December Sports Update
Another month of sports in the books, and this time there is plenty to talk about, so let's go ahead and get into it.
College Football: The Top Five Moments of November
#6 Auburn defeats #1 Alabama at Auburn
Auburn won a fairly easy game against Alabama, which makes for its second win against a top-ranked team. The Alabama offense struggled for the majority of the game and was never able to move the ball effectively. Auburn was able to move the ball just enough, and Jarrett Stidham had an outstanding game against the Tide. Auburn’s next game is for its first college football playoff berth against the 6th-ranked Georgia bulldogs in the SEC Championship game.
#1 Georgia is beaten down by Auburn at Auburn
While Alabama didn't play well at Auburn, Georgia looked even worse. The running back duo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb never really got going, and freshman quarterback Jake Fromm played like a freshman for the first time this season. The Bulldogs will get a chance for revenge in the SEC championship game.
Pittsburgh stuns #3 Miami
The turnover chain was unable to make an appearance as unranked Pittsburgh beat previously undefeated Miami by a score of 24-14. The loss knocked Miami down to #7, but a win over top-ranked Clemson in the ACC championship game will put the Hurricanes right back into the playoffs.
UCF vs USF for the remaining American Conference Championship spot
Although not the most anticipated matchup of November, this game didn’t disappoint. Charlie Strong’s first season at USF, an undefeated season on the line for UCF, almost 1200 yards of total offense, and 91 points scored: this was one of the most thrilling games of the season. The two teams combined for 1,186 yards of total offense (USF for 653, UCF for 533): there were 99 passes thrown for 876 yards (USF, 45 passes for 503 yards; UCF, 44 for 373); and 79 rushes for 310 yards (USF, 39 rushing attempts for 150 yards; UCF, 40 for 160). In the end, however, UCF was able to come out on top because of a 95-yard kick return with 1:28 seconds left on the clock. #14 UCF will play # 20 Memphis for the American Conference title.
Where to begin? Butch Jones was finally fired from Tennessee following a humiliating loss against Missouri. Arkansas parted ways with underachieving Bret Bielema. Florida fired Jim McElwain and hired Dan Mullen, which Mississippi State without a head coach until they hired Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin, their most successful head coach in 20 years. UCLA fired head coach Jim Mora on his birthday, and managed to coax Chip Kelly out of retirement to replace him. Herm Edwards could be coming out of retirement to fill a vacancy at Arizona State. Tennessee has tried to hire John Gruden, Dan Mullen, Greg Schiano, Jim Bob Cooter, David Cutcliffe, Dave Doeren, Chad Morris, Matt Campbell, Jeff Brohm, Lane Kiffin and even the mullet himself, Mike Gundy. Tennessee is now expected to try to convince Kevin Sumlin to take a shot at the job.
These 8 are the only teams that have a real chance at making it into the playoffs. All the top four teams have to do is win the conference championship game, and they’re in. It’s a little more complicated for the other four. Georgia and Miami have to upset Auburn and Clemson, respectively, in their championship games. If Georgia wins, they’re in, but Miami’s loss to Pittsburgh could negatively affect them in the playoff committee’s eyes. For Ohio State to make the playoffs, they have to beat Wisconsin and hope that the committee gives a two-loss conference champion the edge over a one-loss Alabama team. For the Tide to roll into the playoffs, it gets even more complicated: Ohio State will have to beat Wisconsin and then hope that the committee gives Bama the nod, or, the Tide needs to hope that #12 TCU can upset Oklahoma in the Big-12 championship game. If Alabama makes the playoffs, then there is a good chance that there could be an Alabama-Auburn national championship game.
My playoff ranking.:
Ohio State (letting unranked Iowa beat them and score 55 should keep them out)
Clemson vs Auburn, with Clemson winning it all.
New England has assumed its natural position as the dominant power in the AFC East. Father Time has still been unsuccessful in his attempt to find a way to catch up to 40-year-old Tom Brady (3374 yards, 26 TDs, 3 INT). The Patriots are just a machine, and the AFC East is just too weak to compete. The Dolphins are realizing that signing Jay Cutler out of retirement was a mistake, the Jets are struggling but not as bad as most were expecting at the beginning of the year, and the Bills’ front office and coaching staff are making very questionable decisions (trading a second-round player for a fourth-round draft pick, trading Marcell Dareus for almost nothing, benching Tyrod Taylor for a quarterback who threw 5 interceptions in one half in his first career start, etc.).
After getting off to a very fast and hot start, the Kansas City Chiefs have really slowed down. After winning their first 5 games, the Chiefs are just 1-5 in their last 6, which has opened the door for the Chargers and Raiders to make a push for the playoffs. The Broncos are in rebuilding mode and haven’t been able to do much this season
I don’t think anyone saw the Jacksonville Jaguars as a real Super Bowl contender this season, but their defense has taken a giant step forward, Blake Bortles is playing okay and Leonard Fournette is running over defenders the way he did in college. The Titans have been able to right the ship after a slow start to the season and now sit at 7-4, with Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry trying and lead the team into the postseason. The Texans have fallen apart without Deshaun Watson, and the Colts sit at the bottom of the division.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are leading this division once again, to no one’s surprise, as the triple B threat looks as dangerous as ever. The Ravens appear to be fairly strong this year: their defense looks especially tough and already has three shutouts on the season. The Bengals’ offense has greatly improved since the firing of their offensive coordinator, and the Browns have yet to win a game.
The Eagles have pretty much wrapped up this division. Carson Wentz is playing MVP-level football, the defense is looking impenetrable, and the NFC East is really weak this year. Dallas and Washington are both struggling, and the Giants’ front office looks even worse and more inept than the Bills.
After sporting one of the best offenses in NFL history last season, the Atlanta Falcons have taken a major step backward following the hire of Steve Sarkisian. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are looking to run into the playoffs on the legs of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Cam Newton is playing reckless football: he has thrown 14 touchdowns, but also 11 interceptions while leading the Panthers to an 8-3 record. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have definitely not lived up to offseason expectations and are struggling.
Green Bay will not be winning this division following the decision to start Brett Hundley at quarterback. The Minnesota Vikings have been playing great football with Case Keenum at the helm. The Lions are a longshot to make the playoffs, and the Bears are looking ahead to next season.
The LA Rams have gotten off to a very strong start. Jared Goff is playing the way he should, Todd Gurley is running through defenders, and the defense is doing just enough to get the offense back on the field. Seattle is playing much better than they were at the beginning of the year, the Cardinals have been struggling, and the 49ers are doing about as well as they were expected to do this season (1-10).
Let’s be honest here, there are only four teams in the NBA that will be doing anything this year: the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, and the Boston Celtics.
The trade for Kyrie Irving seems to have paid off: the Celtics lead the Eastern Conference and sitting nicely at 18-4 on the season. Kyrie has been playing very well individually, and has been able to put up plenty of points when the team has needed him to.
The Rockets are a solid 1.5 games ahead of the Warriors in the West thanks to their explosive offense. James Harden averaged 34 points and 10 rebounds a game in November and is the main reason why the Rockets have been off to such a great start.
The Cavaliers may have been struggling at the beginning of the season, but they have certainly hit their stride lately. The Cavs have won 10 games in a row, with Lebron James leading the charge.
Maybe they’re not off too as good of a start as the team of a few years ago, but Golden State is still as powerful as ever and will be returning to full strength soon.
The College Basketball season is still young, but there have been enough games to provide a sense of which teams are good this year.
Duke, Michigan State, and Kansas all seem to be the real deal this year--Duke especially. THe Blue Devils beat a Michigan State team that absolutely throttled a pretty good North Carolina squad.
The SEC is making a case to be known as a basketball conference, with Kentucky, Florida, and Texas A&M all in the Top Ten, and Alabama ranked at #24. Alabama’s only loss this season was to #16 Minnesota; moreover, Bama had to play 3-on-5 for the second half and lost by only 5 points.
- Josh Ragsdale '18
(Raggy) (Raggy J) (Swaggy J) (Dish-Rag) (Raggle McGaggle)