College football picks of the week: From the Red River to The Swamp (and the debut of my 10-star game of the week)

Been waiting a month for this week, with its delicious combination of rivalry games that are also BCS-impact games, like Oklahoma-Texas and Florida-LSU. Which got me thinking: Why are most of the best matchups squeezed into a few precious Saturdays? (If that’s not actually the case, it sure seems that way.) I thought we’d have a big weekend in two weeks, but West Virginia-Auburn, ASU-Oregon and even Georgia-LSU have lost their luster. (The only Oct. 23-25 game that looked good prior to the season and has held up, is Penn State-Ohio State.) Last week: 2-4Season: 14-17Five-star special: 2-4 All picks against the spread.Lines taken from the “Latest Line” in the Mercury News. TEXAS (plus-7) VS. OKLAHOMA (in Dallas): When Stoops has a top-five team, he’s 4-0 vs. Texas with an average victory margin of 20 points. And the beatings are even worse when he has the No. 1 team. If it’s close to start the fourth, I’ll be surprised. Gimme: Oklahoma PENN STATE (minus-5.5) AT WISCONSIN: Lions are on the road for the second consecutive week and haven’t scored a touchdown in their last two trips to Madison. But that slump will end against a UW defense that has struggled against the run (ie: look for a big game from PSU’s Evan Royster). Remember the Bielema-directed out-of-bounds kicks two years ago? You know JoePa does. Gimme: Penn State VANDERBILT (minus-2.5) AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Not much respect for Vandy from the betting public given its wins over Auburn and South Carolina, but that’s not a surprise. The teams have one common opponent: Auburn. Vandy beat Auburn by one, MSU lost by one. I guess that’s how the 2.5 came to be. Gimme: Vanderbilt NOTRE DAME (plus-7.5) AT NORTH CAROLINA: Tar Heels have more speed and should be amped up beyond belief (UNC will be a football school for three hours!). But how will the new-to-the-rankings-this-week Heels handle the expectations and the environment? The guess here is that UND Continue Reading

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer rivalry continues; Top 10 coaching rivalries in sports

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are arguably both on their way to becoming two of most elite college football coaches of all time — accomplishing more than any other coach with whom they compete. With a combined seven national titles between them and an even record head to head, it can be difficult to determine which coach had a bigger career. FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS SPORTS ON FACEBOOK. "LIKE" US HERE. One thing is certain: Saban coaches the Alabama Crimson Tide with as much energy and passion as Meyers coaches the Ohio State Buckeyes. As the dawn of a new season approaches, here’s a look at some of the greatest coaching rivalries across all sports: 10. Les Miles vs. Nick Saban, NCAA Football Louisiana State University and Alabama have been SEC rivals since 1932 when the conference was founded. Nick Saban is very familiar with the rivalry as he left LSU for the NFL in 2004, and ended up back in the SEC with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007. Les Miles filled the void left by Saban and the two sparked a heated in conference rivalry when Saban returned to the SEC. Saban currently has the better of Miles with a 5-3 record against him. Alabama has also won the last three meetings between the two teams. The two coaches have had some epic battles over the years, including a defensive struggle in 2011 that has been referred to as The Game of the Century. Neither team could muster up a touchdown so the game ended in an LSU 9-6 win in overtime. 9. Mack Brown vs. Bob Stoops, NCAA Football These two coaches stepped into a historical college football rivalry between the Oklahoma Sooner and the Texas Longhorns known as the "Red River Rivalry." Bob Stoops has the upper hand in this one with an 8-5 record against Mack Brown's Longhorns. There was a five-year period when Brown dropped five straight games to the Sooners, all of which were pretty lopsided. The worst loss of these five was the first one in 2000 when Continue Reading

Big 12 fortunes ride on new Red River Rivalry, Texas’ Tom Herman, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley

FRISCO, Texas — A few days ago, Oklahoma President David Boren made some ripples — we know, what’s new? — by saying he is “philosophically in favor of a 10-win Texas.” Tom Herman’s response:“So am I!”Herman laughed as he said it. And then the Longhorns’ first-year coach acknowledged that he’d like to see Oklahoma have similar success. And this isn’t so much détente in a heated rivalry so much as it is recognition of the obvious:The Big 12 needs Texas to get good again — and for Oklahoma to remain there.All of which is why the Red River rivalry is suddenly so fascinating. Herman is Texas’ new hope, the guy who is supposed to catapult the Longhorns back to winning. On the other sideline at the Cotton Bowl that second Saturday in October will be another newcomer. All Lincoln Riley is charged with is maintaining what Bob Stoops built, and goosing the Sooners just a bit to reach their success levels of the 2000s.Both jobs are big enough by themselves. But in very important ways, both coaches also shoulder the fortunes of the Big 12 at a very critical time.As the conference’s media days unfolded Monday and Tuesday, coaches and players mingling with mascots and cheerleaders in an indoor football arena, the vibe was upbeat with a dose of defiance.“I don’t think the Big 12 is in any jeopardy whatsoever or as weak as some might portray,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.He was echoed by others, which was a good sign: The league that can’t ever seem to get out of its own way was, publicly at least, reading from the same page. But as always with this league, the backdrop is uncertainty.The Big 12’s TV contracts run through the 2024-25 school year; that’s also when the grant-of-rights from each school to the league is set to expire. After that, no one is sure if the league will continue to exist in its current form — or at least, with its Continue Reading

Texas Longhorns left at a loss after their dismal showing against Oklahoma Sooners in Red River Rivalry

The eyes of Texas are upon the Texas Longhorns and they don’t like what they see. It is hard to make excuses for the way the Longhorns played in a humiliating 63-21 loss to Oklahoma Saturday in the annual Red River Rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Sooners rolled up a 677-289 advantage in total yardage and ran for 343 yards and an average of 6.7 yards per carry. “It’s just unacceptable for Texas to lose like that to Oklahoma, much less anybody, and especially two years in a row,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “I’m disappointed for our coaches, our fans and our players because that’s not who we are.” No one knows who the Longhorns are these days after a third straight loss to the Sooners that ended with defensive tackle Casey Walker weaving through players to plant an OU flag at midfield. But they are certainly not a Top 10 program. Oklahoma (4-1), which is ranked 10th in the AP poll and clobbered the Longhorns, 55-17, last year, owns this series again — the same way the Sooners did between 2000 and 2004 when Bob Stoops’ teams were putting up astronomical margins of victory such as 63-14 in 2000 and 65-13 in 200 3. “This one is in the same ballpark,” Stoops said when asked where he thought this triumph ranked in his personal history regarding his victories over Texas. “If we’d have left our starting defense out there, I don’t think the end would have been like it was. It would have been right there with those. Those are pretty special ones, and this definitely is right there with them.” Stoops’ team dominated Texas (4-2) in the trenches with its physical play. The Sooners pounded the Longhorns into submission with 6-6, 25 4 pound backup quarterback Blake Bell, aptly nicknamed “The Belldozer,” smashing into the end zone for four touchdowns and the Sooners’ big backs doing serious damage out of a loaded backfield. Texas Continue Reading

Yankees, Red Sox rivalry sure to create traffic snarls all weekend in the Bronx

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING WEEKEND TRAFFIC FORECAST Yankees fans don't care if the BoSox are at the bottom of the barrel. The rivalry is so deep they will still fill the Stadium with sellout crowds this weekend. First game is 7 p.m. Friday, followed by 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday. Friday evening’s rush hour through the Bronx and Sunday night’s return from points north will be hardest hit. The FDR ’s southbound and northbound ramps to the Brooklyn Bridge are closed overnight 11 p.m. Friday to 2 p.m. Saturday. Take the Civic Center/Pearl St. exit to re-enter the bridge. The southbound FDR Dr. exit ramp to Civic Center/Pearl St. is closed from 2 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday. Direct access onto the Brooklyn Bridge is not affected. Third Ave. in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge is closed between 78th and 89th Sts. 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday for the Weekend Walk. On Saturday, a festival closes Sixth Ave. between 42nd and 56th Sts. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a parade closes Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. between 116th and 125th Sts. in Morningside Heights 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. On Sunday, the St. Patrick’s Fair closes Madison Ave. between 42nd and 57th Sts. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the Bronx, the Weekend Walk closes E. 204th St. between Bainbridge and Decatur Aves. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a parade in Harlem closes the curb lanes of Riverside Dr. between 120th St. and Tiemann Pl. , Claremont Ave. between 122nd St. and Tiemann Pl. and 122nd St. between Riverside Dr. and Claremont Ave. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A Dominican parade closes the Grand Concourse between the Cross Bronx Expressway and E. 166th St. 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. From the mailbag: Dear Gridlock Sam, This is my first trip driving to Yankee Stadium. How do I miss the traffic on a weekday from southern Jersey? Cathy, Jersey Dear Cathy, Take the George Washington Bridge (but get there by 5:30 p.m. because of construction on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge ) to the southbound exit for the Continue Reading

Oklahoma Sooners making college football world notice in 55-17 win over Texas in Red River Rivalry

DALLAS - Oklahoma apparently is tired of hearing that the winner of the Nov. 5 SEC showdown between LSU and Alabama at Tuscaloosa will be the prohibitive favorite to win the BCS national championship. The Sooners (5-0), who are No. 1 in the coaches' poll but slipped from the top spot to No. 3 in the AP poll in the last two weeks, made us stop and take notice Saturday, embarrassing Texas, 55-17, in the 106th annual Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl. Senior quarterback Landry Jones, a three-time starter in this game, completed 31 of 50 passes for 367 yards and three TDs in a hurry-up offense, torching the Longhorns' surprisingly vulnerable secondary and announcing his Heisman Trophy campaign before 96,009 and a national TV audience. Oklahoma piled up 486 yards of total offense. "We don't go into the game thinking we have to score this amount of points," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "But when you play well in big games, you usually get rewarded in the polls." It was obvious that neither Longhorns coach Mack Brown nor his two new coordinators, Bryan Harsin and Manny Diaz, and two new quarterbacks were ready for the way this went down. The Sooners' blitzing defense savaged sophomore Case McCoy and freshman David Ash, who both were unable to adjust to the speed of the game. Oklahoma caused five turnovers, three of which went for touchdowns - a 55-yard interception return by Demontre Hurst, a 19-yard fumble return by David King and a 56-yard fumble return by Jamell Flemming. Each defensive score created a deafening roar that could be heard throughout the Texas State Fairground, where this game has been played since 1929. The Texas State Fair has become an annual slice of Americana, with giant talking statue Big Tex welcoming the guests to experience the giant ferris wheels and fried delicacies, which include fried buffalo chicken flapjacks on a stick, fried margaritas, fried banana pudding, fried Oreos and corny dogs. Texas coach Mack Brown didn't have to Continue Reading

New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry has cooled down with neither AL East power in top form

The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry never dies, but it has cooled to a hypothermic state best described as dormant. That's what we get Friday, when Boston arrives in the Bronx with a sub-.500 record, a pitching staff ranked 12th in the American League and a very recent history of non-contention. Here, the Red Sox will face a Yankee team that dropped from the division lead Thursday night for the first time in a month, that after an ultra-sloppy, 11-5 pounding from the bargain-basement Royals. "Just not good baseball," said Joe Girardi, usually Mr. Positive. "When you have three, four or five games like this in two weeks, it bothers me. Maybe (Boston) is what we need. Everything seems to be turned up. Maybe it's the right time." Perhaps this series will be a wake-up call for these slumbering teams, each having dropped two straight to lesser opponents. More likely, one side will win two of three meandering games and then the Yanks will head to Tampa, where the real threat appears to reside. Much as we love to hype these things, the Yanks haven't met Boston in the postseason now for nearly seven years, and the league has become far more balanced than payrolls would suggest. The Rays have a total payroll of just around $41 million and are faring just fine. Cleveland's salaries total $49 million. The Royals took two of three this week in New York, despite a last-place payroll of $36 million. Now the Red Sox come in at around $162 million, playing the home team at $202 million. Neither side is getting its money's worth. The Yanks produced one of their most embarrassing innings ever Thursday night - a two-error, one-passed-ball, multibobble, stupid-throw, six-run mess in the second. About the best thing you could say about the Yanks and Red Sox is that they are No. 1 and 2 in the AL when it comes to working walks. Before Thursday night, the Yanks were ninth in the AL in batting with runners in scoring position, at .236. They were seventh overall in batting at Continue Reading

Red River Rivalry confirms TCU is better than Texas, which falls to Oklahoma, 28-20, at Cotton Bowl

DALLAS - Ordinarily, the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma, which is played annually at the sold-out Cotton Bowl on the state fair grounds, is the biggest college football event in this area. The winner of this game has gone on to capture the Big 12 championship and entrée into a lucrative BCS game in nine of the past 11 years. But eighth-ranked Oklahoma's 28-20 victory over Texas Saturday was just another indication the Longhorns are not the best team in this football-crazed state. Texas Christian University, a small school of 12,000 from nearby Fort Worth that is known for Sammy Baugh and its unique Horned Frog mascot, owns that distinction, although Texas fans throughout the state seem reluctant to admit it. TCU, which climbed to fifth in the AP Top 25 and is 5-0 following a 27-0 victory at Colorado State Saturday, is the elephant in the room, a mid-major powerhouse, much like Boise State, from a non-BCS conference no one in the Big 12 wants to talk about. We'd love to see TCU play Texas on a regular basis either here or at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. But it's not going to happen. Texas has no interest in scheduling the Horned Frogs. The Longhorns are the biggest brand name in the Southwest, if not the country. They have Notre Dame-like clout in scheduling and can determine who they want to play in-state. Texas feels it gains nothing from playing a team like TCU, which could not only beat the Longhorns but could also hurt them long-term in recruiting in this talent-rich area. Texas seems much more comfortable scheduling a team like Rice. TCU, which has played in four conferences - the Southwest, WAC, Conference USA and Mountain West - in the past 20 years, would love to join the Big 12. But the Frogs have no chance of ever getting the necessary votes for admission if the league expands. The Big 12 feels Texas and Texas A&M already control the TV sets in this area and has no interest in sharing revenue with a team that has trouble Continue Reading

Texas upsets No. 1 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry

DALLAS - This time, Texas refused to crumble after taking a shot to the head from Big 12 South rival Oklahoma.The fifth-ranked Longhorns got off the canvas long enough for junior quarterback Colt McCoy to throw a knockdown punch of his own during a wild 45-35 Red River Rivalry victory over the No. 1 Sooners Saturday before a sellout crowd of 92,182 at the newly renovated Cotton Bowl.McCoy not only completed 28 of 35 passes for 277 yards and one touchdown, but he helped the Longhorns get the best of Oklahoma's gifted redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford in this shootout. Bradford was spectacular himself, completing 25 of 32 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns.But this was McCoy's shining moment and should catapult him into serious Heisman Trophy consideration.McCoy set up Texas' final go-ahead score - a 2-yard run by Cody Johnson that gave the Longhorns a 36-35 lead with 7:37 to play - when he completed a 37-yard pass to wide receiver Jordan Shipley to give Texas a first-and-goal at the Sooners' 1-yard line. Then, he completed a two-point conversion to wideout Quan Cosby, who was all alone in the end zone.Texas tacked on another touchdown when Johnson scored on a 2-yard run with 4:32 to play .following a 62-yard run by Chris Ogbonnaya after Oklahoma backed off from its blitzing tactics."We kept answering the bell time and time again," McCoy said. "We knew we had to come in here and execute. We came in with the idea of throwing the ball. Nobody had thrown the ball against Oklahoma and nobody had explosive plays and deep play. We wanted to attack that and we found some openings in the middle."Shipley did the most damage, catching 11 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown. He also had a spectacular 96-yard kickoff return for a score that pulled the Longhorns within 21-17 midway through the second quarter."That was an answer," Texas coach Mack Brown said.The Longhorns had too many of them, outgaining the Sooners in total yards, 438 to 435, and limiting the Continue Reading

Red Bulls win first-ever MLS meeting with NYCFC 2-1 as Bradley Wright-Phillips scores twice

The fans showed up. They were thrown off a train for being too loud and still arrived at Red Bull Arena in time to chant and witness their disappointing team fail again. These were the same NYCFC supporters who stood alone and quiet long after the final whistle, watching their counterparts on the other side of the bowl cheer on their Red Bull players following a Bradley Wright-Phillips brace and a 2-1 victory. Sunday had the makings of a real rivalry, especially with the energy from a sold-out crowd. But both teams have to be good for this to gain some traction. And the expansion squad from the Bronx currently stinks. “It just seems that this momentum against us is such a headwind,” said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. “We’re trying everything we can to break out of this.” RELATED: CRISTIANO RONALDO DONATES $8M FOR NEPAL EARTHQUAKE RELIEF There are signs that things are unraveling in NYCFC land, the frustrations that are bound to appear when a team is 1-6-3 and hasn’t won in eight games. Mix Diskerud, the U.S. National Team player who was billed as the key to NYCFC’s midfield, was pulled from the game in the 64th minute, a move made by coach Jason Kreis to inject life into a consistently stalling attack. To make matters worse for Diskerud, the poor performance was witnessed in person by Jurgen Klinsmann. Afterwards, Diskerud failed to show up in the locker room and was not made available to the media. “I thought Mix was just not great tonight,” Kreis said. “I thought he was in-and-around things not making plays either in the attacking half or the defensive half.” David Villa, the Spanish star making more money than the rest of the roster combined, has been visibly frustrated at different points in the season. He always says the right things publicly, keeping it cordial and accommodating in ways that Thierry Henry did not. But there’s also the way Villa shook his head at Continue Reading