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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tuffy Teaser 2016: Week 11

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.  Tuffy may be stubborn, but he is not actually a candidate for involuntary commitment.  In an attempt to shake off an extended losing streak, Tuffy has invited Snorty Pig to make this week's picks.

Despite his name, Snorty Pig is a dog.  A Boston Terrier, to be exact.  The same principles apply to this week's column, but instead of picking in favor of teams with cat mascots, Snorty Pig has picked a 3-team teaser that goes against the cat mascots.

Snorty Pig
Snorty Pig can smell the money
Tuffy's 2016 Tally:  $4
2016 Record:  3-4
Tuffy's Total Tally:  $27
All Time Record:  9-9

Saturday, November 12.  12:00 p.m. EST

Kentucky Wildcats         +20
Tennessee Volunteers     -8

The Tennessee Volunteers started off the season 5-0 with a couple wins over top teams before Texas A&M knocked off the Volunteers in double overtime.  Since then, the Volunteers have swooned a bit.  The Vols come into this game at 6-3.  Kentucky comes into the game with a respectable 5-4 record.  The Wildcats have hung close in most of their losses, but they have not played many teams as good as the Volunteers.  The Wildcats will likely cover this teased spread, too, but Snorty is picking Big Orange at home.

Saturday, November 12.  7:00 p.m. EST

LSU Tigers                        -1
Arkansas Razorbacks     +13

The LSU Tigers have to be the best 3-loss team in the nation, but road games in the SEC are always a challenge.  The only home blemish for Arkansas this year came at the hands of mighty Alabama.  LSU is not an offensive juggernaut.  The Tigers may very well control most of this game on most sides of the ball, but the Razorbacks will cover the teased 13-point spread on their home turf.

Saturday, November 12.  10:00 p.m. EST

Colorado Buffaloes     -11
Arizona Wildcats         +23

For many of you younger readers, the idea of Colorado having a good football team is nothing more than lore that old folks talk about along with stuff like rotary phones and being able to do math in your head.  But, the Buffs are back.  And Arizona?  Well, the Wildcats are terrible.  Arizona has lost six straight games including a 62-point loss to Washington State last weekend.  The Buffaloes will stampede into a Tucson win by two touchdowns.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tuffy Teaser 2016: Week 9

After riding high at the start of the season, Tuffy's Teasers fell short in back to back weeks.  Tuffy took a couple weeks off to regroup and regain his confidence.  On National Cat Day, Tuffy returns to action with a teaser for Week 9.

In the early weeks, Tuffy relied heavily on a few familiar teams.  This week, Tuffy shakes things up by looking west for his picks.  And since variety is the spice of life, Tuffy takes three different types of cats in this week's teaser.

Vasyl Kovalenko
Russian kittens do not appreciate bad gambling advice

Tuffy's 2016 Tally:  $9
2016 Record:  3-3
Tuffy's Total Tally:  $32
All Time Record:  9-8

Saturday, October 29.  7:00 p.m. EST

Auburn Tigers          +.5
Mississippi Rebels     +11.5

The Auburn Tigers are coming off one of the most impressive offensive displays from any team all season.  Last week, the Tigers romped over a ranked Arkansas team by a score of 56-3.  Ole Miss is in the midst of a two-game slide that includes a loss to those same Razorbacks.  Comparative scores can be deceiving, and every road game in the SEC can be a test.  But, with the teased spread, all Auburn needs to do is win the game.  The Tigers' running game should make that happen.

Saturday, October 29.  10:45 p.m. EST

Washington State Cougars     -7
Oregon State Beavers               +21

After getting off to a rough start this season, the old pirate Mike Leach now has his Washington State Cougars playing some exciting football out in the PAC 12.  It's Halloween weekend, and Oregon State will be wearing orange and black at home.  But that should not scare the Cougars.  Washington State will put plenty of points on the board and cover a teased 7-point spread.

Saturday, October 29.  11:00 p.m. EST

Stanford Cardinal       +1.5
Arizona Wildcats     +10.5

To be clear, Arizona is not a good football team.  They have not beaten any good teams this season, but they did put a scare into a highly touted Washington Huskies earlier in the year.  Stanford is physically more gifted and better coached, but they do not have the offensive firepower to blow anyone out.  The Cardinal will get of Tucson with a win, but the Wildcats will cover this teased, double-digit spread.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Anniversary Flashback: Season of Saturdays

Banshee Sports was never intended to be a substitute for Oprah's Book Club.  But, the written word can be an inspiring thing.  Michael Weinreb's written word about college football inspired me as much as any book I've ever read.  Season of Saturdays eloquently captured what I deeply love about the game I care about most.

In October of 2014, Banshee Sports reviewed Michael Weinreb's masterpiece.

Book Review:  Season of Saturdays

The soul of Season of Saturdays is captured in the prologue when Weinreb writes:
I grew up with college football in my blood.  I am not so blinded as to fail to recognize its inherent hypocrisies, and yet I still enjoy it more purely and completely than I enjoy almost anything in my life.  I don't want it to die.  I don't want it to fall victim to corruption and violence.  I don't want it to whither in a courtroom due to the failures of bureaucrats.  I want it to find a rational path beyond this point of crisis.  I want people to understand. 
What follows is my attempt to explain.

I read this paragraph many times, and tears came to my eyes each time that I did.  This was not the only paragraph in the book that had that affect on me.  Click here to continue reading.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Tuffy Teaser 2016: Week 6

So, Tuffy got a little cocky last week.  Taunting the devil and whatnot.  As the Old Testament tells us, "Pride cometh before the fall."  Tuffy fell last weekend, but it should be noted that it was a one cat mascot defeating another cat mascot that broke up the Week 5 Teaser.  Tuffy considered taking a week off to kick his wounds, but then he remembered that his public is counting on him.

Vasyl Kovalenko
Cousin Vasyl took a bath on Tuffy's picks last week
Tuffy wanted to put Clemson into this week's teaser, but this week was too busy to do a Friday night game.  Instead, Tuffy goes heavy on the early Saturday games.

Tuffy's 2016 Tally:  $14
2016 Record:  3-2
Tuffy's Total Tally:  $37
All Time Record:  9-7

Saturday, October 8.  12:00 p.m.

Maryland Terapins                 +3
Penn State Nittany Lions     +9

With Maryland's arrival in the Big Ten, this game has quietly turned into a simmering rivalry.  The last time the Terps traveled to Penn State, they refused pregame handshakes.  Maryland came away with a in that day.  Penn State avenged that game with a victory at Maryland last year.  Both games were decided by a single point.  Maryland comes into this game with a 4-0 record and some gaudy statistics.  But, those stats came against weak competition.  Home field advantage is always a little limited for noon games, but it is homecoming in Happy Valley.  The Nittany Lions will win this game outright.  They will certainly cover a nine point spread.

Saturday, October 8.  12:30 p.m.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets       +12
Pittsburg Panthers                      Even

Both teams come into this conference game with 3-2 records.  By far, he best win between these two teams is Pitt's win over Penn State.  This game will likely be a close, defensive struggle.  Either team is probably a winner with this teased spread.  The Panthers' defense will make just enough big plays to give Pitt a win at home.

Saturday, October 8.  3:00 p.m.

Houston Cougars     -11
Navy Midshipmen    +23

Tuffy is a big supporter of the military.  It makes him uncomfortable to pick against any service academy, but the Houston has the makings of a truly special season underway.  This is an AAC conference game.  That means that Houston is familiar with Navy and their tricky triple option.  Houston has a potent offense and will put a lot of points on the board.  By the time the final gun sounds, the Cougars will have easily covered this teased spread.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Tuffy Teaser 2016: Week 5

Tuffy is so hot right now the devil won't get near him for fear of getting burned.  Or perhaps the devil has just heard about Tuffy's penchant for biting.  The Tuffy Teaser hit for the third week in a row, and none of the games were close.

Tuffy Teaser
Cousin Vasyl is angry about Houston's Thursday night games.
But, casinos exist for a reason, so Tuffy and his followers are not resting in their laurels.  In fact, they are downright mad about the college football schedule.  For the second week in a row, the Houston Cougars played on a Thursday night.  And, for the second week in a row, the Cougars were a solid selection.  Sure, it is possible to place a wager on a Thursday evening, but it is darn hard to make a whole column worth of picks by then.  But, Tuffy is not a complainer.  He'll play the hand he is dealt and pick the games that are available.

Tuffy's 2016 Tally:  $19
2016 Record:  3-1
Tuffy's Total Tally:  $42
All Time Record:  9-6

Friday, September 30.  10:15 p.m. EST

Toledo Rockets     +10
BYU Cougars      +2

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  BYU has taken its lumps this year in terms of actual game results, but the Cougars are now 4-0 against the teased spread.  This week, the teased spread basically only requires BYU to win at home against the Rockets.  Toledo will be traveling across the country and climbing to high altitude for this night game in Provo.  BYU will win this game and keep their streak against the spread alive.

Saturday, October 1.  7:30 p.m. EST

Missouri Tigers     +19.5
LSU Tigers              -7.5

Tuffy selected this game against the advice of his advisors.  The advisors told Tuffy to take Pitt teased to -10 at home against Marshall.  But, Tuffy is a cat that values stability, and LSU has no stability at all.  LSU fired their head coach and offensive coordinator this week.  That will not help this offensively challenged team.  At least not in the short run.  Missouri may not be a great team, but they were able to keep within a 19-point spread against both West Virginia and Georgia.  The Missouri Tigers should be able to do the same even at a night game in Baton Rouge.

Saturday, October 1.  8:00 p.m. EST

Louisville Cardinals     +3
Clemson Tigers           +9

This is the marquee game of the weekend.  Louisville has come out of nowhere to steal the hearts and minds of college football fans.  Meanwhile, the narrative surrounding Clemson has been that the Tigers have underachieved so far this year.  But, Clemson is still undefeated, and this is still a night game in Death Valley.  Louisville might very well win this game, but Clemson will not lose by double digits.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Tuffy Teaser 2016: Week 4

Tuffy is feeling pretty proud of himself after hitting the Tuffy Teaser for the second week in a row.  Week 3 was fraught with peril due to the many non-conference mismatches on the schedule.  Week 4 has many more conference contests.  Those early match-ups present challenges of their own.  Tuffy was tempted to sit this week out, but he is a cat of action.  He is not a cat of cowardice.  Here are Tuffy's Week 4 recommendations.

Tuffy guards his winnings like a dragon guards his gold.
Tuffy's 2016 Tally:  $11
2016 Record:  2-1
Tuffy's Total Tally:  $34
All Time Record:  8-6

Saturday, September 24.  3:30 p.m. EST

BYU Cougars                           +13
West Virginia Mountaineers     -1

The BYU Cougars are the darling of this column.  In terms of real football, BYU has a losing record. But in terms of the Vegas lines, BYU is 3-0 against the spread.  Most likely West Virginia will win this game at home in Morgantown, but the BYU will keep it close.  For the third week in a row, the Cougars will cover the spread and lift Tuffy to a win.

Saturday, September 24.  3:30 p.m. EST

Pittsburgh Panthers         +13
North Carolina Tarheels     -1

Tuffy truly is a creature of habit.  This is the third week in a row that Pitt appears in the Tuffy Teaser.  Last week, Pitt lost the game on the gridiron, but they did their job by covering the spread.  Pitt has a great chance to upset UNC this weekend.  The Panthers have a rock solid chance to stay within two touchdowns of the Tarheels regardless of the location of the game.

Saturday, September 24.  6:00 p.m. EST

LSU Tigers           +2.5
Auburn Tigers     +9.5

This game is probably a winner with the teased spread regardless of which team you pick.  Both teams have tiger mascots, so Tuffy could have gone either way on this game.  The LSU Tigers do not have the offensive fire power to blowout any top flight opponent.  Auburn may not be the power they were a few years ago, but they are still a legit SEC program.  The Auburn Tigers will not lose by double-digit to a conference foe.

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Anniversary Flashback: Pulled Beef Barbecue

Delicious food is an integral part of the sports viewing experience.  Food was also an an integral part of Banshee Sports in the early days.  The pulled beef barbecue recipe that I posted in September of 2013  continues to be one of the most widely read posts on this site every month.

Check it out this weekend.  You will be glad you did.

Pulled Beef Barbecue

Football season is in full swing.  For a lot of us, this means cooking for a crowd.  This recipe is a crowd pleaser for tailgates and homegates.  And best of all, you can make it ahead of time so that you can concentrate on the game while your guests marvel at your culinary skills.  This takes a little time and planning, but you will never regret the effort.  Click to continue to the recipe.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Chase is On

The Chase is on for the NASCAR championship.  When the engines fire at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, sixteen drivers will be vying for the championship as NASCAR begins its 10-week version of the playoffs.

It's time to take a look at the the Chase field and make a few predictions.

Tony Stewart victory lane
Tony Stewart's win at Sonoma gave him a Chase spot
Team Effort.  At the beginning of the year, Stewart-Haas Racing seemed to be in disarray, but Tony Stewart snagged a win at Sonoma to get himself a spot in the Chase in his final season.  Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch both put together solid season and easily made the Chase.  Only Danica Patrick failed to qualify from the SHR garage.

Getting three out of four cars into the Chase is solid work, but it is nothing compared to the top-to-bottom greatness Joe Gibbs Racing displayed throughout the regular season.  Although it is not a surprise, it is impressive that JGR got all four teams into the Chase.  Led by the top-seed Kyle Busch, all four Gibbs teams are in the top seven heading into the Chase, and all four teams have a legitimate chance to take home the title.

Young Guns.  Two rookies qualified for the 2016 Chase.  With the Hendrick infrastructure behind him, it is no surprise that Chase Elliott was able to qualify on points.  It is a surprise that Chris Buescher qualified for the Chase by winning at Pocono.  Driving for the single-car team of Front Row Motorsports, Buescher is truly the Cinderella of the field.  Austin Dillon got the iconic #3 Chevy into the Chase on points.  This will be the twenty-six year-old Dillon's first playoff experience.  Kyle Larson will also be making his Chase debut thanks to an emotional win at Michigan late in the year.

With the retirement of Jeff Gordon, the imminent departure of Tony Stewart and the injury to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it is good for NASCAR to have fresh faces poised to carry the torch.  But their time has not come just yet.  Of all of these young guys, Kyle Larson is the most legitimate threat to make some noise in the Chase.  The other three drivers will have their work cut out for them just to get through the first cut at Dover.

Kyle Busch Homestead
All signs point to a repeat championship for Busch
Predictions.  It would certainly be a fun story to see Tony Stewart make a run at the championship in his final year.  Some love Smoke and some hate Smoke.  But most pay attention when he is running near the front.  Most fans would be happy to see Carl Edwards win his first championship.  With JGR power under the hood, Edwards does have a fighting chance.  Martin Truex, Jr. is a dark horse worth keeping an eye on.  Truex has proven this season that he can have success at a variety of tracks.

But, the 2016 Chase is going to be a two-man race between the top two seeds, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.  Both men have proven they can win a championship in the Chase era, and both men have had great seasons thus far.  With the overall dominance of JGR and Toyota throughout the year, Busch has the edge and will take home the Sprint Cup championship for the second year in a row.

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Tuffy Teaser 2016: Week 3

It took Tuffy a week to get his college football senses tuned in, but Tuffy's film study from Week 1 paid off in Week 2.  Tuffy got back to his winning ways and got his account back in the black.  Week 3 could prove to be another tough test since there are many mismatched non-conference games on the schedule.  It's hard to predict if a team will keep their foot on the pedal enough to cover a four touchdown spread, so Tuffy stuck to contests between big-time programs.

Tuffy Teaser
Tuffy has his focus back
Tuffy's 2016 Tally:  $3
2016 Record:  1-1
Tuffy's Total Tally:  $26
All Time Record:  7-6

Saturday, September 17.  3:30 p.m. EST

Pittsburgh Panthers            +10
Oklahoma State Cowboys     +2

This line opened with Pittsburgh getting six points on the un-teased line.  The Vegas regulars apparently liked that line as much as Tuffy did.  By the time the weekend rolled around, Pitt was getting two less points.  Nonetheless, Tuffy is taking the Panthers.  Oklahoma State was the victim of terrible strategy, officiating errors and a miraculous hook-and-ladder in their loss at home last week.  But, the Cowboys should not have allowed the likes of Central Michigan to get that close in the first place.  Tuffy is not predicting an outright upset in Stillwater, but the Panthers will keep this close.

Saturday, September 17.  8:00 p.m. EST

Duke Blue Devils               +10
Northwestern Wildcats     +2

Northwestern flopped in the opening week of the season, but Tuffy is not a fickle feline.   One bad week does not scare him away forever.  Northwestern may not be a very good football team, but neither is Duke.  With this teased spread, all Northwestern needs to do is win the game.   The Wildcats should be able to accomplish that in a night game at home.

Saturday, September 17.  10:15 p.m. EST

UCLA Bruins      +2.5
BYU Cougars     +9.5

This pick feels like stealing.  BYU has covered the spread in both of the first two weeks.  Meanwhile, UCLA hasn't done anything in the first two weeks of the season to prove that they can beat the Cougars by double-digits in Provo.  Not only does UCLA have to deal with the elevation and the atmosphere of a night game, they also have to deal with the distractions of their quarterback calling for the workers of the world to unite.  The Cougars will win this game.  If they don't, they will certainly cover this teased spread.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tuffy Teaser 2016: Week 2

The Tuffy Teaser got off to a rough start in 2016.  In fact, one might think Tuffy was "just teasing" with those picks (see what I did there?).  The Tuffy Teaser not only failed to hit, but actually went 0-3.  But, there is no use crying over spilled milk.  There is a new slate of games this weekend, and Tuffy has a new recommended teaser for Week 2.

funny cats
Tuffy's followers got taken to the cleaners in Week 1
For those of you who are in need of a refresher about the rules of the Tuffy Teaser, check out last week's column.  Just don't look too closely at the picks.  They might hurt your eyes.

Tuffy's 2016 Tally:  $5
2016 Record:  0-1
Tuffy's Total Tally:  $18
All Time Record:  6-6

Saturday, September 10.  12:00 p.m. EST

Penn State Nittany Lions     +11
Pittsburgh Panthers                 +1

The renewal of this rivalry is long overdue.  These teams haven't met since 2000.  Both programs looked very different in those days.  One thing that doesn't look different is the disdain these two fan bases feel for each other.  This is technically a home game for Pittsburgh, but based on the Panthers' recent attendance figures, Heinz Field is likely to sound a lot like Beaver Stadium West.  But, this game won't be decided by the fans.  The Panthers may very well be a program on the rise, but they are not 10 points better than their big brothers from State College.  Penn State's offense will be more dynamic than the vanilla version they showed in Week 1, and the Lion's defense will be able to keep the Panthers mostly under wraps.  I predict Penn State will win this game outright, but I certainly think the Nittany Lions will cover a teased 11-point spread.

Saturday, September 10.  7:30 p.m. EST

Arkansas State Red Wolves     +26
Auburn Tigers                         -14

Auburn started their season with a hard-fought 6-point loss to a highly regarded Clemson squad.  Meanwhile, Arkansas State opened their season by losing at home by three touchdowns to Toledo.  Auburn is not good enough to look past any opponent, but the Tigers are plenty good enough to beat the Red Wolves by more than 2 touchdowns on their home field.

Saturday, September 10.  7:30 p.m. EST

BYU Cougars     +9.5
Utah Utes             +2.5

This intrastate rivalry is known simply as the Holy War.  Yeah, that name might be a bit melodramatic, but this is a huge game every year for both schools.  Big games tend to stay close.  BYU is coming fresh off an upset win away from home against the Arizona Wildcats.  I expect the Cougars to repeat that performance on the road at Utah.  I certainly expect the Cougars to stay within a touchdown.

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