Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Postmortem

Damn...that was a tough one.

It's going to take a little while to get over Sunday at Heinz Field. Normally, I can bounce back pretty quickly after a loss, but I had managed to convince myself that we were going to win on Sunday prior to the kickoff. There are a lot of ways to lose a football game, and in 34 years of following this team, I've seen just about all of them.

Easily the most depressing way to lose is by allowing the other team to take the ball and ram it down your throat with the running game. We didn't defend the run too well the first time we visited Pittsburgh in 2010 and we were even worse during the first 30 minutes on Sunday. There were even several times over the course of the first half when the Jets were in the right defense and had Rashard Mendenhall cornered in the backfield only to whiff on him and allow a positive play. It was so uncharacteristic of our defense that I felt like I was watching a different team.

Since I try to be a glass half-full type of fan, the most important positive result of the game for the Jets was the play of Mark Sanchez. Sanchez can be frustrating to watch at times, but he is learning and developing very quickly and was the best player on the field for large portions of the AFC Championship. I don't think there's a Jets fan anywhere who didn't believe that if the defense had risen up and stopped the Steelers on their last possession, Sanchez would have went right down the field and won the game. I would have bet my life on it.

But, it wasn't to be. This is my fourth trip to a championship game as a fan and we're now 0-4. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but I truly feel that the best is yet to come for this franchise. The Jets loaded up for a run this season, and they are probably going to lose a few key contributors for 2011 (the owners and the NFLPA willing). It wouldn't surprise me if the Jets struggled to adjust next season, but I feel like within the next few seasons, we will reach the mountain top. We are very close.

Next for the Jets (once the labor situation has settled) is to determine who we're keeping and who we're letting go. The front office has to make a decision on Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, David Harris, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Nick Folk, just to name a few. We still don't know what the cap is going to look like for 2011, but once it's established, Mike Tannenbaum will have his work cut out for him. We also have the 2011 draft to prepare for, and the Jets can't afford to draft poorly. It's too early to judge the class of 2010, but the first year results were not too promising.

Luckily for the Jets, Rex Ryan has done an excellent job turning the Jets into a destination location for free agents, which should serve us well into the future. The Jets will have holes to fill, as most teams do in the offseason. If we can continue to attract talent and draft wisely, with the core of players we have now...I'm ready to kickoff 2011 already!!!

So, keep your head up Jets fans. Perhaps our boys have learned their lesson and will win the AFC East in 2011, so the road to the Super Bowl won't involve 3 straight road games. Perhaps 2011 or 2012 will be the year we finally win a championship. I just hope you share my optimism for the future with this group of players and coaches.

September can't come soon enough.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Ride to a Championship

I'm sitting here the night before the game watching a replay of the Week 15 matchup between the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers being replayed on the NFL network. The wild ride of the last month makes the most recent Jets-Steelers game feel like it was played years ago. It truly is fitting that a trip to the Super Bowl depends on a return visit to Pittsburgh, if only because Pittsburgh was where the Jets became serious contenders.

The victory over Pittsburgh on December 19 put an end to the only losing streak the Jets had all season, and, without the win over the Steelers, the Jets would have lost 4 straight games when you include the loss to Chicago in the post-Christmas game at Soldier Field. The Jets had never won in Pennsylvania before, and there isn't a long history of winning tough matchups against physical teams in December littering this franchise's history.

In fact, perhaps the most beautiful aspect of this second consecutive run to an AFC title game is watching all of the hardened Jets fans like myself come face-to-face with a team so confident that it boosts the morale of all of us collectively. If I had any remnants of a pessimistic Jets fan rattling around my subconscious, it appears that Rex Ryan has scared him away for good.

I won't rehash the last 34 years for you, except to say that I've always wanted my team to earn a spot in a Super Bowl. We have been close several times, but I feel like tomorrow's game at Heinz Field is the best chance we've had in about 28 years. Pittsburgh is a great team that is looking for a third ring in the last six years, but they are quite beatable. It will take a complete game on both sides of the ball. The Jets must be opportunistic and be ready for Pittsburgh to rally, whether it's early or late. The most impressive part of last week's magnificence in Foxborough was the response to the Crumpler TD that cut the lead to 14-11. Sanchez hit a big play to Cotchery, then threw a frozen rope to Holmes that was caught brilliantly, and the Jets never looked back.

Several things to look for tomorrow in Pittsburgh...the most important player on defense tomorrow for the Steelers is not Troy Polamalu, it's James Harrison. Harrison will mostly be locked up with D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and Ferguson must keep Harrison from changing the game with turnovers and sacks. Pittsburgh is a much better team with Polamalu, but he didn't look right last week against the Ravens, and he didn't spend as much time on the line of scrimmage.

There is a Steeler who missed the previous game against the Jets that can have an even bigger impact. Heath Miller is Roethlisberger's security blanket on broken plays and a nightmare potentially for the Jets. I didn't feel like we played that well defensively the last time we played Pittsburgh, we just made the plays we had to when it counted. I expect the run defense to be better, and if the Jets can generate the same type of pressure they got last week on Tom Brady, the Jets will be just fine.

Offensively, I feel like the Jets can throw on the Steelers, as long as Mother Nature will allow it. Sanchez was outstanding last week once he settled down, and there will be just as many opportunities this week if he's able to stand in and deliver. Pittsburgh takes so much pride on stuffing the run, and the 106 yards they gave up last time on the ground was about everything you could hope for against their front seven. I think at this point in the season, running the football is as much attitude and will as anything else. The Jets will attempt to use the run to remain on schedule with down and distance. If they are able to do that, then they will be able to throw, and they should be able to win.

If the Jets learned anything last season in Indianapolis, it should have been that these types of opportunities don't happen every day. It's difficult to make it to a conference championship, much less consecutive conference championships, especially when no one outside your locker room thought you could do it either time. Such has been the glory of the Rex Ryan era in New York.

Once again, our opponent is a solid favorite, with conventional wisdom stating that our ride ends tomorrow. I don't know why I feel like tomorrow is going to be different, I just do. I feel like it's time for the team I've followed my entire life to deliver a trip to the Super Bowl to all of us.

I feel like our time is now.

Kickoff is 6:30 pm tomorrow at Heinz Field

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Not The Same Old Jets

If I were to ask you how many times the New York Jets have finished with a losing record over the last 14 seasons, would you know the answer? If you were to listen to any media assessment of the Jets history, you would think that it's happened quite often, especially since our franchise and our fan base is mostly known for having lived through some humiliating and painful defeats over the years. The facts tell a different story. Since Bill Parcells took over football operations in 1997, the Jets have only finished with with a losing record 3 times (6-10 in 2003, 4-12 in 2005, and 4-12 in 2007). That's 3 times in 14 years.

Since Parcells turned around the franchise, the Jets have been a fairly solid organization. Their record over that time span is 120-104, with 7 playoff appearances (98, 01, 02, 04, 06, 09, and this year). We've been to 2 AFC title games, with a third one possible if we can find a way to beat the Patriots tomorrow afternoon in Foxborough. Due to the recent success, there's a fairly good chance that if you're not old enough to drink, you probably don't remember how disappointing the Jets were for the previous 28 seasons.

If you take a spin around any Jets message board, you'll see this generational gap unfold before you. Most young Jet fans curse the SOJ (Same Old Jets) fan, because the young folks haven't experienced the football version of Stockholm Syndrome, and they feel the old school Jets fan's negative reaction to any setback effects the team, opening a karmic wound that can not be repaired.

In their defense, the new school Jets fan has a point. It can be highly irritating to be constantly reminded that the sky is falling. If you're currently hanging out with any other Jets fans, look around the room and locate the SOJ fan I'm talking about right now. If you can't find that person, then you may be the SOJ fan in the bunch.

If you are that person (or you know that person), here's a little free advice. You need to remind yourself of the statistic in the first paragraph and lighten up a little. You are not responsible for the Jets playing poorly (a bridge too far), but you're bringing the rest of us down. We don't suck anymore, okay? Get your head out of the oven.

The Jets are a solid organization from top to bottom, with an owner who stays out of the personnel decisions and opens his wallet, a GM who is willing to make any move to help the team win and win now, while at the same time not mortgaging our future, and a head coach that most players would run through a brick wall for. We have a solid core of young talent, and there's no reason to think that we can't be a playoff team for the next 5 years.

Tomorrow's game feels like a culmination of what the Jets have been building towards over the last 2 seasons. After the 45-3 loss in Week 13, the Patriots have been receiving the type of hype usually reserved for only the most legendary of teams. I've been paying attention all week, and I've yet to see a national columnist anywhere who is picking the Jets to win. In other words, Rex Ryan should have them right where he wants them.

Some things you might want to remember for tomorrow...there's a significant portion of the Patriots team that hasn't tasted playoff success. The Pats haven't won a playoff game since 2007, meaning most of the young players (especially on defense) that New England has on the roster aren't battle tested in the postseason. Also, New England finished +28 in turnover differential. They are an opportunistic team, and they rarely make mistakes, however, there is an element of good fortune involved with turnovers. At some point this postseason, there's a good chance that one of their opponents will receive the good fortune that the Pats have had, and it will be interesting to see how they react. If they're going to have a few turnovers, tomorrow is as good a time as any.

I felt that Mark Sanchez needed to play well last week against Indy to win, and I was wrong. Sanchez was, at times, wildly inaccurate, but the Jets still escaped with a road playoff win. He'll need to be efficient tomorrow, and the Jets need to maintain their dominant running game from last week, as well. As for the defense, I would expect to see more zone from the Jets than we did in Week 13, although it's hard to imagine that Rex Ryan will be that patient two weeks in a row. The key against any dink and dunk team is to tackle well, and the Jets were miserable the last time we went to Foxborough. If we can limit the yards after catch and play well offensively on third down, we have a good chance to win. And it would be the sweetest of wins, I can promise you that.

Kickoff tomorrow is at 4:30 in Foxborough.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Boise State-28, Wisconsin-20

Madison, WI-Battling freezing temperatures and a steady snowfall, Boise State got 2 rushing touchdowns from Doug Martin and 304 passing yards and 2 TD from Kellen Moore on their way to the first national championship in their school's history, 28-20. The Broncos jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead by being efficient in the passing game and playing solid defense, limiting the Badgers to 123 yards of offense in the first half.

Doug Martin gained 125 yards on the Wisconsin defense (72 rush, 53 receiving). WR Titus Young caught 6 passes for 151 yards for Boise State. Wisconsin RB John Clay ran for 149 yards on 23 carries. Boise State converted 9 of 15 third down situations, allowing the Broncos to control the ball and win the national title.

Boise State Broncos-7-7-0-14-28
Wisconsin Badgers -3-0-7-10-20

Wis-Welch 22 FG
BSU-Pettis 5 pass from Moore (Brotzman Kick)
BSU-Martin 8 run (Brotzman Kick)
Wis-Clay 15 run (Welch Kick)
BSU-Avery 22 pass from Moore (Brotzman Kick)
Wis-Welch 44 FG
BSU-Martin 2 run (Brotzman Kick)
Wis-Kendricks 1 pass from Tolzien (Welch Kick)

Rushing-BSU-Martin-23-72-2, Avery-11-52-0, Hodge-3-7-0, Moore-3(-6)-0
Wis-Clay-23-149-1, Ball-10-51-0, White-2(-3)-0, Tolzien-4(-10)-0
Receiving-BSU-Young-6-151-0, Pettis-5-54-1, Martin-4-53-0, Efaw-4-30-0, Gallarda-3-31-0, Avery-2-29-1, Shoemaker-1-13-0, Hiwat-1-7-0
Wis-Toon-4-48-0, Kendricks-4-44-1, Anderson-3-45-0, Ball-3-23-0, Abbrederis-3-19-0, Gilreath-2-28-0, Duckworth-2-9-0
Passing-BSU-Moore-24-36-307-2-1, Southwick-2-2-61-0-0
Wis-Tolzien-18-30-188-1-0, Budmayr-3-5-28-0-0
Sacks-BSU-Nisby, Tevis

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Rematch

As Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal went sailing through the uprights to clinch the #5 seed for the Indianapolis Colts, the New York Jets realized that their next playoff appearance would be a return trip to Indianapolis, the scene of their last playoff appearance. The Jets lost to the Colts, 30-17, after holding a halftime lead in a much more competitive game than was originally anticipated.

The Jets lost CB Donald Strickland in the first half and RB Shonn Greene at the start of the second half to injury. The two injuries were the biggest factors in the second half turnaround for the Colts. Without Strickland, and with Lito Sheppard benched, Peyton Manning found his third and fourth options to the tune of 377 yards through the air with 3 TD. Without Greene, the offense lost it's identity in the second half. The ground game that had controlled the action in previous playoff victories against Cincinnati and San Diego was stopped cold. The Colts actually ran for more yards than the Jets in that game, 101-86.

When Mike Tannenbaum went to work this offseason, his motives for adding key pieces was the AFC Title Game last season. The Jets had issues in 2009 with any team that could make plays to their third and fourth options, so Tannenbaum went out and got Antonio Cromartie from the Chargers and drafted Kyle Wilson in the first round. The Jets couldn't generate pressure with four pass rushers last season, so they acquired Jason Taylor from Miami to add another edge rusher. Mark Sanchez didn't have many options outside that could make yards after the catch, so they traded for Santonio Holmes from the Steelers. And when the Jets decided to let Thomas Jones go in the offseason, they acquired LaDainian Tomlinson from San Diego and drafted Joe McKnight from USC to try to fill the void from Jones and Leon Washington's departure.

The moves have had mixed results. The Jets are a better team than they were in 2009, even if they don't make it as far in the postseason. The offense has become more of a well rounded threat than last year, even if it's cost them some of their identity as a ground and pound offense. The defense slipped from last season, but they're still one of the best units in the league, even without Kris Jenkins and Jim Leonhard.

What's in store for tomorrow night, besides antacids? The experts at ESPN and the NFL Network clearly believe that the Jets don't have much of a chance to advance to New England in the divisional playoffs, but I feel the Jets have a much better chance than they had last year. The Colts have struggled all season, giving up more than 24 points a game, opening 6-6 before ripping off four straight wins to take the AFC South. They are without Dallas Clark and Austin Collie for the rest of the season. They give up 4.6 yards a carry, although the Indy defense was much improved against the run the last 4 weeks of the season.

I expect the Colts to sell out to stop the run tomorrow night, so there should be opportunities to throw on first down, especially the short throws that Sanchez has lived on since the Pittsburgh game. I would expect (or at least hope) that Brian Schottenheimer will take advantage of the Cover 2 by using Dustin Keller in the middle of the field. Also, Shonn Greene must get 20 touches tomorrow. Greene was built for this time of the season, and his effectiveness between the tackles will dictate the pace of the game. I also wouldn't mind seeing Joe McKnight get an opportunity to get a portion of Tomlinson's touches. LT hasn't looked as sharp as McKnight did last week since the early season.

The Jets have to figure out a way to pressure Manning. The pass rush has been an issue all season, and should be the first aspect of the team that needs to be overhauled in the offseason. The Jets need a dynamic edge rusher, the type of player who can win one-on-one matchups and make the blitz schemes more effective. But, that's for next season.

For now, we have to dance with what brought us to the postseason. The Jets have every reason to feel confident at Indianapolis on Saturday night. This team has proven to themselves that they can play with any team in the league. Three straight road playoff wins is a daunting task, but they have the juice to beat any possible opponent if they play the type of smart, physical football we all know they are capable of playing.

Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium is at 8pm tomorrow night.

Charlotte Jets Fans

I don't have NFL Sunday Ticket, so I'm always on the lookout for places to watch the Jets game on Sunday. I'm usually looking for a place that's close to home. I always assumed that the best I could hope for would be a television in a bar with audio. It would be too much to hope for to be able to sit with actual Jets fans when you're a 10-hour drive from NYC.

While looking for a place a few months ago, I stumbled across charlottejetsfans.com and knew it was only a matter of time and child care until I would pay the Dilworth Neighborhood Grille a visit and be among my people. I couldn't believe that there was a dedicated community of Jets fans in Charlotte that was so passionate about the team that they took over a portion of a bar on Sundays and turned it into a home-away-from-home base for Jets nation.

I knew I was in the right place when my wife and I saw a Revis jersey and a Sanchez jersey in the parking lot. When we walked in, we were directed to the lower level, where about 60 or 70 lunatics like me were already dialed in to the Jets/Buffalo game. I figured that as a pretty good turnout for a meaningless game at the end of the season, but one of the co-founders of the group, Matt, told me that even when the Jets are being televised locally, they still get a good crowd at the restaurant. He also told me that they had standing-room only on 5 different occasions this season, which means to me that it's only a matter of time before we completely take over the Carolinas. I can't wait.

The bar had everything a Jets fans would want; an exclusive room with 2 gigantic screens with audio, good food and drink, organized J-E-T-S chants, first down chants, and a lot of the wise-guy needling that I miss being away from NYC. We had a great time and will return as soon as we can. As I am completely superstitious, and I will be home for this Saturday night's playoff clash with the Colts, I probably won't be returning this season (if the Jets win, it will be surely because of where I'm watching, what I'm wearing, etc...because I'm insane). But, in 2011, when the Jets aren't on locally, I will be heading back to wherever Charlotte Jets Fans are rooting down for the year. If you love the Jets, you should, too.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 NCAA Football National Championship Game

On January 10, 2011, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Boise State Broncos will meet in Madison, Wisconsin for the National Championship. It's been fun running this little tournament, and I'm looking forward to using whatifsports.com to run NFL playoffs from 1941 to the present day, using the modern playoff format and applying it to NFL History, sometime in the next few months. Here is the matchup...

2010 NCAA Football Tournament Final

Monday, January 10, 2011
8 pm EST-#10 Boise State (14-1) at #5 Wisconsin (14-1)

Wisconsin-38, Michigan State-27

Madison, WI-Wisconsin avenged their only defeat of the season by knocking off Michigan State, 38-27, to advance to the National Championship Game. Michigan State beat the Badgers on October 2 at Spartan Stadium by 10 points, and few thought Wisconsin would have a chance at redemption just 3 months later. Wisconsin controlled the clock by being efficient on third down. The Badgers converted 13 of 20 third down opportunities, which led to a 34-26 time-of-possession advantage.

Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien threw for 243 yards and 2 TD. John Clay ran for 95 yards and a score, and Montee Ball ran for 78 yards and 2 TD. Edwin Baker ran for 146 yards and a TD in a losing cause for the Spartans. Wisconsin will host the National Title game on January 10.

Michigan State Spartans-7-17-0-3-27
Wisconsin Badgers -14-7-3-14-38

Wis-Ball 34 run (Welch Kick)
MSU-Cunningham 18 pass from Cousins (Conroy Kick)
Wis-Toon 3 pass from Tolzien (Welch Kick)
MSU-Bell 9 run (Conroy Kick)
Wis-Ball 1 run (Welch Kick)
MSU-Baker 74 run (Conroy Kick)
MSU-Conroy 32 FG
Wis-Welch 20 FG
Wis-Abbrederis 9 pass from Tolzien (Welch Kick)
MSU-Conroy 47 FG
Wis-Clay 14 run (Welch Kick)

Rushing-MSU-Baker-21-146-1, Bell-10-19-1, Cousins-5-1-0
Wis-Clay-29-95-1, Ball-14-78-2, White-3-31-0, Tolzien-5(-20)-0
Receiving-MSU-Dell-4-73-0, Cunningham-3-35-1, Nichol-3-27-0, Gantt-2-29-0, Linthicum-2-27-0, Martin-1-16-0, Bell-1-5-0, Baker-1-0-0
Wis-Toon-5-69-1, Ball-4-38-0, Anderson-3-49-0, Abbrederis-3-36-1, Kendricks-3-22-0, Gilreath-1-22-0, Duckworth-1-7-0
Sacks-MSU-France, Drone

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Boise State-36, Auburn-10

Auburn, AL-Boise State shocked top-ranked Auburn, 36-10, to advance to the National Championship Game on January 10. The Broncos used a balanced attack to play keep away from Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and his prolific offense. One of the main storylines heading into this matchup was whether or not the Boise State offense could handle the powerful running game of the Tigers, but the Broncos won the battle up front and actually ran for more yards than Auburn, 202-184. They were led by Doug Martin, who ran for 184 yards, including a 57-yard score in the second quarter that busted open the game.

When you add in the passing game, the Tigers were no match for Boise State. QB Kellen Moore completed 23 of 28 for 304 yards and 2 TD, continuing his fantastic performance so far this postseason. Now, he has a chance to lead his squad to a National Title against the winner of Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Boise State Broncos-14-10-3-9-36
Auburn Tigers -0-7-3-0-10

BSU-Avery 4 run (Brotzman Kick)
BSU-Avery 10 pass from Moore (Brotzman Kick)
Aub-Blake 25 pass from Newton (Byrum Kick)
BSU-Martin 57 run (Brotzman Kick)
BSU-Brotzman 36 FG
BSU-Brotzman 23 FG
Aub-Byrum 32 FG
BSU-Young 6 pass from Moore (Kick Missed)
BSU-Brotzman 31 FG

Rushing-BSU-Martin-24-184-1, Avery-12-39-1, Kaiserman-1-6-0, Hodge-9-5-0, Moore-5(-32)-0
Aub-Newton-24-101-0, McCalebb-11-42-0, Dyer-13-31-0, Fannin-4-10-0
Receiving-BSU-Young-6-91-1, Pettis-5-49-0, Martin-4-62-0, Efaw-3-45-0, Avery-2-14-1, Hiwat-1-20-0, Shoemaker-1-16-0, Gallarda-1-7-0
Aub-Adams-2-54-0, Blake-2-42-1, Lutzenkirchen-2-16-0, McCalebb-1-27-0, Zachery-1-9-0
Sacks-BSU-Winn, White
Aub-Christopher, Freeman, Carter, Curry, Humphries

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Red Flags

The New York Jets suffered a 38-34 loss to Chicago last Sunday, but the loss wasn't enough to keep them out of the 2010 NFL Playoffs. The Jets look like they'll be the #6 seed, unless they win, Baltimore wins, and Pittsburgh loses tomorrow, which would make the Jets the #5 seed. The #6 seed most likely means a wild card weekend trip to Kansas City to play the Chiefs. The #5 seed would most likely mean the AFC South champion next weekend, which should be Indianapolis.

Despite my pleadings last week, the Jets decided to come out throwing early and completely abandon the running game in the fourth quarter, even though Shonn Greene was enjoying one of his best games of the season. Shonn Greene has been limited to 201 touches this season, even though he was talked about before the season as a 300-touch feature back type for the Jets. LaDainian Tomlinson's big start to the season limited Greene at the start of the season, but he's been a far more effective option as the season has progressed. The Jets have noticed this to the extent that they are now splitting snaps between the two backs, but, in my opinion, this isn't good enough. For the Jets to have a chance in the postseason, they have to find a way to get Shonn Greene at least 20 touches every game. In bad weather, when the Jets are looking to shorten the game and be the more physical team, a blunt instrument like Greene can be the offense's best friend.

As much as I'd like to be a glass half-full type as we head to the postseason, I'm seeing too many red flags surrounding the team to think that we have a legitimate chance to go deep into the playoffs. Mark Sanchez is playing better the last 2 weeks, and, although he's nursing a shoulder injury, he is expected to start tomorrow against the Bills and see at least a few series. Sanchez is as uneven as you would expect for a second year quarterback. He is capable of looking like an All-Pro for a few series, and then a bum for a few series, all in the same game. He is still far too nervous in the pocket, and he lacks accuracy on easy throws, especially West Coast offense-type throws that demand accuracy to allow for running after the catch. Barring a postseason run for the ages, the jury will remain out on Sanchez, at least until we are into 2011. The Jets have invested far too much in young Sanchez not to provide him with every chance to succeed. As Jets fans, we can only hope that he continues to progress and begins to personify the franchise quarterback role that has been thrust upon him.

The running game has lacked the efficiency of the 2009 squad, and the Jets have lacked the commitment with the running game, most likely because that commitment was borne of necessity as much as anything else. The Jets can throw now, so they do. As a result, they often ask more of their defense than they did previously, and the defense has not responded. The Jets are still largely unable to generate a pass rush with 4 men, which means to generate pressure the Jets must blitz. Rex Ryan loves to blitz, but his overload blitzes haven't been nearly as effective this season, and the Jets defense isn't scaring anyone this season. The defense has given up a ton of yardage in the last 2 weeks, and only has a week to work out the kinks before the live bullets of the postseason.

Tomorrow's game against the Bills concludes the 2010 regular season and launches us into the best month of the sports schedule, the NFL Playoffs. The Jets have little on the line tomorrow other than a chance to finish with the best record they've recorded in 12 years, and a chance to go into the postseason on a positive note. A two-game losing streak heading into the postseason won't bode well for the Jets success in January. Also, I'm heading to Charlotte tomorrow to enjoy Week 17 with the loyal Jets fans who comprise charlottejetsfans.com at the Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. Hopefully, we can head towards the playoffs on a high note.

The kickoff from NMS is at 1 pm EST.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NCAA Football Tournament Semifinals

On to the semifinals, which are taking place this evening. Here are the matchups...

2010 NCAA Football Tournament Semifinals

Saturday, January 1, 2011
4:30 pm EST-#10 Boise State (13-1) at #1 Auburn (15-0)
8:00 pm EST-#9 Michigan State (13-1) at #5 Wisconsin (13-1)

I'll have the results as they become final.

Wisconsin-27, Oklahoma State-24

Madison, WI-Wisconsin K Philip Welch kicked a 45-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining to send Wisconsin to the NCAA Semifinals, 27-24. Wisconsin fell behind 14-3 before scoring 3 touchdowns in a 12 minute span during the second and third quarters to take a 24-14 lead. Oklahoma State fought back in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 24 after Justin Blackmon's 11-yard TD with just over 8 minutes remaining.

Wisconsin had one last opportunity to win when they took over from their own 41 with 1:08 to play. The Badgers completed a few key passes to move into position for Welch's game winner. Wisconsin was led by John Clay, who ran for 207 yards and a TD for the Badgers. Brandon Weeden threw for 381 yards and 3 TD for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State Cowboys-14-0-0-10-24
Wisconsin Badgers -3-14-7-3-27

OKSt-Bowling 10 pass from Weeden (Bailey Kick)
Wis-Welch 38 FG
OKSt-Harrison 20 pass from Weeden (Bailey Kick)
Wis-Ball 26 run (Welch Kick)
Wis-Ball 4 run (Welch Kick)
Wis-Clay 47 run (Welch Kick)
OKSt-Bailey 36 FG
OKSt-Blackmon 11 pass from Weeden (Bailey Kick)
Wis-Welch 45 FG

Rushing-OKSt-Hunter-17-45-0, Randle-5-19-0, Weeden-2(-11)-0
Wis-Clay-25-207-1, Ball-14-57-2, White-6-15-0, Tolzien-5-3-0
Receiving-OKSt-Blackmon-11-123-1, Cooper-5-76-0, Bowling-5-60-1, Harrison-4-33-1, Hunter-4-25-0, Moore-3-48-0, Horton-1-9-0, Randle-1-7-0
Wis-Toon-5-63-0, Kendricks-3-47-0, Ball-3-15-0, Gilreath-2-27-0, Anderson-2-24-0, Abbrederis-1-12-0
Sacks-OKSt-Lemon, King
Wis-Taylor, Fenton
Interceptions-OKSt-Thomas, Martin
Wis-Fenelus, Watt

Auburn-44, Nevada-16

Auburn, AL-Once the Auburn running game got going, it was a wrap for Nevada. The top-ranked Tigers ran for 467 yards against the Wolf Pack, pulling away in the second quarter for a 44=16 victory and a berth in the NCAA Semifinals. Three different Auburn offensive backs crossed the 100-yard barrier as the Tigers jumped out to a 28-6 halftime lead before coasting to victory.

Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combined to rush 27 times for 308 yards and 4 TD. A week after beating #2 Oregon, Nevada couldn't match the Tigers high-scoring attack. Vai Taua ran for 193 yards for the Wolf Pack in a losing effort.

Nevada Wolf Pack-3-3-10-0-16
Auburn Tigers -14-14-6-10-44

Aub-Fannin 2 run (Byrum Kick)
Nev-Martinez 27 FG
Aub-McCalebb 54 run (Byrum Kick)
Nev-Martinez 34 FG
Aub-McCalebb 1 run (Byrum Kick)
Aub-Newton 3 run (Byrum Kick)
Aub-Dyer 81 run (Kick Missed)
Nev-Martinez 25 FG
Nev-Kaepernick 13 run (Martinez Kick)
Aub-Dyer 4 run (Byrum Kick)
Aub-Byrum 46 FG

Rushing-Nev-Taua-31-193-0, Kaepernick-16-42-1, Ball-7-22-0, Randall-7-20-0
Aub-Dyer-17-167-2, McCalebb-10-141-2, Newton-21-100-1, Fannin-8-62-1, Hooper-2(-3)-0
Receiving-Nev-Wimberly-3-26-0, Ball-2-57-0, Green-2-24-0, Taua-2-18-0, Session-1-17-0, Matthews-1-16-0
Aub-Lutzenkirchen-4-44-0, Blake-2-50-0, McCalebb-1-8-0