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Will Stanford Spoil Notre Dame’s Championship Dreams? 1

Posted on November 26, 2015 by Jim Hurley
Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal will look to run Notre Dame out of the college football playoff mix.

Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal will look to run Notre Dame out of the college football playoff mix.

The Stanford Cardinal just keeps churning along. They enter a sequence of two big games—Notre Dame on Saturday night and the Pac-12 Championship Game against the UCLA-USC winner the following week—with a chance to reach at least the Rose Bowl, and maybe the College Football Playoff with a little help. And for my purposes as a handicapper, they’ve been an excellent bet all season long.

Stanford is 8-3 against the spread (ATS), covering in five of six home games and going 3-2 on the road. They do it primarily with the power running game that has become a staple of this program under the current leadership of head coach David Shaw and his predecessor Jim Harbaugh.

This year’s stud running back is Christian McCaffrey, a Heisman contender who has rushed for over 1,500 yards and is averaging nearly six yards a pop. McCaffrey has also caught 34 passes for 416 yards, making him the Cardinal’s second-leading receiver.

You don’t run the football like that without talent on the offensive line, and NFL people love the left side of the Stanford line, with tackle Kyle Murphy and guard Joshua Garnett. Both of them will be on your TV screen on Sundays next season.

The combination of McCaffrey and the great offensive front has made Stanford that rare team that can not only run the football, but still be explosive offensively while doing it. It’s enabled the Cardinal to cover big pointspreads in conference games—they won at Oregon State 42-24, at home against Washington 31-14, and at Colorado 42-10 each time covering a two-touchdown line. Stanford dropped 50-plus points in easy covers over Arizona and UCLA, and they delivered another double-digit cover last week, beating Cal 35-22 as a (-10) favorite.

Those type of offensive explosions are coming almost exclusively through the running game, which ranks 15th in the country. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is in his fourth year as a starter and he’s smart and competent, but his limitations along with that of the receivers’ corps have resulted in a passing game that ranks 79th.

On the flip side, Stanford is not an outstanding team defensively. They aren’t bad by any stretch, but good offenses have been able to put up points—notably Oregon, which came to The Farm on November 14 and won 38-36. Stanford also gave up 35 points to UCLA. The Cardinal defense isn’t dotted with players that attract NFL attention. Read the rest of this entry →

Mighty Zultan’s College Football Forecast for Week 11 19

Posted on November 09, 2011 by JA Allen

LSU topped Alabama in week 10, as No. 1 faced No. 2

Who knew such an exciting football game could be so boring? When Alabama hosted LSU last Saturday, not one touchdown was scored.  You call that a football game?

It was like watching soccer for the Big Zzzzzz…oops, dozed off again.  Just remembering how Zultan tried to stay awake until the last of five “field goals” spiraled through the uprights —whew, a real defensive struggle.

If only Alabama had won the coin toss—now that would have been exciting!

Still Zultan missed the final score and went down to defeat, along with many of you.  And now I hear pundits demanding to see the game again at the end of the season—as in Alabama vs. LSU, Part 2, the BCS Championship Game…

Pah-leeze!  Once is quite enough, thank you very much.

The big shocker of the day was one nobody saw coming—the Northwestern Wildcats defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln. Who knew?  Certainly no one on this planet.

The only Big Red stampede came at the end of the game when Cornhusker fans stormed the exits. They were not humming “Whatever Bo-Pa Wants,” either as they fumed out with little puffs of smoke coming out of their ears.

When the dust settled over Lincoln Land, there were nine who guessed better than Zultan in week ten. Zultan posted an 8-2 record, missing on LSU and Northwestern. This week, however, looks like a supreme test despite the fact that Zultan has received his new crystal ball via the OverLook Brothers.

Click here to make your picks and see if this is finally the week you reign supreme over the the all-seeing seer by outguessing him on the selected games listed below.  Not much time is left in the regular 2011 season, so join in the fun today.  Zultan will feature you in his next column if you surpass him in picks.

Read the rest of this entry →

Mighty Zultan’s College Football Forecast: Week 9 98

Posted on October 26, 2011 by JA Allen

Michigan State hosted Wisconsin in Week 8.

When the sun finally set last Saturday, a couple of towering BCS Top Ten gridiron stars crashed and burned while entering the oh-n0-zone of the once-beaten.

The Michigan State Spartans blew Wisconsin’s national championship chances  out of the water while Texas Tech did the same thing to Oklahoma. Zultan who had picked Wisconsin to defeat the Spartans found himself facing loss number two last weekend as the “Hail Mary” pass by Cousins ricocheted the quarterback into unending Spartan glory.

Earlier in the day came loss number one. The all-seeing seer also failed to realize that Illinois would arrive in West Lafayette without any clout—with barely a smidgeon of stuffing left after being run over by the Buckeyes the week before. The Illini managed some scoring in the fourth quarter but it was too little too late, trailing 21-0.  Purdue hammered home some pride, winning this game for the home crowd.

As Zultan stirs from his weekly trance, he finds the Big Ten settled firmly in the middle of the pack in BCS rankings with only five of the 12 teams ranked.  Illinois fell out of the top 25 after suffering two losses in a row. The overachieving SEC takes over the top two spots until LSU and Alabama meet on November 5.

Only two brave souls scored better than Zultan in week eight. This week the all-seeing Zultan has more tough contests to predict as he stares into his crystal ball, awaiting clarity. Reaching for perfection, this may be the week for you to finally outguess the Mighty Zultan. Click here to make your choices and see if your prognosticating powers are greater than Zultan’s.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Iron Man Randy Smith
      February 2, 2019 | 5:58 pm

      Randy Smith-BravesThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month may have had a pretty common name, but his iron man streak as an NBA player was anything but ordinary.

      In a streak that lasted more than a decade, Randy Smith played in 906 consecutive NBA games to establish an NBA iron man record that lasted more than a decade.

      That Smith made it to the NBA at all was somewhat of an underdog story.

      A three-sport standout at Bellsport High School in Long Island (basketball, soccer and track), Smith also was a three-sport All-American at Division II Buffalo State College. He helped lead the Bengals to three straight basketball conference championships and a spot in the 1970 Division II Final Four.

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