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Oregon Goes Down... 'Bama Ecstatic
[Posted early Sunday p.m.]
NCAA Football Quiz: Name the eight schools with at least 8 players / coaches in the NFL Hall of Fame. Answer below.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP Poll…rankings below are CFP.]
It was bound to happen. The Pac-12 blew it. Or rather, the Pac-12 proved it is a pretty decent conference this year, it just won’t provide a CFP entrant. As the headline for Patrick Stevens’ college review in the Washington Post read, “Oregon is not all it’s quacked up to be.”
The Duckwear in my sports drawer is silent, the Beaverwear stirring ahead of next week’s ‘Civil War’ in Oregon.
No. 6 Oregon’s loss to Herm Edwards’ Arizona State (6-5) was deadly not just for the Ducks (9-2), but also for No. 7 Utah (10-1), 35-7 winners at Arizona (4-7). The probable Pac-12 title matchup between Oregon and Utah doesn’t now necessarily help the Utes’ CFP hopes.
So No. 5 Alabama is back in the driver’s seat. As Charlie Brown would have said, “Drat!”
I don’t want ‘Bama in the CFP, but as of today that’s what we’re gonna get, barring a Georgia upset of LSU in the SEC title game, and assuming ‘Bama beats Auburn next week.
Anyway, moving on….
No. 1 LSU easily handled Arkansas (2-9) behind your Heisman winner Joe Burrow’s 23/28, 327, 3-0 performance. The 11-0 Tigers also got a mammoth effort from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire who had 188 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just six carries, while also catching seven passes for another 65. LSU amassed 260 yards on the ground in just 16 carries overall plus five TDs. Arkansas could be relegated.
In what was a biggie, No. 2 Ohio State (11-0) held off 8 Penn State (9-2) 28-17. It was 21-0 Buckeyes in rainy, raw, Columbus, but three quick Ohio State turnovers helped the Nittany Lions storm back to 21-17 by the end of three. But then the Buckeyes, specifically defensive end Chase Young, reestablished order, Young with three sacks in his return from a two-game suspension. He now has a rather impressive 16 ½ sacks this year and seems destined to be the No. 1 or 2 pick overall in the draft. J.K. Dobbins chipped in with 157 yards on the ground in 36 carries.
No. 3 Clemson was idle.
4 Georgia (10-1) was once again hardly scintillating on offense, holding off Texas A&M (7-4) 19-13, as Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm was a mere 11/23, 163, 1-0. Granted the weather conditions were abysmal, but Georgia’s offense was non-existent, save for running back D’Andre Swift (19-103).
There is no way Georgia can stay on the field with LSU. Yes, I know Georgia has one of the best defenses in the country (holding A&M to minus-1 yards on the ground), but LSU will blow them out.
As for 5 Alabama (10-1), they blew out FCS opponent Western Carolina (3-9) 66-3. Tua Tagovailoa’s replacement, Mac Jones, was 10/12, 275, 3-0, but this was against a team that is now 0-58 against FBS teams.
Back to Oregon and Utah, I follow the Ducks close enough to know one thing about Justin Herbert. He is no doubt going to be a top ten pick in the draft, but he’s choked in some big moments and he threw two horrible interceptions against the Sun Devils, while ASU freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels looked terrific, throwing for 408 yards and three touchdowns in Arizona State’s 31-28 win. Oregon made a game of it, no doubt, but with Herbert’s mistakes they were unable to overcome a 24-7 ASU lead midway through the fourth quarter.
But, again, Utah’s (10-1) 35-7 win over Arizona lost a lot of its meaning with Oregon’s loss.
9 Oklahoma (10-1) will maintain it is still in the CFP hunt but they barely beat TCU (5-6) 28-24, the Sooners with three turnovers, including a Jalen Hurts interception returned for a touchdown. Hurts, your Heisman runner-up, was only 11/21, 145, 2-1, through the air but he did rush for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
Oklahoma will now have a rematch with No. 14 Baylor (10-1), 24-10 winners over Texas (6-5), the Longhorns in the midst of an incredibly disappointing season. An OU-Baylor conference title match, however, is a yawner.
10 Minnesota bounced back from its loss at Iowa to defeat Northwestern (2-9) 38-22, as Tanner Morgan threw four TD passes, three to budding star Rashod Bateman. The Golden Gophers, 10-1, now face 12 Wisconsin (9-2) next week for the Big Ten West title and the right to face Ohio State for the conference championship.
For the Badgers , 45-24 winners over Purdue (4-7), Jonathan Taylor had 222 yards rushing, giving him 12, 200-yard games for his career, the most in NCAA Division I history.
13 Michigan rode Shea Patterson’s five touchdown passes to move to 9-2, 39-14 winners at Indiana (7-4), Jim Harbaugh’s boys tuning up for their biggie against Ohio State next week.
16 Notre Dame (9-2) kept alive its New Year’s Six hopes with a dominating 40-7 performance over Boston College (5-6). Eagles coach Steve Addazio has to go. In his seventh year, B.C. hasn’t won more than seven games and this is a program that had five, Top 25 AP final rankings from 2001-2007.
23 USC (8-4) may have saved coach Clay Helton’s job with a 52-35 win over UCLA (4-7), as freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis had a school-record 515 yards passing, four touchdowns. Slovis has 12 TD passes and just one interception his last three games, all wins for the Trojans, whose cheerleaders were in CFP form last night, even if they aren’t CFP bound. [Oregon’s also looked great in defeat, I hasten to add, as I grapple with the age-old question, which squad is better.]
Virginia Tech (8-3) shut out Pitt (7-4) 28-0, the Hokies’ second straight shutout, Virginia (8-3) up next for the right to play Clemson in the ACC title game.
In the Group of Five, New Year’s Six competition…
18 Memphis improved to 10-1 with a 49-10 win at South Florida (4-7), while 19 Cincinnati (10-1) struggled in beating Temple (7-4), the Bearcats with just 210 yards of total offense, the second straight week they were held under 300.
20 Boise State (10-1) stayed very much in the conversation with a 56-21 win at Utah State (6-5). But I can’t help but note the Aggies quarterback, Jordan Love. He came into the season as one of the top four QBs in the land, based off his 2018 performance, 32 touchdown passes, six interceptions, yet this year he is 13-14. Mr. Love should be thinking hard about returning for his senior year.
24 Appalachian State (10-1) stayed relevant, 35-13 winners over Texas State (3-8). NFL prospect Darrynton Evans rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns for the Mountaineers.
But 25 SMU is officially out of the Group of Five race, 35-28 losers at Navy (8-2), as Malcolm Perry threw for 161 yards, while rushing for 195 and two touchdowns. The Mustangs fall to 9-2, a great season, but it could have been better. Sorry, Paul P.
Rutgers continued to be irrelevant, now 2-9, after another disgraceful performance against a Big Ten opponent, this time Michigan State (5-6), the Scarlet Knights falling 27-0, amassing a mighty 140 yards of offense.
[And this late word…Rutgers’ pursuit of former coach Greg Schiano reportedly fell apart after he and the university were unable to come to terms, which is a stunning development in what had been a three-week courtship, Schiano saying, again, reportedly, that he wouldn’t take the job unless the facilities were upgraded to Big Ten standards (think recruiting). Most folks thought a reunion was a foregone conclusion, and that the talks were progressing nicely.]
Good for Tennessee. Remember when they were 1-4 and fans were calling for coach Jeremy Pruitt’s head? With a 24-20 win at Missouri (5-6) yesterday, the Volunteers are bowl eligible at 6-5.
Yale tied Dartmouth for the Ivy League title with a 50-43 overtime classic against Harvard, a game interrupted for nearly an hour at halftime by a climate change protest from hundreds of students of both schools who staged a sit-in at midfield. The game was finished nearly in the dark as a result, the Yale Bowl without lights.
Finally, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons had a nice 39-27 win on Senior Day against Duke (4-7), the Deacs improving to 8-3. Jamie Newman threw for 284 yards (189 of them to receiver Kendall Hinton, who solidified his NFL prospects with his effort), while Newman added 144 yards rushing. In the sloppy weather conditions, Wake amassed 334 yards on the ground overall, freshman Kenneth Walker III with 113 on 17 carries.
But, boy, do the Deacs have trouble on special teams as Duke’s Damond Philyaw-Johnson had two kick returns for touchdowns, basically untouched on both, 97- and 98-yards, the first time ever for a Blue Devil.
On the other hand, Wake kicker Nick Sciba is now the NCAA all-time record-holder with 32 straight field goals. Sciba, a sophomore, hasn’t missed a field goal in Wake’s last 20 games and last night he booted four in poor conditions. As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy this morning, reading the Sunday sports pages as Nancy poured him another cup of coffee, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
And now the new AP Poll….
1. LSU (50) 11-0…1537 points
2. Ohio State (9) 11-0…1486
3. Clemson (3) 11-0…1440
4. Georgia 10-1…1347
5. Alabama 10-1…1283
6. Utah 10-1…1231
7. Oklahoma 10-1…1189
8. Florida 9-2…1058
9. Minnesota 10-1
10. Michigan 9-2
11. Baylor 10-1
14. Oregon 9-2
15. Notre Dame 9-2
17. Memphis 10-1*
18. Cincinnati 10-1*
20. Boise State 10-1*
22. Appalachian State 10-1*
23. Virginia Tech 8-3
24. Navy 8-2
25. USC 8-4
*Group of Five, New Year’s Six hopefuls
But it’s really all about Tuesday’s CFP Rankings.
--Finally, Oklahoma tight end Grant Calcaterra, first-team All-Big 12 in 2018, announced he is retiring from football because of multiple concussions, including a recent one in practice. Posting a video on Twitter, Calcaterra, who hasn’t played since Oct. 5, said he has had his “fair share of concussions” during his career and consulted with doctors at Oklahoma, and specialists around the country, before reaching his decision.
Some brief comments on today’s action, to be augmented next time as needed.
--I watched the Jets game against the Raiders (6-5) in the glom at MetLife Stadium and, suddenly, the Jets are 4-7, having won three in a row, 34 points in each of the three, shockingly, given the early-season dysfunction on offense, as quarterback Sam Darnold had another efficient game, 20/29, 315, 2-0, 127.8.
So with the next two at Cincinnati, and then home to Miami, we should be talking 6-7 and relevance down the stretch.
And isn’t that what all of us want to be…relevant?
I mean when someone delivers my eulogy, I just want them to say, “The Editor was relevant…beer is being served in the lounge next door if you care to join us.”
--The Giants are beyond irrelevant at this point, now 2-9 after a 19-14 loss at Chicago (5-6), Daniel Jones losing his league-leading tenth fumble at quarterback for New York, Saquon Barkley with another totally subpar effort, 17 carries for 59 yards.
But I was very disappointed to see Giants receiver Sterling Shepard back in action for the first time since Oct. 6; Shepard, as I’ve documented extensively, having suffered two concussions this season, as well as a relapse after the second one while in concussion protocol. I wish the team had shut him down. Yeah, I know he’s a competitor and wants to play and be with his teammates, but I remain concerned he’s going to be become a poster-boy for everything that is wrong with the sport in general.
--Buffalo is 8-3 and playoff bound after a 20-3 win against the Broncos, even as no one can figure out just what the Bills are. Cliché alert…. ‘They’re gritty.’
--Pittsburgh remains relevant at 6-5 after a 16-10 win over the winless Bengals (0-11) as Devlin Hodges, in place of a struggling Mason Rudolph, threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to James Washington. Benny Snell Jr. chipped in with 98 yards on the ground. I said this was a nice draft pick. Think Jerome Bettis down the road.
--I love Baker Mayfield’s Progressive Insurance commercials, and as I saw him being a star in the league, and perfect for Cleveland when he was drafted (having wanted my Jets to take him), I’m glad he is rallying the Browns back, now three in a row to get to 5-6 after today’s 41-24 win over Miami (2-9) in Cleveland.
Mayfield threw three touchdown passes, as Jarvis Landry (10-148-2) and Odell Beckham Jr. (6-84-1) had big games. Keep these two happy and you’ll have a happy team.
--Drew Brees is obviously happy to be back and playing well, 30/39, 311, 3-1, 114.4, today in the Saints’ (9-2) 34-31 win over the struggling Panthers (5-6), Will Lutz with a 33-yard field goal as time expired. New Orleans receiver Michael Thomas had another monster game, 10-101-1, giving him 104 receptions on the season! Goodness gracious!
I feel like I know Carolina owner David Tepper pretty well and he’s about to totally blow a gasket. He does not suffer fools, nor underperformers, gladly.
--Seattle is 9-2 after a 17-9 win in Philadelphia (5-6), the Eagles’ Carson “Senor Wences” throwing two picks. Russell Wilson was sub-par, but San Diego State alum Rashaad Penny had 129 yards rushing on 14 carries and a score.
--And New England is 10-1 after a sloppy 13-9 win in Foxboro over the Cowboys (6-5), the atrocious weather a major factor. Dallas is still the leader in the godawful NFC East.
--The NFL finished up its investigation in the penalty phase of the Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph debacle, the league fining Rudolph $50,000 but not suspending him for his role in the ugly brawl at the end of the Browns-Steelers game last Thursday, Nov. 14. Garrett’s “indefinite suspension” was upheld, though most believe he’ll be able to appeal next season.
--We note the passing of former Minnesota Vikings place-kicker Fred Cox, 80. Cox’s 1,365 points were the second most in NFL history at the time of his retirement, 1977, and he led the league in scoring in 1969 and 1970. He also appeared in the Vikings’ four Super Bowls, all losses.
“All the players wanted to win,” Cox told The Star Tribune of Minneapolis in 1992. “Yet it might have been easier for the players to accept what happened than the fans. The fans have never been able to live with the fact that we lost four times. But the bottom line is that for any team to get there four times is an amazing feat.”
As Richard Sandomir of the New York Times notes, however, it was after the 1971 season that “his off-the-field career took an unexpected turn. A local entrepreneur, John Mattox, approached him with an idea for a backyard field-goal kicking game for youngsters.
“I asked him, ‘What kind of ball are you going to use?’” Cox recalled in a feature produced by NFL Films and televised last month on Fox Sports I.
“Mattox said he envisioned a ball heavy enough to keep boys and girls from booting it out of their yards. But Cox, knowing what it took physically to kick a traditional football, told him, ‘You’re going to have a lot of sore-legged kids running around.’
“Cox suggested that they use a light material, like foam rubber. They hired an injection-molding company to create a prototype, which met their expectations: It was light, safe and squeezable, and aerodynamic when tossed and kicked.
“After trying to sell the rights to the ball to a toy company in Minnesota, they found a buyer at Parker Brothers, in Beverly, Mass. Parker had been making Nerf balls since 1970 and trying to develop a companion football.”
Well, one thing led to another, Parker quickly signed Cox and Mattox to a licensing deal and brought out the first Nerf Footballs in 1972. Sales are now in the tens of millions, first for Parker and then for Hasbro, which acquired it in 1991, bringing the inventors decades of generous royalties.
“How can you fathom that something’s lasted 50 years and came into being in about 10 minutes?” Cox asked in the NFL Films interview. “I’m really proud of the fact that I invented that thing.”
Cox, who grew up in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, was a fullback and kicker at the University of Pittsburgh. He was first drafted by the Browns, then traded to the Vikings, but it took him a year to make the team.
--Still no big upsets in the top 25 in recent days, though No. 7 Virginia escaped, 48-45, this afternoon against Arizona State.
--I did get a kick out of a game Johnny Mac pointed out…that being Merrimack’s 110-16 win over Division III Lesley University on Friday. Yup, you’re reading that right. 110-16.
Merrimack is the Division I newbie that is in its inaugural year of a four-year classification as a Division I team, specifically in the Northeastern Conference (think FDU, Robert Morris, J. Mac’s St. Francis of Brooklyn) and the warriors earlier this season defeated Northwestern. So the school out of North Andover, Mass., is on a journey.
As for Lesley University (Cambridge, Mass.), they were 5-for-50 from the field with 37 turnovers; a journey of a different kind. I’m sure their parents are still proud of them, or maybe not…it’s not for me to say (to channel Johnny Mathis).
--I also have to note Hofstra’s super win over UCLA last Thursday at Pauley Pavilion, 88-78. Go Pride!
--Memphis’ freshman James Wiseman, said by some to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft, has been suspended until January. The NCAA ruled he must serve a 12-game suspension and make an $11,500 donation to a charity of his choice equivalent to the money his mother received in 2017 to help her and Wiseman, a top high school prospect, move from Nashville to Memphis. Those funds were provided by Penny Hardaway, then a high school coach in Memphis and now Wiseman’s coach at the university.
Because Hardaway, who made major bucks in the NBA after playing at Memphis himself, donated $1 million to his alma mater in 2008, he was considered to be a booster by the NCAA and thus his help to Wiseman’s family was illegal.
So what the NCAA has done does beg the question, if the family needed the help a couple of years ago, how is it supposed to pay off $11,500 now? And since the NCAA doesn’t allow its players to be paid, how can it levy what is obviously a fine?
Even Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang weighed in.
“Oh my gosh, come on! Let James Wiseman freaking play,” he said Thursday. [Another reason to like Yang.]
--Boy, Luka Doncic of Dallas is just exploding in front of our eyes as the next great superstar in the sport (OK, Giannis too). Doncic, who isn’t turning 21 until Feb. 28, had a 42-11-12 triple-double Wed. in the Mavs’ 117-110 win over San Antonio, after a 35-10-11 line on Monday in just 26 minutes in a 142-94 triumph over the Warriors.
This afternoon, in what would have been a highly-entertaining matchup for those in attendance, the Mavs moved to 11-5 with a 137-123 win at now 11-6 Houston, Doncic with 41 points and 10 assists, the Rockets’ James Harden held to 32 as he struggled from three, 2 for 15.
Houston’s Clint Capela had a monster game…21 points and 22 rebounds.
This is a big-time budding rivalry, apologies to those from Texas who would tell me, “Duh.” But it’s not often both have been top teams at the same time. Dallas, for example, hasn’t won 50 games since 2014-15, while Houston has been kicking ass the last three….Dallas going 33-49, 24-58, and 33-49 over that time.
--Nice game last night for the Bulls’ Zach LaVine, a day after he questioned his relationship with coach Jim Boylen. All LaVine did in the Bulls’ 116-115 win over Charlotte on the road was go off for 49, including a stupendous 13 of 17 on 3s. Only Steph Curry and Klay Thompson previously made 13 from three, Thompson with the record at 14.
--Mark R., Sixers fan, called out coach Brett Brown last week for Philly’s disappointing start and now they’ve won four in a row. Good job, Mark. Ben Simmons, after going 0-for-17 in his career from three, also hit his first the other day in a win over the Knicks.
--Major League Baseball has widened its investigation of alleged sign stealing by the Houston Astros and will probe activity by the team over the past three season, Commissioner Rob Manfred said last Thursday after the conclusion of owners meetings. ESPN is reporting MLB is now contacting players over what they know about the alleged techniques used to steal the signs.
--The Chicago White Sox are making some early news this offseason, signing free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to a 4-year, $73 million contract. This is a leader, a solid glove, will get you 20 home runs a year, and he’s perfect for the ChiSox’ young staff.
Then Chicago took slugger Jose Abreu’s acceptance of their qualifying offer, $17.8 million for one year, and turned it into three years, $50 million (some of it deferred).
All Abreu does since he entered the majors six years ago is drive in 100 runs, five of the six, including an A.L.-leading 123 last year. I’m embarrassed I had forgotten he had that many.
So now the rumors are that the White Sox could be players for either Stephen Strasburg or Gerrit Cole. There are concerns over the payroll, but go for it! This team has a lot of talent. And a good ChiSox club is good for baseball.
--Since my last chat, what a saga for Yankees fans. The team officially released outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who hasn’t played since 2017, thus eating the remainder of his contract; $21.142 million for 2020, and a $5 million buyout in 2021. The move was made to free up space on their 40-man roster, and it would be a big surprise if Ellsbury ever played in the majors again.
This was the end of one of the worst contracts in Yankee history, 8 years, plus the option, $153 million.
But then the Yankees filed a grievance in an attempt to recoup some of the money owed Ellsbury, because he used an outside facility to rehab injuries that kept him off the field the past two seasons.
The Players Association is livid with the Yankees for the move and said it would challenge the team on behalf of Ellsbury, who is represented by agent Scott Boras. If Ellsbury files a grievance against the Yankees, an independent arbitrator would resolve the matter unless the two sides can come to a settlement.
Separately, the Yankees also designated first baseman Greg Bird for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster as well; Bird yet to play a full season in the big leagues due to scores of injuries.
--You know how every now and then you see a signing and you’re like ‘WTF?!’ Of course that’s the case every offseason in the NBA, but baseball really doesn’t have too many of these if you follow the salary structure.
But Atlanta signed reliever Chris Martin to a 2-year, $14 million deal the other day and I’m sorry, Braves and baseball fans, that seems a bit excessive.
I also saw Gerardo Parra, a terrific bench player who can ably fill in for weeks at various positions and is just 32, hot off his World Series ring with the Nationals, signed a 1-year, $2 million contract with the Yomiuri Giants! Why? I mean if you like Japanese food, and can handle chopsticks, there are a ton of good spots in just about any major American city.
Gerardo Parra is a guy you give $3 or $4 million to, stick on the bench, and invariably you’ll need him and he’ll perform.
--In another example of the new era in baseball and how contracts are handled, the Mariners have locked up a guy they believe is a major part of their future, Evan White, on a $24 million, six-year contract, even though he spent last season at Double-A. The 23-year-old is expected to be Seattle’s first baseman next year, having been the 17th pick overall in the 2017 draft out of Kentucky.
This is a similar contract to the Phillies’ Scott Kingery and the White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez, who signed long-term deals before ever making it to the majors.
--We note the passing of Vera Clemente, the widow of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. She was 78.
MLB and the Pittsburgh Pirates announced her death last weekend and I apologize I missed it the other day.
The City of Pittsburgh tweeted: “The Clemente family has meant so much to Pittsburgh for so long. Our city has lost a dear friend. Thank you, Vera, for always caring for our city.”
Vera served as the chairwoman of the Roberto Clemente Foundation, which works “to promote positive change and community engagement through the example and inspiration of Roberto.”
--The Spurs did it…fired manager Mauricio Pochettino, who just six months ago took Tottenham to the Champions League finals for the first time in club history, but they were off to a miserable start in the Premier League. When you follow the PL as closely as some of us do (I learned at the foot of Dr. W.), you recognize the shelf-life of a manager is a short one. If you get a good three years out of your guy, that’s terrific, but then it can take you another two to can him.
Pochettino did nothing but win with the Spurs…except he didn’t win a single trophy. And that’s how you grade managers, and teams, and owners. And Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy had had enough, especially after just six wins in their last 24 Premier League games going back to February.
So what did Tottenham do? Hired Jose Mourinho, a legend in the sport, who is notorious for having a short shelf-life. Mourinho has three PL titles – in 2005, 2006 and 2015 – as well as one FA Cup in two spells at Chelsea.
He also won a Champions League title in 2004 with Portuguese side Porto. And at Italian Club Inter Milan, he won a league, cup and Champions League treble in 2010, and he led Real Madrid to the La Liga title in 2012.
Having taken over at Manchester United in May 2016, he won the Europa League and Carabao Cup with them in 2017.
But then he was sacked by Man U in December 2018, with the club 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool, and had not managed another side before joining the Spurs.
So Mourinho and his boys traveled to West Ham for their first game Saturday and the Spurs took a quick 3-0 lead, before hanging on 3-2. A win is a win. But Tuesday, Tottenham has a Champions League contest so we’ll see if the club can build some momentum for the rest of the PL and CL seasons.
In other games…Manchester City had a big 2-1 win over Chelsea; Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-1; Leicester City continued its hot start, 2-0 on the road at Brighton; and disappointing Arsenal tied Southampton 2-2.
Today, newbie Sheffield hosted Manchester United and it was a thriller. Unfortunately, I turned to the Jets game with Sheffield up 2-0 and missed the final 20 minutes of what ended up being a 3-3 draw. Man U scored three goals to take the 3-2 lead in the 79th minute, only to have Sheffield equalize at 90’.
So the standings after 13 of 38:
1. Liverpool 37 points (12-1-0…W-D-L)
2. Leicester 29
3. Man City 28
4. Chelsea 26…Champions League line
5. Wolves 19
6. Sheffield 18
7. Burnley 18
8. Arsenal 18
9. Man U 17
10. Tottenham 17
--Journeyman Tyler Duncan won his first PGA Tour event today at the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Ga., defeating Webb Simpson in a playoff. For all of Webb’s success, he still just has five wins. But nothing wrong with being a money-machine, except in an Elizabeth Warren administration. [Oops, sorry….I had promised to keep politics out of this column. Forgive me.]
Brendon Todd entered today’s fourth round in the lead, seeking his third straight win, but he stumbled, no doubt exhausted mentally, and finished fourth, three back.
So this wraps up the official PGA Tour Fall Season. We start up again in Hawaii the first weekend in January, though there is other stuff, like Tiger’s event and then the Presidents Cup in Australia.
--Brooks Koepka is missing the Presidents Cup due to a knee issue that he originally addressed with stem cell treatment. Rickie Fowler replaced him on the team.
--So around 6:30 last night, I remembered to put on the Women’s Alpine skiing from Levi, Finland (on tape), to see if Mikaela Shiffrin could win the first slalom race of the World Cup season.
And win she did. A rather historic victory at that, No. 41 in the discipline, which made her the greatest slalom racer, male or female, of all time, surpassing Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 40, which he won between 1974 and 1987. Shiffrin has won her 41 in just seven years.
Shiffrin’s rival, Petra Vlhova, failed to finish her final run, immediately after Shiffrin posted the fastest run time by far in her second effort.
All 21 World Cup slaloms since January 2017 have been won by either Shiffrin (17) or Vlhova (4). Pretty amazing.
This coming weekend sees the only WC action of the season in the U.S. for the women at Killington, Vermont. [The men’s only appearance in the U.S. is at Beaver Creek in two weeks.]
--Deontay Wilder retained his World Boxing Council heavyweight title Saturday at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Down on points after Luis Ortiz totally dominated him for six rounds, Wilder connected with a “bone-rattling right to the head” of Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs).
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 Kos) thus inched closer to a Feb. 22 rematch against Tyson Fury.
--NASCAR legend and seven-time champ Jimmie Johnson announced 2020 would be his final season. The 44-year-old joins an exodus of popular drivers that began when Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season. Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Danica Patrick and Jamie McMurray are among those who followed Gordon out the door. Not exactly what the sport needs these days.
Johnson has 83 wins, tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth all time. He trails Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison on the all-time wins list by one. Johnson’s seven titles are tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most in the Cup series, the last one coming in 2016.
But his last race win was in 2017 and Johnson has clearly been frustrated. Hopefully, for the good of the sport, he has a terrific 2020.
--Back in 2010, Washington, D.C., sports fans picked the Redskins as their favorite team, 34%, while just 7% chose the Nationals.
Funny how winning changes things. Now 28% of district sports fans select the Nationals, and only 13% the Redskins (the Capitals are at 10%).
--A fox attacked five people in the northern New Jersey community of Glen Ridge. Officers finally found the animal near NJ Transit railroad tracks and it was dispatched with before it could board the 6:40 p.m. local out of Hoboken. The fox (No. 145 on the All-Species List, but under six months’ probation and ineligible for the ASL holiday party) was killed when it attacked an officer.
--Brad K. passed along this bit from the AP and Goddard, Kansas.
“Authorities discovered a camel, cow and a donkey roaming together along a Kansas road in a grouping reminiscent of a Midwestern Christmas Nativity scene.”
Police in Goddard said in a Facebook post that if they couldn’t find the owners, they would be “halfway toward a live Nativity this Christmas season.”
Turns out the animals belonged to an employee of the nearby Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
--This late story…a true tragedy…a large cargo ship carrying more than 14,000! sheep overturned off the Black Sea coast of Romania. The ship, with 22 Syrian crew members (all rescued) was headed to Saudi Arabia. Some sheep were saved, but most were believed to be drowned. This sucks. Very sad.
--U2 pulled in more than $1 billion on tour during the past decade, making the 43-year-old band the world’s top road show, according to the trade publication Pollster.
U2 beats out the Rolling Stones ($929 million) and Ed Sheeran ($922 million).
Taylor Swift was fourth with just under $900 million in gross touring profits; Beyonce fifth at $857 million.
U2 is currently on tour in Australia.
--So I normally look forward to the Grammy Awards, which will be presented on Jan. 26, 2020, but not this time, having seen the list of the recipients of the most nominations. Rapper Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, and Finneas O’Connell.
Then again Ariana Grande received multiple nominations, and so I might tune in for that…cough cough…cough.
And, what the heck. Wednesday’s nominations don’t include the shoo-ins we’ve been used to, such as Beyonce, Adele or Kendrick Lamar, and that’s a good thing.
I’m not watching tonight’s awards show, whatever it’s called.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/26/66: #1 “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (The Supremes) #2 “Good Vibrations” (The Beach Boys) #3 “Winchester Cathedral” (The New Vaudeville Band)…and…#4 “Devil With A Blue Dress On & Good Golly Miss Molly” (Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels) #5 “Poor Side Of Town” (Johnny Rivers…brilliant tune…guy is so underrated…) #6 “I’m Your Puppet” (James & Bobby Purify…another cool one…) #7 “Last Train To Clarksville” (The Monkees) #8 “Lady Godiva” (Peter and Gordon) #9 “Mellow Yellow” (Donovan) #10 “Born Free” (Roger Williams… ‘A’ week…)
NCAA Football Quiz Answer: Eight schools with at least 8 players / coaches in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Notre Dame (13)
Ohio State (10)
Minnesota is the only school with 7, but these are mostly old-timers from days of yore.
Always kind of shocked to see Clemson with just one, Brian Dawkins, but boy, this will change in 20 years.
By the way, I looked up O.J. Simpson’s Wiki page because I forgot he was a transfer to USC. Just read his page through ‘College football and athletics’…it’s interesting. A lot of stuff I forgot. No further comment. I do remember his big USC-UCLA games…which were the first college games that really register in my memory outside of the very first one, the historic 10-10 Notre Dame-Michigan State tie that I have some good stuff on, buried in my archives.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…gobble, gobble.