Draft King Analysis|
October 23, 2015
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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In one of the most improbable finishes to a game that you'll ever see, Michigan State beat Michigan in the Big House this past Saturday on the final play. The fallout from it has been noteworthy.
You've probably seen it by now, the punter with the botched catch of a low snap, the ball being inadvertently knocked backward, and Michigan State's Jalen Watts-Jackson snatching up the pigskin and carrying it into the end zone as time expired, giving the Spartans a 27-23 victory.
Watts-Jackson suffered a broken hip on the landing as he was brought down crossing into the end zone, an injury which has ended his season. That's a big price to pay, but he earned himself a spot in history on a play that will be replayed over and over and over again for years to come, while Michigan suffered its first home loss of the Jim Harbaugh era.
But not to be overlooked in the game was Michigan State QB Connor Cook's statline: 18/39 passing with one TD and no interceptions. The 46.2% completion rate is nothing to be happy about, but Cook showed great fighting spirit to drive the Spartans into driving distance late, and he had multiple dropped passes that weren't his fault. Sometimes stats can be misleading.
Mel Kiper's new list of position-by-position rankings came out earlier this week, and it was nice to not see Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg at the top (Kiper has him at #5) since he has no business being there. I realize Hackenberg has a sub-par offensive line and no superstars at wide receiver, but it never made sense to me to rank a QB coming off a season with more interceptions than touchdowns thrown as highly as he seemed to be on most prominent boards.
I haven't felt this much of a disconnect with the rest of the draft world since Jake Locker in 2010, though Hackenberg has more of a prototype build than Locker did. And while I'm an analyst first and an evaluator as a far second, which something seems drastically out of alignment, I feel an obligation to let my objection be known.
The real breakout star for Penn State, as I've noted before on here, is true freshman RB Saquon Barkley. After missing back-to-back games with an injury, Barkley returned last Saturday night in a major way for the Nittany Lions: 26 carries for 194 yards against an outstanding Ohio State defense. The sky is the limit for that guy.
With the strong success shown this year by several of its teams, the American Athletic Conference is prompting plenty of debate about why it doesn't have "power conference" status that the current P5 have. As of this writing, the conference has three unbeaten teams: Memphis, Houston, and Temple. And those are wins over jobber teams, not with Memphis beating Ole Miss, Houston knocking off Louisville, and Temple humbling Penn State this season.
Particularly considering that the now-defunct (for football) Big East had "power" status before being knocked apart during the conference realignment land grabs of the past several years, the generically-named American (as it's commonly referred to, since AAC sounds too close to ACC) deserves the same consideration as the major conferences, at least in my estimation.
The sad part is that, naturally, the coaches that are driving that success will soon be gone, stolen away by large paydays elsewhere. It's such a tilted, twisted system -- if players could leave a school arbitrarily (and for a big contract, imagine that) there would be an uproar. But the mid-major programs have to just deal with the reality that success likely means their coaches jumping for a huge payday.
It's kind of like what happened in Extreme Championship Wrestling circa 1995, where they provided a venue for up-and-coming great wrestlers to show off their skills, only to be stolen away by the big-budget opposition in the form of World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation. As always, life's not fair.
Something I've been made aware of that is rather baffling to me is the lack of high-definition programming available in the Virgin Islands. My buddy Dustin lives down there, and from his description of things it's not particularly good, with major network U.S. broadcasts in stretch-and-clipped mode, cutting off the on-screen score in many cases. His attempts to get a waiver to get the New York locals (WABC, WCBS, WNBC, etc.) that are normally offered to people in rural areas in the eastern United States have been unsuccessful.
According to this page on Wikipedia, the only U.S. network with a full-power affiliate is ABC. So when Dustin, an SEC football fan, wants to watch the big game on CBS, he's forced to watch a downgraded and clipped signal via a Low-Power TV local affiliate. Even the local news product there is in standard definition.
People come to me on a regular basis asking all sorts of questions, particularly sports and television related, since they know I know things and can usually find the answers they are seeking. But in this case I'm completely baffled. How can this be seen as acceptable by the networks? When Dustin has asked people down there about it, he has been told the equivalent of Deal With It. Not exactly an ideal situation at all.