Sep. 30, 2016
"The Stack" 9-28-16
The Stack is back on this Thursday with a wide variety of topics and headlines to discuss. Our normal look at the college football weekend will take place and more so let’s get right to it and see what’s in “the stack” for today, Thursday, September 29th:
College football weekend forecast
Don’t know if you’ve heard, but there are some monster matchups this weekend in college football and that therefore makes this a phenomenal (at least on paper) weekend for college football. There are three matchups pitting top ten teams against one another. It kicks off Friday night on ESPN with a Pac-12 matchup featuring Christian McCaffrey and the #7 Stanford Cardinal traveling up to #10 Washington to take on the Huskies (9 PM ET ESPN). The Huskies are a team to be talked about and rightfully so. They have a lot of tremendous young talent and this is their first real test. There is a Tennessee-esque quality to this team this year. Next year look for the Huskies to be a factor in the playoff. Stanford will show them though that the Pac-12 North goes through the Cardinal.
#8 Wisconsin visits the Big House and #4 Michigan (3:30 PM ET ABC). Wisconsin has certainly surprised plenty of people so far this year myself included. Beating LSU at Lambeau and then going into East Lansing last week to take down Michigan State. I don’t see how they will win this one though. Michigan is simply the better team.
Last week #11 Tennessee exercised the Gator demons by beating Florida after eleven straight defeats. Now they get a crack at #25 Georgia (3:30 PM ET CBS) who they have lost quite a few games in a row to. Based on how Georgia looked last week and how they have looked really since week 1, I don’t see how they can beat Tennessee, but the Volunteers routinely get off to slow first half starts so Georgia may have a chance.
The game of the weekend takes place in Death Valley however where #3 Louisville faces off in a monster ACC showdown with #5 Clemson. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has taken the country by storm with his tremendous play. He is the Heisman Trophy clubhouse leader, but Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson may have something to say about that. Louisville’s defense is pretty underrated, but Clemson’s defense is much better. This will be a true test for both teams, but I think I will take Clemson 34-31. Should be a tremendous college football weekend.
Hunt for October update
Baseball enters its final regular season weekend. We know that the Chicago Cubs have homefield advantage in the National League. We know that the Washington Nationals have won the NL East, but they have lost catcher Wilson Ramos for the season. Plus no Stephen Strasburg. Going to be tough for them. The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the NL West. On the AL side, Boston has won the AL East, Cleveland has won the AL Central and Texas has won the AL West. It’s a battle though to see who gets homefield advantage throughout the playoffs on the AL side. All three teams have a chance.
Like we talked about last week, the true races are the wild card races. In the NL, the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates are out of it. What a cool story it would have been had the Marlins been able to stay in the race and sweep the Mets at home after the tragedy that took place Sunday morning with Jose Fernandez. Dee Gordon though Monday night…so freaking amazing and cool! The Marlins will be back next year with a vengeance and will play for Fernandez that is for sure. That leaves us with three teams on the NL side, the aforementioned New York Mets, the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals appeared to have an easy final week playing at home, but the Cincinnati Reds have made life difficult for them. The Mets are currently the top wild card with the Giants sitting one game ahead of the Cardinals for the final spot. We’ll see if that lasts.
On the AL side, it appears three teams from the AL East will be in the playoffs with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles occupying the two wild card spots (Baltimore beat Toronto 3-2 last night). Detroit, Seattle, Houston and even New York (barely) are hanging on though the Astros were dealt a blow losing two of three to the Mariners in Houston. The Yankees are one loss away from not making it. The Tigers still have hope, but my money will remain on the Blue Jays and Orioles to make the playoffs. Should be a great final weekend to the regular season and we will have plenty on the MLB playoffs beginning next week.
J.J. Watt re-injures back
The Houston Texans were dealt a big blow on Tuesday with reports that All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt would be headed to IR with a back injury. The team officially placed him on IR Wednesday. It is the same back injury that he had surgery on earlier in the summer. This is a big blow to the Texans, but they did this to themselves by rushing him back. That is, if they rushed him back and by all accounts it sounds like they did. The back is very delicate. It needs proper time to heal. Now the Texans have to deal with the fact that they may not have Watt for the remainder of the season even if they make a run at the playoffs. They will be cautious, but I’m not going to definitively say that Watt is done for the season. He’s too good and it is a shame he won’t be able to play for a while, but the Texans must be smart and think long term with Watt and not just this season. Here’s hoping Watt can get fully healthy and make a speedy and long lasting recovery. What this does for the Texans hopes of winning the AFC South remains to be seen. They seem to be the best team in that division this year with Indy and Tennessee both at 1-2 and the disappointing Jaguars sitting at 0-3. Maybe this is the opening those teams need, but I’m not willing to say that yet. I thought this division would be taking a step forward this year. Like a few of my other predictions (Eagles and Broncos come to mind), I appear to have been way off on that. This isn’t a death blow to Houston, but it obviously doesn’t help them at all.
Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals 8:25 PM ET NFL Network
It’s only week 4 in the NFL and the NFL has decided that CBS needed a break from two weeks of Thursday Night Football. What a pity. The Bengals have lost two in a row and did not look very good against the Denver Broncos last week. They need to get going and they need to get A.J. Green involved more. Get him the ball and keep pounding the rock with Jeremy Hill. Mix it up with Giovani Bernard. Their defense will do just fine against the Dolphins. Doesn’t Vontaze Burfict come back after his three game suspension? That will help. The Dolphins barely beat the Browns at home on Sunday. I don’t think on a short week they’ll be able to beat the Bengals.
Prediction: Bengals 27 Dolphins 17
Coming up Friday: Week 4 NFL preview and predictions