Tag:Michigan State
Posted on: October 29, 2010 7:38 pm
 

Insane Predictions, Week 9

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Iowa State would put up 28 points on Texas before hanging on for victory OH WAIT ADAM JACOBI DID EXACTLY THAT. WHAT. WHAT. (You can't see this, but I'm posturing like an imbecile.) We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever. As you can tell.

Highly Unlikely

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin goes B-A-N-A-N-A-S on homestanding Texas, throwing for 310 yards without an interception and running for another 75 with a pair of touchdowns, leading the Bears to a season-defining 27-24 win over the Longhorns. Afterwards, Texas coach Mack Brown first blames a failed attempt to do the John Wall dance as a motivational tactic in the pregame locker room, then complains that the Bears' Waco recruiting base gives them "a big leg up when it comes to athletes."

"You look at a kid like Griffin," Brown says, referring to the quarterback from outside Killeen, "and that's the kind of player that we just have a hard time getting to come to Austin. The kind of pull they'e got in this state, that's a big advantage." -- Jerry Hinnen

Extremely Unlikely

During the second quarter of the Auburn-Ole Miss game, Cam Newton is tackled after a 15-yard gain on the Rebels sideline near Jeremiah Masoli. As Newton gets up to the ground Masoli yells at him "Hey, I totally would have ratted you out to the cops if I'd seen you with that stolen laptop, Newton!" This enrages Cam Newton, who then immediately triples in size and turns green. He literally rips Masoli in half, and Auburn is assessed a 15-yard personal foul. Oh, and Newton is kicked out of the game, to great protestation from Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. Without Newton, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn suddenly seems like less of a genius, and Auburn's offense stalls. Ole Miss comes back to win and ends Auburn's hopes for a national title. -- Tom Fornelli

Completely Ridiculous

Michigan State loses to Iowa this weekend. Okay, that's not exactly a wild prediction, but what ensues turns the college football world on its head. Michigan State wins the rest of their games, as does Ohio State, and both teams finish the season at 11-1 (7-1) without facing each other. The Big Ten tiebreaker rules award Ohio State the Rose Bowl bid, enraging the Spartan faithful. However, Oregon earns a trip to the national championship, freeing their spot to be taken by a BCS-eligible team from a non-qualifying conference, as is the new rule. Trouble is, Boise State also makes the title game, while TCU beats Utah to knock the Utes out of contention. But instead of the Horned Frogs receiving the bid to Pasadena, TCU is ruled ineligible for bowl play and stripped of all 12 wins after an investigation reveals that they'd been using ringers from the NFL, and nobody at the NCAA had really bothered to check until a concerned Utah fan noticed that the players kept arriving to the games in their personal helicopters. I assume everybody in the NFL has their own helicopter. With no non-AQ schools left standing and no other Pac-10 teams in the top 16 of the BCS standings, the Rose Bowl instead selects Michigan State to face Ohio State, creating the first real Big Ten Championship Game a full season before Nebraska even shows up. The Rose Bowl Committee decides that this game is "kinda way better without the Pac-10 around," and the Big Ten decides to make the Rose Bowl the permanent home of its conference championship game, to be decided every year on January 1. You know, because of tradition. -- Adam Jacobi

Posted on: October 29, 2010 3:22 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 9

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Doctors have long said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but these doctors obviously didn't have the Saturday Meal Plan in mind when they came up with that load of poop.  I mean, the morning slate has been pretty light all season, but this week?  Wow, it's barren.  I wouldn't normally ever say this, but if there was ever a Saturday morning to get all those chores around the house done that you've been putting off, this would be it.  Besides, you're going to need some room in your stomach to eat all the candy you decide to keep from the trick or treaters on Sunday.

Still, if you insist on it, here are your options.

Breakfast

Main Course - Cincinnati vs. Syracuse - Noon - ESPNU

See?  I told you.  I wouldn't normally recommend the Big East to anybody, but this really is the most important game on Saturday morning.  Syracuse has been one of the bigger surprises of the season, and if you ever want to check them out without sacrificing better games, than this week is your best chance to do so.

Both the 'Cuse and Cincinnati are still very much alive in the Big East race, and the conference does still get that automatic BCS berth, so I guess that makes this game worth your time. 

Side Orders: I suppose that when Jacory Harris is playing quarterback for Miami there's always a chance that the Hurricanes could be upset, so I guess that's reason enough to tune into Miami and Virginia on Saturday morning.  Or you could go with Illinois and Purdue!   Oh how exciting that will be!  Though, truth be told, Illinois is one of those teams that may be a lot better than is record indicates.  I would have made Kansas State and Oklahoma State the main course, but since it's not being televised nationally, I just couldn't.  Still, if it's on in your area, I suggest finding it.

Lunch

Main Course - #14 Nebraska vs. #7 Missouri - 3:30pm - ABC

Unfortunately, the two biggest games of the day will be played at the same time on Saturday afternoon.  It was tough to choose between the two for the main course, but since the winner of this one is basically a lock to win the Big 12 North, I chose this.

Missouri jumped out last weekend and showed the country that they are, in fact, a legit undefeated team by knocking off Oklahoma, but this game may be even tougher.  It's one thing to defend your home turf, it's another to go into a hostile environment and take down a strong Nebraska team.

Well, unless your Texas, but the Longhorns are stuck in some kind of bizarro dimension this season.

If the Tigers can win in Lincoln, then barring something crazy, they'll continue climbing the BCS rankings and reach the Big 12 title game undefeated with the conference and possibly a shot at the national title on the line.

Side Orders: Of course, if the Big Ten is more your thing, then you can't go wrong with Michigan State and Iowa.   This game is the last true roadblock between the Spartans and an undefeated season, as they don't have to face Ohio State this season.  Also, while the Hawkeyes lost last week, they're still in the hunt for the Big Ten title as well, but a loss in this game would wipe away all hopes.  Or maybe you'd prefer Georgia and Florida.   The game doesn't have the normal hype considering neither team is ranked right now, but whoever wins this game has a good shot to win the SEC East.  The loser is just about done.

Dinner

Main Course - #24 USC vs. #1 Oregon

This is your best option on a Saturday night that is a little light compared to the last few weeks, but anytime you get a chance to watch Oregon play, you should take advantage of it.  This team is just fun, and considering the amount of smack that has gone back and forth between the Ducks and Trojans this week, it's that much better.

If the Ducks annihilate USC on Saturday night, they also have a chance to impress those computers and jump Auburn in the BCS rankings.   Also, since USC isn't allowed to go bowling this season, or win the Pac-10, they don't have much left to play for aside from possibly knocking the Ducks out of the title game.

Side Orders: ABC's other prime-time game this weekend is Ohio State and Minnesota.   Seriously, the only thing I have to say about that game is pray you get Oregon and USC in your area.  If you don't, flip on over to Ole Miss and Auburn because watching Cam Newton run over dudes is always a good time.  There's also Washington and Stanford, or you can check out Penn State and Michigan.   In other words, there's nothing fantastic, but there is plenty of quality on Saturday night.

Late Night Snack


Odds are that it won't be televised in your area, but if it is, take some time out to watch TCU and UNLV.   Believe me when I say that TCU is just as good as Boise State or any of the other undefeated teams in college football these days, they just don't get as much national television exposure.  So, if you can, do yourself a favor and find this one.  It might just change your mind about who should be playing for a national title, and who shouldn't be.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 3:38 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:09 pm
 

Chris Rucker may play for Michigan State at Iowa

Posted by Adam Jacobi

What do the words "zero tolerance" mean to you? A simple, straight interpretation of the term would mean that there are certain things that are beyond the pale of acceptable behavior, and violation of that rule would necessitate exclusion from whatever group set the rule -- in this case, a football team.

Oh, but Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio operates on a different level than you, and don't ever forget that, because A) he used a fake field goal to survive a heart attack and that is completely ballin' out of control; B) his handling of star cornerback Chris L. Rucker defies normal logic and he doesn't care. Back when Rucker and a good fraction of the Michigan State football team was involved in a gigantic fight with an academic fraternity (yes, they exist, and they're more prevalent than you think), Dantonio made a public statement about a "zero tolerance" policy toward the players implicated in the fight and his decision to grant eligibility to most of them. Rucker was one of those players.

Thus, one would this that Rucker was being held to the strictest of standards on and off the field. And yet, Rucker was arrested just this past week for OWI and thrown in jail for violation of probation after Rucker copped to a reckless driving charge. So, zero tolerance means Rucker's definitely off the Michigan State team, right? Oh wait:

Michigan State defensive back Chris L. Rucker was reinstated after serving eight days in jail following a drunken-driving arrest.

Coach Mark Dantonio said it would be Rucker's decision whether he travels with the team when the No. 5 Spartans play Saturday at No. 18 Iowa.

Mr. Dantonio? Some explanation?

“Our decision to immediately reinstate [Rucker] has been endorsed by the team's unity council and the program at-large,” Dantonio said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision. After much soul searching and dialogue with those who are vested in the program, I am comfortable and confident in the decision I have made.”

Well, wow. The excuse of "'zero tolerance' doesn't mean automatic dismissal," as Dantonio put it , doesn't hold an ounce of water, and it seems pretty clear that Dantonio knows that ... except Dantonio doesn't have a reason to care, and the fact that he won't be called out en masse about this decision only reinforces that point. If Dantonio can wrangle a logical justification to get Rucker on the field, he probably will, and it'll be less disadvantageous to Dantonio's job than if he leaves Rucker languishing on the bench.

That said, it's important to point out that there's a mountain of difference between Dantonio's description of Rucker's status (ssss) and outright reinstatement to the starting lineup. If a coach tells the press that something is "up to" a certain player, that statement is absolutely loaded with hidden meaning and conditions. What's up to Rucker? Does he have to give up alcohol forever? Is there an obligation he has to fulfill to the football team? There must be something  of great merit that Rucker has to accomplish that'll let the cornerback stay on the Michigan State football team even after he serves 8 days of jail time as a punishment for violation of his probation.

But Dantonio seems to be okay with allowing whatever condition must exist be played out immediately, and if there's any reason why Rucker can't play at Iowa , it seems to be kept secret at this point. PRO TIP: if reasons why a star player wouldn't be able to play in an upcoming game aren't made public in any respect, they probably don't exist, and that player will play immediately. Absent any new information, that's what we should expect here.


Posted on: October 27, 2010 7:44 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 9:25 pm
 

Pac-10 Rose Bowl update, Week 9

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Yesterday, we ran down the list of potential Big Ten champions and what it'll take for each of them to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl. Now, let's look at the other half of the Granddaddy. Of course, if the Ducks win out, they're probably headed to the BCS Championship instead of Pasadena, but they'll still be the Pac-10 champions. It's worth mentioning, however, that in the event that Oregon finishes undefeated and goes to the title game (likewise with Michigan State and the Big Ten), the second-place team will, in all likelihood, not be taking its place in the Rose Bowl; this is the first season that the new BCS rules require an unused Rose Bowl berth go to a a BCS-eligible team from a non-AQ conference. Being that Boise State, TCU, and Utah are all in the Top 10, it's pretty safe to assume one will be available to crash the party in Pasadena. That said, the Pac-10's nine-game, round-robin schedule and its lengthy tie-breaking procedure mean we've still got a wide-open conference race unfolding.

Oregon can go to the Rose Bowl (or BCS Championship Game) if...

  • Oregon wins out;
  • Oregon loses to Arizona or Oregon State AND that team loses another Pac-10 game;
  • Oregon loses to USC, Washington, or California but wins the rest of the games;
  • Oregon loses two games AND the two teams to beat Oregon have at least three conference losses apiece;
  • Oregon loses two games AND wins a multi-team playoff that, since Oregon has no current losses upon which to base their situation, could turn into anything this far away from December.  

Stanford can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Stanford wins out AND Oregon loses at least two games;
  • Stanford loses another game AND Oregon loses at least two games AND one of the teams to beat Oregon is also tied at 7-2 IF that team lost to Stanford AND the other team to beat Oregon is higher in the standings than the other team Stanford lost to.

Arizona can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Arizona wins out AND Oregon State loses at least one more game.
  • Arizona loses to a team that is not Oregon, Oregon loses another game but beats Oregon State (who also wins out aside from the Oregon loss), no other Pac-10 teams finish at 7-2 or better, and Washington finishes higher than the other teams Arizona and Oregon lost to.

Oregon State can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • OSU wins out;
  • OSU loses one game to a Pac-10 team that ends with at least three conference losses AND Washington loses another game.

USC can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • USC wins out AND Oregon loses another game AND Stanford loses another game. HO HO HO JUST KIDDING SAY HELLO TO BOWL INELIGIBILITY

 

The Pac-10 has some awfully complicated multi-team tiebreaker rules that, with five or six games left in the conference season, render a full accounting of what each team needs for a Rose Bowl berth nearly impossible. Enjoy:

(1) When three or more teams are tied in Conference play, if one has defeated all others, it shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If that is not the case, a comparison of the tied teams' records against the other tied teams shall be made and the team having the best record against the other tied teams shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If two or more teams are still tied after this comparison, the appropriate two-team or multiple-team tie-breaking procedures shall be repeated among those teams still under consideration. (2) If more than two teams are still tied after the process above is completed, each remaining tied team's record against the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings shall be compared, with the procedure continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage. When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, each team's collective record against the tied teams as a group shall be used. If at any point in the process the multiple-team tie is reduced to two teams, the two-team tie-breaking procedure shall be applied. If more than two teams are still tied after comparing their records all the way through the Conference standings, the team among the tied teams with the highest ranking in the final BCS standings shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If a tie remains, the teams most recently earning Rose Bowl or Bowl Championship Series automatic selection shall be eliminated.

Yeah. So until we see a couple more weeks' worth of results suss themselves out, a potential 3-way or 4-way tie scenario won't be in great focus yet. As a general rule, though, the more winning a team does, the less help they need to claim the league title. But you probably knew that already.

Posted on: October 26, 2010 5:54 pm
 

Big Ten Rose Bowl update, Week 9

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Probably no team, aside from involved parties, was happier to see Iowa fall to Wisconsin last weekend than the Michigan State Spartans. With that game in the books, Michigan State is now the only undefeated team in Big Ten play, and even if MSU loses to Iowa this weekend, it doesn't need a whole lot of help to get to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1987 season. So here's how each team that's plausibly in the Rose Bowl race can make it there this season.

Michigan State can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • MSU wins out;
  • MSU loses one game, but wins the rest AND Ohio State loses OR MSU is still ranked higher than OSU in the BCS rankings after the regular season.

Wisconsin can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Wisconsin wins out AND MSU loses at least two games.

Iowa can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Iowa wins out AND Wisconsin loses at least one more game

Ohio State can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • OSU wins out AND Michigan State loses twice OR Michigan State loses once and the loss pushes MSU below OSU in the final BCS rankings.

Purdue can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Pretty much every other Big Ten team is declared ineligible

Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:57 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
 

Davey O'Brien semifinalists announced; no Persa?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the nation's top quarterback, announced its 16 semifinalists for the award today. The list is as follows, in alphabetical order:

 

  • Matt Barkley (Soph.), USC
  • Kirk Cousins (Jr.), Michigan State
  • Andy Dalton (Sr.), TCU
  • Blaine Gabbert (Jr.), Missouri
  • Robert Griffin III (Soph.), Baylor
  • Landry Jones (Soph.), Oklahoma
  • Colin Kaepernick (Sr.), Nevada
  • Andrew Luck (Jr.), Stanford
  • Ryan Mallett (Jr.), Arkansas
  • Taylor Martinez (Fr.), Nebraska
  • Kellen Moore (Jr.), Boise State
  • Cam Newton (Jr.), Auburn
  • Terrelle Pryor (Jr.), Ohio State
  • Denard Robinson (Soph.), Michigan
  • Ricky Stanzi (Sr.), Iowa
  • Darron Thomas (Soph.), Oregon

 

All in all, this is a pretty thorough list of the quarterbacks who might end up being the top quarterback in the nation once December rolls around, but it certainly does seem as if there was one glaring omission: Northwestern sophomore Dan Persa . Persa currently leads the nation in completion percentage, is eighth in passing efficiency  and is fifth in total offense . Oh, and Persa also leads his team in rushing yards (341) and rushing touchdowns (six) -- each by pretty substantial margins over the nearest teammate.

Of course, it certainly merits mention that Northwestern is currently on a two-game losing streak, and that the Wildcats hadn't really beaten anyone of merit before the streak either. But in the Wildcats' losses to Michigan State and Purdue -- neither of whom have lost a Big Ten game yet, for what it's worth -- Persa was hardly "at fault" for the losses; he averaged 281 yards of total offense in the two games and scored four touchdowns to just one turnover.

It's hard to say who should be bumped for Persa's sake, though; every one of the top 16 semifinalists has a legitimate claim to deserving some sort of accolade. It's also worth pointing out, however, that until Missouri and Oklahoma faced each other this past weekend, Dalton, Gabbert, and Jones were all quarterbacking undefeated teams, and that's probably the only reason they're on the list; Jones and Gabbert, in particular, aren't even close to the top 16 of passing efficiency in the nation (34th and 39th, respectively). None of the three are terribly gifted runners, either, while Persa's been forced to anchor the woeful Northwestern ground game.

Of course, the O'Brien Award probably wants to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to even nominate a title contender's quarterback as a finalist, and with two conference losses, it's extremely unlikely that Northwestern will represent the Big Ten in Pasadena, much less make a run at a spot in the Top 10. Persa and his Wildcats aren't high-profile, and that's enough to leave him off this list. Inclusion's academic either way, since this is clearly Cam Newton's to lose, but it'd be nice to see a quarterback like Persa rewarded for putting together one hell of a season so far even when he doesn't have the supporting cast to win 11 games in a season.


Posted on: October 25, 2010 5:43 pm
 

Suspended MSU CB jailed for violating probation

Posted by Chip Patterson

Michigan State cornerback Chris Rucker was a crucial piece of the Spartans defense until he violated his probation by operating a vehicle while intoxicated earlier this month.  Head coach Mark Dantonio quickly issued an indefinite suspension for the senior, who was already on probation for his involvement in an on-campus fight less than a year ago.  

While his Spartan teammates spend the week preparing for one of the biggest games of the season at Iowa, Rucker is with his new teammates at Ingham County Jail.  East Lansing District Court Judge David Jordon said Rucker pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving, and will be released on Thursday after serving an eight day sentence.  He also received two additional years of probation as part of the plea agreement.  

The Spartans have moved on without Rucker on the field, and Dantonio has them focused on defending their undefeated record in Iowa City on Saturday.  The jailing should not serve as a major personnel issue on the field or off-field distraction for Michigan State, though it is unfortunate for Rucker.  He was a preseason All-Big Ten selection, and had already started his senior season with strong performances against Notre Dame and Wisconsin.  

Rucker's role with the football program in the future is yet to be determined, and Dantonio is not expected to address the issue until his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

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Posted on: October 23, 2010 9:33 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 10:43 pm
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 23)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. You're going to have to knock Sparty out. The Michigan State Spartans, even sitting at 7-0 entering this week's trip to Northwestern , weren't exactly strangers to adversity. They trailed Notre Dame in the fourth quarter. They gave away all kinds of points in turnovers against Wisconsin . Their offense sputtered for a half against both Michigan and Illinois . Their head coach had missed time with multiple ailments including a freaking postgame heart attack.

But in football terms, none of that quite matched trailing the Wildcats 17-0 on the road midway through the second quarter this afternoon. The Spartans were lucky it wasn't worse, as Northwestern had fumbled a certain touchdown at the 1 and had both run the ball and stopped the MSU run with impunity. No matter: the Spartans turned to quarterback Kirk Cousins and their excellent receiving corps, and responded with an immediate touchdown. Just a few minutes into the second half, it was 17-14. A fake punt helped keep them within 24-21. And two touchdowns in the game's dying minutes gave them a 35-27 win . They just never stopped coming.

The lesson -- as the lesson has been all season with the Spartans -- is that you'd best put your boot on Sparty's throat when you get the chance. If you let them stay upright, their offense is too balanced and their confidence too high for them not to overtake you eventually. Just ask the Wildcats.

2. Iowa's fourth-quarter mojo is missing. A year ago, Ricky Stanzi was unstoppable in the final period , and the Hawkeyes rode his arm to a perfect 10-0 record in games he started and finished. Four of those wins came by a teeth-skinning total of eight points, with several others blown open by the Hawkeyes in the fourth after three evenly-played quarters. In short: no team in America was more clutch.

In its five wins so far this year, Iowa hasn't needed any of those heroics, winning by an average of 23 points. But twice in 2010 the Hawkeyes have found themselves in fourth-quarter struggles, and in neither case have they come up with the plays that made 2009 so special. Against Arizona , it was a collapse on the offensive line that led to a series of game-ending sacks. Against Wisconsin today , it was the Iowa special teams and defense that allowed the Badgers to drive 80 yards in 7:29 with the game on the line, eventually giving up the winning touchdown to Badger backup Montee Ball . The Badgers converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive, one on a fake punt deep in their own territory.

And this time, with barely more than a minute to work with, Stanzi wasn't able to pull off the miracle drive for the win. As they say: what a difference a year makes .

3. Move along: there's nothing to see in Minneapolis. Playing at home after the embarrassment of having its coach fired midseason, Minnesota allowed the previously moribund Penn State offense -- and "moribund" is being kind -- to rack up 145 rushing yards and 33 points in a comfortable 12-point win , all without injured starting quarterback Robert Bolden . We knew that the next Gopher head coach was by far the biggest question surrounding the program; after a performance like Saturday's, it's fair to call it the only question.

4. The Big Ten is one game away from total chaos. Or total boredom. Wisconsin looked utterly lost in East Lansing in Week 5, but after massive wins against Ohio State at home and now Iowa on the road, it's fair to say the Badgers have their usual ground-pounding attack operating at maximum efficiency. The Buckeyes made clear Saturday they're not going anywhere, obliterating Purdue 49-0 . And as painful as their come-from-ahead loss Saturday may have been, Iowa has just the one conference loss and is all the more dangerous for having been stung by its setbacks to date.

Meaning that if Michigan State falls in Iowa City this coming Saturday, no less than four of the Big Ten's powers could be tied at the top of the conference standings with a single loss, with only one game -- Iowa against Ohio State -- still to play between the four of them. The mind reels at the tiebreakers.

The flip side is that if Michigan State wins in Iowa City, to sit at least a game up on the rest of the field ... with head-to-head tiebreakers over the Hawkeyes and Badgers in hand ...  no game scheduled against Ohio State ... and only dates against Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State remaining ... you might as well go ahead and pencil the Spartans in for Pasadena, or something even greater.

So, Michigan State at Iowa: the game of the Big Ten's season? Yes, Michigan State at Iowa, the game of the Big Ten's season.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com