Post-Gazette sports reporter Paul Zeise blogs about the world of sports, and Pittsburgh sports in particular, with an assist from Seth Rorabaugh and his Morning Links. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulZeise and Seth @emptynetters.
General Hockey Blogs
General Hockey Sites
Empty Netters Stuff
Pittsburgh Sports Blogs
Atlantic Division Blogs
Northwest Division Blogs
Pacific Division Blogs
Southeast Division Blogs
Northeast Division Blogs
Central Division Blogs
Adams Division Sites
Smythe Division Sites
Norris Division Sites
Here is what to look for this weekend both locally and nationally in sports:
First the local teams are all in action this weekend:
Pirates at Cubs for four games – Remember when the schedule worked in the favor of the Pirates cause they played all of these easy teams like the Cubs? Um, yeah right. The Cubs swept the Pirates at PNC Park last week and there is no reason to believe they won’t be able to win at least one or two of these games so I doubt the Pirates will gain any ground – especially since the two teams behind them (by a ½ game) the Phillies and Brewers, play the Astros and Mets, respectively and figure to have their way in those series. There isn’t much left to say about the Pirates – the pitching has been bad at times and good at times, the hitting has been more bad than good and the fielding and base running have been atrocious at times. This is a huge weekend and then the Pirates play host to the Brewers early next week in what has suddenly become a big, big series.
Steelers (0-1) vs. Jets (1-0), Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Heinz Field – The good news for the Steelers is that they don’t have to try and stop Peyton Manning this week but the bad news is Mark Sanchez is coming off a very good game. So maybe, just maybe, Sanchez is coming into his own and will make some big plays for the Jets in the passing game. It sounds like James Harrison is out as is Troy Polomalu so that hurts the Steelers obviously but they will have Ryan Clark back this week . Also, the Jets will be without Darelle Revis so the Steelers offense should be able to have some success. I like the matchup of Roethlisberger versus the Jets defense without Revis and I think the Steelers will take some deep shots down the field to Mike Wallace. But the big question is the defense – will the unit rebound from last week when Peyton Manning owned it or was last week a preview of a long season of porous defense by the Steelers.
Pitt (0-2) vs. Virginia Tech (2-0), Saturday, noon, Heinz Field – There isn’t much to feel good about with the Panthers these days as they have already registered a loss to a I-AA team (thank you Brent Spanton and Jerry Micco from freeing us all from having to use that ridiculous “FCS” nonsense) and a conference loss in which they looked like they were half asleep for most of it. But all of those bad feelings would go away quickly with a win here over the 13th-ranked Hokies. Virginia Tech is annually one of the best teams in the nation, is one of the top teams in the ACC and a win over them would qualify as a marquee win. That being said, it is not going to be easy because the Hokies style – run the ball with power, be physical at the line of scrimmage, dominate the kicking game and play mistake free football – means they don’t usually beat themselves. You have to beat them in order to win and that means Pitt will have to play a near perfect game.
Penn State (0-2) vs. Navy (0-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Beaver Stadium – When we last saw the Midshipmen they were getting 50 put on them by Notre Dame in Week 1. That’s good news for the Lions, who are ranked in triple digits – as in 103rd and 107th – in Division I-A in rushing yards and points scored. That speaks volumes about the offense and its struggles but frankly, having watched both of Penn State’s games, the offense seems like it is a only a few plays away from breaking out of this and scoring some points. And they should be able to have some success against Navy as the Midshipmen defense is not usually physically as big or strong as teams like the Nittany Lions. But Navy, of course, counters that with long, sustained drives that kill clock and keep the defense off the field and fresh. And that is what will interest me about this team – stopping Navy’s triple option offense is 100 percent about discipline and scheme. And that speaks to coaching. I want to see what Penn State’s defensive staff is able to put together in a week. This will give us a great idea about how well coached and prepared the Nittany Lions are and will be.
West Virginia (1-0) vs. James Madison (2-0), 4:30 pm, Mountaineer Field – WVU has averaged 69.5 points per game in their last two games. Is there any reason to believe in this mismatch that average won’t be going up. I’m not sure what to make of this game, James Madison is actually a good I-AA team but there isn’t much the Dukes will be able to do against Geno Smith and company.
Now here is the best of the rest (I’ll preview the NFL games Sunday morning):
USC (2-0) at Stanford (2-0), Saturday 7:30 p.m., Fox – Not quite the same without Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines taking shots at each other and refusing to shake hands but this is a huge game nonetheless. USC looked slugglish at times last week against Syracuse, especially on offense, but the Trojans seemed to find their stride late and pulled away in that game. Stanford is undefeated and ranked in the top 25 but I think the Cardinal is a bit overrated and it won’t shock me if USC runs away from Stanford in this one.
Alabama (2-0) at Arkansas (1-1), Saturday 3:30, CBS – Has an interim coach ever been fired after just three games? John L. Smith could be the first as this one has blowout city written all over it. And getting crushed at home by Alabama a week after losing to a Sun Belt team will not sit well with the Razorback faithful. Oh and by the way, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson is out so this could be an ugly, ugly day for the Razorbacks. But something tells me that Alabama is going to come back to earth a little bit and that Arkansas will make this a better game than it should be.
Florida (2-0) at Tennessee, 6 p.m., ESPN – This isn’t nearly as much fun as when Steve Spurrier was with the Gators and would make cracks like “You can’t spell Citrus without UT” but both of these teams are ranked and both are looking to climb back to the level of elite programs. These games are always wars –these two teams really will go at it pretty good. The key to me is Tennessee’s defense against Florida’s offense. I think the Gators were more resourceful than good on offense in their win last weekend over Texas A&M. Tennessee should be able to stop them as the Vols have a good defense and if that is the case, they could be singing “Good ole Rocky Top” at the end of this one.
Notre Dame (2-0) at Michigan State (2-0), 8 p.m., ABC – Are the Irish for real? We are about to find out. I think Michigan State can go undefeated, I really do. They have all the elements to be one of the last teams standing. Notre Dame was impressive in week 1 against Navy, not so much in week 2. This game will come down to this matchup – Notre Dame’s defensive line against Michigan State’s offense line. The unit that wins that battle will likely be the team that wins the game.
Like I said, I will preview the NFL slate of games on Sunday.
|< Prev||Next >|
You must be a registered user to post. Commenting system instructions