When the University of New Mexico defeated the Southern Jaguars 66-21 their opening weekend, it was the fresh start the football program desperately needed. For the first time in three years every part of the team worked in sync, showing some potential for Lobo Football to be successful again. The only only damper on the victory was the fact they beat a poor team from a weak conference. Southern offered little opposition and little opportunity for UNM to show their stuff beyond a spectacular halftime show. So when the Lobos squared off against the No.15 Texas Longhorns, fans and critics were given an accurate depiction of New Mexico's football program.
Lobo fans watching the first half had reason to feel okay as their defense kept Texas to a less-than-terrifying 17-0 lead at halftime. But after UNM quarterback B.R. Holbrook suffered a concussion in the second quarter, the optimism quickly turned into panic. The Longhorns proved why they are a true college football powerhouse by forcing four Lobo turnovers and a crushing final score of 45-0. Even though UNM suffered another beat-down at the hands of a top college football team, the Lobos had a solid ground attack and were even able to rush for 206 yards. Local sports talk radio were surely filled with calls angry and depressed fans already claiming this season was a failure. But sensible fans can hardly expect head coach Bob Davie to work a miracle in one season. Former coach Mike Locksley caused huge damage to an already fragile program. It's going take years to transform UNM into a threatening college football program. As for this season, if Davie can lead his team to a decent performance at Texas Tech before the big grudge match against New Mexico State, the Lobos should feel confident heading into Mountain West Conference play.
NFL Opening Weekend
Just two years ago, The San Francisco 49ers looked like the shell of a franchise that won five Super Bowls. But ever since second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh took over, honor and respect have been restored to the Bay Area. Last year, the 49ers proved to be a dark horse when came out of nowhere to go 13-2, win their division and play in the NFC Championship game. With the target off their backs, the 'Niners looked towards a tough season opener against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field this last weekend. Meanwhile, the Packers were looking to erase the memory of losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants. If the 49ers could defeat Green Bay on the road, it would seal their place as one of the elite teams of the league.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith exercised his new offensive weapons Mario Manningham and Randy Moss while picking apart the Packer defense. Along with Frank Gore's power-running game, he led the 49ers into a 16-7 lead at halftime. Aaron Rodgers was able to move the ball for Green Bay but failed to make the game-changing play that would have captured the lead. The Packers cut the Niners' 16-point lead to just 8 in the fourth quarter. But Harbaugh's signature defense held steady and managed to avoid a last-second Green Bay comeback. San Francisco’s 30-22 victory should give them the momentum they need moving forward into the season and will potentially set them up for a repeat of last year's success and beyond.
When online fantasy football gained popularity, almost all my friends wanted a piece of the action. I had always been the kind of fan that obsessed over how many yards Michael Vick could run or how many touchdowns Aaron Rogers could throw, but it wasn't until recently that I finally caved and joined the fantasy league craze. Entering a league for the first time can be very intimidating, but with the right league, first time players can easily convert into fantasy junkies (and less productive members of society). Several sites provide different experiences for various skill levels as well as tools for any player to dominate in their league.
ESPN.com Fantasy League pairs up with television programs like Sportscenter, NFL Live and Fantasy Football Now to allow players to spend every second with their team. Sign-up is as simple as a link to a player's Facebook account. For rookies, taking the time to go over the rules of ESPN Fantasy is a must. Beginners may also find it beneficial to watch ESPN's Matthew Berry's introduction videos, which teach aspects of play stretching from selecting a league to picking available free agents. The site offers pre-season pointers, cheat sheets and video previews of top-projected performers which help in picking the most efficient team. Basic ESPN Fantasy League play is free, but to get the most out of the site, users will have to dig into their wallets and sign up for the perks of being an ESPN Insider. ESPN's Fantasy League mobile app also does an awesome job of condensing the larger site to help players keep tabs on their teams. The ESPN Fantasy League generally does a great job of integrating television, internet and mobile devices to create an enjoyable experience.
Naturally, the NFL offers its own fantasy football site, but unlike ESPN, they raise the stakes by offering the best players opportunities to win prizes—including tickets to Super Bowl XLVII. The site is free to sign up and play, but users can also play in a paid league which offers additional prizes like signed jerseys, game balls and authentic memorabilia. But, with bigger prizes comes a more difficult layout and the loss of free guides. The scoring system can also be confusing and complicated for new players, giving an advantage to those with more xperience. The site does offer some cool game-tracking features such as video highlights. Users can also watch NFL Fantasy Live every weekday and on Sundays to get the latest news and advice. The mobile app rivals ESPN's by including live scores, recent news and the ability to create and join leagues. While the league offers increased difficulty, there's a lot to like if fantasy junkies want to take their game to that next level.
As always, the Olympic Games provided memorable sporting moments that will be talked about for years to come. Highlights of 2012 include Usain Bolt making history by winning three medals in back-to-back Olympics, and Michael Phelps becoming the most-decorated (and arguably greatest) Olympian in history. But with a limited amount of sports featured on the NBC primetime telecast, many athletic feats won't get the attention and respect they deserve. To be specific, let’s examine two athletes who not only won gold but are also primed to make history in future Olympic Games.
Outside of the wrestling and combat-sports community, Jordan Burroughs was a relative unknown despite his two NCAA titles and All-American status at the University of Nebraska. Burroughs’ success in college has caught the attention of the Mixed Martial Arts world to make the crossover. However, he had other plans by beginning his quest to become the greatest American wrestler ever. The 2011 World Championships saw Burroughs win the 74kg championship and made him a favorite to win gold in London. Burroughs embraced his role as the new star of American wrestling by changing his Twitter handle to @alliseeisgold. His confidence and swagger proved to be a valuable asset in defeating a difficult field of Iranian and Russian wrestlers. In the final, Burroughs achieved his destiny by overcoming his 2011 World Championship foe, Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi to claim gold. Along with extending his 38-straight international freestyle match winning streak, the 24-year old got a nice $250,000 bonus from the Living the Dream Medal Fund. When asked what his future held, Burroughs sees more championships and medals on the horizon. If he continues to win gold, he might be in line to replace Phelps as the face of the USA Olympic team.
The United States has always had a strong history in the sport of boxing in the Olympic games. But lately it has been struggling, with the men's team failing to medal for the first time in history. With talk of creating different plans to revitalize America's dominance in boxing, there was pressure on the women to deliver. For the first time, women were allowed compete in boxing. Most of the attention before the games went to Marlen Esparza who appeared in various commercials leading into London. Esparza captured the bronze in the flyweight division, but the youngest member of the team, Claressa Shields, earned the gold. Shields has a classic underdog boxing story growing up in a tough neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. Despite her personal struggles, Shields became the first woman to win a gold medal in women's boxing and was the only gold medalist for USA boxing. She's only 17-years old but experts are already stating she's the new face of boxing in America. With Holly Holm being unknown outside of New Mexico, Shields could fill the void that Laila Ali once had. And with Shields being fairly young, she’d surely excel in future Olympics, although she may capitalize on her newfound fameand turn pro. But if Shields turns her sights to the 2016 Rio Games, USA boxing future may lie with the women instead of the men.
In 2008, the United States basketball team was on a mission to restore our title as the best basketball nation in the world. Named the “Redeem Team,” Team USA showed dominance resembling the classic Dream Teams of the past en route to the gold medal. They were under massive pressure from the nation to deliver following the disappointment of the 2004 team. This year’s team is more worried about bragging about upstaging the 1992 Dream Team and dunking exhibitions than defending the title. Despite being lead by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, key players like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are injured.
But before the Olympics, America will play some tune-up games to get ready for London. They already passed their first test by embarrassing the Dominican Republic 113-59. John Calipari lent his services to the Dominican but it was no match for the athleticism and talent of the United States. However, the victory was bittersweet as L.A Clippers star Blake Griffin was injured in practice prior to tip-off. Now Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski must depend on No. 1 pick Anthony Davis to play big minutes against difficult international competition. Most basketball fans are assuming Team USA should destroy the competition, but with a limited time to gel as a unit and injuries, international teams should feel optimistic to pull off the upset.
Spain failed to capture the gold against Team USA in Beijing in 2008, but they pose the biggest threat to America's gold medal chances. NBA veterans Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka will dominate the middle and should give them an advantage over every other team in the Olympic tournament. Pau Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and José Calderon round out the rest of the pros to give Spain a combination of speed and experience. By avoiding the Americans in group play, Spain shouldn’t have in trouble make it to the medal round. When they final collide with Team USA, the only advantage Spain will have is their inside presence. Without injured point guard Ricky Rubio and the lack of a true superstar, they will have to hope America gets cocky and overconfident in order to prevail.
Similar to Spain, Argentina is on the quest for revenge. In ’08, Argentina went 4-1 in group play but fell to America in the tournament round. Manu Ginobili led fellow NBA pros Carlos Delfino and Luís Scola on one of the most experienced teams in the tournament. Even though Argentina finds themselves in the same group as Team USA, they shouldn't feel intimidated as they defeated the United States in the 2004 Olympic Games. They may lack the number of pros compared to other top international teams, but their success in international competitions make Argentina a contender to win gold in London.
The PGA Tour had enjoyed a period of time when nearly everyone thought Tiger Woods was finished competing for any major titles. Besides all of Woods' personal struggles, injuries plagued any attempt of a comeback. But 2012 may be the year Tiger finally got his bite back. Before the AT&T National, he’d won two tournaments (no majors) in 2012 but was ranked fourth in the world golf rankings. In yesterday’s final round at the Congressional, Woods shot a 2-under 69 to outlast Bo Van Pelt and capture the title. Woods' third victory of the year moves him into second place for the most all-time PGA tour victories. Even though he didn't dominate the tournament, the fire and intensity that made Woods a champion seems to be back. The post-tournament press conference was the first example of the old Tiger, as he seemed defiant and borderline arrogant. If Woods' swagger has returned, other PGA golfers should be very concerned.
NBA Free Agency
The moment the Miami Heat won the NBA Finals, every team in the league began to form plans to land the biggest free agents during the off-season.
Dwight Howard is one of the most talented big men in the league, but he's also the most mysterious. Howard's indecisive choices have made him one of the most disliked athletes in the NBA. Despite the Stan Van Gundy firing, Howard still wants out of Orlando, but he'll have to play by the Magic's rules. Because he opted into another year of his contract, Howard can only beg and plead through the media to be traded. Since Howard is only interested in one team, Brooklyn, Orlando should take its time in making a decision—and probably won’t mind making one of the league’s to superstars suffer.
If Dwight Howard truly wants to leave Orlando, he'll need to open his mind to playing in other cities. Especially if free-agent supersatr Deron Williams leaves Brooklyn—making it a much-less desirable team to play for.
Aging veterans Ray Allen and Steve Nash are on the wish list of any team looking to win a title. Nash has to most lucrative offers with his home country’s Toronto Raptors offering a three-year $36 million deal. But money may mean less for Nash, who's still looking to win his first-ever NBA title. While Dallas and Miami may have a shot, look for the Knicks to be factor in the negotiations. Nash lives in New York and would be reunited with former Suns teammate Amar'e Stoudemire.
As for Ray Allen, along with his current team, the Boston Celtics, teams such as Miami and the Grizzlies are looking to land his services. Allen has already won a title and was unhappy coming off the bench last season, which may make Boston less appealing. If the Grizzlies can offer Allen a similar deal as other teams in the league, Memphis could be the favorite. But if Allen wants to capture another championship, he'll have an easier team shooting threes in Miami. Which ever team he chooses, Allen still remains one of the most deadly shooters in the game.
Who's says revenge isn't sweet? Holly Holm got some much need retribution in a unanimous-decision victory over Anne Sophie Mathis on Saturday night at the Route 66 Casino. In December, the pair fought a back-and-forth affair that saw Mathis getting the better of Holm with a seventh-round knockout. In the rematch, Holm used a strategy to outbox Mathis instead of engaging in a brawl to avoid getting knocked out. The gameplan may have not been the most crowd pleasing but it got the job done and impressed the judges to earn the 97-93, 96-94, 99-91 victory. Now the debate begins over what move Holm will make next. Along with being an accomplished boxer, she's also had success with mixed martial arts. Despite women's MMA being relatively new, the sport has already made some popular stars and Holm could be next if she makes the full transition. But in the meantime, Mathis will most likely request a rematch away from Albuquerque and in her home country of France. For now, Holm looks to enjoy some time off, but whatever decision Holm makes, the Burque boxing fans will be watching very closely.
Lebron James has been declared the best player in the world by many NBA experts. James has every basketball ability any player dreams of. But when the NBA Finals began, everyone was quick to declare Kevin Durant the new king. Because of James' past inability to perform in the Finals, it has opened the door for Durant to become the league's best player. Despite tuning the media out with antics such as reading The Hunger Games prior to a big matchup, James seems to have taken his game to the next level by averaging 30 points during the 2012 Finals. In the critical game three, James put his finals nightmares behind him, scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He proved the reign of King James has perhaps only begun by hitting a clutch three in the fourth quarter and outplaying Kevin Durant.
Durant did have 26 points and 6 rebounds, but was in serious foul trouble throughout the game (just like in game two). The Thunder made a run in the fourth quarter to cut the Heat lead, but Miami scored the final seven points to prevent any Oklahoma City comeback. The 85-91 loss puts the Thunder in a 2-1 hole and makes game four a must win. Luckily for the Thunder, it’s been in this situation before, being down 2-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. OKC will need to correct the mistakes if they are going to get back into the series. So far Durant has performed well in his first Finals appearance, but he'll have to find a way to outplay a more determined and focused Lebron James. Game might be the beginning of the King James era, or it may end before it even gets started.
New Mexico Boxing
The world of boxing suffered a massive loss when Johnny Tapia passed away on Sunday, May 27. Along with being a five-time world champion, Tapia managed to be a positive member of the community while being a respected figure in the sports world. On Sunday night, thousands waited in line to pay their respects to the champ at University Arena. Several members of the boxing community were in attendance, and others offered tributes though video messages. If your’re wondering how much Tapia meant to the boxing world, or just want to relive a classic bout, check out one of most memorable fights in his career when he battled Danny Romero in Las Vegas in 1997.
Las Cruces native and WBA 154-pound world champion Austin Trout retained his title by defeating Delvin Rodriguez by unanimous decision on scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111. Fans and media were unhappy with Trout's performance, but he got the win and is now in the running to face rising star Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez’ original opponent Paul Williams pulled out after a motorcycle crash and his replacement James Kirkland declined the bout after originally accepting it. Hopefully the sport of boxing will do the right thing and give Trout a chance to prove his worth to a larger boxing audience. But his critics are out in force to prevent the fight from happening, not to mention that Alvarez' promoter, Golden Boy Productions, is unlikely to put a fighter with a difficult style against a rising star.
Let the bashing begin. Haters of the Heat had plenty of ammo to throw at Miami for its game four performance. Between being down by 18-points at halftime, LeBron James fouling out and Dwyane Wade missing the game winning shot the seemingly unstoppable Heat looked vulnerable. For casual fans, Boston's 93-91 win may be a sign of Miami cracking, but those who look closer know it’s no time to panic. These teams have developed a heated rivalry by playing close and physical basketball. While Boston has many flaws, the Heat isn't able to exploit them. Chris Bosh's injury enabled the Celtics score 17 second-chance points and get 11 offensive rebounds, despite losing the overall rebounding battle. Momentum may lie with the Celtics, but the Heat have the homecourt advantage and may get the services of Bosh after all. If Miami gets Bosh close to 100 percent and its bench can produce, Boston is in trouble.
What do get when you throw an adventure race, live bands and fried food into a blender? You get the Warrior Dash.
On Cinco de Mayo, participants made their way through 13 challenging obstacles at the Founders Ranch in Edgewood, NM. A race more about physical toughness than speed, Warrior Dash pushes anyone who dares accept the challenge. It was a fun atmosphere which saw racers young and old wearing costumes ranging from Village People to masked wrestlers.
The races went in 30 minute intervals, with loud music in the background and the charismatic race announcer preparing the pack to make the transformation into “warriors.” Some solo warriors pushed through the course as quickly as possible, others went through each obstacle as a team. After racers completed the 5K course, they were greeted by volunteers ready to give medals, water, bananas and received mud hugs from the dirty “warriors.” Spectators cheered on friends and loved ones to not only finish but also get as dirty as possible by sliding toward the end of the course.
The warriors may have found themselves covered in mud from head to toe, but everyone was in good spirits, attempting to get cleaned off by massive a water hose, or remaining covered in their badge of honor. The conclusion of the race was just the beginning as muddy warriors took pictures in front of the dirty Warrior Dash sign and enjoyed food and live music.
For people still deciding whether to try crawling under barbed wire, mud pits and jumping over fire, race director Alex Yount says the goal of the race is to challenge you while having a once in a lifetime experience.
“Warrior Dash is truly for everyone, the goal of Warrior Dash is to challenge your self. So we had people come out that are marathon runners that are trying to get the best time on the course, and we also had people come out that never ran a race before in their lives.”
With around 11,000 New Mexicans making this year’s event a success, Yount says the registration for the 2013 edition of the Dash has already started.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Vs. Miguel Cotto
The sport of boxing may only have a couple of mega stars, but whenever they’re in action the sports world always takes notice. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. fought Miguel Cotto for the WBA Super Welterweight title in what turned out to be a compelling fight this Saturday night.
Despite Cotto being the champion, he was a massive underdog among casual fans and Vegas odds makers. Usually, whenever any fighter faces Mayweather, he is overmatched and often embarrassed by defensive boxing skills and technique. Surprisingly, Cotto was aggressive and was able to damage Mayweather. Many experts in chat rooms and Twitter had the fight close heading into the second half of the bout. But eventually supreme conditioning and counter punches carried Mayweather into victory. While the judges scorecard of (118-110, 117-111, 117-111) for Mayweather conveyed a lopsided win, Cotto seemed to have gained more fans and respect in defeat than any of his wins. If Cotto gets a couple of high profile wins, it wouldn't be out of the question to request a rematch or face Manny Pacquiao for the second time.
As for the now 43-0 (26 KO) Mayweather, his next opponent will be a jail cell as he serves time for misdemeanor domestic violence. Once he's done serving his 87-day sentence, the pressure of putting together the super fight between himself and Pacquiao should reach its boiling point. The potential matchup would be the biggest pay-per-view attraction in the history of the sport, but fans’ patience is starting to wear thin. If Pacquiao is dominant over Timothy Bradley, hopefully the wheels will start to go into motion for Pacquiao and Mayweather to finally collide.
UFC on Fox 3
It was a jam-packed weekend of sports, but lost in the shuffle was the Ultimate Fighting Championship on network television. While the card was lacking in star power, it tried to make up in exciting action. The main event featured Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller to possibly determine the next challenger for the Lightweight title.
Before the fight, Miller had a slight edge among mixed martial arts experts, but when they squared off, Diaz used superior boxing to confuse and damage Miller. Then, in round two, Diaz used his signature Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to gain the guillotine choke and make Miller tap for the first time in his career. Ever since Diaz moved to Lightweight, he’s looked almost unstoppable by dominating Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone. Now Diaz has proved he's a worthy challenger for champion, Benson Henderson. Since Henderson will face Frankie Edgar in a rematch in August, Diaz would most likely take another bout to stay active rather than take a long break. Since older brother Nick Diaz is suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Nate has gained all the attention and maybe has become a breakout star for the UFC. If Nate Diaz takes another fight and defeats Anthony Pettis, he will no doubt stand on his own as an elite fighter in MMA.
While some football fans think the NFL Draft resembles the male version of “America's Next Top Model,” most cannot contain their excitement whenever they see the commissioner give his awkward handshake to the new recruits of the league.
The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins took the suspense out of their first two picks in selecting Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (respectively), but the draft still contained some surprises. Cleveland Browns General Manager Tom Heckert chose to overhaul the offense by selecting Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Oklahoma quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round. Current Browns starting QB Colt McCoy showed some promise last season, but the Browns needed to make some power moves to make sure they’re no longer an afterthought. Another surprise was the Dallas Cowboys moving to sixth pick of the first round to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Even though the Cowboys had to give up 14th and 45th overall picks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was a necessary sacrifice to ensure Dallas improve its much-criticized defense.
As for the University of New Mexico, no Lobos were selected in the draft, but three defensive players have signed free-agent deals to play at the next level. Leading the pack is Carmen Messina, who shockingly wasn't selected but signed a contract with the improved Detroit Lions. All-Mountain West safety honorable mention Bubba Forrest was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals and defensive end Jaymar Latchison used Twitter to state he signed a contract with the Green Bay Packers.
Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia Sixers
Everything was working perfectly for the Chicago Bulls in game one against the Philadelphia Sixers. The Bulls bench was performing well and the starters were showing why they were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose's triple double was almost in sight with 1:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. Then the unthinkable happen: Rose drove in the lane and tore his ACL. Pain and fear was written all over Rose's face as he was helped to the locker room. The Bulls went on to win game one, 103-91, but it seems their title hopes have all but disappeared. An 18-9 record without Derrick Rose in the regular season means Chicago has reacted well without their captain. Now its up to Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton to step up and prove the Bulls are still a serious threat to win the title.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers
It was a party in Memphis as the Grizzlies had a dominate 27-point lead in game one. With the Clippers down by 21 in the fourth, head coach Vinny Del Negro removed point guard Chris Paul from the game. But Paul pleaded with Del Negro for one more shot to at least gain a moral victory. Instead, Paul had seven assists and hit two clutch free throws to take a 99-98 lead with 23.7 seconds left. Rudy Gay had a chance to be the hero but missed a fade-away jumper to give the Clippers the stunning victory. Now Los Angeles has stolen home court and the momentum of the series. To make matters worse, rumors have now heated up regarding tension between Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies have tons of potential and have good fundamental skills to make a respectable run in the playoffs. But if they can't put a stop to their issues, the Clippers will embarrass the Grizz.