Posts Tagged ‘W.G. Ramirez’

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Former NFL veteran Mike Pritchard, a graduate of North Las Vegas’ Rancho High School, believes Peyton Manning will have the game of his life.

By W.G. Ramirez

As I approached my 5th annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll, I had a chance to catch up to former Rancho High School star Mike Pritchard, who went on to star at the University of Colorado and then in the NFL for three teams: the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Pritchard, who is the color commentator for UNLV football and co-host of the Mitch and Pritch radio show in Las Vegas, has plenty of ties to some key components in this year’s game, as he played with John Elway and has been coached by both Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips.

Retired for 15 years, Pritchard said he still gets excited this time of the year, watching the pre-game festivities leading up to Super Sunday.

“You try to live vicariously through everyone involved in the game,” he said. “You have a rooting interest and you kind of get excited about that.”

Pritchard said he remembers a time when he questioned his retirement, something most veterans go through a year after retiring, as the itch to return to the field remains for the first couple of seasons you become a spectator.

“After a season goes by, you start training and you start to think you can still do it,” Pritchard said. “It takes a couple of years to realize it’s over. It’s not like any other sport where you can retire, and then come back after a few years. There is only one guy who I can think of who did that and that was Randall Cunningham.”

But that was then, in the early 2000s.

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Mike Pritchard, who won a national championship with Colorado, played for the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks during his time in the NFL.

Now, Pritchard enjoys his time behind the mic, alongside his partner and co-host Mitch Moss, during one of the busiest times of the day. The two share their thoughts with Southern Nevada, speaking on the hottest topics in sports and daily breaking news. Most recently, that included the Oakland Raiders’ pending move to a new location. When Las Vegas entered the conversation, both Pritchard and Moss were two of the first to discuss the issue.

Pritchard isn’t sold this is the opportunity Las Vegas has been looking for, and isn’t sold the Raiders are coming to Sin City. But he does believe a top-notch stadium is the first step, and there is more important priority at hand, before landing an NFL franchise.

“If they’re going to build a stadium, it should be for our city and our university,” Pritchard said. “Can we attract an NFL franchise? Absolutely. But we need to build this for ourselves. If we don’t have that infrastructure, we’ll never have that option or decision to housing an NFL franchise.”

It’s not as if there isn’t talent spewing from Southern Nevada. Bishop Gorman High School recently completed its second straight undefeated season, and has been considered a national championship team by certain pundits the last two years. UNLV coach Tony Sanchez just announced a first-rate recruiting class in his second season in charge. And in Sunday’s Super Bowl, there will be two active players who went to high school in Las Vegas, and a third who is on a practice squad.

Brandon Marshall is a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, Ben Jacobs is a linebacker for the Carolina Panthers and Cam Jefferson is an offensive lineman on the Broncos’ practice squad.

“I love it. I think it’s great,” Pritchard said. “When I was at Rancho, there were 10 schools. If you made D-I or made it to the league, every one talked about it. Because of the growth in the valley, guys are getting more opportunities. Vegas is definitely on the map. And it speaks to the talent here and the guys making the most of their opportunities once they graduate high school.”

As for today’s game, Pritchard sees a defensive tussle ensuing early on, knowing how Kubiak and Phillips coach. He said watching the Broncos this year has been like reviewing a blueprint of teams he played on, while coached by both of them. It’s also why he believes the Broncos will send The Sheriff – Peyton Manning – off into the sunset with another Super Bowl ring.

“Coach Kubak has played and coached in Super Bowl games,” Pritchard said. “He understands what it takes to get to a Super Bowl and he certainly understands what it takes to win one.”

Pritchard said this year’s team is modeled after the 1998-99 Denver Broncos, who defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.

“You have two great defenses, and any time that happens, you have an opportunity for a great game,” he said. Carolina will try to dictate this one early on, because they’re confident about their speed. They run the ball successfully. Carolina has done such a great job of getting turnovers. Their turnover margin is incredible. They are a read and react football. At some point the action will be fast and furious. I think these are the two best teams in the league.

“Denver will try to run, but Peyton will have to make throws to help the Broncos win. I expect Peyton Manning to have an excellent game. I don’t think he’s going to make a lot of mistakes out there.”

PRITCHARD’S PREDICTION: I believe Peyton Manning will have his the game of his life. Broncos, 24-20


 

Here is my 5th Annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll for Super Bowl 50:

Laz Alonso, actor. Going to be a defense intensive game but Carolina and Cam are on fire and too much for Denver. Panthers, 35-14

Mark Anderson, LV Review Journal. Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will help the Broncos cover, but not cover. Panthers 24-20

Paul Anka, singer/songwriter/entertainer. Panthers will win. I watched my friend Eddie DeBartolo get voted into the Hall of Fame, and now I’ll watch the MVP hoist the trophy. It’ll be close won. Panthers 24-20

R.J. Bell, Pregame.com. Carolina is the better team, but likely not as good as the Panthers have appeared so far in the playoffs. Denver likely better than they seem, and the Broncos big game experience should help them keep Super Bowl 50 close. Panthers 21-20

Kevin Bollinger, FOX-TV Las Vegas. While everybody would love the storybook ending for Peyton Manning, the diminished skills make it tough for Denver to come back after falling behind. Panthers 27-16

Bryce Brentz, MLB player. Logic says to go with Cam’s Panthers, but I would love nothing more than to see Manning go out on top (if he does call it a career) so screw logic! Broncos 35-28

Jared Brentz, long-drive golf champion. I have to believe Payton goes out on top. I mean he deserves this ending. Broncos 21-17

Cindy Brunson, Pac 12 Network. I’m going with the guy/team that has me trying Dannon Oikos yogurt and I don’t even really like yogurt. Call it the power of Cam Newton, the MVP who threw 35 TD passes and ran for 10 more this season. Carolina reminds me so much of the Super Bowl XLVIII Champion Seahawks with a stifling defense and dual threat QB. The game will be close early, but I think the Panthers will prevail. Panthers 35-21

Chet Buchanan, KLUC-98.5 FM, Las Vegas. I like The Sheriff riding off into the sunset, mostly on the shoulders of the #OrangeCrush16. Pat/Caitlyn Bowlen is able to get his face to move enough to say, “And THIS one’s for PEYTON!” Broncos 27-20

Frank Caliendo, Comedian. Panthers 30 – Broncos 17 or flip that. Broncos 30 – Panthers 17. Can I do that? (In his own voice)

Steve Carp, LV Review Journal. Cam Newton backs up all the talk and Carolina closes out a magical season in style. Panthers 38-13

Freddie Coleman, ESPN. I think the Panthers defense makes the Broncos offense play one dimensional and their defense won’t be able to hold up. Panthers 27-16

Kevin Curry, founder Fit Men cook. I’m rooting for Cam Newton! He’s a beast. Any dude that can throw the ball and run it like a linebacker has my vote. He takes me back to the early Vince Young days, and of course he’s from Texas and I’m a Texas guy. Panthers 28-24.

Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press. Peyton Manning falls one Super Bowl ring short of his brother, thanks to Josh Norman, who cements his place on Thieves Avenue with a last minute pick to seal the first SB win for the Panthers. Panthers 27-24

Dave DeNatale, ESPN 850 AM, Cleveland. Peyton Manning in his Nationwide voice: “Painful way to call it quits.” Panthers 31-20

Randy Faehnrich, UFC, I’ve been a big believer in Denver’s defense all year. If there is a way to stop Cam, it’s to put pressure on him, and you’d be hard-pressed to find two better at applying pressure than Ware and Miller. I think the game really depends on how those two perform, and I’m banking they perform well. Give me the Broncos and Peyton Manning w/ the storybook ending. Broncos 24-20

Royce Feour, Retired Las Vegas Review-Journal sports writer. Cam Newton will be better than the old veteran Peyton Manning. Panthers 27-17

Chris Fedor, Cleveland.com. The Panthers proved to be the league’s best team during the regular season and will punctuate it Sunday, led by Cam Newton, who will show he belongs on the league’s biggest stage. Panthers, 27-17.

Marcus Fizer, retired NBA player. My pick is with the Carolina Panthers and with #SuperCam. They are playing on a level unmatched. Although you can never count out “The Sheriff” Peyton Manning, I think Cam is ready to change the dynamics of the NFL QB! Hoping for a close game, I love thrillers. Panthers 48-42

C.T. Fletcher, Powerlifter/Fitness, no score, just a mother fu*kin Broncos win! Manning and the Broncos. Admittedly not a huge fan of either team. But it’s probably Manning’s last game. He’s 40 and the underdog. I gotta pull for the “old man” cause I’m one. Gotta pick the underdog cause I’m one. I think Manning and I love to prove all the fu*kin experts wrong!

Vernon Fox, Retired NFL player. While I would love to root for my Broncos and fellow Vegas Cimarron Memorial-alum Brandon Marshall, I have a hard time believing even with the stellar defense, that Denver slows down this high-powered Panther team! Panthers 28-17

Randy Gatewood, Retired AFL player. I like the Panthers because they have been very consistent all year and they have the league MVP in Cam Newton. As great as Denver’s defense is, I don’t think they completely shut down Newton. And I think Cam Newton will also be the Super Bowl MVP. Let’s get ready to rumble! Panthers, 24-20

Bud Geracie, San Jose Mercury News. Panthers too fast and too hot. Panthers 23-14

Mike Gillespie, ABC-TV Columbia, S.C. Despite it being Manning’s last game and a pro-Denver crowd, Von Miller won’t be dabbing. That Panthers secondary is far too fast and smart to allow Manning to throw like he did against the Pats. Plus Newton, unlike Brady, is a true threat with his legs. Manning’s last game is a loss to the Panthers in Santa Clara. Panthers, 27-13

Geoff Grammer, Albuquerque Journal. I cover college sports in New Mexico so what do I know about big football games? I’ll take better story (Peyton rides off a winner) over better team for this one. Broncos 20-17

Ed Graney, LV Review Journal. If Peyton Manning can’t win this on his own, I’m sure his attorneys will send a few guys in black coats to do it for him. Panthers 24-20

Paul Gutierrez, ESPN, Panthers 27, Broncos 26.

Merril Hoge, ESPN. Teams win championships and the footers to a Champion football team are the Offensive and Defensive lines!! The Panthers win both of those match ups. Panthers 28-21

Jay Kornegay, Westgate LV SuperBook. Broncos start off on a good foot and puts the Panthers in an unfamiliar position. Denver’s D forces two critical 4th quarter turnovers and holds on. Broncos 24-20

T.J. Lavin, BMX Legend, Tom Brady 35-27!

Gilbert Manzano, LV Review Journal. The ferocious Broncos defense will give the Panthers fits early, but I see Cam Newton rallying in the fourth quarter and dabbing with the Lombardi. Panthers 27-24

Brian Mahoney, Associated Press. They’re Stephen Curry’s team, and Curry’s teams don’t lose in the Bay Area. Panthers 27-17

Chris Murray, Reno Gazette Journal. Cam Newton and the Panthers dance and dab their way to a Super Bowl title as a scourge of white Baby Boomers flood their local newspapers with letters to the editors title “What about the kids?!?!?” Oh, my, gosh, the kids! Panthers 27-17

Rock Newman, Retired Boxing Manager/Promoter. Owner Gibraltar Promotions LLC. It’s the year of Cam and the Panthers. Dab baby Dab! Panthers, 31-28.

David Purdum, ESPN. The best thing Peyton Manning has done this season: throw interceptions. Carolina’s D is a turnover machine. I feel like Manning’s good for two picks, which is just too much to overcome, at least for me to bet on the Broncos. I know all the sharps are Denver, but here’s a pro tip: Sharps lose, too. Panthers 27-16

Tim Reynolds, Associated Press. Peyton Manning gets the fairytale ending. Broncos 27-23

Anthony Rodriguez, KMET Online Radio, Denver. Broncos 23-20.

Jeffrey Seals, UNLV Media Relations. Luke Kuechly and the Panther defense will turn the lights out on Peyton Manning’s storied career. Panthers 33-13

Marc Spears, Yahoo! Sports. I’m a Raiders fan. Panthers 99, Broncos 0.

Danny Webster, Bleacher Report. The Broncos did well against Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. Denver’s defense hasn’t played a quarterback like Cam Newton. Not only will Carolina’s defense do enough to stifle Denver’s offense, but this year’s MVP will throw for 225 yards and run for another 100 as Carolina wins its first Super Bowl. Panthers 27-17

Jamieson Welsh, The Score 670-AM Las Vegas. It’s Cam’s league now. Panthers 24-20

Matt Youmans, LV Review Journal. The Panthers pack more big-play firepower, but the Broncos’ top-ranked defense can do enough to contain Cam Newton. I like Carolina to win, but on a neutral field this line looks high. Panthers 24-20

FINAL TALLY: Panthers 31, Broncos 10, Caliendo 1, Lavin 1

 

 

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By W.G. Ramirez

Randy Gatewood will always be one of the greatest athletes to hail from UNLV.

He will also be one of my all-time favorite human beings. Great guy, fantastic football player and a personality most might think Marshawn Lynch could learn from.

I hadn’t spoken with Randy in a couple of decades, until last September, when I caught up with him for a story I wrote for UNLVRebels.com, commemorating the 20-year anniversary of his record-breaking performance while he was playing for the Rebels.

While UNLV lost a marathon on Sept. 17, 1994, 48-38 to Idaho, Gatewood set NCAA single-game records for receptions with a mind-boggling 23 and receiving yards with 363. He conceivably was the reason the Rebel offense stormed back from a 45-10 deficit to nearly defeat the Vandals. Gatewood, who played the slot position in UNLV’s three-wideout formation, caught 13 passes for 207 yards in the fourth quarter alone at Sam Boyd Stadium. The 6-foot senior from Wichita Falls, Texas, also contributed with 56 return yards, giving him 419 all-purpose yards – in one game.

And since I was covering the Rebels at the time, and covered the game for the now-defunct Las Vegas Sentinel-Voice, the state’s only African-American newspaper at the time, I was delighted at the chance to catch up with him and talk about that game. Now, roughly four months later, I thought it was only fitting to catch up with my old friend for a second time.

Gatewood

Randy Gatewood starred at UNLV and went on to become one of the greatest players in Arena Football League history during a Hall of Fame career.

We spoke early in the week, so he could give me his pick for my annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll, but given he resides in Scottsdale, and has been soaking up the Super Bowl atmosphere this past week, I couldn’t think of a better person I’d rather feature as the lead item for this year’s Super Bowl story.

After all, we’re talking about someone who was part of one of UNLV’s best football teams, he won a bowl game with the Rebels, he was an all-time great in the Arena Football League and is now in the organization’s Hall of Fame and he still holds an NCAA record. He epitomized what the sport of football stands for, and has always been a great representative of UNLV’s program.

Retired since 2007, Gatewood is now involved in the fine wine business, working with Quench Fine Wines, a division of Hensley Beverage Company. He is also a sideline reporter for the Arena Football League, so he keeps tabs on plenty of friends he’s played with or against.

“Football is one big fraternity, and being able to still talk to some of those guys, that’s been the most fun for me this week,” Gatewood said. “The Super Bowl undoubtedly is the biggest event in the world. And anytime it comes to your town, and you’re able to be a part of that – meeting up with some of the guys, having some drinks and dinner and sharing stories – that type of thing is what makes it fun.”

Gatewood came close to playing on Sundays, as he spent one camp with the Miami Dolphins, before being released in the final cut before the season started, in 2005. After a year off, he joined the Arizona Rattlers, and became one of the biggest stars the league had ever seen, right along with former UNLV standout Hunkie Cooper. And while he admits the NFL lingered in his head occasionally, the time off between the Dolphins’ camp and jumping to the AFL led him to a life of happiness as a family man, and playing for one of the AFL’s storied franchises.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I had the ability to play on Sundays,” he said. “Basically I chose to be a part of everything surrounding my family and chose to be with my wife and kids. I am happy and content with everything I was able to accomplish.

“And when I look back on my run, and when I chose to walk away from the game of football, I was one year removed from my second Ironman of the Year Award. I knew I was nearing the end of my career … the Rattlers were entering a new era and I felt I had accomplished everything I was going to accomplish in my career. I really felt like there was nothing left for me to accomplish.”

Gatewood was named first-team all-AFL three times, second team three times, he made the all-Ironman team thrice and was named one of the AFL’s all-time 20 greatest players (#17) in 2006. He was inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

“I can honestly say I was one of few guys who walked away with no regrets,” Gatewood said.

Now, he enjoys the wine business, soaking up the sun on Scottsdale’s finest golf courses and, of course, entertaining friends, colleagues and clients when the Super Bowl happens to be in Glendale.

“It’s good for the city, good for football and it’s really been a great week,” he said. “The exposure has been amazing.”

And with that, we lead this year’s poll with Gatewood’s pick for the game, after he’s been to all the big events – media-wise and socially – leading up to Sunday’s game.

“The emotional side of it tells me Seattle, but when I look at it from a football sense, I see New England winning this game,” Gatewood said. “What the Pats did during the offseason for their defense, puts them in a good position to win this game. Because now it’s not on Tom Brady’s shoulders, and I think they’re in a good position to win. As I look at his game unfold, New England is the better team. This will come down to coaching, and as much as I respect Pete Carroll, I think Bill Belichick might be the best coach in the NFL today.

“It would be nice to see a back-to-back champion, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if Seattle won. But I think the Pats have the better team and as good as Russell Wilson is, I don’t think Tom Brady is going to lose three Super Bowls in a row.” RANDY’S PICK: Patriots 27, Seahawks 24

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As for me, well, I like the defending Super Bowl champs to get it done. We’ve seen tough battles in the NFC Championship the past several years, and to me, that shows the NFC team being battle-tested and better prepared to scrap in the Super Bowl. The NFC champion is on a 5-2 run in the big game, the Seahawks are the defending champs and I don’t think even the Patriots will deflate that this year. MY PICK: Seahawks 23, Patriots 20

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This year I separated the picks by team, rather than one long list in alphabetical order. I compiled the picks by either email, text message, phone call, direct message on Instagram or Twitter or some simply replied to my announcements on Twitter by directly tweeting to me. Some included a short blurb, other just a score. Thanks to all who participated!!!

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Mark Anthony, 2013 Men’s Physique Mr. Olympia – Seahawks, 28-14
Kevin Bolinger, Anchor/Reporter FOX TV Las Vegas – Seahawks, 27-20. Seattle establishes Marshawn Lynch early and wins the turnover battle for the repeat.
Cindy Brunson, Fox Sports/Pac 12 Network analyst – Seahawks, 35-31. Hoping for a “Re-Pete” for Seattle. Just like last year, AFC is favored but unlike SB48, this should be crazy close. Seahawks win.
Chet Buchanan, KLUC-FM, Las Vegas – Seahawks, 31-21. Seahawk D scores points and makes the difference! BACK TO BACK! Go Hawks!
Candace Buckner, Indiana Pacers beat writer, Indianapolis Star – Seahawks, 23-20.
Steve Carp, LV Review Journal Senior Writer – Seahawks, 38-24. Russell Wilson bounces back and Seattle goes back-to-back.
Freddie Coleman, ESPN Radio – Seahawks, 24-20
Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press – Seahawks, 22-19
Digital Underground, Hip Hop Group who brought us the Humpty Dance – Seahawks, 48-32
Randy Faehnrich, UNLV’s The Rebel Yell, Senior Staff Writer – Seahawks 27-23. When it comes to close games, I tend to go with who has the better rushing attack on both sides of the ball, and that’s the Hawks.

Vernon Fox, Retired NFL player – Seahawks, 20-17. Brady won’t hold up in this one. He will crack. The extra focus and attention by a tandem of good safeties will make it an underperforming day for Gronk. The run will never get going for the Pats and Wilson will only be required to do enough to win the game with Lynch doing what he does.
Mike Gillespie, Sports Anchor ABC Columbia, SC – Seahawks, 27-24
Joe Grande, NBC Sports Radio – Seahawks, 31-17
Ed Graney, LV Review Journal columnist – Seahawks, 27-20. Given their level of trash talking, it doesn’t appear as if the Seahawks need anyone to inflate their balls.
Paul Gutierrez, ESPN NFL Reporter – Seahawks, 31-27. #YouMadBro
Jay Harris, ESPN SportsCenter anchor – Seahawks, 31-27
Robert “DJ R.O.B.” Hathcock, Music Producer – Seahawks, 41-24
Matt Jacob, Editor of Vegas Seven magazine – Seahawks, 24-17
Jay Kornegay, Westgate sportsbook – Seahawks, 23-17

Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press – Seahawks, 27-21
Steve Lavin, Head Coach St. John’s Men’s Basketball – Seahawks 24-20.
Allen Leiker, LV Review Journal Assistant Sports Editor – Seahawks, 26- 20. The Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl because they were able to get pressure on Tom Brady, who threw for less than 300 yards in each game despite 48 and 41 attempts. Seattle’s defensive line isn’t as good as those New York lines, but its defense is far superior overall and will deny Brady his fourth ring.
Brian Mahoney, Associated Press – Seahawks, 26-24
Tracy Murray, Retired NBA player/Pac 12 Analyst – Seahawks, 31-24
Kathrine Narducci, Actress from Starz’s Power and HBO’s The Sopranos – Seahawks, 34-27.
Mike Pritchard, Retired NFL player – Seahawks, 21-16. Back-to-back.
Crystina Poncher, NFL Network – Seahawks 31-28
Jason Poston, Four-time IFBB physique champion and Top-3 Mr. Olympian – Seahawks 27-24. Repeat champs, led by the man Russell Wilson.
Mike Sando, ESPN NFL reporter – Seahawks, 27-17

Jeffrey Seals, UNLV Media Relations – Seahawks, 23-21
Marc Spears, Yahoo Sports NBA reporter – Seahawks, 31-28
Sage Steele, ESPN NBA Anchor – Seahawks, 31-28
Danny Webster, UNLV’s The Rebel Yell, Managing Editor – Seahawks 27-24. Russell Wilson gets the MVP, then gets paid.
Jamieson Welsh, NBA radio analyst – Seahawks, 27-19. MVP Marshawn Lynch.
Roy Wood Jr., comedian – Seahawks, 30-22

Anthony Rodriguez, Sports Director KMET Radio Denver, Seahawks 24-20

———-

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Mark Anderson, LV Review Journal Writer – Patriots, 27-21
Paul Anka, Legendary Singer/Songwriter – Patriots, 31-28
RJ Bell, Pregame.com/ESPN contributor – Patriots, 23-16
Bryce Brentz, Boston Red Sox outfielder – Patriots, 35-28. The Patriots, this team has been here before, and they have the mindset that they’ll treat this like just another week.
Jared Brentz, 2013 World ParaLong Drive Champion – Patriots, 31-21
Frank Caliendo, Comedian/Impressionist – Patriots, 24-18
Jay Crawford, ESPN SportsCenter anchor – Patriots, 27-24
Jay Cutler, 4X Mr. Olympia Bodybuilder – Patriots, 28-25
Dave DeNatale, ESPN Cleveland – Patriots, 26-24
Tyler Farr, Country Music Artist/ACM New Artist of the Year candidate – Patriots 34-21

Jay Feely, NFL placekicker, Chicago Bears – Patriots, 24-20
Royce Feour, retired Las Vegas Review-Journal – Patriots 28-20. The Patriots have it in the (deflated ball) bag.
Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman & CEO UFC – Patriots, 31-28.
Randy Gatewood, Former UNLV standout/AFL Hall of Famer/Sideline reporter – Patriots, 27-24.
Jesse Granger, Editor UNLV’s Virtual-Rebel.com – Patriots, 27-21. MVP – Rob Gronkowski.
Jake Hager, Major League Baseball player, Rays organization – Patriots, 35-21
Merril Hoge, ESPN NFL analyst – Patriots, 28-13
Jemele Hill, ESPN His and Her’s co-host – Patriots, 33-31
Lacey Jones, Spokes model/professional poker player – Patriots, 27-24. What can I say, I’m a sucker for those pretty-boy looks of Tom Brady, not to mention his gorgeous wife – that has to amount for something. I do know a guy who sports Ugg boots won’t lose three straight Super Bowls. Why, that would be downright deflating.
TJ Lavin, Retired BMX star/TV Host – Patriots, 27-24. The Patriots and Tom Brady have a lot of distractions but they will overcome it to win the Super Bowl

Chris Murray, Reno Gazette-Journal – Patriots, 27-21. Belichick hoists trophy, yells “Yep, we deflated those balls,” gives crowd Marshawn Lynch crotch grab, drops mic.
David Payne Purdum, ESPN sports betting reporter – Patriots, 28-24
Michael Pittman, Retired NFL player/Bodybuilder – Patriots, 34-17
Tim Reynolds, Associated Press – Patriots, 33-24
Jon Saraceno, former USA Today columnist, freelance writer – Deflated Balls 27, Seanags 20
Matt Youmans, LV Review Journal Columnist – Patriots, 23-20. The Seahawks are not as strong as last season, and I’ll bet Belichick and Brady don’t lose a third straight Super Bowl.

FINAL TALLY: Seahawks 37 votes, Patriots 26 votes

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Can Bishop Gorman tight end Alize Jones seize the moment, against USA Today’s top-ranked St. John Bosco? Photo: Barry Wong

 

By W.G. Ramirez

Just watching something like the final home game of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter after an illustrious career, one might wonder what that must feel like.

I did. 

For a moment. Not even the whole thing. Just a moment. 

After a nice buildup to the game, I was somewhat happy for Baltimore Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, who spent a summer in Las Vegas with a competitive collegiate club, Team Vegas. When Jeter stroked a double in the first inning, and later scored to tie the game, for Gausman, it was a moment.

Oddly, after 2,745 career games, his final one in the Boogie Down even made No. 2 a bit jittery – er, Jetery (thank you Mitch Fulfer for that one) – on the one stage you would have expected him to own Thursday night. After all, it was his moment. And man oh man did he seize it.

Tonight, when Bishop Gorman steps on its own field, to face what USA Today claims to be the No. 1 team in the nation – St. John Bosco – both the Gaels and Braves will have their moment. They’ll play amid the lights, beneath Gorman’s mountainous skyline, in front of a nationally televised audience that was switched from ESPNU, to ESPN, the network’s flagship station…

Yeah, moment.

In the same manner Twitter blew up last night with Jeter tweets, the Gaels and Bosco have had their fair share of attention throughout social media, with So. Cal pundits and communicative support systems tweeting about the Braves, and Gorman dominating local headlines this week, in every form of media.

Gorman opened the season as USAT’s No. 1 team. But after close calls during a rugged non-conference schedule, it dropped before climbing back to No. 2. And on Max Preps, the Gaels have been in and around No. 5 on different polls posted there, and this week came in just behind Bosco, as the two were ranked 3rd and 4th. 

Based on USAT’s current poll, this conceivably is for a mythical national championship.

Fact is, as the Review Journal’s David Schoen pointed out this week, Bosco is an eerie carbon copy of Bishop Gorman, in that you have a private high school resurrected to the national spotlight after its program dipped below mediocrity.

Just as Gorman took its lumps to reach the point it has this season, Bosco has followed suit. Earlier this week on local radio, Gaels coach Tony Sanchez put it in perspective how far this program has come.

“The hardest thing about this year is we’ve been everybody’s biggest game,” he told the guys on Gridlock – Mitch Moss, Ed Graney and Seat Williams.  

Usually, the Gaels are getting pumped for their biggest game – which, in essence this is – but this year they’ve become the hunted. Can you imagine, a team ranked higher than the Gaels with this game circled? Last year at this time, Gorman couldn’t wait for then No. 1 Booker T. Washington High to arrive from Miami. Washington won 28-12, the Gaels regrouped and ran roughshod through the state to win their fifth-straight title and now we’re here.

Here, as in Gorman opened the season against five-straight highly regarded foes on a national level; it is 5-0. The Gaels have been involved in a couple of battles – having to come-from-behind, and play some defense when it mattered – but they’ve proven their worth. As opposed to what Public Enemy told us in 1988: “Don’t Believe The Hype!” You better believe the Gaels are all about their hype. 

Bosco is 3-0 after opening its campaign with just as many blowouts, outscoring St. Louis (Honolulu), Norwalk (CA) and Central Catholic (Portland) by a combined final of 153-31. That’s an average final of 51-10. These Braves are looking forward to the postseason much more than the ones in Atlanta. And the Braves are looking at this as a territorial conquest. Knowing that as powerful as Gorman has been, in their eyes when it comes to Nevada and California the Golden State far outweighs the Silver one. There’s a sense of pride here.

A lot at stake, just as there was last night in the Bronx. The Yankees, obviously, felt compelled to win for Jeter and the Orioles are still in search of a homefield edge in the postseason. And just like last night I think we’re in store for a battle in this mega-high school game.

I ran each team’s numbers through a spreadsheet program that I use during the NFL and college football seasons to see predicted outcomes for particular games. With Bosco and Gorman, I have eight games to work with, and after using filters and applying a specified formula based on performance, I did come up with four final scores.

Based on the season, Bosco would win this game, 31-28. After all, the Braves have annihilated their opponents, so after factoring in what Gorman’s defense has given up yards and point wise, it’s not surprising they should score 31. If we were to base this on Bosco’s three games this season, and only Gorman’s last three, the Braves win handedly, 37-23. Considering how the teams perform at home and on the road, I see Bosco winning, 30-23. 

Add those three finals, and you have a composite prediction of Bosco 32, Gorman 25. 

But as ESPN’s Lee Corso would say on Saturday’s Gameday: “Not so fast, my friend!” 

Maybe Bosco is the actual target in this game. Maybe Gorman still has visions of last year’s loss to Washington, at Fertitta Field, and wants to avenge that loss Friday night, knowing what’s at stake on a national level. We’ve seen some impressive things by plenty of local athletes in 2014, so why shouldn’t the Gaels live in their moment, with a pair of standout seniors playing the final home game of their high school careers shining bright to lead the way.

On defense, one of those signature Nicco Fertitta hits to stir up the mood, and possibly cause a turnover. And on offense, how do you not turn to all-American tight end Alize Jones? Jones puts up outstanding numbers, and even when I’ve seen the Gaels play terribly, Jones’ play never waivers. He’s been the go-to guy whenever Sanchez needs something.

So while I see Bosco giving Gorman everything it can handle, and potentially leading 31-28 late, I think it would be fitting to see Fertitta making his play with about three or four minutes left in the game, the Gaels taking over on offense and Jones taking over the game. Filter in some crafty running by Russell Booze and smart decision making by quarterback Tate Martell, and it sets up nicely for a game-winning TD by Jones.

And just like it was Jeter’s in the bottom of the 9th, when he stroked the walk-off single for the Yankees in a 5-4 win, it’s the Gaels’ turn to play for the moment. It’s Gorman’s moment to seize. 

I’ll side with the enchanted football tale: Bishop Gorman 35, St. John’s Bosco 31.

By Jesse Granger

Another week in college football, and another top-four team went down. Early in the year, without much evidence to go off of, things are fluid and a big win can cause a team to soar up the rankings.

College Football Playoff Teams

1. Oregon Ducks (4-0) AP #2, Coaches #4Oregon

Oregon remains at the top, despite having its poorest showing of the season. The Ducks struggled in Pullman, Washington, and escaped Martin Stadium with a 38-31 win. Marcus Mariota was spectacularly efficient, completing more touchdown passes than incompletes. He finished 21-of-25 for 329 yards and five touchdowns, but was sacked a season-high seven times.

The offensive line was bad throughout, allowing all those sacks and limiting Royce Freeman to a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry. That is a troubling sign considering Washington State is not a great defense. This performance would have dropped the Ducks out of No. 1 if any of the other top-four teams did anything of note.
2. Texas A&M Aggies (4-0) AP #6, Coaches #7

TX_A&MThe Aggies beat up on a winless SMU team that has lost its three games by a combined score of 146-12. Not much of a statement, but the Aggies high-flying offense has proven to be consistent. They currently rank second in the nation in scoring at 55.3 points per game, and fourth in passing at 405 yards per game. Maybe more impressive, is the play of the defense. They currently rank eighth in points allowed at 11.8 per game, and have allowed only one touchdown since week one at South Carolina.

Now Texas A&M’s schedule gets real tough, real quick. The Aggies will host Arkansas (3-1) before taking on three straight ranked opponents.
3. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-0) AP #14, Coaches #16MississippiState

There are three things that are certain in life – Taxes, Death, and losing to LSU in Death Valley at night.

Mississippi State defied one of those on Saturday, going in and beating the Tigers 34-29. It was the statement win of the season, for any team in college football. It was Mississippi State’s first win in Baton Rouge since 1991, and it was in front of 102,321 Tiger’s faithful.

The polls jumped them from unranked to the top 16, but that isn’t high enough. An undefeated team with the most impressive win of the year deserves to be in the top four no matter what logo is on the side of the helmet. The Bulldogs’ front-seven is nasty, and quarterback Dak Prescott has vaulted himself into the Heisman race with is 268 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 105 yards and a score on the ground against LSU.

 

4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0) AP #9, Coaches #9

notre_dameNot much to say about the Irish. They had the week off, and therefore didn’t move up or down.

This week they take a trip to the Carrier Dome to play Syracuse (2-1), which is one of the softest games on their remaining schedule.
Just Missed The Cut

Baylor Bears (3-0) AP #7, Coaches #6

The Bears’ vaunted offense continues with machine-like precision. They once again lead the nation in scoring, with 59.3 points per game, and are 3rd in passing despite Bryce Petty missing time. The defense has looked great, but anyone’s defense would look great against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. Baylor remains on the outside, for now.
Oklahoma Sooners (3-0) AP #4, Coaches #3

The Sooners escaped Morgantown, West Virginia with a hard-fought 45-33 win over the Mountaineers. The defense did not look good, allowing 513 yards, but the offense came though. Freshman running back Samaje Perine had a career day, carrying the ball 34 times for 242 yard and four touchdowns. Maybe most importantly, Oklahoma showed it can win when Trevor Knight is off.

South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1) AP #13, Coaches #15

South Carolina didn’t look great against Vanderbilt. The game came down to the wire, when the Gamecocks should have walked right through the Commodores. But every week South Carolina’s early-season wins just keep looking better and better.

 

Dropped Out

LSU Tigers – Lost to Mississippi State 34-29

Every week I will highlight the top plays from two of the most highly rated tout sheets – The Gold Sheet and Power Sweep – breaking down the plays for you, and whether or not I agree with their selections. By Thursday night, you can expect to see the top college releases, and will follow in the same manner with NFL selections.

please refer to the disclaimer at the bottom of this article

THE GOLD SHEET (TGS)

COLORADO -7 vs. Hawaii – TGS notes that Hawai’i is traveling to the mainland without power running back Joey Iosefa, and could run into some trouble against a physical Pac 12 team like the Buffaloes. And even though the Warriors have covered five straight against Pac 12 foes dating back to the 2012 campaign, I would like to think this is a solid spot for Colorado because not only is coach Norm Chow’s bunch coming to the mainland, but moving from tropical weather to high altitude will be hard-pressed for those big island boys. I agree here and will lay the chalk.

ALABAMA -14′ vs. Florida – Awfully big number to lay against the Gators, but TGS points out that Florida needed three overtimes to fend off Kentucky, which had lost 27 straight in the series. With this one being played in Tuscaloosa, I wouldn’t mind laying this number, especially with quarterback Blake Sims throwing against Florida’s highly suspect defensive secondary. Alabama, which has covered six of seven when hosting SEC foes, also has running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, who both will be rested since they’ve had only 16 total carries in the past two games. They can help balance things out when Sims isn’t aiming for wideout Amari Cooper. I also agree here and will lay the points.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS +13′ at Arkansas – It’s very tough to gauge this Northern Illinois team, which has won 17 straight road games, including last week’s visit here in Las Vegas. TGS notes the Huskies have covered 14 of their last 16 during this 17-game run, but I’d be concerned about this team traveling for a third consecutive week. Sure, the first one was in the state of Illinois, but it was still on the road. Then they came to Vegas, and now they’re headed to Fayetteville? I am actually stunned whichever editor contributed to this one picked NIU to win outright, as it could be poised for a beatdown. I’d either lay the points or stay away from this game.

WEST VIRGINIA +7 vs. Oklahoma – TGS notes the lines are beginning to inflate when it comes to the Sooners, and the past two years they’ve been able to pull away for the win and cover against the Mountaineers. This one is in hostile territory, yes. And the Mountaineers do have a power rushing game that could keep Oklahoma’s offense to limited time of possession. But don’t discount The Sooners’ stout defense, which ranks 19th in the nation overall, allowing just 295.3 yards per game. Both have a bye week on deck, so there is no look-ahead to worry about. If I were going to play this one, it would have to be on a two-team teaser, and either side would be safe since I think Oklahoma pulls out the win.
POWER SWEEP (PS)

WISCONSIN -27 vs. Bowling Green – PS notes that even though Bowling Green pulled out a 45-42 win over another Big Ten foe last week, knocking off Indiana, the Falcons did so against a horrendous defense and that quarterback James Knapke won’t have as easy a time this week at Camp Randall, in Madison, against a much better Wisconsin team. The Badgers do a very good job of rotating players, and while they have some big boys up there, they’re also fast and athletic. I don’t know if I’d lay this many points, but I also don’t know if I want to take this number since Wisconsin has won its last six games following a bye week by an average of 34.3 points. I’ll stay away from this one.

COLORADO -7 vs. Hawaii – Well you already know how I feel about this one, based on TGS’ pick, but let’s talk about why PS like the Buffs. According to the tout sheet, Hawaii arrives in Boulder after a close 27-24 win over Northern Iowa in a game the Warriors led 24-10 entering the fourth quarter. On the other hand, Colorado is in after a 38-24 loss to Arizona State. Hence, the Buffaloes could be out to avenge last week’s Pac 12 setback. PS also makes note that Hawaii has given two Pac 12 team all they can handle, but those games were in Honolulu and the Warriors now have to travel to Boulder, where Colorado was 3-0 ATS when laying chalk last season.

ARKANSAS -13′ vs. Northern Illinois – So while TGS likes Northern Illinois to win outright, PS says the Razorbacks are one of its best bets. The sheet points out that NIU is 1-9 all-time versus the SEC, with the win coming against No. 21 Alabama in 2003. The Huskies’ average loss in those 10 games: a rather high 17 points per game – a number that would sure cover the point spread in this game. PS points out that after snapping their 10-game losing streak two weeks back, the Razorbacks ran roughshod over Texas Tech last week – in Lubbock, Texas – with a 49-28 shellacking. To repeat, I’d either stay away from this game, or lay the points with the SEC entry.

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