Looking Ahead: UFL Week 3 Predictions

QB Jeff Garcia and head coach Jeff Jagodzinski have Omaha sitting atop our power rankings (Photo courtesy of UFL).
 
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By John Archibald, Editor

Two weeks are now in the books for the 2010 United Football League season, and the amount of parody in the league has made it nearly impossible to make any type of accurate assumptions or predictions of how the season will shake out. Every team is heavily loaded with talent, and any team can literally beat any other team on a given day. Trying to predict how the action will play out each week will only make someone vulnerable to looking foolish, so I obviously must now give you my week three predictions.

Last Week: 1-1

I correctly chose the winner in the first game of the weekend, when Omaha Nighthawks quarterback Jeff Garcia and his offense orchestrated a late fourth comeback to defeat the Hartford Colonials, 27-26. In the second game of the evening, Sacramento Mountain Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper made me pay for choosing the Florida Tuskers when his team rallied for a 17-3 fourth quarter run to win a Saturday night thriller at home, 24-20.

Las Vegas Locomotives at Florida Tuskers
Thursday, September 30, 6:00 p.m. EST, TV: VERSUS

Orlando finally gets to see its team play at home for the first time since the end of the 2009 regular season. As we all know, the Tuskers went unbeaten last year before falling in overtime to the Locos in the 2009 UFL Championship Game, 20-17. However, Florida did get a bit of revenge when the team knocked off Las Vegas on opening weekend, 27-20. After falling behind by 10 points early, reigning UFL MVP Brooks Bollinger rallied his troops and threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns to lead Florida to the come-from-behind victory. After being off last weekend, the Locos have had nearly two weeks to correct their mistakes and plan for a second meeting with the Tuskers. On the flip side, Florida needs to avoid a hangover from losing late against Sacramento last Saturday night, and we should know early if any of the effects from that heartbreaking loss remain. Needless to say, both teams are in a tight spot.

Prediction: This one is tough. On one side, I have a hard time seeing any team in the UFL starting the season 0-2. On the other side, you know the Tuskers want to avoid the first two-game losing streak in team history to remain among the top of the UFL Standings. But the run-around isn’t what you want here, and a prediction is. So, I’ll stick with the 2009 MVP in front of his hometown Florida crowd. Tuskers win, 24-20.

Sacramento Mountain Lions at Omaha Nighthawks
Saturday, October 2, 8:30 p.m. EST, TV: HDNet

This is a match-up that all UFL fans have been waiting to see: three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper and his squad hit the gridiron against four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, all-time Green Bay Packers rushing record holder Ahman Green and the Omaha Nighthawks. And to make matters even better, the UFL announced today that the Nighthawks have sold out a game for the second time in six days (24,000). Before I get on to my prediction, let’s think about that for a second. Nearly 50,000 fans will have gone through the gates at the first two games at Rosenblatt Stadium. In a word: awesome. Now, back to the action. Both Garcia and Culpepper brought their teams from behind last weekend, so they’ve proven that they are never out of any contest. The rally in Sacramento I find to be particularly important because the Mountain Lions did not want to enter this game in an 0-2 hole. After two games, Culpepper now has three touchdowns and a pick, while Garcia threw scores to three different recipients last Saturday. In terms of rushing, 2009 rushing champion Cody Ross has struggled in Sacramento with a two yards per carry average, but playing in front of his old college supporters in the State of Nebraska could be just what the doctor ordered in terms of getting him going. In the other backfield is another former Husker standout in Green, who averaged over four yards a carry en route to 49 rushing yards on 12 touches this past weekend.

Prediction: With all that’s been said, I have to give the edge to the hometown Nighthawks. The Omaha fans are obviously in full support of their team, and they are there when it matters most (e.g. game-winning fourth quarter drives). Garcia is also distributing the ball well, and I think fans can expect at least a 65-yard effort from Green on the ground. If we learned anything last weekend, though, it’s to not count out Sacramento, and I do expect another late surge. In the end, the Nighthawks improve to 2-0 by fending off Sacramento and stopping a potential game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, 24-17.

RESOLUTION SPORTS’ UFL POWER RANKINGS

1. Omaha Nighthawks (1-0) – The last undefeated team standing. Omaha showed both versatility and resilience in an opening weekend win, so it currently sits atop the UFL mountain in my eyes.
2. Hartford Colonials (1-1) – The fact of the matter is that Hartford could be 2-0 right now had it not been for a botched extra point and a late rally by Omaha last weekend. The Colonials also own the only decisive win of the young season with a week one win over Sacramento, 27-10.
3. Sacramento Mountain Lions (1-1) – Honestly, I feel this spot is interchangeable between the Mountain Lions and Florida, but we have a tiebreaker with Sacramento defeating the Tuskers last weekend.
4. Florida Tuskers (1-1) – The fact that the Tuskers sit in fourth place in these power rankings goes to show you how ridiculously competitive the UFL is. Great comeback in week one but victim to an even greater one in week two.
5. Las Vegas Locomotives (0-1) – Las Vegas falls victim to the bye week in this week’s power rankings.



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