Championships or Bust

After last years amazing run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers came out hot out of the gates this year. They had a bad bad second half of the season but still ended up with the 2 seed in the East. They host the Sabres when the playoffs start this Wednesday. I think I speak for all of Philadelphia when I say that it’s time for the Flyers to win a Stanley Cup. Last year was the closest they have come in my entire lifetime. They’ve got the team to do it, led by the offense. Stanley Cup or bust.

I still don’t care at all about the Sixers. I do like Doug Collins but I will not root for the Sixers again until Andre Iguodala is gone. I hope they get swept in the playoffs.

After a rough first season, the Philadelphia Union are off to a hot start with 3 wins in 4 games. 9 points puts them at the top of the Eastern Conference. The biggest move the Union made was bringing in goalie Faryd Mondragon. Mondragon is an experienced goalie from Colombia who is a million times better than Chris Seitz was last year. Mondragon has the defense organized, calm, and no longer making that one stupid pass out of the back each game that ends up in a game-changing goal. The defense has looked great so far this year only giving up 1 goal in 360 minutes.

After watching last nights 1-0 win at home against the New York Red Bulls, honestly, I am kind of worried about the offense. The midfield got dominated. The Union had pretty much no possession the entire game. But hey, they took advantage of the one real chance they got when Danny Mwanga intercepted a poor pass out of the back from Tim Ream and dished it off to Roger Torres who put it away for the winning goal. Sebastian Le Toux looked terrible last night, and hasn’t gotten it going quite like last year yet this year. Carlos Ruiz could never get it going either. Between Mwanga, Le Toux, Ruiz and Torres they should turn it around and have no problem getting the goal or two each game that they’ll need to at least secure a tie.

I really think that the Union are going to make a run this year at a championship. Defense wins championships and I think that the Mondragon-led defense of the Union are one of the best in the MLS.

To everyone who doubted the Phillies before this year: Shutup. In the first week or so of the season the Phils have already opened up a 2 game lead on the 2nd place Marlins. I’d say 7-2 is a decent start and to have a run differential of +26 just makes their record even more impressive. Hamels was absolutely lights out today. Two negatives this weekend though. Cliff Lee had no command on Friday night. I’ve never seen him throw so many pitches right over the middle of the plate. And Ryan Howard did not look good at all. I think he was 1-10 for the series. The positives were pretty much everything else, Chooch came up huge off the bench on Saturday, Oswalt had a good start, Hamels was even better. A shutout to close the series out was a great way to end the series. I’m just going to say it right here, right now: World Series or Bust.



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Phils-‘Stros Series Recap

For seven innings at the beginning of their season-opening series, the Phillies played right into the hands of their detractors, seemingly unable to back up the efforts of the heroic pitching staff assembled to make their run for a fifth consecutive NL East title.  They were over-eager to prove those detractors wrong with their bats, swinging freely without converting runs and committing errors in the field at the worst positions (Ben Francisco in right and Wilson Valdez at second).

On an Opening Day when the bright colors of pomp and circumstance were trying their hardest to shine through, the play on the Phils’ home field was mimicking the weather that nearly derailed it.  The enthusiasm for the new season was being slowly muted by the gray skies and the equally dull performance from everyone in red pinstripes not named Roy Halladay

Then, the seventh inning rolled around and a funny thing happened: the sun started to peek through the clouds and shine, and it would seem that was all the inspiration the Phillies would need.  From there, the Phillies mounted a 5-run comeback that stretched the eighth and ninth innings and taught us all once again what makes these Phillies the team that they are: the resiliency of a veteran squad who has been in these positions before and has proven time and again that they have what it takes to come through.

John Mayberry was welcomed to the fraternity of heroes that populates the Phillies roster from top to bottom when he converted a walk off hit in the ninth inning of the Phils’ 5-4 Opening Day victory as he completed a rally begun by some of the recent Phillies’ mainstays, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins.

It was no illusion when, as the first shaving crème pie of the season was lathered on the face of John Mayberry, that the day was just a little brighter than it had started, the season outlook just a little less muted than it had been but hours before.

That brightness would continue through Saturday’s game, in which Cliff Lee made his triumphant return to the friendly confines of South Philadelphia, striking out 11 batters and walking 0 in a seven-inning performance that saw Lee record the vaunted rotation’s first official win and ultimately saw the highly-criticized Phillies offense put up 9 runs driven in by 6 different batters.

Roy Oswalt and the gang completed the sweep on Sunday in front of a packed house in now-always sunny Philadelphia.  The offense once again came through with seven runs, four of which came from Ryan Howard by way of a 3-run homer in the first inning and an RBI double later on.  Ben Francisco came through once again, contributing a solo homer and a not-quite-Rowand-esque catch against the outfield scoreboard.  Still pretty sweet though,

Now the Phils welcome in the lowly New York Mets amidst sun and warmth in Philadelphia with Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton making their 2011 debuts and Roy Halladay attempting to get his first win after a no-decision that preceded the heroics of the Opening Day comeback win.

We’ll be back to discuss that series after the games are played, but for now here’s to 3-0 and hopefully to 6-0 after the Broad Street Baseballers take care of business against the Mutts.

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Phillies Biggest Loss: Not Werth

It’s opening day today for the Phillies. The buzz around the team is ridiculously high right now and for good reason. The addition of Cliff Lee to the rotation was slightly unexpected but absolutely amazing. With all of the positive energy around the team I thought I’d be a big old jerk and write about the Phillies biggest loss this offseason.

No, I’m not talking about that prick Jayson Werth. I’ll be the first to say that I loved him the last couple years but I have absolutely no respect for a player who gives up any chance of winning just for money. The Phillies got Cliff Lee not because they gave him the most money, but because he wanted to be here and he knew he has a great chance to win here. That’s not the point of this article though.

Let me take you back to a moment completely unrelated to the Phillies. 2004 ALCS Red Sox down in the series 3-0 and in the game 4-3 in the 9th to the Yankees.  Kevin Millar draws a walk from Mariano Rivera. Dave Roberts comes in to pinch run. Rivera throws over 3 times and then Roberts steals the first pitch Rivera throws. Bill Mueller knocks him in, Bo Sox end up winning in 12 innings, come back win the ALCS and then the World Series. That one stolen base was enormous. It took the 2004 Boston Red Sox team from being the team who got swept by the Yankees in the playoffs to the team who ended the 2nd longest World Series drought at the time. This is where I bring it back to the Phillies…

People tend to think 1st base coaches could just be any old Joe Schmo, and sometimes they are right. It is hard to be a 1st base coach who has a serious impact on the team, but if its negative it’s a killer and if it’s a positive impact it can change games, series, and really whole seasons. The last 4 seasons, the Phillies led the league in stolen base percentage every single year, including the 2007 season where they were successful on a major league record 87.9%(138-157) of their stolen base attempts.

Losing Davey Lopes as a 1st base coach is going to be the biggest loss of the offseason for the Phillies. Who is going to replace Lopes? Sam Perlozzo. Last years 3rd base coach is making the move over to 1st. It is going to be interesting to see how he does. If the Phillies can still steal bases extremely effectively, then it will prove to be a really unimportant loss, but if say out of 157 attempts (just like the 2007 season), the Phillies are only successful say 120 times, that is 18 less outs available to get hits and the Phillies just wont have runners in scoring position quite as much, which could be really bad.

Phillies prediction: 162-0


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2011 Phillies Preview: Shh…It’s About to Get Funner

So today is Opening Day.  Hope springs eternal and all that jazz.  The Phillies, though, don’t play their first game until the second day of the season, an afternoon tilt against the “Phillies-South” Astros so it’s ok for this preview to go up now.  We’ll take the opportunity to look at the Phils piece-by-piece and then throw in a few thoughts on the rest of the division and a little bit about the anticipated playoff picture.  Let’s get into it.

The Pitching Staff

This is the big one, the place where the Phils made their big splash in the offseason to add yet another Cy Young candidate in Cliff Lee, who’s back in town for a reunion tour after his half-season-plus-playoffs lovefest of 2009 when he was the most unbeatable pitcher in baseball throughout the ’09 postseason.  Oh yeah and the Phillies still have that guy Roy Halladay who won 21 games and the Cy Young last year.  And Roy Oswalt, that guy who was the winningest pitcher in the National League  for a few years in Houston.  And Hollywood Cole Hamels, who carried the Sillies to the ’08 Series and won the NLCS MVP as well as the World Series MVP award.  Also Joe Blanton, the guy that looks like my cousin.  This rotation is going places.  You hear it here first again.

The bullpen?  Eh.  A little less certainty there, although the Phightins bring back a few pretty good parts from last year’s bullpen.  Jose Contreras was a good relieve last year, as was Ryan Madson, and Antonio Bastardo even showed some stuff last year.  Beyond that, though, they lost Chad Durbin who had been a good one-inning reliever for a couple years now after starting his career as a starter and Brad Lidge is down at the start of the season with a mysterious shoulder injury.  Some good pieces here, but the bullpen could ultimately be the undoing of the Phils if things don’t turn around when the season gets underway.

The Lineup

Here’s where people will tell you about the most doom-and-gloom for the 2011 Phils, as they lost Jayson Werth to a comically large contract with the Nationals and never bothered to get a right-handed bat to replace him in the middle of the order.  With his possible replacement Dom Brown and baseball wet dream Chase Utley suffering from injuries, the lineup is not what it looked like it might be on paper coming into the season.  However, I humbly submit the fact that for those of us who actually watched the team last year, we saw EVERY SINGLE PLAYER underperform at the plate with the exceptions of Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco and still rank second in the National League in runs scored.

Still going out every day for the Phightins will be back-to-back MVP’s Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, frustrating-but exciting leadoff man Shane Victorino, the guy who hit better than anyone else for half a season Raul Ibañez, and the clutchest non-English speaking catcher in the world our man Carlos Ruiz.  So everyone chill out a little, there’s still a lot going for these guys.  Oh, and if you’re interested go check out a comparison of Jayson Werth’s first five years in the league and Ben Francisco’s.  There’s reason to believe he might work out okay.

The Bench

Scoff if you’d like at the inclusion here of a separate section for the bench when the bullpen was lumped in with the pitching staff, but in a world where Ryan Howard can get ejected from a game and have Roy Oswalt out in left field, the bench becomes a pretty important facet of a team.  This year the Phils have held onto the key piece of last year’s bench, super-utility man Wilson Valdez, as well as bringing back NL East whore backup catcher Brian Schneider and infielder/outfielder Ross Gload.  New faces to welcome include middle infielders Pete Orr and rookie Michael Martinez, and rookie outfielder John Mayberry.

Valdez should prove to be huge in replacing Utley in the early-going and with any luck can get some momentum going with the regular at-bats to be a good pinch-hitter when Mr. WFC makes his triumphant return.  Mayberry can really mash when he makes contact and could provide some necessary pop off the bench if he gets going (though I don’t know if you want to count on that happening).  The rest of the guys are pretty non-descript, but it should bode well for the Phils that they finally wised up and held onto an extra middle infielder in Martinez considering the injury struggles of Chase and J-Roll in previous years.  Good on ya for that one, Rueben and Co.

All in all?  This team should be pretty dirty.  They won more games than any other team in baseball last year after spending a few months hitting like absolute horse shit.  They may struggle again offensively and have some issues in the bullpen, but every team has flaws.  Not every team has four pitchers that will be unquestioned favorites every time they take the hill.  Let’s not be silly, this team is gonna be fun to be around.

The Division

The Braves are good.  They have three good starters and a good bullpen.  They have Chipper Jones’ corpse hitting like Chipper Jones’ not corpse.  Then they have Brian McCann, Martin Prado, and some good young’ns.  Call me crazy, but I’m not sold that Heyward and Freddie Freeman are going to be quite as good as people think.  Don’t get me wrong, Heyward’s good, but everyone’s gotta have some growing pains sooner or later and I think he may see some this year.

The Marlins have some DAMN good starters, headlined by Josh Johnson and Phillie-killer Ricky Nolasco.  They also still have Hanley Ramirez and a bunch of hard-hitting youngsters, but they lost Dan Uggla and they play defense like a team full of Pat Burrells.  This team is not too scary.

The Nats have no pitching, they stole Jayson Werth from us, and Ryan Zimmerman is still a G.  Their freshies Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa might turn out to be legit, but this team starts Rick Ankiel.  They are not a threat with Strasburg out for the year coming off Tommy John surgery and Bryce Harper still douchin’ it up in the minors.

The Mets…oh, the Mets.  The Mets are a joke in so many ways.  They just paid Luis Castillo like $6 million to play for the Phillies for four games.  Ha, the Mets.


The Braves are probably the most legit contenders in the NL and should be good rivals throughout the year and into the postseason.  They and the Phils will probably split the East and the Wild Card in some combination.  Elsewhere in the NL, the Rockies will be good if they can get some pitching, with $140 million worth of good hitters in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.  The Giants WILL NOT make the playoffs this year.  They have some really good young pitchers that got them a World Series title last year, but as we all witnessed with Cole Hamels young pitchers suffer after a long postseason run.  Pablo Sandoval is skinnier now, but Buster Posey is about the only offensive player on that team that scares me.

The AL will be good, and by the AL I mean the Red Sox.  The Yankees have Freddy Garcia on their team (hilarious, hope you checked his medicals) and we stole Cliff Lee right out from under them.  The Rangers should be good again, but a lack of Cliff Lee will probably hurt them, too.  The Tigers are pretty complete, with a real ace (ha, only one) and some good beefy power hitters in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Magglio Ordoñez.


National League: Phils, Reds and Rockies win the divisions with the Braves as the Wild Card.  Clayton Kershaw for Cy Young and Pujols with a final MVP for the Cards.

American League: Red Sox, Tigers and Rangers win the Divisions with the Yanks as the Wild Card.  Jon Lester for Cy Young and Josh Hamilton wins MVP.

World Series: Forgive the predictability of this predictable prediction but I’m goin’ Phils over Sawx for the WFC and another Broad Street blackout this fall for yours truly.

Predictable, right?  But man would it be fun if it came true.

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Is It Just Me? Vol. 3

Is it just me or has it been a while since I did this thing?  It’s not just me, the last time this thing came out was literally six months ago.  Anyway, to remind you all how this works, I give you a sagely clip derived from the seminal cinematic achievement of our generation, Boy Meets World.  Today, we take a look at one of the classic moments in the show’s history, and one that speaks to this writer in a serious way.  As a blogger bum who spends the first half of my day every day working on the DailyTailgate (read it, read it, god damnit read it every day), I can totally sympathize with the life of a couch potato and watching SportsCenter and all the commercials that tell me how to get out of debt and get my life on track by going to ITT Tech.

In this scene, Eric Matthews is lazing around at home eating a bowl of cereal that can only be described as manly when he drifts into a daydream about being a lady-killing private spy known as the “Good Looking Guy.”

Magical.  Simply magical.

Now onto the air-headed tangential musings of someone who has nothing but time to think and write down stupid thoughts about sports and other things.  As we’ve established, it’s been a while so some of these are going to be a little dated.  Bare with me.

So is it just me or did anyone else notice and get irrationally pissed off by the Saints in the early-goings of this year’s football season.  No, not because they were the media darling Super Bowl champions, they won that and the city was uplifted blah blah blah.  Good for them.  But at least in the beginning of the year, the Saints and “Who Dat” Nation totally ripped off using High Hopes as an anthem.  Not cool, NOLA.  We had it first.  That was Harry’s song and I think if he had been around to find out that you were taking it as your own he’d have narrated an awfully negative Year in Review NFL Films doc about you.  You already have the entire genre of jazz at your disposal, most specifically “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In” and the Who Dat cheer.  Leave the Sinatra impressions for the drunk Philadelphians, please.

Is it just me or are there an incredibly interesting number of similarities between Mike Vick and Allen Iverson?  I’m almost hesitant to mention them here as I want to write more about it at some point, but might as well introduce the ones I can come up with.  So here goes:

  • Born and raised in Newport News, VA
  • All-State Quarterback in High School
  • Left college early, selected as the number one overall pick
  • Criticized for work ethic, abrasive personality
  • Known for late-night social life (even by pro athlete standards)
  • Brought a hip-hop swagger to a traditionally conservative position, received consummate criticism
  • Incarcerated for extended time while still active as an athlete
  • Endeared himself to Philadelphia fans by virtue of talent and “passionate” play
  • Labeled as a “gangster” due to affiliations with childhood friends

There really is so much to this comparison that the list compiled here does not begin to do it justice, but fear not, we will get into each of those points and certainly more of them as time goes on.

Is it just me or did Auburn win one of the more dubious National Championships in recent history?  Start with the pay-for-play scandal, add in the fact that the BCS created such a mess this year and they never had to play TCU who was almost certainly the second or third best team in the country and then take a look at the questionable calls in the game itself and you have a whole lot of reasons to poison some trees.

Is it just me or is too much being made of how bad the Phillies offense is going to be this year?  I understand that Howard has declined from his unconscionable production of a few years ago and Utley is hurt, but the only piece they lost was Jayson Werth from an offense that was second in the National League in runs scored last season.  And if you watched the Phillies last season, you know that every player under-performed at the plate, save for Polanco making a run at the best average in baseball and Chooch becoming less of a liability at the plate.  Jayson Werth entered the Phillies lineup three years ago at least as big of a question mark as Ben Francisco is right now, and the rest of the lineup allowed him to produce.  Let’s at least give Benny Fresh a shot before we go crazy over losing The Beard.

Is it just me or do the Flyers STILL not get enough credit for how good they are?  They went to the freakin Stanley Cup last year and they lead the league in points and all people can talk about is Chris Pronger wearing a Charlie Sheen “Winning” shirt.  Oh and by the way, shut the hell up Charlie Sheen.  Nobody cares if you’re a coked up moron.  There are plenty of coked up morons in the world, the rest of them just can’t give TV interviews where they make an ass out of themselves and spew garbage out of their mouths.

Is it just me or is Bill Simmons’ podcast the worst thing that ever happened to Bill Simmons the writer?  Did you know there used to be a time when he would write more than one article a week?  (Oh hey, what’s up pot?  I’m kettle.  You’re looking a little black these days ya know.)  They were good, too.  Now he just sits in his house and records phone calls with his friends and B-List ESPN personalities.  And I listen to them, they have their place, but Jesus write something every now and then.  I can’t listen to podcasts at work and there are better things to occupy my time when I’m not at work.

Is it just me or is the Gus Johnson love-fest thisclose to jumping the proverbial shark?  I think he’s a great announcer, and a ton of fun to listen to, but when people who never say anything about sports are referencing Gus Johnson, the phenomenon is inching dangerously close to Pink Red Sox Hat territory.

Is it just me or are the Sixers just doin’ it wrong?  They have some mojo this year and it looks like Jrue Holiday might be pretty legit.  Unfortunately, Doug Collins is absurdly stubborn on letting Andre Iguodala’s biceps take the last shot in games.  He’s not a creator, Doug.  That’s why he was successful on the USA Basketball squad this summer.  He didn’t have to be something he’s not.

Yeah we’ll go ahead and call it quits there.  But don’t worry, the next round will come sooner rather than later, I’ve been sitting on some stuff for a while and since I’m as active as Eric Matthews in our featured clip of the week (yes he did just bring that shit full circle), I will gladly oblige you all with more unnecessarily scatterbrained and poorly-argued sports non sequiturs.

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NFL Players: Modern-day Slaves?

According to one NFL player, Adrian Peterson, arguably the best running back in the league, the NFL is treating their players like slaves.

“It’s modern-day slavery, you know?” Peterson said. “People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money.”

You know what modern day slavery is? Modern-day slavery is a rebel group showing up at your mud, and stick, and straw hut nowhere near a modern city, and forcing your parents to either give you away to them or face death. Then even when the parents are killed they take the children anyway and force them to fight for their cause. Childhood, as we in America know it, being taken away from kids to fight in a war that they have no chance of benefiting from; that is modern-day slavery, Adrian.

Modern-day slavery is being drugged in a club in Europe, and waking up the next day and meeting the man who is now your boss, and who is going to sell you to men for sex everyday. That is modern-day slavery.

Modern-day slavery is working in a sweatshop or in a field all day for maybe 2 to 3 dollars, if you’re lucky, without Sundays off, without playing the game you supposedly love, without fans cheering you on, or a multi-million dollar shoe deal. That is modern-day slavery, Adrian.

I am not a slave, never have been and with any luck will never be one. I am also not African American and to my knowledge, I am not a descendant of any slaves. All of that said, I am offended by this comment.

Peterson makes $10.72 million a year in salary from the Minnesota Vikings. That is $10.720,00.00 every single year for playing football. And he just compared his work to slavery. A very good yearly salary for a normal American citizen is $100,000. With $100K you are in the upper middle class, your kids might go to private school, and they’re definitely going to college, but apparently making $10,720,000.00 per year is comparable to slavery.

You know why people “kind of laugh at that,” Adrian? Because that is (pardon my language) the biggest fucking joke I have ever heard in my entire life. To make a comment that stupid is appalling. I am not even going to bother explaining on here how bad slavery was in the United States because anyone reading this probably has an understanding of it. That is because you learn it in I think 4th grade? Are you that stupid Adrian? Or are you just an ignorant asshole? You are exactly why some people hate todays athletes. You make a comment like this and think nothing of it. Maybe instead of bitching, Adrian, you should go out in the World and see what REAL modern-day slavery is like. Maybe then you’d realize how stupid you sound.


Welcome back to the blog. Should be more to come in the coming days, I know you all missed us greatly.

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Week Two

So, we’re 2 games into the Auburn football season, and Auburn is looking pretty solid. 2-0, with wins against Arkansas State, and Mississippi State.

The Arkansas State game was a joke, the offense probably could have scored on any lay of their choice. The Mississippi State game was a very good game. Both teams have high-powered offenses, but their defenses dominated. Not quite as much as the 2008 game, which finished in an Auburn win 3-2, but only 7 total points were scored in the 2nd half. This was surprising for just about everyone to watch, but I think it has something to do with the short week. Both teams only had about 4 days to prepare an offensive gameplan, and I personally think that an offense benefits more from a regular week, or a bye week than the defense. In this 17-14 win for Auburn, the defense came up big, especially down the stretch. The only thing that worries me about this team is that the secondary still is not playing well at all. Yeah, they only gave up 14 points, but how many drops did Mississippi State receivers have? And how many open receivers did the quarterbacks miss? A lot. I’m also expecting more out of middle linebacker Josh Bynes. Through 2 games, he hasn’t had many tackles, and hasn’t even been in on many plays.

Mario Fannin and Lee Ziemba were both injured last night. A running back injury typically would worry someone, but if it gets Michael Dyer more touches, its probably for the better. I originally though Ziemba would be a big loss, but Brandon Mosley came in last night and didn’t miss a beat.

What am I doing tomorrow? I’ll tell you what I’m not doing, instead, and that is anything. Great matchups all day starting with South Carolina vs. Georgia at noon eastern straight through the State at Bama game at 7:00 PM.

22 Georgia at 24 South Carolina

South Carolina is going to win this game. Georgia freshman quarterback has his first road test here, and doesn’t have star receiver A.J. Green. After a slow start in the opener, the Cocks got it going to a nice victory over Southern Miss.

17 Florida State at 10 Oklahoma

Right now, everyone is all over Florida State because they beat Samford 59-6. Since when does that even matter? Oklahoma didn’t look good, I’m thinking because they were looking ahead. Oklahoma is out to prove something tomorrow. They win.

Michigan at Notre Dame

I love that these two teams are both unranked. Both of these teams actually started out with real opponents last week, UCONN and Purdue respectively. ESPN is all over Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. I hate to say it, but, I think the Irish are going to win. Only because they’re at home.

12 The U at 2 Ohio State

The U’s defense is not good enough to stop Terrelle Pryor. Expect a big game out of him. Jacory Harris is really just an inferior Terrelle Pryor, and Ohio States defense is better. And its at the Horsehoe. Ohio State wins by about 14.

18 State at 1 Alabama

Let it be known that you would be hard-pressed to find 2 college football teams that I like less than these. They may even be my 2 least favorite, I’ve never formed a list. That being said, I will never root for Alabama. I’m taking State just out of spite. War Damn Eagle.


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