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Rory Wins No. 20
Add-On…posted early Wed. a.m.
--The Boston Red Sox won Monday’s Game 3, 12-3, to take a 2-1 series lead, propelled early by Kyle Schwarber’s grand slam off Jose Urquidy.
So the Red Sox rewrote the record book yet again, Boston’s third grand slam in two games, a playoff record, as were Sunday’s two grand slams, in the first two innings – hit by J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers in Boston’s Game 2, 9-5 triumph.
But then in last night’s Game 4, Houston turned the tables, breaking open a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth with seven runs, a 9-2 win…series tied at 2-2. Boston ace Nate Eovaldi, inserted in relief, thought he had struck out light-hitting backup catcher Jason Castro on a 1-2 curve, with two on, two out in the ninth, score tied, but it was called a ball and then Castro poked a splitter through the right side, Carlos Correa scoring to make it 3-2 and the floodgates were opened.
A big Game 5 late this afternoon in Fenway.
--The Dodgers lost Game 2 of the NLCS in Atlanta on Sunday night, 5-4, blowing a 4-2 lead in the eighth on an inexplicable pitching move, L.A. suddenly down 2-0 in the series.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“The Dodgers lost their minds, then they lost the game.
“There is no other way to explain it. There is no possible way to excuse it. There is no way around it.
“Julio Urias? Instead of Blake Treinen or Kenley Jansen?
“A starting pitcher in a high-leverage relief situation for the first time all year instead of two established veteran closers?
“You’re really going to bring in Urias in the eighth inning with a two-run lead and the best backend bullpen in baseball waiting to work?
“Are you serious? Did this really happen? Are the Dodgers really that dumb?....
“In an easily preventable late-night meltdown, the Dodgers outsmarted themselves, embarrassed themselves, and then eventually beat themselves Sunday in a 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park.
“The Dodgers trail two games to none and they deserve it. They are on the verge of blowing their championship defense and it’s completely their fault….
“The brainiest organization in baseball suddenly looks like the most foolish. The model organization in baseball suddenly suffered a breakdown.”
Atlanta won it in the bottom of the ninth on an Eddie Rosario single off Jansen.
So on to Los Angeles Tuesday night, Game 3, the Dodgers, presumptive favorites to repeat, in deep trouble.
And then they were down 5-2 going to the bottom of the eighth (fans streaming out to hit the freeway) when Cody Bellinger, he of the .165 regular season batting average, crashed a 3-run homer to tie the game, truly a dramatic blast, and then Mookie Betts doubled in the leading run three batters later, L.A. up 6-5 heading to the top of the ninth, closer Kenley Jansen on the mound. He then struck out the side…mission accomplished.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“It was over.
“The game, the series, the season, it was over.
“The Dodgers trailed by three runs that felt like 30, they were down to their final five outs, the Atlanta Braves were on the verge of a three-games-to-none lead in a nightmare that was skidding toward a sweep.
“Then it happened.
“Cody Bellinger happened. Mookie Betts happened. Dodger Stadium happened. Randy Newman happened….
“In what was arguably the most stunningly impactful Dodgers postseason victory since Kirk Gibson hit a slider into the same set of bleachers 33 years ago, Bellinger blasted a three-run home run with one out to tie the score, then moments later Betts smacked a double to score another run to eventually win it in a 6-5 victory…
“It looked like an apparition. It sounded like a train. It felt like a dagger.”
Game 4 tonight.
--After about two weeks, the Yankees finally decided to bring manager Aaron Boone back, his expiring contract extended for three years with an option for 2025.
He hasn’t won anything that matters, but the players like him, the Yanks have made the playoffs all four years he’s been at the helm (328-218, .601, in the regular season), and is there really anyone better at this time? Last I heard, Miller Huggins is dead…dead as a doornail, to paraphrase Dickens.
But I thought the Yanks still needed to make a change and as Bob Klapisch wrote for NJ.com:
“Any Yankees fan who was looking for a reason to be optimistic about 2022 was left with a depressing takeaway from a lengthy Zoom session with general manager Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone on Tuesday.
“Same old, same old.
“Instead of an ambitious restructuring of the front office or coaching staff (the latter of which may still happen), all we got was the renewal of the Cashman-Boone wedding vows: three years, a club option for 2025 and the standard promise to keep pushing onward. Oof….
“There are voices in the organization that believe the players, despite their skills, are missing a competitive edge. ‘Softness’ is the word that was used to describe the willingness to keep turning the page. Never being overly concerned about any single loss. Never acknowledging how the Yankees’ aura of invincibility peaked in 2019 and hasn’t been seen since.
“That’s Boone’s fault. He’s a gentle soul who protects his troops. But it’s also on Cashman for filling the roster with too many players who didn’t fit in this market (Joey Gallo, for one), who weren’t talented enough (Andrew Heaney) or were forced to play out of position (Gleyber Torres).
“And then there are the ones who drag everyone down with a lack of energy. I’m talking about Gary Sanchez, whose lethargy drove Joe Girardi crazy and is apparently beyond Boone’s reach, too.”
Yes, a change was needed. Change is not what Yankees fans are getting.
--Rather than go for the game-tying field goal that would have sent the game into overtime, Buffalo coach Sean McDermott opted to try to win it on the last play of the game Monday night against Tennessee and quarterback Josh Allen was stuffed on a quarterback sneak with less than a yard to go for the first down from the 3-yard line with 22 seconds left to play.
The Titans (4-2) thus won it 34-31 in Nashville, the Bills also 4-2.
Tennessee rode the legs of Derrick Henry, 143 yards on 20 carries and 3 touchdowns, including a 76-yard scamper to paydirt in the second quarter.
Allen was a fine 35/47, 353, 3-1, 107.8, but the Bills had no running game.
--And then there are the Giants….
Steve Politi / NJ.com
“A flashy wide receiver left the game with an injury, sucking any life out of a half-empty MetLife Stadium, and then the Giants were dismantled by a West Coast opponent for their fifth loss of the season. They had a mediocre quarterback, a dysfunctional offensive line and a general manager who had worn out his welcome.
“It was just mid-October, but I sat in the press box thinking, ‘Everyone has to go.’
“This was not this Sunday. Well, it was this Sunday, too, during a 38-11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams that deserves a spot in the conversation for the most embarrassing, noncompetitive performance that this once-proud franchise has ever had in New Jersey.
“But this exact scene played out here on Oct. 8, 2017. The opponent then was the Chargers, not the Rams. The injured receiver then was Odell Beckham Jr., not Kadarius Toney. Nearly all of the participants have changed, and yet the same hopeless feeling – and specter of the inevitable housecleaning – remains.
“This is what I wrote that day, in a column topped with the not-so-subtle headline, ‘BLOW IT UP!’:
“ ‘Everyone has to go. The general manager. The head coach. The quarterback….’
“Four years have passed, and somehow, this franchise is in the exact same place.”
--There are zero marquee matchups this weekend, but still some key games for those harboring New Year’s Six, or CFP, dreams.
8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State, the Cyclones playing more like the team highly ranked in the preseason before stumbling early.
10 Oregon at UCLA, with Chip Kelly badly needing a signature win over his old team.
Clemson at 23 Pitt is a biggie for the Panthers.
And 22 San Diego State at 6-1 Air Force.
For selfish reasons, I’m hoping my 16 Wake Forest Demon Deacons have their way at West Point against the Black Knights.
--Meanwhile, Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich was fired Monday, after not adhering to a statewide order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee in August that required he be vaccinated. Four of Rolovich’s assistants also lost their jobs.
Rolovich, formerly a coach at Hawaii, was in his second season in Pullman and was 4-3 this year.
WSU President Kirk Schulz said Monday: “While much has been made of the relatively small number of university employees who are not complying with the governor’s mandate, we are immensely gratified that nearly 90 percent of WSU employees and 97 percent of our students are now vaccinated. …I am proud of all those members of our community who have set the example and taken the steps to protect not just themselves, but their fellow Cougs.”
--Dr. W. has been my source on Clemson football and Dabo Swinney’s failure to utilize the transfer portal, while losing key pieces to it himself, and the good doctor passed on another story talking about how ten players have transferred out of the Tigers program the last year or so, while “The Tigers have never signed a player from the transfer portal.”
As Dr. W. adds, “Kind of makes you wonder how many scholarship players Dabo is going to have on the roster at the end of the season.”
The AP Preseason Top 25 is out and it’s zero surprise Gonzaga is No. 1.
1. Gonzaga (55)
2. UCLA (8)
23. St. Bonaventure…wow, 73-year-old Bob Lanier winning his argument with the NCAA for another year of eligibility.
Gonzaga was wire-to-wire No. 1 last season before falling to Baylor in the national title game. The Zags return Drew Timme and starting guard Andrew Nembhard and bring in the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in 7-footer Chet Holmgren and a top guard prospect, Hunter Sallis.
UCLA returns Johnny Juzang.
Kansas is in the preseason top-10 for the 10th straight season.
Baylor lost four starters off their championship squad.
Otherwise, all eyes will be on Duke this season, the final campaign for Coach K, while North Carolina (No. 19) is under the helm of Hubert Davis, following the retirement of Roy Williams.
[There was a story in USA TODAY that had one fan paying $1 million for four seats to be courtside at the Duke-UNC regular-season finale on March 5 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, though to be accurate the purchase was part of a charity auction for the V Foundation, as Coach K announced himself.]
St. Bonaventure hasn’t been ranked since 1971!
It was 1970 that Bob Lanier led the team to the Final Four, but he injured his knee in the Regional Final and couldn’t play in the national semis against Steve G.’s* Jacksonville, led by Artis Gilmore and Pembrook Burrows (along with Rex Morgan and Vaughn Wedeking). The Dolphins then lost to UCLA; the Curtis Rowe, Sidney Wicks, Steve Patterson, and John Vallely edition, that held Gilmore to 9 of 29 from the field.
*Steve being my next-door neighbor in Summit with the rainbow jumper.
And now you know…the rest of the story.
The season is underway, the Milwaukee Bucks receiving their championship rings and then dismantling the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets, 127-104.
And the Warriors beat the Lakers in L.A., 121-114. Steph Curry shot poorly for Golden State but had a triple-double (21-10-10), while Anthony Davis (33 points) and LeBron James (34) did their job for the Los Angeles, but Russell Westbrook stunk in his debut.
--Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers suspended Ben Simmons for the season opener for conduct detrimental to the team.
The disgruntled 25-year-old, who has not addressed reporters since returning to Philadelphia last week, will be sidelined as the 76ers visit New Orleans tonight, the suspension coming after Coach Doc Rivers dismissed the three-time all-star from practice Tuesday.
“He was a distraction today,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think he wanted to do what everybody else was doing. It was early. It wasn’t a big deal. I just told him he should leave then, and we went on with practice. …I had to protect the team.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that “Simmons’ reluctance to physically and mentally engage with the Sixers since his return has been a consistent theme.”
Star center Joel Embiid said in an interview Tuesday:
“At this point, I don’t care about that man honestly. He does whatever he wants. That’s not my job. That’s those guys’ jobs. I’m only focused on making the team better…”
--Pssst…don’t tell anyone but I’ve watched a lot of the New York Rangers’ opening games, including a thrilling overtime win in Toronto, Monday, 2-1. A great mixture of veterans and youth, with a new, experienced coach.
OK, that’s my last hockey before January…or maybe not.
Actually, San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane was suspended 21 games without pay by the NHL for violating the league’s (and NHLPA’s) Covid-19 protocol. It seems Mr. Kane, a solid NHL veteran of 12 seasons, submitted a fake vaccination card to the NHL and the Sharks, and he apologized in a statement.
If the name sounds familiar, Kane is also being investigated on allegations of domestic assault by his estranged wife, which the league said couldn’t be substantiated.
Anna Kane had also accused her ex- of betting on NHL games, including his own games with the Sharks. An NHL investigation cleared Kane on those claims, saying it found no evidence that he bet on hockey.
So, guys, steer clear of Ms. Kane.
Actually, steer clear of both of them.
--Officials running the upcoming Breeders’ Cup are going to allow Bob Baffert to enter horses at Del Mar, but he has to meet stringent conditions, including out-of-competition testing of his horses and greater security at his barn.
The Breeders’ Cup said in a statement that “in the interest of fairness,” Baffert was given advance notice and a chance to participate in its review, which he did. Baffert agreed to each of the conditions laid out.
The Baffert trained Medina Spirit is a favorite for the Classic, the same horse that failed a postrace drug test after winning the Kentucky Derby, though the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to issue a final verdict as part of its investigation into the race.
--New Jersey’s sports betting industry became the first in the United States to take in more than a billion dollars’ worth of bets in a single month, in September, owing to football, according to figures released on Monday.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show Atlantic City’s nine casinos and the three racetracks that take sports bets collectively took $1.01 billion worth of wagers on sports last month, setting a new monthly record for both the state and the nation.
Of that total, over $82 million was kept by the casinos and tracks as revenue after winning bets and other expenses were paid. The Meadowlands Racetrack accounted for half that total.
Meanwhile, September was a good month for New Jersey’s gambling industry overall, with total casino, internet and sports betting revenue up over 40% from a year ago, to $453.5 million.
As they used to say on “Hee-Haw,” ….Sa-lute!
[Posted Sun. p.m., prior to Dodgers-Braves, though I see it’s 2-0 L.A. on a Corey Seager 2-run homer in the first. I scrambled, waiting for the conclusion of Dallas-New England, and the golf. I’ll clean things up next time.]
I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.
NFL Quiz: Dallas 2nd-year cornerback (out of Alabama) Trevon Diggs is off to a spectacular start with six interceptions in his first five games. So it’s an excuse to do my annual quiz on interceptions. 1) Who holds the single-season mark with 14? 2) Who is the only player, post-1960, with 13 in a season? [Ergo, a clue to No. 1] 3) Who is the career leader at 81? Answers below.
[Diggs got No. 7 today.]
--In a tense Game One of the NLCS in Atlanta Saturday night, the Braves beat the Dodgers 3-2, as Austin Riley – who had one of the most under-the-radar 33 homer, 107 RBI, .303 BA, .898 OPS seasons in recent memory (unless you were a Mets fan, who saw Riley kill us all too often) – homered and then drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with a single, scoring Ozzie Albies.
But in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers had Chris Taylor on first, two outs, when pinch-hitter Cody Bellinger lined a single to right field.
Taylor should have stopped at second, especially with the red-hot Mookie Betts coming up, but instead he rounded the base, realized he wasn’t making it to third as right fielder Joc Pederson quickly charged the ball, and suddenly he was caught in no man’s land, Taylor tagged out in the ensuing rundown.
Just a real bonehead play at the worst possible time.
The Dodgers had ten hits but could manufacture only the two runs, while they used eight pitchers in a bullpen game.
Atlanta got six strong innings from ace Max Fried.
But now L.A. throws Max Scherzer (on two days rest after his game-winning bullpen effort against the Giants in the NLDS), Walker Buehler and Julio Urias the next three.
As for Thursday night’s thrilling finale of the NLDS, the Dodgers winning 2-1 over the Giants on Cody Bellinger’s tiebreaking single in the ninth, after which Max Scherzer picked up his first career save in the bottom of the inning, Wilmer Flores was punched out on an awful check swing call by first base umpire Gabe Morales. On television replays, Flores clearly held up.
Yes, a terrible way to end things, especially for Giants fans, but while Mets fans know Flores has a flare for the dramatic, there were two outs with a runner on first. Initially everyone was reacting as if the Giants were truly robbed, but this wasn’t base loaded and Flores being called out on a 3-2 pitch.
I mean, yes, it sucks, but as Tony Soprano would have said, ‘Whaddya gonna do?’
One thing we do know, it was a helluva Game 5…one for the ages, including Giants left fielder Darin Ruf’s dramatic 452-foot home run in the bottom of the sixth against Julio Urias, after the Dodgers had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning on a Corey Seager double, scoring Mookie Betts, who had singled (one of his four hits) and stole second.
Just a terrific sequence that brought out the best in baseball. [The stolen base is making a comeback, and that’s good.]
Also lost in the ending was Logan Webb’s terrific seven innings of one-run ball for San Fran, just this one run in 14 2/3 in the series.
--In the ALCS, Houston took the opener against Boston in Minute Maid Park, 5-4, Friday night, in a game lasting an interminable 4 hours and seven minutes.
Boston had a 3-1 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth, when Jose Altuve tied it with a 2-run homer, and then Carlos Correa hit a towering blast to left in the seventh, sending Houston out front 4-3.
Altuve hit a sac fly in the eighth, and then the Astros survived Kike Hernandez’ second home run of the game, four hits in all, as Hernandez ran his streak to 13 hits in four games, a postseason record.
Hernandez then had two more hits, including another homer, in Boston’s 9-5 win in Game 2 Saturday night to even the series at 1-1.
But this one was about the grand slam home runs off the bats of J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers in the first and second innings, something never done before in the postseason, as Boston raced off to an insurmountable 8-0 lead.
This one went 4 hours and 8 minutes! [Due in no small part to Houston having to replace an injured pitcher and erstwhile starter Jake Odorizzi taking six hours to warm up, or so it seemed.]
Game 3 in Boston Monday night.
--It would appear Tony La Russa is returning for another season at the helm of the White Sox. He turned 77 on Oct. 4.
White Sox stars Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu had both publicly lobbied for his return after Chicago was eliminated by Houston in four.
--I was a little surprised the Cardinals fired Mike Shildt as manager after he guided the team to a franchise-record 17-game winning streak and a wild-card berth.
But his contract was up in 2022, and Cardinals president of baseball operations, John Mozeliak, citing “philosophical differences” to explain Shildt’s dismissal, didn’t want a situation where the contract issue was hanging over him.
Mozeliak said there are plenty of internal candidates to replace Shildt.
--The Yankees are letting manager Aaron Boone twist in the wind, getting rid of his close friend, third base coach Phil Nevin, who is not a fan of analytics. [Neither am I, to some extent.]
But the fact is the four teams remaining in the playoffs rely on analytics heavily, so the issue the Yankees are facing is since they want to do the same, is Boone the right man, when he’s never been known for his in-game decision making?
--We note the passing of Ray Fosse, 74, who died after a 16-year bout with cancer.
Fosse was a two-time All-Star catcher with Cleveland, winner of two Gold Gloves, and two World Series rings with Oakland, who is best known for being bowled over by Pete Rose at the 1970 All-Star Game.
Fosse was a big talent in 1970, age 23, batting .307 with 18 home runs and his first Gold Glove, while throwing out an outstanding 55% of those attempting to steal on him.
But in the All-Star Game, Rose barreled over him to score the winning run in the 12th inning, with Fosse fracturing and separating his left shoulder. He told the Associated Press in 2015 that his body still ached 45 years later.
“As much as it’s shown, I don’t have to see it on TV as a replay to know what happened. It’s fresh,” he said.
It was a play that epitomized the way Pete Rose played the game, 100% even in an exhibition affair.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll.]
Well, this weekend lacked the drama of last week, but we will have a shakeup in the top ten and future CFP rankings with Purdue’s upset of Iowa, though as I wrote mid-week on this one, “I’m looking for Purdue to give 2 Iowa a big scare in Iowa City.”
And it was more than a scare, it was a 24-7 comeuppance for the Hawkeyes (6-1), who I never thought were that good, the gaudy record a result of a ball-hawking defense.
This time Purdue was the opportunistic team, taking advantage of four Spencer Petras interceptions by the Iowa quarterback, while Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell was terrific at QB for the Boilermakers (4-2), 30/40, 375, 2-0, with receiver David Bell snagging 11 for 240 yards and a score.
Iowa will tumble in the rankings, and so much for the huge win against Penn State a week earlier.
Meanwhile, No. 1 Georgia is 7-0, handing 11 Kentucky (6-1) its first loss, 30-13 in Athens as the Bulldogs outgained the Wildcats 416-244.
3 Cincinnati (6-0) should move up to No. 2 (remarkably) after a 56-21 pasting of UCF (3-3), Jerome Ford with 189 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 20 carries for the Bearcats.
4 Oklahoma is 7-0 with a 52-31 win over TCU (3-3) as the Sooner offense is operating on all cylinders with newly-inserted freshman quarterback Caleb Williams a big success, 18/23, 295, 4-0, plus 66 yards rushing and a TD, while Kennedy Brooks rushed for 153 and a score.
So much for preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler. Yes, after dissing them earlier in the season, mainly because of Rattler’s play, under Williams this is a CFP contender. As in, football fans should want to see Oklahoma in the final four.
And it’s pretty clear despite stumbling last weekend against Texas A&M, 5 Alabama (6-1) is heading to the final four, the Crimson Tide back on track after a 49-9 away win at Mississippi State (3-3) as the latest Heisman favorite, Bryce Young, threw four touchdown passes.
Right now…it’s Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and ‘Bama…and the question is, can a Big Ten team make its case?
Of course we all know there are more big upsets to come…just having fun.
Nos. 6 Ohio State, 7 Penn State, and 8 Michigan had bye weeks.
9 Oregon (5-1) hardly looked like world-beaters in defeating Cal (1-5) on Friday night, though running back Travis Dye had a most impressive game, with 145 yards rushing and 73 receiving.
10 Michigan State remains undefeated at 7-0, barely, edging Indiana (2-4) as the Hoosiers’ defense held Kenneth Walker III to just 84 yards on 23 carries, denting his Heisman hopes. The Spartans only had 241 yards of total offense…not exactly CFP caliber.
On the other hand, Indiana’s solid performance against a top ten doesn’t hurt Cincinnati, who beat them earlier in what was labeled at the time a ‘signature win.’ Cincy can only play the schedule it was given, and so in a weak conference, Indiana, and the Bearcats’ big win at Notre Dame, were critical.
12 Oklahoma State is 6-0 and stays very much in the conversation with a 32-24 win at 25 Texas (4-3). It’s not that the Cowboys looked great, though they did get a big game out of Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren, who rumbled for 193 yards on 33 carries, but rather it was the Longhorns who imploded a second straight Saturday. [Plus OSU does have a big-time defense.]
Last weekend, Texas blew a 41-23 lead with 2:45 to play in the third against Oklahoma and fell 55-48. Yesterday, I was watching the “Bijan Robinson Show” along with many of you as Texas took a 24-13 lead on a Robinson 38-yard touchdown scamper with 11:43 left in the third, and once again, it was nothing but errors after.
Oklahoma State could easily run the table until their regular-season finale against Oklahoma on Nov. 27, which would be destination television if the two are still undefeated.
13 Ole Miss (5-1) will move up a notch or two, holding on to beat a solid Tennessee (4-3) squad 31-26 in hostile Knoxville.
Ole Miss stopped Tennessee a yard shy of a first down on a fourth-and-24 pass with just over a minute left. After that play, and the review that confirmed the spot of the ball, Tennessee fans pelted the field with objects, forcing a 20-minute delay in the game. Among the objects being thrown were golf balls, as Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, who coached at Tennessee, said he “also got hit with bottles with some brown stuff in them. I don’t think those fans would waste moonshine.”
The Rebels’ Matt Corral enhanced his Heisman hopes in throwing for 231 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 30 times for 195!
In other games of note, 17 Arkansas (4-3) will be out of the top 25 after losing to Auburn (5-2) 38-23 at home.
18 Arizona State (5-2) will also be out of the top 25 after a 35-21 loss at Utah (4-2).
And 19 BYU will be yet another exiting the top 25 (after I told you they shouldn’t have stayed in it this week), now 5-2 after a 38-24 loss at Baylor (6-1), which will move into the rankings.
LSU (4-3) may have saved coach Ed Orgeron’s job (or maybe not) with a 49-42 win over 20 Florida (4-3), as Gator quarterbacks threw four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, while Tigers running back Tyrion Davis-Price had a monster game, 36 carries for an LSU-record 287 yards and three touchdowns. The guy has been a marginal contributor the first 2 ½ years in Baton Rouge, but NFL scouts will be looking at this tape for a while.
21 Texas A&M is 5-2 after a 35-14 win at Missouri (3-4), so the Aggies will take advantage of all those stumbling in front of them.
Ditto 22 North Carolina State (5-1) with an impressive 33-7 road win at Boston College (4-2).
24 San Diego State remains undefeated, 6-0, but in most unimpressive fashion, needing two overtimes Friday night to beat San Jose State (3-4) 19-13. It was 6-6, all field goals, in regulation, and the Aztecs only had 240 yards of offense, including OT.
Pitt is 5-1 after a nice 28-7 win on the road against Virginia Tech (3-3). The Panthers could be top 25 bound.
As for 16 Wake Forest (6-0), they had a bye week and next face Army and Duke to keep the season in dream mode.
Army (4-2) played tough at Wisconsin, falling 20-14, but this is not your father’s Badger team as they are just 3-3. Nonetheless a reminder for the Deacs not to take the Black Knights lightly when they travel to West Point (I have another obligation that day or I’d probably be there).
Duke (3-4) was shutout by improving Virginia (5-2) 48-0 in Charlottesville, the Cavs winning three straight since their loss to Wake Forest.
Which leaves me with Rutgers, 3-4 after a miserable 21-7 loss at Northwestern (3-3). The Scarlet Knights generated a whopping 222 yards of offense.
So in Greg Schiano’s return, year two, Rutgers is 0-4 this year in the Big Ten and since they entered the conference in 2014, 10-55! …..10-55!
You can excuse last season, since it was just a weird year, but in Schiano’s first season in his second term, playing an all-Big Ten schedule, went 3-6 and there were hopes the program was turning the corner.
But this is Rutgers. You have to picture being in New Jersey, this is our only college football story, let alone we have the Jets and Giants…ugh.
So all year we see stories of how well Rutgers is recruiting and how ‘this season is going to be the breakthrough year,’ but it never happens.
It’s so bad, yesterday, one of Schiano’s assistants was flagged for a 15-yard sideline interference penalty for blocking the path of the referee, which gave Northwestern a fresh set of downs in Rutgers territory, and a few plays later, the Wildcats pushed it into the endzone for a two-touchdown lead. You can’t make this stuff up.
I mean Northwestern had lost to Nebraska 56-7.
I’m jealous of you folks in California, Texas and Florida who have multiple stories to follow, both college and pro.
Us? We’re left with freakin’ Rutgers…and in college hoops, just Rutgers and Seton Hall. At least these two should be OK this coming season.
Alas…I have Wake Forest! And for this I am most grateful.
And now the latest AP Poll!
1. Georgia (63) 7-0
2. Cincinnati 6-0
3. Oklahoma 7-0
4. Alabama 6-1
5. Ohio State 5-1
6. Michigan 6-0
7. Penn State 5-1
8. Oklahoma State 6-0…well-deserved
9. Michigan State 7-0…bleh…
10. Oregon 5-1
11. Iowa 6-1
12. Mississippi 5-1
13. Notre Dame 5-1
14. Coastal Carolina 6-0…big game Wednesday at Appalachian State
15. Kentucky 6-1
16. Wake Forest 6-0
17. Texas A&M 5-2
18. N.C. State 5-1
19. Auburn 5-2
20. Baylor 6-1
21. SMU 6-0
22. San Diego State 6-0
23. Pitt 5-1…in honor of my parents, my nephew and scores of relatives…Yay, Pitt! Sock it to ‘em! [A cheer from like the 1940s.]
24. UTSA 7-0…wow…first ranking in history of the program!
25. Purdue 4-2…incredibly, last ranked in 2007!
The state of Florida has no ranked teams for the first time since 2011.
--A final note…Ed Orgeron is out, according to reports this afternoon, though he’ll finish up the season. Rather remarkable…less than two years from a 15-0 season and national championship.
--With my Jets having played in London last week and getting a bye today, I was thrilled to have the Giants hosting the Rams from MetLife Stadium.
Oh yeah, I had an underground tailgate in my parking garage for this one (or maybe not). It was 28-3 at half, Rams, and it ended up 38-11, Los Angeles improving to 5-1, the Giants now 1-5.
For New York (really New Jersey, of course), Daniel Jones started at QB despite the awful hit to the head last Sunday, and he played as if there were lingering effects, throwing three interceptions and coughing up a fumble.
For the Rams, Matthew Stafford threw four touchdown passes.
--Green Bay is 5-1 after a workmanlike 24-14 win over Chicago (3-3), Aaron Rodgers an efficient 17/23, 195, 2-0, 128.0.
--Cincinnati is 4-2 with a 34-11 win over Detroit (0-6), as the Lions’ nightmare season continues. Joe Burrow had three touchdown passes for the Bengals.
--Kansas City is back to .500 (3-3) with a 31-13 win on the road at Washington (2-4). Patrick Mahomes and Co. were down 13-10 at half, Mahomes with two interceptions, before the Chiefs got their act together in the second half, Mahomes ending up with 397 yards and two TDs.
But here’s some original research for you. Mahomes has eight interceptions already this season, after just 5 and 6 the prior two seasons.
So this got me going to football-reference. Tom Brady has never had more than 14 in a season for his career, while Peyton Manning had 7 seasons with more than 14, and Drew Brees 9. Yeah, not apples to apples, necessarily, as they were running different offenses most of the time, but just another mark of Brady’s greatness, as much as it pains me to write this.
--Baltimore is 5-1 and very much looking like AFC Championship finalists after a 34-6 win over the Chargers (4-2), as the Ravens defense contained wunderkind Justin Herbert (22/39, 195, 1-1, 67.8), even as Lamar Jackson was subpar, 19/27, 167, 1-2, 68.0.
--Here in my network area, we were thrown to Panthers-Vikings in Charlotte and it was a thrilling finish, as former Jet, Sam Darnold, having a miserable game, led the Panthers on a 96-yard drive to tie the game at 28-28 with 0:42 left in regulation.
The Vikings’ Greg Joseph then missed a 47-yarder that could have won it, sending the game into overtime, after which Minnesota (3-3) promptly marched 75 yards down the field, the game-winner a 27-yard Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn touchdown pass.
Carolina falls to 3-3 with its third straight loss. The Panthers, and Darnold, were not helped by a ton of dropped passes throughout this one, Carolina again without Christian McCaffrey. He is a huge difference maker…all three losses while he’s been on the sidelines with injury after the Panthers’ 3-0 start.
--Arizona is still the only undefeated team in the NFL, 6-0, after a 37-14 win at Cleveland (3-3), Baker Mayfield with three turnovers. Kyler Murray had four touchdown passes for the Cards.
Trouble in Cleveland. Our friend Trader George is not a happy camper.
--Las Vegas won its first in the post-Gruden era, 34-24 at Denver (3-3), the Raiders now 4-2 as Derek Carr was superb, 18/27, 341, 2-0, 134.4, while the Broncos’ Teddy Bridgewater turned it over four times (3 INTs and a fumble).
--And Dallas won its fifth in a row, now 5-1, with a 35-29 overtime win over New England (2-4). This was a terrific game…more in midweek chat.
--Very entertaining Sunday morning game in London, as Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence picked up their first wins, the Jaguars (1-5) beating the 1-5 Dolphins 23-20 on a 53-yard field goal by Matthew Wright as time expired. Wright had hit a 54-yarder to tie the game at 20-20 with 3:40 left. Very impressive, and for one week, he owns the locker room.
The Jags thus snapped their 20-game losing streak, second-longest in NFL history.
Lawrence was solid in throwing for 319 yards and a touchdown, while his opponent, in a rematch of the 2018 national title game, Tua Tagovailoa, passed for 329 and two scores.
--Thursday night, the Bucs moved to 5-1 with a 28-22 victory in Philadelphia, the Eagles 2-4. Tom Brady, despite his injured thumb, was 34/42, 297, 2-1, 102.1, and Leonard Fournette had 81 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, as Tampa Bay held off a late Eagles comeback led by Jalen Hurts.
But Brady converted a key 3rd-and-7 and that was all she wrote. Philly only had 213 yards of total offense, which as they say in the City of Brotherly Love, sucks.
--The league said it has found no other current team or league personnel to have sent emails containing racist, homophobic or misogynistic language similar to messages written by Jon Gruden that led to his resignation as coach of the Raiders, at least according to a person familiar with the documents who told the Associated Press on Friday.
The NFL has not publicly released what is in the 650,000 emails the independent investigators collected during an investigation of sexual harassment and other workplace conditions at the Washington Football Team.
--What a final round it is setting up to be for the CJ Cup@Summit in Las Vegas. Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy in the final pairing, along with Abraham Ancer.
Specifically, heading into the final round of this invitational….
Robert Streb -18
Adam Scott -18
Fowler is attempting to end his well-chronicled slide into oblivion, not having won in nearly three years since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Rickie didn’t even make the FedEx Cup playoff field for the top 125. Can he finally get win No. 6?
And Rory, who did win last spring at the Wells Fargo in May, but was kind of so-so the rest of the way (at least by his standards), wants to send the signal he’s going to be a factor in the majors next year.
So Rory won it, by one over Collin Morikawa, who shot a 62. And it’s a biggie…number 20 for his terrific career. Message sent.
Rickie Fowler ended up T-3, two back, but a great week for him.
--We had a sad story this week as golf fans learned that Casey Martin had his right leg amputated above the knee in surgery Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Martin’s right leg was his infamous one, afflicted with a circulatory disorder since birth, yet he won a national championship alongside Notah Begay at Stanford in 1994. It was the “trail leg” as he knew it in his life as a golfer, that made the Supreme Court debate the essence of competitive golf, had Jack Nicklaus reluctantly testify against carts, and Martin qualifying for two U.S. Opens, yet it was so painful for him just getting in and out of the shower. It will bother him no more.
Because of Martin’s condition, there were major concerns over post-op complications, such as excessive bone-bleeding, that could prove fatal.
But doctors are confident they were able to save as much of the bone above the knee, which gives Martin a good shot at a prosthesis that will be effective.
Martin broke the leg two years ago, when he tripped while taking in trash bins in the dark. He spent two years in a cast, but the tibia never healed.
The coming months will be grueling for him, but then he has faced these challenges all his life. Martin has been the University of Oregon men’s golf coach for 16 seasons, but will relinquish that duty for now.
We entered the last four races of the season this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, with eight drivers going for the final four spots in the season finale.
The standings for the final eight coming into Sunday…
1. Kyle Larson
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Martin Truex, Jr.
4. Ryan Blaney…424 points
5. Kyle Busch…423
6. Chase Elliott…422
7. Joey Logano
8. Brad Keselowski
We’re going to have a big fight for the 4th spot for sure.
Larson is a lock already for the finale in Phoenix, Nov. 7.
And officially he is…after win No. 8 on the season today!
--Play resumed in the PL after an international break and Liverpool blasted Watford 5-0 behind a Roberto Firmino hat trick.
Man City shutout Burnley 2-0, while Chelsea edged upstart Brentford 1-0, as Ben Chilwel scored for a third straight game for the Blues.
Today, West Ham beat Everton 1-0, and my Tottenham Spurs held on to beat winless Newcastle on the road, 3-2, as Harry Kane, kind of incredibly, finally scored his first league goal of the campaign.
But the big story in the league is Manchester United, which made a big splash in signing Cristiano Ronaldo but has now lost 2 of 3, with a draw, after a 4-2 defeat at Leicester. Ronaldo has been a shell of his former self overall, and there is intense pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
So the standings after 8 of 38…games, points…ties broken by goal differential…
1. Chelsea 8 – 19 …Dr. W. very pleased
2. Liverpool 8 – 18
3. Man City 8 – 17
4. Brighton 8 – 15 …Champions League line
5. Tottenham 8 – 15
6. Man U 8 – 14
7. West Ham 8 – 14
8. Everton 8 – 14
--Alex Ovechkin has three goals in the first two games of the season for the Capitals, as he now has 733, moving past Marcel Dionne into sole possession of fifth place all time in NHL career goals.
Next up, Brett Hull at 741. Then Jaromir Jagr at 766. [Gretzky 894, Gordie Howe 801.]
--The NBA season starts this week and I’ll be watching my Knicks to see if we can improve on the big steps we took last season. A key is going to be whether center Mitchell Robinson can stay on the floor for the Knickerbockers.
But, boy, am I already very tired of the Kyrie Irving story. I just don’t care.
Speaking on Instagram the other day, Irving, told by the Brooklyn Nets to stay home if he isn’t going to get vaccinated, said:
“I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” Irving said. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”
“Once again, I’m going to repeat this. This is not about the Nets, this is not about the organization, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not politics,” Kyrie added. “It’s not any one thing. It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”
--I was reading a lengthy review of a book titled “Punter,” by Aaron Rogan, about “the rise, and rise,” of Paddy Power, the Irish, UK, Australia gambling powerhouse, soon to be so in the U.S., and there was this interesting statistic.
“Various research papers have calculated that only around one percent of customers in the gambling industry are addicts. But that one percent is estimated to be responsible for somewhere in the region of 25 percent of the industry’s profits. The level of misery and destruction living in that 25 percent is a constant existential threat.”
Paddy Power, like any tech giant, is benefiting from data harvesting, which in this industry has been a huge game-changer, “rocket-fueling the growth of online betting and leading to gargantuan profits.”
But there are dangers, though with the profits, little enthusiasm to change things.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/16/65: #1 “Yesterday” (The Beatles) #2 “Treat Her Right” (Roy Head…has held up well…) #3 “Hang On Sloopy” (The McCoys)…and…#4 “A Lover’s Concerto” (The Toys) #5 “Keep On Dancing” (The Gentrys) #6 “The ‘In’ Crowd” (Ramsey Lewis Trio) #7 “Just A Little Bit Better” (Herman’s Hermits) #8 “Baby Don’t Go” (Sonny and Cher…my fave of theirs…) #9 “Do You Believe In Magic” (The Lovin’ Spoonful) #10 “Eve Of Destruction” (Barry McGuire…B+ week…though overall, I rate 1965 and ’67 the two best years in Rock ‘n’ Roll history…)
NFL Quiz Answers: 1) Hall of Famer Dick “Night Train” Lane had 14 interceptions in his rookie season for the Rams in 1952. The pride of Western Nebraska CC did this in just 12 games. 2) Lester Hayes had 13 for the Raiders in 1980 (16 games). 3) Hall of Famer Paul Krause is the career leader at 81, playing for Minnesota and Washington from 1964-79. As a rookie with Washington, he had his single-season best with 12 (14 games).
I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.