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The USC Trojans Are In The Hunt....
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
--New CFP Poll
2. Ohio State
11. Penn State
12. Kansas State
15. Notre Dame
16. Florida State
17. North Carolina
20. Ole Miss
21. Oregon State
--It’s all about Michigan-Ohio State, noon, Saturday, though at the same time, South Carolina at Clemson is interesting, and then in the evening we have Notre Dame at USC.
We will know a ton after this weekend. Just play the games.
But one thing is also clear…the Group of Five, New Year’s Six berth is going to the winner of the AAC championship…Tulane, UCF or Cincinnati…Tulane at Cincinnati on Friday. Unfortunately, Coastal Carolina isn’t in the picture.
--Tennessee’s Heisman candidate Hendon Hooker went out late in the 63-38 loss to South Carolina with a knee injury, and we learned late Sunday he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Just sucks. This was his final season and he put himself big time on the NFL radar. It will be interesting to see where he goes as a result because year one will basically be all about rehab. At least he can learn on the sidelines. I’m guessing a team with an already established QB would take Hooker, recognizing he’s not necessarily needed (you’d hope) his rookie season.
--The FCS (Div. I-AA) playoff kicks off this weekend with 24 teams, eight receiving a first-round bye.
Locally, Fordham (9-2) at New Hampshire (8-3) is a big one, the winner taking on 8-seed Holy Cross (11-0).
The winner of Davidson (8-3) at Richmond (8-3) takes on 2-seed Sacramento State (11-0).
The 1-seed is South Dakota State (10-1). Dec. 3, they will take on the winner of Saturday’s Saint Francis, PA (9-2) vs. Delaware (7-4) contest.
--Boy, the Jets’ Zach Wilson was ripped royally on the New York sports airwaves Monday as expected. Consider the guy now has 20 NFL games under his belt and has just 13 touchdown passes, 16 interceptions. Just four TDs in seven games this season.
Sunday night after the New England disaster, Jets coach Robert Saleh said making a change at quarterback was “the furthest thing from my mind,” though he called his team’s offense “dogs---.”
But twenty-four hours later, Saleh was asked about his quarterback plans for Sunday’s game against the Bears and for the first time opened the door to benching the man who was to be the quarterback of their future.
“I’m going to get to the tape and evaluate everything,” Saleh said. “I’ll leave it at that. We’re keeping everything on the table over the next couple of days.”
Saleh said that everyone on offense is being evaluated and their roles are all subject to change after the Jets gained just 103 yards of total offense on Sunday, including two yards after halftime.
But fans and observers are also increasingly upset at Wilson’s attitude and his total indifference after the devastating loss. When asked if he and the offense felt like they let the defense down, Wilson said, “No…No.”
Wilson was also asked if the Patriots had changed their defense, since Zach had thrown for 355 yards against the same Pats just two weeks earlier (though he had three deadly interceptions).
“No, it was the same,” Wilson said. “I think you got to take into account it’s windy as hell out there too, guys. There’s times where you can’t just completely try and take these shots down the field. You can see how much it’s moving out there.”
The opposing quarterback, Mac Jones, dealing with the same wind, was 23 of 27 for 246 yards. The fact is Wilson sailed freakin’ screen passes!
Former Jets coach Rex Ryan ripped Wilson a new one Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up!”
“This kid doesn’t get it. And when you have a bad game, your team loses, as a quarterback and a leader of the team because that’s your position, you always start with ‘I’ and ‘me,’ alright? ‘I had a poor game. I’ve got to do better. My receivers were open. I’ve got to deliver the ball to them. This game is on me.’
“You know what? That’s what we see out of Jalen Hurts. Didn’t we see that out of Josh Allen?... Kid, grow up. …And by the way Zach, you did deserve it. You stunk up the joint yesterday. And I’m sorry but this kid divided the locker room. You better step up and be a man, and especially in this city. …This kid is a talent, OK? I’m not worried about the talent. I’m worried about you being a man and understanding your responsibility for this football team as the quarterback.”
I do just have to add that on the game-deciding 84-yard punt return for a touchdown by the Patriots’ Marcus Jones, aside from the fact we should have punted away from him, I have to admit, as an avid fan I wasn’t upset by the no-call on the block in the back at the end of the play.
Had it been early in the play, like in the first 20 yards of the return which is where you normally see calls made, it’s an entirely different story. I’m just not going to get upset about this one not being called as it had zero impact on the result.
As for this Sunday’s game against the Bears at MetLife, I wrote last time about how little it mattered that Chicago QB Justin Fields’ was racking up historic rushing statistics for a QB. The guy is going to set every record in the category, but they are 3-8.
Or maybe he won’t. Because at the end of Sunday’s game against the Falcons, Fields suffered a shoulder injury…a dislocated shoulder, we were first told. Now, as I go to post, he is day-to-day, the shoulder not dislocated. Fields has taken a ton of hits. It’s reckless on the part of the Bears coaching staff to allow your franchise QB to get mauled in such a fashion.
--Monday night in Mexico City, San Francisco improved to 6-4, whipping Arizona (4-7) 38-10, the Cardinals without Kyler Murray, out with a sore hamstring.
For the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient, 20/29, 228, 4-0, 131.9, with two touchdown passes each to George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk.
For Arizona, at least Wake Forest’s Greg Dortch had nine receptions for 103 yards.
--Late Sunday in the Cowboys’ 40-3 demolition of the Vikings (8-2) in Minneapolis, Tony Pollard had 189 yards from scrimmage, including six receptions for 109 yards and two scores, as he continues to have a super season, 701 yards rushing, 5.9 average, and another 243 yards receiving. Pollard’s had a terrific four years in Dallas as the No. 2 back behind Ezekiel Elliott, but this season, with Elliott slowed by injury, he’s stepped up in a starring role. If Elliott’s healthy for the playoffs, it’s a helluva 1-2 punch for the 7-3 Cowboys.
But Vikings fans have to have some of the feelings that Giants fans do, New York 7-3 but not exactly dominating. Is Minnesota really a contender? We’ll see how they bounce back Thursday against the Patriots. It’s not as if they have a tough schedule the rest of the way.
Speaking of the Giants, they head to Dallas for their Thanksgiving affair.
--Sunday night, the Chargers went up 27-23 over the Chiefs at SoFi Stadium with just 1:46 left, but they were facing Patrick Mahomes and he coolly drove K.C. 75 yards on six plays, capped off by a 17-yard TD pass to Travis Kelce, Kelce’s third of the game and the Chiefs (8-2) won it, 30-27, dropping the Chargers to 5-5.
For Kelce, the future Hall of Famer has a career-tying 11 touchdowns on the season.
--In their bad loss to the Lions at home, 31-18, the Giants suffered a number of key injuries, especially starting cornerback Adoree Jackson, who suffered a knee injury that will keep him out a number of weeks. The thing is, he was returning a punt…a critical cog on defense on the return team.
Coach Brian Daboll defended his decision to have Jackson back there. “Look, it’s football. Obviously, it was unfortunate.”
The Giants also lost rookie receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who was having the best game of his career – nine receptions, 100 yards – to a season-ending knee injury.
--For the archives, I have to note Cordarrelle Patterson recording his NFL-record ninth career kickoff return touchdown…breaking a tie with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington…as the Falcons beat the Bears, 27-24.
Whenever I think of kickoff returns for touchdowns, I think of Travis Williams, 1967 for the Packers, when he had four of them his rookie year, averaging 41.1 on 18 returns. He had six overall for his career (1967-71). Williams starred in my electric football games…Rrrrrrrrr…
--I realize millions of Americans couldn’t give a damn about the World Cup, and it’s not like I’m watching every game, but if you don’t understand the enormity of Saudi Arabia’s upset Tuesday of Argentina, 2-1, you can’t really call yourself a “sports fan” in the purest sense.
Football is about all Argentina has (except for great steak), and they were a heavy favorite to certainly make it to the final eight, if not win it all. They have Lionel Messi after all, who scored the first goal of the match before the stunning second half comeback by the Saudis.
I’ll tell you one rather large figure of the world who is pissed…Pope Francis. Argentinians are furious at their team. After all they had not lost in 36 straight international matches. They’ve won two World Cups and finished runner-up three times.
It’s for good reason many are calling this the biggest upset in World Cup history. The Saudis entered the game with three victories in their 16 World Cup matches.
In the other Group C match, Mexico and Poland played to a 0-0 draw.
As for the Americans, everyone is disappointed in their 1-1 draw with Wales. Team USA played well, but we enabled Wales to tie it on a careless, unnecessary penalty in the box that superstar Gareth Bale then bombed into the net past our quality goalkeeper, Matt Turner, who plays for Premier League-leading Arsenal, Turner having made a terrific save earlier.
It was a blown opportunity by us, and we are likely to get drilled by England on Friday, 6-2 winners over Iran in their Group B opener.
But the Americans do have some young talent, led by Christian Pulisic, who played very well in his World Cup debut, it’s just that we should have won it.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo said he felt betrayed by his club team, Manchester United, having said he doesn’t respect manager Erik ten Hag, which was a rather explosive thing to say, and so the two sides decided to part, the team saying “Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.”
[Man U’s owners also announced they will explore a sale.]
Well this has ticked off Ronaldo’s Portugal teammates bigly, as it creates a massive distraction before their first World Cup match with Ghana on Thursday. Literally, his teammates have been ignoring him in practice…not a great sign for their Cup hopes.
--With all the games between heavyweights in the last week, it’s worth looking at the new AP Poll. [Records thru Sunday]
1. North Carolina (47) 4-0
2. Houston (9) 5-0
3. Kansas (1) 4-0
4. Texas (5) 3-0
5. Virginia (1) 4-0…up 11 after taking down two top 25 teams
6. Gonzaga 3-1
7. Baylor 4-1
8. Duke 3-1
9. Arkansas 3-0
10. Creighton 4-0
11. Indiana 4-0
12. Michigan State 3-1
13. Auburn 4-0
14. Arizona 3-0
15. Kentucky 3-2…down 11
16. Illinois 4-1
17. San Diego State 3-0
18. Alabama 4-0
19. UCLA 3-2…down 11
20. UConn 5-0
21. Texas Tech 3-0
22. Tennessee 2-1
23. Maryland 5-0
24. Purdue 3-0
25. Iowa 3-0
So Monday, in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, 10 Creighton beat 21 Texas Tech 76-65, and last night, the Bluejays did it again, 90-87 over 9 Arkansas.
17 San Diego State lost to 14 Arizona 87-70.
--The Knicks wrapped up a five-game western road trip 3-2, with a nice revenge win over the Thunder Monday night in Oklahoma City, 129-119, after OKC dropped 145 on New York in a win at the Garden the other week. Jalen Brunson was superb for the Knicks, 34 points, nine assists, just two turnovers, 14-20 from the floor.
So the Knicks are 9-9, as they bounce back and forth. I’m just afraid this is the way it’s going to be all season, nothing better.
--But the big story in this area was last night’s long-awaited homecoming of Ben Simmons in Philadelphia. Simmons was met by a heavy dose of boos throughout, as he had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists, but it wasn’t as bad as some of us thought it would be, including those in the TNT studio like Charles Barkley.
That said, it was inexcusable the Nets, with their Big Three (Durant, Irving and Simmons), couldn’t beat a Sixers team without Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and James Harden, Brooklyn (8-10) falling to Philly (9-8) 115-106.
--The New Jersey Devils have won 13 in a row, tying the longest streak in franchise history. The NHL record is 17 held by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.
New Jersey is 16-3-0 thru Tues.
But Boston is 17-2-0, with two 7-game winning streaks!
--Tiger Woods was confirmed Tuesday as the top money earner in the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program, taking home a cool $15 million. Rory McIlroy was second at $12 million, Jordan Spieth third ($9 million), then Justin Thomas ($7.5 million), Jon Rahm ($6 million), Scottie Scheffler ($5.5 million), Xander Schauffele ($5 million), Matt Fitzpatrick ($5 million), Will Zalatoris ($5 million) and Tony Finau ($5 million).
As I’ve noted before, the formula takes into account such metrics as Google searches, Q rating, Nielson brand exposure rating, MVP index rating and Meltwater mentions measuring frequency of coverage in multiple media.
--In the Men’s NCAA Soccer Championship, after Sunday’s play we were down to 16 teams and the vaunted ACC was getting its butt kicked. Not only did Wake Forest lose its first round game, but 4-seed Virginia fell to Marshall, High Point defeated North Carolina, and UCLA defeated 8-seed Clemson
But the Sweet Sixteen did still have the ACC’s Pitt, Syracuse and Duke.
However, UNCG advanced, so picture when it comes to recruiting, High Point beat North Carolina, and Wake Forest lost. A good story for the coaches at High Point and UNCG (both geographically close to Wake and recruiting directly against the Deacs and Tar Heels).
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
[Posted early Sunday p.m., before the conclusion of the late NFL games]
Baseball Quiz: Justin Verlander won his third Cy Young Award this week. Name the other 10 who have captured at least three Cy Youngs. Answer below.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll…rankings are CFP]
So I was watching Duke-Pitt rather extensively in the noon, Eastern time slot yesterday, just kind of keeping tabs on TCU and Michigan and their contests.
And then it was about 3:00 p.m. and I looked at the scores more closely and I was like ‘Holy [Toledo]. This could be a titanic day when you least expected it….’
So I flipped over to 4 TCU at Baylor, the Horned Frogs down 28-20 with about 9:00 to play, their CFP hopes potentially going out the window, but then TCU cut it to 28-26 with 2:07 left, only to miss the 2-point conversation for the tie.
But they had their timeouts left, the defense stopped the Bears, Max Duggan drove the Horned Frogs into field goal range, the clock winding down 0:13…0:12…0:11…kicker Griffin Kell settled himself in…0:06…0:05…and nailed it from 40 as the clock expired, TCU (11-0) 29, Baylor (6-5) 28. Coach Sonny Dykes works his magic yet again…the game-ending fire drill was carried off with perfection, Dykes saying they practice it every Thursday.
So on to Ann Arbor, where Illinois (7-4) had been playing the No. 3 Wolverines tough all game, leading 17-10 heading into the fourth quarter, when it turned into the Jake Moody Show.
The Lou Groza winner nailed three field goals from 41, 33 and 35 yards in tough conditions, the last with 0:09 left, and Michigan (11-0) survives, 19-17.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy was hardly impressive for the Wolverines, and his receivers dropped some key passes, but he came through when needed to get Moody into range.
College football fans let out a collective ‘Phewww…’ Ohio State-Michigan, next Saturday, remains the “Game of the Decade.”
2 Ohio State (11-0), however, was struggling itself, trailing at Maryland (6-5) 13-10 at the half, before third string running back Dallan Hayden took over, 27 carries for 146 yards and three touchdowns, the Buckeyes pulling away at the end, 43-30.
Here’s the thing, though. Michigan’s Heisman hopeful Blake Corum went out with an injury after rushing for 108 yards and his status for next week is unknown as of today, and Ohio State’s top two backs, TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams are either out or far from 100 percent; Henderson hobbling around yesterday. But Hayden has proven he can fill in ably. Can Michigan find a replacement for Corum (and Donovan Edwards) if need be?
Meanwhile, No. 1 Georgia (11-0) was far from impressive in a 16-6 win at Kentucky (6-5).
But while we almost lost TCU and Michigan in terms of the CFP chase, we did lose 5 Tennessee, a shocking 63-38 loser at South Carolina (7-4). Spencer Rattler was spectacular at quarterback for the Gamecocks, 30/37, 438, 6-0, the offense with 606 yards overall and zero turnovers. [The Vols may have lost star QB Hendon Hooker to a lower-body injury, Hooker exiting late in the contest.]
So who will be No. 5 in the CFP this week?
Most likely 6 LSU (9-2), 41-10 winners over UAB (5-6).
But 7 USC (10-1) said, ‘Don’t forget about us!’ as they won their biggie against 16 UCLA (9-2) 48-45.
Down 14-0 after the first quarter, the Trojans, led by Caleb Williams (32/43, 470, 2-1, plus a touchdown on the ground) roared back, while Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for four touchdowns and rushed for two more, but was picked off three times and lost a fumble.
USC, after its season ender with Notre Dame, will face Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, the No. 12 Ducks (9-2) 20-17 winners over 10 Utah (8-3). If USC wins out, they certainly will have a strong claim for the final four.
As for 18 Notre Dame (8-3), they kept their New Year’s Six hopes alive with a 44-0 shutout of pathetic Boston College (3-8), Benjamin Morrison with three interceptions for the Fighting Irish, B.C. with five turnovers.
8 Alabama is New Year’s Six bound at 9-2, 34-0 winners over Austin Peay (7-4).
But 9 Clemson (10-1) kept its slim CFP hopes alive with a 40-10 win over Miami (5-6).
The Tigers, though, were hurt big time when 13 North Carolina (9-2) inexplicably fell to Georgia Tech (5-6), at home, 21-17, as Drake Maye’s Heisman hopes went up in flames, star receiver Josh Downs with a massive drop in the end zone on a 4th-and-11 play that would have given the Tar Heels the lead with about four minutes to play. Maye threw for a season-low 202 yards.
So the UNC-Clemson ACC title matchup has far less juice, and Clemson might not even get past South Carolina next week.
In other games, 11 Penn State (9-2) could be New Year’s Six bound with a 55-10 win over lowly Rutgers (4-7). RU fans are wondering why the school brought back Greg Schiano and paid him big bucks to suck.
14 Ole Miss isn’t going to a New Year’s Six bowl after a 42-27 loss at Arkansas (6-5).
15 Kansas State (8-3) will move up a few after a 48-31 win at West Virginia (4-7), the Wildcats with 41 points in the first half. Should K-State win its regular season finale against Kansas next week, they will be in the Big 12 title game against TCU.
Louisville (7-4) beat 24 North Carolina State (7-4) 25-10, as the Cardinals have vastly improved in the second half of the season and will be a tough opponent in their bowl game.
In the aforementioned Duke at Pitt contest, which was entertaining, albeit sloppy, Duke missed two, 2-point conversions and Pitt converted on their key attempt and the Panthers (7-4) beat the Blue Devils (7-4) in a game for bowl game positioning.
Duke, after scoring, trailed 28-20 and curiously went for two, the first time, and failed, so when they scored again late to make it 28-26, they had to go for two again and failed the second time.
As in they shouldn’t have been going for two either time. That’s coaching, sports fans.
Do you sense there are a lot of 7-4 teams in the ACC?
Add Wake Forest (7-4), breaking its 3-game losing streak against Syracuse (6-5…losers of five straight) 45-35 as Sam Hartman threw for four touchdowns, A.T. Perry catching three, as Hartman’s career total of 104 touchdown passes is just three behind the league record of 107 by Clemson’s Tahj Boyd. [Perry set a career Wake mark with 27 TD receptions.]
Wake at Duke is a biggie next week. 8-4 is much better looking than 7-5.
So then we have the Group of Five, New Year’s Six bowl berth and it is a total s---show.
Thursday, 21 Tulane (9-2) beat SMU (6-5) 59-24.
But 20 UCF (8-3) lost to Navy (4-7) 17-14, even though the Midshipmen were 0-for-1 passing. The Knights were in the driver’s seat for the Group of Five bid.
25 Cincinnati (9-2) then stayed in the hunt with a 23-3 win over Temple (3-8).
Cincinnati now plays Tulane next Friday…and the two could match up a week later in the AAC title game for the New Year’s Six berth.
[Coastal Carolina, 9-1, also remains in the Group of Five hunt. The Chants’ scheduled game against Virginia was cancelled due to the tragedy at UVA and now they have to beat James Madison next week, and then win the Sun Belt title game. Should they finish 11-1, it will be tough not to give them the New Year’s Six berth.]
One other in the top 25…No. 23 Oregon State is 8-3 after a 31-7 win at Arizona State (3-8), as the Beavers prepare for their annual “Civil War”* against Oregon and supremacy in the editor’s sports drawer.
*You aren’t supposed to call this the Civil War anymore, but then you also aren’t supposed to call the Colgate Raiders the Red Raiders.
Speaking of which, Colgate lost to Fordham 52-38, the Rams 9-2 and FCS playoff bound. Fordham quarterback Tim DeMorat threw for another 454 yards and six touchdowns.
DeMorat has thrown for, get this, 4,561 yards with 53 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Good Lord, as the Jesuits are saying.
Lastly, Yale won the Ivy League title in beating Harvard 19-14.
And now the new AP Poll! ….
1. Georgia (62) 11-0
2. Ohio State (1) 11-0
3. Michigan 11-0
4. TCU 11-0
5. USC 10-1 …USC 4-8 last season…
6. LSU 9-2
7. Clemson 10-1
8. Alabama 9-2
9. Tennessee 9-2
10. Oregon 9-2
11. Penn State 9-2
12. Washington 9-2
13. Notre Dame 8-3
14. Utah 8-3
15. Kansas State 8-3
16. Florida State 8-3
17. UCLA 8-3
18. North Carolina 9-2
19. Tulane 9-2
20. Ole Miss 8-3
21. Cincinnati 9-2
22. Oregon State 8-3
23. Coastal Carolina 9-1…where will CFP put them?
24. Texas 7-4
25. UCF 8-3
--If you can tell me the winner of the Heisman Trophy, you’re a better man than me. C.J. Stroud was very ordinary for the Buckeyes, and Drake Maye was even less so for UNC. Blake Corum could miss the biggest game of the season. And Hendon Hooker not only lost, he’s hurt.
But Caleb Williams, with his monster game against UCLA, could have vaulted over everyone this weekend.
--A former NC State football player was arrested this week and charged with misdemeanor stalking and communicating threats to Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren.
The arrest stems from a tweet reportedly sent by Joseph Boletepeli, 22, a member of the 2018 and 2019 NC State football teams, saying “Imma get him I promise. Dave Doeren and the rest.”
The school confirmed Boletepeli was a member of the football program before transferring to Maryland, where he played in five games in 2020.
He was also charged with resisting arrest when picked up in Raleigh, NC, and according to reports from WRAL, investigators said he was seen on several occasions near Doeren’s place of work and had sent numerous text messages threatening Doeren and other staff members.
Talk about disturbing, especially in light of the UVA tragedy.
--After today, the New York sports airwaves will be on fire about the quarterback situation for the Giants and Jets.
The Giants lost at home to the surging Lions (4-6), 31-18, as Daniel Jones reverted to his old self, two interceptions, the Giants falling to 7-3.
Jamaal Williams had three rushing touchdowns for Detroit, and on a very windy day at MetLife Stadium, Summit’s Michael Badgley was perfect, 1/1 FG, 4/4 XPs to remain perfect on the season.
--So I was flipping back and forth between this one and the Jets at New England, and with rough weather conditions in Foxborough as well, Zach Wilson looked like a high schooler, the Jets generating 103 yards of offense for the game, a mere two…two…in the second half.
But it was 3-3, game headed to overtime, when the Jets, with about 26 seconds remaining, inexplicably punted it to the Patriots’ return man, rookie Marcus Jones, and the kid returned it 84 yards for the winning touchdown, the first PR for a TD this season in the NFL.
A crushing loss for Gang Green (6-4), despite a terrific effort on defense, and another loss to the hated Bill Belichick, his boys also 6-4.
Wilson is hideous. He gives us a glimpse or two of what could be, but this was atrocious. He is not a franchise quarterback, nor is Daniel Jones for the Giants. And that’s depressing for us locals, just looking for entertainment on a Sunday that occasionally puts a smile on our faces rather than a fist through the kitchen wall…not that I’ve ever done that, mused the editor.
--In other early games, the Bills somewhat righted the ship against the Browns (3-7), 31-23, as Buffalo (7-3) was forced to play in Detroit due to 77 inches of snow at Orchard Park, where its stadium is. Josh Allen and Co. weren’t exactly sharp, but then the Browns blow.
--The Eagles are 9-1 after a 17-16 win over the Colts (4-6-1), Jalen Hurts driving the team 75 yards for a late score, Mark R. telling me the result was somewhat referee aided.
--The Falcons stay in touch at 5-6 with a 27-24 win over the Bears. Chicago’s Justin Fields rushed for another 85 yards, as he’ll break every record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, having already done so for a game, but just like Bobby Douglass*, back in the day, it’s meaningless when you’re 3-8.
*Douglass was 4-9-1 in 1972 when he rushed for a then record 968 yards for the Bears. Intriguing Strat-O-Matic card, however.
--The Rams continue to suck wind, unbelievably, with the worst start ever to a season by a Super Bowl champion, now 3-7, as they lost 27-20 to the Saints (4-7); star receiver Cooper Kupp out probably for the season with a high ankle sprain.
--The Ravens are 7-3 after what had to be a dreadful game to watch, 13-3 over the Panthers (3-8)…one of many awful games this season in the NFL. The product generally sucks compared to College Football. And the networks are afraid to show the cheerleaders in the NFL…which at the end of the day….
--The Washington Commanders* are 6-5 after a 23-10 win over the hapless Texans (1-7-1), who wouldn’t win three games in the Big 12.
*Thanks to their owner, it’s why we don’t see cheerleaders anymore…you do know that, don’t you?
--Thursday, after the Packers broke their 5-game losing streak with a nice 31-28 win over Dallas to get back to 4-6, there was hope in Green Bay that maybe the Pack would go on a run and contend for a playoff spot by year end.
But Tennessee put a nail in Green Bay’s coffin at Lambeau Field, 27-17, as Derrick Henry, largely held in check on the ground, 28 carries for just 87 yards but a touchdown, passed for a TD and had two receptions for 45, so still 132 yards.
Ryan Tannehill was terrific for the Titans, 22/27, 333, 2-1, 127.3, outplaying Aaron Rodgers (24/39, 227, 2-0, 94.7).
First-round pick Treylon Burks had his coming out party with career highs in receptions (seven) and yards (111) for Tennessee.
So it’s wait ‘til next year for the 4-7 Packers, while the Titans, 7-3, are going to be a very tough out with Henry and a stout defense, the usual formula for Tennessee.
--Since I posted Wed. a.m. we had more postseason awards.
Wednesday, the Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara and the Astros’ Justin Verlander were both unanimous Cy Young Award winners, the first time that has happened since 1968, when Bob Gibson and Denny McLain were unanimous selections.
I must say, I was kind of surprised Alcantara was unanimous, all 30 first-place votes, thinking the Dodgers’ Julio Urias (17-7, league-leading 2.16 ERA) would get a few, but he actually finished third behind the Braves’ Max Fried.
Alcantara, though, was quite a workhorse, as measured by today’s game. 14-9, 2.28, 228 2/3 innings (23 2/3 more than any other pitcher in the majors), six complete games (more than any other team), and only 16 home runs allowed.
It wasn’t surprising that Justin Verlander was a unanimous selection in the AL. After pitching a total of 3 innings since 2019, with the pandemic and coming off Tommy John surgery, all Verlander did in winning his third Cy Young was go 18-4, with a MLB-leading 1.75 ERA. And he’s 39. And he’s married to Kate Upton. That last bit alone warrants a plaque in Cooperstown, but he’ll get it for his performance on the field.
But once again, Verlander is a free agent. He opted out of the $25 million salary he would have earned in 2023 and is thought to be seeking a deal similar to the 3-year, $130 million contract Max Scherzer got to sign with the Mets lats offseason.
Then Thursday, it was all rise, Yankees fans, for Aaron Judge, named AL MVP after receiving 28 of 30 first-place votes, Shohei Ohtani getting the other two.
Judge became the first Yankees outfielder since Mickey Mantle in 1962 to win AL MVP.
On the NL side, Paul Goldschmidt won his first career MVP award, receiving 22 first-place votes, while Manny Machado picked up seven and Nolan Arenado one.
I wrote during the season, when it looked like Goldschmidt was going to win the Triple Crown, that an MVP award would boost his Hall of Fame chances bigly and capturing this certainly does. He had two seconds and a third in previous MVP votes, with a .295 career batting average, .917 OPS, 315 home runs, 1,042 RBIs, and four Gold Gloves. At 34, you’d think he has two more good seasons in him, getting to 360+ HR, 1,200 RBIs…and then you see how much longer after he can increase his numbers.
Alas, he went 0-for-7 for the Cardinals in their wild-card loss to the Phillies and he doesn’t have a World Series title under his belt. Getting one would lock up his bid for Cooperstown.
--Back to Aaron Judge….after winning the MVP award, he said that he’ll value winning over everything when it comes to picking his next team.
“For me, it’s – I want to win,” Judge said on a conference call in his first comments since the Yankees were booted from the ALCS by the Astros.
“I’ve come pretty close with the Yankees. We’ve been one game away from a World Series to getting kicked out in the Wild Card to the ALCS and ALDS. All around the board. The most important thing is that I want to be in a winning culture and be on a team that’s committed to winning. Not only for the remainder of my playing career but I want a legacy to kind of live on within an organization. So, first and foremost, it’s just about being in a winning culture and a winning future.”
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that the team has made Judge a new offer. Judge said he was pleased owner Hal Steinbrenner reached out and wanted a sit down. “I thought that was a great sign,” Judge said.
The Mets, however, may have an issue when it comes to Judge. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported MLB is investigating whether the Yankees and Mets improperly communicated regarding Judge’s free agency, as an article published on the Mets’ television network’s (SNY) web site Nov. 3 said the Mets would not bid against the Yankees for Judge, which caught the attention of the Players Association, which asked the Commissioner’s Office to investigate.
You can’t do that, boys and girls. Collusion was a big problem in the 1980s, with owners working together to avoid competitively bidding on free agents.
Meanwhile, Cory Youmans, the fan who caught Judge’s record-breaking 62nd home run ball, has decided to auction if off “after weeks of a lot of deep conversations,” with his wife and lawyer. Youmans has already turned down a $3 million offer for the ball that was caught at the Texas Randers’ Globe Life Field on Oct. 4.
“It seems fair in the sense it gives anyone that is interested and has the means the opportunity to own it,” Youmans told ESPN. “As a fan, I’m curious to see what it’s worth, who buys it and what they do with it.”
--The Dodgers declined to offer 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger a contract for 2023, cutting ties and turning him into a free agent, though there is a slight chance the Dodgers would negotiate a smaller deal than the $17 million to $19 million he would have received had they tendered him.
After his 47-homer MVP season in 2019, Bellinger just wasn’t the same, particularly after he dislocated his shoulder celebrating his go-ahead home run in Game 7 of the 2020 National League Championship Series.
This will be interesting to see who makes a run at him. While he hit just .210 last season with 150 strikeouts in 504 at-bats, he did still hit 19 home runs, is a good outfielder, and can steal a base.
Is Bellinger worth a 2-year, $15 million per gamble that he regains his form? I have no idea what teams will offer him but he’ll find a suitor or two. He’s only 27.
Or does he just get a 2-year, $10 million offer, total? Forced to take it because there is nothing else.
--The Blue Jays sent slugging outfielder Teoscar Hernandez to the Mariners for quality reliever Erik Swanson and a minor leaguer. Hernandez has 121 home runs his last five seasons, but does little else, while Swanson was one of the best in baseball this year, 1.68 ERA in 53 2/3, 70 strikeouts.
--Still in mourning, 16 Virginia beat 5 Baylor Friday night in Las Vegas, 86-79. The Cavaliers admitted after they were distracted in their first game since three members of the football team were fatally shot in Charlottesville. But they hit 9 of 14 from beyond the arc.
“We know the pain and the grief so many are going through, the football program and those young men and the coaching staff, and then on another level the families,” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said. “We’re kind of the ripple effect. A lot of our guys were close to those young men. The sadness we feel, we talked about it afterward. You played hard. Whether you won or you lost, it’s okay.”
“It’s just not right,” Bennett added. “I don’t know what else to say. You tell your guys, you hug them a little bit more. You tell your kids that you love them, but we’re not in a great place in this society.”
And Virginia will be moving way up in the polls, because today they beat 19 Illinois 70-61 in the Main Event Classic in Vegas.
--We’re going to have a major shakeup in Monday’s new AP Top 25 poll. After Michigan State beat 4 Kentucky, and 6 Kansas defeated 7 Duke on Tuesday, No. 11 Texas had a dominant 93-74 win over 2 Gonzaga Wednesday. The Longhorn’s Tyrese Hunter, the Big 12’s freshman of the year at Iowa State, scored 26, with five three-pointers.
--As for my Wake Forest Demon Deacons, we had a nice 75-63 win over LaSalle in the first game of the Jamaica Classic, in, you guessed it, Jamaica, but then we lost today to Loyola Marymount (4-2), 77-75 in overtime in a total choke job, the Deacs (4-1) blowing a late 7-point lead in regulation…what would have been a very nice weekend in the Caribbean to build on, and instead a lot of questions. [I watched the ending.]
--USC landed what most consider the No. 1 or 2 recruit in men’s basketball, Isaiah Collier (the other, Dajuan (D.J.) Wagner Jr. going to Kentucky). USC’s women’s team secured a commitment from the No. 1 prospect in the women’s class of 2023, Juju Watkins.
Collier chose USC over Michigan and Cincinnati, among others.
--As I wrote a few weeks, before the Kyrie Irving s---fest, this could be an ugly season for the NBA, and there is little positive to really talk about.
The Nets (7-9) sure have picked up a lot of headlines for all the wrong reasons, with Kyrie apparently returning Sunday night at home against the Grizzlies.
Ben Simmons’ attitude is being questioned by teammates, never a good thing. He’s missed a lot of games early and his passion for the game is an issue.
And then there’s Kevin Durant, who opened up about his offseason trade request and added the following:
“Look at our starting lineup. [Ed. I have…it blows…] Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton and me. It’s not disrespect, but what are you expecting from that group? You expect us to win because I’m out there. So if you’re watching from that lens, you’re expecting us to play well because No. 7 is out there.”
For us older folk, it’s just amazing to see this. Just musing…but a Walt Frazier, Kareem, John Havlicek…they’d never say anything like this. But it’s a new day…NIL stuff for college players, in the NBA $10 million (or more) no-work contracts…the world blows…film at eleven.
--Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai today, his third win in six years at Jumeirah Golf Estates, pocketing $3 million in the process. Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren finished in second, two back.
But Rory McIlroy, in finishing fourth, ended the season as European No. 1 for the fourth time in his career – and first since 2015.
--At the PGA Tour’s season-ending event (the 2022 portion of the 2022/23 wraparound campaign), the RSM Classic at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, Patrick Rodgers and Ben Martin were co-leaders at -14 heading into today’s final round. Sahith Theegala was in a group at -13.
But Adam Svensson of Canada won his first tour event instead, Theegala among those finishing T2, while Rodgers finished T10 and Martin T21.
--A federal judge dismissed Patrick Reed’s complaint against Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee and other golf media members.
Reed originally filed the lawsuit against Chamblee in August, only to withdraw it and refile in Florida by adding other defendants such as Shane Bacon, Damon Hack and Eamon Lynch, as well as Golfweek and Gannett. The lawsuit claimed the defendants have “conspired…to engage in a pattern and practice of defaming Mr. Reed, misreporting information with actual knowledge of falsity and/or reckless disregard of the truth…and actively targeting Mr. Reed since he was 23 years old, to destroy his reputation, create hate, and a hostile work environment for him, with the intention to discredit his name and accomplishments as a young, elite, world-class golfer, and the good and caring person, husband and father of two children that he is.”
Well, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan dismissed it but allowed Reed to file an amendment complaint by Dec. 16, though “Reed is instructed to reevaluate his alleged claims and bring only those claims that are meritorious and supported by law.”
If you missed it, I laid out a good review in my Add-on of what will transpire over the coming four weeks in Qatar, with the U.S. team (USMNT) playing its opening game Monday against Wales, 2:00 p.m. ET.
France’s hopes were dealt a huge blow when Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was ruled out for World Cup play due to a thigh injury. The Real Madrid striker was honored last month for his brilliant 2021/22 season, when he won a fifth Champions League title with the Spanish giants.
But in a totally bizarre performance on Friday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino dismissed Qatar’s human rights record at a press conference, criticized those questioning the country hosting the tournament, let alone the time of year it was scheduled, and here’s how Justine McDaniel of the Washington Post described it.
“Responding to scrutiny of the treatment of migrants who are working on the World Cup and of LGBTQ people and women in Qatar, Infantino, who is Italian and Swiss, said he knew what it meant to be discriminated against because he was bullied at school as a child for having red hair and freckles.
“Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker,” Infantino told journalists.
“In wide-ranging remarks, he appeared to cast questions about the treatment of migrant workers and discrimination against LGBTQ people as attempts to sow division in the world and to portray people concerned about those alleged human rights violations as wanting ‘to spit on others.’
“At the same time, he pledged that FIFA will defend human rights and require Qatar to welcome all people to the World Cup.”
Qatar, as I wrote before, has a huge number of migrant workers, who built the eight stadiums, criminalizes homosexuality and restricts the rights of women, let alone the beer issues.
Incredibly, as Justine McDaniel writes: “Human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have estimated that the death toll of migrant workers building World Cup facilities is in the thousands, a number Qatar has disputed.”
Thousands. Thousands! I’ve read a ton of stuff on the building of these facilities, and remember, in intense heat…but hadn’t seen ‘thousands.’
Back in October, the country’s emir, Tamim bin Hama al-Thani said Qatar “has been subjected to an unprecedented campaign that no host country has ever faced.” He said claims against the country include “fabrications and double standards.” [Associated Press]
But on Saturday, Infantino accused Europeans who have criticized Qatar, and FIFA’s decision to hold the World Cup there, of hypocrisy.
“For what we Europeans have been doing in the last 3,000 years around the world we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons,” Infantino said.
This coming from the immensely corrupt Infantino and his equally historically corrupt FIFA can simply go to Hell.
Why is the World Cup being held in Qatar? Money. Gobs and gobs of dollars and euros stuffed in FIFA officials’ pockets. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
Ecuador opened things up today with a 2-0 win over Qatar.
As for the alcohol issue, I don’t know why that suddenly became a story on Friday because I wrote of exactly what was going to happen two weeks ago in my Week in Review.
--Formula 1 great Sebastian Vettel retired after Sunday’s Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, just 35, but with four Formula 1 world championships, and 122 podium finishes in 299 starts, 53 wins, though his last win came in 2019.
Vettel won his four world titles, 2010-2013, during which time he picked up 34 of his 53 wins.
--Whit W. alerted me to a cool story for Wake Forest…the men’s team finished what has to be a school-best fifth in the Division I Cross Country Championship Saturday.
Northern Arizona…winners of six of seven…amazing
31 teams qualified, Stanford’s Charlie Hicks winning, Northern Arizona’s five runners coming in 2, 3, 18, 24 and 36, which is very strong in such a competition.
This is the championship that helped the late great Steve Prefontaine become a legend, winning it 3 times in 4 years (1970, 71, 73), which along with his NCAA track and field long distance titles was hugely instrumental in the running boom that then swept the nation (see Nike and Phil Knight et al). Pre was the Man. And I’ve been to the spot where he tragically died three times…Pre’s Rock…cuz that’s what you do when you are in Eugene, Oregon, and give a damn about a great sport.
--Wake Forest lost its first-round NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship game at home to Ohio State on Thursday, 3-0, which is embarrassing.
With second-round play being completed tonight, I’ll have something on the tournament overall in my Add-on.
--Robert Clary, the last living star of the classic sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes,” died at the age of 96.
Born Robert Max Widerman, Clary survived 31 months of concentration camp interment as a teen during the Holocaust.
“He never let those horrors defeat him,” niece Brenda Hancock said. “He never let them take the joy out of his life. He tried to spread that joy to others through his singing and his dancing and his painting.”
Clary admonished students not to hate and celebrated his own life until the very end – even though the Holocaust claimed 12 family members, his parents included.
The French-born 5-foot, 1-inch actor played Corporal Louis LeBeau in the show about Allied soldiers imprisoned in a POW camp who pranked their German army captors with clownish antics.
His fellow stars, including Bob Crane, Richard Dawson and Ivan Dixon, all died before him.
Hogan’s Heroes was a favorite of my generation, running from 1965-71 on CBS, and then for decades after in syndication.
--Following is Ticketmaster’s announcement on the shitshow that ensued when it put Taylor Swift’s Eras stadium tour tickets on sale, forcing the public on-sale to be canceled:
“The Eras on sale made one thing clear: Taylor Swift is an unstoppable force and continues to set records. We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for the Eras Tour,” the company said. Around 3.5 million people preregistered for the on-sale through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan system. Ticketmaster said typical turnout to buy tickets through this system is around 40%, and it waitlisted 2 million fans.
“However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests – 4X our previous peak,” the company said. “Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention – or uninvited volume. This disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform.”
Swift set a record for most tickets sold in a single day on Nov. 15, but many fans nonetheless flooded social media with complaints that Ticketmaster’s site crashed, or that they’d been denied a chance at tickets after doing everything right to register. Others were dismayed to see resales going for tens of thousands of dollars almost instantly on sites like StubHub.
Personally, not that I care but I have no idea where the ticket sale stands, with Ms. Swift voicing her extreme anger…and for good reason. She does her job rather well…you expect others you hire to do theirs. This bot crap is infuriating.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/20/65: #1 “I Hear A Symphony” (The Supremes) #2 “1-2-3” (Len Barry) #3 “Get Off Of My Cloud” (The Rolling Stones)…and…#4 “Rescue Me” (Fontella Bass) #5 “Let’s Hang On!” (The 4 Seasons) #6 “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)” (The Byrds) #7 “A Lover’s Concerto” (The Toys) #8 “Ain’t That Peculiar” (Marvin Gaye) #9 “Taste Of Honey” (Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass) #10 “You’re The One” (The Vogues… ‘A’ week…)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Ten others aside from Justin Verlander to win three or more Cy Young Awards. Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Roger Clemens.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.