Sports wrap-up: 24 October 2017

I used to do a lot of weird stuff in my weekly review posts back on the old blog, but these days I don’t have a lot of time to do weekly review posts (and thinking back, I’m wondering how I ever had the time!), plus I’m just not buying a lot of single issues anymore (more than I should, but I’m definitely winding down), so they wouldn’t be as much fun as they used to be. One thing I often did, especially in the autumn, was write briefly about sports. For some reason, I never connected that I could just write an entire column based on sports – it’s part of the culture, and it’s popular, so it fits here at the blog! Whoo-hoo! So I’m going to try to do a semi-regular column about sports, especially during football season, as I like football more than any other sport. I should warn you that as I live in the United States and have always lived in the United States, I’m going to write about American sports. It’s not that I don’t like a good Aussie rules footy match, but I just don’t get to see them too often, so it’s just not going to happen. I’m also going to write more about my favorite teams and teams I really, really hate. I don’t think much about the Tennessee Titans, in other words, because I don’t root for them nor do I loathe them. So let’s see what’s going on in my sports world, and in the comments you can tell me what’s going on in yours!

The big news this past weekend was my alma mater, Penn State, throttling the Wolverines of the University of Michigan, 42-13. The Nittany Lions are currently ranked #2, which has been a bit of a problem spot for teams this year, so I was a tiny bit nervous about this game. Michigan is garbage on offense, but their defense was supposed to be good, so I thought the first team to 20 points would win (and I expected that to be Penn State, but not before halftime!). Plus, PSU always has problems with Michigan, it seems. Last year they got dismantled in Ann Arbor, 49-10, which is currently the last regular-season loss the Lions have suffered but at the time dropped them to 2-2 and put their coach, James Franklin, on a little bit of a hot seat. They were really short-handed in that game due to injuries and because Michigan had eleventy-billion seniors on their team, but it was still a horrible game (and it featured the worst targeting penalty you will ever see; if you don’t believe me and think I’m just being a homer, you can watch the play here – I can’t embed it – and marvel at the incompetency of the officials). The Lions figured it out and won the Big Ten last year, and this year they were 6-0 coming into the game, which was at their stadium this year. They jumped all over Michigan, getting a quick punt from the Wolverines and then letting their amazing running back, Saquon Barkley, get going:

A few minutes later, Barkley scored again, and by the end of the first quarter, he had over 100 yards rushing (Michigan held him in check the rest of the game, at least on the ground, but by then, the rest of the team had started playing). In the second quarter, Michigan scored two touchdowns and missed an extra point, so PSU was clinging to a 14-13 lead with a few minutes left in the half. Then they just went right down the field and scored with less than a minute left. Michigan, I should note, hadn’t given up 21 points in a game this year, and the Lions had that at halftime.

Afterward, Penn State’s tight end, Mike Gesicki, decided to celebrate by … um, almost killing his quarterback by leaping over him:

In the second half, the offense continued to click and the defense stepped up even more, stifling the already anemic Michigan offense. They recorded six sacks in the second half, their quarterback rushed for two more touchdowns, and Barkley decided to spice up his third touchdown with a juggling show:

JUGGLE!!!!

Penn State ran up the score just a little, and I was a bit annoyed they were trying to score at the end just to match Michigan’s 49 points (they managed to get down to the Michigan 6-yard line at the end and snapped the ball with one second left just to run another play), but the back-ups were in, and they like playing as much as the starters. It was a fun game to watch after a bit of anxiety in the second quarter, and now Penn State gets to relax … oh, wait, no they don’t, because they have to go on the road to play Ohio State, who’s ranked #6 in the country and had this past weekend off. Sheesh. Penn State is in the middle of a gauntlet (Michigan at home, Ohio State and Michigan State on the road) that, if they come out unbeaten, they should be the biggest threat to Alabama in the playoffs. We shall see!

In other college football news, Alabama somehow covered a 37-point spread against Tennessee, which technically plays in the SEC but like every other team in the SEC this year (with the possible exception of Georgia) might as well be Alabama’s practice squad for how much resistance they put up against the Crimson Tide (I really, really, REALLY hate Alabama, and I really, really, REALLY hate Nick Saban). In one of those games that I root for the “meteor” (as in let’s hope a meteor hits the stadium and wipes out both teams), Notre Dame boatraced Southern Cal, 49-14, ending USC’s national title hopes. I usually hate teams based on the media’s reaction to them, and in this case I hate Notre Dame a bit more, because at least USC has done some good things in the past 20 years, unlike the Fighting Irish, which lives off its reputation as the only team on television in the 1950s and hasn’t done anything of consequence since … 1992? yet always gets a ton of media attention. So I wanted both teams to lose, but considering Notre Dame’s schedule going forward is a bit harder than USC’s, them winning this game and gutting the Trojans is probably better in the long run, because I doubt if Notre Dame will continue to be a one-loss team.

I didn’t watch a ton of college football this weekend, because Penn State played at 4.30 (Pacific time, that is) and before that, I was busy doing other stuff (if they play during the day, usually I watch other games right before or after they come on, and I switch to other games during the commercials, but I didn’t do that this past weekend). So I didn’t see all the insane stuff that typically happens on a college football weekend (which is why college football is better than pro football, because so much insane stuff happens in college football). Miami beat Syracuse, for instance, a game I saw a little bit of, but it was probably noteworthy only because of what this Syracuse player did:

I found some fun plays on-line, too, like this play from the Delaware game (Blue Hens represent!):

Blue Hens!

And this UCLA player getting some serious air:

Finally, if you live anywhere but Arizona (which is, I would imagine, most of you), you probably haven’t heard of Khalil Tate yet, but you will. He didn’t start the year as Arizona’s quarterback, but he probably should have. The Wildcats were 2-2 when he was put in the line-up, and he immediately became the best player in college football (I say that as someone who adores Saquon Barkley, but Tate is unreal). On 7 October, he went 12-13 for 154 yards and a touchdown, which is a good night throwing the ball. He rushed 14 times for … wait for it … 327 yards. THREE HUNDRED TWENTY-SEVEN YARDS! Oh, and FOUR TOUCHDOWNS. It was a record for a quarterback, of course, and Arizona needed every bit of it, as they beat Colorado 45-42. On 14 October they beat UCLA, and Tate was 9-13 for 148 yards and a touchdown through the air, but he only gained 230 yards on 15 carries and scored twice. Slacker! This past week they beat Cal in double overtime, and Tate really took the night off. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 17 times for 137 yards and one touchdown. I mean, really, man. Pick it up! That means in the past three games he’s rushed for 694 yards (which is insane) on 46 carries (a 15-yard average) and scored 7 touchdowns and has completed 31 passes out of 41 attempts (still a 75% percentage, even though it’s not a high volume) for 468 yards (11.4 yards per attempt, which is terrific) for four more touchdowns. He does stuff like this:

He doesn’t even look like he’s running that fast and then he just outruns the entire defense. The dude is like a video game (although, to be fair, he’s playing against Pac-12 defenses, which are … not great). If he didn’t play in Tucson, he’d be nationally known. Even playing in that backwater (Tucson is a lovely town, but it’s really remote), he’s unlikely to be unknown for long.

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All right, moving on to professional football (we’re not done with football yet, hosers!), the reason I waited until today to post this is because my beloved Eagles played on Monday night, so I had nothing to say about them yesterday. And they won on Monday night, as Carson Wentz continued to break the hearts of Browns fans whose team traded down to get out of the #2 pick in the draft last year because they didn’t think Wentz was any good. SUCK IT, CLEVELAND! With a few minutes left in the first half, the Eagles were losing 10-3 and Wentz had just been sacked and they just looked out of sorts. They were playing good defense, but their offense was not in sync. Then Wentz did this:

(And then the receiver, Mack Hollins, did this, which was a little weird – I guess it’s something the youngsters know about?)

Then they scored again, right before the half, and all was right in the world again. Then, in the second half, Wentz did this:

And then we got the dagger, on 3rd-and-8, when Washington appeared to have him for a sack:

They went down and scored a touchdown and pretty much put the game away. Carson Wentz has a good case for MVP of the league, the Eagles can beat you in a lot of different ways (they’ve been running the ball well but didn’t last night, but it didn’t matter because Wentz completed just 17 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns), and their defense is always stout and can turn it up a notch just when they need it. The only bad news from last night was that they lost Jason Peters, their ancient and still formidable right tackle, whose presence on the offensive line will be missed. Unlike last year, when losing a lineman killed their season, this year they look like they can handle it. I hope so, because it’s really fun to be an Eagles fan right now, especially with delusional Dallas fans still thinking they can overtake them in the division even after their woman-beating running back has to serve his suspension (which will probably begin after next week’s game). The Eagles are 6-1, have the best record in the league, swept Washington, have a 2.5 game lead on both Washington and Dallas, are unbeaten in the division and the conference … they’re looking pretty good.

I didn’t watch much NFL on Sunday, because I don’t really love the NFL all that much. College is much more entertaining, because so much of professional football is playing not to lose. That’s one reason I like the way the Eagles play, because they go for knockout shots. The Chicago Bears won a game, for instance, in which their starting quarterback threw 7 passes (completing four) and they didn’t score an offensive touchdown. As much as Chicago homer Mike Wilbon might love that (and he does), it’s ghastly football. So I tend to vaguely pay attention to professional football unless it’s the Eagles – I know who won, how the teams generally played, but I don’t watch much of the games. There’s too much sameness to the style of football they play. The Cowboys still suck, though!

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The World Series starts tonight, and once the Phillies are eliminated from the postseason (which this year happened around the first of May, I think), it becomes for me about rooting against teams, and even then I don’t care that much. So I’m hoping the Astros win even though I’m pretty sure the Dodgers will, because the Astros have never won a World Series and I don’t like the Dodgers and, more than that, I love it when traditional powerhouses haven’t won in a long time. Los Angeles should win more often, but they haven’t since the Kirk Gibson Series in 1988, which cracks me the fuck up. (I really didn’t want the Cubs to win last year, because I thought it would be hilarious if the Cubs went another 108 years without winning a Series. Their fans were already insufferable, so I wanted them to remain losers too). I don’t really care, but I would like to see Houston win. I’m already grateful to them for beating the Yankees, because everyone can agree that the Yankees are pure evil. New York last won a Series in 2009, but you’d think it was forever the way the media slobbers all over them the minute they get half-decent. Here’s what we should always say when it comes to the Yankees:

Anyway, go Astros! Nobody wants to see the best pitcher of the 2010s (Clayton Kershaw, for you baseball novices) also become a World Series winner! Plus, if the Astros win, we might see a lot of pictures of Kate Upton (she’s engaged to Houston pitcher Justin Verlander), and I’m not really seeing a downside to that:

Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, SPORTS!

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The NBA started last week, and for the first time since 2001, I’m actually interested in the Philadelphia 76ers, because they finally have players who can actually, you know, play. They haven’t gotten off to a great start (they’re 1-3), but Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons look great, and if they can both stay healthy (a big concern, given that Simmons missed all of last year and Embiid missed the entire two seasons before that and half of last year), they will dominate the game for a decade. I used to like the NBA, back in the 1980s when the game was more fun, and I started to like it a bit when Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudamire were making Phoenix a fun team a little over a decade ago, and I love what Golden State is doing, but those teams aren’t my team, so the fact that the Sixers gamed the system with their epic tanking and might actually be good now is pretty fun. We shall see.

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In random sports notes, I’m sure you’re all keeping up with your women’s college volleyball, where after a shocking two (2!!!!) years without winning a National Championship, Penn State is back at #1 and looking for yet another championship (they won in 1999, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014). Speaking of women’s volleyball, if you haven’t seen the video of the high school student in Texas with the most amazing athletic play in, perhaps, recorded history, click this link. It’s breathtaking.

On Sunday, Manchester United lost to the most English-sounding team in the world, Huddersfield Town, for the first time since 1952. NINETEEN FIFTY-TWO!!!!! I consulted my soccer expert, the dude who works at my comics store, about this, and he pointed out that Huddersfield has been terrible forever, so they haven’t been playing in the Premier League for years, so Man U probably hasn’t played them that often. Still, 1952! Good job, Huddersfield Town! They’re the Terriers. So cute!

Man U was like, ‘You’re so adorbs, how can we defeat you?!?!?!?’

That’s about all I have in the world of sports for this week. Feel free to chime in with your hawt taeks about your favorite team or your most hated team or athlete. We’re all friends here!

23 Comments

  1. Peter

    I’m a Browns fan, and watching Carson Wentz in primetime makes me get physically ill sometimes. That sack he avoided was incredible. I weep for what might have been. I thought that the NFC East was going to be one of the tightest divisions in football this season, but it kind of looks like Philly’s going to run away with it.

    I’m also a big Penn State fan, and I’m pretty nervous about this Saturday. I think that a turnover-free game from the good guys could carry the day, though. Barkley is amazing, and he’s a great decoy, too. Our receiving corps took a slight hit with Chris Godwin going pro, but Juwan Johnson looks good. More importantly, our defense is likely improved from last year. I can’t see this crew allowing 52 points in the Rose Bowl. Fingers crossed.

    (I should note that my football fandoms are probably going to be in direct conflict at the end of the season. It’s basically written in stone that the Browns are going to get a top 3 draft pick this year, and I really pray that some team with hope gets Saquon before they have the chance to select him. The kid’s just so great; I’d hate to see his talent get thrown down the drain like that).

    1. Greg Burgas

      Peter: You’re not the only Browns fan who feels that way. The Eagles SBNation blog runs a series showing what the commenters on the other blogs are saying during the games, and the past few weeks it’s been a steady litany of sadness from Browns fans. And hey, remember they could have taken Deshaun Watson this year! 🙁

      I think Penn State is slightly more talented and battle-tested than OSU, but I always worry about games! The fact that it’s in Columbus worries me, but I like that it’s a day game and not a murderous night game. I expect it to be tough, which of course is the worst kind of game because it plays havoc with my gut.

      I also hope Barkley goes someplace where he can flourish. I just hope teams like the Browns (sorry!) and the Jets are too focused on getting a quarterback to take him!

  2. Louis Bright-Raven

    Wentz probably *would* “suck” if he played for Cleveland. You have to have an offensive line to protect the QB, a running back who can actually do something (again, dependent on that O-line too), and some decent receivers to throw to. The Browns have… none of that, it seems. Honestly, I suspect the Ohio State Buckeyes would do better than the current iteration of the Browns have in the NFL.

    1. Peter

      I think Wentz would have been beat up a lot if he had gone to the Browns. But he obviously has talent and doesn’t get panicked as easily as our current QBs. I think the draft that really killed us was 2014. We had something like seven pro-bowlers coming back that year and we drafted Justin Gilbert (no longer in football) and Johnny Manziel (no longer in football) in the first round. Apparently the coaches liked Derek Carr but were superceded by the GM.

      1. Greg Burgas

        Yeah, Wentz would be in a lot more trouble if he played for Cleveland right now, but even last year, when his offensive line was breaking down and Pederson wasn’t as committed to the run game as he is today, you could see he had something special, so the Browns would be in a better situation today, even if he wouldn’t be as good as he is now. Of course, they’d have to recognize that he had something special …

      1. William Wilson

        Without checking, the last time Huddersfield could have met Man U would have been around 1975-6.
        Huddersfield were relegated from the First Division in 1972, Man U were relegated in 75 or 76, so as long as Huddersfield hadn’t been relegated again, that would have been their last League meeting. Unless they met in a Cup game.

        But it doesn’t really matter because football history actually only started in 1992.

          1. William Wilson

            1992 saw the formation of the Premier League, but more importantly regular live football on TV, broadcast by SKY.

            It’s a bit of a joke here in the UK that SKY see 1992 as some kind of year zero, and gloss over or ignore previous records and results.

            Oh, and Huddersfield are possibly not even the most English sounding team in the Premiership, I give you Brighton and Hove Albion.

          2. William Wilson

            I don’t know if you are still monitoring these comments, but this might entertain you

            My team, Nottingham Forest, beat Queens Park Rangers 4 – 0 this Saturday.

            We first played them at home in 1934, and in 29 League and 5 Cup games they have never managed to record a win.

  3. Eric van Schaik

    Greg, the only american sport that I’m currently follow is the baseball World Series.
    Mostly looking at how Kenley Jansen is doing.

    No interest in American Football and basketball.

    My interest:
    Soccer (mostly Dutch and a small bit of Belgium), shame we miss the world cup
    Formula 1 racing, because of my countryman Max Verstappen
    The penalty last weekend was total BS imo.
    Darts is fun to watch too, mostly because of Michael van Gerwen en Raymond van Barneveld.
    Augie de Blieck had a nice item about it http://www.pipelinecomics.com/watched-a-darts-match-and-a-comic-con-broke-out/
    Tennis, because I play it myself
    Cycling which I pick up after the divorce. This summer I made trips over 100 kilometers. You can look me up Strava.

    Kate Upton looks very nice 🙂 Show us more!!! 😉

    You sport a bit yourself?

    1. Greg Burgas

      Eric: Jansen didn’t have a great game last night, but I know he’s usually phenomenal!

      I find it far too hard to keep track of soccer and all the teams and leagues and whatnot. I’ll pay attention to the MLS final here (Portland won a few years ago, which was nice, and they’re one of the top teams again), and of course the World Cup (despite the Yanks missing the cut!), but other than that, I don’t even want to try.

      I’ve seen a darts tournament or two in my life, but good luck finding it on television in the States!

      I can’t wreck the blog again with more Kate Upton gifs!!!!! 🙂

      I play tennis, but I’m no good at singles. I’m just too out of shape. Once I get back into shape, maybe, but for now, I just dig doubles. It’s really fun. I ride my bike in the winter (it’s too hot here in the summer!), but nothing very strenuous. I love playing team sports (I played soccer growing up), but I don’t have the time nor the connections with enough other people to play these days, unfortunately.

      1. Eric van Schaik

        Yeah, I used to be a teamplayer too (soccer, handbal, tennis) but that was a long time ago. But with the new situation cycling is the most simple thing to do. Leave the place and just go. I play in a winter competition in tennis. A doubles match. 1 1/2 hour of playtime and the same amount of time for drinking 🙂

  4. tomfitz1

    No CANADIAN sports!?!?!

    We have CFL, man, CFL!!!!

    My town’s team lost a game that they SHOULD’VE won, by 1 pt.
    The agony, the AGONY!!!!!

    But, seeing Kate Upton, surely does help me get over the loss!!! 😉

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