There’s a reason sports and politics have their own sections of the newspaper, separate channels on television, and one results in 90,000 people uniting as one on weekly basis to celebrate, cheer, and hope while the other makes us angry our favorite television show is getting bumped. With sports you have to prove yourself, you can’t just talk a good game. With sports we feel as if we’re investing ourselves in something honest and fair; even when we don’t agree with the ref’s call. Sports allow us to dream, even if unrealistically, that we could hit that game winning shot at the buzzer, knock a game winning homer, or score a last-second touchdown. We can become lost in sports, and even if for just a few hours feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.
The unfortunate wreckage resulting from the occasional collisions of these two worlds has been instances such as congressional hearings on the subject of steroids, and social constructs like the media biased popularity contest that we call the AP Poll and BCS that leave us screaming “let’s just settle it on the field." It’s difficult for these two worlds to intermingle, and many of us in the sports world feel like sports and politics go together about as well as a necktie and a blender.
Now we have a “cool” President who could be proving these two worlds can co-exist, who is for a playoff system in college football, who doesn’t look like a doofus throwing out an opening pitch, and apparently has a pretty sweet 3-point stroke. The fact is, even for those of us who are the most avid sports fans, that fall asleep at night watching SPORTSCENTER, wear team logoed boxer shorts, or have made the famous “until my team wins” vows, it’s impossible to ignore the world of politics. This has never been more true than in today’s America where we have a President making headlines with bank bailouts, Recovery Act funds, “Cash for Clunkers”, his choice of domestic house pet, failed Olympic bids, eleven day old Nobel Prize efforts, and even celebrity rappers pimping his health care reform campaigns…
…and although Fox and Friends would never cause us to park it on the couch for an entire Saturday, and we’re not exactly going to get jealous about who gets to hold this year’s State of the Union Address party we begin to raise a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-like eyebrow to worldly happenings outside of what’s on ESPN. I’m not totally convinced politics do have a place in sports or vice versa (as in politicians actually playing sports), but for now here’s the Cash and Clunker Fantasy Games of the Week:
“Money (Cash)” Fantasy Games
Bowling Green @ Ball State
The average college football watcher may not know the title holder of NCAA’s Leading Receiver belongs to senior wide out Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green who's averaging 120 yards per game receiving and has totaled 722 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Falcon quarterback Tyler Sheehan should have no problem finding Barnes for a few scores against this Ball State secondary, one giving up 233 yards per game and 14 touchdowns on the season. Sheehan should have plenty of opportunities to get on the field and toss the magic bean to Barnes with Ball State’s offense likely scoring at will on Bowling Green’s 102nd ranked scoring defense that has paved the golden path to the end zone for their opponents to the tune of 31 points per game allowed. Ball State is allowing 30 points per game, which gives them only a slightly better ranking of 97th in scoring defense. The ball should bounce back and forth more than a Peyton Manning vs. Justin Timberlake ping pong match in this one, and the score board operator will be tested for carpal tunnel first thing Monday morning.
Fantasy Stars Affected: (Bowling Green) QB, Tyler Sheehan, WR, Freddie Barnes, (Ball State) QB, Kelly Page, RB, MiQuale Lewis, WR, Briggs Orsbon
Stanford @ Arizona
Touchdown Toby Gerhart should continue to add to his darkhorse Heisman campaign this week as the Cardinal travels to Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats are giving up less than 100 yards per game rushing (98 ypg, 21st), but have allowed seven rushing scores so far in 2009; most of which have come in the past three weeks. Iowa’s Adam Robinson ran for 101 yards and two scores against Arizona, Jacquizz Rodgers 85 yards and two touchdowns, and last week Jake Locker racked up 92 yards and a score. The Wildcats haven’t quite faced a back like Gerhart yet either, who weighs in at 235lbs, has racked up 745 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season, can reshape steel with his mighty stiff-arm, and looks like Man Ram from Masters of the Universe in football gear. The Cardinal isn’t limited to Gerhart’s offensive efforts, however, as quarterback Andrew Luck torched Oregon State for 226 yards and two scores last week, and will look for his favorite target Ryan Whalen (27 receptions this season) early and often. It appears sophomore Arizona Wildcat quarterback Nick Foles has secured the starting position over the past two weeks while completing 64-of-87 pass attempts for 638 yards and four touchdowns. Foles will be at the helm again this week running the famous Sonny Dykes “Air-Raid” offense against Stanford’s 71st ranked pass defense allowing 223 yards per game. By land or by air, you will certainly see a lot of scoring in this one.
Fantasy Stars Affected: (Stanford) QB, Andrew Luck, RB, Toby Gerhart, WR, Ryan Whalen; (Arizona) QB, Nick Foles, RB, Nic Grisby (Questionable), WR, David Roberts, WR, Terrell Turner
Texas Tech @ Nebraska
The Texas Tech Red Raider offense racked up 66 points and 739 yards of offense last week against Kansas State. Texas Tech’s replacement quarterback Steven “Sticks” Sheffield, who was playing for the injured Taylor Potts, logged enough frequent flyer miles for a free ticket for him and guest anywhere in the continental US after posting a 490-yard, seven touchdown performance. In true Mike Leach fashion there is no word on whether Potts will return this week or if Sheffield will get the keys to the Learjet again, but regardless of the starting quarterback the Red Raiders should be able to impose their will on a Nebraska defensive secondary that has yet to be tested this season (the monsoon against Missouri doesn’t count). The Huskers and their 44th ranked passing offense love the friendly skies as well, and junior quarterback Zac Lee is getting better with every start. Lee has 1,085 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season, and you can expect that total to rise against Texas Tech’s 92nd ranked passing defense that is allowing 242 yards per game through the air. Look for the “Mad Scientist” Mike Leach to run Baron Batch (who has scored in the past three games) in much the same fashion as the Houston game against this Huskers defense allowing 110 rushing yards per game to open up the passing lanes for Potts/Sheffied. Bo Pelini will also be pounding the rock with Nebraska’s Roy Helu who should be a red zone monster against this Red Raider defense that’s given up seven rushing scores so far this season.
Fantasy Stars Affected: (Texas Tech) QB, Taylor Potts/Steven Sheffield, RB, Baron Batch, WR, Swindall/Lewis/Leong/Torres; (Nebraska) QB, Zac Lee, RB, Roy Helu, WR, Niles Paul, TE, Mike McNeill
“Clunker” Fantasy Games
South Carolina @ Alabama
“This game is going to be two gladiators gladiating it out, an angry baby, a woman scorned, a tornado inside a volcano.” Nick Saban’s Crimson Army is currently ranked 2nd in overall defense giving up just 220 yards per game and just nine touchdowns on the season. Alabama is tied for 8th in turnovers gained with 13, and 8th in scoring defense allowing just 12 points per game. The Ole Ball Coach seems to be tipping his visor toward the defensive side of the ball these days as well with his Gamecocks ranking 15th in total defense by limiting opponents to just 280 yards per game and 13 touchdowns. Alabama’s 11th ranked rushing offense will look to grind it out on the ground with Mark Ingram, who has already carried the ball 111 times for the Tide, registering 659 yards and 7 touchdowns on the Running Back-o-Meter. The Gamecocks, who had one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation last year, have found the key to their running game in the freshman duo of Jarvis Giles and Kenny Miles. The strong presence of a running game for both teams, and defensive stops and turnovers should keep this one low scoring.
Fantasy Stars Affected: (South Carolina) QB, Stephen Garcia, RB, Jarvis Giles, RB, Kenny Miles, WR, Tori Gurley; (Alabama) QB, Greg McElroy, RB, Mark Ingram, RB, Trent Richardson, WR, Julio Jones
Iowa @ Wisconsin
The Iowa Hawkeyes may be 6-0 touting an 11th ranking in the AP Poll, but they have yet to find an offensive rhythm just one year removed from Shonn Greene’s 1850 yard, 18 touchdown season. Iowa currently ranks 67th in total offense, 80th in rushing offense, and 75th in scoring offense. The Hawkeyes are winning games on the defensive side of the ball, holding opponents to just 305 yards per game (31 st), causing the second most turnovers in the nation with 19, and giving up just 15 points per game (20th) to opposing offenses. Wisconsin’s 29th ranked offense is tallying 422 yards per game and has scored 24 touchdowns in six games, but this Iowa defense held Penn State’s 23rd ranked offense to just 10 points and 307 total yards. Snow showers Friday through Saturday and game time high temperature of 47 degrees should keep the ball on the ground more than normal, and will have Wisconsin wrecking ball John Clay and Iowa backs Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher moving a little sluggishly.
Fantasy Stars Affected: (Iowa) QB, Ricky Stanzi, RB, Adam Robinson, RB, Brandon Wegher, TE, Tony Moeaki; (Wisconsin) QB, Scott Tolzien, RB, John Clay, TE, Garrett Graham