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Georgia Still On Top
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
Note: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the three University of Virginia football players – linebacker D’Sean Perry, wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. and wide receiver Devin Chandler – who were shot to death by a former player, and current student, on Sunday night.
The three were part of a group of 25 on a field trip to see a play and when the bus returned to campus, the suspect fired. He was captured without incident 75 miles away on Monday.
Two other students were injured, one now listed in serious condition.
The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., was a member of the 2018 Cavaliers team but didn’t see game action. Authorities then said Tuesday that he was on the bus and had attended the play in Washington with the group.
As I go to post, there has been no word on whether Virginia will play its scheduled game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
World Cup 2022
No doubt, Qatar was just about the stupidest place to hold the world’s biggest sporting event, and because of the heat, the games are played late at night (largely to the benefit of the U.S.).
What really sucks is that the WC is normally held in the summer, which is the offseason for all the professional leagues, but this is being held in the middle of everyone’s season, and there are all kinds of issues, chief among them, injuries and overuse. Think about the elite players on like a Manchester City who not only have been involved in Premier League play, but also intense Champions League competition, and now the best players are competing with their national teams, and when the World Cup is over, they immediately go right back to the Premier League with basically zero break.
But it is what it is…and the following is the USMNT’s schedule. [All games 2:00 p.m. ET]
Mon. Nov. 21…Wales
Fri. Nov. 25…England
Tues. Nov. 29…Iran
There are eight groups of four…the U.S. is in Group B…and two of the four advance.
As in the U.S. will advance if it beats Wales and Iran, but none of these games are easy and the U.S. has had major trouble scoring against better competition. In the first one, Wales has star Gareth Bale.
One thing I do know. The casual sports fan in America has heard of Christian Pulisic of the U.S., at least faintly. But one big kick from him, one big goal, in these next two weeks and Pulisic becomes a household name and a huge target of Madison Ave.
This is a great event, and while the players hate it, the timing, around the holidays, will make it even more fun. I know the bars in nearby Hoboken and Jersey City, for example, let alone New York City, will be packed, even with 2:00 starting times. [11:00 a.m. West Coast]
Sports Illustrated has the following favorites in each group.
But you have other powers like the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Mexico and Croatia that will likely be in the Round of 16.
SI has Brazil, Argentina, France and Belgium in the semis.
Brazil over France in the final.
So get into it. It’s fun…and intense. And if our men advance out of the Group stage, that would be huge and this country will be fired up.
--So much for that perfect season, as surviving members of the 17-0 1972 Miami Dolphins can continue to rest easy as we have another year where no one can have a perfect season.
Philadelphia rather shockingly lost to 11-point underdog Washington on Monday night, 32-21, as the Eagles committed four turnovers and fell to 8-1, the Commanders holding the powerful Philly offense to a season-low 264 yards while totally controlling the clock, 40:24 to 19:36.
The Commanders are now 5-5…highly respectable.
Yes, there was another egregious non-call on the part of the officials. In the fourth quarter, with Philadelphia attempting to mount a comeback, tight end Dallas Goedert made a catch, fumbled it, and Washington recovered.
But the officials didn’t see what was an obvious facemask on the play, Washington linebacker Jaman Davis clearly grabbing Goedert’s helmet as he fumbled.
NFL referee Alex Kemp told a pool reporter after the game. “We didn’t see a face mask on the field.”
But replays show at least one official with a clear view of the play.
--After I posted last time, I have to note the Colts (4-5-1) win over the Raiders (2-7), 25-20. Yes, new head coach Jeff Saturday’s first game as an NFL coach (of any kind). Saturday brought back Matt Ryan at quarterback, after Ryan was benched at management’s behest in favor of Sam Ehlinger, and the veteran did just fine, 21/28, 222, 1-0, 109.5, while Jonathan Taylor rumbled for 147 yards and a touchdown.
The hiring of Saturday was heavily criticized at all levels, but for one week, Colts owner Jim Irsay looks pretty good for making the decision.
--Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal…on the ending to the Bills-Vikings game…
“Because it was one of the most bizarre NFL finishes ever; because it was the sort of football game people will recall joyfully – and ruefully! – decades from now; at weddings, funerals, and on the rental car shuttle ride at the Mars airport; I want to properly capture the emotional roller coaster of the final minutes of Sunday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills.
“This is what I came up with:
“The Vikings-Bills game felt like taking your dog for a very nice walk. Then your dog decided to steal a car.
“You tried to talk your dog out of it, but by the time you were able to explain the hazards, the dog had already stolen a car. Yes: Your dog knows how to steal and drive a car. Stop asking questions.
“You kept trying to take the steering wheel away from the dog, but the dog kept driving, barking, barking, barking, but also laughing. The dog drove the car off a bridge, stuck the landing, and then drove through a bunch of vegetable stands, like stunt drivers do during cliched car chases in the movies. Your front window was covered in tomatoes and cucumbers. A tomato salesman was banging on the roof.
“You kept yelling ‘Stop Dog! Stop Dog!’ but the dog would not stop. Bob Seger was on the radio. For some reason, you were wearing a Fran Tarkenton jersey….
“That’s what the Vikings-Bills game felt like.
“We have passed the halfway point in the 2022 NFL season, and I can’t lie: I have watched far too many duds. I’m not saying football’s turned into baseball, but the nation’s most self-regarding entertainment product has been alarmingly short on entertainment. [Ed. I made a similar comment over a week ago.]
“Defenses are grinding; offenses seem stagnant; too many teams are, well, awful. If we don’t find Al Michaels a mildly compelling Thursday Night Football game for Amazon, he’s going to start logging onto Prime and rating kitchen devices live on the air.
“ ‘I don’t know about Panthers-Falcons, Kirk. But this waffle maker is at least 3 ½ stars…’
“Thank goodness for the Vikings and Bills, two of football’s most cosmically tortured franchises, who turned what should have been a sleepy 1 p.m. contest into a Dali painting in Buffalo.
“This was a game that featured, in its final minutes, the Bills (of course) blowing a late lead, then a critical (of course) Vikings missed extra point, then a Vikings fourth-and-18 for the ballgame, then a brilliant one-handed catch by Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson to keep the Vikings alive.
“The Vikings appeared poised to win it, but then (of course) Buffalo biffed them on the goal line, stopping quarterback Kirk Cousins on a game-winning sneak. Up four, the Bills just needed to run out the clock, but quarterback Jose Allen fumbled in the end zone with 41 seconds left, and Minnesota recovered to go up, 30-27.
“Then (yes, there’s more) Allen led the Bills on a brilliant drive to tie it on a field goal and sent it to overtime. The Vikings won the OT coing toss and marched downfield, seemingly poised to win via touchdown…until they turned back into the Vikings, and had to settle for a field goal, giving Buffalo the ball back. Allen charged the Bills downfield once more, had a clear shot to get a winning touchdown, and threw a miserable interception instead.
“Ballgame, Minnesota, 33-30.”
It wasn’t a classic…you can’t call it that with all the turnovers and missed opportunities.
But it sure was entertaining, though as I told you last time, I was watching the Giants-Texans while much of this mayhem was taking place.
So that’s on me. But the facts are the Bills have suddenly lost two in a row on the way to their Super Bowl Championship, and Josh Allen* has sucked on his way to becoming MVP and gaining a place in Canton by unanimous acclaim in February.
As for the Vikings…8-1…what a fun story.
I do have to add that I missed the phenomenal Justin Jefferson catch live, which was absurd and being compared to Odell Beckham’s one-hander in 2015.
One catch I forgot to mention the other day that I saw live on Saturday that was as good as it gets was Notre Dame’s Braden Lenzy and his TD reception against Navy. If you missed this one, YouTube it.
*Allen has an NFL-high 13 turnovers, seven in the last three games (Sam Hartman-like). And he has a red-zone turnover in four straight.
--After carrying the ball a career-high 35 times for 152 yards on Sunday, there is talk the Giants have held contract talks with Saquon Barkley’s people, though Barkley agreed it’s best to table the topic until after the season. There was a bit of a window during the bye week, but now Saquon, very happy, doesn’t want any distractions.
The other of the two keys to the Giants’ success on offense, quarterback Daniel Jones, used to be a turnover machine, which is a big reason why the team declined to exercise the fifth-year option on Jones this past spring, meaning he is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
The Giants could put the franchise tag on him, but he’s not that good.
However, if he leads the G-Men deep into the playoffs, there will be cries to keep him.
It’s too bad that Oregon and UCLA stumbled last weekend, because otherwise, USC-UCLA and Oregon-Utah this Saturday would have been huge.
Instead, USC needs to win big to keep its slight CFP hopes alive, while Oregon-Utah could have New Year’s Six implications, or maybe not.
Should USC win out, including the Pac-12 title game, and not get a CFP berth, we could have an outstanding Rose Bowl…USC vs. Michigan-Ohio State loser.
And the latest CFP Rankings, the top five unchanged….
2. Ohio State
11. Penn State
13. North Carolina
14. Ole Miss
15. Kansas State
18. Notre Dame
25. Cincinnati…Group of 5 race for a New Year’s Six bowl.
But no Coastal Carolina….
--We are weeks away from the FCS (Div. I-AA) playoffs and the current rankings….
1. South Dakota State 10-1
2. Sacramento State 10-0
3. Montana State 9-1
4. North Dakota State 8-2
5. Jackson State 10-0
6. Holy Cross 10-0
7. Incarnate Word 9-1
8. William & Mary 9-1
9. Samford 9-1
10. Weber State 8-2
14. Fordham 8-2
Sunday, after I had posted, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid had one of the best individual performances in NBA history, let alone Embiid’s best game of his career.
In a 105-98 win at Utah, Embiid scored a career-high 59 points, hauled down 11 rebounds, dished out eight assists and blocked seven shots.
Embiid scored 26 of Philadelphia’s 27 points in the fourth quarter and he became the first player in NBA history with 50 points, 10 boards, five assists and five blocks since blocks became an official start in 1973-74.
But Sunday was a disaster for New York hoops fans. The Knicks scored 48 points in the first quarter against the Thunder at the Garden…and proceeded to lose, 145-135. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 37 for OKC (6-7), while the Garden faithful booed their team down the stretch, the Knicks, at 6-7, seemingly headed to another highly mediocre, at best, season.
The Nets lost in Los Angeles to the Lakers (3-10), 116-103, who were playing without LeBron.
The aforementioned Gilgeous-Alexander on Monday had another 37 in a losing effort at Boston, 126-122. There are so many rising stars like him, and the Knicks don’t have one of them, that’s what’s so upsetting to Knicks fans. R.J. Barrett, for example, was the No. 3 overall pick in 2019 and now, in his fourth season, while still just 22, the jury is out. He’s a nice player, that’s all. A nice player who can’t shoot (41.9% for his career…ugh).
Tuesday night, however, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau made some changes in the rotation and the team responded, a nice 118-111 win at Utah (10-6), New York 7-7.
But the Nets (6-9) got drilled by the Kings (7-6) 153-121. Eegads.
It’s too early to care much about the rankings, but for the record, the latest AP Top Ten
1. North Carolina (44)
2. Gonzaga (14)
3. Houston (2)
4. Kentucky (3)
So Tuesday night, Michigan State upset Kentucky 86-77 in double overtime, while Kansas beat Duke 69-64.
Elsewhere, I had Colgate-Syracuse on the television and Wake Forest-Utah Valley on the computer (ESPN+) and the Red Raiders, for a second consecutive year, beat the Orange 80-68, while Wake had a thrilling 68-65 overtime win to move to 3-0.
--The consensus No. 1 or 2 high school senior, DJ Wagner out of Camden, NJ, has committed to Kentucky, where he will play for John Calipari, who coached his father, when Calipari was the coach at Memphis.
--They announced the Rookies of the Year.
Julio Rodriguez of Seattle was a runaway winner in the A.L., receiving 29 of the 30 first-place votes and one second.
He had 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles…all at age 21…with only two other players doing so at that age since 1900…Mike Trout and Andruw Jones.
In the N.L., Atlanta’s Michael Harris edged out Braves teammate Spencer Strider for the award.
Harris had 22 first-place votes and 8 second-place.
Strider had 8 first-place and 21 second-place votes.
Harris, like J-Rod just 21, had 19 home runs, 64 RBIs, 27 doubles, 20 steals in just 114 games, an .853 OPS while batting .297.
Strider, 24, was 11-5, 2.67 ERA, and a stupendous 202 strikeouts in just 131 2/3.
But he sucked in the NLDS against the Phillies…and at the end of the day….
--Cleveland’s Terry Francona was named A.L. Manager of the Year for the third time in his career, receiving 17 first-place votes to 9 for the Orioles’ Brandon Hyde.
--The Mets’ Buck Showalter was named N.L. Manager of the Year, becoming the third to win it four times and the first to do it with four different franchises. He is the first Mets manager to win the award, which has been presented since 1983 (in case you are wondering how Gil Hodges didn’t receive it for 1969).
Showalter and the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts each received 8 first-place votes, with Brian Snitker of the Braves getting 7 and Oliver Marmol of the Cardinals 5 (the Phillies’ Rob Thomson the other 2).
--The Yankees’ Hal Steinbrenner was asked in an interview Monday if making Aaron Judge the next Yankees captain could be a difference maker in contract negotiations. “That is something we would consider,” he said.
But it’s still about the money. And while the Yankees do seem serious, with Brian Cashman reportedly speaking to Judge’s agent a number of times in the past week, it’s not just the Dodgers and Giants who are going to be making offers for Judge, now the Astros have said they could be in the hunt. Others will surely be contacting Judge’s agent as well.
The Yankees, though, also can’t afford to lose free agent first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who proved to be a perfect fit for the Little Bandbox that Ruth Didn’t Build…32 home runs, .817 OPS, and solid fielding (Rizzo being a four-time Gold Glover).
Well, I wrote the above Monday and Tuesday it was announced Rizzo is staying in New York, a 2-year deal worth $40 million (including a buyout). A very good move by the Yanks.
--The Dodgers’ Tyler Anderson had a career year at age 32, going 15-5, 2.57, in 178 2/3 innings. L.A. then made him a qualifying offer of one year, $19.5 million, and on Tuesday he stayed in Los Angeles, only he signed a 3-year, $39 million contract with the Angels!
--The Athletic’s Jim Bowden says Judge will sign an 8-year, $330 million contract, which is just speculation. Bowden also has Trea Turner signing with the Angels, which would keep Ohtani on the team. Xander Bogaerts signing with Philadelphia, and Carlos Correa inking a deal with the Cubs.
--Former Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig has agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal authorities investigating an illegal sports-gambling ring, according to court documents unsealed Monday.
Puig, 31, will plead guilty to one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. He has agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000 and also faces immigration proceedings that could prohibit him from entering the U.S. again.
This goes back to 2019 and an investigation into an illegal sports gambling operation run by Wayne Nix, a former minor league baseball player who lives in Newport Beach, Calif., when Puig lied in interviews about a $280,000 gambling debt and hundreds of bets that he placed on tennis, football and basketball, according to the plea agreement.
Puig last played for Cleveland in 2019.
--The NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship gets underway Thursday. Wake Forest made the tournament for a 12th consecutive year but isn’t seeded, thus it has to play a first-round game against Ohio State.
The top four seeds are 1. Kentucky…2. Washington…3. Syracuse…4. Virginia
--The PGA Tour Policy Board announced on Monday that there is a path for top college and amateur golfers to get their tour card.
The first path gives the top player in the final PGA Tour University Velocity Global Ranking full PGA Tour membership at the end of the college golf season in June. The change goes into effect next spring. The card would be good through the end of 2023, including any fall events the tour conducts as it revises its schedule. That player, who will be eligible to play in an estimated 14 events, will also be enrolled in the Earnings Assistance Program, receiving $500,000 in advance with subsequent earnings on tour drawn against the amount. If the player makes less than $500,000 on the course, he keeps the difference.
There is a second path involving a points system for various performance benchmarks such as national player-of-the- year honors and individual titles at certain college and amateur tournaments.
The changes are seen as responses from the tour to keep top young players from being lured away by LIV Golf and its guaranteed contracts. This past summer, LIV signed reigning U.S. Amateur champion James Piot and a pair of college All-Americans in Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra and David Puig. Lopez-Chacarra then won a LIV event in Bangkok, claiming the $4 million first place prize money.
--Novak Djokovic will be given a visa by the Australian government, allowing him to play the 2023 Australian Open.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted early Sunday p.m., prior to conclusion of late games, including Cowboys-Packers.]
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
San Francisco 49ers Quiz: 1) Name the only five to rush for 5,000 yards in a 49ers uniform. 2) Name the only four with 6,000 yards receiving. Answers below.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll…rankings below are CFP]
There will be no change in the top five when the next CFP rankings are revealed Tuesday night.
No. 1 Georgia (10-0) was up only 17-12 at the half and then pulled away at Mississippi State (6-4) 45-19.
2 Ohio State (10-0) beat Indiana (3-7) 56-14, as C.J. Stroud got back on track and remains in the Heisman race with five more touchdown passes.
But the story here is Buckeye running back Miyam Williams, who after rushing for 147 yards in the first half, went out with what appears to be a bad ankle injury. Williams had been shouldering the load in the backfield with TreVeyon Henderson out with an injury.
Now, there is no word on either’s status for Michigan in two weeks. Hopefully, we get more details Monday.
Speaking of the No. 3 Wolverines, they moved to 10-0 with a 34-3 win over lowly Nebraska (3-7), the Michigan defense holding the Cornhuskers to just 146 yards of offense, while Blake Corum rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown.
4 TCU (10-0) won ugly, 17-10 at 18 Texas (6-4), but a huge win nonetheless. The Horned Frogs now just have games at Baylor and home to Iowa State to finish the regular season 12-0.
5 Tennessee (9-1) stayed very much in the final four conversation with a 66-24 win over Missouri (4-6), as the Vols racked up 724 yards of offense, recovering from their loss to Georgia, Hendon Hooker with 355 yards passing, three touchdowns, and another TD on the ground.
Tennessee has road games at South Carolina and improving Vanderbilt remaining.
But No. 6 Oregon (8-2) stumbled badly at home, blowing a 34-27 lead with 3:54 left and falling at home to Michael Penix Jr. and 25 Washington (8-2), 37-34. Huge win for the Huskies. Brutal loss for the Ducks…and the Pac-12’s hopes for a CFP berth.
7 LSU (8-2) gutted it out at Arkansas (5-5) 13-10.
And with 9 Alabama (8-2) winning at 11 Ole Miss (8-2) 30-24, LSU won the SEC West and the opportunity to square off against Georgia in the SEC title game.
So let’s stop here.
Nothing has changed from last week. The SEC is getting two teams in the final four…Georgia and either LSU, if it beats Georgia, or Tennessee, assuming it wins out.
The winner of Ohio State-Michigan, in what could be a game for the ages, is the third.
And should TCU win out, they would be the fourth.
USC is barely still in the picture.
Friday night, the No. 8 Trojans blasted pathetic Colorado (1-9), 55-17, USC now 9-1 as they look ahead to next week’s tussle with UCLA.
But USC suffered a terrible loss in losing running back Travis Dye for the season to a knee injury. Dye was the leader in the locker room and on his way to a 1,000-yard season.
After four terrific seasons in Oregon, Dye transferred to USC to finish up his college career and no doubt is headed to the NFL, and while quarterback Caleb Williams gets all the press, it was Dye who was the most consistent performer.
Coach Lincoln Riley said, “It just sucks. There’s no other way to put it. He was one of the key cogs for this team.”
Now it’s up to Austin Jones to fill the void in the backfield.
USC, though, suffered another loss of sorts, in terms of its CFP hopes, when 12 UCLA (8-2) inexplicably lost to Arizona (4-6) despite Zach Charonnet’s 181 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Bruins.
This deeply tarnishes next week’s USC-UCLA game, and now you see why the CFP seemingly ‘dissed’ UCLA in ranking them 12th.
Meanwhile, 10 Clemson (9-1) can say they are still in the CFP hunt following a 31-16 over a solid Louisville (6-4) squad. But the Tigers aren’t.
13 Utah (8-2) is certainly in the conversation for a New Year’s Six bowl, 42-7 winners over Stanford (3-7).
14 Penn State (8-2) can also say they should be considered for a New Year’s Six contest, shutting out Maryland (6-4) 30-0, and holding the Terrapins to just 134 yards of offense.
Which brings me to No. 15 North Carolina, which traveled across I-40 to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest Saturday night. Understand the last two times these teams have played, the Tar Heels prevailed 58-55 and 59-53.
Drake Maye, the redshirt freshman having a stupendous season, vs. one of best quarterbacks in ACC history (until the last two weeks), Sam Hartman.
And UNC raced off to a 21-7 lead, as Maye picked apart a decimated Wake secondary, hit by injuries and then an outrageous targeting call that wasn’t close to it.
But Hartman and the Deacs clawed back and with 5:47 remaining, Wake had the ball and a 34-33 lead. One drive, chewing up some clock, and then a field goal could have cemented a big victory.
And then Hartman*, who after a staggering nine turnovers in his previous two games, threw his first interception of the night, Carolina converted it to a field goal, and that was it, 36-34. [The Deacs did have a last shot, but a holding call negated a long pass play that could have set up a winning field goal.]
A third straight painful loss for the Deacs, all on Hartman and, secondarily, the O-Line, as we went from No. 10 and 6-1, to a minor bowl game at 6-4.
But for North Carolina (9-1), who is about to move up to about 12 in the CFP rankings, they have a date in the ACC Championship game against Clemson with a New Year’s Six berth on the line.
Drake Maye, who threw for 448 yards, and rushed for another 71, accounting for four touchdowns, is the real deal and will pick up a ton of Heisman votes, as well as being an odds-on favorite for the hardware next season.
Congrats to Mack Brown for bringing the Tar Heels back to prominence and what will be their best record since 1997, when Brown was last at the helm.
*Hartman hit the century mark, 100 touchdown passes, second best in ACC history behind Tajh Boyd, but he’s going to be defined by these last three weeks in the eyes of most Wake fans. Which is a shame, but that’s how I’ll look at it, as one who has literally watched every single minute of Wake football this season.
In other games of note, 16 North Carolina State (7-3) suffered a bad loss at home to a crappy Boston College (3-7), 21-20, the Eagles with a late touchdown to pull off the upset.
Wolfpack freshman QB M.J. Morris, who starred the week before against Wake Forest, threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
22 UCF staked its claim to the Group of Five, New Year’s Six berth with a huge 38-31 win at 17 Tulane. The Knights had earlier beaten then-ranked Cincinnati.
19 Kansas State (7-3) beat Baylor (6-4) 31-3.
20 Notre Dame (7-3) struggled to beat Navy (3-7), 35-32, as the Midshipmen flipped the script, holding the ND rushing juggernaut to just 66 yards on the ground, while picking up 255 yards rushing themselves.
But the Fighting Irish’s Drew Pyne passed for 269 yards and four touchdowns as ND keeps its faint New Year’s Six hopes alive, with a contest at USC in two weeks.
The dream season for 21 Illinois is out the window, Purdue (6-4) beating the Illini 31-24, as they fall to 7-3.
I alluded to Vanderbilt being an improving team and yesterday they snapped an ugly 26-game SEC losing streak, 24-21 at No. 24 Kentucky (6-4) to move to 4-6.
23 Florida State (7-3) handed Syracuse (6-4) its fourth straight loss, 38-3. The Orange now travel to Wake Forest next week, in a contest of teams whose seasons have gone up in flames. This will be an important game for both schools.
Who would have thunk Duke (7-3) would have a better record than Wake Forest when the season started, but that’s where the Blue Devils stand after a 24-7 win over a godawful Virginia Tech (2-8).
Rutgers fell to 4-6, 27-21 losers at Michigan State (5-5).
Coastal Carolina (9-1) fans (that’s you, Johnny Mac and crew) can say, ‘Hey, don’t count us out of the New Year’s Six, Group of Five conversation!’ after a 26-23 win over Southern Miss (5-5), despite playing without leader and starting quarterback Grayson McCall, out 3 to 6 weeks with an injury.
Oklahoma (5-5) and Texas A&M (3-7) fans must be apoplectic after the miserable seasons their teams have had.
The Sooners under first-year coach Brent Venables lost to West Virginia (4-6) 23-20, and the Aggies and their $100 million coach, Jimbo Fisher, fell to 4-6 Auburn, 13-10.
Can you imagine, the Sooners, with games remaining against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, could miss going to a bowl game for the first time since 1998?!
In a huge one in the Ivy League, Yale (7-2) handed Princeton (8-1) its first loss, 24-20.
And lastly, there is UConn. The Huskies have carved out a terrific story this season, now 6-5 and bowl eligible following a 36-33 upset of Liberty (8-2). First-year coach Jim Mora (formerly at UCLA and the NFL) has totally turned things around after a dreadful stretch under Randy Edsall, in the latter’s second stint at Storrs.
Jim Mora should be Coach of the Year…seriously.
OK, it really should be Sonny Dykes at TCU, but the season isn’t over.
And now…the new AP Poll!
1. Georgia (62) 10-0
2. Ohio State (1) 10-0
3. Michigan 10-0
4. TCU 10-0
5. Tennessee 9-1
6. LSU 8-2
7. USC 9-1
8. Alabama 8-2
9. Clemson 9-1
10. Utah 8-2
11. Penn State 8-2
12. Oregon 8-2
13. North Carolina 9-1
14. Ole Miss 8-2
15. Washington 8-2
16. UCLA 8-2
17. UCF 8-2
18. Notre Dame 7-3
19. Kansas State 7-3
20. Florida State 7-3
21. Tulane 8-2
22. Cincinnati 8-2
23. Coastal Carolina 9-1! Huge, not out of the Group of Five chase
24. Oklahoma State 7-3
25. Oregon State 7-3…Beaverwear back on top of Duckwear in sports drawer
--As they say in the NFL, at least as fans say, a ‘W’ is a ‘W,’ and the Giants are 7-2 after a less-than-dominating 21-10 win over the pathetic Texans (1-7-1) at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants were coming off their bye week, during which starting safety and team captain Xavier McKinney suffered a potential season-ending hand injury in some kind of ATV accident in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
McKinney insisted there was nothing reckless going on when the accident occurred.
Riding in an ATV is prohibited by his contract and no doubt the Giants have launched an investigation as they could withhold pay based on his actions. McKinney said he knows that is a possibility.
But at least for today it didn’t matter, as his replacements filled in ably, while on offense, Daniel Jones was perfect, 13/17, 197, 2-0, 153.3, and Saquon Barkley rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries. This combo has been the story all season on offense for the Giants.
--So I was watching the Giants game until the end (my Jets with a bye week), and following Minnesota at Buffalo online, and saw Buffalo had a 27-10 lead with 1:51 left in the third, and kept watching the Giants, and then I was alerted by my brother, down in Delaware, that I should be watching this one, as the Vikings took a 30-27 lead, though the Minnesota kicker had missed an extra point earlier, and with 0:48 left on the clock, Josh Allen drove the Bills 69 yards for a tying field goal and we went into OT.
Minnesota then immediately drove the ball to the Buffalo 2-yard line, for what would have been a game-winning touchdown, but the Bills’ defense stiffened and held Minny to a field goal, 33-30.
So the Bills got the ball, were driving for a potential game-winning score, when Allen then threw his fourth redzone interception in the last two games (six interceptions in his last three contests as he is suddenly looking very ordinary), game over.
A massive win for the Vikes, now 8-1, Buffalo falling to 6-3.
Kirk Cousins wasn’t spectacular, throwing two picks of his own, but he did throw for 357 yards, with receiver Justin Jefferson having a career day, 10-193-1, while Dalvin Cook rushed for 119 yards on just 14 carries.
The Vikings have become the story of the year. No one had this. In fact, I just checked Sports Illustrated’s preseason predictions and they had the Vikes at 7-10! [Green Bay 11-6]
--The Titans are 6-3 after a 17-10 win over the Broncos (3-6). Derrick Henry only had 53 yards rushing, but Ryan Tannehill threw for two scores and the defense did the rest.
--The Chiefs advanced to 7-2, Patrick Mahomes with four touchdown passes, in a 27-17 win over the Jaguars (3-7).
--Miami is 7-3, 39-17 victors over Cleveland (3-6). Tua had three touchdown passes, but new acquisition Jeff Wilson Jr. (49ers) rushed for 119 yards on just 17 carries and a score.
The Dolphins not only have Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill (who were not needed today) at receiver, but now a running back duo of Wilson and Raheem Mostert that is formidable in its own right.
They are going to be an exciting playoff team in January.
--And I have to note a stirring comeback by the Lions (3-6), scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a win over the Bears (3-7).
Chicago’s Justin Fields continued his spectacular play on the ground, rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns, but Cairo Santos missed an extra point, and Summit, N.J.’s Michael Badgley was perfect on his four attempts (and a field goal) and the Lions won it 31-30.
Badgley, the vagabond, is perfect this season. One game with Chicago, while Santos recovered from an injury, then signed by Detroit…and now 9-of-9 field goals, 8-of-8 extra points, at a time when extra points are far from automatic.
--In Munchen, Germany, Tampa Bay evened its record at 5-5 with a 21-16 win over Seattle (6-4), Tom Brady playing solidly, 22/29, 258, 2-1, 111.0. The dude has a lot on his mind. Forget the divorce, now he has this FTX/crypto disaster on his hands, Tom and Gisele with some exposure there, from what I have read. [More than from just getting paid to shill for it.]
--In a shocking move, the World Series champion Houston Astros offered general manager James Click just a one-year contract, Click was deeply offended, considering GMs usually receive multi-year extensions after successful seasons, and resigned.
Actually, since his existing contract had expired, he was fired.
It just seems Astros owner Jim Crane wanted to fire him, was persuaded to offer him a one-year deal, the same length as manager Dusty Baker’s, and Click, at a press briefing at the annual GM Meetings in Las Vegas, said he and Crane had a difference of opinion.
“We’re different,” Click said, in front of other GMs. “There’s some things we do very differently. There’s some things we’re very lined up on….
“I think he likes to act very quickly in certain cases. I tend toward a more deliberate approach. He is very demanding, but he also gives you the resources to accomplish what he tasks you to do. …”
Click went on to say he wasn’t consulted on Baker’s situation and Dusty’s scheduled press conference on Wednesday to announce his return. As in Click wasn’t part of the negotiations to bring Dusty back.
So Baker was in Houston on Wednesday with Crane, while Click was at the GM meetings in Vegas, and without a contract of his own.
Assistant GM Scott Powers was also fired.
But it seems several front office executives were frequently voicing their complaints about Click to Crane, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.
David Stearns, who stepped down two weeks ago as president of baseball operations with Milwaukee, though is under contract for one more year, would be a top choice to replace Click, but the Brewers may not let Stearns out of the contract. The Mets have been thinking of Stearns for their front office.
Meanwhile, the Astros are bringing reliever Rafael Montero back on a 3-year, $34.5 million contract.
Montero, 32, was super this season, 2.37 ERA in 68 1/3, yielding just three home runs. The entire corps of the Houston bullpen now returns.
--The Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw apparently reached agreement on a one-year contract.
The future Hall of Famer, who turns 35 in March, was terrific last season, 12-3, 2.28 ERA, but for a second straight year was limited to 22 starts due to nagging injuries, which has been the case essentially since 2015, the last season he was injury free.
--Fourteen MLB free agents received qualifying offers from their former teams, which these days is one-year, $19.5 million.
The list includes Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom, and since qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, only eight of 110 offers have been accepted. It’s just a way for teams to potentially get a draft pick from the team that eventually signs them, and it also gives teams extending the offer ten days to work out a longer-term deal before the window expires.
The Mets also extended offers to Brandon Nimmo and Chris Bassitt.
--The six-game World Series averaged 11.78 million viewers on Fox, and 12.03 combined (including Fox Deportes and streaming), the network said, which isn’t that bad in today’s fractured TV universe but still made for one of the least-watched World Series on record, trailing only the 2020 pandemic-affected Fox TV-only 9.94 million viewer average for Dodgers-Rays. Last year’s six-game Braves-Astros Series averaged 11.94 for the network.
As Patrick Crakes, a media analyst and former Fox Sports executive put it: “Show me something that’s setting an all-time (viewership) record somewhere. This is the range it’s at. The World Series was a top-10 prime-time show 50 years ago alongside ‘Mannix’ and it still is today. What else does that? The NFL and a couple other things.”
Crakes said MLB made about $11 billion this season.
“MLB has never made so much money, never reached so many people. Even with the regional sports network problems, it reaches more people than ever.”
--A baseball glove personally donated by Babe Ruth to St. Louis Browns third baseman Jimmy Austin sold Saturday at the 19th annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory auction for $1.53 million, shattering the record paid for a baseball glove.
The previous record is believed to be $387,500 for a Lou Gehrig glove sold in 1999.
Now you might think, how the heck could this go for so much, the authenticity and such, but an audio recording from 1964, used in “The Glory of Their Times,” captures Austin discussing the glove and pounding its leather with his hand.
Susan Kolokoff, niece of Jimmy Austin, said in a statement from Hunt Auctions, “The glove had rested in a box for the last 30 years until we learned of its history and heard the amazing audio recording.”
David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions, said the provenance and authentication process, including a possible photo match of Ruth wearing the same model glove with identical tobacco staining, showed “This monumental glove is truly [one] of the most historic pieces of its medium to have ever been offered at public auction.” [Dan Hajducky / ESPN.com]
--Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that he didn’t believe Kyrie Irving was antisemitic after meeting with him in person this week at the league’s headquarters in Manhattan.
“We had a direct and candid conversation,” Silver, who is Jewish, said in an interview with the New York Times, adding, “He’s someone I’ve known for a decade, and I’ve never heard an antisemitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group.”
Silver should have added, ‘On the other hand, I’ve never understood a single thing he said either.’
But in a follow-up phone conversation, Silver added, “Whether or not he is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”
Meanwhile, the Nets removed the interim tag from coach Jacque Vaughn, who had replaced Steve Nash, thus ending the prospect of the team hiring disgraced (and suspended) Celtics coach, Ime Udoka.
Vaughn, who played for the Nets after being a first-round pick of the Utah Jazz out of Kansas, has been as assistant coach with Brooklyn since 2016.
For once, the Nets made the right move.
As for Irving’s status, he was suspended for a minimum of five games and the fifth game of the suspension was Saturday at the Clippers, a good Nets win, 110-95.
The Nets said that Irving will not play today against the Lakers. The current West Conference road trip ends Thursday at Portland and it’s highly unlikely Irving will play before they return home vs. Memphis on Nov. 20.
The Nets are 4-1 without Kyrie (4-2 under Jacque Vaughn, after their 2-5 start with Steve Nash at the helm).
--No. 2 Gonzaga came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to defeat Michigan State, 64-63, Friday night on the USS Abraham Lincoln at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, California, a recent tradition on Veterans Day.
Drew Timme led the comeback with 22 points and 13 rebounds. But the Spartans almost pulled it out, Jaden Akins missing a desperation 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
It was certainly a surprise when Timme, after two terrific seasons with the Zags, opted to come back for a fourth season rather than test the NBA waters and this is a guy who can lead them to the promised land.
--No big upsets in the top 25 this week, though we had a mild one Friday night as Temple beat 16 Villanova, 68-64, on the Owls’ home court…the first time they have beaten the Wildcats in ten years.
--Shaheen Holloway faced his old team, Saint Peter’s, on Saturday as coach of his alma mater, Seton Hall, and the Hall blew out the Peacocks 80-44. Saint Peter’s lost virtually everyone from the storybook squad that Holloway led to the Elite Eight.
--Wake Forest had a nice 81-71 win over Georgia on Friday, as our Florida transfer, point guard Tyree Appleby, looks like a good ‘get.’
--But wait…we got an upset today…Colorado, having lost to Grambling State on Friday, beat No. 11 Tennessee 78-66! As my grandfather would have said, “Gee willikers!” [He didn’t swear.]
--At the Houston Open, the next to last Tour event of the calendar year, Tony Finau took a 4-shot lead into the final round today over Englishman Ben Taylor and cruised, by four over Tyson Alexander, as it turned out.
Suddenly, the man who couldn’t buy a victory on Tour has five career wins, and three in 2022. Good for Tony.
This is the last ‘wraparound season’ and FedEx Cup points earned in the fall can be key heading into next summer and the race for the playoffs and the title, which next year will be limited to the final 70, not 125 as has been the case since the FedEx Cup playoffs started.
--On the senior circuit, they held the Schwab Cup Championship today in Phoenix, and Padraig Harrington held a 5-shot lead over Steven Alker; Alker just needing to finish top five to secure the Charles Schwab Cup over Padraig.
And New Zealander Alker then did the job, winning the Cup, while Harrington picked up his fourth win of the season, finishing second in the standings.
--Rory McIlroy said this week he finished second to Tiger Woods in the $100 million bonus program that rewards popularity and exposure on the PGA Tour.
Woods won the PIP bonus pool for a second year despite playing only nine rounds in three majors.
McIlroy, on the other hand, while not adding to his major total, won the FedEx Cup for a record third time, two other tournaments and returned to No. 1 in the world ranking, as well as being the strongest and most active voice in support of the PGA Tour’s challenge from LIV Golf.
So for the PIP, Rory picked up another $12 million, bringing his total earnings for the season to $40,354,566.
That breaks down to $8,654,566 from prize money in 15 tournaments, $18 million for winning the FedEx Cup, $1.7 million for being sixth in the Comcast Business Tour Top 10 for the regular season, and the $12 million from the PIP.
Actually, the PIP money isn’t official until after Thanksgiving, when the Tour is expected to release the list
With an expanded program, some 23 players are expected to receive bonus money from the $100 million pool that measures social media engagement, brand exposure, Q-rating, internet searches and awareness.
--Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch are out at NBC. Maltbie, 71, and Koch, 69, have been working for the network for decades, but I can’t disagree that perhaps it was time for a refresh.
Maltbie was originally told 2021 would be his last year before Jim “Bones” Mackay left his on-air role with the network to caddie for Justin Thomas. He returned as an on-course reporter for 2022 but wasn’t renewed for 2023. He had been with NBC since 1992.
Koch joined NBC Sports full-time in 1997.
I haven’t seen who is replacing them.
Heading into the World Cup break, we had some important contests this weekend:
Brentford shocked Manchester City 2-1; Liverpool beat Southampton 3-1; Tottenham prevailed 4-3 in a shootout against Leeds; Newcastle continued its storybook season, 1-0 over Chelsea; Arsenal took out the Wolves 2-0; and Manchester United….
So the standings…Played (of 38) – Points…
1. Arsenal…14 – 37
2. Man City…14 – 32
3. Newcastle…15 – 30
4. Tottenham…15 – 29
5. Man U…14 - 26
6. Liverpool…14 – 22
7. Brighton…14 – 22
8. Chelsea…14 – 21
Top 3 songs for the week 11/14/64: #1 “Baby Love” (The Supremes) #2 “Leader Of The Pack” (The Shangri-Las) #3 “Last Kiss” (J. Frank Wilson and The Cavaliers)…and…#4 “Come A Little Bit Closer” (Jay & The Americans) #5 “Have I The Right?” (The Honeycombs) #6 “The Door Is Still Open To My Heart” (Dean Martin) #7 “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” (Manfred Mann) #8”Let It Be Me” (Betty Everett & Jerry Butler…great tune…) #9 “She’s Not There” (The Zombies) #10 “Ringo” (Lorne Greene…A- week…)
San Francisco 49ers Quiz Answers: 1) 5,000 yards rushing…Frank Gore 11,073 (2005-2014), Joe Perry 8,689 (1948-63), Roger Craig 7,064 (1983-90), Ken Willard 5,930 (1965-73), Garrison Hearst 5,535 (1997-2003). 2) 6,000 yards receiving…Jerry Rice 19,247 (1985-2000), Terrell Owens 8,572 91996-2003), Dwight Clark 6,750 (1979-87), Gene Washington 6,664 (1969-77..18.0 avg.)*
*For those of us of a certain age, i.e., old, it was always hard, say, 20+ years after the fact, remembering which Gene Washington was better. The other played with the Vikings (1967-73…ending with a stint in Denver), and had 3,237 yards with a 17.8 avg. Very similar games.
Hall of Famer Joe Perry had some phenomenal seasons, 1948-54. Check him out on profootballreference.com. Teach your kids.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed. A little World Cup primer.