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The Bucky Channel is making a triumphant comeback. Stay tuned for the latest.


The Bucky Channel is making a triumphant comeback. Stay tuned for the latest.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Your Late ACC/Big Ten Challenge Preview

For about seven years now Winks and I have been betting on the annual ACC/Big Ten challenge. We bet on the games with the spread in mind, with Winks always taking the Big Ten while I go with the ACC. For that reason, it was an easy way for me to make some good drinking money off of him for the first few years. But my how the table has turned in his favor. The ACC has been slacking of late, and doesn't seem to be the big power house conference it once was. I know Duke won it all last season, but other than them the ACC didn't really have much to offer.

Not sure I see any change happening this season. On Monday night, Virgina shocked Minnesota to get the ACC out to an early 1-0 lead. Minnesota beat UNC a few weeks ago, and really looked like a team that could be really good this year. Now I feel that UNC might just be that bad again this year. UNC has been my team forever, so I hope they can figure it out. In fact, they are almost playing as well as the Bucks right now (which I will get back to writing about later this week, it's just been too depressing around the Bradley Center so far).  If I was a real betting man I would put my money on the Big Ten this year, but I have to stay with what I have done over the past few years. Good thing we only bet like three bucks a game.

So that's our extensive Bucky Channel preview, but I had to get the article about the Packers loss off of the top of the page. ESPN and their "experts" put together their predictions and a deeper preview, so check this out if you want to figure out when your team is playing, and who they are playing. This year Wisconsin has NC State at home on Wednesday at 6:15 central time. I think after the let down against Notre Dame last weekend, you can expect the Badgers to bounce back at home.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Bucky Five: Every Loss is the Same

1. There's No Other Way to Say It, This is Getting Really Old - Make it four losses this season, all by three points a piece. On one hand, it's nice that we're not getting embarrassed by teams when we lose, but on the other hand watching these kind of games isn't very good for the cheese-laden aorta's of Packer fans throughout the state. The Packers 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday had a very similar feel to it as all of the previous losses that Green Bay has been involved in this season. Just like the others, this was a close game that the Packers could have won had it not been for one or two mistakes. In Sunday's affair, it was the untimely fumble by Aaron Rodgers at the goal line as well as a non-challenged play that would have prevented Tony Gonzalez and the Falcons from getting a first down in a key moment. Two mistakes across sixty minutes doesn't seem like a big deal, but when you are playing the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome - a building that always seems to give the benefit of the doubt to the Dirty Birds - two mistakes is two too many. Let's analyze those mistakes a bit more, shall we?

2. McCarthy Under the Microscope - One of those aforementioned mistakes was the non-challenge of a Tony Gonzalez completion on a fourth-and-3, on a drive that eventually lead to a Falcons score. Gonzalez never actually caught the ball that was ruled a completion, but McCarthy never threw the challenge flag. You could see several Packers such as Nick Collins asking for the challenge flag to be thrown, but it never was. In the post-game presser, McCarthy said that he got the information about possibly wanting to challenge the play a little too late, and suggested that you're not able to see the replay as quickly when you are on the road. The announcers (Brian Billick and the always dreadful Thom Brennaman) were quick to praise the Falcons for getting the next play off quickly when in reality the play clock nearly expired, it's just that McCarthy didn't seem to have any intention of throwing the flag.

I think McCarthy was aware that this was a play that might want to be given a second look, but because he was a bit unsure he didn't have the stones to ask for the challenge. That's just my suspicion, not fact. It's hard to make that decision in real-time like that, and it's easy to second guess it later, but getting those decisions correct and using the challenges correctly may be what separates the winners from the losers. In this game, you can definitely say that his decision not to challenge hurt us in the end and eventually had a hand in the Packers loss. Last week I deemed McCarthy a coach of the year candidate, but he needs to be more confident in when to challenge before he's going to get showered with awards and accolades.

3. That Was Not a Running Game - The other major issue in this game for the Packers was their absolute lack of a running game. Aaron Rodgers led the Packers with 51 yards rushing, and for some reason he ran the ball a whopping 12 times. Rodgers almost seemed determined to run the ball whenever possible on Sunday, and I'm not sure if that was part of the game plan or if the Falcons secondary is just that good where Rodgers felt he didn't have any options down the field. Brandon Jackson ended up with 26 yards, but only got into the positive yardage category when the Falcons were anticipating the pass. It was a dreadful running attack in this game, and I don't care how good the other team's run defense is, the Packers have to find a way to run the football if they are going to be a playoff team.

The ineffectiveness of the Packers running game put the ball in Aaron Rodgers hands at the goal line instead of in the hands of a running back, and that led to disaster. Rather than pounding the ball in with someone like Jackson or Dimitri Nance, or even a fullback, McCarthy and the Packers felt that a QB sneak was the way to get into the end zone. Usually, I'm alright with the call, but in this particular circumstance the result was Rodgers' first fumble of the season and the Falcons recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback. But there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the running game in this one, including the poor blocking of everyone on that offensive line.

4. Matt Ryan is Not Better Than Aaron Rodgers - Despite the fumble that prevented the Packers from getting on the scoreboard, I was more than pleased with the play of number 12 this week. In addition to being the team's leading rusher, Rodgers collected 344 yards through the air including ten on a fourth-quarter touchdown to Jordy Nelson. With the Packers down seven and time running off the clock, Rodgers was brilliant on the drive, converting two passes on separate fourth down plays. One of those plays was a shovel pass to James Jones, while the other was the touchdown to Nelson after Rodgers bought some time with his legs. Rodgers has proven he can lead the fourth quarter drive, it's just that every time he does, the defense and special teams can't seem to stop the opponent. So while Rodgers led a five minute drive to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan is the hero because he drove the Falcons twenty-some yards into field goal territory after Atlanta had a big return on the kickoff. Matt Ryan looks like the hero, when his drive was a hell of a lot less impressive than the one Rodgers put together.

I used to consider myself a Matt Ryan fan, but add him to the list of people I liked before they beat the Packers (Sidebar: I call it my McNabb list. I used to be in the tank for McNabb for whatever reason, going as far as purchasing a McNabb bobblehead as well as his jersey t-shirt. It may have been influenced by a trip to Philadelphia I took when I was younger, but for whatever reason I used to love the guy. Then the 4th and 26 game happened, and all that love turned into hate. It's actually one of three McNabb lists I have. The other two are for people who get a free pass because of something Rush Limbaugh said, as well as for people who quit when the game is on the line. For instance, LeBron James is on the McNabb list for his performance last year against Boston in the playoffs.) Anyway, Matt Ryan seems to have the Midas touch down in that building, because no matter what happens the Falcons always seem to find a way to win at home with him. It's more often dumb luck than it is skill, which makes it more annoying. And when it happens against the Packers, it makes me hate you. Sorry Matty Ice, but we're through.

5. Outside Looking In - I'm normally never one to bring up how bad the NFC West is, but come on man, this is getting embarrassing. You're telling me that the Rams are currently 5-6 and right now would have a playoff spot, while the 7-4 Packers are on the outside looking in? Doesn't seem right. I remember last year when I was very confident about the Packers and how they were going to make the playoffs, but then they lost that heartbreaker to the Steelers and everyone started to panic a bit. That's kind of how I feel right now. The thing is, this game against Atlanta wasn't really one I even had high expectations for. Sure, I was hoping for a win, but if we lost on the road to Atlanta I knew it wasn't going to be the end of the world. But with the way that we lost this one, I think we have the better team. And I desperately want to see the rematch, even if it means we have to face them in Atlanta during the playoffs. But the question is, will we even see the playoffs?

All season long I've been pretty confident that we are a shoe-in for the postseason tournament, but the Chicago Bears are trying to throw a kink into that plan. With their win against the Eagles this week, Chicago is somehow 8-3 and are the leaders in the NFC North. My worry is that if the Bears keep playing well, we may have to be a Wild Card team if we want to get into the playoffs. And because one of those playoff spots are guaranteed to the NFC West, the competition to get in as a Wild Card becomes that much more tight. I'm pretty confident that the Packers will beat the Bears in the rematch in week 17 at Lambeau, and I really can't see us doing worse than 10-6. But 10-6 might not cut it because one of the playoff spots is going to go to a division winner that may not even have a .500 record. As of now, the Packers sit at the eight spot in the NFC, and by doing the math we can all figure out that eight teams can't squeeze into a six-team field.

Ahead of us right now for the Wild Card spot would be Tampa Bay, New York, and and New Orleans. We play the Giants at Lambeau on December 26th, and where earlier in the season it looked like that game would be for home-field advantage in the playoffs, now it may be for a playoff spot alone. We are getting into December football here, and every week becomes that much more crucial, especially if you're playing catch-up. I still fully expect the Packers to make the playoffs, and I'm really just thinking out loud here, but the point needs to be illustrated that the road to the playoffs might be a little tougher than we thought it would be, mainly because of Chicago.

My main worry is that a game we thought we'd be safe to lose might turn out to be the game that we needed most to get into the playoffs.

Pasadena Bound?

First of all, my congratulations to everyone associated with the Wisconsin Badgers football program. This was truly a dream season that has been a joy to watch as this team grew each week after that tough loss at Michigan State and can honestly say they are a football team playing as well as anyone in the nation.

Yesterday culminated as everyone expected it would. The Badgers dismantled a clearly beat-up and undermanned Northwestern team. Would the score have been different if Persa plays for the Wildcats? Sure, but the end result would have been the same. Persa doesn't play defense, and after watching yesterday's game the argument can be made that the entire Northwestern team doesn't either.

Montee Ball did what he has done for the last six weeks behind that offense line. James White was the perfect compliment to Montee. And J.J. Watt, a strong contender for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, took over the game. Again the kick coverage team looks like it needs a little work. Expect to see more experienced players on that special teams unit for the bowl game as everyone has 5 weeks to rest and nothing will be held back in early January.

I don't remember if it was during the Badgers game yesterday, or one of the early Big Ten games, but does anyone remember the comment from a member of the broadcast team saying that Dennard Robinson is OBVIOUSLY the first-team all-Big Ten quarterback? Are you kidding me? For a 3-5 Big Ten team that didn't beat anyone worth a damn? Scott Tolzien completed 74% of his passes on the season w/ 16 TDs and only 6 interceptions. Now I know he's not flashy but does anyone run an offense better than him in the Big Ten? Now Terrelle Prior will certainly get consideration, as will Robinson, Kirk Cousins, and Persa (back to my 3-5 Big Ten record for Persa), but how do you not give serious consideration to Tolzien. My main argument with Robinson and Prior, however, is that these two guys are really just running backs who throw occasionally. Tolzien is a quarterback who directs the offense, can throw the ball well and on a consistent basis AND break the pocket to pick up the first down with his legs if he needs to. He is not a run first, throw second, type of quarterback.

On to the Rose Bowl question and the automatic Big Ten qualifier. I know Michigan State fans are going to gripe because they beat the Badgers, however, the reason they are not part of the discussion and are the first eliminated in my mind is because you can't go on the road and get blown out by a clearly mediocre Big Ten team like Iowa and remain part of the discussion. Wisconsin's loss at East Lansing was in the first week of the Big Ten season. We were without David Gilreath and Nick Toon. No discredit to Michigan State, but right now they are not better than Wisconsin and Ohio State. Period.

The bigger argument is between Wisconsin and Ohio State. What should be the most important factor is, of course, the fact that Bucky dismantled Ohio State back in October. Unfortunately, most voters can't remember that far back and as we all know it is better to lose early rather than late. Though, again, Wisconsin lost earlier than Ohio State.

With that in mind, I compared the schedules of both the Badgers and the Buckeyes. The first thing of note, the Buckeyes played 8 home games to the Badgers 7. That's right, the Buckeyes played all of their 4 non-conference games at home this year, not once going on the road. In Big Ten play the teams had 5 common opponents. Both easily handled Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota. Each also went on the road to Iowa, both winning close games on their last drive of the game. So with all that comparing, it pretty much looks like a wash when you compare schedules. Which brings us back to head-to-head, and we all know that result.

So we will wait until 7:15 or so Sunday night. Since neither Wisky or the Buckeyes play again til the bowl game, next week's BCS results for these two teams shouldn't be different from this weeks. There are a few "prognosticators" who are predicting that OSU will jump Wisky in the standings this week. If that happens the BCS has officially lost all credibility, if it hasn't already.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Badger Fans Still have Work To Do! **UPDATED**

Big win for Bucky. JJ Watt and company took care of bidness but there's cheering to be done folks. If both Auburn and Oregon lose, Wisconsin will be in position to play for the National Championship!
I hope vendors in the Madison-area are over-nighting South Carolina and Oregon State gear.
YES, it's and super-outside outside that it's not even in the rear-view but wow...after what's happened this week, can we not think it's possible?
No Winks jinxing (sorry dude) here but the option is in play.

**How is it that if both teams lose, STANFORD is in position to go to the National Championship over Bucky even though they are not even the PAC-10 conference champion? Even with a loss to Oregon State, Oregon is still the champion. I would hope this would be taken into account. Now, their loss to Oregon SHOULD knock them down should Oregon lose but the Badgers are ranked higher than Stanford in the other polls. More proof (not that it's neded) that the BCS is horseshit.**
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Long Season Ahead for Bucks

Say hello to your last place in the Central division Milwaukee Bucks. With a game against the Cavs on Wednesday, and then another Friday night against the Pistons, you would have thought the Bucks could win those two games. Instead, they found a way to lose both games and look awful doing it. On Wednesday Mo Williams hit a shot at the buzzer for the win. Milwaukee had only put up 13 points to piss away Wednesdays game, but worst of all turned the ball over on two of the last three possessions of the game. Cleveland escaped with the 83-81 win Wednesday night.

Things didn't get any better for Milwaukee on Friday night either. The Pistons put up 103 points on the Bucks, which at this point in the season seems to be an impossible number for the Bucks to match. They came out flat Friday night, and just let the Pistons do whatever they wanted to as they built an early lead. Every time Milwaukee got within three to five points, but then the Pistons would just go on another nice little run. In the end this game was never close, and the Bucks better get something figured out soon.

The Bucks record is now 5-10, and if you ask me I think that most people would have thought they would be more like 10-5 at this point. They better start winning some games, and that better start Saturday night. If they continue this streak of not winning the games that they should, they might as well kiss this season good-bye. If you want your eyes to bleed, here's a recap of the Pistons taking down the Bucks 103-89 Friday night.

I'm not going to bother with dissecting the stats because none of them are worth looking at. If the Bucks fall again Saturday night to the Bobcats this might be panic time for Milwaukee. They almost really need to win 7 of the next 10, or something like that, to get back into this thing.  Hopefully that starts on Saturday night, with an 8:00pm tip for the Bucks. Kind of a late start, and who knows maybe that's the key to helping them out. They need to do something, because I don't think things can get much worse than they are now.

Saturday Morning YouTube Potpourri

I admittedly am one of those people that when I hear a song I like, I listen to it over and over and beat it into the ground. I'm finding out this morning that I also do the same thing when I hear a song I despise. The following song is so awful, but I can't stop listening to it, even though I know for a fact that my brain is bleeding.

Those were the Smokies Ladies, a few young women that support the Tennessee Smokies Double-A baseball club, and there are a few reasons why this terrible video is so awesome. First, the singing is beyond dreadful, and I love the comment posted by a Deadspin reader about how "at least the young Double-A hitters aren't the only ones in the stadium who can't find a pitch". Second, the three chicks have no problem butchering the entire song, but then there is one part where they kept Beyonce's vocals in because they knew they couldn't match her range. Third, this is the affiliate of the Chicago Cubs! I can't wait until some of these players make it to the bigs and then they have to live this video down. Even though they had probably nothing to do with it, it's bad enough to give them a little hell for.

But give the ladies credit, they tried their hardest, and in the minors that's really all you can ask for. (And they're not bad looking either. Well, except for you #27).

Friday, November 26, 2010

College Football is a Cold Hearted Bitch

You know the saying, "Be careful what you wish for?" It sounds like phrase is going to be an accurate summation of all my bitching this year regarding college football. After wins by both Auburn and Oregon on Friday, it's becoming more and more probable that my wish for Boise State to play a big time program in a bowl game is going to come true. Only thing is, it's becoming more and more probable that their opponent is the Wisconsin Badgers.

I'm writing this article in the middle of the second quarter of the Boise State/Nevada game, which I assume that the Broncos are going to win because teams don't blow 17-0 leads or greater, right? Oh shit, sorry Alabama. My goodness, how in the hell did the Crimson Tide blow a 24-point lead against Auburn? In my BCS standings this week, I mentioned how it was beginning to seem as if the college football Gods will do everything in their power to not let Boise State or TCU get into the national title game. Last year, TCU was the victim of a sketchy play between Texas and Nebraska in the Big 12 title game and now this year it's an improbable road comeback from Auburn that will likely keep the mid-major out of the Championship game. It's unbelievable, really.

All I wanted was Auburn to lose a game on the road at Alabama, which seemed very likely on Friday morning, and even more likely when they were down 24. But in true SEC football fashion, the game ended up coming down to the final minutes, and with all Crimson Tide hopes at the hands of a redshirt freshman quarterback after Greg McElroy was knocked out with a concussion. Obviously, Auburn would go on to win that game at that point. From there, we had some optimism when Arizona lead by a touchdown over Oregon in the first half, but the Ducks poured on the points after halftime. With those two outcomes, Boise State's lead becoming more comfortable as I continue writing, and TCU likely to win on Saturday, the top four will likely go unchanged, except for a swapping of positions between the Broncos and the Horned Frogs.

I started to become really annoyed with the announcers during Friday's games, especially the CBS color guy who did the typical soapbox routine about how the smaller schools don't face the week in and week out competition that teams in the SEC do. The broadcast crews also made the point to mention about how Friday had a playoff like feel, and while I guess that was true, a "playoff like feel" doesn't make up for an ACTUAL PLAYOFF! I don't know why so many people are so quick to defend the current setup, especially when every other level of collegiate football has no problem setting up a playoff system. But as usual, I digress.

So assuming that things hold to form with the Big Ten teams on Saturday, Wisconsin will win the conference and head to the Rose Bowl. With Oregon likely in the national title game against Auburn (unless either Oregon State or South Carolina can really shake things up with upsets, respectively), that will probably leave Boise State for the Rose Bowl. All season long I've been rooting for Boise State to make a BCS bowl, preferably the title game, and then destroy whichever big time school they'd face. Now you're telling me that their likely opponent is Wisconsin? Jesus. I'm obviously going to root for Bucky, but that matchup would be a slap in the face to guys like me that want to see this BCS system implode and think that the only way that will happen is if a mid-major school gets a title shot. Now we're probably going to get Boise State vs. the Badgers.

College Football, you truly are a cold hearted bitch.

#FollowFriday: James Smizek

Last week in this space we highlighted an athlete and it turned into a mini-rant about why I think Twitter is kind of stupid, or at least when people use it to show me how good of friends they are with people they really aren't friends with at all. This week, let's give some love to someone that uses Twitter a little more effectively than I do, none other than our very own James.

James can be found using @WiscSportsTalk, and in addition to promoting the articles he writes here at the Bucky, he also uses his account to link to some quality articles written by other bloggers throughout the state. Plus, he actually updates it with realtime Tweets, something I am failing miserably at doing. Basically what I'm saying here is if that if you like The Bucky Channel, you're going to get a hell of a lot more enjoyment out of James' account than you are mine.

Happy Tweeting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

BCS: The Bucky Channel Standings

Oh man, I just realized that I better do my BCS article as quick as possible since there are a ton of college football games on Friday this week. One of those games may be the last chance to see one of our beloved non-BCS schools advance into the top two, as Auburn travels to Alabama. Also, I guess we as a blog haven't officially wished anyone a Happy Thanksgiving, so we'll do that now too. There was lots of good NFL on Thursday (at least before Carson Palmer showed up), and we hope those of you that don't have to work the weekend (sigh... me) will get to enjoy a lot of great college football matchups in the upcoming days.

Dropped Out: Nebraska (9th), Michigan State (10th)

10. Alabama (LW: NR) - Alright, so I'll finally give in and put two-loss Alabama in my top ten, mainly because Michigan State isn't very good so they can drop out. I know that they beat the Badgers, but that seems like a whole different season ago. Since that game, the Badgers have been unbeatable, while Sparty barely beat Northwestern and Purdue, and also got crushed by Iowa. As for Bama, they may be out of the title picture but they still play a huge role in deciding who gets there as they host Auburn at 1:30 Friday on CBS. It's at Bama, and I fully except the Tide to roll, but the way Auburn has been playing you know this is going to be a classic 4th-quarter SEC finish. Do the dirty work for me Bama, and let Boise State slide right in to the national title game.

9. Oklahoma State (LW: NR) - I know absolutely nothing about this team, but they have been sneaking up the Top 25 all season long. They are 10-1, although haven't really played that tough of a schedule, but do have wins over Texas A&M, Texas, and Baylor. Their lone loss came to Nebraska which is respectable, and they have a big game against #13 Oklahoma this Saturday night. I know nothing else to say, but good luck to 'em.

8. Ohio State (LW: 6) - For the last like five weeks I've been saying, "I'll continue to rank Ohio State higher than other one loss teams because if the Buckeyes didn't lose to the Badgers, they'd still be number one." Then I realized, that logic could be applied to a handful of teams, so saying that each week didn't really make much sense. Plus, Ohio State just isn't as good as Stanford and LSU (or maybe they are, but we'll never know until there is a playoff!), and they nearly lost to a struggling Iowa team last week. They have their annual game with Michigan this weekend, which I have never cared about it, but maybe it's because I hate both of those schools with burning passion.

7. Stanford (LW: 8) - Could this be the Badgers opponent come BCS time? I'm not sure, but I know of a lot of people that are already making plans to head to Pasadena come New Years Day. I'd kind of rather see the Badgers play in one of the other BCS games because they seem to have the feel of a bigger game, but a Rose Bowl appearance against Stanford wouldn't be a bad game. The Cardinal should cruise by Oregon State this weekend, and barring an Oregon loss, the Rose Bowl likely awaits.

6. LSU (LW: 7) - The Badgers just can't get above these guys in the BCS, and week in and week out LSU shows us why. They escaped with a narrow victory against Ole Miss last week, but this is a darn good football team. Especially since their only loss is to Auburn, the (spoiler alert) number one team in the Bucky Channel Standings. They have a big SEC matchup against Arkansas this weekend, but it's over shadowed by the Alabama/Auburn matchup of the same conference.

5. Wisconsin (LW: 5) - You know it's a good season for the Badgers when they put up 48 points on Michigan, at Michigan. Just found this out too - each of the Badgers running backs (James White, Montee Ball, John Clay) have at least 500 yards and ten TDs on the season. This is the best Badgers team that we've had in a long, long, time, and how different would things be if it was Bucky, Auburn, and Oregon all undefeated? Would Bucky get a top two nod out of those teams? I'm not sure. What I am sure of though is if the Badgers were undefeated, I wouldn't give two shits about Boise State or TCU, and in fact I'd probably be trying to discredit anything that they were doing. But that's for another day. Bucky has Northwestern this weekend, and I hate them more than any other school in the Big Ten. Please beat them by 40, Bielema.

4. TCU (LW: 4) - People can complain about how a soft schedule helps TCU get to where they are, but the soft schedule is going to end up hurting them this weekend. Boise State has a tough matchup in Nevada on the road, while TCU has 1-10 New Mexico State. People can say that TCU wouldn't match up with Auburn, Oregon, or even Alabama, but until there is a playoff we'll never know.

3. Oregon (LW: 3) - Everyone is talking about how Auburn is likely to lose this weekend at Alabama, but Oregon could end up falling as well. They play a tough Arizona team, but the game is at Oregon so I think they'll be alright. Next weekend they have Oregon State, so they have two hurdles to climb, but ultimately I think they win out and will be in the BCS title game.

2. Boise State (LW: 2) - All season long I've been waiting for this weekend for Boise State, provided that Nevada didn't blow it and lose sometime along the way. Nevada did lose at Hawaii earlier in the season, but since then they've been doing what we needed them to do, and they come into this game ranked at number 19. Where TCU is playing a shit team this weekend, Boise State has the chance to knock off a top-25 team on the road, and that's something which may ultimately get them into the national title game.

1. Auburn (LW: 1) - Oh Auburn, you've come so far, and yet you're going to lose this weekend to Alabama and all your title dreams will fade away. At least that's what everyone thinks. You have the chance this weekend to piss off people like me who clamor for a Boise State type school to get the credit I think they deserve, and you may be able to pull it off. It's really Alabama that has nothing to lose as they aren't playing for all the marbles, but it's a scary thing when you make the number one team (in my poll) the underdog. If I put money on the line, I'd go with Bama, but the college football Gods have worked very hard to keep Boise State/TCU out of the national title game so far (think last season), so why should that change now? All that I know is that it's going to be a fun weekend, and if we didn't get penalized at my job for calling in sick after a holiday (you don't get the holiday pay if you do), then I'd be at home for sure for all of these.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week 12 Betting Lines **UPDATED**

Well, for the second straight game, I’m claiming a week in the black with a 5-3 record. Thanks again to Chris and Dave at Packers Therapy sponsored by for allowing me to have a little fun with this season. If you’re not listening to them then what the hell are you waiting for? They’re sponsored which means they’ve gotta be legit, right? If you’re concerned that they’ll be overjoyed at a win and amazingly negative after a loss, don’t be. They’re not new to the party and look at the team with a level-headed and even-keeled perspective that allows listeners to see both the positives and negatives in both wins and losses.
This week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta has presented a list of tight lines which may prove to be my downfall. If I’m going to maintain my winning ways, I need some softballs fellas! HIT IT!

Team Sacks
Line: 1.5
This is a tough one because Matt Ryan has a quick release and is a good quarterback who’s only been sacked 15 times this year. On top of that, this is a good offense overall which will test this Packers Defense. They only got one last week on Brett Favre. They’ll pressure Ryan but I’m taking the UNDER.
**Cullen Jenkins had 1 and so did Frank Zombo. That's 2 and I was thinking 1...not a good start. -1**

Aaron Rodgers Touchdowns
Line: 2.5
After the last two games, how could you not go over? He can get them running and passing but this is a good defense. But he can run and pass, OVER.
**He ran 1 in and threw a missile to Jordy on 4th down in the 4th quarter before the the completely UN-Special Teams Unit allowed the Falcons to start in plus territory for the game winner. -1...Uh-oh...trending down here**

Sam Shields Return Yards
Line: 80
He didn’t get opportunities last week as Minnesota didn’t score. He’ll have chances this week but the Vikings also kicked away from him last week. UNDER
**He had 87 -1...I don't like what is happening here**

Line: 6
They’ve righted the ship and only had one in Minneapolis which is more of a sports town than Atlanta could ever hope to be. UNDER
**Since when is a stiff arm IN-BOUNDS a penalty? That was the 6th, Bulaga's false start was the 7th and Wilhelm's attempt to rip the returner's facemask off was the 8th which is still more than 6. -1...looks like a losing week here**

Atlanta Rushing Touchdowns
Line: 2.5
Michael Turner is a good running back and they do have other guys behind him who can punch it in as well but Matt Ryan has Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. UNDER
**Well, I got this one right. Turner still smoked the Packers who COULD NOT FREAKING TACKLE! +1**

Tim Masthay Punting Average
Line: 41
This is a tough one. He averaged 39.2 in five punts last week but some of those were coffin kicks inside the 20. This is a field position indicator and this team is moving the ball well. UNDER
**Only 2 punts for ol Timmy and his average was more than 41. Thank goodness we've got a solid punter but, damn, I was wrong again. -1**

How Many More Carries Does Dimitri Nance get than John Kuhn
Line: 10
Apparently the JK Experiment is over. It would seem that Kuhn was simply a place-holder until Nance gained McCarthy’s confidence and after last week’s performance, it appears that he’s gotten it. Keep in mind that Nance was picked up from the Falcon’s Practice Squad so they know what he’s capable of and one would think this would factor into his touches. I believe the number will be right around 10 but I’ll take the UNDER.
**He went out with a concusion but had 1 carry. Kuhn had none. I WAS RIGHT! Too little, to late. +1**

And there you have it. See, I told you it was a tight line this week. It’s going to be a close game this week…of course, I said that last week as well and it really wasn’t close.
**With a record of 2-5, I record my first losing week. I knew it was coming...I think everyone did. Props to Dave with Packers Therapy for going 6-1. I'm feeling good about this week though! The mantra of the degenerate gambler.**

Also, you can follow Chris and Dave on twitter at @PackersTherapy and find them on Facebook as well as us.

Week 11 Pack Fan/Bears Fan (The SWEPT Edition)

What can be said that hasn’t already been said? Not much which is a good thing since I didn’t get to watch this game. No, I decided that it was a better idea to sit out in the rain and try, in vain, to “harvest” a deer…ANY deer. Alas, it didn’t happen and when we finally decided to pack it in after I had missed 3 deer running from my left at a distance of approximately 40 yards, we found a rather surprising result to a game we both expected to be fairly tight. Generally being a man of few words let me not disappoint and get to the brief rundown this week.

Pack Fan
  1. Rodgers is BACK: A quarterback rating of 141.3 this week and a second straight game over 130 is a good sign that the offense may have found their feet after early season struggles. No doubt he’s playing well after a low point against the Jets and it’s safe to say that fans should be feeling a lot better about this team after the early season swoon attributed to injury among other things.
  2. Jennings is BACK (as well): With the rather significant losses of Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley and the nagging injury that seems to be hampering Donald Driver, Jennings is finding his way back the elite level fans have seen from him in the past. Rodgers needed someone to step-up and hopefully Jennings will be targeted earlier in the progression reads that this offense is built around going forward.
  3. D-FENCE: Again, this defense is rounding into shape and proving that last year was no fluke. It’s definitely been beneficial that the injury bug hit the team early giving the young guys like Sam Shields and the guys who had been watching from the sidelines like AJ Hawk and Desmond Bishop a chance to get their legs under them and prove the depth that Ted Thompson has provided this coaching staff. The remaining games will continue to test this unit but fans should feel confident in Capers’ system and the players on this roster.
  4. Penalties: Only one again this week. It seems like the McCarthy and his staff has righted the ship after the horrendous display against the Bears in the third game of the season against Chicago. Mall of America field is a loud environment which tends to produce numerous false-start penalties for visiting teams. This week there wasn’t a single one for this team which is a good sign heading into another dome game this week in Atlanta.
Bears Fan
  1. Tight Ends: Not having seen the game, it’s hard to come up with anything disappointing about this game other than the lack of production from this position (which is why there are only two negatives). In general, this offense needs to get more from these guys. The lack this week may be a result of the Viking defense allowing for the wide receivers to be more open and Rodgers not having to check down but without a real threat at tight end with the loss of Finley, this could be a concern going forward.
  2. Running Back: It was nice to see Nance get some time and show Packer fans why Thompson picked this guy up but there’s no real set #1 and it’s fairly late in the season to be auditioning. Hopefully the running back-by-committee approach will prove to be successful going forward. James Starks being activated may add depth but no one really knows what to expect from him.
The safeties will be tested this week by Tony Gonzalez and Matt Ryan so fans should find out a lot about this team this week and how they’ve adapted to the roster upheaval the marked the beginning of the season.

Marquette Can't Handle Ranked Teams

After watching a few Marquette games so far this season, I have to say that I really like this teams' quick hands and lock down defense. The only problem is that they seem to breakdown with about three minutes left in the first half, then get in a hole at halftime, and just can't get the whole way out of the hole in the second half. Against Duke on Monday they were down nine at half, but ended up only getting beat by five. Number one in the nation Duke was just too big, and were able to hold on for the 82-77 win.

Mason Plumlee just couldn't be slowed down by the smaller Marquette team. Plumlee finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Six of his rebounds were on the offensive end. When is the last time Marquette had a true big man like that? It has been awhile, so this has been an on going thing for them. They always have good strong/physical forwards that will battle hard, but sometimes the size just costs them enough points to make it hard for them to win. Duke took it to Kansas State Tuesday night, so Marquette should feel good about how they played the Blue Devils.

On Tuesday night Marquette played well the whole first half against Gonzaga, until about the final few minutes. Gonzaga went into a zone defense, and that just messed Marquette all up. They were unable to score, and the Zags hit some big three's. Marquette fell again behind nine points at halftime. They had a chance late to tie it with a three, but Jimmy Butler couldn't get it to go. Gonzaga held on for the 66-63 win over the Golden Eagles.

So it wasn't a good week for Marquette's record, but the week should go a long way for their confidence. They were beaten this week by the 1st and 18th ranked teams in the nation by a combined score of eight points. I think they should have learned a lot this week about themselves. What they need to do know is start finishing out halves better, and keeping up this tough defense.

Lets take a look at some guys who put up good numbers in these two games for Marquette.

* Jimmy Butler pulled a Brandon Jennings, who always seems to have 6 assists every game, because in both games he put up the same amount of points with 22 points in each game. He also had six rebounds, and one assist in both games. Kind of crazy, but true, so lets hope he can maybe get over the 22 points hump this season.

* Jae Crowder is someone to keep an eye on. He seems to have some huge upside already in this young season. The guy just has quick hands, and seems physical enough to shut down any big man that the other teams throw out there. Against Duke on Monday he had four steals, and he finished with five steals against Gonzaga. Coming off the bench he had\s played a huge role so far this season. He also can score a little with 15 points against Duke, and 10 points against Gonzaga. I really feel he will be the X-factor for how this team will do this season.

* Darius Johnson-Odom has to start making more three pointers. He had some open looks in both games, but was unable convert on them. He finished the two games 3-13 from downtown, so he has to improve those numbers. Buzz is sticking with him, but if his numbers keep falling he may find himself on the bench more.

* Marquette was 4-20 from downtown against Duke, and 6-21 from downtown against Gonzaga. Sounds like they will live and die from the three this season. Looks like they will have to make about 9 or 10 a game to beat the more powerful teams.

Marquette had a chance to beat a Top 25 team this week, and that will always help your rating at the end of the season for the big dance. Playing in the Big East they will get many other chances to play big games, but would have been nice to get one of these wins this week. The good news for the Golden Eagles is they didn't get blown out of the water by either team, which showed they showed that they are not going to be an easy win any night. They will get time off for Thanksgiving before they head back on the court Saturday against UW-Milwaukee.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Which Coach Will the Packers Get Fired Next?

Coaches around the NFL that are on the proverbial hot seat are double checking their calendars to make sure that they don't have the Green Bay Packers on the upcoming schedule. In their last two games, the Packers have been the final opponent for two coaches, first the Cowboys' Wade Phillips and now Brad Childress of the Vikings. Obviously, the firings weren't based solely on how their teams played against the Packers, but in both cases the games were the final straw. Two uninspired performances against Green Bay put two coaches into the unemployment line, and could the Pack make it a third by season's end? From least likely to most likely, here are the following coaches who are in jeopardy of losing their job after playing the Packers in 2010:

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (Dec. 19th) - Jeff Fisher may be the longest-tenured coach in the league, but sooner or later I think that distinction will go to Bill Belichick. Unless Belichick decides to retire on his own, this guy is going to be coaching this team until he's dead. I think this is the game that the Packers are least likely to win in their final six, but either way, Belichick's job is pretty secure.  

Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons (Nov. 28th) - Mike Smith has the Falcons rolling, and even though I do think the Packers will get the upset in Atlanta, his job is more than safe. Then again I did pick the Rams to beat Atlanta last week, so maybe I'm just not giving the Falcons any credit. Either way, Smith's job isn't close to being in doubt.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (Dec. 26th) - Here's where things start to get interesting. Do I honestly think Coughlin will get fired after the Packers play them this season? No, I do not. But it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility, especially if the Giants have another late-season collapse. If Coughlin does get the ax this season it would likely be after the season and not after this game, but I think he's still relatively safe.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions (Dec. 12th) - I still think that in a few years the Lions are going to be a perennial NFC Championship contender, but then again we've been saying that for nearly ten years now. You would think that the Lions would give Schwartz a little time to turn this ship around, but just when this team starts showing progress they drop a game to a team like the then-winless Buffalo Bills. Schwartz will stick around for while, but then again, these are the Lions. You never know.

Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers (Dec. 5th) - These final two coaches have a legit chance at getting canned after they play the Packers, especially Mike Singletary. This guy appears more in over his head every week, and it will be a long time before he coaches again after this job, if ever. I still think that if the 49ers wanted to fire Singletary mid-season they would have done it by now, and somehow San Fran is still in the playoff race at 3-7 because the NFC West is so bad, so a coaching change now would be ill-advised. Actually, if the Packers lose this game, maybe Mike McCarthy's job should be in jeopardy. Just kidding, but seriously they better not lose this game.

Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears (Jan. 2nd) - Not only do I think Lovie Smith is the most likely to lose his job, I think it's almost a certainty it's going to happen. Sure, the Bears are in front of the NFC North right now, but there's plenty of season left for that to change and for them to collapse. When I've brought this up with others, the notion that Lovie could be fired quickly gets shot down because they all seem to be certain that his job is safe, but I wouldn't be so sure. I think Smith has to win the North and then a playoff game for his job to be safe, because he's been all talk and no walk for quite some time now. Plus, this is the last game of the season so the probability of him getting fired after this game is increased by that reason alone.

While it's probably way more likely that none of these coaches get fired this season much less immediately after playing the Packers, it's already improbable that two coaches got fired against us in back to back weeks. It may be unlikely that a third gets shipped out, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of these coaches had a hard time sleeping the night before they faced Green Bay.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Lemmy Channel: Wisconsin Teams Continue Impressive ATS Run

When we had signed on with The Bucky Channel 2.0, we had planned on more than one post per month to grace the redesigned pages of this site. But, as this is just the second installment of The Lemmy Channel, that clearly hasn't happened. And with fellow Bucky Channel contributer Turtle providing great coverage of the sports betting world in Wisconsin, we haven't been in a rush to throw something up here.
If we know one thing about Wisconsiners? Wisconsians?... er... Wisconsin residents, it's that you love to gamble--so the more gambling content the merrier.

And so, to refresh your memory, we are the folks over at Stock Lemon, providing the main squeeze on stocks, sports wagers and whatever drives in the most page views. Which is the perfect segway into this week's (read: month's) analysis. Since everything on the internet is about pageviews, we're once again here to talk about the Brett Favre vs. Green Bay Packers matchup--as we did in our first post--although that's only 1/4 of our story.

One of the things we pride ourselves on are our against the spread records. Our Free NFL Picks have been over 60% all year (which is good) while our Free NCAA Football Picks have been in the 50% range (not as good). But more impressive, our hindsight picks are a perfect 100%, so travel back in time and place these bets on your local teams.

If you checked out our site at all Sunday (thanks to The Bucky Channel for the giant Lemmy icon on the right side of the page), you noticed that we had the Packers -3 over the Vikings Sunday. Clearly, with a 31-3 win, the Packers covered easily.

What we haven't had, unfortunately, were bets on the Packers in their previous three games. After a 3-3 start (both in real and gambling terms), the Packers have gone 4-0 against the spread, which is even more impressive than their four consecutive straight up wins.

Take a look:

Packers 31, Vikings 3 (W, Packers -3)
Packers 45, Cowboys 7 (W, Packers -7)
Packers 9, Jets 0 (W, Packers +6.5)
Packers 28, Vikings 24 (W, Packers -2.5)

This run is very similar to last season, when after a 4-4 start, the Packers rattled off five straight wins (4-0-1 ATS) and won seven of their last eight, going a perfect 7-0-1 along the way. After these .500 starts, the public loses faith in the Packers after high expectations--and seemingly takes the rest of the year to recover.

Of course, the Packers were favorites in the wild card playoff game against the Cardinals--which finally ended their impressive ATS run, but we won't talk about that.

But the Packers aren't the only Wisconsin team dominating as of late, but against the spread and otherwise. The Wisconsin Badgers, after a 1-5 start against the spread, have won their last five ATS with convincing games against the Big Ten. Check it out:

Wisconsin 48, Michigan 28 (W, -3.5)
Wisconsin 83, Indiana 20 (W, -22.5)
Wisconsin 34, Purdue 13 (W, -20)
Wisconsin 31, Iowa 30 (W, +6.5)
Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 18 (W, +3.5)

Obviously, when teams are winning in general, that correlates to them winning ATS--but not always. The fact that both the pro and college team are on a combined nine game ATS win streak is not something that happens often.

Which means you can look forward to both teams getting the Stock Lemon jinx next week.

Nevertheless, if you can do your best Marty McFly impression and put some money on your home town teams--do it. And if you have been being a homer and laying some holiday cash on the Packers and Badgers, happy holidays to you indeed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Bucky Five: A Most Symbolic Victory

1. Let's Get the Favre Talk Out of the Way First - Maybe it's because I need to find more things that will make me happy in this world, but as of now the highlight of my week each and every week is the three hours that I get to sit down and watch some Packers football. It's just how things work when you're a Packer fan, and I'm sure a lot of you are in the same boat. No matter what else I do the rest of the week, I am waiting for Sunday afternoon for the moment where I watch the green and gold.

That wasn't the case this week though. As much as I am in the tank for the Packers, I did not initially look forward to this game. You know me by now, so it's not surprising when I say that my lack of interest was because of my hatred for Brett Favre. I've put so much of my energy into hating this guy that mentally you could say I've become a bit worn out by it all. Since he left Green Bay, we've already had to face this guy three times, and I wasn't really in the mood to go through another round. The chronic shots of Favre and discussion surrounding him during the game has grown a bit tired, and I did not want to watch a script I've seen played out three times before. Sure, we finally beat the bastard just one short month ago, but that was enough for me. I didn't want to go through it again.

Turns out though, I ended up enjoying this game quite a bit more than I thought I ever would.

In terms of symbolism, this game had it all. Yes, the franchise did already get the Favre monkey off their back when they beat him... er, I mean, the Vikings... at Lambeau earlier this season, but then to go up to Minnesota and not just beat the Vikings but to destroy them, well, it feels good. Especially when it effectively ends any hope they had of salvaging a season, and it may end up ending Brett Favre's career.

In the post-game, Favre was asked if there was any reason for him to continue playing this year since the playoffs were all but out of reach, and instead of quickly shooting down any thought of that, Favre hesitated and instead spoke out "re-evaluating" things. Of course, Favre loves to waffle because then we'll talk about him some more, but he sounded like a guy that wanted to just go back to Mississippi and pretend like this whole thing never happened. Ultimately, I don't think he will do that. Favre's not a guy that's going to quit, and he's certainly not going to leave and keep all that money on the table. If he were to get benched, that's another story, because I don't see Favre sticking around to be a backup. He didn't want to do it in Green Bay after he retired, and he's certainly not going to do it in Minnesota.

I really don't know why he did decide to come back this season, because all summer long the signs pointed to no. But the Vikings were so close last season to a Super Bowl, and I think because of that Favre underestimated how hard a return run like they had last season would be. As a Packers fan, thank God he did end up coming back. Let's say he is retired this season. If so, we never get those two victories over him this year, which not only takes said monkey off the back of the franchise, but finally allows us to move on from the whole debacle. This year has to prove to everyone that Ted Thompson is no fool, and that he knew what he was doing the entire time.

Who knows what would have happened if Favre is still a Packer right now, but two things are for certain in my opinion. One, the season that Minnesota is having now would be the exact same season that we'd be having if Favre was our starter. Two, it would have been "so long" to Aaron Rodgers a long time ago, because there's no way he would have stuck around and continued to play second fiddle. Even if he did, how messy would it be right now if Favre was the old time veteran that wasn't ready to call it quits, and Rodgers was still waiting in the wings ready to go. This scenario that is happening in Minnesota is the exact scenario that Thompson saw playing out except that Minnesota has worse backup quarterbacks, so kudos to him for not only making the decision to allow Favre to walk away, but also for staying strong in his beliefs that it was the right decision.

They can say all the right things to the media but trust me, Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson, Mark Murphy, Aaron Rodgers, all of them, they are all sleeping very well tonight.

2. Greg Jennings Putting the Team on His Back, Dog - So we know that the Packers killed the Vikings by a score of 31-3. But how exactly did they do it? Well, let's go inside the mind of a-Greg Jennings. Rodgers has said that he was going to make more of an effort to get Jennings the ball, and that paid off on Sunday as Jennings had seven catches for 152 yards, three of them counting for scores. Huge performance from Jennings, another product of Ted Thompson being an insanely awesome General Manager. James Jones caught a touchdown pass as well to give Rodgers four for the day, and to say that A-Rodg outplayed Favre would be an enormous understatement. Great job in the passing game on Sunday.

And hey, here's a Did You Know fact for you as well about our performance on Sunday. Did You Know that Dmitri Nance was the Packers leading rusher with 37 yards? How the hell did that happen?

3. We'd Have No Problem Playing at Wrigley - The game that took place between Northwestern and Illinois at Wrigley Field on Saturday drew a few laughs because of how often the teams had to switch sides, as one end zone wasn't deemed safe enough because of size restrictions. If the Packers were playing at Wrigley Field, that wouldn't even be an issue. The Packers don't need to switch sides to let the other team score "safely" because the Packers apparently don't give up touchdowns anymore. In fact, they've given up just one touchdown in their last thirteen quarters, dating back to the fourth quarter in their first matchup with the Vikings this season.

Despite the blowout, the first quarter was pretty much going in favor of the Vikings, but the Packers defense buckled down and kept Minnesota at bay until our offense was ready to show up. The play that really started to turn the tides was the Tramon Williams interception, because after that it was all Packers. What a year Tramon has had so far this season, and if Ted is as great of a GM as I think he is, he will make sure he locks this guy up for the long term. Add  a Clay Matthews sack in Sunday's stat sheet for good measure, and there's not too much you can do to complain about our defense at this point. Speaking of locking people up, it would be a good idea to make sure Dom Capers sticks around for as long as possible as well.

4. Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy? - Mike McCarthy did something on Sunday that he has never done in his five years as the Packers head coach, and that was the act of deferring a coin toss to the second half. This meant that he knew he'd be giving the Vikings the ball to start the game, but he did so because he was confident enough in how well the aforementioned defense has been playing. The move paid off and is another sign of how much McCarthy has matured over the years as the Packers coach. With the way he is calling the games and the way that he has managed this team and still held them accountable during all their injuries, I think it's only fair to say that he's in the conversation for Coach of the Year. Speaking of Mike, I seriously hope that there is no one out there still calling him, Thompson, and Murphy the "Three Stooges". I also seriously hope that if/when the Packer fans that jumped ship and followed Favre are looking to come back, that they know they are not welcome here (at least not by me).

5. The Road Ahead - With the win, the Packers now sit at 7-3 and if the season ended today they'd have the six seed and a trip to Chicago for the first round of the playoffs. Unreal right? Of course, the Packers and Bears still will meet again this season, but it's imperative that the Pack keep winning especially if the Bears do. As of now, we almost have to play like we are going after a wild card spot, because as of now that's how it shakes out. And that makes this weeks' game a big one as the Packers will travel to Atlanta to face the 8-2 Falcons. Everyone loves to talk about how great Atlanta is at home, and deservedly so, but getting a win at the Georgia Dome would really open up eyes up about how good this Packers team is. Remember, all three of their losses have been by just three points a piece. Lately, this Packers team has been so dominating that they got Wade Phillips fired and now Brad Childress could be next. With New England, the Giants, and Chicago all still left on the schedule, the Packers need to get wins where they can get them and a victory in Atlanta would be a huge start.

And before I forget, kudos to everyone that noticed Taco from "The League" chilling with Zygi Wilf in the Vikings' owners box!

Thunder Slip Past Bucks

James Harden, you are sure right with that gesture, because all that the Bucks needed on Saturday night was a three pointer to send this one into overtime. But Brandon Jennings missed both chances he had, and Gooden couldn't convert an and-one put back. Either one of those goes down, and the Bucks may have taken this one into the extra period. Milwaukee got in a hole early, and just couldn't ever get over the hump, as the Thunder took this one 82-81.

The Bucks cut the lead to one on five different occasions, but they were never able to take the lead. I guess I don't know how to explain this, but the only thing that comes to mind is Carlos Delfino. Honestly, I think this team is lost on offense when Delfino is not on the court. Did I ever see myself saying this? No way, but it has to be said. Delfino needs to come back, and soon.

So even with no Durant and no Green, the Thunder still get a huge win in Milwaukee. You would think Westbrook would have been the guy to take over, but instead it was James Harden. He just keep hitting three pointers, and it seemed like he would fire one up and make it every time the Bucks were making a comeback.

Let's check out some other highlights from the game that knocked Milwaukee to a 5-8 record:

* Drew Gooden was pissed at halftime, but he played his best game as a Buck. He finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds. It is good to see some fire in these guys eyes, but they need to start finishing games. They need to start adding on wins instead of building up the L column.

* The Thunder took Jennings out of his game, because I think he doesn't want to be the guy with the most shots. He is looking to pass more this season, but the Thunder would double down on Bogut as well as double Salmons. That left Jennings open a lot and while he was able to put up 25, he would have needed 30+ for the Bucks to win this game.

* Milwaukee is 3-30 from downtown in the last two games. This also shows that Delfino is needed back ASAP. Also it would be nice if someone would start to get hot from deep.

* Eleven assists as a team is awful. It was another one on one game for the Bucks. This Thunder team is known for their lack of defense, but it just didn't seem like the Bucks took advantage of it.

* James Harden finished with 23 points and 9 rebounds. That is his best game of the season. I really thought he would have a breakout year, but I was not glad to see him breakout in the Bradley Center. He will earn the Hunter of the Night, and he also gave his coaches a reason to think about throwing him in the starting lineup.

Milwaukee has a slow Holiday week coming up, but they do have two Central division opponents on the horizon. On Wednesday they will face Cleveland and then they take on Detroit two days later. I don't see a reason why they can't take care of business in the next two games, but they will have to play as a team. Lets hope a Bucks win is the last thing we all will remember on Blackout Wednesday.

"The Bucks have to clean up sloppy play at crunch time."

Brett Favre vs. Al Harris

See the back page of today's Journal Sentinel Sports section?
The texts reads:
Thank you for always supporting me.
Thank you for making me part of your family.
Thank you for treating my family like your own.
Thank you for making one of the coldest places the warmest.
Thank you for making every single day I was a Packer a very special day.
To each and every one of you, thank you for making my Packers experience simply amazing.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank and love you all and will carry you with me always.
Al Harris

How come Brett Favre never did this? Oh yeah, he's incapable of non-narcissistic acts.
Classy move Al Harris. He was rather surprised by being cut, but showed his great thanks to the fans nevertheless. Maybe Favre or Lebron could learn a thing or two, but I doubt it.
Thanks Al. We'll see you in the Packer's Hall of Fame.

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round....

Anyone who has ever listened to the mind-numbing children's song "The Wheels on the Bus" probably was thinking the same thing I was thinking in the second half of the Wisconsin-Michigan game yesterday, "It's just the same thing over and over and over." For the Badgers, though, they were doing the mind-numbing to a Wolverines team with a deer-in-the-headlights look. 29, yes, 29 straight running plays called by the Badgers after Isaac Anderson coughed up the third down pass from Tolzein on the Badger's first offensive series of the second half. For the Wolverines, that must have been what it is like to be standing in front of a firing squad knowing any one of 20 rifle shots would do you in, but not being able to do a damn thing about it.

Yesterday in the Big Ten ended up just as most people expected it would. All three teams with only one loss held serve. Purdue put quite a scare into Michigan State in a game that Purdue certainly should have won but their inexperience showed at the end with a terrible interception early in the fourth quarter and then a blocked punt to give MI St the ball inside the 5 yard line for their final touchdown. Ohio State did just what we wanted them to do, barely pulled out a win against an Iowa team that if they only played fourth quarters this season may not have won a game.

Yesterday in Ann Arbor continued the trend of Badger football that has all Bucky fans dreaming of roses. Montee Ball and James White running behind an offensive line that is mauling people. Scott Tolzein quietly looking like the best quarterback in the Big Ten (I said quarterback, not running back who occasionally passes). J.J. Watt always making the play when it is REALLY needed. This team has really bought into Bielema's style of coaching. They really do not care what other people think or say about them. They just go out there every Saturday and bash the ball down the opponent's throat. I really got a kick out of Bielema's quote yesterday after the game when asked about the 29 running plays in a row, "We were just setting them up for the play-action pass."

Now the defense did suffer a little in the second half and the kickoff coverage left a lot to be desired as well. However, when you only punt the ball once in just under 9 quarters of Big Ten football you have to be looking for things to be critical about with this team. All that realistically stands between the Badgers and a trip to Pasadena is a Northwestern team with a great coach and tremendous fight, but without their best offensive weapon and who gave up over 300 yards rushing to Illinois yesterday IN THE FIRST HALF. When the offensive line, Ball, White, and Clay saw that after getting back to Madison yesterday afternoon do you think any of them wondered what Bielema and Chryst would set up for a game plan going into the Northwestern game? The only one upset may be Scott Tolzein. The over/under on Tolzein passes for next Saturday has already been set by Vegas at 6, but he'll have 5 completions for 180 yards.

Well another week of Big Ten football goes by and I think it is safe to say that the Badgers are clearly the best team in the conference. Michigan State should have lost yesterday and is going to face a tough test in Happy Valley in what may very well be Joe Pa's last home game. Ohio State should handle Michigan, don't they always, but after struggling most of the game against Penn St. at home and at Iowa I don't really see how anyone can think they are in the same class with the Badgers right now.

As for the Badgers, my man-crush on Montee Ball only grows and offensively this team can pretty much do whatever it wants against anyone. Put them up against Oregon, Boise St., or TCU and the over/under may be well north of 100. But we will wait for a few weeks to see if any of those scenarios is going to happen. For now, let's really cheer for the Nittany Lions next Saturday starting at 11 am Central, because heaven-forbid, no one wants the Badgers bowl fate left up to the mockery of a system that is the BCS.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Morning YouTube Potpourri

Let's try another new feature here at The Bucky Channel, shall we? A lot of times I'll see something interesting on the web and I'll want to share it, even though it may or may not even have anything to do with sports. I'll usually bookmark the page with the intention to later still write a post on it, but... you know how I roll. However, things are different now at the new look Bucky Channel, so let's debut a new feature - It's Saturday Morning YouTube Potpourri.

Our first entry to the weekly column comes care of Days of Our Lives. Contrary to popular belief, I do not watch soap operas (and if I did, it would be General Hospital, thank you), but Days of Our Lives is becoming must-see television. Check out the following clip, and you'll soon discover why:

Now, I know that product placement in television is nothing new, and in cases like the Arrested Development episode that was sponsored by Burger King, it can be hilarious. But this Midol ad in the middle of a soap opera just seemed weird, and delightfully tacky. It was almost as if the actress not doing the advertisement was caught by surprise, similar to how Truman Burbank reacted when his wife tried to pitch cocoa beans to him during the middle of a fight between the two. Kudos to the Tosh.0 website for bringing this insanity to my attention, and look, there's more!

Are you seriously telling me this jackass has never had Chex Mix before!

Bucks Get Soft Friday Night

Basically the Bucks were out played by a low level team Friday night. The 76ers took down the Bucks 90-79. They are about to try to get things back on track against the Thunder Saturday night. Kevin Durant will be out, but that didn't stop them from taking down Boston Friday night.

* Bucks shot 33.8% for the game, and didn't make a shot from downtown 0-12.

* Andrew Bogut had 4 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks. That stat line is not something we should see from him when he plays 32 minutes. I understand his elbow is still coming around, but those stats in 32 minutes is just not going to cut it.

* Jennings and Salmons were a combined 6-22 from the field for 23 points. Need some more offense from this back court.

* Thaddeus Young had one of his better games of the year for the 76ers. He finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Sounds like Hunter of the Night numbers to me.

Okay it is almost time for tip off, so I hope things will turn around against the Thunder. If the game is good look for a better recap to be up before the Pack take the field against the Viqueens.

Badgers Looking to Go 3-0

Caught up in all the hoopla of the Badgers football team and their quest for a Big Ten Championship, it may have been easy to miss that the Badgers basketball squad season is well underway. Bo Ryan's squad first played their usual preseason affairs which this year included stomping all over my Alma mater UW-La Crosse Eagles, and then opened up the season with wins against Prairie View A&M as well as North Dakota. The two wins were convincing as they should have been, with the Badgers rocking a 38-point margin of victory right now. Tonight, however, the Wisconsin will be playing outside of the Kohl Center for the first time in 2010, as they travel to UNLV for a 6pm game on Versus.

I'm not going to lie to you and say that I am an expert on college basketball, but I can write a quick half-assed preview as well as the best of them. Tonight's game should be a decent test for Wisconsin, as both of these teams are borderline in the Top 25 rankings (in the AP, Wisconsin falls at 27 while UNLV would be 32; the Badgers are ranked at 25 in the Coaches Poll, with UNLV receiving votes at 31). I'm glad to see a team like this on the Badgers schedule this early in the season, because I have little to no idea just how well this team is supposed to do this season. This will be a good litmus game, as they call it.

I ultimately think that the Badgers will be victorious on the road tonight, if for no other reason than I'm a homer of a fan. Look for Jon "Fishing" Leuer to have a big game though if Bucky is going to grab the win (we are totally running with that nickname that Tony came up with). Leuer had 24 points against Prairie View A&M, and then posted another 22 against North Dakota. It's becoming more and more apparent that this is going to be Leuer's team, so we'll see how far he can carry them on their back. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

#FollowFriday: Jermichael Finley

Because I still try to use Twitter as little as possible, I'm not even sure if this Follow Friday phenomenon is even still a thing, but I'm going to bring the feature back to The Bucky Channel. We did this a few times before our temporary hiatus back in February, and we're going to start it up again. Basically the quick post is just a suggestion for someone that you should follow on Twitter, a site that seems to get more and more popular the more and I more dislike it.

Anyway, this week's #FollowFriday suggestion goes out to none other than Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, you can find him @JermichaelF88. Actually, this suggestion could go out to any athlete, but I've always liked Finley so let's give him the nod. I think the thing that I hate the most about Twitter is that it gives people a false sense of connection to their favorite athletes, movie stars, what have you. 

You see, when you follow someone on Twitter, automatically you are connected to them because you get to see their constant updates. If they follow you back, well then you guys are one step away from being best friends. The lamest thing that I've seen on Twitter is when people use the @ feature to get the attention of someone that would never talk to them under normal circumstances. For instance, if I were to put @JermichaelF88 in my tweet, he would get a notification that I mentioned him. I've seen a lot of people do this to congratulate athletes after good performances, and in rare cases the athlete or whomever will thank you back, but more often than not this practice comes off as a desperate plea to make people think you are more important than you really are.

Maybe you can chalk this up to me being a bitter blogger, old-fashioned in my believes where I still think Twitter is a waste of time. Kind of hypocritical, sure, since there is a "Follow me on Twitter" link on my blog. Whether you like Twitter or not, I don't care, I personally think it's dumb. I am on Twitter though to help promote the blog, sometimes you gotta sell out a little bit. All that I'm saying here is that when you try to get the attention of someone like Jermichael Finley over Twitter, it comes off looking stupid.

Happy Tweeting.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 11 Betting Lines **UPDATED**

Well, in my first attempt, I’ll claim a 6-3 record. A big thanks to Chris and Dave on the Packers Therapy podcast for tallying my results for me and giving us a nice advertisement on their show. These guys truly come at the topics from separate angles…you have to give them a listen. On to the FUN…

This week the Packers take on the villainous Minnesota Vikings and former Packer, Ryan Longwell at the Humpy Dump. It should be another close game. **WRONG** Roll the tape!

Brett Favre Interceptions
Line: 2.5
This is a tough one. The Packers Defense has been playing very well and is rounding back into last year’s form. Favre threw 3 in last week’s loss to Chicago and I just don’t see him throwing 3+ two weeks in a row. There’s the possibility of a few garbage time picks but I think this’ll be another close game. I think there’s be more than 2 turnovers and a couple will be interceptions. I’ll take the UNDER.
**+1 - He threw 1 then argued with a coach and possibly cried which are bad, but do not equate to additional interceptions.**

Clay Matthews III Sacks
Line: 2
This guy is a monster but he’s not only a pass rusher. He’s fierce against the run as well which is why he’s being mentioned as an MVP candidate. So while I think he’ll have a big game and disrupt this Vikings offense again, 1.5 sacks is helluva lot of hits still get’s it done. UNDER
**+1 - He had 1. Another sterling performance but 1 is still less than 2.**

Adrian Peterson Rush Yards
Line: 115
He’s a tough SOB who, astonishingly, hasn’t fumbled yet this season. He’s second in the league in rushing to Chris Johnson and he’s just a beast. They’ll try to establish the run early and with the Vikes at home, I think he’ll go OVER that number.
**-1 - The defense was staunch and the Vikings coaching staff is loaded with morons. If this guy was on a team who knew how to use him, it's possible that he may have better numbers than Chris Johnson the last few years...but he's not.**

Spencer Havner Receptions
Line: .5
Somewhat lost in the Mark Tauscher-to-IR flap, was the addition to our favorite touchdown-catchin’, motorcycle-crashin’ former Lion Spencer Havner. I won’t re-hash old news but the linebacker/tight end was a scoring machine towards the end of last season who was surprisingly cut in camp this year. Hopefully he’ll provide some red zone security for Rodgers but I don’t think he’ll be making any catches this week. Since you can’t make a half catch, I’ll take the UNDER.
**+1 - He's just coming back to the team. Yes he was here last year but he's been studying a different playbook all season and he was injured. I also think he's being over-valued by Packer fans. Yes, he caught a flurry of TD's at the end of last season but he was still just the third tight end.**

Total Return Yards for Sam Shields
Line: 100
I’m thinking this will be another close game and I’m bummed they decided to schedule this game on the opening weekend for gun hunting season in Wisconsin but after the 49-yard return in his regular-season debut against the Cowboys, I think he may just get a few quality opportunities. The Viking Special Teams unit has been average like Green Bay’s has…I’m on the fence here but I’ll take the OVER.
**-1 - The Vikings didn't score enough. Simple as that.**

Offensive Line False Starts
Line: 1.5
It gets loud in Minnesota, especially when they pump in additional noise. I SAID IT GETS LOUD THERE. IT GETS LO… OVER
**-1 - Packers took the crowd out early and I think McCarthy may have gotten through to these guys after that debacle in Chicago at the begining of the season as the Packers committed a total of 1 penalty and it was a defensive offsides against Zombo...Frank Zombo...awesome name.**

Number of Times Ted Thompson is Shown during Broadcast
Line: 3.5
I don’t recall them showing him that often during the other games and 4 is a lot. It’s been 3 years; I think the majority is over Thompson as a villain. Get over it Favre family…all of you. UNDER (Honestly, I think Deanna Favre get more TV time.)
**+1 - Was he shown at all? I was trying to shoot a deer in the rain (didn't happen) but from what Chris and Dave from Packers Therapy saw, he didn't appear on the screen and was only mentioned in passing. For the record, Deanna wasn't there either...she may be at home, packing.**

Will Brett Favre Finish the Game?
OK, so this isn’t an over under, but I don’t set the questions and you’ll live. He finished the last match-up at Lambeau with 2 broken bones in his foot (which no one is discussing now), he’s got a bad shoulder from putting on a t-shirt (note to self: start wearing more button-ups), he’s not been pulled from a game yet…YES, he finishes the game!
**+1 - OF COURSE HE DID. He's running the whole damn organization for pete's sake. You think he's gonna pull himself?**

As previously mentioned, this is not going to be a cake-walk by any means. The Vikings are still a talented team and Brett Favre is still a great quarterback. Listen to Packers Therapy on Monday to find out how these things end up.
**5-3 for another week in the black. Sports betting IS cool!**

The Winks Fantasy Curse Strikes Jaroslav Halak

There's a little known curse out there that is probably bigger than the Madden Curse in terms of effects on a players performance, and that would be the "Winks Fantasy Curse". Surely, everyone has there share of fantasy mishaps, but guys that I draft take it to a whole new level. Matt Stafford, Dallas Clark, DeAngelo Williams, and Tony Romo are all guys that I drafted in leagues that are now shelved. I just found out yesterday that Greg Oden, who I drafted in both of my fantasy basketball leagues, will miss another season and at this point I'm guessing his career. But the curse doesn't always strike in the form of injury, check out how the curse affected St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak last night against Detroit:

Funny thing is, when I was a goalie in high soccer for soccer, I did something quite similar. The Winks curse strikes again!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Dislike the Lakers

My guess is that Aaron Rodgers is saying to himself, "Thank God I don't have to play basketball against this team." His worst nightmare would be a good defense, but he can usually still manage to outsmart even the best of them. The Bucks couldn't do much outsmarting of the Lakers defense however.  I really don't get what is so special about this Lakers team, but they always find a way to win. Also it just seems that everyone wants them to win. On Tuesday night it was the same way, as the Lakers took this one 118-107.

In the third quarter the Bucks were up 75-72, but then they had four straight possessions with turnovers. That allowed the Lakers to make a run and take the lead at 82-75, and the Bucks could never recover. Milwaukee made some stupid mistakes, but still during that run there were about three break away lay ups with and one's tacked on to them, all the calls being pretty weak.

It was more of frustrating game to watch then anything else. I just hope the Rodgers doesn't take in the way that the Bucks played on Tuesday night and carry that over into the Packers game. Really though, I guess if I wanted to be a true fan of the game and not just a homer, I would have to say the Bucks beat themselves. The Bucks took some dumb shots, had dumb fouls, missed some open jumpers, and shot like crap from the free throw line (16-27 from the line is bullshit for a NBA team.)

* Brandon Jennings kept the Bucks in this one for as long as they were, scoring 31 points in the game. Also he had another six assists. I'm starting to believe that the stat guy for the Bucks just puts six assists down for Jennings every game, because he seems to hit that number dead on each night.

* Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden did what they could do in this one on the glass. Both had double doubles, as Gooden finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Bogut finished with 12 points and 18 rebounds. Andrew just pissed me off though because he was 2-10 from the line.

* Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Shannon Brown were hitting almost every shot on Tuesday, which ended up killing the Bucks. Combined the three were 8-10 from downtown. If your bench can come in to knock down three pointers like nothing you will win a lot of games.

* Hunter of the Night goes to Kobe with his 31 points, and 7 rebounds.

Big weekend coming up for the Bucks as they face a should win in the 76ers, but Saturday face my sleeper team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC hasn't looked great this season, so I hope the Bucks can catch them on an off night. They could really use two wins here, because the Bulls are starting to beat good teams. I guess with Boozer being out I thought the Bucks could build a little lead in the Central. Guess not.

"They won that battle, but I think we just have to do a better job defensively. We gave them a lot of easy baskets."

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