to 'Bama. Points will be at a premium, and it will be imperative that the Aggies don't turn the ball over. My prediction is the Tide remains perfect, 34- 17.

Elsewhere, in top 25 action:

Arkansas vs. No. 8 South Carolina: The Razorback athletic department stands behind its decision to fire Bobby Petrino. The Razorback players not so much. Gamecocks don't miss Marcus Lattimore at all today, winning 41-7.

No 9 Louisville at Syracuse: When will the magic run out for Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals. Not today. Louisville 30-17.

No. 24 Northwestern at Michigan: Wildcats give Wolverines all they can handle on the road but fall short. Michigan 28, Northwestern 25

No. 11 Oregon State vs. No. 14 Stanford: Oregon State wins a nail biter here, setting up a showdown with the Ducks in two weeks for the Pac-12 North title.

No. 4 Notre Dame at Boston College: Irish eyes are smiling once again on Notre Dame, as they pull out a closer than expected victory.

No. 3 Oregon vs California: Ducks get upse...ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, I couldn't even finish that one without rolling on the floor laughing.  Oregon 48, California 20

Well, there you have it folks. If I get any of these wrong, well...then I am just like every other football pundit out there trying to make a prediction.

Friday, November 9, 2012

College Basketball Tip-Off: Is Louisville No. 1?

Tonight the 2012-2013 NCAA Division I men's college basketball season tips off, headlined by the Carrier Classic (featuring Ohio State vs Marquette off the deck of the USS Yorktown docked in Charleston, SC) and Maryland versus Kentucky, among others.

So I figured it would be fitting to provide my overview on how I think this season might play out. It seems everyone and their mother has Indiana at No. 1, and, while I can see their point, I don't necessarily agree. They are talented, and Cody Zeller might be the best player in the nation, but they seemed a bit streaky last season. Plus, Zeller's 6.6 rebounds per game isn't very impressive, either. As a matter of fact, I think on the whole Indiana wasn't very good rebounding the ball last season, another reason I can't put them at No. 1.

Kentucky is fairly young, but loaded with freshman talent.  Center Nerlens Noel might be even better than Anthony Davis was offensively for the Wildcats last season. If he can be half as good as Davis on the other side of the ball, UK may make another deep tournament run. Right now, however, I think it is too early and the team is too young to be called No. 1 in the nation.

Ohio State and Michigan are both loaded with potential but are very inexperienced. The Buckeyes have some big shoes to fill in Jared Sullinger and William Buford. If they can get help from sophomores Laquinton Ross and Amir Williams, among others, they could do some damage come tourney time.

The Wolverines are in a similar situation to the Buckeyes, as they must replace the loss of veterans Evan Smotrycz (transfer) and Zack Novak (graduated). Returning for Michigan are freshman of the year point guard Trey Burke and guard Tim Hardaway junior, both of whom will be hard to stop. It will be interesting to see how these guys mesh with incoming freshman Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary.

But, when it comes down to it, who ultimately is No. 1 then? Well, Wildcat fans may not like to hear this, but I believe that Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals are the best team in the nation right now. Guards Petyon Siva and Russ Smith return to lead one of the nation's best backcourts this season. Center Gorgui Deng's 9.1 rebounds per games were among the top in the Big East last year. Could this be the year Pitino's squad finally cuts down the nets? Quite Possibly.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and like everyone else, it is highly subjective. Especially when you consider the fact that I haven't seen any of these teams play yet this year. But I figure hey, if the other guys can do it (and not that well I might add) I can't be any worse.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

College Football Top 25- Week 11

Week 10 of the college football season was exhilarating. Alabama and LSU did battle in another SEC West Classic, Oregon outlasted USC in a shootout in Los Angeles, and Notre Dame's perfect season continued with a triple overtime win over Stanford.

At the end of the day, LSU's loss once again shook the landscape in both the BCS and AP Top 25 polls. However, I would like to challenge both the AP and the BCS with my first weekly College football Top 25 poll.

Yes, I understand that with 10 weeks of the season behind us, I am a little behind the eight ball. But right now I don't care, I am adding this poll to the blog. I also hope to add a college basketball Top 25 as well.

Without further ado, here are my rankings:

1. Alabama- The Crimson Tide continue to roll through the SEC portion of their schedule with an impressive come from behind victory at LSU. Right now it appears that Alabama should not face another challenge until the SEC title game, likely against Georgia.

2. Oregon- Ducks prove once again they have the most explosive offense in the nation in defeating USC. Unfortunately for Oregon, they haven't faced a defense like Alabama yet. Still, they remain the best threat to unseat the defending national champions thus far.

3. Kansas State- Collin Klein delivers an average performance (if you consider 309 yards of total offense average) in the Wildcats blowout win over Oklahoma State. Klein easily the favorite for Heisman right now. K-State the alternate for BCS championship should Oregon or Alabama fall.

4. Georgia- Bulldogs have begun to peak since defeating rival Florida in the World's Largest, er, 'Gathering' two weeks ago. Georgia defensive lineman Javaris James making a push to be the No. 1 overall selection in next April's NFL Draft.

5. Florida- Gators bounce back from aforementioned loss to Georgia by holding Missouri to seven points. Will Mushcamp's squad needs to find its offense, however, if they want to remain in the top 10. We're sending Hannibal, BA, and the rest of the A-Team on the case.

6. Louisiana State- The media has a problem ranking a two-loss squad this high. J-Rod's Sportszone doesn't really care what the mainstream media thinks. The eye test shows that the Tigers are a top five squad, and they are sixth currently due to the loss to the Gators earlier this season.

7. South Carolina- The loss of Marcus Lattimore was certainly huge for Steve Spurrier's squad, but not insurmountable. This team still has enough talent on both sides of the ball to finish with 10 wins.

8. Florida State- Now that it appears the Seminoles 'trap' game is out of the way, FSU is looking for its first 11 win season under head coach Jimbo Fisher. Whether they get there depends largely on the play of quarterback EJ Manuel.

9. Oregon State- The Beavers have a healthy Sean Mannion back at QB, and still hope to supplant Oregon as the North representative in the Pac-12 Championship. They must defeat Stanford before they meet the Ducks, however.

10. Texas A&M- The Aggies have adjusted nicely to SEC play thus far, and, quarterback John Manziel might end up being better than Ryan Tannehill after it's all said and done.

11. Notre Dame- The Irish are wondering what in the world they did to have three two loss teams ranked ahead of them. Well, they almost lost at least three different games to opponents they were huge favorites over, including last Saturday's triple overtime thriller against Pitt. How much longer can Irish eyes continue to smile on Brian Kelly's squad? Something tells me the season ending game versus USC could spoil a 12-0 season, although a trip to a BCS Bowl is almost a lock.

12. Ohio State- J-Rod's Sportszone doesn't care that the Buckeyes are banned from BCS consideration this season. J-Rod's Sportszone also doesn't care OSU is the best team in the Big Ten. Buckeyes' defense is a couple of years away from being championship caliber. Braxton Miller should finish in the top three in Heisman voting.

13. Louisville- The only other undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Cardinals suffer from playing in the Big (L)East conference.  If Cardinals win at least 10 games and win the Big East, they guarantee they won't be the laughing stock of the BCS this season. That title could go to the winner of the Big Ten Championship (which won't be OSU, btw).

14. Oklahoma- The Sooners were preseason favorites to win the Big 12. Now they are looking to get into a New Year's Day Bowl at least, with an outside shot at a BCS at-large spot.

15.  Clemson- Tahj Boyd and company need a little help from Florida State's remaining opponents if they are to make it back to the ACC championship game. If Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame, and KSU go undefeated, they may need even more help to make it as a BCS at-large team.

16. Stanford- The good news for the Cardinal: they still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South, as they advance to the Pac-12 title game if they win out. The bad news: Stanford faces Oregon State and Oregon in the next two weeks. If they lose both of those games they may fall to the bottom of these rankings.

17. Nebraska- With wins in consecutive weeks over Michigan and Michigan State, the Cornhuskers control their own destiny in the Legends Division of the Big Ten.

18. UCLA- Bruins, with an impressive win on Saturday over Arizona, are in the drivers seat for the Pac-12 South. If only they didn't have to play Oregon in the title game.

19. USC- Matt Barkley can kiss the national championship, more than likely the Pac-12 championship, the Heisman, and the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft goodbye. But hey, at least he can say he got his college degree.

20.  Texas- If Mack Brown's squad can win two of their next three, his job is safe. Well, let's be honest, his job is probably safe anyway, the folks in Austin have started to get used to mediocrity.

21. Louisiana Tech- I'd be more impressed with this squad if they had actually beaten the Aggies a few weeks ago.

22. Mississippi State- Bulldogs still trying to be a top-tier SEC team. They are not quite there yet.

23. Rutgers- What bowl game this team lands is anyone's guess.

24. Northwestern- Bet you if I said name the three ranked Big Ten squads,  you would have never guessed the Wildcats would be one of them.

25 Kent State- Because the Golden Flashes are the Mid American squad with the more impressive victory (Rutgers).

There you have it, my top 25 for week 11. Please feel free to drop me a line if you disagree. Or just to compliment me on how much fairer my rankings are than the BCS or AP Top 25. Thanks