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NCAA Football Preview
August was another winning month for our complemenatry selections making it now three consecutive positive
months. We have been offering free winning seletions six of eight months in 2014.
Added 176.00 units last month. The MLB season is still profitable and now has a
62-47 (+351.46) record as of the end of August.
Alabama Crimson Tide:
The key to any successful run through the SEC is the right schedule, and the Crimson Tide’s is among the conference’s easiest.
Its Eastern Division tie-ins are Florida and Tennessee, both unproven teams, and Coach Nick Saban’s group has open dates before
road games against Mississippi and LSU. It doesn’t hurt to have Auburn visiting on the final Saturday of the regular season, where
fans will be craving revenge.
Michigan State Spartans:
The Spartans’ chances of cruising through the Big Ten schedule became much easier when Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. But the conference outlook, which includes a home game against Michigan, isn’t the issue.
That Week 2 contest at Oregon is a major test for quarterback Connor Cook and Co. that will propel the winner into early-season playoff
Florida State Seminoles:
Like Clemson, the Seminoles will have an idea where they stand after their fourth-week matchup against the Tigers in Tallahassee.
Heisman winner Jameis Winston, likely the focus of 12 weeks of aggressive game planning by opponents, is the nation’s best athlete —
but he’ll need to remain focused to avoid late-season surprises against Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami and Florida.
Strength of schedule will be a major point of emphasis for the new playoff committee, and even one-loss Oregon would be an
obvious choice for a slot after running the Pacific-12 gauntlet. Oregon and quarterback Marcus Mariota, now healthy and the
top Heisman front-runner not named Winston, will host Michigan State in Week 2, the first of four opponents ranked in the preseason Top 25.
Possible playoff sleepers
The Hawkeyes doubled their win total from 2012 during last year’s 8-5 season and return 14 starters,
including quarterback Jake Rudock, leading rusher Mark Weisman and top receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley. They also avoid Ohio
State, Michigan State and Michigan and play Wisconsin and Nebraska at home in what is shaping up to be a wide-open Big Ten race.
The Huskies’ defense remains intact and the hiring of former Boise State coach Chris Petersen has inspired optimism for 2014.
Washington gets Pac-12 contenders UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State at home, a slate that makes the Huskies an intriguing sleeper
nationally if they’re able to avoid the pitfalls of a deep conference.
Kansas State Wildcats:
The Wildcats won six of their final seven games last year, and that lone loss came against 2014 Big 12 favorite Oklahoma.
The development of second-year quarterback Jake Waters will be crucial, with an early test against 2013 national runners-up
Auburn and five conference road games. But if navigated successfully, that’s the sort of challenging schedule that would undoubtedly
impress the new playoff committee.
With the Trojans still dealing with NCAA scholarship limitations, crosstown rival UCLA has drawn much of the preseason hype.
But USC does not lack for returning talent on defense or at the skill positions, which helped it win six of its last seven games
following Lane Kiffin’s mid-season dismissal. The hope is new Coach Steve Sarkisian can sort out an offense that was less than the
sum of its parts in 2013.
MLB Power Rankings (last updated: 08/27)
Washington Nationals (75-54):
At 15-3 in their last 18 games, the Nationals are undoubtedly the hottest team in baseball right now. That span included a 10-game
winning streak and a stretch with five walk-off wins in six games, as they are simply finding ways to win games. The offense is averaging
4.87 runs per game this month, while the pitching staff leads the National League with a 2.72 ERA. The depth of the Nationals roster has
been on full display here in August. Their eight-game lead over the Braves is the largest division lead in baseball right now, and they
currently have the best record in the National League. The Nats will look to stay hot and remain in the No. 1 spot with series against
the Phillies and Mariners this coming week.
Oakland Athletics (76-53):
After dropping out of the top spot last week, the Athletics climb back up to No. 2 after besting last week's No. 1 team,
the Angels, in a big weekend series. There are still concerns about their lack of offensive firepower since they traded Yoenis Cespedes,
but the A's managed to plate 22 runs in five games last week, which is a step in the right direction. On the injury front, closer
Sean Doolittle landed on the DL with a strained intercostal, and it remains to be seen who will assume ninth-inning duties in his absence.
The Athletics kick off a road trip this week with a three-game series against the Astros before heading to Los Angeles for another
big weekend series with the Angels. The two teams continue to battle it out for AL West supremacy.
Los Angeles Angels (77-52):
The Angels won Sunday night to stake their claim to the best record in baseball, but that win was also to avoid being swept
by the division-rival Athletics, and they drop below Oakland in this week's power rankings as a result. That's not the only reason
the Angels drop, though, as the loss of ace Garrett Richards to a season-ending knee injury also has to be taken into account. A torn
patellar tendon is expected to sideline him for six to nine months, and that is a serious blow to the team's postseason rotation plans.
That will mean Jered Weaver will have to step up and again pitch like an ace, while rookie Matt Shoemaker will need to continue to
deliver starts like the 7.2 innings of shutout ball he turned in his last time out. There is still a ton of talent here, but the loss
of Richards can't be overstated.
The Angels head home this week to take on the Marlins before another series with the Athletics. They will have a
chance to prove they deserve to be slotted ahead of the A's in next week's rankings.
Kansas City Royals (72-57):
The Royals just keep winning. They are now 24-11 in the second half after winning a weekend series against the Rangers.
That's enough to give them a two-game lead in the AL Central with six games left against the Tigers. The Josh Willingham pickup
may very well go down as one of the best waiver deals of all time, as he's hit .324/.410/.618 with six extra-base hits and eight
runs scored in 11 games since joining the Royals and given them a clear offensive spark in the process. "I hate to use the term
'a professional hitter,' but he gives you a solid at-bat every time he gets up," manager Ned Yost told Andy McCullough of The Kansas
City Star. "And he may strike out. But he gives you a solid at-bat every time up. And he has a chance of doing damage every time up."
The Royals kick off a 10-game homestand with a makeup game against the Yankees on Monday, followed by series with the
Twins and Indians.
Los Angeles Dodgers (74-58):
The Dodgers made the most of a favorable draw last week, taking series from the Padres and Mets to extend their
lead in the NL West to 4.5 games over the Giants. Hanley Ramirez rejoined the team Sunday, and Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected to
be activated as soon as he is eligible to come off the DL on Aug. 29 or shortly after. Slowly but surely, the Dodgers
are getting healthy for their stretch run. Juan Uribe is still on the shelf, but Justin Turner has done a fantastic job
filling in for him, hitting .352/.453/.481 this month. His versatility continues to make him one of the better under-the-radar
pickups of the offseason. As for the week ahead, the Dodgers go on the road for a quick two-game series with the Diamondbacks
and then a three-game tilt with the Padres over the weekend.
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