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My AP Poll ballot: Week 15

Written by Sam Werner on .

Each week, I'll go through my AP Top 25 ballot and give a few thoughts on how I voted and how it compares to the overall poll results.

You could make a very reasonable argument that Saturday was one of the most entertaining and consequential days of college football in a long, long time. I thought we had reached the high point of the day when Michigan came up achingly short against Ohio State on a two-point conversion that would've won the game. The the Iron Bowl not only topped that, but just about every college football game/finish of the last 20 years. Chris Davis' missed field goal return put a stunning cap on what was an incredible game for all 60 minutes. Here's a link to this week's full AP poll, and here's my ballot...

  1. Florida State
  2. Ohio State
  3. Auburn
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Alabama
  6. Missouri
  7. Stanford
  8. Baylor
  9. South Carolina
  10. Michigan State
  11. Arizona State
  12. Oregon
  13. UCF
  14. Northern Illinois
  15. Clemson
  16. UCLA
  17. Louisville
  18. Oklahoma
  19. Wisconsin
  20. LSU
  21. Duke
  22. Texas A&M
  23. Texas
  24. Georgia
  25. Cincinnati

- Florida State slides into the No. 1 spot vacated by Alabama. There are some questions about the Seminoles' strength of schedule, but to me, those are mitigated by how badly they're blowing out opponents.

- Ohio State moves into the No. 2 spot, but I did think long and hard about putting Auburn there. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that Ohio State's schedule, while not great, isn't nearly as bad as some people are making it out to be. Really, I don't think the Buckeyes' schedule is any worse than Florida State's. Ohio State has three wins over teams in Jeff Sagarin's top 50, and that Wisconsin win is still a real quality victory (even though the Badgers lost Saturday to a Penn State team that got blown out by Ohio State). Auburn has four victories over top-50 Sagarin teams. Ultimately, the teams' résumés were pretty close and in that case I have to give the edge to the undefeated team. Ohio State has had some close calls against mediocre opposition, but the Buckeyes won all their games. I think Auburn is a much better team now than it was when it lost to LSU in September, but that loss still counts. Now, if Auburn stomps Missouri in the SEC title game next week and Ohio State needs to squeak by Michigan State, we may have to revisit this next week. But for now, Ohio State at No. 2.

- I moved Oklahoma State up to No. 4, ahead of Alabama. I'm a big advocate of judging teams by their wins, rather than their losses, and honestly, Oklahoma State's demolition of Baylor last week was more impressive than win Alabama has posted this season. The Cowboys also had a nice win at Texas the week before, so they get the nod there.

- I dropped Clemson down to No. 15 after the Tigers' loss to South Carolina Saturday night. They have been impressive at times this year, but their only real quality win was at Georgia in the first week of the season. Yes, that was before the Bulldogs were decimated with injuries, but I think looking back in retrospect it's clear that Georgia was not a top-five team this year. Clemson had two big chances to lock up a BCS spot against Florida State and South Carolina, but faltered in both. Now, they're right on the fringe of an at-large bid.

- Fresno State drops out of my poll after losing its first game of the season. The Bulldogs have been living on the edge a lot this year, and it finally caught up to them against San Jose State. As I've said pretty much all year, Northern Illinois is the far superior non-AQ team.

- I actually dropped LSU a couple of spots after the Tigers' struggled big-time against a pretty bad Arkansas team. I may be undervaluing the Tigers a little bit, especially since they were the only team to beat Auburn this year.

- Texas, Georgia and Cincinnati all enter the poll this week as the bottom three teams. Texas beat up a reeling Texas Tech squad this week and has a chance to make an even bigger impression when it faces Baylor this weekend.

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Fall guys - 12-02-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

There are numerous differences between Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Their respective starts to the 2013-14 campaign are a prefect example of that.

Here are their numbers in the first two months of the season:

October
Player Games Goals-Assists Points
(Per Game)
Shots
(Per Game)
Sidney Crosby 13 8-13 21 (1.62) 52 (4.00)
Evgeni Malkin 13 3-7 10 (0.77) 42 (3.23)
November
Player Games Goals-Assists Points
(Per Game)
Shots
(Per Game)
Sidney Crosby 15 5-10 15 (1.00) 46 (3.07)
Evgeni Malkin 15 4-21 25 (1.67) 38 (2.53)

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 12-02-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-"I don't have a definitive yes or no. It's all going to depend on the recommendations of doctors, but so far I haven't had any problems or setbacks." - Tomas Vokoun (above) on his health.

-"I don't have any secrets about what I'm trying to do or not trying to do. I just go out and try to play my game and try to help my ... cause, I guess. Hopefully that helps our team's chances of winning every night." - Chris Kunitz on his chances of making the Canadian Olympic team.

-Penguins executive Bill Guerin will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame tonight along with women's player Cindy Curley, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Lake Superior State/Bowling Green/Michigan State coach Ron Mason and Islanders assistant coach Doug Weight.

-A trip to Wheeling benefited Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltender Eric Hartzell.

-Mike Condon made 28 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Max MacKay recorded two assists for Wheeling.

-Happy 80th birthday to former Penguins and Pittsburgh Hornets forward Val Fonteyne (right). Claimed in the 1967 expansion draft from the Red Wings, Fonteyne, the first No. 8 in franchise history, spent parts of five seasons with the Penguins. A member of the franchise's innagural team in 1967-68, Fonteyne played in 69 games and scored 34 points. In 1968-69, Fonteyne saw action in 76 games and accumulated 29 points. He followed that up in 1969-70 by appearing in 68 games, scoring 26 points and helping the franchise reach the postseason for the first time. He appeared in all 10 of the team's playoff games that spring and recorded two assists. The 1970-71 season saw Fonteyne play in 70 games and record 13 points. Fonteyne's final season in Pittsburgh was 1971-72. He saw action in 68 games and accumulated 19 points. In the 1972 postseason, he played in four games and failed to record a point. During the offseason, he joined the Alberta Oilers of the WHA as a free agent. In 349 regular season games with the Penguins, Fonteyne, primarily renown for his penalty killing abilities, scored 121 points, 68th-most in franchise history, and accumulated only four penalty minutes. In 14 postseason games, he recorded two points.

-Happy 50th birthday to former Penguins forward Rich Sutter. A first-round pick in 1982, Sutter spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1982-83, he appeared in four games and failed to record a point. After five games and no points in 1983-84, Sutter was traded to Flyers along with two draft pick in exchange for Andy Brickley, Mark Taylor, Ron Flockhart and two draft picks. In nine games with the Penguins, Sutter, a member of the famed Sutter family, failed to record a point. His nephew, Brandon Sutter, is currently a member of the Penguins.

-Happy 59th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Mario Faubert (right). A fourth-round pick in 1974, Faubert spent parts of seven seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1974-75, Faubert appeared in 10 games and scored one goal. He followed that up in 1975-76 by playing in 21 games and scored nine points. Faubert saw an increase in action in 1976-77 by appearing in 77 contests and scored 13 points. He played in three postseason games that spring and scored one goal. He was limited to 18 games and six assists in 1977-78. After spending all of 1978-79 with Binghamton of the AHL, Faubert rebounded in 1979-80 by playing in 49 games and scoring 18 points. He appeared in two postseason games that spring and recorded one assist. His finest NHL season was 1981-82. He set career highs in games (72), points (52) and penalty minutes (188). The 1981 postseason saw him appear in five games and score two points. Faubert's final NHL season was 1981-82. He was limited to 14 games and 12 points after suffering a career-ending leg injury against the Blues, Nov. 18, 1981. In 231 regular season games with the Penguins, Faubert score 111 points, 72nd-most in franchise history. In 10 postseason games, he scored four points.

-Happy 47th birthday to former Penguins forward Kelly Buchberger. A free agent signing in the 2003 offseason, Buchberger's Penguins career amounted to 71 points, four points and 109 penalty minutes in 2003-04. Following the season, he retired. Buchberger is currently an assistant coach with the Oilers.

-After the Jump: Daniel Alfredsson returns to Ottawa.

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PIAA sets football semifinal sites

Written by Mike White on .

Three WPIAL teams will play in the PIAA football semifinals next weekend, and the PIAA has set sites for those games.

Central Catholic will play Lower Dauphin (Harrisburg area) in a PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal Saturday, 1 p.m. at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona. Lower Dauphin features quarterback Troy Spencer, who doesn't throw much but has rushed for more than 1,500 yards. The other Class AAAA semifinal has Neshaminy playing St. Joseph's Prep Saturday, 1 p.m. at Northeast High School in Philadelphia.

In Class AA, WPIAL champ South Fayette takes on Hickory Saturday, 1 p.m. at Slippery Rock University. Hickory's quarterback is Matt Voytik, cousin of Pitt backup quarterback Chad Voytik. In the other semifinal Saturday at 3, Imhotep Charter takes on Berks Catholic at Governor Mifflin High School.

In Class A, WPIAL champ Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic plays Clarion Friday, 7 p.m. at DuBois. In the other semifinal, Old Forge plays Steelton-Highspire Friday night at 7 at Hazleton.

 

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Empty Netter Assists - 12-01-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Shelly Anderson's recap from last night's game. “Our best player was Jeff Zatkoff.” - Dan Bylsma.

-The Miami Herald's recap. “We get lots of chances — out-chance them, outshoot them. They capitalized on theirs. They’re a good team. We have to learn to be a team and mentally tougher. We need to be more focused in situations.” - Panthers coach Peter Horachek.

-The (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun-Sentinel's recap. "The Penguins were opportunistic. A lot of the things we're doing we're shooting ourselves in the foot, myself included. That first goal I shot the big toe off and a couple of other goals we shot all the other toes off.'' - Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas.

-The Associated Press' recap. "It's nice to get a second crack at these guys. You always want to play well, especially against a team that put up six on you the last time. I know that wasn't my best the first time around. To be able to come back and get that second opportunity is nice." - Zatkoff on beating the Panthers after losing to them, 6-3, Oct. 11.

-Highlights:

-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Florida's Scott Gomez knocked a logo off the lid of Chris Conner with this wrister:

-Zatkoff and Brooks Orpik each kept an eye on this puck:

-Florida's Sean Bergenheim tempted fate when he engaged Orpik in a staring contest:

-The great Joe Vitale fended off Florida's Aleksander Barkov here:

-Pumped times for Florida's Scottie Upshall:

-Zatkoff speaks:

-The great Joe Vitale speaks:

-Evgeni Malkin speaks:

-Dan Byslma speaks:

-What are James Neal's chances at making the Canadian Olympic roster after missing the start of the season?

-Team Canada management is paying a lot of attention to Chris Kunitz.

-Penguins broadcaster Phil Bourque and executive Bill Guerin are investors in the new Blue Line Grille on Fifth Avenue across the street from Consol Energy Center.

-Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made 18 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 3-2 overtime loss to the rival Hershey Bears.

-Highlights:

-Drouin-Deslauriers was signed to an AHL contract after beginning the season on professional tryout contract.

-"I think there are a lot of D men here, so you have to find something you're good at to move up in the ranks." - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Philip Samuelsson on the organization's depth at his position.

-Mathieu Corbiel made 39 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 3-0 shutout of the Toledo Walleye. Ben Duffy scored two goals for Wheeling while teammate Zack Torquato recorded two assists.

-Happy 34th birthday to former Penguins forward Ryan Malone (right). A fourth-round pick in 1999, Malone, the son of former Penguins forward and executive Greg Malone, spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2003-04, Malone saw action in 81 games and scored 43 points, including a team-leading 22 goals. After spending the 2004-05 lockout in Finland and Italy, Malone returned to the Penguins in 2005-06 and appeared in 77 games while scoring 44 points. Injuries limited Malone in 2006-07 to 64 games and 31 points. In the 2007 offseason, Malone played in five games but failed to record a point. Arguably Malone's best NHL season was in 2007-08. While playing primarily on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora, Malone appeared in 77 games and set career highs in goals (27) and points (51). In that spring's playoffs, Malone played in 20 games and contributed 16 points while helping the franchise reach its third Stanley Cup final. During the 2008 offseason, Malone and Gary Roberts were traded to the Lightning in exchange for a draft pick. In 299 regular season games with the Penguins, Malone scored 169 points, 46th-most in franchise history. In 25 postseason games, he scored 16 points. He is currently a member of the Lightning.

-Happy 51st birthday to former Penguins defenseman Steve Dykstra. Claimed prior to the 1988-89 season in a waiver draft from the Oilers, Dykstra's Penguins career amounted to 65 games and seven points that campaign. In the 1989 playoffs, Dykstra saw action in one game and failed to record a point. During the 1989 offseason, Dykstra joined the Hartford Whalers as a free agent.

-Today would have been the 48th birthday of former Penguins forward Roger Belanger. Along with Doug Bodger and some other guy, Belanger was one of three first-round picks for the Penguins in 1984. His Penguins career amounted to 44 games and eight points in 1984-85. After spending most of the next four seasons with the club's minor league affiliates in Baltimore and Muskegon, Belanger retired in the 1988 offseason due to injuries. He passed away September 16, 2011 at the age of 45.

-After the Jump: One of the best Hockey Night in Canada's pregame montages you've ever seen and former Penguins prospect Alex Grant scores in his NHL debut.

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