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Ohio State Makes Its Statement
Add-On posted early Wed. a.m.
College Football…the new CFP Rankings!
1. Georgia 11-0
2. Ohio State 10-1
3. Alabama 10-1
4. Cincinnati 11-0
5. Michigan 10-1
6. Notre Dame 10-1
7. Oklahoma State 10-1
8. Baylor 9-2
9. Ole Miss 9-2
10. Oklahoma 10-1
11. Oregon 9-2
12. Michigan State 9-2
13. BYU 9-2
14. Wisconsin 8-3
15. Texas A&M 8-3
16. Iowa 9-2
17. Pitt 9-2
18. Wake Forest 9-2
19. Utah 8-3
20. NC State 8-3
21. SDSU 10-1
22. UTSA 11-0
23. Clemson 8-3
24. Houston 10-1
25. Arkansas 7-4
Cincinnati is the first Group of Five school to reach the top four, and with the demotion of Alabama to No. 3, it’s clear that if Cincy wins its last two, the committee is prepared to give them a spot in the final four…should Alabama lose to Georgia in the SEC championship. But probably only if ‘Bama loses.
For now, enjoy the two biggies this weekend…Ohio State-Michigan and Oklahoma-OK State.
And Go Deacs!
--FYI…I normally finish my college football comments Sunday morning by 9:00 a.m. or so, prior to release of the AP Poll, and in my game summaries I had Florida firing coach Dan Mullen at season’s end.
I then saw Sunday afternoon the school had fired him, but forgot to add that to the commentary, for those of you wondering why I wrote what I did. Can’t cover the world like I do without missing something on my post-its now and then.
Mullen was 34-15 in nearly four years, which looks great, but as I wrote last time, it’s that 2-9 record in his last 11 against Power 5 opponents that did him in. Including his nine seasons at Mississippi State, Mullen is 103-61. He’ll do just fine.
And Johnny Jacobs, tell us about Mullen’s parting gifts!
Well, Editor, Coach Mullen is receiving his full $12 million buyout…$6 million of which is paid within 30 days of being fired, with the remaining $6 million to be paid out yearly in $1 million payments, a la Bobby Bonilla!
--I can’t believe Penn State handed coach James Franklin a new 10-year deal through 2031. We’re talking $8.5 million a year, including a $500,000 retention bonus each Dec. 31.
It’s awesome for Franklin, and he’s smart to snap this up. But is it good for Penn State’s program? I don’t think so.
--The NCAA FCS (Div. 1-AA) football championship commences this weekend. The No. 1 seed is San Houston (last year’s winner), 2 North Dakota State (8-time winner, 2011-2019), 3 James Madison and 4 Sacramento State.
--Giants fans were hopeful going into Monday night’s contest against the Buccaneers, losers of two straight, Tom Brady with two interceptions in each of them, losses to the Saints and WFT.
But the Giants proved they are not a playoff contender, falling to 3-7 with a desultory effort in Tampa Bay, 30-10, as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s days are clearly numbered, head coach Joe Judge appropriately throwing him under the bus afterwards.
Daniel Jones sucked (23/38, 167, 1-2, 57.7) and it’s very clear, Saquon Barkley will never be the second coming of Walter Payton, returning from injury for just 25 yards on six carries, while Devontae Booker, who had played well in place of Barkley the last few weeks, was essentially glued to the bench.
For his part, Brady was solid, 30/46, 307, 2-1, 89.7, and the Bucs are 7-3…postseason bound. That’s all that matters. The Giants’ ‘D’ also didn’t sack him once.
And this just in….Tuesday afternoon the Giants did fire Jason Garrett. Since his hire ahead of the 2020 season, the Giants have ranked last in the NFL with 42 offensive touchdowns.
--Sunday night, Justin Herbert took advantage of the national stage to put on a show, leading the Chargers (6-4) to a 41-37 win over the Steelers (5-4-1). Herbert was scintillating, 30/41, 382, 3-1, 116.1, including the clinching 53-yard touchdown strike to Mike Williams with 2:09 remaining, plus 90 yards rushing on nine carries.
L.A. withstood a furious 27-point fourth-quarter rally by Pittsburgh, fueled by Herbert’s lone interception and a blocked punt.
Football fans are hoping the Chargers are among the seven AFC teams to make the playoffs from a pure excitement standpoint.
--Jets fans will get to see Zach Wilson this Sunday against Houston. Not necessarily because the coaching staff wants to play him, but because they have to. Quarterback Mike White is on the reserve/Covid list as of Tuesday for testing positive, and Joe Flacco is on it because he’s a close contact. Flacco said last week he is not vaccinated, which means he must quarantine for 10 days. Vaccinated players are not required to quarantine after a close contact.
Veteran Josh Johnson will be the backup for Wilson.
--New AP Top 25 Poll…records thru Sunday
1. Gonzaga (55) 4-0
2. UCLA (5) 4-0
3. Purdue (1) 5-0
4. Kansas 3-0
5. Duke 5-0
6. Baylor 4-0
7. Villanova 3-2
8. Texas 3-1
9. Memphis 4-0
T-10. Alabama 4-0
T-10. Kentucky 3-1
12. Houston 3-0
13. Arkansas 3-0
14. Illinois 2-1
15. Tennessee 3-1
16. St. Bonaventure 5-0…yippee!
21. Seton Hall 3-0
22. UConn 4-0
The ACC has just one in the top 25…pathetic. I haven’t said much about Wake Forest (5-0), but we’ve looked good in beating five opponents historically we should beat, but in recent years had more than a few embarrassing stumbles against same. We’ll be tested soon enough (like this weekend), but our backcourt of Alondes Williams and Daivien Williamson is as good as any in the conference.
--So as so often happens, no sooner does the AP poll come out (normally early Monday afternoons) and we have upsets that Monday night or Tuesday, this Monday no exception.
Cincinnati (5-0) will be ranked next time after blowing out Illinois 71-51, and Seton Hall’s top 25 position is out the window next poll after falling to Ohio State (4-1) 79-76, though to be fair, the Buckeyes are probably a No. 21 or so team the rest of the year.
Oops, not so fast on Cincinnati, the Bearcats losing last night to Arkansas, 73-67. Wisconsin also upset 12 Houston, 65-63.
--Not that this one had anything to do with the top 25, but on Monday night, Rutgers (3-2) lost to Lafayette (1-4) 53-51 in one of the most embarrassing losses at home in the history of the program.
Lafayette was ranked 315th in the country (according to KenPom), with a 28-point loss to Penn, 34 points to Syracuse and 33 points to Duke.
This was supposed to be a good season for the Scarlet Knights and they are off to a horrid start, the other loss to the worst team in the Big East, DePaul.
--As for St. Bonaventure, what a gigantic tournament for them in Charleston, with solid wins over Boise State, Clemson and then Marquette Sunday night in the championship, 70-54, in a game that was even more of a rout than the final score indicated.
The Bonnies are good…a terrific starting five…and they dominated despite shooting 2 of 17 from three!
Being on the Bonnie Train, and having a ticket for a game up there in February, I’d be happy if they stayed around No. 16 all season and got a 4-seed in the tournament. They are going to lose some games, hopefully no more than about 5 or 6, and they have a biggie against UConn coming up soon that will be a good test. But St. Bonaventure fans are excited for good reason. This could be a dream season no doubt. [I’d define ‘dream season’ in the case of the Bonnies as Elite Eight…for now…]
--Tonight, while I didn’t stay up for the entirety, No. 1 Gonzaga took on No. 2 UCLA in Las Vegas, with an emotional 82-year-old Dick Vitale, fresh off his fourth round of drugs pumped into his body to fight lymphoma, doing the broadcast.
“I can’t believe I’m sitting here,” Vitale said, fighting back tears. “This is really a big thrill for me… I want to thank certainly my family, and all the fans. My, you have been unbelievable.”
The Zags rolled all over the Bruins 83-63. Message sent, as 7-foot-1 freshman Chet Holmgren showed off his skills…15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks.
--Since I posted early Sunday evening, the Phoenix Suns ripped off two more wins, 126-97 over Denver, and the Spurs, 115-111, so now the winning streak is 13, 14-3 overall.
And the Warriors improved to 15-2 Sunday with a 119-104 win at home over the Raptors.
Both rather gaudy marks.
--But the big story Sunday was LeBron James being called for a flagrant foul 2 for his vicious elbow that bloodied the right eye of Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart during the third quarter, LeBron ejected from the game before Los Angeles rallied from 17 points down for a stirring 121-116 win over Detroit.
Stewart, hardly a choir boy and not someone I’d have over for Thanksgiving dinner, was ejected from the game for “multiple unsportsmanlike acts during the altercation,” the NBA said after the game.
So Monday, the NBA issued a one-game suspension to LeBron, with Stewart receiving a two games to get his mind right.
For LeBron it was just the second time he has been ejected from a game and the first time he has been suspended during his 19-year career. I’m glad the league stood up to him.
Ironically, and this has to be killing LeBron (good), he had to sit out Tuesday’s contest at the Garden against the Knicks. As Nelson of “The Simpsons” fame would have said, “Hah hah…”
[The Knicks got a badly needed win, 106-100, as Evan Fournier finally earned his contract with 26 points.]
--The Sacramento Kings fired coach Luke Walton after the Kings had lost 7 of 8 to fall to 6-11. Associate head coach Alvin Gentry was named interim head coach. Gentry is taking over his sixth NBA team and is already under contract for 2022-23 as an assistant.
GM Monte McNair said Gentry will be given certain benchmarks that if achieved could lead to his keeping the job on a long-term basis.
“I think we have the talent,” McNair said. “We’ve shown that we can do that.”
Walton was 68-93 in two-plus seasons as Kings coach.
Sacramento has been horrid on defense this season, and currently has the longest active playoff drought in the NBA (since 2006), which as they say in the ‘burbs, “blows.”
--The new Hall of Fame ballot is out, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard and Tim Lincecum among the notable first-time candidates.
Steroids poster boys Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens make their 10th and final appearance on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.
Curt Schilling, who fell 16 votes short of the necessary 75% in last year’s balloting, should get in this time.
Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 25.
Bonds, 61.8%, and Clemens, 61.6%, are not expected to improve much on their numbers from last year and won’t get near the magic 75%.
But how well will Ortiz and A-Rod do?
And we have the case of Omar Vizquel, who after his first four years was at 49.1% and it’s just been assumed he would hit 75% in maybe year 7.
But Vizquel was accused of domestic violence last December, and then this year a former batboy in the minor leagues accused Vizquel of sexually assaulting him.
Vizquel hasn’t been convicted on either charge.
Meanwhile, the Golden Days Era ballot is out for those candidates whose primary contribution to the game came from 1950-69 (my primary contribution to humanity was also during this time, ages 0 to 11), and should anyone get 12 of the 16 votes needed for enshrinement, that announcement will be on Dec. 5.
And if Gil Hodges doesn’t finally get in, I will call for mass rioting across the nation, thus disrupting holiday plans.
Among the other strong candidates are Dick Allen, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris and Tony Oliva. I’d have zero problem looking at any of their plaques in Cooperstown one day.
The Early Baseball Era Committee (Dec. 5 as well) may also come up with a candidate or two for enshrinement and this list, aside from some Negro Leagues legends, contains Lefty O’Doul, who had a unique career, including two batting titles in a four-year stretch, his only four big seasons, 1929-32, when he was ages 32-35 with the Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers. He retired with a career batting average of .349.
O’Doul was a legend in the Pacific League, where he could obviously hit, but what kept him out of the big leagues for so long was that he couldn’t field, and as a sportswriter for the San Francisco Chronicle once said: “He could run like a deer. Unfortunately, he threw like one too.”
O’Doul later developed a reputation as one of baseball’s premier batting instructors and helped the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Gene Woodling. He also played a huge role in the development of modern baseball in Japan, post-World War II.
[For those of you rooting on the candidacy of former Yankees hurler Allie Reynolds. Sorry, no, despite his 182-107, 3.30 ERA, 7-2 in six World Series’ record.]
--This is kind of shocking. The Tampa Bay Rays signed 20-year-old shortstop Wander Franco to an 11-year deal worth $182 million, with an option for a 12th year for a total of $223 million.
It’s a great move by the Rays, but the surprising part is previously the largest contract in Rays history was the six-year, $100 million extension to Evan Longoria in 2012.
Franco only played 70 games for Tampa Bay last season, but he hit .288 with seven home runs and 39 RBI and made headlines for a 43-game on-base streak.
--We note the passing of former outfielder and longtime manager Bill Virdon, 90. Virdon played for the Cardinals and Pirates from 1955-68, winning the Rookie of the Year Award with the Cardinals in 1955 and then after an early season trade in ’56 to the Pirates, he hit .334 with the Buccos (a standard he never came close to approaching the rest of his career).
Overall, Virdon batted .267 with 1,596 hits and 502 RBIs, while winning a Gold Glove in center field in 1962. He also drove in 5 runs in the 1960 World Series against the Yankees.
As a manager for Pittsburgh, the Yankees, Houston and Montreal, Virdon was 995-921, taking the Astros to their first two postseason appearances in 1980 and ’81.
--In the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship, Sunday night after I posted, unseeded Wake Forest defeated 13 FIU, 3-2, to advance to the Sweet 16 for the seventh year in a row. Now the Deacs take on Mark R.’s 4-seed Notre Dame.
In another game of note, Hofstra destroyed 12-seed Penn State 8-2!
The Sweet Sixteen games will be played this weekend.
--The 2-second Tiger Woods video has been dissected, and it really tells us nothing of his condition other than his swing seems uninhibited. Previous video of him walking under his own power shows he has a noticeable limp. He is expected to make an appearance and speak publicly at the Hero World Challenge, the exhibition that benefits his foundation and begins Dec. 2.
But while some golf fans are excited by the video, I look at it and knowing his issues, at least today, in terms of walking, and for those who think they are going to see Tiger at Augusta in April…I don’t think so.
I hope Tiger continues to make good progress, but Tiger at a full PGA Tour stop? That would be amazing…and seemingly totally unrealistic at this date.
--The PGA Tour announced it is bumping up total tournament prize money next year to $427 million from $367 million, no doubt a response to threats of rival tours potentially promising guaranteed paydays to the game’s biggest stars.
The first two FedEx Cup postseason stops, the FedEx St. Jude Invitational and BMW Championship, will offer $15 million purses, up from the $9.5 million available at this year’s Northern Trust and BMW Championship. Three “player-run” events – the Genesis Invitational (Tiger), Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial (Jack Nicklaus) – are seeing nearly a $3 million increase in their overall purse to $12 million per tournament.
Previously, the tour announced the Players Championship will boast at least a $20 million purse, which will dwarf the majors’ purses.
And the FedEx Cup pool will surge from $60 million last year to $75 million in 2022, with the winner reportedly receiving $18 million (up from $15 million). And the tour’s new Player Impact Program, a bonus fund for players who boost publicity and engagement, will go from $40 million to $50 million.
Yeah, I’d say these moves will enhance a few of the events, don’t you think?
--I forgot to mention last time for you Formula One fans, to prove I am following, that Lewis Hamilton won his second in a row to close the gap on points leader Max Verstappen with just two races to go. Next up the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on Dec. 5th.
--At Sunday’s American Music Awards, which I didn’t watch a lick of, boy band BTS was a big winner, taking the three awards for which they were nominated – favorite pop duo or group (for the third time in a row); favorite pop song (“Butter”) and the coveted artist of the year award (for the first time).
Taylor Swift won favorite female pop artist for the seventh time and also won for best pop album “evermore”, giving her 34 AMA trophies, most all time.
Olivia Rodrigo won new artist of the year (she’d the hot babe who likes to drive around suburbs).
Ed Sheeran won favorite male pop artist.
Machine Gun Kelly came with his 12-year-old daughter, not Megan Fox.
Luke Bryan won favorite male country artist.
Carrie Underwood was favorite female country artist.
Favorite country duo or group was Dan & Shay (not a fan).
Favorite country album: “Goldmine” – Gabby Barrett (big fan).
Favorite country song: “The Good Ones” – Gabby Barrett (you go, Girl!)
--Jon Batiste picked up 11 Grammy Award nominations on Tuesday. Not too shabby.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted Sun. p.m., prior to late sports action.]
Add-On up top by noon, Wed.
NCAA Basketball Quiz: I needed an easy quiz today…so with the college basketball season underway, the NCAA Tournament has been held since 1939 (Oregon the first winner). Name the only four teams that have been eligible for every tournament since ’39 and not been dancing once. [Answer below.]
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP Poll.]
We learned a lot this weekend, with Oregon’s loss and Ohio State’s annihilation of Michigan State. Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Michigan thus remain highly relevant, while any claim Wake Forest may have had at a CFP slot with a one-loss Power Five championship went out the window.
So let’s just dispose of this last one. 10 Wake (9-2) laid an egg at Clemson (8-3) as the defense was once again atrocious and the offense took too long to figure out Brent Venables’ ‘D’, the Deacs losing 48-27.
I told you how nervous I was the prior two weeks, against North Carolina and North Carolina State, and how I wasn’t going to be with Clemson. Not because I was confident, rather the contrary. It’s now 13 straight for Clemson over Wake, Coach Dave Clawson never having beaten Dabo Swinney’s boys. I knew it was coming down to next week after we lost to UNC and beat NC State…the final game against Boston College.
So we go up to Beantown and have to beat the Eagles to get into the ACC championship game against 18 Pitt (9-2), 48-38 winners yesterday over Virginia (6-5), the Panthers overcoming Brennan Armstrong’s 487 yards passing, Kenny Pickett with 340 yards and four touchdowns of his own…Pitt receiver Jordan Addison tying a school record with four TD receptions, 14-202-4.
I do just have to add regarding the Wake defeat, we were very thin at running back, and our center was out and in that unique offense, the center is key. But that’s no excuse for the defense, which is the worst for us in decades.
Anyway….from the top….
1 Georgia (11-0) was up 49-0 on Charleston Southern (4-6) at half, cruising 56-7. At the intermission, the Bulldogs had outgained the Buccaneers 373-28.
2 Alabama (10-1) struggled against Arkansas (8-3), prevailing 42-35, as Bryce Young threw for a ‘Bama-record 559 yards and five touchdowns; John Metchie with 10 receptions for 173 and a score, Jameson Williams 8-190-3. I was shocked the old record of 484 yards was set way back in 1969 by Scott Hunter. That was back in the days when 300 was a huge deal.
3 Oregon (9-2) can kiss the CFP goodbye after it was humiliated 38-7 by 23 Utah (8-3), the Utes’ defense too much for Anthony Brown and Co. As Wake alum Mark S. texted me, “the Deacs don’t want to face Utah in a bowl game.”
So if the Ducks can rebound against Oregon State next week (not likely), it would be the Ducks hooking up again against Utah in the Pac-12 title game, which would be immensely boring.
Which brings us to 4 Ohio State vs. 7 Michigan State. This game was over with 14:05 to play in the second quarter, the Buckeyes (10-1) up 28-0 on the way to an unheard of 49-0 lead at the half (given the competition), OSU cruising 56-7 in a spectacular performance offensively.
C.J. Stroud is now the only competition for Bryce Young in the Heisman Trophy hunt, Stroud with a phenomenal 32/35, 432, 6-0 effort. Receivers Chris Olave (7-140-2) and Garrett Wilson (7-126-2) accumulating their numbers in just two quarters of play.
The Buckeyes outgained the Spartans 665-226, holding one-time Heisman hopeful Kenneth Walker III to all of 25 yards on six carries, Michigan State having to put the down in the air far too soon in this one.
I mentioned the other week that Ohio State clearly has more offensive weapons than anyone else, but the defense isn’t chopped liver.
[One more, as Dr. W. reminded me, this was the same Michigan State that this week awarded coach Mel Tucker with a $95 million, 10-year extension. Eegads.]
Finally, 5 Cincinnati (11-0) put it all together in a 48-14 win over SMU (8-3), as Desmond Ridder had three touchdowns passing, one on the ground for the Bearcats, and the Mustang’s Tanner Mordecai was held to a mere 66 yards passing…66…on 26 attempts! Talk about a lockdown ‘D’…Mordecai was having a huge season, until yesterday.
So Cincinnati remains very much in the conversation with this one, gaining the needed style points for the committee, ditto No. 8 Notre Dame (10-1), 55-0 winners over hapless Georgia Tech (3-8). And, yes, the Bearcats have that huge early-season win over the Fighting Irish. So Notre Dame has to hope Cincy falls to Houston in the American Conference championship game in two weeks, the 24-ranked Cougars (10-1) 31-13 winners Friday night over Memphis (5-6).
[Cincinnati also can’t be looking ahead when they face East Carolina this week in the regular season finale.]
There are just two other teams remaining in the conversation. 6 Michigan is 10-1 and now gearing up for its annual contest against Ohio State next week, the Wolverines demolishing Maryland 59-18, with an interception return for a touchdown as well as a kick return for a score.
Can Michigan hang with Ohio State? Doubtful.
And we have 9 Oklahoma State (10-1), 23-0 winners over Texas Tech (6-5) and now headed for their showdown with 13 Oklahoma (10-1), who defeated Iowa State (6-5) 28-21 in Norman.
OK State is already in the Big 12 title game, and with those ahead of them, you really can’t see a path for the Cowboys to crack the final four.
In other games of note….
11 Baylor (9-2) beat Kansas State (7-4) 20-10.
12 Ole Miss is 9-2 and certainly an attractive New Year’s Six candidate, 31-17 winners over Vanderbilt (2-9).
14 BYU (9-2) handled Georgia Southern (3-8) 34-17.
15 Wisconsin (8-3) continued to roll, as America is discovering running back Braelon Allen, who went off for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries for the Badgers in their 35-28 win over Nebraska (3-8).
With a win against Minnesota next week, Wisconsin, winners of seven straight, would face Ohio State (assuming they beat Michigan) in the Big Ten title game.
19 San Diego State (10-1) actually scored 28 points in a 28-20 win over UNLV (2-9), but they were once again held to under 300 yards of offense. You just don’t want this team in your bowl game. Not a lot of tickets would be sold despite the gaudy record.
20 North Carolina State (8-3) got a big win over Syracuse (5-6), 41-17, keeping their ACC Atlantic division hopes alive. If Wake stumbles against B.C. next week, and State beats North Carolina, then the Wolfpack would go up against Pitt for the ACC title. [Clemson has a path if Wake and State lose.]
22 UTSA remained undefeated at 11-0, barely, with a 34-31 win over UAB (7-4), the Roadrunners needing a 77-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to keep their dream season alive.
And a few others….
Rutgers (5-6) was putrid in a 28-0 loss to Penn State (7-4), the Scarlet Knights with just 160 yards of offense.
Boston College (6-5) tuned up for Wake Forest by losing at home to Florida State (5-6) 26-23.
Johnny Mac’s Coastal Carolina is 9-2 after a 35-21 win over Texas State (3-9) as quarterback Grayson McCall returned, throwing for five touchdowns. But, alas, the Chants are not headed to major glory, rather a very minor bowl game awaits them.
J. Mac sent me a clip of the postgame celebration, which included Joey Chestnut taking on some of the Chants players in a pizza-eating contest, “Jaws” of course winning it. Good stuff.
Thursday, Louisville (6-5) became bowl eligible, and an attractive minor bowl team, with a 62-22 win over Duke (3-8). Attractive because the Cardinals have the scintillating Malik Cunningham, who had 305 yards passing and five touchdowns, along with 224 yards on the ground and two scores on just 11 carries.
Cunningham thus became the second player in FBS history to pass for 300 and rush for 200 in the same game, joining former Washington QB Marques Tuiasosopo as the only players to accomplish the feat.
He’s definitely an NFL prospect, as I wrote when Wake edged Louisville earlier in the year, and this is supposed to be a weak draft class for QBs.
Florida fell to 5-6 with a 24-23 overtime loss to Missouri (6-5). Which means that the Gators are shockingly 2-9 in their last 11 games against the Power Five. Coach Dan Mullen, in his fourth season, certainly should be out following next week’s contest with Florida State.
Pete M.’s Colgate Red Raiders (5-6, but 5-1 in the Patriot League) beat the Fordham Rams (6-5) 45-31. Fordham’s Jesuits, who take a vow of poverty, eschewed the pregame meal, donating it to the poor instead, and it came back to bite them as the Rams ran out of energy, yielding a short fumble return for the clinching score in the end.
[I was just informed for the 85th time that Colgate got rid of the ‘Red’ Raiders moniker a long time ago.]
Lastly, Lehigh (3-8) defeated Lafayette (3-8) in their 157th meeting. Two cool little schools just about an hour’s drive from here, some of my best friends going to Lehigh.
And now, the new AP Poll….
1. Georgia (62) 11-0
2. Ohio State 10-1…surged past ‘Bama and Cincinnati
3. Alabama 10-1
4. Cincinnati 11-0
5. Notre Dame 10-1…ND alum Mark R. getting excited
6. Michigan 10-1
7. Oklahoma State 10-1
8. Mississippi 9-2
9. Baylor 9-1
10. Oklahoma 10-1
11. Oregon 9-2
12. Michigan State 9-2
13. BYU 9-2
14. Texas A&M 8-3
15. UTSA 11-0
16. Utah 8-3
17. Iowa 9-2
18. Wisconsin 8-3
19. Houston 10-1
20. Pitt 9-2
21. Wake Forest 9-2
22. San Diego State 10-1
23. Louisiana-Lafayette 10-1
24. NC State 8-3
25. Arkansas 7-4
Wake with a well-deserved drop in the rankings.
Much more in my mid-week Chat. Is your editor shortchanging OK State’s chances? We’ll explore that, especially after the new CFP rankings, Tues.
--My 2-7 Jets took on 3-7 Miami today in MetLife Stadium and Joe Flacco was at QB for New York, not Zach Wilson or Mike White. Wilson is still recovering from a knee injury, and I’m glad the team isn’t rushing him, so it came down to White vs. Flacco and, controversially, coach Robert Salah, who had defended White after his four-interception game against the Bills last week, and chided the media, saying that “now everyone wants to throw him away. He deserves better that…”, then went with Flacco.
I don’t have a problem starting Flacco, but Salah’s thought-process in suddenly deciding to go with him over White was a bit troubling, and I’ve been a defender of Salah. This is the first time I’m questioning whether he’s up for the job.
So the Jets then lost, 24-17, though Flacco played well, 24/39, 291, 2-0, 101.6, providing the veteran leadership you’d expect, but Tua was better for Miami, 27/33, 273, 2-1, 108.7, and the Jets defense had zero sacks on him. Like an idiot (which I am more than capable of being), I watched the entire game, only with look-ins at Packers-Vikings until I caught the end of theirs.
--Speaking of this latter one, Aaron Rodgers (23/33, 385, 4-0, 148.4) and Kirk Cousins (24/35, 341, 3-0, 128.4) put on a show, Rodgers with a 75-yard scoring strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to tie it at 31-31 with 2:08 to play.
But that was too much time for Cousins et al and he maneuvered the Vikes for the game-winning field goal as time expired…Minnesota improving to 5-5 with the 34-31 victory, Green Bay falling to 8-3.
For the Vikes, Justin Jefferson caught eight of Cousins’ passes for 169 and two touchdowns.
--Buffalo (6-4) laid an egg at home against surging Indianapolis (6-5) 41-15, the Bills with 4 turnovers, while the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor had himself quite a day, 32 carries for 185 yards and four touchdowns, with another TD receiving…the five TDs a franchise record.
And not for nothing but the signing of Summit’s Michael Badgley has corresponded with Indy’s 5-1 streak, Badgley still perfect for the Colts, another 2-2 on field goals (35, 36), 5-5 on XPs…now 9-9, 24-24 in six games.
Bazooka Joe says: “Michael is still perfect from inside 40 for his career, 37 for 37!”
--In Chicago, the Ravens were without Lamar Jackson (out with an illness, not said to be Covid-related), so 2nd-year player Tyler Huntley got his first NFL start and all the kid out of Utah did was engineer a 72-yard, 5-play drive for the deciding score, Baltimore (7-3) taking it 16-13, Chicago falling to 3-7. Justin Fields left this one early with an injury.
--The Browns (6-5) stayed relevant with a 13-10 win over the Lions (0-9-1), thanks to the return of Nick Chubb, 22 carries for 130 yards, while Detroit got an outstanding performance out of fellow Georgia running back D’Andre Swift (14-136-1).
--Talk about laying an egg, Tennessee fell to 8-3, losing at home to the pathetic Houston Texans (2-8) 22-13, as Ryan Tannehill threw four interceptions, the Titans with five turnovers overall.
Houston only had 190 yards of offense (to the Titans’ 420).
This could be very costly come playoff seeding time and home-field advantage, getting a bye…those kinds of things.
--New Orleans fell to 5-5, losing at Philadelphia (5-6) 40-29, the Eagles rushing for 242 yards, quarterback Jalen Hurts with three touchdowns on the ground.
--Washington (4-6) beat Carolina (5-6) 27-21, as Taylor Heinicke threw for three touchdowns. Cam Newton was solid for the Panthers, two touchdowns through the air, one on the ground, but WFT was just a little better.
--San Francisco (5-5) beat Jacksonville (2-8) 30-10. The less said about this one the better.
--Talk about good place-kickers, Cincinnati’s Evan McPherson hit four field goals today in the Bengals’ 32-13 win over the struggling Raiders (5-5)…from 54, 53, 51 and 47…Cincy now 6-4.
As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while reading the Monday morning sports pages, Nancy in a hurry to meet up with Barbara Sinatra and just preparing her Ronnie some oatmeal, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--So much for the over/under on Kansas City-Dallas being 56, and every single analyst I saw Sunday talking about a “shootout.”
Try K.C. 19, Dallas 9…the Chiefs now 7-4, Dallas 7-3.
--And the Cardinals are 9-2, Colt McCoy getting the job done at QB in place of the still-injured Kyler Murray (ankle), 23-13 over Seattle (3-7).
--Thursday, New England (7-4) won its fifth in a row, shutting out Atlanta (4-6) 25-0, the Falcons generating only 165 yards of offense, while their quarterbacks threw four interceptions, one returned for a score.
The Patriots have yielded, 6, 7 and 0 points their last three.
--No huge upsets in the Top 25 the last few days, as it takes awhile for the season to take shape.
Today, 6 Purdue had an important win (in terms of future NCAA seedings), 80-74 over 5 Villanova.
--Your Bar Chat “Feature Team” for 2021-22, St. Bonaventure, had two nice wins, Thursday and Friday, against Boise State (67-61) and Clemson (68-65) in a tournament in Charleston, S.C., coming from down 16 in the second half against the Tigers. Tonight (after I go to post), the Bonnies are taking on Marquette (5-0) for the tourney title in a neat matchup, Shaka Smart at the helm of the Warriors.
St. Bonaventure, as I’ve told you, has a starting five that has been together a long time, but against Clemson, all five also played 36+ minutes. They have to have at least two reliable players off the bench as the season progresses. You always have injuries, and then come tourney time, foul issues. But we have a long ways to go before we talk about March Madness. [Or until next Chat…heh heh…]
Tickets are still available if you want to climb aboard the Bonnie Train. I’ve loved that they had a large number of fans that traveled to Charleston, which is a pisser city to begin with. Lots of places where you can get in trouble, in between awesome meals and some culture. [To me it’s the perfect 3 night / 2 day getaway.]
--We did have a big upset in Syracuse yesterday, as the aforementioned Colgate Red Raiders beat the Orange, 100-85, Colgate with a veteran roster that has had some success in the past, including NCAA tournament appearances in 2 of the last 3 seasons. Pete M. partied alllll night.
--Brooklyn leads in the East with a 12-5 record and there has been very little talk of Kyrie. You do wonder if he’ll ever have a change of heart, not that I really give a s---.
--In the West, it’s still all about Golden State, 14-2 heading into tonight’s game against Toronto, while Phoenix, 12-3, has rattled off ten straight as it hosts Denver after I’ve gone to post.
--As for the Knicks, they continue to play lackluster ball and it’s concerning. They’re an OK 9-7, overall, but they struggled to beat the worst team on the planet, the Houston Rockets (1-15) Saturday at the Garden, needing a fourth-quarter rally for the 106-99 win.
New York is at Chicago tonight.
--At least we aren’t the Lakers, 8-9 heading into today’s game at Detroit, LeBron, returning from his abdominal injury, saying the team needs to start playing with a sense of “urgency.”
--The PGA Tour’s calendar year final event was held this week in Sea Island, Georgia, the RSM Classic, and after three rounds it was….
Talor (sic) Gooch -16
Seamus Power -13
Sebastian Munoz -13
Gooch, 30, was seeking his first win, though he has played super thus far in the 2021-22 season with a T4, T11, T5, T11 in his first five tournaments prior to this week…and he did it. 3-stroke winner over Mackenzie Hughes.
--Meanwhile, in the European Tour’s 2021 finale, the season-long Race to Dubai, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, Americans Collin Morikawa and Billy Horschel entered the week 1-2 in the points standings and Morikawa won the event (by 3 over Matthew Fitzpatrick and Alexander Bjork) and the Race to Dubai, becoming the first American to do so…the capper to an outstanding season that saw him crowned Champion Golfer of the Year after winning The Open in July. Horschel finished second in the season-long standings, though was T32 this week.
Morikawa has been keeping a relatively low profile, the endorsements not pouring in as yet, but they will come.
Earlier, in his first trip to the Middle East, Horschel was asked about the current state of the PGA Tour, and it became clear he thinks too many of his fellow pros find it comfortable to finish “90th on the money list and pull in a million-plus dollars.”
“It does sound harsh,” he conceded. “It sounds like I’m trying to maybe attack the guys lower on tour, but I’m not. But I’m asking: ‘Are you doing everything you can to be the best player you can?’ If you aren’t, we shouldn’t just be giving you handouts because you got your PGA Tour card and you’re not making as much as some other guys.
“We should make the tour more competitive,” he continued. “We would change the way the money pays out where the top 30, 40 guys get paid a lot of money and then you don’t get paid as much down below, so it really pushes guys to really do everything they can to be the best player they can be. Instead of giving out 125 cards every year, we cut it down to 100. And if we cut down the Korn Ferry cards from 50 to 30, you make the fields 120. Now you’re getting the better players week in and week out. Doing that takes care of any other tour that comes along to compete against the PGA Tour or the European Tour.”
Separately, it was seven years ago that Rory McIlroy was approached by representatives for a possible breakaway tour funded by Saudi Arabian money. Back then, McIlroy dismissed the notion as a “money grab,” saying he was “very much against it” and that he “didn’t see why anyone would be for it.”
So now, when asked about Greg Norman’s involvement with LIV Golf Investments, the recently announced CEO of the Saudi-owned company – and the purchase of the Asian Tour, Rory had a similar response.
“That has only hardened my view,” Rory said in Dubai.
Previously, in 2019, Rory expressed his opposition to playing in the Saudi Arabia Invitational, then on the European Tour schedule but starting next year will be part of the Asian Tour.
“One hundred percent, there’s a morality to it as well.”
“You go back to what happened in Europe with the European Super League in football [soccer],” McIlroy said. “People can see it for what it is, a money grab, which is fine if what you’re playing golf for is to make as much money as possible. Totally fine, then go and do that if that’s what makes you happy. I’m just speaking about my own beliefs; I’m playing this game to try to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win major championships and to win the biggest tournaments in the world. I honestly don’t think there’s a better structure in place and I don’t think there will be.”
Rory and Horschel should get together to coordinate their best ideas. I like some of Horschel’s, and Rory has become the true voice of the sport.
Meanwhile, there is real cooperation between the PGA and European Tours, all to the good, as the PGA Tour is trying to align its schedule so that its players can compete in the European Tour’s top events, which is good for everyone.
There was only one major story this week. Today, Manchester United’s board sacked manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following United’s 4-1 defeat away to Watford. It was one humiliation too many for this historic team.
Man U has five defeats in its last seven Premier League fixtures.
Solskjaer admitted he went over to apologize to the travelling fans after yesterday’s game, telling Sky Sports: “I feel for the fans and I feel the same as them – we’re embarrassed by losing the way we do.” Well, too late, buddy.
Meanwhile, first-place Chelsea whipped Leicester City 3-0, Liverpool shutout Arsenal 4-0, and Wolverhampton had a big 1-0 win over West Ham.
Today….Man City beat Everton 3-0, and then in the late contest, my Tottenham Spurs, down 1-0 at the half at home to lowly Leeds, scored twice after the intermission for a key 2-1 win, manager Antonio Conte’s first for the Spurs in what is hopefully a launching pad moment for the rest of the season. No doubt, Conte brings passion, so sorely lacking at Tottenham the last few years. The fans will love him…especially if they win.
The standings after 12 of 38….
1. Chelsea 29 points
2. Man City 26
3. Liverpool 25
4. West Ham 23
5. Arsenal 20
6. Wolves 19
7. Tottenham 19
8. Man U 17
--The Premier League has agreed to a six-year U.S. broadcast rights agreement with NBC Sports, supposedly worth $2 billion, according to the Athletic.
The games will be broadcast across NBC, USA Network, Telemundo, and the company’s Peacock streaming service.
--The NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship is underway. The top seeds are Oregon State (1), Washington (2), Georgetown (3) and Notre Dame (4).
Unseeded Wake Forest, attempting to make its seventh straight Sweet Sixteen, beat Mercer 2-1 on Thursday to set up a showdown with 13 FIU.
[Wake is up 2-1 at the half…I saw where unseeded Hofstra destroyed 12 Penn State 8-2! Notre Dame beat Villanova 3-0…no stumbles yet among top four seeds.]
--Shohei Ohtani claimed his biggest honor of his historic campaign, as he was unanimously selected as the American League’s MVP, garnering all 30 first-place votes.
Bryce Harper of the Phillies won the N.L. MVP Award for a second time over Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Ohtani became the second Japanese-born recipient after Ichiro in 2001. Angels teammate Mike Trout was the last unanimous selection (2014, Trout also winning it in 2016 and 2019).
In the Cy Young Award races, Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes edged out Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler, both receiving 12 first-place votes.
In the A.L., Toronto’s Robbie Ray gained 29 of 30 first-place votes, the other going to Gerrit Cole, as Ray romped.
Separately, since I last posted, Justin Verlander inked a $25 million one-year deal to stay in Houston, with a player option for a second year, rather than test the free agency waters.
But the real issue now is the looming lockout as the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires Dec. 1 (midnight). We’ll just have to wait and see if negotiations get serious in January so that training camps can open on schedule in February. I’m not that concerned, believing cooler heads will prevail and there will be compromise.
--Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, according to Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, has been staying in her own home “freely” and will make a public appearance “soon.”
Former doubles world number one Peng has not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media on Nov. 2 that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex and they later had an on-off consensual relationship.
Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government has commented on her allegation. Peng’s social media post was quickly deleted and the topic has been blocked from discussion on China’s heavily censored internet.
“In the past few days, she stayed in her own home freely and she didn’t want to be disturbed. She will show up in public and participate in some activities soon,” Hu wrote on Twitter.
So the above was written Saturday. Today…Peng had a video call with the president of the International Olympic Committee and told him she was safe and well, the IOC said in a statement. Photos and videos of Peng at a tournament in Beijing earlier on Sunday had done little to dampen international concerns, following the nearly three-week public absence.
In a statement, the IOC said that at the start of the 30-minute call with its president, Thomas Bach, Peng had thanked the IOC for its concern about her well-being.
“She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time,” the IOC’s statement said. “That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much.”
As of now, both the Women’s Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation, as well as various foreign ministries, including the U.S. and France, remain unsatisfied as to her true status. A ton of this just doesn’t add up.
In fact, there is no doubt in my mind the immensely corrupt IOC is being paid good money by the Chinese to play along.
--They held two women’s slalom World Cup races this weekend in Levi, Finland, and Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in both to her rival Petra Vlhova of Slovakia. This is setting up to be one of the two or three best story lines of the Beijing Olympics.
Next weekend, we have a giant slalom and slalom race at Killington, Vermont, the only stop for the women in the U.S.
As for the men, no interest whatsoever, quite frankly, since the U.S. team once again appears to be weak.
--Ian Austen of the New York Times had an extensive piece on the beaver, a perennial top ten on the All-Species List, and it was not for a good reason. It seems Canadians are no longer enamored with one of their official national symbols. Some communities in Alberta are offering bounties on beavers’ tails. A mayor in Quebec has called for them to be “eradicated.”
Beaver dams are the source of most of the complaints, like when the beavers abandon one and eventually it collapses.
But as Ian Austen writes: “This year witnessed a number of notable episodes: Beavers chomped through a fiber optic cable, cutting off internet service to Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, and a subway station in Toronto was shut down after a lost beaver took a tour….
“In May, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police got their beaver in a case involving stolen wooden fence posts.”
The ignorant don’t understand the value in beaver dams, which mitigate river flooding, and so Beaver remains in the top ten of the ASL.
--A 70-year-old man has shot dead a brown bear (far bigger than our cute little black bears) in southwestern France after it attacked and severely injured him while he was out hunting wild boar, officials say.
The man reportedly fired two shots with a rifle at the female bear, who was wandering with her cubs at the time, killing the animal instantly.
Local media report that the man suffered serious leg injuries and was taken to a hospital in Toulouse.
The man, part of a local hunting association, had been bitten by the bear several times, causing damage to the arteries in his legs, police said.
France began reintroducing brown bears to the Pyrenees after numbers of the animals plummeted in the 1990s.
But the move has sparked protests from local farmers who whine the bears pose a risk to their livestock, mused the editor, who admires Brown Bears and is far more concerned over the fate of the cubs.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/21/70: #1 “I Think I Love You” (The Partridge Family) #2 “We’ve Only Just Begun” (Carpenters) #3 “I’ll Be There” (The Jackson 5)…and…#4 “The Tears Of A Clown” (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles) #5 “Fire And Rain” (James Taylor) #6 “Indiana Wants Me” (R. Dean Taylor) #7 “Green-Eyed Lady” (Sugarloaf) #8 “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” (100 Proof Aged in Soul) #9 “Gypsy Woman” (Brian Hyland) #10 “Montego Bay” (Bobby Bloom…B week…)
NCAA Basketball Quiz Answer: Four teams to have been eligible for every NCAA tournament and not been dancing once are Army, St. Francis (NY), William & Mary and The Citadel.
I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed. The latest CFP rankings and more.