Missing [3]

/ Now /
One should know
They are on their own
In this world

You walk the city streets
Others walk by, too
A new avenue approaches
Nobody follows

Shadows of the forgotten
Arise around the buildings
But the shadows don’t follow
They stray by their own

Cars pass
But not tonight
Darkness skews the shining moon
Of all things passing by

Those inside remain
In small rooms and
Empty screens
Yet you march on

The ghosts of years ago
Drain your breath
Into violent coughs
And heavy inhales

The shadows
That did not follow
Now return
Around other boulevards

They meet you
On cracked sidewalks
When you don’t expect
Any pain

Now buildings tumble
Sharp rocks fall
On cracked sidewalks
Opening an abyss

/ Then /
Shadows flail
In windy paths
You were missing

Missing [2]

Looking out on a long day
The reminders of those left behind
Or rather
Those who moved on

Few have stayed in sync
Others left over time
Straying from the regular
Old stagnant still Stop

The ones who stayed
Were not the corrupt
It was the ones who left
Who thought their independence
Would follow

Instead it stuck behind
Straying from the same
Old stagnant still Stop
Awaiting to be picked up
By another

The body left the way
Nobody followed
Nothing traveled along
Except stationary objects
That would dissolve into ashes

No friends walked with
They were alone
Their followers revert from a new line
You were nothing

Missing [1]

It’s OK to miss a friend
The one who is gone
Locked away in the wind

It’s alright to feel that pain
You forgot it once before
Now is the time to do it again

That stressed love that never mattered
The pressure to pursue an empty heart
Instead of waiting to see how your story ends

Patience is a virtue
But the true virtue is desire
To want the world to revolve in slow motion

Our plans don’t wait for us
But people
How ignorant
As long as tides turn
They cease

But some remain on shore
Refusing to go adrift
Repeating softly to themselves
Try me.

The Case for Religion in Collegiate America

Any weekend morning, afternoon, or evening in Pittsburgh, there are small groups of college students that gather to worship their respective faiths. Each one of these centers of faith worship differently, but all of them are accompanying the small number of young adults that still practice their religion.

These worship centers want to change that culture.

A small building sits near the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill where one can find a community of young people giving back to their community during a youth service to educate and promote the Islamic religion.

The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh (ICP) and other worship centers like it have not just been places for members of certain religions, but home to the closing gap of religion among young adults.

In an era where attendance to organized religious gatherings is shrinking, more young adults are continuing to find a way to practice religion, whether it is by attending services from their childhood religions, seeking spirituality in a different kind of practice to express their faith, or to find religion for the first time.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, people have slowly stopped attending religious services because they haven’t found a church they enjoy going to or they don’t like the sermons. The study also found that the most common answer for not attending religious services is “I practice my faith in other ways.”

Koshin Yusuf, one of the young adults involved in the youth program at the ICP, is trying to change that.

“One of the programs that we have that is consistent is our Sunday school,” said Koshin Yusuf, one of the young adults involved at the Islamic Center. “We also have the youth leadership program that happens on Saturdays.”

The youth group at the ICP seeks to not only help young adults get more involved, but also to educate outsiders on the religion of Islam through events and tours of the center.

“We held an event called the Stop Bullying event, which was basically an event where a youth coordinator from another organization stopped by to talk to kids about how they could counter bullying in school,” Yusuf said regarding one of their most attended youth events.

“Sometimes we have groups coming in from school who are currently studying something on Islam and they want to come in and actually talk to people who come to a mosque,” said Yusuf.

For him, this place means more than just showcasing the Islamic religion to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in a Christian city.

“It’s first and foremost a place of prayer, but it’s also a community center. It’s a safe space for (people) to come and have a conversation and get together with friends.”

According to the United Jewish Federation, around 40% of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood is Jewish. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has been one of the city’s most involved religious sects, with programs for adults and families.


A map of Jewish Centers around Downtown Pittsburgh in relation to the ICP.

Pittsburgh native Miracle Brocco, a student at Millersville University, says that the Jewish faith isn’t as prominent in reaching out to college students.

“A lot of that is because it’s an inclusive and close-knit community,” she says.

The community was brought together in the past couple months after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 dead and seven injured. After the shooting, worship centers and churches of all faiths came together to support the local synagogue.

The community was brought together in the past couple months after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 dead and seven injured. After the shooting, worship centers and churches of all faiths came together to support the local synagogue.

People gather on a rainy day at Point State Park to honor the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting that took place on October 27.

However, the showcasing of the Jewish faith on college campuses around the country is not as popular as Christian faiths.

“At college we have a campus Hillel (a group of practicing and non-practicing Jewish people), but the only thing it’s ever offered is a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony.”

Brocco says that when she returns home, she celebrates on her own, within her family, or even over FaceTime.

“My Jewish friends and I celebrate holidays together and my goyim (non-Jewish) friends are always super supportive,” she says.

In the Strip District of Pittsburgh, a small building was converted into a Christian Church – one of the largest college congregations in the city.

Amplify Church is usually filled with young people on a Sunday evening. It is there where a rock band can be heard playing worship music and young people can openly express themselves.

Joshua Clear, one of the youth pastors at Amplify Church, said he got involved in his faith by attending a youth retreat.

“I went, begrudgingly, and I was angry and upset” said Clear.

He said he was the kid who sat in the back and didn’t connect before the retreat.

“I just met Jesus that weekend. And I wanted nothing to do with that before then.”

After his experience, Clear knew he wanted to give back by being involved in ministry, particularly for the youth. He worked at a church in Atlanta, a Presbyterian church, a couple non-denominational churches, and finally landed at Amplify.

He can usually be seen at any given service giving a sermon on stage. If he’s not speaking in front of a crowd, there is usually a crowd gathering around him. Clear makes it a point to know everyone who walks in the door at Amplify.

He wants them to continue to come back.

Amplify Church is located in the Strip District, with many of their services being in the evening.

Around 37% of people surveyed by the Pew Research Center say they dislike religious services, such as church, and cite that for why they are not in attendance.

“The biggest thing I’ve always done is say ‘how can I create church for people that don’t want anything to do with church,” said Clear.

Others like Andy Brunette, a 22 year old living in Pittsburgh, said that the services at Amplify have changed him.

From the sermons that go into the Old and New Testaments, Brunette believes that the church does a great job at promoting the Bible and making it a fun learning environment for people wanting to stay close to God.

“I don’t think it’s specifically the church itself that changed me, but it’s the people in the church,” said Brunette.

Amplify has a younger demographic that they reach out to, with additional services at Duquesne and Point Park University to reach out to the college-aged adults.

“There are two types of churches – church lowercase ‘c’ and Church capital ‘c’,” Brunette explains, “church lowercase ‘c’ being Amplify and Church capital ‘c’ being the people.”

He also says that Amplify does a good job of ‘plugging’ people in to the church once they start attending. They do this by making it a community and keeping a constant conversation among members before and after services.

Before any given service, members can be seen setting up chairs and asking others how they could help. After the services, students may spend up to an extra hour talking to other students from universities around Pittsburgh while encouraging new members to keep returning.

Other Christian churches in the area have struggled to retain the college student crowd.

“The interesting thing is that while we started as a church focused on young adults and college kids, we have hardly had any college kids (recently),” said Jeff Eddings, Pastor of Hot Metal Bridge Congregation.

The South Side church is connected to both the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Methodist Church, making it a place of worship for multiple religious sects. However, the community has struggled to retain new members.

“We still have young adults participating in our community, but we are not intentionally doing anything programmatically for them or to intentionally reach them,” Eddings said.

For other churches, programming is one of the biggest things to get students involved.

Like the ICP, Amplify tries to get the word out to their community by visiting college campuses weekly during the fall and spring semesters.

“Instead of making students come to us, we try and come to them,” said Sarah Pais, director of the U at Point Park – a branch of Amplify Church’s youth outreach.

By traveling to different campuses and holding ‘RIOT’ events in which the church’s band plays for a crowd of college students, the church has been able to grow.

“It’s been successful so far. We just want to create an environment where everyone feels welcome no matter what (they) believe.”

The church also has the U at Duquesne, IUP, Pittsburgh East, and at City, which is their Strip District location.

These locations serve young adults, specifically college-aged students, and basically bring church to a different location. At the services, there is a sermon and prayer sessions as well as an intertwining of college campuses.

“We don’t really want to shove Jesus down their throats, we kind of just want to present the ideas.”

Pais says this concept has proven successful because people don’t feel pressure to commit to a religion. By coming to the students, the church has acclaimed their audience.

According to the Pew Research Center study, one in four Americans have not found a house of religion they enjoy, and 14% say they do not feel welcome at particular religious services, which is why Amplify goes to these campuses and travels to different locations to talk about Christianity and the Bible.

“Growing up we never really talked about religion in the house, we never really talked about God,” said Ryan Perumal, a student at Robert Morris University.

“I believe a lot of young adults now, when they were kids when they went to other churches and it was so strict,” said Perumal, who grew up in a Christian-Hindu household.

“People treated churches like a country club. Everyone is all high and mighty like ‘hey, I go to church, respect me,’” he added.

Perumal explains that churches today should be more welcoming rather than excluding, citing that a communal environment has helped him more than it being an individualistic environment.

Being in an environment where young people are encouraged to attend events, like at Amplify and the ICP, is crucial to keeping the churches open to everyone.

“(Churches) should be more of a hospital, where people go for healing and support.”

He added that he is not talking down to other churches, but they do not touch on the subject of people being forgiven for their sins.

The Pew Research Center cites that 66% of those who attend church at least once a month go to find comfort in time of trouble, so when they are not feeling they are going to a place of healing, it can be disheartening.

“We raise up people within our church to start serving, start loving on people, and start showing that grace that has been given to them,” said Clear.

College Football Playoff Picture: Championship Weekend

We’re down to only 7 teams left in the chase for the College Football Playoff. Here is the rundown on how every team can (and can’t) make the final four.

1. Alabama (SEC, 12-0)

Alabama enters conference championship week with the best possible chance to make the playoff. Their offense is the best that Nick Saban has ever coached with QB Tua Tagovailoa accounting for most of the damage.

CHANCES: Locked in. Win or keep it close against Georgia. Even in a blowout loss scenario, the Tide still have a strong case for a playoff spot.

SEC Championship vs #4 Georgia (Saturday, December 1 @ 4:00 PM on CBS)

2. Clemson (ACC, 12-0)

The Tigers have been demolishing teams in the ACC all season. Their opponent in the conference championship is Pitt, who is coming off a blowout loss to Miami. Clemson should take care of business, but it will be an interesting battle between Pitt’s run game and Clemson’s defense line.

CHANCES: Practically a lock. A win obviously keeps them in, but a close loss could also keep them in for what they’ve accomplished all season long. The Committee has continually said the disparity between Alabama and Clemson is not as big as some might have come to think. However, a blowout loss to Pitt could propel someone else into the top four.

ACC Championship vs (unranked) Pitt (Saturday, December 1 @ 8:00 PM on ABC)

3. Notre Dame (Independent, 12-0)

The Irish have done everything they needed to do this season. They don’t play in a conference, but they went undefeated and beat a few quality opponents. Now, some of the teams on their schedule are simply having down seasons, but the Irish can sit back and relax this week.

CHANCES: Locked in. An undefeated Notre Dame will not be denied a spot in the final four. Whether they can compete with teams in the playoff is yet to be determined.

4. Georgia (SEC, 11-1)

Georgia knew their fate in the conference for weeks now, but Alabama is still a formidable opponent on film and on paper.

CHANCES: Need to win. The Bulldogs need to win to get into the CFP. A loss would surely eliminate them from contention, unless it is awfully close and Oklahoma or Ohio State don’t look as dominant this weekend.

SEC Championship vs #4 Georgia (Saturday, December 1 @ 4:00 PM on CBS)

5. Oklahoma (Big XII, 11-1)

The Sooners and QB Kyler Murray are about as good as it can get on offense for a collegiate football team. Their defense is abysmal but they continue to win games, and that’s all that matters.

CHANCES: High chance. An Alabama victory would most likely put Oklahoma in the playoff at the 4-spot. If Oklahoma can avenge their early season loss to Texas, they would have a nice resume. What can’t happen is a close win against Texas in which the defense looks helpless as Ohio State crushes Northwestern and shows their defense can stop opponents. But even so, Oklahoma has a great chance at making the final four.

Big XII Championship vs #14 Texas (Saturday, December 1 @ 12:00 PM on ABC)

6. Ohio State (Big Ten, 11-1)

The Buckeyes always find themselves in the mix for the playoff year in and year out. They usually are a controversial topic amongst college football fans, and this season is no different. QB Dwayne Haskins is playing really smart football and his play makes the offense and defense look a lot better.

CHANCES: Low chance. First things first, Ohio State needs to look good against Northwestern – both offensively and defensively. Secondly, Alabama needs to beat Georgia or Clemson needs a big time loss to Pitt (as is the case for every team outside the top four). Thirdly, Oklahoma probably needs to lose to Texas. If all that happens, the Buckeyes are probably good to go.

Big Ten Championship vs #21 Northwestern (Saturday, December 1 @ 8:00 PM on Fox)

7. Michigan (Big Ten, 10-2)

CHANCES: Eliminated.

8. UCF (American, 11-0)

The Knights are still undefeated and looking strong to close out the season. The bad news? QB McKenzie Milton is done for the season after an awful leg injury.

CHANCES: Slim. The Knights need everything that Ohio State needs plus Ohio State to lose to Northwestern. If all of that happens, they can make the playoff. It’s an unlikely chance, but it would be interesting to see if they still claim a national championship if Alabama or Clemson win the title as an undefeated team.

American Conference Championship vs (unranked) Memphis (Saturday, December 1 @ 3:30 PM on ABC)

Heisman Watch: Conference Crown Week

The top 5 Heisman candidates this season are all quarterbacks and all share different traits. This week, we rank every major stat category to see who really has the edge heading into conference championship week. The rankings next to each stat is where they stand relative to the other finalist candidates.

1. Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma) oklahoma
QBR: 96.1 (1st)
CMP: 70.6% (T-1st)
Yards: 3,674 (4th)
TD: 37, 11 rushing (1st)
INT: 7 (T-2nd)

Murray gets the nod at the top spot heading into the Big XII Championship game. He controls Oklahoma’s entire game plan and performs great on a consistent basis. Whether he beats Texas or not, he’ll see his name on the list of finalists. His QBR is at a historic 96.1, which is 1st all-time in a college football regular season. He is easily the best running quarterback of the bunch and can literally run away with the Heisman this weekend.

2. Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State) ohio state
QBR: 85.8 (3rd)
CMP: 68.9% (4th)
Yards: 4,003 (2nd)
TD: 42, 4 rushing (2nd)
INT: 7 (T-2nd)

Haskins is very underrated as an overall player and the numbers show it. He just took down the #1 ranked defense in the country (Michigan) and will be playing for a Big Ten title against a resurging Northwestern team. Haskins is extremely accurate with the football and continues to show why he deserves to be in the conversation. He leads the nation in TD passes and he’s kept Ohio State in many games this year that they couldn’t get their running game going. He’s also started to become more of a runner himself.

3. Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama) alabama
QBR: 95.9 (2nd)
CMP: 70.3% (3rd)
Yards: 3,189 (5th)
TD: 36, 5 rushing (3rd)
INT: 2 (1st)

Tagovailoa is the best player on the best team and will have the most difficult conference championship game opponent in Georgia on Saturday. He’s careful with the football and rarely turns the ball over against SEC defenses. His QBR is right up there with Murray’s, which is also atop college football’s all-time history.  If he can beat Georgia and pad some more stats, he will have a stronger case.

4. Gardner Minshew (QB, Washington State) wazzu
QBR: 77.7 (5th)
CMP: 70.6% (T-1st)
Yards: 4,477 (1st)
TD: 36, 3 rushing (5th)
INT: 9 (5th)

Minshew leads the nation in passing yards and it’s not even close. Unfortunately, he didn’t look good against the best defense Wazzu played this season in a loss to Washington. He won’t be playing in a conference championship and his chances at the Heisman are all but diminished.

5. Will Grier (QB, West Virginia) wvu
QBR: 82.1 (4th)
CMP: 67.0% (5th)
Yards: 3,864 (3rd)
TD: 37, 3 rushing (4th)
INT: 8 (4th)

The Heisman has become a stat-based award and Grier’s stats just aren’t there. Granted, he did play in one less game than other players and still remains in the top-5 in yards (FBS 4th) and TD passes (FBS T-2nd), but he also has 8 INT in one less game and lost the most meaningful game of the season to Oklahoma. Because of the most recent loss, he won’t be playing for the Big XII crown.

College Football Playoff Picture: Week 12

Nothing changed within the top ten in this week’s CFP rankings, but some interesting scenarios lay ahead for teams still in contention. This week, we go deeper into the playoff hopes for every team still with a chance.

1. Alabama (SEC, 10-0)

Last game: W vs #21 Mississippi State 24-0

Here we are with Alabama yet again at the top, but more and more analysts are saying the gap between them and #2 Clemson is slimmer than what was previously thought. After this week’s FCS matchup against The Citadel, a rivalry game with Auburn and a SEC Championship game against #5 Georgia remain on the schedule. Alabama can afford a loss to either of those teams as long as they still look like a top four team. The winner of that SEC title game will surely get a bid to the CFP.

Next game: vs The Citadel

2. Clemson (ACC, 10-0)

Last game: W vs #20 Boston College 27-7

The Tiger’s defense continues to be one of the best in the country and offensive standout Trevor Lawrence is poised to win out. Rivalry games against Duke and South Carolina remain on the schedule before the ACC Championship, which looks to be against Pittsburgh (6-4, 5-1 ACC) and their prolific run game. Clemson is the only team in the ACC with a shot at making the CFP (sorry, Syracuse) and they can still afford a loss if there is chaos elsewhere.

Next game: vs Duke

3. Notre Dame (Independent, 10-0)

Last game: W vs Florida State 42-13

The Irish remain a lock to make the semifinal if they win out. Their upcoming games against #12 Syracuse and USC are reasonable challenges down the stretch. They can’t afford a loss this late in the season against these opponents, but their fate will be determined by QB Ian Book and the offense staying healthy.

Next game: vs #12 Syracuse

4. Michigan (Big Ten, 9-1)

Last game: W vs Rutgers 42-7

Michigan is in control of their own destiny as long as #1 Alabama doesn’t lose to #5 Georgia in the SEC title game. They have the top defense in the country and will face #22 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship, that’s if they get through #10 Ohio State in the season finale.

Next game: vs Indiana

5. Georgia (SEC, 9-1)

Last game: W vs Auburn 27-10

The Bulldogs control their own fate. A good QB in Jake Fromm have allowed the offense to be at least reasonably dominant. UMass and WR Andy Isabella will need to pull out all the stops to beat Georgia this weekend, as will Georgia Tech the following week. Georgia could struggle against #1 Alabama in the SEC Championship (#7 LSU beat Georgia by 20, Alabama beat LSU by 29), so they will need a unique game plan against the Tide in order to win. It’s pretty simple though: win and you’re in.

Next game: vs UMass

6. Oklahoma (Big XII, 9-1)

Last game: W vs Oklahoma State 48-47

The Oklahoma Sooners keep scraping by, with their last two wins being by a total of 6 points. Their defense is awful, but their offense is on record-breaking pace with QB Kyler Murray emerging as the Heisman favorite. Kansas and #9 West Virginia are still on the schedule to close out Big XII play before the conference championship against . . . West Virginia? A rematch is certainly possible still. The Sooners being ranked at the six spot is curious, as Committee Chairman Rob Mullens has explained throughout the season that everyone is ranked based on what they have done so far this year, rather than what is yet to come. The Big XII is in decent position to be the first conference in if anyone outside the SEC is to stumble.

Next game: vs Kansas

7. LSU (SEC, 8-2)

Last game: W vs Arkansas 24-17

LSU is ranked based upon their resume thus far, but the rest of the teams remaining in contention – and that includes #11 UCF – have a tougher schedule down the stretch. This Tigers team barely scraped by the worst team in the conference (Arkansas) and their last two opponents are dismal (Rice, Texas A&M). Even if LSU wins out, they can be hopped by teams behind them (Washington State, West Virginia, Ohio State, UCF, and even Syracuse).

Next game: vs Rice

8. Washington State (Pac-12, 9-1)

Last game: W vs Colorado 31-7

QB Gardner Minshew and Wazzu are clicking well at the moment, but they need to start looking like a playoff team against Arizona and #18 Washington to close the season. Their opponent in a potential Pac-12 Championship will be a sub-par South Division winner in Utah or one of the Arizona teams. #9 West Virginia and #10 Ohio State can both see themselves ahead of the Cougars based purely on strength of schedule alone, so coach Mike Leach needs some help.

Next game: vs Arizona

9. West Virginia (Big XII, 8-1)

Last game: W vs TCU 47-10

QB Will Grier continues to climb back into the Heisman conversation just as the bulk of the Mountaineers schedule arises with Oklahoma State and #6 Oklahoma in back-to-back weekends. Their schedule is tough enough to at least give them a shot at their first ever playoff berth, but they still need help from the Big Ten. WVU should root for #22 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game, whether they play #10 Ohio State or #4 Michigan. The Big XII Championship game will either be a rematch against #6 Oklahoma, #16 Iowa State (who beat WVU 30-14), or #15 Texas (who WVU beat on a two-point conversion).

Next game: @ Oklahoma State

10. Ohio State (Big Ten, 9-1)

Last game: W vs Michigan State 26-6

The Buckeyes need to look like a playoff team or they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye and send them on their way with either #4 Michigan or the Big XII. Maryland and rival Michigan are closing out the regular season, so there is still room for a statement ahead of a potential Big Ten Championship bid against #22 Northwestern. If Ohio State wins out and looks impressive enough, they might only need #1 Alabama to run the table in the SEC to get a bid.

Next game: @ Maryland

11. UCF (American, 10-0)

Last game: W vs Navy 35-24

The American East will be decided Saturday night against #24 Cincinnati. A good South Florida (7-3) team is there to close out the season before facing Houston (7-3), SMU (5-5), or Tulane (5-5) in the American Athletic Championship – so needless to say a statement needs to be made right now. College GameDay will be in attendance for this crucial matchup as the Knights try to get to 23 straight wins. Here are some scenarios that UCF could root for down the stretch to keep their playoff hopes alive:

– #1 Alabama wins out, beats #5 Georgia in the SEC title game.
– #2 Clemson loses to Pitt, who UCF beat 45-14, in the ACC title game.
– #3 Notre Dame loses to USC to close out the regular season.
– #4 Michigan beats #10 Ohio State, loses to #22 Northwestern in the Big Ten title game.
– #6 Oklahoma and #9 West Virginia split their meetings, or #16 Iowa State or #15 Texas win the Big XII title.

Next game: vs #24 Cincinnati