The Evster breaks down this year's Heisman hopefuls

The Evster breaks down this year's Heisman hopefuls

Everyone loves a Heisman winner (except Rashaan Salaam, that guy sucked). And next Saturday night, another strapping, brooding, virile young man will join college football's most exclusive fraternity. Soon after, the new Heisman winner will have his oil-painted portrait hung up alongside some of the finest competitors to ever play the game: like Nile Kinnick, the Iowa Hawkeyes running back who in 1939 rushed for three touchdowns after getting kicked in the brain. Then there was Notre Dame's Leon Hart, who in 1940 entered Heisman lore after he broke a guy's brain. And who can forget Gino Torretta, the Miami gunslinger who had quite possibly the cutest hairy belly button known to man.

Now just like you, I spent most of my Saturday afternoons this football season asleep on my couch. But unlike you, I am responsible for delivering a sports column to my MANIACAL DICTATOR BOSS editor Enrico every Thursday night. So when Enrico emailed me Thursday morning suggesting I ditch my "Top 10 Kurt Nimphius-inspired NBA Hairdos" post in favor of one focused on college football, I had no choice but to comply jumped at the opportunity.

Do I consider myself a college football expert? Sure. Did I write this while watching THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE TELEVISION EXTRAVAGANZA? Absolutely. Is there anything more annoying than when someone asks and answers their own questions? Yes, The Sound of Music live television extravaganza. There's so much singing!

Okay, enough about the Sound of Muse, let's take a look at this year's Heisman hopefuls.

But one more thing about the Sound of Muse ... how dope is that do-re-mi song?!?!

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Key stats - 3,490 passing yds, 35 td, ZERO charges of sexual assault

Provided he does not kill a prostitute between now and next Saturday, Winston is a lock to win the award. The guy has been incredible, his team is ranked #1, plus Jameis has both a hilarious first AND last name. (I once knew a dog named Winston. He used to sleep in the dryer!) JW is the total package. An absolute stud. I have never, ever seen him play football.

Fun Fact: Jameis also plays baseball for Florida State and was drafted last year by the Texas Rangers. Granted everyone already pretty much knew that, so that kinda negates it from being a fun fact ... but still. He's also dating Carrie Underwood (not true).

Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois

Key stats - Passing: 2,457 yds, 22 td, 5 int ... Rushing: 1,755 yds, 20 td, 7.1 ypc ... Bowling: recently rolled a 211!

Northern Illinois? There is no way that Northern Illinois is a real place. I have been on this earth for 36 years and I have never, EVER, seen one Girl Gone Wild who went to Northern Illinois. But Wikipedia claims it's a place, so I guess it's a place.

Lynch has been tearing it up at NIU, a dual threat whose rushing numbers might be even more impressive than his passing stats. His team is also undefeated going into the final week, and with a win against the mighty BOWLING GREEN GREEN BOWLERS this Friday night, they might even sneak into a BCS bowl game. Not to mention the guy can roll!

Now I'm not saying that 211 is the most impressive score of all time -- it's a good score, don't get me wrong, it's a great score -- but it's the fact that he was so nonchalant in the way he tweeted about it. No punctuation. No emoticons. Just a decent start to a typical Tuesday evening that most likely ended with him snorkeling in a freshman's underwear. Very similar to my night last Tuesday, when I ended up sleeping on the couch because my wife claimed I was snoring out of my own butt.

Fun Fact: Lynch went to Mount Carmel High in Chicago, the same high school as DONOVAN MCNABBERS!!! Other Mount Carmel grads include: Chris Chelios, Antoine Walker and two-time Tony Award winner, Daniel Sunjata! (never heard of him)

Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

Key stats - 17.7 ppg, 7.3 asst, 5.8 reb, 3.1 stl

He good!

Fun Fact: Coming up with "Fun Facts" is probably the lamest thing that has ever been done on this website.

That Guy Who Returned That Kick in the Iron Bowl, CB, Auburn

Key stats - One bonkers touchdown that made me fill my pants with shit.

The best play in the history of college football. Period. Actually, that might not be true. That Cal-Stanford "the band is on the field!" play was probably better. But this is second. Although I always liked that Desmond Howard 4th and 1 diving in the corner of the end zone jawn against Notre Dame, too. So maybe this is third. Then again there's always a play every year where some guy jumps over a whole guy and kicks someone in the brain, so this is probably like the 14th or 15th best play in college football history. But still ... incredible.

[Enrico says: FLUTIE!]

It was the kind of play you'll tell you're grandchildren about, or if you're like me and are unable to have an erection and make love to your wife, the kind of play you'll tell someone else's grandchildren about. I'll always remember where I was when it happened: at my in-law's house in upstate New York, a house that does not have a working television. You see, my wife's father recently got remarried to a Rabbi (I know!) and the Rabbi is one of those people who prefers to have conversations and eat granola instead of watching television. (I KNOW AGAIN!) And let me just clarify, when I say she's a rabbi, that doesn't mean she's one of those dudes who has a long beard and smells like yogurt, she's actually a very nice human being who plays the guitar and walks around barefoot and is very down-to-earth and understanding. But she also chooses to live in a house without a television which is just WEIRD. I mean, wasn't she even the least bit curious about the latest LIVE TELEVISION EXTRAVAGANZA???

So as I sat in her living room listening to people TALK AND TALK AND GOOD GOD WHEN WILL IT END, I was also secretly checking the score on my phone. As the fourth quarter approached, I started periodically excusing myself, pretending to have a severe case of EAS (Exploding Ass Syndrome) so I could go to the bathroom and watch the game buffering on my phone.

The 99yd touchdown pass was one thing. And the triple option 50-yarder was another. Then came the back-to-back fourth down stops, and the blocked kick, so by the time the last field goal attempt was being teed up, I had been screaming so loudly that everyone in the house thought I had to go to the emergency room.

My Wife: Are you okay in there, Ev?

Yep!

My Wife: You keep screaming.

Not screaming. Not screaming at all!

My Wife: Like, right there, you're screaming. Don't strain.

This is really something!

My Wife: I'm sure it is. I am sure it is. Do you need more toilet pa--

OH MY GAWD!

My Wife: What?! What is happening?!

HE'S GONNA DO IT!

My Wife: What is he doing?! Who is he?!

HE'S GONNAAAAAA DOOOOOO ITTTTTTTT!

My Wife: WHY IS HE IN THERE???

OMGGGGGGGGGGGG!

My Wife: GET HIM OUTTA THERE!!!! RABBIIIIII!!!!

Fun Fact: Below is a (semi-interesting) video of the kick return recreated on Tecmo Bowl. It's almost worth watching.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Key stats - Rushing: 2,102 yds, 17 td, 6.4 ypc ... Receiving: NADA, NUTHIN, NOT ONE STINKIN' RECEPTION

Andre Willy is an absolute beast. He came out of nowhere this year to rush for over TWO THOUSAND yards, but also happens to attend the same school that Enrico went to, so he is officially a MAJOR DORK.

Look at this tweet he sent out earlier this season:

Ughghhghghhh. Shut up. No one cares about intelligent dinner conversations. Except for my Rabbi/Step-Mother-In-Law (who happens to be a very nice person!).

Fun Fact: Doug Flutie can suck my butt!

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

Key stats - Passing: 2,676 yds, 26 td, 5 int, 1 really really really hot girlfriend

AJ McCarron has done it. The man has really done it. He's done everything anyone would ever want to do in this world. And I don't mean the back-to-back titles or the upcoming NFL contract, I mean the fact that he has a super-duper-glooper-hot girlfriend. What else in life really matters?

Okay, maybe decent service at Cracker Barrel also matters, but let's talk about more important issues.

Even though AJ has been dating a totally bing-bong-don't-stop-get-it-get-it girl for the last two years, isn't it time for him to cash her in for something different? Not necessarily something better, but a little variety? It's not like Matt Leinart won the Heisman and then stuck with whatever ridiculous chick he was dating at the time. He lived it up as a bachelor and starting goin out with celebrities, porn stars and Playboy Bunns. I'm guessing he also got it on with older chicks, younger chicks, dudes?, whomever. And good for him. Good for him! I would much rather look back on my life knowing that I lived up to my sexual potential as opposed to getting the most out of my athletic skills. Athletic ability is fleeting, sexual domination lasts FOR-EVAH.

So I think we can all agree that it's time for AJ McCarron to break up with Katherine Webb. I'm sorry Katherine, it's not you, it's me. I want to watch AJ McCarron do the diddle-dang-dang with other ladies. Could this be the first time The 700 Level was responsible for a breakup?!?!

Enrico?

Thanks, boss!

Fun Fact: Check out your boy's tattoos!

Real Gs don't cover up their belly buttons!

(I have no idea what that means.)

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

NBA Playoffs: Westbrook, Thunder push Warriors to brink of elimination

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NBA Playoffs: Westbrook, Thunder push Warriors to brink of elimination

BOX SCORE

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Suddenly, these Golden State Warriors who have been compared all season to the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s are on the brink of elimination.

Russell Westbrook had 36 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Warriors 118-94 on Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals. Golden State, which won a league record 73 games in the regular season, lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

The Warriors must win Game 5 on Thursday in Oakland to keep their season alive.

"We all have to bounce back," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "The good news is, we go home. Obviously we play well at home. The idea now is to go home and get one win. Do that, and we put some pressure on them and we'll see what happens."

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 26 points, but two-time league MVP Stephen Curry was limited to 19 points on 6-for-20 shooting. Curry's shooting performance was so uncharacteristic that reporters asked if he was hurt.

"He's not injured," Kerr said. "He's coming back from the knee, but he's not injured. He just had a lousy night. It happens, even to the best players in the world."

The Warriors lost consecutive playoff games by at least 20 points for the first time since Games 2 and 3 of the 1972 Western Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks. Golden State's Draymond Green, who was fined for kicking Steven Adams in the groin in Game 3, finished with six points, 11 rebounds and six turnovers.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City got a boost from an unlikely source. Andre Roberson, a player the Warriors have ignored at times during the series, scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Kevin Durant added 26 points and 11 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and seven rebounds.

As for Westbrook, it was his first triple-double of the playoffs after posting 18 in the regular season. It was his fifth career playoff triple-double.

"I play every game like it's my last, regardless of who's in front of me," he said. "That's my job, and my job is to worry about my team, and that's all I do."

The Thunder know they have to close. Nine teams have rallied from 3-1 deficits to win.

"I think we're in a good place, but like I said, this game is over," Westbrook said. "We've got to move on to the next game. Every game is different."

The Thunder led 30-26 at the end of the first quarter, then gained control in the second. In the most unlikely of connections, Adams threw a bullet pass to Roberson near the basket for a dunk that gave the Thunder a 56-43 lead with just over four minutes left in the first half.

Oklahoma City finished with a flurry and led 72-53 at halftime. The Thunder matched the most points they have scored in a first half in franchise playoff history, a mark they set the previous game against the Warriors. It also matched the most points Golden State has allowed in a half this season for the second straight game.

Westbrook had 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds in the first half, and Durant had 18 points and six boards.

Thompson tried to keep the Warriors in it, scoring 19 points in just over seven minutes to start the third quarter. But the Thunder maintained their composure, led 94-82 at the end of the period and remained in control in the fourth.

"This is a tough situation to be in, but the series isn't over," Curry said.

Quotable
Kerr, on the pressure of trying to win a title after setting the regular-season wins record: "We had a tremendous regular season, our guys competed every single night and did something no one has ever done and they're proud of that. But in the playoffs, everybody starts 0-0. So there's no extra pressure, whether you're talking about defending our title or trying to back up the regular season."

Stat lines
According to Thunder Public Relations, the last team to score 72 or more points in the first half of two straight playoff games was the 1987 Los Angeles Lakers.

Tip-ins
Warriors: Curry went 1 for 7 in the first quarter, and made just 1 of 4 3-point attempts. ... Thompson committed his third foul with 7:55 left in the second quarter, and C Andrew Bogut committed his third about two minutes later. ... Curry made a 3-pointer for his 48th consecutive playoff game, extending his NBA record. ... The Warriors were 12-0 this season the game after a loss.

Thunder: Westbrook had five points, six assists and three rebounds in the first quarter. ... Oklahoma City forced 13 turnovers in the first half. ... The Thunder improved to 19-0 this season when Westbrook gets a triple-double. ... The Thunder outrebounded the Warriors 56-40 and outscored them 31-19 from the free throw line.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins fight off Lightning to force Game 7

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NHL Playoffs: Penguins fight off Lightning to force Game 7

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins made good on Evgeni Malkin's pledge to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final.

Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, and Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored Tuesday night in a 5-2 victory that evened the best-of-seven series with the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-3.

Game 7 is Thursday night, with the Penguins hoping to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2009 and the Lightning looking to advance to the Cup Final for the second straight year.

"I just told them to embrace the moment. It's a great opportunity for us. These are the type of circumstances to where you have an opportunity to write your own story," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan.

"They had a certain mindset going into this tonight: `We're going to leave it all out there and do everything we can to bring this back to Pittsburgh,'" Sullivan added. "And, certainly that's what they did."

Malkin was the most demonstrative of the players expressing confidence the Penguins could take the series back to Pittsburgh, saying he believed in himself, his teammates and that they could return home for a seventh game "for sure."

Crosby stepped up with his third game-winning goal of the series. The Penguins captain assisted on Kessel's 5-on-3 power-play goal in the opening period and later skated around Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman into the clear before sending a wrist shot between goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy's legs for a 3-0 lead in the final minute of the second period.

"We know the circumstances. It makes you go out there with a mindset of playing desperate," Crosby said. "I think we had confidence in the whole group. I think everyone played great.

"Everyone contributed in their own way. In a big game like this you, don't do anything special, just do your job. I think that's gotten us this far."

Rookie goaltender Matt Murray returned to the lineup after being replaced as the starter for Game 5 by Marc-Andre Fleury, but his 10th playoff victory did not come without a bit of suspense.

Brian Boyle scored twice in the third period for Tampa Bay, with one of the goals bouncing off Kessel before getting past Murray, who finished with 28 saves. The second score drew the Lightning within one goal with 7:17 remaining.

Instead of flinching, the young goalie who turns 22 on Wednesday retained his composure down the stretch to help the Penguins avoid relinquishing a third-period lead for the second straight game.

"I just think it's part of his DNA. He has a calming influence. He doesn't get rattled if he lets a goal in. He continues to compete," Sullivan said.

"That's usually an attribute that takes years to acquire. And to have it at such a young age is impressive. I think one of his biggest strengths is just his ability to stay in the moment."

Rust's breakaway goal at 17:52 of the third gave Pittsburgh breathing room, and Bonino added an empty-netter to finish it off.

"We had a great chance tonight and just tip-toed around a little bit," Boyle said. "We were tentative and weren't aggressive."

Kessel's goal was his team-leading ninth of the playoffs. Crosby had the primary assist, his first point since delivering game-winners in Games 2 and 3, and Malkin also had an assist to extend his point streak to four games after a slow start in the series.

The Lightning had an apparent goal by Jonathan Drouin waived off a little more than five minutes into the game, when Sullivan successfully challenged that the young Tampa Bay winger was offside on the play before tapping in a rebound off Ondrej Palat's shot that bounced off Murray's pads.

Sullivan announced the decision to go back to Murray following Tuesday's morning skate.

Murray started the first four games of the series. Fleury replaced him during the third period of Game 4, then made his first start in nearly two months in Game 5, which Tampa Bay won 4-3 in overtime.

Before Game 5, Fleury had not started a game since March 31, when he suffered a concussion.

Tampa Bay entered the game determined to not come out flat in Game 6 of the conference final for the second straight year.

The Lightning beat the New York Rangers on the road to go up 3-2 in that series, but were badly outplayed at home the next game and had to return to Madison Square Garden to finish the series.

Now, they'll have to win on the road again to make the third Stanley Cup appearance in franchise history.

"I know we can. I've got confidence in this group. We believe we can do that," Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan said. "We've had success on the road in the playoffs. We've had success in their building already. It's going to be a good one."

Notes
The Penguins were 1 for 3 on the power play and are 4 for 19 in the series. The Lightning were 0 for 1, dropping to 2 for 12. ... Malkin was penalized in the first period for slashing Tampa Bay Bay's Ryan Callahan in what appeared to be retaliation for the Lightning forward whacking him across the wrist with his stick. ... Murray improved to 4-0 following a loss. He's 10-4 overall in the playoffs.

Best of MLB: Jackie Bradley Jr. extends hitting streak to 28 games

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Best of MLB: Jackie Bradley Jr. extends hitting streak to 28 games

BOSTON -- David Price scattered five hits over seven innings and Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of hits to extend his streak to 28 games as the Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 8-3 on Tuesday night.

David Ortiz had a two-run double and a two-run single, and Dustin Pedroia added three hits to help Boston win its third straight game. Price (7-1) allowed three runs, walking one and striking out six to earn his third consecutive win.

Colorado lost for the fifth time in six games.

Jorge De La Rosa (1-4) made his first start after spending almost a month on the disabled list with a left groin strain. He gave up two runs in the first, two more in the second and left with one out in the fourth with two on and one run already in (see full recap).

Polanco, Pirates crush Diamondbacks
PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-best five runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled by the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-1 on Tuesday night.

Polanco's shot to the concourse in right-center field off Shelby Miller (1-6) in the first inning gave Pittsburgh an early boost. Francisco Liriano (4-3) scattered two hits in 5 2/3 innings and added an RBI single as the Pirates improved to 6-2 during a 10-game homestand.

After a short adjustment period, Polanco has thrived batting third in the lineup, hitting .317 (20 of 63) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 15 games. The Pirates spread their 17 hits among 11 batters.

Miller's recent recovery from a miserable start with the Diamondbacks took a step backward. Less than a year removed from an All-Star appearance with Atlanta, Miller's ERA ballooned to 7.09 after surrendering six runs in five innings (see full recap).

Strasburg strikes out 11 in Nationals' win
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg remained unbeaten with an 11-strikeout performance, and the Washington Nationals hit three of their season-high five home runs off struggling Matt Harvey in a 7-4 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.

Strasburg (8-0) gave up two runs and four hits over 6 2/3 innings in defeating Harvey and the Mets for the second time in six days. Strasburg has five games this season with at least 10 strikeouts and 26 over his seven-year career.

Harvey (3-7) stumbled through a third straight ineffective start, allowing five runs and eight hits over five rocky innings. The right-hander has yielded 16 earned runs and 31 hits over his last three outings.

Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon hit successive solo shots to put Washington ahead in the fourth inning, and Daniel Murphy added a two-run drive off his former teammate in the fifth for a 5-1 lead (see full recap).