Author: Herb Gould

The Bears don’t know when to hibernate. Their fans don’t, either.

Once again, the Bears are saying hello when it’s time to say goodbye. It was fun to see them crack the whip against the toothless Bengals. How bad are they? But one of the flaws for me in the NFL these days is that as soon as the Bears start showing that they’re not playoff-worthy—and that moment has come early and often lately—I start thinking that true Bears believers should root for them to lose so they can improve their draft position and select players who give them a chance to, you know, be good. This is one of the many pluses of college football. Believing that losing will pave the way for a brighter future is not an NCAA conundrum. With the Bears packing a 3-9 record on their trip to Cincinnati to face the 5-7 Bengals, the cerebral Bears fan in me said, “Just lose, baby.’’ A loss would have kept them right in the hunt with some other miserable NFL teams—including the equally proud and hapless 49ers and Giants—for a good draft slot. Nobody’s going to catch winless Cleveland for the No. 1 draft pick, which is too bad. It’s wasted on them; they never use it well. But the Bears were in the mix right behind the Browns. And then they had to go spoil it by smacking the Bengals 33-7. What’s the deal with...

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Big Ten bowls: Eight is (almost) enough to shake the no-playoff-for-you blues

Let’s not shed too many tears for the Big Ten. Even though Ohio State was snubbed by the College Football Playoff presented by Waffle House, the Midwestern behemoths will easily be able to pick up the check at the 24-hour breakfast establishment of their choice. Three—count ’em, three—New Year’s Six bowls. Big life. Big stage. Big paydays. Big Ten. Alas, there’s no traditional Rose Bowl item on the menu. Those mean playoff people have gobbled that up. But three New Year’s Six bowls ought to be a very soothing balm for being burned by those mean playoff people. Would you believe the Cotton, Fiesta and Orange bowls all will have Big Ten teams? And the matchups all are intriguing. No. 5 Ohio State (10-2) and No. 8 USC (10-2) will tangle in the Cotton Bowl (Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m. Central, ESPN) in a meeting between the two Power Five champions who were deemed unworthy of playoff status. This will be only the second Cotton Bowl trip for Ohio State, which went to Dallas at the end of the 1986 season and beat Texas A&M 28-12. In another Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup of displaced Rose Bowl partners, No. 9 Penn State (10-2) and No. 11 Washington (10-2) will meet in the Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 30, 3 p.m. Central, ESPN). This will be the Nittany Lions’ seventh Fiesta Bowl trip, but their...

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No arguing with The Committee’s clever statistical analysis. But I’ll try.

If The Committee wants Alabama, The Committee obviously can have Alabama. I don’t have a problem with Ohio State being snubbed. I wouldn’t have done it that way, because the Alabama that I saw in November didn’t dazzle, and I’m not just talking about the loss to Auburn. In a bizarre but very minor sort of way, though, The Committee declared its independence. If it had chosen the Buckeyes, everyone would have said the fix was in, that Jim Delany and the Big Ten always get their way. Now we can say that that’s not always the case. Then again, considering that Nick Saban—who always gets his way, too—won this staredown, the fix was simply in for another branch of college sports’ royal family. What we really learned, though, is how The Committee does the math. It gathers the nation’s finest pigskin minds, puts all of those stats into a top-secret algorithm and comes up with this magic statistical formula. It’s called “Fewest Losses.” The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here....

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Buckeyes are the right call

No question, that 31-16 home loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 9 was messy. Even more unfathomable was getting blown out 55-24 at Iowa. But that was then. If the commitee really believes its mission is to put the nation’s four best teams in the playoff, Ohio State will be among them. Put it this way: If you hooked up Dabo Swinney to a lie detector and said, “Who would you rather avoid—Alabama or Ohio State?’’—he would very quickly say, “the Buckeyes!’’ And now that J.T. Barrett has Ohio State’s offense hitting on all cylinders,  a rematch against Oklahoma would be a very different contest. Despite its two losses, Ohio State has the best resume. It has beaten No. 9 Penn State and No. 16 Michigan State, plus a good win at 8-4 Michigan. The 27-21 win over No. 4 Wisconsin should put it in the playoff. Alabama? It beat No. 17 LSU and No. 23 Mississippi State. Its third best win is over No. 25 Fresno State, which is likely to fall out of the rankings. Its 26-14 loss to Auburn, which just got drilled by Georgia, was not the stuff that playoff dreams are made of. The Buckeyes also are a conference champion, which Alabama is not. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here....

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The Gould Standard Picks: Week 14

You always want more. A 5-3 mark last week was good. It halted a scary November slide. But it coulda, shoulda, woulda been better. Ohio State, an 11-1/2-point favorite, winning by 11? Where’s the justice in that? The Buckeyes should have been given an extra point for making their comeback without starter J.T. Barrett, viciously attacked by a cameraman who is still at-large. And shame on me for not listening to my gut and picking Wisconsin, scared off by a massive 17-point line in a rivalry game with row-the-sinking-boat Gophers. Gut also said it was Auburn’s turn in the Iron Bowl, but was washed away by omnipresent Saban/Bama Kool-Aid. So we’re going with the gut—and the ESPN Pick Center—this week. I not only have located the Pick Center on the ESPN website. I’m reasonably sure I understand how to read it. What does it matter now? But wait! There’s more! Word is leaking out from the TMG home office in Chino Hills that we may be conducting a Bowl Picks contest. With (modest) prizes! Stay tuned. Good luck in sports. . . THE GAMES USC minus-4 vs. Stanford UCF minus-7 vs. Memphis Auburn minus-2-1/2 vs. Georgia Clemson minus-9-1/2 vs. Miami Ohio State minus-6-1/2 vs. Wisconsin Oklahoma minus-7 vs. TCU @@@ The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here....

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Notes

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