The Mental Part of the Game

As an exciting March Madness comes to a close, the 2016 baseball season kicks off. The transition from basketball to baseball also implies that the end of school is just around the corner, so life is good.

For me, leaving basketball behind has never been easy, even if it’s just for a couple months. But once April comes around, all I can think about is baseball: from eye black to short hair to sunflower seeds.

Baseball is a game of failure. The best hitters get a hit just three out of every ten at-bats. When you break it down, It can’t be easy to hit a fastball moving from 70-95 mph, let alone curveballs and change-ups. The tempo of the game puts pressure on the pitcher, batter, and fielders for every pitch.

Evidently, it’s not the easiest game in the world. It is the best feeling to be on a hot streak, when you’re just seeing the ball well out of the pitcher’s hand. On the other hand, slumps build up a ton of frustration.

Coming off a successful basketball season, I was reluctant to completely switch my efforts to baseball. When I started swinging a bat, eventually, nothing felt comfortable. During pre-season, I had my high points, but still wasn’t comfortable in the batter’s box.

In our last pre-season game, I capped off my performance in a blowout loss with a strikeout. I was furious, and I let my emotions get the best of me. Rather than leaving it in the past, I took my anger out onto the field the next inning, and made multiple mental errors.

Looking back on it, I am more disappointed in my reaction to the game than my performance. Fortunately, it was only pre-season, and I can learn from the experience.

Between pitches, every player on the field has to think and focus on their responsibilities for the next play. To succeed, you need to know what you’re doing, and to think you’re gonna do it perfectly.

I saw first hand what can happen if you can’t conquer the mental aspect of the game. Just as every baseball player should, going forward I will continue to improve at having a short memory, and focusing with a positive attitude.

A player can’t succeed in the physical game of baseball without conquering the mental game first.


Looking Back on 2015

The past year of sports has been very entertaining, while teaching a few lessons along the way. The usual culprits continued to dominate, as Duke basketball won a National Championship, the Patriots won a super bowl, and Alabama football made the College Football Playoff.

Emerging powerhouses built on their success, with the Warriors winning the NBA Finals and the Royals winning the World Series. Floyd Mayweather defeated Manny Pacquiao, and the US Women’s National Team won the world cup.

Like always, there were blowouts, upsets, and heartbreaking losses.

It seemed like the Seahawks had the Super Bowl in the bag, being in the redzone with just seconds remaining, a few yards away from their second straight super bowl win. However, a controversial play call resulted in an interception by Malcolm Butler, and the Patriots stole the game.

I had the privilege of being present at the Michigan vs Michigan State football game. It seemed like the Wolverines had the game in the bag, all they had to do was catch a snap and punt the ball. What could go wrong?

A low snap, fumbled by the nervous punter. He tries to pick it up and get rid of it, despite being surrounded by Spartans. Jalen Watts-Jackson grabs the ball and runs all the way to the endzone as time expires.

I also had the privilege of being at Game 6 of the World Series. The Mets seemed to be unstoppable in the National League playoffs. In Game 1 of the world series, the Mets blew a lead in the 9th inning, and ended up losing in extra innings.

The trend continued, as the Mets gave up late game leads throughout the whole series. The worst was Game 6, when the Mets had their backs against the wall. Matt Harvey had pitched a gem, and received a huge ovation as he sprinted out to finish the 9th inning.

In that moment, being a part of that electric crowd, I felt like this could be the turning point of the series. However, I was soon drained of my hope and optimism. Harvey blew the lead in the 9th, and the Mets lost the series in extra innings.

There’s nothing worse than the feeling after a heartbreaking loss. I sat in the stadium, the silent Mets fans painfully listening to the small band of Royals fans celebrate their win. The silent Michigan fans astounded as Michigan State celebrated in the endzone.

These two experiences caused me to think long and hard in the quiet car ride home, as well as the days afterwards.

It’s just a game. After a heartbreaking loss, the only way to move forward is to forget about it. In most sports, it’s extremely difficult to succeed without having a short memory. In addition, this concept can be applied to everyday life.

If we continue to dwell on the past, it will be so much harder to improve in the future. It’s not about the loss itself. It’s how you respond from that. 2016 can be that more successful if we learn from our mistakes and keep the past in the past.

A True Fan

Every sports team has a loyal fan base, whether it’s the players’ parents or an entire city. Sports fans have their own reasons for why they cheer for that team. Some people like the Golden State Warriors, simply because they are the best team in the league.

Some people, including myself, like the teams that their parents like, which has (at times) been quite unfortunate for me. Everybody has their reasons, but what makes a real fan?

This has been a frequent topic of argument amongst my friends recently, always started by someone accusing another person of being a “fake fan”. This accusation is then followed by an exchange that may include a few words I wouldn’t repeat.

The most common scenario has been the conflict between fantasy football and the NFL. Can you rightfully cheer for a player on your fantasy team if they’re playing against your beloved Giants?

Another common situation has someone rooting for more than one team, or different teams based on their favorite players. Are you a true fan if you cheer for multiple teams?

It’s very obvious that being a frontrunner does not make a true fan. It’s easy to decide to root for the Panthers this year, because they have the best record in the league. Meanwhile, the true fans have been supporting the team for many tough, super bowl-less years.

I think the first pillar of being a true fan is having a valid reason to support that team. If a family member goes to college, of course you can rightfully root for that team now. If you live in St. Louis, it would make sense to be a Rams fan. If you were raised under the roof of Lakers fans, it would make sense to be a Lakers fan.

However, there comes a point when the line is drawn. If the 3rd string quarterback of the Panthers went to the same college as your cousin, that’s too much of a stretch to be a valid reason.

The second pillar is always putting your team first. For example, if you are a Steelers fan, betting against the Steelers is a big NO. If you have Adrian Peterson on your fantasy team, and the Steelers are playing Peterson’s team, you’re a true fan if you put Peterson on your bench.

The last pillar is commitment. To be a loyal fan, you have to be committed forever. A true fan doesn’t give up on his team, especially to the point where he switches teams.

In my opinion, having been amongst electric crowds, and playing with large crowds watching, the game is nothing without the fans. The players feed off of the crowd, which gives the game a whole new element of excitement.

It’s truly amazing that people with different backgrounds, living circumstances, occupations, and opinions can all go to one place with the same purpose and goal, helping the team they love win.

From Top to Bottom

With the autumn season coming to a late end, it brings a couple things. Frigid temperatures in Jersey, holidays, and a new year. However, the main attraction of winter for me is basketball season.

Last year I played freshman basketball for my high school, and I’d say it was a pretty successful year. We finished with a respectable record, and I led the team in multiple categories. I’m sure at the end of last season I was incredibly satisfied with that.

But now, after a week of practice with JV and Varsity, I am able to put last year in perspective. Yes, it was still a successful year. I made several big strides in the development of my game, and I really established myself as a good outside shooter.

But, as I see practice alongside the rest of the JV and Varsity players, I realize I still have a long way to go. The first week of practice was an entirely new experience, having to bust my ass in each and every drill or sprint.

As I think back to my freshman year, I realize I should not have been as content as I was. I had never been a main scorer for any basketball team, and that definitely affected how hard I worked everyday.

I became too satisfied with hitting a couple threes and finishing with double digit points. And now, looking back on that, I really wished I had put extra work into defensive drills and becoming more fundamentally sound.

With the first game scheduled in less than two weeks, I know that I’m going to have to work hard to earn every minute I can get in each game.

My mentality has changed since last year, and I wish I had figured it out before now. When you are one of the better players in the gym, it’s a lot easier to start to slack and lose tenacity in practice, knowing you are probably going to play a lot in the next game.

But when you’re in a gym with a whole group of players who may be quicker, taller, or even better than you, it’s not an option to give less than 100% during practice. There’s no guarantee of any minutes as of now, and I have to continue to work hard in order to be competitive with the rest of the players in the gym.

The leap from freshman hoops to the next level is more drastic than I thought, and adapting to it has not been easy. However, I know in the first week I’ve made good progress, and I know now that you can’t ever be satisfied or you won’t be able to play at the next level.


The Gym Teacher

Everyone has (or has had) that one gym teacher who is simply hilarious. Some have good senses of humor, while others are just hilarious. Our beloved high school gym teacher, for fitness, is quite the character. It’s impossible to leave his weight room without laughing, and you can always look forward to his class.

He’s a fairly short man, probably in his late 40s, with puffy black hair and glasses. He is a die-heart Green Bay Packers, and he clearly wants everyone in the school to know that. On a typical day, he will be wearing green or yellow Packers shorts, with a Packers jersey or shirt. It’s rare to see him without green or yellow on.

Aaron Rodgers, the Packers star quarterback, wears #12 on his jersey. So, for pushups, situps, leg presses, whatever it may be… we have to do sets of 12. It seems that he knows every Packers player ever, as he answers all of my difficult Packers questions correctly. He claims that he went to Green Bay a few years ago, and spent $800 at the Packers Team Store.

He also claims that he wakes up at 2am every morning, watches the movie Rocky, works out, then comes to school. His early morning routine never ceases to amaze and impress people.

He has a signature saying, and just about every student at my school has heard it. When he sees something that is dissatisfying, such as a student not dressed for gym or bad behavior, he will shake his head and say, “Summer school!”

Besides his signature phrase, he has a few other phrases that he throws out to every class:

  • “Hard work!”
  • “Gotta work hard to be hard!”
  • “When in doubt, do pushups”
  • “Stop texting, start flexing”
  • “Don’t be lazy get crazy!”
  • “Hustle, hit, and never quit”
  • “Burn it to earn it”
  • “Are you a man or a mouse?”

…and that’s all he says. He paces around the room, repeating those phrases, decked out in Green Bay Packers attire. He’s that funny gym teacher I’ll never forget.

The Dark Knight Rises

Baseball season has just begun. It’s been all positive so far, especially since my high school’s varsity team is 10-1. They have a sophomore pitcher whose fastball has hit 90mph, and rumors suggest he’s already been contacted by MLB teams. Speaking of the MLB, the unthinkable is occurring.

Through 12 games, the New York Mets have the best record in the National League. They are undefeated at home (6-0), and have won seven games in a row. It’s about time. They’re hitting extremely well, as Michael Cuddyer, Lucas Duda, David Wright, and Travis d’Arnaud lead the offense.

Meanwhile, the pitching has been incredible. The team ERA is 2.74, which is 3rd in the MLB. Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, and Matt Harvey all have multiple wins already. Matt Harvey’s return has been particularly good for the Mets.

In late October of 2013, Matt Harvey (known as the Dark Knight) underwent Tommy John surgery. This was a huge blow for the 24 year old, who started the All-Star Game for the NL at Citi Field earlier that year. He would miss the entire 2014 season, recovering from surgery.

Featured image

No one was sure he would come back the same. The Mets, with high expectations this year, needed him to pick up right where he left off. And that’s exactly what Harvey has done. He’s 2-0, with 17 strikeouts in two starts.

But, that’s not even what made me fall in love with Harvey again. It was the 5th inning, Mets vs. Phillies. The Phillies pitcher had hit two Mets previously in the game. So what does Harvey do? He throws a 95mph fastball that drills the Phillies no. 3 hitter, Chase Utley.

Most pitchers don’t retaliate when their teammates are hit, but not Matt Harvey. He’s willing to do whatever it is for the team. He is the face of the 2015 Mets, who look to be very competitive and successful through the rest of the season.

The Dark Knight of Gotham is finally back.

The High School World

Through less than a year of high school, I have been introduced to a whole new world of sports. I mean, I would be clicking through channels, and pass over every televised high school sporting event. But now, I find myself desperately searching for a high school basketball game on TV.

The home games at my high school are more of a social event than professional or college games. For example, our school lost every home football game this past fall. And even though I attended all four, I couldn’t tell you the score of any of them the next day. I doubt any high school student could.

Then basketball season came around. I didn’t really think I’d go to a lot of games, but freshman ball got me engaged. I started in every contest, averaging a stellar 10.6 PPG while logging the most minutes per game on the team.

I was very well-known after getting a shoutout on the morning announcements from the principal. She informed the whole school that I had set the record for most 3-pointers in a quarter at our high school.

As you could probably predict, I was completely immersed in high school basketball. That’s how it began. I started to go to my high school’s home games. Last year, the high school team was undefeated at home. This year, not bad, but definitely not undefeated.

Regardless, the games were fun so people went. Definitely better than homework. My first ever high school game (as a student) was Columbia vs Irvington. Irvington won, led by a 6’5” freshman. This kid was insanely talented, using a smooth jumper and throwing down some huge dunks.

After the game, a scout for a Division III college approached a different Irvington player, and they exchanged information. So, I went home and researched this guy, and watched videos of him play. I began to look through all of New Jersey’s high school prospects.

That’s when I realized how cool high school basketball was. Future college players playing against kids I go to school with everyday. I became an expert on NJ high school players, and knew who to watch for in every game.

For example, my high school played its rival, Seton Hall Prep, a few weeks ago. SHP was led by junior guard TJ Gibbs. You could tell he was the best player right as he stepped on the court. Only a junior, Gibbs has offers from esteemed programs such as Uconn, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Virginia.

In fact, there was a scout from Virginia’s coaching staff in the gym. It was so cool to see future college players play at this level. More recently, St. Anthony’s came to play my high school team. Coming into the game, they had four players with Division I offers.

The final score was 91-44, in St. Anthony’s favor. One of their seniors, Markis McDuffie, had already committed to Wichita State, while another, Jagan Mosely, was being scouted by Louisville. Mosely threw down an insane alley oop in the game, which was caught on video.

Of course, I had that video sent to me immediately. I tweeted the video, tagging Mosely. Thirty minutes later, I check my phone, and find that he retweeted my tweet. After all, he’s just another high school kid. Pretty cool.

I’ve found a new love for high school sports, especially with the local talent. The highest rated high school point guard in the country, Isaiah Briscoe, plays 15 minutes away! He has already committed to Kentucky, and John Calipari attended a tournament that my high school played in, back in December.

And now I find myself obsessed with recruiting, whether it’s Jim Harbaugh’s targets for Michigan, or just monitoring the offers/commitments of local NJ players. Heck, I watch more high school basketball than NBA basketball.

High school has opened up a whole new sports world, one that is entertaining, cheap, and very fun to watch.

Nightmare at The Garden

It’s been quite a basketball season so far. Being a Knicks and University of Michigan fan, I’ve been significantly disappointed with both teams. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say Phil Jackson’s first year with the Knicks isn’t really going as planned.

Other than the Timberwolves, New York has the worst record in the NBA. The Knicks lost 26 games out of 27 in one stretch, and set a franchise record with 16 straight losses. The Knicks are 28th in the league in points per game, and 28th in points per game differential.

Like I said, probably not what Phil Jackson envisioned as his first season in New York. However, knowing that this season is basically hopeless, Jackson has made moves to help for next year.

Recently, the Knicks traded Iman Shumpert and JR Smith to the Cavaliers. The Knicks didn’t receive any notable players in return, but this transaction got rid of two big contracts. Additionally, Phil released Samuel Dalembert, which saved a decent amount of money too.

With only a few players under contract after this year, the Knicks will have a ton of money to spend on free agents. Also, hoping the Knicks lose the majority of their remaining games, they will have a top-3 pick in the draft.

Personally, I think the Knicks should get rid of Jose Calderon. I don’t think he’s the long-term answer at point guard, and it would give Phil more money to spend if Calderon wasn’t under contract.

Nowadays, you need a great point guard to be successful. Let’s take look at the good NBA teams and their point guards. The Warriors with Steph Curry, the Clippers with Chris Paul, the Spurs with Tony Parker, the Trail Blazers with Damien Lillard… I could go on and on. Point is, the best teams have great point guards.

Therefore, if I were Phil Jackson, my first priority would be point guard. Goran Dragic, of the Suns, has given the impression that he would like to play for New York. Another potential target is Reggie Jackson, of the Thunder. I’d prefer Dragic, but both would help the Knicks get back to the playoffs.

In terms of the rest of the lineup, here’s how I see it. Despite swirling rumors, I don’t think Marc Gasol will end up coming to New York next year. He’s a starter in the All-Star game, and I doubt he’ll leave Memphis. That leaves a vacant position at center.

If the Knicks (hopefully) can secure the 1st pick in the draft, I think it’s a no-brainer. Jahlil Okafor, Duke’s center, has shown incredible talent and potential. And, even if the Knicks don’t get the 1st pick, they could always take Karl Towns, Kentucky’s center.

So, I’m hoping the Knicks fill the center position in the draft. I think Carmelo Anthony is at his best when playing power forward. At this position, Carmelo gets favorable matchups which makes it easier for him to generate points. That leaves small forward and shooting guard.

Tobias Harris, the Magic forward, publicly stated that he wanted to win with the Knicks. He will be a free agent this summer. If Phil signs him, that only leaves shooting guard. Tim Hardaway Jr. has a great deal of potential, but I don’t think he’s ready to start on a winning team.

Ideally, the Knicks would sign Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. However, there’s a good chance he stays in Chicago. Another good option is Wesley Matthews, from the Trail Blazers.

A lot of factors will play into the reconstruction of the New York Knicks in the upcoming months, but here’s my ideal lineup going into next year:

PG- Goran Dragic/Reggie Jackson

SG- Jimmy Butler/Wes Matthews

SF- Tobias Harris

PF- Carmelo Anthony

C- Jahlil Okafor

That lineup has a solid balance of experience and youth, and a lot of talent. For now, I just have to hope the Knicks get their younger players experience and lose all of their games. And, despite their horrible record, I think (and hope) Phil Jackson can make the Knicks a playoff-team next year.

Playoff Time

The 2014 NFL season ended yesterday. It was a very interesting year, including the domestic violence issues that sidelined notable players such as Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, and Greg Hardy.

Throughout the league, several rookies made a huge impact on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Odell Beckham Jr, Mike Evans, Jeremy Hill, Terrance West, Kelvin Benjamin, Zack Martin, Brandin Cooks, Tre Mason, and Carlos Hyde made a big difference for their teams this year. Defensively, CJ Mosley, Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, and Chris Borland made a big difference for their teams this year.

While the future looks bright with a lot of young talent, the veterans were able to dominate as well this year. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Peyton Manning all finished in the top 4 in passing yards.

It was quite a competitive league this year. Some teams competing for a playoff spot, while others were competing for the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Yesterday, the playoff bracket was set, as all the teams completed their 16-game schedule. Unfortunately, my Giants weren’t good enough for the playoffs, but too good for a top five pick in the draft.

The Buccaneers secured the #1 pick in the draft. Anyway, here are my bold predictions for the 2014 NFL Playoffs.

First, the AFC:

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a tough division matchup between two good teams. Pittsburgh will have the edge playing at home. If Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell can play, I think the Steelers offense gets them to the divisional round.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts. This is the other AFC wild card matchup. The Colts have not been playing well lately. However, I strongly believe that home field advantage is a large factor. The Bengals defense is not that great, and I expect Andrew Luck to have a big game. I think the Colts win a close game, and advance.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos. The last time these two teams met at Mile High Stadium in the playoffs, Tim Tebow led the Broncos to an overtime victory. This is a clash between two high powered offenses. The difference will be the Denver defense. With the crowd on their side, the Broncos will knock the Steelers out once again.

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots. There is no way the Colts go to Foxborough and win. Brady will pick apart the Colts secondary, and Andrew Luck will have trouble against a tough Pats defense. Patriots win.

That leaves the Patriots and the Broncos. A rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. Last year, it was in Denver. This year, in New England. Two good defenses and two good offenses. A tough game to predict. However, I think the Broncos will find a way to win. CJ Anderson has been on fire lately, with 7 touchdowns in the last four games. The Pats will have a tough time stopping Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, especially with Peyton Manning throwing them the ball. Broncos beat the Pats again, and get to the Super Bowl.

Now, the NFC:

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys offense has been great. The Lions defense has been great. I am almost positive the Lions will (at least they should) put up points against a Cowboys defense that is 26th in the league in passing yards allowed. Advantage, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson. The Cowboys rushing attack, led by DeMarco Murray, was incredible this year. However, Detroit has allowed the least rush yards per game in the NFL. Lions win.

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were lucky to make the playoffs, as they didnt even finish with a winning record. Meanwhile, the Cardinals boast a record of 11-5. With one of the best defenses in the league, the Cardinals go to Carolina and win.

Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks. This game is in Seattle. I repeat, this game is in Seattle. Seattle is arguably the toughest place to play in the NFL. With one of the best defenses in the league, and the crowd behind them, the Seahawks are going to make it hard for the Lions to score. Really hard. Meanwhile, I’m confident Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will find a way to score points, being that it’s so difficult to contain them both. Seahawks win.

Arizona Cardinals @ Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers has been arguably one of the best QBs of the year, with 38 passing touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. The Cardinals come in without their starting QB (Carson Palmer) or their starting RB (Andre Ellington). With the crowd behind them, the Packers defense will make it tough for Arizona. Packers win.

That leaves the Packers and the Seahawks. It’s unfortunate this game is played in Seattle. The great Seahawks defense and the screaming crowd will make it hard for the Packers to score. I think they will score some, though, with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. However, Seattle’s offense will be the issue for Green Bay. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will torture the Packers defense. Seahawks win.

Super Bowl XLIX:

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks. A rematch of last years Super Bowl. Last year, the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos, 43-8. I think this time it will be much closer than that. Two good defenses, two good offenses. It will come down to the wire. Peyton will have a tough time against the Seahawks defense, but I do think the Broncos will manage to score. Russell Wilson’s mobility will be key, as well as his ability to extend plays. The Broncos will have a tough time containing both Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. In the end, I think the Seahawks win, for the 2nd straight year.

I’m really just hoping the Lions go to the Super Bowl. First of all, I would like to see Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson play in the big game. And, if the Lions go, Odell Beckham Jr will replace Megatron in the Pro Bowl. And I really just want to see Odell play some more football. The playoffs begin on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015, and continue until the Super Bowl, which is February 1st in Arizona!

Time to Bowl

The college football season is winding down, as bowl games are right around the corner. This year’s postseason is quite significant, being the first year with the 4-team playoff system. Before, the top two ranked teams would play in the BCS National Championship game. Not anymore.

Now, the College Football Playoff committee determines the four teams that will play in the new playoff. The other bowl-eligible teams, who don’t qualify for the playoff, will still have an opportunity to play in a bowl game. Like always.

Towards the end of the season, the committee releases their playoff rankings each week. Currently, the top four teams are: Alabama, Oregon, TCU, and Florida State. In that order. A lot could change, as the season isn’t over. Some teams still have a regular season game to play, and there’s also the conference championships, which have yet to be played.

It’s hard to tell what will happen in the next few weeks, as upsets are very common in college football. But, I have made some predictions on who will get into the 4-team playoff. And here they are.

First, I think Alabama gets in. Alabama’s last game of the season is Missouri in the SEC Championship game. I like their chances. Missouri is a solid team, but they have played a pretty easy schedule. I know the SEC is tough. But they really haven’t played any good teams, being in the SEC East.

Their toughest opponent was Georgia, who beat Missouri 34-0. Other than that, Missouri just played mediocre football teams. I don’t think they have what it takes to beat the hot, talented Alabama team.

So, ‘Bama gets in. Next, I think Oregon gets in. Oregon, led by Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota, has looked really good lately. Their final game, in the PAC-12 championship, is against Arizona. Arizona is the only team who has beaten Oregon all year.

And that’s exactly why I think Oregon will beat them. Oregon wants revenge. It may be a close game, but I think Oregon comes out with a victory, and secures a spot in the playoff. If Arizona (who is ranked 7th in the country) wins, I believe they will make the playoff, as the PAC-12 champs.

Next, I think Florida State gets in. Florida State’s last game, in the ACC Championship, is against Georgia Tech. I actually think Georgia Tech could pull off an upset. It’s very possible. But, I think Jameis Winston will lead his team to victory, and Florida State will claim a spot in the playoff, being the only undefeated team in the country.

Most ESPN experts agree, and think Oregon, ‘Bama, and Florida State will get spots in the playoff. The real problem is the 4th spot. Who will it go to? After the loss of Mississippi State, it’s really between Ohio State, Baylor, and TCU.

Ohio State’s final game is Wisconsin, in the Big Ten Conference Championship. The buckeyes star QB, J.T. Barrett, who passed Drew Brees for most touchdowns in a single season in the Big Ten, is out for the year with a broken ankle.

I don’t think Ohio State will be able to keep up with Melvin Gordon and the Badgers offense without Barrett. I think Wisconsin rolls, and knocks Ohio State out of contention.

Baylor plays Kansas State in their last game. Kansas State is a pretty good team, going into Baylor with a 9-2 record. Their only losses are TCU and Auburn, two very good teams. I think Kansas State pulls off the upset, knocking Baylor out of contention.

That leaves TCU. The Horned Frogs play Iowa State in their last game. Iowa State has a 2-9 record, and are pretty bad. It should be an easy win for TCU, which would have them finish with an 11-1 record.

Therefore, I think TCU gets in. However, if Baylor wins, that’s different. If Baylor and Ohio State both win, there’s a conflict. All three of those teams will have one loss. Regardless of Ohio State, if Baylor wins they should get in.

Baylor and TCU will both be 11-1, and Baylor beat TCU. With the same record, in the same conference, Baylor has the head-to-head advantage. There’s no reason Baylor shouldn’t go over TCU.

So, really, in my opinion, Baylor controls their own destiny. Now, say Ohio State and TCU both win, and Baylor loses. Ohio State would be 12-1, while TCU would be 11-1. Each with one loss, I think TCU deserves to go. They have a more difficult schedule than Ohio State, being in the BIG-12.

So, this is how I see it. Based on my predictions, the 4 playoff teams, in the 1st year of the College Football Playoff, will be: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and TCU. However, the 4th team could be Baylor (If they win), or Ohio State (If they win AND Baylor loses AND TCU loses).

There’s a lot of football left. I’m excited to see how the rest of the games will unfold, and which teams the College Football Playoff committee will put into the playoff! Tune in to ESPN this Sunday at 12:45 ET to see which 4 teams make the 1st ever College Football Playoff.