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10/25/2021

Braves-Astros...not Dodgers-Red Sox

[Posted Sun. p.m., before late action]

I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.

NCAA Football Quiz: Name the only seven with 6,000 yards rushing.  I’ll give you the initials. J.T., D.W., C.W., R.D., T.D., D.P., R.W.  [Hint: Two are from the same school] Answer below.

MLB

--Not much more to say about the Red Sox-Astros series other than after taking a 2-1 series lead, Boston winning Games 2 and 3, 9-5 and 12-3, the BoSox offense totally disappeared.

Game 4…9-2 Houston
Game 5…9-1 Houston, Framber Valdez 8 innings, one run for the Astros.
Game 6…5-0 Houston, Luis Garcia 5 1/3 of one-hit ball.

Astros take the ALCS 4-2 and the cheaters are on their way to the World Series for a third time in five seasons.

--So who would they face?  In the NLCS, it’s Atlanta, taking its series with Los Angeles 4-2, winning Game 6 in Atlanta last night, 4-2, as the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler was forced to start on three days rest, after Max Scherzer said he couldn’t go because of a “dead arm,” which fans can understand after his heroic efforts down the stretch, including his ‘save’ in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Giants.

It’s just the timing was unfortunate, ditto Justin Turner’s hamstring injury.

The Dodgers had staved off elimination in Game 5 back in Los Angeles, as Chris Taylor slugged three home runs in an 11-2 win that had L.A. fans once again believing their boys had taken back the momentum.

But Buehler on three days rest is just your average schmo and he yielded a 3-run homer in the fourth Saturday off the bat of the amazing Eddie Rosario which proved to be the clincher.

Talk about an amazing pickup at the trade deadline, Rosario, who had a string of very solid seasons in anonymity with the Twins before signing with Cleveland last offseason, has been nothing but gold for the Braves and what an intriguing free agent he has become.  [Please, Mets, make him an offer!]

In the end, though, MLB has the dream matchup for the World Series they were hoping for…Dodgers-Red Sox….

I mean, Astros-Braves.

Ugh. A ratings disaster in the making, unless the series is tied at 2-2, at which point viewers would tune in.

I must say I am kind of shocked it’s Atlanta’s first appearance in the World Series in 22 years.

College Football Review

[Comments written prior to release of the new AP poll.]

Well, I wrote last time that there were no marquee matchups this week, but that there were still some key games and boy, the top ten and looming CFP rankings will be shaken up, even with some of the games where the favorites won.

To start, No. 1 Georgia, 9 Michigan State and 11 Iowa had bye weeks.

2 Cincinnati (7-0) is now officially in trouble in the race for the final four as they needed a late interception to seal a 27-20 win over Navy (1-6), the Midshipmen holding the Bearcats to just 271 yards of offense. 

Not only was Cincy a 28.5-point favorite but one of their two key non-conference wins, against Indiana, looks far less impressive today after the Hoosiers (2-5) were blown out at home by 5 Ohio State (6-1) 54-7, the Buckeyes holding IU to just 128 yards of offense, 75 of which were on their opening drive of the game.  Think about that.

Freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud had another four touchdown passes for OSU, giving him 22 on the season with just three interceptions, and Ohio State is very much in the conversation.

But Ohio State is hurt by 7 Penn State’s inexplicable 20-18 nine overtime loss at home to Illinois (3-5), the Nittany Lions falling to 5-2.  The Buckeyes take on PSU next Saturday night and a win will not be as meaningful as it otherwise would have been.

And not for nuthin’ but I said this early in the season, James Franklin’s Penn State squad is incredibly boring.  So much for his being a target of USC.

Another team with a bad win, like Cincinnati, was 3 Oklahoma (8-0), 38.5-point favorites at Kansas (1-6) and the Sooners trailed 10-0 at the half, before Caleb Williams and Co. got their act together and won 35-23. 

But this is not what Oklahoma needed, and then a future important opponent, 8 Oklahoma State (6-1), lost its first to Iowa State (5-2), the Cyclones now playing like the team that was highly ranked in the preseason.  The “good” Brock Purdy showed up for ISU, 27/33, 307, 2-0, with receiver Xavier Hutchinson catching 12 for 125 yards and the two scores.

So OU-Oklahoma State at the end of the season is likely to be far less meaningful.

One team that will move up a notch or two is 4 Alabama (7-1) after a 52-24 win over Tennessee (4-4).

6 Michigan (7-0) improved their position with a 33-7 win over Northwestern.

10 Oregon is now 6-1 and still on the fringe of the CFP talk after a 34-31 win against UCLA (5-3), Bruins coach Chip Kelly not getting the signature win he needed over his old team.

For the Ducks, much-maligned quarterback Anthony Brown threw two picks, but also passed for 296 yards and rushed for another 85, while running back Travis Dye had four short touchdown runs.

Brown, the former Boston College QB, is what he is.  A terrific athlete, though highly erratic passer.  But he can make plays.

And while I haven’t been impressed by the Ducks’ play overall this season, they do have that win over Ohio State, and a pretty easy schedule before their season finale against their rival, Oregon State, the Beavers with a nice 42-34 win against Utah yesterday.

12 Ole Miss (6-1) is going to move up, Lane Kiffin’s boys with a 31-17 win over LSU (4-4), though Matt Corral was so-so for the Rebels and didn’t improve his Heisman hopes.  [Alabama’s Bryce Young has to be the pick today.]

Mark R.’s alma mater, 13 Notre Dame (6-1), stayed relevant with a 31-16 win over struggling USC (3-4)

Wednesday night, 14 Coastal Carolina (6-1) saw its bubble burst in Boone, North Carolina, as Appalachian State (5-2) won on a 24-yard field goal as time expired, 30-27.  Johnny Mac is in a deep state of depression.  Stay away from the sword, J. Mac.

Former Clemson and Duke quarterback, Chase Brice, was solid and the Apps outgained the Chanticleers 575-346.

17 Texas A&M is 6-2 after a 44-14 win over South Carolina (4-4).

Thursday, Paul P.’s 21 SMU stayed undefeated (7-0) with a 55-26 win against Tulane (1-6), as Tanner Mordecai threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns with another on the ground.  SMU is on a collision course with Cincinnati, Nov. 20.  The Bearcats will need to win this one big I imagine by then.

22 San Diego State (7-0) once again exhibited zero offense with just 229 yards from scrimmage and all of ten first downs, but their stout defense secured a solid 20-14 win over a good Air Force squadron (6-2).

And the 24 UTSA Roadrunners are 8-0 with a 45-16 win at Louisiana Tech.

Which brings me to the suddenly fascinating ACC…as in my No. 16 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-0) will not only move up another notch or two after their amazing 70-56 win over  a good Army (4-3) team at West Point, but they suddenly have the inside track to get to the ACC title game after 18 North Carolina State (5-2) lost at Miami (3-4) Saturday night, 31-30, in as close a game as you’ll ever find, statistically.

The Wolfpack outgained the Hurricanes 421-420 and both teams had 18 first downs.  Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke had four touchdown passes for Miami.

So with 23 Pitt’s 27-17 win over Clemson (4-3), the Panthers improving to 6-1 overall (and Kenny Pickett improving his Heisman credentials), we have the following ACC standings.

Atlantic

Wake 4-0
NC State 2-1
Clemson 3-2

Coastal

Pitt 3-0
Virginia 4-2…on a roll, four straight

At the start of the ACC season, Clemson, Miami and North Carolina were supposed to be the powers in the conference, not Pitt and Wake.

The Demon Deacons hold their destiny in their own hands, playing NC State, Clemson and Boston College in their final four games, along with a non-conference matchup against North Carolina (which will be confusing to those paying attention nationally).  Wake has Duke next week.

But you might be wondering, what about yesterday’s game, Mr. Editor?

What an offensive show from both teams, Wake’s longest drive of the game just 3:10 (the Deacs possessing the ball only 17 minutes in all), as for the second time in school history they had no punts.

Quarterback Sam Hartman was spectacular, a career day, 23/29, 458, 5-0, plus a TD rushing.  He literally threw just two bad passes the entire afternoon, and his two wideouts, Jaquarii Roberson and A.T. Perry, were equally spectacular, combining for 14 receptions, 303 yards and four touchdowns.

Wake started out the game with drives of 63, 97, 71, 88, 82, 75, and 75 yards, with an 83-yard (critical) interception return for a touchdown by corner Traveon Redd.

As Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson (obviously a strong Coach of the Year candidate) could only say after, “Wow.”

But obviously, neither team’s defense showed up, save for Redd’s spectacular pick, and Wake Forest hasn’t showed it has a defense all season, once again giving up over 500 yards (594 yesterday), including 415 yards on the ground.

The dream season will continue, but us fans keep waiting for the bubble to burst.  We’re also pinching ourselves.

One more…Dr. W., send me all the Clemson stuff you can find down there in Greenville.  The faithful can not be happy, and Trevor Lawrence’s replacement, D.J. Uiagalelei, who was supposed to be a Heisman candidate, could not suck more…12/25, 128, 0-2 against Pitt.

And now…the new AP poll!

1. Georgia (63) 7-0
2. Cincinnati 7-0…surprised ‘Bama isn’t No. 2
3. Alabama 7-1
4. Oklahoma 8-0…precarious position
5. Ohio State 6-1
6. Michigan 7-0
7. Oregon 6-1…huh…Duckwear stirring in sports drawer again
8. Michigan State 7-0
9. Iowa 6-1
10. Mississippi 6-1…very cool…best since 2015
11. Notre Dame 6-1
12. Kentucky 6-1
13. Wake Forest 7-0…Go Deacs!
14. Texas A&M 6-2
15. Oklahoma State 6-1
16. Baylor 6-1
17. Pitt 6-1…big move
18. Auburn 5-2
19. SMU 7-0
20. Penn State 5-2
21. San Diego State 7-0
22. Iowa State 5-2…welcome back, Cyclones
23. UTSA 8-0
24. Coastal Carolina 6-1
25. BYU 6-2

--Six schools – Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, North Texas, UTSA, Rice and UAB – have accepted invitations to join the American Athletic Conference, as early as the 2023-24 season, to help offset the departure of Cincinnati, UCF and Houston, who will join the Big 12.

The six will join American holdovers East Carolina, Memphis, Navy (football only), South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State (which doesn’t compete in football).

--One last bit on Wake Forest.  You never see the Deacs anywhere near the top 20, or even 40, when it comes to recruiting classes, as is once again the case for 2022 from the lists I’ve seen.   Dave Clawson is very open about his strategy.  Wake never gets the 4- and 5-star recruits.  You can probably count them on one hand in the Clawson era (which includes five straight bowl games, soon to be six).

He gets 3-star recruits and almost always redshirts them.  1) To give the kid a chance to get acclimated to college life and work on their studies.  2) To build up their bodies.  It’s worked.

But after this season and kids seeing the high-powered offense under the guidance of OC Warren Ruggiero, I can imagine Wake is opening up some eyes among the 4- and 5-stars (and their high school coaches), who might enjoy playing at a smaller school in a big-time conference. 

[You think Ruggiero will be in high demand this offseason?  Clawson and Ruggiero could go as a package to USC, but then the Trojans hierarchy are too stupid to think out of the box in that way.  Plus Clawson knows that the grass is not always greener on the other side.]

NFL

--Once upon a time, Carolina was 3-0 behind new quarterback Sam Darnold and all was good in Charlotte.  Fans were roasting the Jets for giving up on the guy, but then Panthers fans, and owner David Tepper, began to see Sam the Sham, and suddenly the team is 3-4, Darnold benched late today in a 25-3 loss to the lowly Giants (2-5) at MetLife Stadium, his former home, where he once saw ghosts.

So sports talk radio will give Giants coach Joe Judge a break for one week, Daniel Jones with a solid effort, and the heretofore pathetic defense actually laced it up today, and played like they were supposed to coming into the season.

--As for my Jets, now 1-5 following a 54-13 annihilation by Darth Vader and the Patriots (3-4) in New England, us fans are praying Zach Wilson’s right knee injury isn’t serious.

Once again the Jets were held scoreless in the first quarter…making it six games without a single point, and how the hell can you play from behind to start every freakin’ game?!

--Green Bay is 6-1 after a 24-10 win against WTF, I mean, WFT, sorry…now 2-5.  Aaron Rodgers had three touchdown passes.

--Tennessee is 5-2 after a 27-3 win at home against the shocking Chiefs (3-4), with Patrick Mahomes exiting with an injury (status unknown as I go to post), Mahomes throwing his ninth pick and losing a fumble beforehand.

The thing is, K.C. held Derrick Henry very much in check, just 86 yards on 29 carries.

--But in the real surprise today, in terms of how it went down, Cincinnati is 5-2 with a 41-17 whipping of the Ravens (5-2) on the road in Baltimore.

Joe Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns, former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase catching eight for 201 yards, including an 82-yard TD hookup.

Bengals fans have to be psyched.  Just keep Burrow healthy.  It would be a fun team to follow in the playoffs.

--Tom Brady threw the 600th touchdown pass of his career, first to do so, four overall in the Bucs’ 38-3 win over the Bears (3-4), Tampa Bay 6-1 and heading to another Super Bowl.

Bears rookie Justin Fields had a day to forget, 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles.

--Who needs Jon Gruden? The Raiders (5-2) won again without him, 33-22 over the Eagles (2-5) as Derek Carr was a cool 31/34, 323, 2-1, 113.6.

--I never bet on the NFL and there’s a good reason why.  I thought the Rams (giving 16.5) were a lock against the winless Lions and they won only 28-19, L.A. now 6-1.

--But I would have also taken Arizona, giving 20 against the 1-5 Texas and after a slow start, the Cardinals won 31-5 to stay the league’s only unbeaten team at 7-0.

--Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield has been struggling with a bum shoulder, a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, and then he fractured his humerus bone.  So he was out of action Thursday night against the Broncos, but replacement Case Keenum did just enough, passing for 199 yards and a TD, while D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 146 yards as the Brown (4-3) beat Denver (3-4) 17-14.

Mayfield said the other day he thought he could play next week, but I’m guessing he won’t.

NBA

--The season is under way and the New York Knicks won an unbelievably exciting opener at the Garden against the Celtics, Wednesday, 138-134 in double overtime.  Jaylen Brown had 46 for Boston, while Julius Randle and Evan Fornier had 35 and 32 for the Knicks.  Jayson Tatum’s 7 for 30 from the field for the Celts was a killer.

The Knicks then won their second in Orlando Friday night in a romp, 121-96, hitting a team-record 24 3-pointers.

Yes, it’s way too early to get excited, but us Knicks fans already are. [Ditto us New York Rangers fans, one and the same, after the Rangers won all four games on their first big road trip.]

--Out in L.A., kind of funny how there are concerns over the 0-2 Lakers start, with Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis getting into it on the L.A. bench during a 115-105 loss to Phoenix.

Chris Paul scored his 20,000th career point in this one (23 points, 14 assists).

Howard said he and A.D. talked it out and it’s over.  But LeBron isn’t going to stand for this.

--Kyrie Irving is still absent and the Nets are 1-1, after a 114-109 win over the Ben Simmons-les 76ers in Philly on Friday.

So Kyrie still won’t get vaccinated, and Simmons told the Sixers he wasn’t mentally ready to play to his expectations and needed some time off.  What amazing jerks, both of ‘em.

The Nets then lost this afternoon to the Hornets, 111-95, despite Durant’s 38.

--I can’t help but note Steph Curry’s performance last Thursday in a 115-113 win over the Clippers.  Curry started the game 10-for-10 from the field, including 9-for-9 in a 25-point first quarter, on his way to 45.

--If you haven’t done so, just take a look at the NBA’s 75th anniversary team…the 75 greatest players (actually 76 due to a tie in the voting).  It’s a trip down memory lane and, personally, I loved to see all the ex-Knicks, like Frazier and DeBusschere, and a guy I consider one of the more underrated athletes of his era, Nate Thurmond.

There are some players that a few folks say were snubbed, like Alex English, Vince Carter and Klay Thompson.  I guess I was most surprised by the absence of English, a Hall of Famer and 8-time all-star.

Golf Balls

--Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama returned to his native Japan this week and won the Zozo Championship in Chiba by five strokes over Cameron Tringale and Brendan Steele. It was Matsuyama’s seventh PGA Tour title.

--This coming week, the tour moves to Bermuda, so you’re not likely to see many, if any, players from this week’s tournament teeing it up there.  Just a wee bit of travel.  [Plus you don’t have the appearance fees you had in Japan.]

Premier League

After a week of international play, such as the Champions League, the PL resumed this weekend and Dr. W.’s Chelsea blitzed bottom-dweller Norwich 7-0; Mason Mount with a hat-trick, Ben Chilwell with a goal in his fourth straight game.

Man City whipped Brighton 4-1, Leicester beat Brentford 2-1, and West Ham took possession of fourth place with a 1-0 win against Tottenham.

Then in today’s feature game, Liverpool totally embarrassed struggling Manchester United, in Man U’s building, 5-0, as the amazing Mohamed Salah, the best player in the PL these days, had a hat-trick.

For United, beleaguered manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is only hanging on because of his team’s decent start in Champions League play, but he could easily be fired any day now.

Speaking of the Champions League, which I’m not really into at this stage, with Tottenham not part of it, ever wonder why there is such an emphasis on being top four in the Premier League to qualify for the CL?  Money.  Lots and lots of money that ownership loves.

As in I saw this week that for each win in the CL, you earn 2.8 million euros, or $3.25 million.  You get 15.25m euro, $17.75m, for making the Champions League.

So when you look at all the money Man U paid for Cristiano Ronaldo, with two wins in the group stage of the Champions League, you can rationalize Ronaldo’s deal by saying they got $6.5 million for their two wins, let alone the $17.75m, though he had nothing to do with the latter.

The standings after 9 of 38…W-D-L, points…

1. Chelsea…7-1-1 – 22
2. Liverpool…6-3-0 – 21
3. Man City…6-2-1 – 20
4. West Ham…5-2-2 – 17 …CL line
5. Brighton…4-3-2 – 15
6. Tottenham…5-0-4 – 15
7. Man U…4-2-3 – 14 …winless last four

As for the battle to avoid relegation…perhaps the best idea in all of sports…understand that while it is very early, the pressure on Newcastle, with their new Saudi owners, is immense and could be a fascinating story in the second half of the season.

17. Leeds…1-4-4 – 7
18. Burnley…0-4-5 – 4
19. Newcastle…0-4-5 – 4
20. Norwich…0-2-7 – 2

Stuff

--Steve G. said when I gave a shoutout to the 1970 Jacksonville Dolphins, I should have mentioned Mike Blevins, an unsung member of the team who was called “surfer boy” by his fellow students due to his shaggy blond locks.  “He was a legend on campus as he got more…..”

Oops, just realized I can’t go there, Steve.  [Think Dennis Wilson.]

--Us horse racing fans received some bad news today….NBC’s Bob Neumeier died, age 70.  “Neumy” was a regular analyst for the Triple Crown races, and just a great professional, much appreciated by viewers such as yours truly.

He was also a longtime fixture in New England as a reporter and anchor.

RIP.

--And we note the passing of Jay Black of Jay & The Americans fame.  He was 82 and had talked in recent years of suffering from Alzheimer’s, though he died of complications from pneumonia.

Jay & The Americans were one of my faves and Jay Black (born David Blatt, growing up in Brooklyn) was a true showman with one of the great voices of all time, exhibited on hits like “She Cried” (#5, 1962), “Only In America” (#25, ‘63), “Cara, Mia” (#4, ‘65) and “Some Enchanted Evening” (#13, ’65).

Jay & The Americans also had the hits “Come A Little Bit Closer” (#3, ’64), “Let’s Lock The Door” (#11, ’65) and “This Magic Moment” (#6, ’69).

My favorite, along with “Let’s Lock The Door,” was their version of “Walkin’ In The Rain,” #19 in 1970 and their last hit.

The remaining members of the group wrote on Facebook:

“We acknowledge the great successes we had with him both as a partner and as a lead singer. We shared both wonderful and very contentious times, and much like an ex-wife, we are so proud of the beautiful children we created. We’ll always remember The Voice.”

Yes, Jay Black had all kinds of legal issues in his latter years, including a battle with the IRS, and it led to a string of suits related to rights to the group’s name, who could use it, how they could use it, and so on.

Top 3 songs for the week 10/22/66: #1 “Reach Out I’ll Be There” (Four Tops)  #2 “96 Tears” (? (Question Mark) & The Mysterians)  #3 “Last Train To Clarksville” (The Monkees)…and…#4 “Cherish” (The Association)  #5 “Psychotic Reaction” (Count Five)  #6 “Walk Away Renee” (The Left Banke)  #7 “Poor Side Of Town” (Johnny Rivers)  #8 “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” (Jimmy Ruffin)  #9 “Dandy” (Herman’s Hermits)  #10 “See See Rider” (Eric Burdon & The Animals…B+ week….)

NCAA Football Quiz Answer: 6,000 yards rushing….

Ron Dayne…7125 (Wisconsin)
Tony Dorsett…6526 (Pitt)
Donnell Pumphrey…6405 (San Diego State)
Ricky Williams…6279 (Texas)
Charles White…6245 (USC)
Jonathan Taylor…6174 (Wisconsin)
DeAngelo Williams…6026 (Memphis)

Add-On up top by Wed. noon.



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Bar Chat

10/25/2021

Braves-Astros...not Dodgers-Red Sox

[Posted Sun. p.m., before late action]

I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.

NCAA Football Quiz: Name the only seven with 6,000 yards rushing.  I’ll give you the initials. J.T., D.W., C.W., R.D., T.D., D.P., R.W.  [Hint: Two are from the same school] Answer below.

MLB

--Not much more to say about the Red Sox-Astros series other than after taking a 2-1 series lead, Boston winning Games 2 and 3, 9-5 and 12-3, the BoSox offense totally disappeared.

Game 4…9-2 Houston
Game 5…9-1 Houston, Framber Valdez 8 innings, one run for the Astros.
Game 6…5-0 Houston, Luis Garcia 5 1/3 of one-hit ball.

Astros take the ALCS 4-2 and the cheaters are on their way to the World Series for a third time in five seasons.

--So who would they face?  In the NLCS, it’s Atlanta, taking its series with Los Angeles 4-2, winning Game 6 in Atlanta last night, 4-2, as the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler was forced to start on three days rest, after Max Scherzer said he couldn’t go because of a “dead arm,” which fans can understand after his heroic efforts down the stretch, including his ‘save’ in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Giants.

It’s just the timing was unfortunate, ditto Justin Turner’s hamstring injury.

The Dodgers had staved off elimination in Game 5 back in Los Angeles, as Chris Taylor slugged three home runs in an 11-2 win that had L.A. fans once again believing their boys had taken back the momentum.

But Buehler on three days rest is just your average schmo and he yielded a 3-run homer in the fourth Saturday off the bat of the amazing Eddie Rosario which proved to be the clincher.

Talk about an amazing pickup at the trade deadline, Rosario, who had a string of very solid seasons in anonymity with the Twins before signing with Cleveland last offseason, has been nothing but gold for the Braves and what an intriguing free agent he has become.  [Please, Mets, make him an offer!]

In the end, though, MLB has the dream matchup for the World Series they were hoping for…Dodgers-Red Sox….

I mean, Astros-Braves.

Ugh. A ratings disaster in the making, unless the series is tied at 2-2, at which point viewers would tune in.

I must say I am kind of shocked it’s Atlanta’s first appearance in the World Series in 22 years.

College Football Review

[Comments written prior to release of the new AP poll.]

Well, I wrote last time that there were no marquee matchups this week, but that there were still some key games and boy, the top ten and looming CFP rankings will be shaken up, even with some of the games where the favorites won.

To start, No. 1 Georgia, 9 Michigan State and 11 Iowa had bye weeks.

2 Cincinnati (7-0) is now officially in trouble in the race for the final four as they needed a late interception to seal a 27-20 win over Navy (1-6), the Midshipmen holding the Bearcats to just 271 yards of offense. 

Not only was Cincy a 28.5-point favorite but one of their two key non-conference wins, against Indiana, looks far less impressive today after the Hoosiers (2-5) were blown out at home by 5 Ohio State (6-1) 54-7, the Buckeyes holding IU to just 128 yards of offense, 75 of which were on their opening drive of the game.  Think about that.

Freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud had another four touchdown passes for OSU, giving him 22 on the season with just three interceptions, and Ohio State is very much in the conversation.

But Ohio State is hurt by 7 Penn State’s inexplicable 20-18 nine overtime loss at home to Illinois (3-5), the Nittany Lions falling to 5-2.  The Buckeyes take on PSU next Saturday night and a win will not be as meaningful as it otherwise would have been.

And not for nuthin’ but I said this early in the season, James Franklin’s Penn State squad is incredibly boring.  So much for his being a target of USC.

Another team with a bad win, like Cincinnati, was 3 Oklahoma (8-0), 38.5-point favorites at Kansas (1-6) and the Sooners trailed 10-0 at the half, before Caleb Williams and Co. got their act together and won 35-23. 

But this is not what Oklahoma needed, and then a future important opponent, 8 Oklahoma State (6-1), lost its first to Iowa State (5-2), the Cyclones now playing like the team that was highly ranked in the preseason.  The “good” Brock Purdy showed up for ISU, 27/33, 307, 2-0, with receiver Xavier Hutchinson catching 12 for 125 yards and the two scores.

So OU-Oklahoma State at the end of the season is likely to be far less meaningful.

One team that will move up a notch or two is 4 Alabama (7-1) after a 52-24 win over Tennessee (4-4).

6 Michigan (7-0) improved their position with a 33-7 win over Northwestern.

10 Oregon is now 6-1 and still on the fringe of the CFP talk after a 34-31 win against UCLA (5-3), Bruins coach Chip Kelly not getting the signature win he needed over his old team.

For the Ducks, much-maligned quarterback Anthony Brown threw two picks, but also passed for 296 yards and rushed for another 85, while running back Travis Dye had four short touchdown runs.

Brown, the former Boston College QB, is what he is.  A terrific athlete, though highly erratic passer.  But he can make plays.

And while I haven’t been impressed by the Ducks’ play overall this season, they do have that win over Ohio State, and a pretty easy schedule before their season finale against their rival, Oregon State, the Beavers with a nice 42-34 win against Utah yesterday.

12 Ole Miss (6-1) is going to move up, Lane Kiffin’s boys with a 31-17 win over LSU (4-4), though Matt Corral was so-so for the Rebels and didn’t improve his Heisman hopes.  [Alabama’s Bryce Young has to be the pick today.]

Mark R.’s alma mater, 13 Notre Dame (6-1), stayed relevant with a 31-16 win over struggling USC (3-4)

Wednesday night, 14 Coastal Carolina (6-1) saw its bubble burst in Boone, North Carolina, as Appalachian State (5-2) won on a 24-yard field goal as time expired, 30-27.  Johnny Mac is in a deep state of depression.  Stay away from the sword, J. Mac.

Former Clemson and Duke quarterback, Chase Brice, was solid and the Apps outgained the Chanticleers 575-346.

17 Texas A&M is 6-2 after a 44-14 win over South Carolina (4-4).

Thursday, Paul P.’s 21 SMU stayed undefeated (7-0) with a 55-26 win against Tulane (1-6), as Tanner Mordecai threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns with another on the ground.  SMU is on a collision course with Cincinnati, Nov. 20.  The Bearcats will need to win this one big I imagine by then.

22 San Diego State (7-0) once again exhibited zero offense with just 229 yards from scrimmage and all of ten first downs, but their stout defense secured a solid 20-14 win over a good Air Force squadron (6-2).

And the 24 UTSA Roadrunners are 8-0 with a 45-16 win at Louisiana Tech.

Which brings me to the suddenly fascinating ACC…as in my No. 16 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-0) will not only move up another notch or two after their amazing 70-56 win over  a good Army (4-3) team at West Point, but they suddenly have the inside track to get to the ACC title game after 18 North Carolina State (5-2) lost at Miami (3-4) Saturday night, 31-30, in as close a game as you’ll ever find, statistically.

The Wolfpack outgained the Hurricanes 421-420 and both teams had 18 first downs.  Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke had four touchdown passes for Miami.

So with 23 Pitt’s 27-17 win over Clemson (4-3), the Panthers improving to 6-1 overall (and Kenny Pickett improving his Heisman credentials), we have the following ACC standings.

Atlantic

Wake 4-0
NC State 2-1
Clemson 3-2

Coastal

Pitt 3-0
Virginia 4-2…on a roll, four straight

At the start of the ACC season, Clemson, Miami and North Carolina were supposed to be the powers in the conference, not Pitt and Wake.

The Demon Deacons hold their destiny in their own hands, playing NC State, Clemson and Boston College in their final four games, along with a non-conference matchup against North Carolina (which will be confusing to those paying attention nationally).  Wake has Duke next week.

But you might be wondering, what about yesterday’s game, Mr. Editor?

What an offensive show from both teams, Wake’s longest drive of the game just 3:10 (the Deacs possessing the ball only 17 minutes in all), as for the second time in school history they had no punts.

Quarterback Sam Hartman was spectacular, a career day, 23/29, 458, 5-0, plus a TD rushing.  He literally threw just two bad passes the entire afternoon, and his two wideouts, Jaquarii Roberson and A.T. Perry, were equally spectacular, combining for 14 receptions, 303 yards and four touchdowns.

Wake started out the game with drives of 63, 97, 71, 88, 82, 75, and 75 yards, with an 83-yard (critical) interception return for a touchdown by corner Traveon Redd.

As Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson (obviously a strong Coach of the Year candidate) could only say after, “Wow.”

But obviously, neither team’s defense showed up, save for Redd’s spectacular pick, and Wake Forest hasn’t showed it has a defense all season, once again giving up over 500 yards (594 yesterday), including 415 yards on the ground.

The dream season will continue, but us fans keep waiting for the bubble to burst.  We’re also pinching ourselves.

One more…Dr. W., send me all the Clemson stuff you can find down there in Greenville.  The faithful can not be happy, and Trevor Lawrence’s replacement, D.J. Uiagalelei, who was supposed to be a Heisman candidate, could not suck more…12/25, 128, 0-2 against Pitt.

And now…the new AP poll!

1. Georgia (63) 7-0
2. Cincinnati 7-0…surprised ‘Bama isn’t No. 2
3. Alabama 7-1
4. Oklahoma 8-0…precarious position
5. Ohio State 6-1
6. Michigan 7-0
7. Oregon 6-1…huh…Duckwear stirring in sports drawer again
8. Michigan State 7-0
9. Iowa 6-1
10. Mississippi 6-1…very cool…best since 2015
11. Notre Dame 6-1
12. Kentucky 6-1
13. Wake Forest 7-0…Go Deacs!
14. Texas A&M 6-2
15. Oklahoma State 6-1
16. Baylor 6-1
17. Pitt 6-1…big move
18. Auburn 5-2
19. SMU 7-0
20. Penn State 5-2
21. San Diego State 7-0
22. Iowa State 5-2…welcome back, Cyclones
23. UTSA 8-0
24. Coastal Carolina 6-1
25. BYU 6-2

--Six schools – Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, North Texas, UTSA, Rice and UAB – have accepted invitations to join the American Athletic Conference, as early as the 2023-24 season, to help offset the departure of Cincinnati, UCF and Houston, who will join the Big 12.

The six will join American holdovers East Carolina, Memphis, Navy (football only), South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State (which doesn’t compete in football).

--One last bit on Wake Forest.  You never see the Deacs anywhere near the top 20, or even 40, when it comes to recruiting classes, as is once again the case for 2022 from the lists I’ve seen.   Dave Clawson is very open about his strategy.  Wake never gets the 4- and 5-star recruits.  You can probably count them on one hand in the Clawson era (which includes five straight bowl games, soon to be six).

He gets 3-star recruits and almost always redshirts them.  1) To give the kid a chance to get acclimated to college life and work on their studies.  2) To build up their bodies.  It’s worked.

But after this season and kids seeing the high-powered offense under the guidance of OC Warren Ruggiero, I can imagine Wake is opening up some eyes among the 4- and 5-stars (and their high school coaches), who might enjoy playing at a smaller school in a big-time conference. 

[You think Ruggiero will be in high demand this offseason?  Clawson and Ruggiero could go as a package to USC, but then the Trojans hierarchy are too stupid to think out of the box in that way.  Plus Clawson knows that the grass is not always greener on the other side.]

NFL

--Once upon a time, Carolina was 3-0 behind new quarterback Sam Darnold and all was good in Charlotte.  Fans were roasting the Jets for giving up on the guy, but then Panthers fans, and owner David Tepper, began to see Sam the Sham, and suddenly the team is 3-4, Darnold benched late today in a 25-3 loss to the lowly Giants (2-5) at MetLife Stadium, his former home, where he once saw ghosts.

So sports talk radio will give Giants coach Joe Judge a break for one week, Daniel Jones with a solid effort, and the heretofore pathetic defense actually laced it up today, and played like they were supposed to coming into the season.

--As for my Jets, now 1-5 following a 54-13 annihilation by Darth Vader and the Patriots (3-4) in New England, us fans are praying Zach Wilson’s right knee injury isn’t serious.

Once again the Jets were held scoreless in the first quarter…making it six games without a single point, and how the hell can you play from behind to start every freakin’ game?!

--Green Bay is 6-1 after a 24-10 win against WTF, I mean, WFT, sorry…now 2-5.  Aaron Rodgers had three touchdown passes.

--Tennessee is 5-2 after a 27-3 win at home against the shocking Chiefs (3-4), with Patrick Mahomes exiting with an injury (status unknown as I go to post), Mahomes throwing his ninth pick and losing a fumble beforehand.

The thing is, K.C. held Derrick Henry very much in check, just 86 yards on 29 carries.

--But in the real surprise today, in terms of how it went down, Cincinnati is 5-2 with a 41-17 whipping of the Ravens (5-2) on the road in Baltimore.

Joe Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns, former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase catching eight for 201 yards, including an 82-yard TD hookup.

Bengals fans have to be psyched.  Just keep Burrow healthy.  It would be a fun team to follow in the playoffs.

--Tom Brady threw the 600th touchdown pass of his career, first to do so, four overall in the Bucs’ 38-3 win over the Bears (3-4), Tampa Bay 6-1 and heading to another Super Bowl.

Bears rookie Justin Fields had a day to forget, 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles.

--Who needs Jon Gruden? The Raiders (5-2) won again without him, 33-22 over the Eagles (2-5) as Derek Carr was a cool 31/34, 323, 2-1, 113.6.

--I never bet on the NFL and there’s a good reason why.  I thought the Rams (giving 16.5) were a lock against the winless Lions and they won only 28-19, L.A. now 6-1.

--But I would have also taken Arizona, giving 20 against the 1-5 Texas and after a slow start, the Cardinals won 31-5 to stay the league’s only unbeaten team at 7-0.

--Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield has been struggling with a bum shoulder, a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, and then he fractured his humerus bone.  So he was out of action Thursday night against the Broncos, but replacement Case Keenum did just enough, passing for 199 yards and a TD, while D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 146 yards as the Brown (4-3) beat Denver (3-4) 17-14.

Mayfield said the other day he thought he could play next week, but I’m guessing he won’t.

NBA

--The season is under way and the New York Knicks won an unbelievably exciting opener at the Garden against the Celtics, Wednesday, 138-134 in double overtime.  Jaylen Brown had 46 for Boston, while Julius Randle and Evan Fornier had 35 and 32 for the Knicks.  Jayson Tatum’s 7 for 30 from the field for the Celts was a killer.

The Knicks then won their second in Orlando Friday night in a romp, 121-96, hitting a team-record 24 3-pointers.

Yes, it’s way too early to get excited, but us Knicks fans already are. [Ditto us New York Rangers fans, one and the same, after the Rangers won all four games on their first big road trip.]

--Out in L.A., kind of funny how there are concerns over the 0-2 Lakers start, with Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis getting into it on the L.A. bench during a 115-105 loss to Phoenix.

Chris Paul scored his 20,000th career point in this one (23 points, 14 assists).

Howard said he and A.D. talked it out and it’s over.  But LeBron isn’t going to stand for this.

--Kyrie Irving is still absent and the Nets are 1-1, after a 114-109 win over the Ben Simmons-les 76ers in Philly on Friday.

So Kyrie still won’t get vaccinated, and Simmons told the Sixers he wasn’t mentally ready to play to his expectations and needed some time off.  What amazing jerks, both of ‘em.

The Nets then lost this afternoon to the Hornets, 111-95, despite Durant’s 38.

--I can’t help but note Steph Curry’s performance last Thursday in a 115-113 win over the Clippers.  Curry started the game 10-for-10 from the field, including 9-for-9 in a 25-point first quarter, on his way to 45.

--If you haven’t done so, just take a look at the NBA’s 75th anniversary team…the 75 greatest players (actually 76 due to a tie in the voting).  It’s a trip down memory lane and, personally, I loved to see all the ex-Knicks, like Frazier and DeBusschere, and a guy I consider one of the more underrated athletes of his era, Nate Thurmond.

There are some players that a few folks say were snubbed, like Alex English, Vince Carter and Klay Thompson.  I guess I was most surprised by the absence of English, a Hall of Famer and 8-time all-star.

Golf Balls

--Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama returned to his native Japan this week and won the Zozo Championship in Chiba by five strokes over Cameron Tringale and Brendan Steele. It was Matsuyama’s seventh PGA Tour title.

--This coming week, the tour moves to Bermuda, so you’re not likely to see many, if any, players from this week’s tournament teeing it up there.  Just a wee bit of travel.  [Plus you don’t have the appearance fees you had in Japan.]

Premier League

After a week of international play, such as the Champions League, the PL resumed this weekend and Dr. W.’s Chelsea blitzed bottom-dweller Norwich 7-0; Mason Mount with a hat-trick, Ben Chilwell with a goal in his fourth straight game.

Man City whipped Brighton 4-1, Leicester beat Brentford 2-1, and West Ham took possession of fourth place with a 1-0 win against Tottenham.

Then in today’s feature game, Liverpool totally embarrassed struggling Manchester United, in Man U’s building, 5-0, as the amazing Mohamed Salah, the best player in the PL these days, had a hat-trick.

For United, beleaguered manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is only hanging on because of his team’s decent start in Champions League play, but he could easily be fired any day now.

Speaking of the Champions League, which I’m not really into at this stage, with Tottenham not part of it, ever wonder why there is such an emphasis on being top four in the Premier League to qualify for the CL?  Money.  Lots and lots of money that ownership loves.

As in I saw this week that for each win in the CL, you earn 2.8 million euros, or $3.25 million.  You get 15.25m euro, $17.75m, for making the Champions League.

So when you look at all the money Man U paid for Cristiano Ronaldo, with two wins in the group stage of the Champions League, you can rationalize Ronaldo’s deal by saying they got $6.5 million for their two wins, let alone the $17.75m, though he had nothing to do with the latter.

The standings after 9 of 38…W-D-L, points…

1. Chelsea…7-1-1 – 22
2. Liverpool…6-3-0 – 21
3. Man City…6-2-1 – 20
4. West Ham…5-2-2 – 17 …CL line
5. Brighton…4-3-2 – 15
6. Tottenham…5-0-4 – 15
7. Man U…4-2-3 – 14 …winless last four

As for the battle to avoid relegation…perhaps the best idea in all of sports…understand that while it is very early, the pressure on Newcastle, with their new Saudi owners, is immense and could be a fascinating story in the second half of the season.

17. Leeds…1-4-4 – 7
18. Burnley…0-4-5 – 4
19. Newcastle…0-4-5 – 4
20. Norwich…0-2-7 – 2

Stuff

--Steve G. said when I gave a shoutout to the 1970 Jacksonville Dolphins, I should have mentioned Mike Blevins, an unsung member of the team who was called “surfer boy” by his fellow students due to his shaggy blond locks.  “He was a legend on campus as he got more…..”

Oops, just realized I can’t go there, Steve.  [Think Dennis Wilson.]

--Us horse racing fans received some bad news today….NBC’s Bob Neumeier died, age 70.  “Neumy” was a regular analyst for the Triple Crown races, and just a great professional, much appreciated by viewers such as yours truly.

He was also a longtime fixture in New England as a reporter and anchor.

RIP.

--And we note the passing of Jay Black of Jay & The Americans fame.  He was 82 and had talked in recent years of suffering from Alzheimer’s, though he died of complications from pneumonia.

Jay & The Americans were one of my faves and Jay Black (born David Blatt, growing up in Brooklyn) was a true showman with one of the great voices of all time, exhibited on hits like “She Cried” (#5, 1962), “Only In America” (#25, ‘63), “Cara, Mia” (#4, ‘65) and “Some Enchanted Evening” (#13, ’65).

Jay & The Americans also had the hits “Come A Little Bit Closer” (#3, ’64), “Let’s Lock The Door” (#11, ’65) and “This Magic Moment” (#6, ’69).

My favorite, along with “Let’s Lock The Door,” was their version of “Walkin’ In The Rain,” #19 in 1970 and their last hit.

The remaining members of the group wrote on Facebook:

“We acknowledge the great successes we had with him both as a partner and as a lead singer. We shared both wonderful and very contentious times, and much like an ex-wife, we are so proud of the beautiful children we created. We’ll always remember The Voice.”

Yes, Jay Black had all kinds of legal issues in his latter years, including a battle with the IRS, and it led to a string of suits related to rights to the group’s name, who could use it, how they could use it, and so on.

Top 3 songs for the week 10/22/66: #1 “Reach Out I’ll Be There” (Four Tops)  #2 “96 Tears” (? (Question Mark) & The Mysterians)  #3 “Last Train To Clarksville” (The Monkees)…and…#4 “Cherish” (The Association)  #5 “Psychotic Reaction” (Count Five)  #6 “Walk Away Renee” (The Left Banke)  #7 “Poor Side Of Town” (Johnny Rivers)  #8 “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” (Jimmy Ruffin)  #9 “Dandy” (Herman’s Hermits)  #10 “See See Rider” (Eric Burdon & The Animals…B+ week….)

NCAA Football Quiz Answer: 6,000 yards rushing….

Ron Dayne…7125 (Wisconsin)
Tony Dorsett…6526 (Pitt)
Donnell Pumphrey…6405 (San Diego State)
Ricky Williams…6279 (Texas)
Charles White…6245 (USC)
Jonathan Taylor…6174 (Wisconsin)
DeAngelo Williams…6026 (Memphis)

Add-On up top by Wed. noon.