Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the proud men and women who served our country are always honored and revered. We salute our veterans today and everyday!
Leading off: Another wild weekend in football
I love this time of the year in sports, except for the shortening days, the football is what I crave and enjoy. High school is getting into the big time playoff atmosphere, colleges are grinding through the conference schedules with the stakes getting higher and higher every week. And the NFL is its usual wild and wacky self. Preps and Pros have a way of shaking themselves out as November progresses. Before this year I used to rail against the notion that the regular season was the playoff to shake the pretenders out, but what I like is that you have the conferences that play and the conference title games to follow. Then the plain jane named college football playoff its an exciting buildup and now you have the high powered games that really do act as a knockout stage. Examples:
Arizona State proves ND is fake again
Ohio State: Comeback Bucks?
I saw the Buckeyes get taken to the woodshed by Va. Tech to begin the season. As someone who loathes the Bucks and their noisy arrogant fans, I saw it as a delicious comeuppance. I saw a flustered JT Barrett and thought that my beloved Bearcats had a real chance to pull an upset. Well of course we know how that went. The Bucks rolled the Bearcats on the last Saturday and September and have rolled to a number of wins. But after struggling with a so-so Penn State, went to East Lansing to face the 8th ranked Spartans. Falling behind 21-14 in the 2nd after Sparty lumbered downfield on a methodical drive the Bucks looked like they were actually in peril. But the Bucks began ripping off points. Barrett looked more and more poised as the game went on and shredded the vaunted Spartan defense. When it was all said and done the Bucks had a 49-38 win suddenly they look more and more like a formidable threat and nearing the head of the 1-loss teams that have a realistic shot at being selected for the College Football playoff. I still loath the Bucks make no mistake but as the wise philosopher Sheedy Wallace taught us here in Hoodwood “Ball don’t lie.” The Bucks are ballin’ and are in position to make noise.
Bama still lurking
Speaking of lurking, that team from Tuscaloosa is hanging around…again. The Crimson Tide are like Freddy or Jason. You think that you’ve killed them off and are just starting to relax and look for something to drink when they pop up again and start slashing. Most people wrote Bama off after they took a stunning loss to Ole Miss and struggled mightily with Arkansas but the Tide just keeps rolling. Now after thrashing Texas A&M and Tennessee then getting a crucial win in Death Valley over LSU don’t look now but the Tide are right in the thick of things themselves. SEC honks think that they are deserving of two berth and Bama keeps making a case for one of them. But with a supershowdown on the docket against Mississippi State, this might serve as an elimination game. With their hated rival Auburn out of the way with a loss to Texas A&M the path clears more for the Tide
Oregon plays it smart and wins
The Ducks were on the ropes to be sure. Utah had burned them on long pass play to Kaelin Clay and were about to go up 14-0 in front of a rowdy home crowd in Salt Lake City. When things turned bizarre, as Clay crossed the goal line dropped the ball. But he hadn’t crossed the goal line with the ball and the ball was on the ground on the 1 yard line. The refs stood there eyeing the ball suspiciously but not going near it, a couple of Oregon players and a Utah player trailing the play briefly tussled over the ball before Oregon linebacker Joe Walker emerged from the scrum and went trundeling back down the field toward the opposite goal. Now keep in mind that a third of the Utah players were in the end zone celebrating what they thought was a score and the other 2/3 was headed the sideline on the far side of the field. Meanwhile Walker was rumbling down the sideline with a virtual secret service convoy detail around him. Taking out the one Utah player that was still on the field, the Ducks scored on an improbable play and instead of the Utes being up 14-0 they were now tied and the air took out of a potential upset bid. The Ducks cruised to a 51-27 win behind the sharp play of Marcus Mariota, the player no one east of the Rockies really has seen much of but should be a shoo-in for the Heisman. Oregon is ranked #4 and is likely headed for a showdown with the aforementioned Arizona State for the Pac-12 title and a likely playoff berth. And what was it we were saying about every week a playoff?
In the Pros its just as nutty and fun
Detroit the quiet 7-2
Contrary to what many think it’s the Lions not the Pack that are leading the NFC North and like their quiet coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions have adapted a more low key tone and are playing tough. They won a slugfest with the Dolphins on a last minute toss from Matthew Stafford to Theo Riddick gave the Lions a 20-16 win. The Lions now face the equally hot Cards in what could determine home field for the playoffs. You read that right the Cards and Lions, long sad sacks of the NFC are this years kingpins. Why couldn’t the NFL flex this game to primetime. Don’t they say in their own fact and record book that flexing games gives a chance for surprise teams to play their way on to primetime? I know that the Pats and Colts are division leaders in their own right, but it would be nice to see other teams get the primetime spotlight every now and then
Rodgers shreds Da Bears
I mean really, this is getting almost criminal. The Bears got throttled by Tom Brady and the Pats two weeks ago, then went on their bye. When they resurfaced after the bye they were in the Jaws like sight of Aaron Rodgers and the Pack…at Lambeau…on a primetime stage. It was almost sickening to watch Rodgers abuse the Bear secondary again and again. 6 touchdowns in one half??? Are you kidding. What was sadder was watching Jay Cutler just flounder against a less than formidable Packers secondary. The Pack rang up a 55-14 thrashing and the Bears become the first team in the modern era to give up 50 or more points in back to back games. The only other team to do that was the legendary Rochester Jeffersons, I think they beat the Raiders a couple weeks ago…
Its rare when I give dap to a White Sox, since I still despise the team but you have to give it to Jose Abreu who was named the AL Rookie of Year unanimously. When you lead AL rookies in home runs (36), RBIs (107), hits (176), doubles (35), runs scored (80), OBP (.383), slugging percentage (.581) and OPS (.964). You are a lock to win the honors, hats off to a breakout star.
To the Arizona Cardinals. Not for their 8-1 start but locking up Carson Palmer on a 3 year $50 million contract with $20.5 million guaranteed then Palmer goes out the very next Sunday and shreds his knee the same one that he hurt in 2006 in the playoff against the Steelers.