Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

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Posts about NCAA: football

NFL picks

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 16, 2015 - 1:02 PM

Between the NFL playoffs and the college football final four, I've picked winners in all but two games.

I missed on the Colts beating the Broncos, and I picked Alabama over Ohio State.

I'm not picking against the line, because that's fundamentally crazy. You're going to pick a team to cover a point spread that means nothing to that team? In other words, the team might blow it by taking a meaningless safety or pulling its starters late in the game? Not for me.

My picks for the title game weekend are admittedly boring. I'm taking New England and Seattle.

I would consider taking Green Bay if Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy were 100 percent healthy, but they're not. I don't like an immobile quarterback, even the great Rodgers, at Seattle.

I think the Patriots could win by even more than the Seahawks. The Colts won last week because Peyton Manning couldn't get the ball down the field. That won't be a problem with Tom Brady. I think Brady will have a big game and then lose another Super Bowl. I think the Seahawks will be the rare team to repeat.

Think about that: Seattle will win it one year in part because they had Percy Harvin on the field, and may win another in part because they got rid of him.

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Tonight's live podcast: Myself and Strib hockey writer Michael Russo from O'Gara's Bar and Grill on Snelling, just off 94;

Wednesday, 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub downtown (right across from Target Center, ignore the construction), I'll have great local rocker G.B. Leighton on stage. He'll play a few songs and we'll talk about sports and music. Next Friday, 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, locally-based USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero will join me to set up Super Bowl week and talk Vikings.

You can listen to any podcasts live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib

On Yeo, Manning, NFL

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 12, 2015 - 9:03 AM

A Monday morning three-pointer:

1. Wrote Sunday that the Wild is so buried that there is no easy fix that will make this a playoff team, not even a competent goalie.

My theory is that at this point this team should hope for the best possible draft pick, which means not trying to salvage a lost season.

But, for the first time since Mike Yeo became the Wild coach, I think he's lost his team. His tantrum at practice last week was an indication that he's run out of reasonable tactics to spur his players on. And the last five periods the Wild has played have been  an embarassment to the sport, as well as the perpetually-mediocre hockey club in St. Paul.

HIs players didn't offer much effort in the second and third periods against Nashville, and they were a step behind all night against Chicago.

If I were owner Craig Leipold, I'd fight the urge to salvage a 10th-place finish in the Western Conference, and I'd hope to finish poorly enough to land a high draft pick that could help this team as early as next season.

But if he wanted to fire Yeo, he would now be justified. This team has quit on Yeo, despite his good intentions.

2. I was sitting in the end zone in Miami when Peyton Manning won his only Super Bowl.

Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback in NFL history. Sunday, hampered by injuries that left him with little arm strength, he managed 13 points in a home playoff game.

There are two things you should know about his postseason resume:

-He hasn't been as bad as you think as an overall playoff performer.

-He was lucky to earn his one Super Bowl victory.

In regular-season games, Manning has a completion percentage of 65.5, a yards-per-attempt average of 7.7 and a rating of 97.5. In the postseason those numbers are: 64.0, 7.3 and 88.5. The small dip can be explained by facing superior defenses, including many of Bill Belichick's, and not always having a productive running game to keep defenses honest.

But he might have become the new Dan Marino - an amazing passer without a Super Bowl ring - if not for a bit of luck in Super  Bowl XLI.

That day in Miami (well, Miami Gardens), Manning completed 28-of-38 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was facing a good Bears defense. He was also facing Rex Grossman.

Manning's one touchdown pass came on a busted coverage that left Reggie Wayne wide open for a 53-yard touchdown. And the game was still in doubt in the fourth quarter, with the Colts leading 22-17, when Grossman threw an interception that the Colts' Kelvin Hayden returned 56 yards for a touchdown and a 29-17 victory.

If the Bears don't leave Wayne wide open, and if Grossman doesn't throw a pick-six, Manning's postseason record might be seen as even worse than it already is.

Overall, Manning's play didn't take a huge statistical dip in the postseason. But unlike Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and even Joe Flacco, he didn't raise his level of play when it mattered most.

3. Dez Bryant's sideline antics have been intriguing us for a long time. Sunday, he walked onto the field holding his head in disbelief, then slumped on the bench in utter depression.

That was the appropriate response.

You saw the play - Bryant made an amazing catch that may have won the Dallas Cowboys a playoff game on Sunday. After he leaped, caught the ball, secured it, landed, dove for the end zone and had his elbow hit the ground, the ball came loose. After Packers coach Mike McCarthy challenged the play, the officials ruled that he had not ``completed the process'' and ruled it incomplete.

This is the problem with NFL officiating; Even when the refs get one technically right, they can be utterly wrong when it comes to the spirit of the rules and common sense.

Everyone knows that was a catch. And Bryant still had the ball secured when his elbow hit the ground, which should end the play. He shouldn't have to carry the ball all the way to the team bus for it to be a catch.

The NFL should want to reward brilliant plays like Bryant's, not parse them out of existence with verbose language and bureaucratic excess.

A catch is a catch, and that was a catch.

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On a recent podcast, Twins general manager Terry Ryan told me that he used to have long, red hair and ride a Harley. And that he still rides a Harley. Next podcast is 5 p.m. Wednesday at The Local, with my guest Leo Lewis, the former Viking who is now the athletic director at North High. Leo is not only a fellow Mizzou grad, he's the rare person in this market who knows what life is like inside the Vikings, the University of Minnesota (where he used to work) and on the high school scene.

All podcasts can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thanks.

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I've picked seven of the eight NFL playoff winners correctly. I missed on the Broncos.

My pick for the NCAA title game tonight: Ohio State, maybe big.

I love everything about Oregon football, but Urban Meyer is the best coach in college football. His team is more physical and has plenty of speed. Oregon has lost several key players to injuries and suspensions. My guess is Ohio State 34, Oregon 22.

@Souhanstrib
 

On Trojans, Gophers and Goodell, from TCF Bank

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 28, 2014 - 4:35 PM

Checking in from TCF Bank Stadium on a rainy night…

-Let me get this straight: A college football player told a lie, and everybody went nuts?

Many college football coaches lie for a living. Between recruiting improprieties and academic mischievousness, college football might be almost as corrupt as Congress. I can’t think of a worse insult.

Josh Shaw told a silly lie, and the school publicized it to make the school look good. Shaw will pay for his mistake with a tarnished reputation, and years of jokes.

USC, the athletic director and the coach will continue to get rich even, as was the case for Pete Carroll and probably a majority of USC coaches through the years, the school or its employees broke the rules to win football games.

Give me the kid who made a mistake any day.

-What should you watch for in the Gopher game?

Big plays.

Last year, the Gophers earned their biggest victories by making big plays on defense.

They earned their most important losses by failing to make big plays on offense.

While they’ve lost key defensive starters, I expect them to be sound defensively. I expect them to be able to run the ball. The big question is whether Mitch Leidner and his young receivers make big plays in the passing game.

-I guess we should congratulate Roger Goodell on belatedly getting it right, on belatedly strengthening punishments for NFL players who are guilty of domestic violence.

What’s sad is that Goodell responded not after watching a tape of Ray Rice dragging his wife out of an elevator, but after he was pilloried in the media.

I’m glad he reacted. I just wish he would have reacted to the right thing.

I’ll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. on Friday, and on 1500ESPN-AM at 12:15. We’ll run Sunday Sports Talk from the fair on Sunday, 10-noon, at the 1500ESPN porch, near Sweet Martha’s.

Minnesota basketball, the good and bad, and a new LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 29, 2012 - 8:38 AM

Rick Adelman has been to the Timberwolves what Tubby Smith should have been for the University of Minnesota. He makes a difference in such obvious ways.

Last night, the Gophers held Wisconsin to 16 first-half points and still found a way to lose, because finding a way to lose is what Tubby's teams have done the last two years.

Last night, the Timberwolves beat a good team on the road, whipping the Clippers in LA with a powerhouse fourth-quarter performance, in part because Adelman has a feel for when to play his players, and because he has tremendously upgraded the Wolves' offensive intelligence and defensive tenaciousness.

Darko is not a good player, yet Adelman has used him to good effect twice against the Clippers, particularly in keeping Blake Griffin from the basket. I know Adelman won't win the coach of the year award, but I'd consider him.

In light of last night's developments, here's my latest high-irrelevant, transparently self-serving Local Power Rankings:

1. Timberwolves

I left the No. 1 slot vacant in my last rankings because I couldn't reward the Wolves when they were playing poorly, and no other local teams had earned this spot. The Wolves, having won five of six, easily reclaim this spot. This is a likeable and surging team.

 

2. Gopher hockey

Four straight victories: That's impressive, but we all know we're going to judge this team by the way it performs in the postseason.

3. Minnesota Vikings

The last two seasons were abysmal, but I'm seeing signs of hope. The farther I get from last season the more willing I am to give Christian Ponder the benefit of the doubt as a rookie quarterback playing with a limited supporting cast. Add Matt Kalil, then find a starting cornerback and a speed receiver either in free agency or the draft, and this team could quickly make strides, especially if Ponder learns from last season.

4. Minnesota Twins

I don't think this is a good team, but there's no way it can suffer as many injuries as it did last season, and the infield defense is guaranteed to be better.

5. Minnesota Wild

Other than the Nick Leddy trade, I like all of Chuck Fletcher's moves. He's aggressive and forward-thinking and I do believe he's building a winner. I just think the young scorers he's drafted and acquired are going to have to make it to the X before the record will support that assertion.

6. Gopher football

Nothing new here, although I continue to hear from Minnesotans about how much they like Jerry Kill. If that vibe works on recruits, we may have something here.

7. Gopher basketball

And your new last-place team in the LPR: I give you the Minnesota Golden Basketball Gophers.

Tubby Smith loses games he should have won, then blames the administration, or his players, or nightlife in Minneapolis. He did take the blame for one mistake: Moving Blake Hoffarber to the point last year. Otherwise, he's a finger-pointer of the first degree.

He must go. But does the new president and his 98-person advisory committee think he should go?

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Upcoming:

I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 from Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers with Reusse and Mackey. I'll also be on from the stadium for Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on 1500espn on Sunday morning.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

One update...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 2, 2011 - 12:59 PM

I wrote an entire column about the ills of major college sports programs, and I forgot to mention John Calipari.

My sincerest apologies.

Carry on.

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Now I'm heading to 1500espn for my 2:05 appearance, and to host from 3-6. I'll also be on with Tom Pelissero at 6:15. Then I promise not to bother any of you again until Sunday.

Twitter hande: @Souhanstrib

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