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Alabama replaces Clemson at the top
[Posted Sunday evening]
Note: I lost my Mom today. It’s been a long decline for her and she died peacefully at home. I felt awful taking the trip I did last week because I sensed the end was near, but I rushed home from Ireland Saturday on hearing it was and the family gathered at the homestead yesterday.
This morning I did my usual early Sunday morning food delivery for Dad and she had died minutes before I got there. I just want to note that the hospice care from Atlantic Health System was beyond superb. Love those people.
So you might be wondering, ‘What the heck are you doing a column for?’ Well, as Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes sang, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”.... And I live nearby, so I’m on call. It’s my job to take care of Dr. Bortrum and help get him a few stress-free years.
Baseball Quiz: Name the last two to drive in 140 runs in a season (the two tied for the league lead that year). Answer below.
College Football Review
[As always, following written before release of the new AP Poll]
Once again no big upsets, but we sure had a near titanic one.
No. 1 Clemson (5-0) needed to stuff a two-point conversation attempt at the end of their game against North Carolina (2-3) in Chapel Hill, 21-20. The Tigers have been ‘off’ all season, but as coach Dabo Swinney said after, “it’s not easy winning,” especially when you’re defending national champions.
Trevor Lawrence, like the team, has hardly been scintillating, and sure wasn’t yesterday, 18/30, 206, 1-0, but he came through in the clutch with a critical 38-yard TD pass to Tee Higgins that put Clemson up 21-20.
Carolina coach Mac Brown has his kids playing hard, and the Tar Heels have now suffered three very tough losses to the Tigers, Wake Forest, and Appalachian State. But Brown deserves a ton of credit.
2 Alabama (5-0) defeated Ole Miss (2-3) 59-31, as Tua Tagovailoa was superb, 26/36, 418, 6-0, with receiver DeVonta Smith grabbing 11 for a school record 274 yards and five touchdowns.
But ‘Bama’s defense gave up 279 yards on the ground and has been so-so at times the first five; at least by Alabama’s standards.
No. 3 Georgia and 4 LSU were idle.
5 Ohio State (5-0) blasted Nebraska (3-2) 48-7, with Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields 15/21, 212, 3-0, with another 72 yards on the ground and a score, while J.K. Dobbins carried it 24 times for 177 yards.
6 Oklahoma (4-0) beat Texas Tech (2-2) 55-16, as Heisman hopeful Jalen Hurts continued to rack up monster numbers for the Sooners...17/24, 415, 3-1 through the air, 70 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
7 Auburn (5-0) demolished Mississippi State (3-2) 56-23.
8 Wisconsin had a most boring 24-15 win over Northwestern (1-3), the Wildcats outgaining the Badgers 255-243, Northwester with three turnovers, Wisconsin 2.
9 Florida (5-0) shutout Towson (3-2) 38-0.
And No. 10 Notre Dame (3-1) had a nice win over 18 Virginia (4-1), 35-20.
So it’s still all about the SEC, with five in the top nine, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Wisconsin? Oh puh-leeze.
Notre Dame fans will argue if they run the table from here, their only loss to Georgia in a tough battle, they’d still be in the conversation, and they’re right, but we’ll see how the SEC shakes out when the Big Five starts playing each other.
Next week it’s Auburn at Florida.
In two weeks we have Florida at LSU....and a super huge game, Oklahoma and 11 Texas that will be must-see TV.
Elsewhere, Friday night No. 12 Penn State (4-0) destroyed Maryland (2-2) 59-0, as quarterback Sean Clifford has a most impressive outing...26/31, 398, 3 touchdowns, plus one rushing.
And Arizona State (4-1) exposed 15 Cal (4-1) as pretenders, winning 24-17.
But Wake Forest is now 5-0! after a hard-fought 27-24 win at Boston College (3-2). Quarterback Jamie Newman threw for 243 and two touchdowns, while rushing for 102 yards.
Going back to last season, the Deacs have now won seven straight for the first time since 1944! Is an AP Top 25 in the cards this week? We should get it. And we are the only true test for Clemson, potentially, down the road when we travel down to Death Valley on Nov. 16.
And Paul P.’s SMU Mustangs are also 5-0 following a 48-21 win at South Florida (1-3). SMU has tough games against Temple and Memphis, but Paul can dream for now of a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Oh, one other....New Jersey’s state school, Rutgers, continues to embarrass all of us citizens, 52-0 losers at 20 Michigan (3-1), the Scarlet Knights outgained a whopping 476-152, Rutgers with ten first downs. Rutgers has now lost 21 games by 30 or more since 2013, while they haven’t scored 20 points in their last 13 conference games, all losses.
And this afternoon, the school fired coach Chris Ash, who was 8-32 in 3+ seasons, 3-26 in the Big Ten.
--Trevor Lawrence has just eight touchdowns and five interceptions in the first five games. And another Heisman favorite entering the season, running back Travis Etienne, has gone four consecutive games without topping 76, after going off for 205 in the opener.
The Heisman field is already down to Jalen Hurts, Tua, LSU’s Joe Burrow, and Justin Fields. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor doesn’t have a chance, despite having picked up 100 yards nine consecutive games.
It’s truly amazing Hurts could be Oklahoma’s third consecutive Heisman winner.
--Oklahoma State sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard carried it 25 times for 296 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 26-13 win over Kansas State. Hubbard now has three 200-yard games in the first five this year.
--In a 56-23 win over Bucknell, Princeton quarterback Kevin Davidson threw seven touchdown passes, setting an Ivy League record.
--Northwestern is 14-5-1 against the spread in its past 20 games, and at the end of the day....
--And now the new AP Poll! No surprise we have a change at the top.
1. Alabama 5-0 (29)
2. Clemson 5-0 (18)
3. Georgia 4-0 (4)
4. Ohio State 5-0 (7)
5. LSU 4-0
6. Oklahoma 4-0
7. Auburn 5-0
8. Wisconsin 4-0...eh
9. Notre Dame 3-1
10. Florida 5-0
11. Texas 3-1
16. Boise State 4-0
22. Wake Forest 5-0!!! Wow...and No. 20 Coaches Poll...
24. SMU 5-0
Just a few notes....
--The Giants are now 2-2 as the Daniel Jones Era is well underway, Jones 2-0. He was far from perfect, 23/31, 225, 1-2, 78.0, but he made the plays, the Giants beating pathetic Washington (0-4) 24-3. New York was without Saquon Barkley, who has a high-ankle sprain, but Wayne Gallman filled in ably with 63 yards rushing and a touchdown, and 55 receiving and another score.
Rookie Dwayne Haskins had his first game action for the Redskins and was not good, 9/17, 107, 0-3, as Washington was outgained 389-176.
--The Patriots (4-0) had their hands full at Buffalo (3-1) as the Bills yielded only 224 yards of offense to Tom Brady and Co.
Let’s just say the quarterbacks on both teams sucked. Brady was 18/39, 150, 0-1, 45.9, while Buffalo’s Josh Allen was 13/28, 153, 0-3, for a putrid 23.0.
But veteran running back Frank Gore rushed for 109 yards to keep Buffalo in contention until the end.
Coach Belichick will not be a happy camper this week.
--Cleveland had a huge road win at Baltimore, 40-25, both teams now 2-2, Baker Mayfield answering the call for the Browns, 20/30, 342, 1-1, 102.4 against the vaunted Ravens ‘D’. Cleveland running back Nick Chubb was outstanding...20-165-3.
Lamar Jackson, 24/34, 247, 3-2, 96.1, with 66 rushing, was merely adequate for Baltimore.
--In a terrific game, the Chiefs (4-0) beat the Lions (2-1-1) in Detroit 34-30. Patrick Mahomes was not at his best, 24/42, 315, 0-0, 81.8, but he engineered the winning drive. Down 30-27 with 2:26 left, he took the Chiefs 79 yards for the decider. As the commentators observed, another big step in the maturation process for the superstar.
Poor Matthew Stafford was terrific in defeat, 21/34, 291, 3-0, 118.6, while Kerryon Johnson picked up 125 yards on the ground.
--The wild-card playoffs are set.
Tuesday, Milwaukee at Washington. Wednesday, Tampa Bay at Oakland.
The Division Series matchups that are set are Minnesota at the Yankees, and St. Louis at Atlanta.
[The Yanks are counting on Luis Severino to be a big factor in the playoff rotation, and after his first two superb starts since coming off the almost season-long IL, he had a disappointing performance Saturday...2 earned and 4 walks in just 3 innings.]
--The Chicago Cubs fired manager Joe Maddon as his five-year contract was expiring. Talks on an extension had been tabled until after the season and then the Cubs had an epic collapse down the stretch, losing nine in a row, to miss the wild card.
But in five seasons, Maddon was 471-338, taking the team to the playoffs in his first four years, as well as the first World Series championship for the Cubs in more than a century.
--We had some fascinating final games today, though, in terms of various titles and awards.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was a surprising A.L. batting title winner at .335, seeing as his high before then was .283 in 2016.
In the N.L., though, the Brewers’ Christian Yelich and Arizona’s Ketel Marte entered today tied at .329, but both were out for the season with injuries. Yelich takes it .32924 to .32864.
In the Cy Young race, the Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu staked his claim with seven scoreless in a 2-0 win over the Giants Saturday, giving him the ERA title at 2.32, to go along with a 14-5 record.
But even Ryu himself said after, “I honestly think Jacob deGrom deserves it,” deGrom finishing 11-8, with a 2.43 ERA and a league-leading 255 strikeouts, a terrific follow-up to his 2018 Cy Young performance.
Yes, Stephen Strasburg was 18-6, but these days, as proved by deGrom last year, ERA is key and in Strasburg’s case it was 3.32.
Back to deGrom...incredibly, despite his phenomenal performance the past two seasons, in both 2018 and 2019, the Mets were 14-18 in his starts. Remarkably pathetic.
Over in the A.L. we have an epic battle for the hardware...Justin Verlander vs. teammate Gerrit Cole.
Verlander finished the year 20-6, 2.53, with 300 strikeouts. Cole started this afternoon and pitched five innings, one run, 10 Ks, and finishes 20-5, 2.50, 326 strikeouts as the Astros beat the Angels.
Yes, the Cy Young hardware goes to Cole.
The Red Sox’ Rafael Devers got to the 200-hit mark today, but lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (19-6, 3.81) failed to become the first Boston lefty since Mel Parnell to win 20 since 1953.
Finally, I can’t help but note the performance of poor Spencer Turnbull of the Tigers. Turnbull was the loser in a 5-3 game with the White Sox, thus ending his year 3-17, 4.61. We wish the family well this coming offseason. Of course this happens when your team goes 47-114! Yikes!
In the power categories, I’ve said all season that I won’t mind the number of home runs being hit as long as we don’t have any cartoonish figures, and with only one player at 50, the Mets’ Pete Alonso, that hardly qualifies.
Speaking of Alonso, he hit No. 53 on Saturday against the Braves, thus breaking Aaron Judge’s MLB record for a rookie at 52. Alonso was joyous as he rounded the bases at Citi Field, as he is with everything he does, and then he broke into tears when he went back out on the field to play first base.
“To be a part of Major League Baseball history, to be number one out of every single guy to play the game, it’s humbling and it’s such a ridiculously awesome feeling,” Alonso said. “That moment was just pure magic.”
Judge offered to take Alonso out to dinner sometime this offseason. The Yankees’ slugger said he’ll pay for the first meal, and Alonso can foot the bill the next time.
It’s been an interesting start to the 2019-20 season, with first-time winners Joaquin Niemann from Chile and Sebastian Munoz from Colombia taking the first two events at The Greenbrier and the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss.
So this week they went out to Napa, California, and the Safeway Open....and...I’m posting before the conclusion, though Cameron Champ is up five strokes. It would be his second win.
Tony Romo had dreams of making the cut when he shot an opening-round 70, but then he had a 78 in the second and missed the cut by six.
Liverpool remained unbeaten in seven, 1-0 over Sheffield. Chelsea defeated Brighton 2-0; Manchester City whipped Everton on the road 3-1; and Tottenham edged Southampton 2-1, after what has been a very rocky stretch for my Spurs. There are rumors that Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino could be headed to Manchester United, with the Spurs eyeing England manager Gareth Southgate. No problem with this. Spurs are beyond stale.
Today Leicester City continued its hot start, blasting Newcastle 5-0, good for third in the standings behind Liverpool and Man City.
Manchester United and Arsenal play tomorrow in a biggie.
Mid-week, we have another round of Champions League games.
--Christian Coleman won the 100m final in the World Championships in Doha in 9.76, beating out fellow American Justin Gatlin, who clocked 9.89.
Coleman was only able to run for the title because he avoided a ban for three missed doping tests. Track great Michael Johnson said prior to the competition that controversy surrounding Coleman “complete disqualifies” him from being the face of the sport.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency charged Coleman with missing three dug tests in 12 months before withdrawing the claim.
According to the BBC, the crowds in Doha for the entire 10-day event have been atrocious. The stadium holds 40,000, but it sounds like there were far below 10,000 for each session. Like 5,000 to 8,000.
We’ll see what happens there for the World Cup in 2022.
--A 3-year-old colt sustained a catastrophic injury in the eighth race at Santa Anita Saturday, the 32nd horse to die at the track since December.
Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez was tossed off in the incident on the second day of the fall meet, where the Breeders’ Cup championships are to be held in November.
Thankfully, Gutierrez wasn’t injured. But the horse, Emtech, had two broken front legs and was euthanized.
--A Florida family is mourning the death of their brave pit bull, Zeus – who died this week defending two kids from a venomous snake.
The Richardson brothers, Oriley and Orion, were refilling Zeus’ water bowl on Monday outside the family’s Sumter County, Florida, home when the 8-month-old dog spotted the deadly coral snake and sprung into action, according to a television report from Fox 35 in Orlando.
“All of a sudden, he started attacking the snake, which was close to my son, and he was bit four times.”
The Richardsons rushed Zeus to a vet in Ocala, where docs pumped him with antivenom. But he couldn’t be saved and died the next day. The family was heartbroken.
Gina Richardson said, “It just killed us,” who has been telling Zeus’ story to debunk pit bull critics, me being one of them, to be honest.
“If you find [a pit bull] that’s aggressive, most likely, it’s because they weren’t treated right,” Gina said. “If you treat them right, they would give their life for you and I owe my son’s life to him.”
I’m sorry, I still have major issues with the breed. And I’d never have one with little kids in the family.
--Put this in the ‘I Hate When This Happens’ category.
As reported by Storm Gifford of the New York Daily News:
“A Georgia woman learned pumping her own gas can be much more dangerous than she could ever imagine when a stealthy deer bounded unnoticed into a filling station and kicked her in the head before scampering away.
“Lynda Tennent was at the Brunswick, Ga., station Wednesday morning getting gas when out of nowhere the woodland creature leaped over her head, clipping her with her hoof on the descent.
“ ‘I thought I was being robbed,’ said Tennent. ‘I reached up and grabbed my head...I thought I was bleeding.’
“The deer hoof left her stunned. She stood frozen for several moments in disbelief trying to comprehend what just happened as the deer disappeared.”
Tennent is doing well.
Top 3 songs for the week 9/27/69: #1 “Sugar, Sugar” (The Archies) #2 “Green River” (Creedence Clearwater Revival) #3 “Honky Tonk Women” (The Rolling Stones)...and...#4 “Easy To Be Hard” (Three Dog Night) #5 “Little Woman” (Bobby Sherman) #6 “I Can’t Get Next To You” (The Temptations) #7 “Jean” (Oliver) #8 “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (Tom Jones) #9 “Hot Fun In The Summertime” (Sly & The Family Stone) #10 “Oh, What A Night” (The Dells.... ‘A-’ week...)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Prince Fielder (Milwaukee) and Ryan Howard (Philadelphia) were the last two to drive in 140 runs (141 each) in 2009.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
The NL East winning Mets played two final meaningless games in Chicago against the deeply humiliated Cubs.
Oct. 1: Managers Gil Hodges and Leo Durocher played it like it was a playoff game, or the meaningful game down the stretch it looked like it might be in mid-September, the Mets winning their 100th 6-5 in 12 innings.
Oct. 2: Chicago took Game 162, 5-3, so the final NL East standings:
St. Louis 88-74...12
On to Atlanta for the playoffs.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.
RIP, Mom....I love you.