It’s Friday (and birthday No. 31)! A good excuse to slack off? No way.
We have Ten Big stories in 10 little bites, including Lakers v. Thunder, Lane Kiffin v. Jim Mora, Montee Ball v. The Truth and Usain Bolt v. History. We have the new/improved Rex Burkhead and the old/prophetic Mitch Sherman. We have SEC football and North Carolina basketball and reality TV’s next star.
But first, Husker predictions.
When people ask me what games Nebraska will win and lose each season, I basically plead ignorance. Not because I’m totally uneducated (though you might have an argument there), but because I think a college football game can unfold in countless ways.
For instance, Nebraska doesn’t lose to Northwestern last year if Rex Burkhead and Quincy Enunwa don’t fumble in Wildcat territory in the first half. Nebraska doesn’t beat Ohio State if Braxton Miller doesn’t get hurt.
So how do you make projections? I prefer win/loss probabilities. Match up the two teams 100 times and, according to my (not-so) scientific analysis, this is how many times Nebraska wins.
From toughest game to easiest:
Ohio State: 31/69
Will we see the OSU that jumped all over Nebraska in the first half last year? Or the OSU that crumbled in the second half. I’m guessing the former.
Michigan State: 33/67
Not sure Husker fans appreciate the difficulty of this one. MSU hasn’t lost at home since 2009. And the game comes at the end of a rough six-week stretch for Nebraska.
Can’t wait to see the maize and blue invade the Sea of Red. A division title may be on the line.
Danny O’Brien’s first test as Wisconsin’s quarterback comes on Crazy Uniform Night. Unlike last year, I’m not sure the Badgers’ D corrals Nebraska.
The environment will be tough. But will the opponent? Iowa has a lot of question marks.
Huge test for the Blackshirts against Kain Colter. Taylor Martinez may need a huge day. He’ll likely get it.
Gotta say, I think this one will be easier than most Husker fans expect. Jim Mora isn’t Nick Saban.
Penn State: 83/17
This Nittany Lion team will be even uglier than last year’s version. But they will be physical.
Southern Miss: 84/16
The Golden Eagles were really good in 2011. They have a lot of new faces in 2012.
Barring a miraculous turnaround, Jerry Kill’s team isn’t ready to put up a fight.
Arkansas State: 93/7
Gus Malzahn’s offense will score, you can be sure. But the Red Wolves won’t stop NU.
Idaho State: 99/1
Bo could bench the first string and still be 80/20.
That adds up to about 9-3. Where am I wrong? You tell me.
>> On Thursday, Sports Illustrated named Rex Burkhead second-team preseason All-American. No surprise. But Ron Brown said Wednesday that Burkhead still has room to improve. Take, for instance, his leadership style.
“He’s learned how to become more than just a leadership example,” Brown said. “You know what, leadership example is overrated. If you’re going to be a great leader, yeah, you’ve got to be able to lead yourself, which he’s always done. But then he’s got to be able to get out of his comfort zone and go lead others. Bring others to the table. So that’s No. 1, and I think he’s made great progress.”
No. 2, Brown said, Burkhead has learned how to give his body a break. He’s moving 100 mph all the time. He’s needed to learn how to find rest periods. Those two things, Brown said, will make Burkhead even better than he was in 2011.
>> Lane Kiffin said he wouldn’t vote USC No. 1. Then he did. Meanwhile, new UCLA rival Jim Mora made a gaffe, telling a radio station, “we don’t have murders a block from our campus.” Guess who occasionally does …
>> This Rick Bragg essay about SEC football is beautiful.
>> Montee Ball better be telling the truth, Dennis Dodd says. Or that Heisman campaign is over before it starts.
>> So much for that Heat-Thunder rivalry. Are the Lakers suddenly the best team in the NBA? I’m dying to know the answer. I do know this: The 2013 Western Finals between L.A. and Oklahoma City will be unbelievable, featuring seven of the top 25 or 30 players in the NBA. OKC has three Olympians. LA would’ve had two if Dwight Howard had been healthy. That’s not counting two-time MVP Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, who was second-team all-NBA just a year ago. I give the slight edge to L.A.
>> You’re killing me, Usain Bolt. We get one last chance to watch you shine at the Olympics. You look brilliant for 175 meters. And then you coast the last 25? Why? Bolt might have broken the world record had he finished strong. But that’s a small quibble. The Kansas City Star’s Blair Kerkhoff made an interesting list on Twitter: Athletes who were far and away superior to the second-best in their sport. He put Bolt’s name next to Koufax, Gretzky, Jordan and Woods. Pretty good company.
>> Sanya Richards won a gold medal this week in the 400 meters. Thirteen years ago, she won gold in a different Olympics — the National Junior Olympics at Burke High. Read this excerpt from Mitch Sherman’s World-Herald story, published Aug. 2, 1999:
Fourteen-year-old Sanya Richards of Pembroke Pines, Fla., stood out among all champions, establishing herself as the definitive sprinting star of the six-day extravaganza. Richards on Sunday may have given the Burke Stadium crowd a glimpse into the future of international track and field competition as she broke another Junior Olympics national record and starred on a record-setting relay.
One day after toppling Angela Williams’ all-time mark in the 200-meter dash, Richards on Sunday added a record in the 100. She finished in 11.61 seconds — one-half second faster than the second-place finisher — to break Joyce Alexis’ Junior Olympic record of 11.74.
“I got a message from (Alexis) last night,” said Richards, a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “She’s training (at the U.S. Olympic Training Center) in San Diego, and she said not to break her record. That just got me more fired up to do it. I didn’t think I would be able to get it in the 100, but everything just worked today.”
For perspective, Richards’ time, in the 13- and 14-year-old youth girls’ division, would have earned her a gold medal Sunday in the 15-16 intermediate girls’ and the 17-18 young women’s classes. It would also rank her 10th on the all-time University of Nebraska charts.
>> A day in the life of the Olympics, from Joe Posnanski.
>> Dan Wetzel’s favorite story of the Olympics is an Irish woman boxer.
>> “The purity of competition” marked the women’s soccer gold medal game between U.S. and Japan, says Grant Wahl. Isn’t it weird that Europe has relatively little interest in women’s soccer?
>> Suck it up, Lolo. That’s the message from Jason Whitlock, who says equality means deflecting criticism, even when it’s unfair.
>> First Kearney’s Little League baseball team wins its Midwest regional game Thursday night on ESPN2. Then pitcher Blake Quintana makes SportsCenter’s top 10 list with a web gem. Not too shabby. Kearney and Canyon Lake, S.D., will play in the regional final at 1 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast by ESPN.
>> I’m not a Peyton Manning fanatic, but I’m thrilled to see him back on the field. Still, I’m gonna be really nervous that first time he takes a big hit in the back.
>> Tim Miles has done many things right his first four months on the job. Add one more to the list. Nebraska is playing UNO this November. The Huskers and Bluejays should play UNO every year. It’s good for the state’s basketball community.
>> By failing to act in the North Carolina academic scandal, Dana O’Neil says, the NCAA shows its hypocrisy again.
>> A few days late, but here’s Gary Parrish on Roy Williams being named, by his peers, the most overrated coach in the country. I agree with Parrish’s point here. X’s and O’s are overrated. Give me a coach who can recruit. As Barry Collier and Doc Sadler showed us, it shouldn’t be a mark of honor that a coach gets “C-” results out of “D+” talent.
>> A Ryan Lochte reality show? Suddenly I don’t like him as much.
>> Vote in the championship of the Big Red Bracket. “Sellout Streak” v. “Blackshirts.”
>> Finally, the culmination of the Husker Infamy Bracket: “62-36” v. “One (extra) second in Dallas.”
I tallied 57 votes. The score: 32-25. The winner: “62-36,” the beginning of the Husker downfall. Thanks for participating. For the record, my favorite was “40-day coaching search, featuring Houston Nutt.” To me, nothing was so forgettable — and so pathetic — as that.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.