Ratto's Top 25: Purple-faced Harbaugh, headhunters climb ranks


Ratto's Top 25: Purple-faced Harbaugh, headhunters climb ranks

Most of the college football season ended Saturday, with only a few conference championships, a bit of extraneous flotsam and jetsam and the Army-Navy game, 97 bowl games of indifferent vintage, and the national championship. The season ended in the way you thought it would, with coaches on hot seats, athletic directors making themselves scarce, and with Jim Harbaugh turning purple because he didn’t get what he wanted at the moment he wanted it.

Then again, since one of the things he always wants, I suspect, is to make Jed York eat his own liver, well, he got that much done by being part of a great football game. He should consider it a good day even in defeat.

In any event, the real purpose of college sports is to please the people who invest in them, as in the bettors who keep this from being just some pointless anthropology class. And your champion is, as you knew it would be, the Temple Owls, who covered every time but once (the now infamous Week 1 loss to Army) whose reward is to be ignored by the misguided whelps who think this sport is all about who wins the playoffs.

The dullards.

(As always, the parentheticals mean overall record, record against the line and record against the total. Why I have to explain this to you, I do not know. You should have figured it out by now).

1. TEMPLE (9-3, 11-1, 5-7): Dawdled before covering the 23 against the largely ineffectual East Carolinas, and as a result are the greatest college team since Northwestern went 12-1 against the line in 2012. The irony here, of course, being that Northwestern was ensnared a football point-shaving scandal a decade and a half earlier, while Temple is purer than newly driven Tibetan snow. Yay covering.

2. COLORADO (10-2, 10-2, 5-7): Took the pipe to Utah (winning, but not covering) on the final day of the regular season, which is the kind of slovenly effort that gets you taken off hot-name coaching lists, Mike MacIntyre.

3. COLORADO STATE (7-5, 10-2, 6-6): Got routed by Colorado early, then failed against Wyoming, but Wyoming gets dinged for getting routed by New Mexico Saturday (the reasons why this might have happened don’t matter, because nobody pays on good intentions). In any event, a big year for the Rockies – and Broad Street, too.

4. WISCONSIN (10-2, 9-2-1, 5-7): Pushed at home against Minnesota, thereby ruining brachos (yep, like it sounds) and cheese curds for everyone as well as costing the Badgers the No. 2 spot. I’m sure Paul Chryst is devastated.

5. PENN STATE (10-2, 8-3-1, 9-3): Either ruined the college playoff by locking Ohio State and Michigan out, in which case we thank them, or made college football fans and media bitch ceaselessly about how they ruined the college football playoffs by locking Ohio State and Michigan out, in which case we hate them.

6. HEADHUNTERS (six coaches fired in-season, more blood starting Sunday): Charlie Strong (16-21, 18-19, 13-24) of Texas received his head in a satchel Saturday and after an exhaustive 47-minute search by Houston’s Tom Herman (22-4, 14-12, 11-13-1). Another 20 or so will get it in the next few days, because college football has always been about two things – winning your bet, and gauging the mood of the crankiest donor.

7. WESTERN MICHIGAN (12-0, 9-3, 7-5): Proud winners of the What About Us Trophy as the unbeaten team who was never going to get a sniff at a playoff spot by savaging Toledo (7-3, 7-5, 5-6-1).

8. P.J. Fleck (29-21, 31-19, 26-23-1): One of those coaching “hot names,” which means he gets rich and Western starts all over again, because that’s the way college football goes – the small get eaten, again and again.

9. EASTERN MICHIGAN (7-5, 9-3, 4-8): Covered just as much as Western Michigan, but they get to keep head coach Chris Creighton because America refuses to understand the true psychic value of covering.

10. OTTAWA REDBLACKS (9-9-1, 8-11, 9-9-1): Playing in the Grey Cup Sunday against Calgary (15-2-1, 13-5, 7-9-2), and are getting 9½. A third-year expansion team has now been to successive Grey Cups, which either means that they are geniuses whose concepts the NFL should steal, or the CFL’s Eastern Conference is made up entirely of “-stan” countries.

11. RUTGERS (2-10, 4-8, 6-6): Endured two triple-digit scoring droughts (160 unanswered opposition points, then 102 later), making their four covers almost unthinkably impressive. Then again, so much of the Rutgers football experience this year has been unthinkable.

12. MICHIGAN (10-2, 6-6, 8-4): In case you forgot, Ohio State was giving four, meaning this is a solid cover in a big game at the other guy’s stadium. The overall numbers aren’t as impressive, but Harbaugh also won points for whining about the officiating after the game while wearing his father’s reading glasses.

13. COLIN KAEPERNICK (31-26-1, 24-30-4, 28-28-2): Picked a tough week to have a Fidel Castro argument.

14. OREGON STATE (4-8, 9-3, 5-7): Came from behind to kneecap Oregon (4-8, 2-9-1, 7-5) and dominate the state for the first time in nearly 50 years – unless you have proof that Portland State went 11-1 against the line, which you clearly don’t.

15. ALABAMA (12-0, 8-4, 5-7): You want to be taken seriously? You cover in the Iron Bowl. Your own constituents demand this of you.

16. NAVY (9-2, 7-3-1, 8-3): Beat SMU, 75-31, the third zaniest game of the day, and they did with a high-powered passing performance from Will Worth – 5-of-7, 104 yards, one touchdown. With that kind of line, he could be a 49er.

17. MIDDLE TENNESSEE-FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Middle Tennessee covers the 16½ ): The silver medal, as MTSU (8-4, 6-5-1, 8-4) hammered FAU (3-9, 2-9-1, 8-4), 77-56. The game had three 200-yard rushers, 1,346 total yards, 63 first downs, and would have been the drunken sailor special of the week if not for . . .

18. SYRACUSE-PITT (Syracuse covers as a 26-point dog, and as though you needed to know this, the over is obliterated): The best game of all. If you think about it for a moment, as much as you might have enjoyed Ohio State-Michigan, the final score of this game was 76-61, and Pitt only had the ball for 24:18. That’s a point every 19 seconds,

19. WASHINGTON INDIGENOUS AMERICAN CITIZENS (6-4-1, 8-3, 9-2): The most consistent bet in the NFL when you consider both line and total. Points off for the owner – though in fairness, you can say that for pretty much any professional sports team on earth.

20. ARIZONA (3-9, 2-10, 7-5): Because it is never, ever, ever, ever, EVER too late to cover. And credit to Arizona State (5-7, 6-6, 7-5) for getting routed by a seemingly inferior team in a game it needed to be bad-bowl eligible.

21. WASHINGTON (11-1, 6-6, 8-3-1): Ruined a potentially great Apple Cup by dope-slapping Washington State (8-4, 6-6, 7-4-1).

22. OHIO (8-4, 6-6, 1-10-1): Proudly finished a season of never hitting the over by beating Akron, 9-3, missing the total by a mere 41½ points. Next year, Frank Solich will coach a 2-0 win and push on the total.

23. BOISE STATE (10-2, 3-9, 5-7): On the one hand, they won a lot, except for Friday against Air Force (9-3, 5-7, 7-5). On the other, they rarely covered. And on the other other, head coach Brian Harsin is probably on big school coaching hire short lists. So yes, there is such a thing as losing by winning.

24. BAYLOR (6-5, 2-9.4-7): The Bears still have one game after getting kneecapped by Texas Tech (5-7,8-4, 7-5), and at this point, given how the entire operation has been shamed, they may as well just give it back.

25. JAKE SPISAK (Rice drum major): Was the only member of the school’s band to travel to Stanford to perform with the notorious criminal element that can play its music but only at home where the customers are inoculated from their alleged misdeeds. As a salute to his devotion to duty, Spisak was put on honorary probation by the Stanford administration for knowingly consorting with miscreant oboeists.

And you know how ornery miscreant oboeists can be. I mean, I don’t, but I’ve always hated the oboe anyway. And I’d bet money that you do too, or should.

Now, until next year, and I mean this with all sincerity, go away.

NCAA Tournament schedule 2019: Bracket, dates, times for 68-team field


NCAA Tournament schedule 2019: Bracket, dates, times for 68-team field

The 2019 NCAA Tournament field was announced Sunday, with Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Gonzaga earning the four No. 1 seeds.

The tournament will have a definite Northern California flavor, as Mississippi State, Liberty, Virginia Tech, Saint Louis, Wisconsin, Oregon, Kansas State and UC Irvine all will play their first-round games in San Jose. Additionally, the West Coast Conference champion Saint Mary's Gaels earned a No. 11 seed, and will face No. 6 Villanova in Hartford, Conn.

Below are the matchups, game days and scheduled start times for each first-round game. Let the bracket-filling commence!

At Columbia, S.C.
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 NC Central/North Dakota State -- Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
No. 8 VCU vs. No. 9 UCF -- Friday, March 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT

At San Jose, Calif.
No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Liberty -- Friday, March 22 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 13 Saint Louis -- Friday, March 22 at 9:55 p.m. ET/6:55 p.m. PT

At Jacksonville, Fla.
No. 6 Maryland vs. No. 11 Belmont/Temple -- Thursday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale -- Thursday, March 21 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT

At Des Moines, Iowa
No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Minnesota -- Thursday, March 21 at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Bradley -- Thursday, March 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT

At Columbia, S.C.

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb -- Friday, March 22 at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT
No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma -- Friday, March 22 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT

At San Jose, Calif.
No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon -- Friday, March 22 at 4:20 p.m. ET/1:20 p.m. PT
No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 UC Irvine -- Friday, March 22 at 1:50 p.m. ET/10:50 a.m. PT

At Hartford, Conn.
No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 11 Saint Mary's -- Thursday, March 21 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Old Dominion -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:45 p.m. ET/6:45 p.m. PT

At Columbus, Ohio
No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Iowa -- Friday, March 22 at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Colgate -- Friday, March 22 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT

At Columbus, Ohio
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Iona -- Friday, March 22 at 9:15 p.m. ET/6:15 p.m. PT
No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 Washington -- Friday, March 22 at 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT

At Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State -- Thursday, March 21 at 1:20 p.m. ET/10:20 a.m. PT
No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern -- Thursday, March 21 at 3:50 p.m. ET/12:50 p.m. ET

At Tulsa, Okla.
No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Ohio State -- Friday, March 22 at 9:45 p.m. ET/6:45 p.m. PT
No. 3 Houston vs. No. 14 Georgia State -- Friday, March 22 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT

At Jacksonville, Fla.
No. 7 Wofford vs. No. 10 Seton Hall -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Abilene Christian -- Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT

At Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M -- Thursday, March 21 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Baylor -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:55 p.m. ET/6:55 p.m. PT

At Hartford, Conn.
No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Murray State -- Thursday, March 21 at 4:20 p.m. ET/1:20 p.m. PT
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont -- Thursday, March 21 at 1:50 p.m. ET/10:50 a.m. PT

At Tulsa, Okla.
No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Arizona State/St. John's -- Friday, March 22 at 3:50 p.m. ET/12:50 p.m. PT
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Northern Kentucky -- Friday, March 22 at 1:20 p.m. ET/10:20 a.m. PT

At Des Moines, Iowa
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Florida -- Thursday, March 21 at 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Montana -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:15 p.m. ET/6:15 p.m. PT

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss


Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

SANTA CLARA -- Quinnen Williams proved Monday night that he can talk a big game, even if he doesn’t play one.

The Alabama defensive tackle, whom many project to be a top-five pick if he leaves school for the 2019 NFL draft, didn’t exactly show out in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi’s Stadium. The redshirt sophomore finished with just four total tackles (three solo, one assist) and 1.5 for loss.

Williams went relatively unnoticed in Clemson’s 44-16 rout, except for this first-quarter stop that showcased his power.

Williams, who entered the game tied for second on the Crimson Tide with eight sacks this season, didn’t register any noticeable pass rush -- to be fair, no one on Alabama did -- as the Tigers handily won the title.

Still, Williams wasn’t that impressed by what he saw from the now-national champions.

“They really didn’t do anything that caught us off guard,” Williams said. “We knew everything that was coming. They ran zone. They ran go routes, 50-50 balls.

“[Clemson QB] Trevor Lawrence threw the ball, and it looked like he put it on the money. He didn’t drop dimes, none of that. He threw it up, and the receivers made plays. All the respect to the receivers.”

While Williams later called Lawrence “good,” his comments were reminiscent of his pre-Orange Bowl words on Kyler Murray, when he smartly stopped himself from criticizing Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Williams showed no such restraint this time, and while you could chalk it up to the hurt of losing a national title game, NFL teams surely will ask him in pre-draft interviews about how he'll handle such situations.

As for his NFL draft status, Williams didn’t want to say much, claiming he really hadn’t thought about the possibility of turning pro after the season.

“I don’t know yet, man,” he said. “I got to go home, watch this film first, get with my teammates and let them know, man, everything.”

New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, whose team has been linked to Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in numerous mock drafts, saw the defensive tackle in person Monday. Whether he liked what he saw or heard remains to be seen over the next three months.