Monday, January 21, 2013

San Fransisco Vs. Baltimore, Super Bowl XLVII

One Harbaugh will win Super Bowl XLVII. Another will lose it. John turned 50 on Sept. 23, the day his Ravens played New England in a Sunday night game. Jim turned 49 on Dec. 23, the day his 49ers played Seattle in a Sunday night game. A  huge amount of the pregame coverage will surround the brothers Harbaugh, but there's plenty of other, on-field stuff worthy of tuning in for.

Baltimore advanced while playing on the road, traveling to New England and upsetting the heavily favored Patriots 28-13, the 49ers rallied from a 17-0 hole to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, who had posted the best regular season record in the NFC.

The Patriots started out against the Ravens strong, jumping to a 3-0 lead and -- after a Baltimore score -- entering halftime up 13-7. New England had the better regular record, not to mention a playoff pedigree having played in five Super Bowls in the past 11 years. They also had  Tom Brady, who last Sunday passed Joe Montana as the quarterback with the most playoff wins ever. But the second half was all Baltimore. The Ravens scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, two of them on Joe Flacco touchdown passes to receiver Anquan Boldin.

"We came here last year and left with a bitter taste in our mouths," Baltimore's Boldin told reporters after the game. "We felt like this team took something away from us. And we wanted to come back and make that right." 

John Harbaugh to reporters, after the Ravens' win, that he and his brothers had a "few dreams" -- one of which may have been meeting up in the Super Bowl -- as well "as a few fights ... just like all brothers."
"We'll let the two teams duke it out, as much as possible," John Harbaugh said, smiling.

The 49ers haven't been in the Super Bowl since 1995, and their 2000s were marred by mostly losing regular seasons. Since the 2011 hiring of Jim Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback himself who'd been coaching at nearby Stanford, things have turned for the best. The next season, they made it to the NFC Championship, only to fall to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the New York Giants. San Francisco's defense thrives on turnovers. It's also where they stole momentum against Atlanta, taking the ball away from Matt Ryan twice during the second half. Colin Kaepernick didn't put up impressive numbers, but he was solid in the 49er's victory over the Falcons. Trailing by three scores midway through the second quarter, San Francisco rallied for two quick touchdowns -- one on a LaMichael James 11-yard run, the other on a four-yard reception by tight end Vernon Davis.

This Super Bowl matchup features two of the most dominant inside linebackers of their eras. San Francisco's Patrick Willis counts Baltimore's Ray Lewis as a friend and mentor. The two have combined for 19 Pro Bowl appearances and 12 first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections. Lewis plans to retire after this game.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

NFL Conference Championship Games

The Patriots (13-4) advanced to a Jan. 20 rematch with Baltimore for the American Football Conference championship. The Ravens (12-6) two days ago knocked off the top-seeded Denver Broncos 38-35 in double overtime. Last season, the Patriots were able to survive a challenge from the Ravens thanks to a late field-goal miss by Billy Cundiff.

Tom Brady is the main reason New England is so tough to beat in a playoff situation, the Patriots also run a very balanced offense.

''I think the two best teams are in the final,'' Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. ''Baltimore certainly deserve to be here and so do we.''

The Patriots were made early 9 1/2-point favorites against the Ravens.

This season, Justin Tucker beat out Cundiff for the kicker's job. Tucker hit a 47-yarder against Denver on Saturday to lift the Ravens to a 38-35 win in double overtime, extending Ray Lewis' career for at least one more week and putting the 17-year veteran one win away from his second Super Bowl. Baltimore halfback Ray Rice rushed 30 times for 131 yards and a touchdown.

''We fought hard to get back to this point and we're definitely proud of being here,'' Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. ''We feel like it's going to take a lot for somebody to come and kick us off that field come the AFC championship game.''

The Falcons and 49ers haven’t met since Week 4 of the 2010 season at the Georgia Dome. At that time, Mike Singletary was San Francisco’s head coach and Kaepernick was playing at the University of Nevada. The Falcons won, 16-14, when Bryant hit a 43-yard field goal with two seconds remaining. The Falcons’ chances against Kaepernick will hinge on the status of the pass rusher John Abraham. After Abraham hurt his ankle against the Seahawks, Russell Wilson flourished because he did not face pressure.

The experience of playing a mobile quarterback like Wilson had better help the Falcons prepare for Kaepernick, who is even more dangerous running the read-option behind a bullying offensive line.

"Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are mobile quarterbacks who throw the ball at extremely accurate levels," Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said. "We can use this game as a cheat sheet to prepare for next week." .

Ryan will have the chance to make some hay downfield with wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. No team spreads the ball around as well as Ryan and the Falcons.

San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick set an NFL single-game rushing record for a quarterback with 181 yards and two touchdowns. He also passed for 263 more yards and another two scores. Vernon Davis was targeted five times overall by Kaepernick. He could get even more opportunities Sunday.

"We're one step closer to where we want to be," said Kaepernick.

Though the 49ers must travel cross country for the game, they opened as 3-point favorites.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tennessee Recruiting So Far

With less than a month left before National Signing Day, Tennessee is clamoring to improve their #28 recruiting class rank. So far UT has 17 commits with 3 4*s and 1 in the ESPN top 300.

Riley Ferguson  #15 QB-PP  ESPN Top 300
Corey Vereen #21 OLB
Austin Sanders  #26 OT

Tennessee has several offers out with 5* and 4* players who are yet to declare. While having a top 25 recruiting class is respectable, playing in the SEC makes it a bit tougher than most conferences. UT needs to secure at least a top 15 class and actually needs a top 10 class within the next 2 years to compete with the rest of the SEC competition.

A few of the undeclared prospects Tennessee needs to secure are:

Derrick Green #5 RB
Vonn Bell  #5 S

Both of these players have been highly recruited and have Tennessee high on their list. Green took an official visit to UT on  09/14/2012, the first one he took and one of only three he has taken so far. Green's list is very long, so to have him on campus is a big plus. It is unfortunate that Tennessee has went through a coaching change this season, but the good news is Jay Graham was retained and was Green's recruiter for his visit. Vonn Bell grew up close to Tennessee Football and has an official visit scheduled for 01/25/2013. He has been recruited and will visit Ohio State and Alabama in January also.

Marquez North and Shelton Gibson have taken or will visit in January and have been offered by the Vols, although they are still uncommitted. Landing any of the undeclared recruits listed will push UT's class significantly higher, which doesn't necessarily equal success, but could definitely make a huge difference next season. Tennessee has also offered Robert Nkemdiche, the #1 recruit in the nation. There probably isn't a realistic chance of landing him, but at least UT and Butch Jones are going all out on the recruiting trail so far.

UT's 2013 class really comes down to this month, good visits, and a whole lot of luck. Realistically it will take UT at least two years, two winning years, to get a great recruiting class.  With all that came out about Derek Dooley's recruiting practices, it should be safe to say UT can only get better on the recruiting trail.

As of today the top 5 recruiting classes look like this:

1Notre Dame Fighting Irish23
3Alabama Crimson Tide21
2Florida Gators25
4Ohio State Buckeyes21
5USC Trojans15 


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Thursday, January 3, 2013

SEC Hate and Too Much Love

As a die-hard fan of the Tennessee Vols and college football in general, a few things have come to my attention in the last few years. One is that the SEC as a whole is hated by almost everyone who isn't directly a fan of one of the SEC teams. Another thing is that SEC team fans will pull for the conference no matter who is actually playing. For the latter, I cannot understand why anyone would pull for a rival team.

There are several reasons why the SEC is hated by other conferences, the biggest one being they have six National Championships in a row and are looking at a 7th. Perhaps the perception of it being a "thug league"?  Miami, and therefore the ACC, would make a much better case for "thug conferences." Look at UNC as well, where's the ACC hate? Its not like the b10 is even close to being clean either. Especially in the last few years, if you didn't know any better, you'd think the b10 was the ruthless league that bent rules for the well being of the football team. There is some media bias, but ESPN and other media outlets ride the coat-tails of the "flavor of the month", the SEC has been good for 7 years. If the ACC, or any conference for that matter, had won 6 NC in a row, the media would be totally bias to them also. The fans of SEC schools are quite insufferable, I'll get more into that next. SEC fans will take every opportunity to remind fans of other teams how dominant the SEC is, usually in a rude and degrading manner. This is something I will never really understand.

OK so, hate the SEC don't hate the SEC, I don't really care. What bothers me most about this whole thing is the fact that fans pull for the SEC Conference. Why, please tell me, would you pull for a rival team to win against anyone? Especially in a big game. It is absolutely ludicrous to me. Auburn fans telling Notre Dame fans the SEC is the best and Alabama will win. No team from their respective conference should ever want an in-conference rival to win, ever. Florida lost last night, that's good for everyone but the Gators and Gator fans. Tennessee has been terrible the last few years and we need recruits, recruits from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, recruits from anywhere we can get them. So if a recruit was on the fence between UF and UT, a Florida loss helped Tennessee in recruiting. If Alabama wins another National Championship, it benefits Alabama and Alabama only. So how does it make sense to pull for another SEC school that isn't your team? It doesn't, in no way, shape, form, or fashion does this make any sense whatsoever.

Please SEC fans, we want the SEC teams to lose and lose badly, to be embarrassed on national TV. Think about it before you post on ESPN and other sites, it only benefits your school if they are the ones playing in the game. Who cares if everyone hates the SEC, we aren't advocates for the conference, we are fans of our team.

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