Sports wrap-up: 7 November 2017

Man, what a terrible Saturday. Let’s get to it!

You think I’d be mad about the college football game I watched this weekend, but I’m too old to be mad about stuff like that. I watched numbly as Michigan State lined up for an easy field goal with four seconds left and made it, sending Penn State to their second consecutive road loss and ending any slight chance they had of making the College Football Playoff. I didn’t really get into the game too much – I watched it when it started, and Penn State was playing decently enough, but then they had a 3-hour lightning delay, and I had work to do, so I tilled our back yard. We’ve lived in our house for almost 18 months and the back yard has looked like shit since we moved in. The previous owners kept it looking okay, to a degree, but we didn’t, and it eventually got overrun by weeds and giant swaths of dirt. We weren’t sure what we were going to do – Arizona is not an optimal place to grow grass, even though a lot of people do, and we didn’t want to waste water. At our old house, we had rocks and the pool took up a lot of the back yard, but in our new house, the pool is perpendicular to the house instead of parallel, so we have a decent-sized lawn. We thought about converting it to rocks, but it would be nice to have a back yard space for the nice winter months, so this year, we decided to get going on that. It’s been stupid hot here until this past week, so even though it’s November, we still have time to plant rye grass, so I rented a tiller and went to work. It didn’t work as well as we thought it would – I either needed a bigger tiller or our ground is just really hard – but I did it twice and I think it’s looking pretty good for planting. Here’s a picture:

See? You’ve forgotten all about the fact that I started that paragraph on a football game! Sadly, this is a sports post, not a gardening one, so let’s get back to men fighting over an oblong spheroid. After the delay, Penn State seemed out of sorts (I can’t remember the source, but apparently they didn’t use the break to very good advantage as they might have eaten too much bad food instead of replenishing food), and they dropped a lot of passes and the coaches are wasting Saquon Barkley because they haven’t figured out how to fix the offensive line’s run blocking (he didn’t score in the game, snapping a streak of something like 16 straight games with a touchdown). Their defense was so stout before last week’s game, and now they don’t know how to cover anyone, so if they don’t sack the quarterback, someone is going to be open. I’m actually hoping this hurts Barkley’s draft stock so the Eagles can draft him, but I doubt it will. I also think that they will be better next year, because teams won’t be able to focus on Barkley, McSorley will be a senior, and the two running backs behind Barkley are quite good themselves, so maybe their offensive line will actually be good enough to open some holes for them. For now, I think they’ll be okay – they have three winnable games left after this shitty run of games,* and if they finish 11-2 I’ll be pretty happy. Disappointed that they wasted a generational talent at running back in his final season, but still happy with that. If they spiral after this, I’ll be … displeased.

* What the fuck is up with the scheduling in the Big Ten? Last year Ohio State had to go to Penn State, so the schedule-makers gave Penn State a bye the week before, which had to suck for the Buckeyes (also: fuck them, but still). This year Penn State gets Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State in a row, the last two on the road, and Ohio State had the bye before their game with Penn State. The good teams in the East are always going to be Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State, so why not make sure none of those teams has a shitty schedule? It can’t be that hard. Let fucking Rutgers play Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State in a row. They’re going to suck anyway, so why give them any hope? (Looking at the schedules for next year, it seems it’s not difficult for the schedule-makers to do this. Penn State plays the Buckeyes at home on 29 September, then they get a bye before playing the Spartans at home. They play Michigan on the road on 3 November, in the middle of a tough stretch of Iowa-Michigan-Wisconsin, but the other two are at home … but Michigan’s bye comes the week before the game. Ohio State gets Michigan State on the road on 10 November, but then they get a “week off” – they play Maryland – before Michigan at home. Michigan plays the Spartans on the road before their bye, and then Penn State at home. And Michigan State gets to go to Penn State and then play Michigan at home in consecutive weeks. So the Big Ten can make a schedule that doesn’t overly screw over any teams, but they haven’t done the best job of it the past two years.)

Anyway, I need Penn State to start winning again, because I don’t give a shit about watching any other college football when they lose, so I have no idea what happened and my sports wrap-up post doesn’t have the information that you, the consumer, crave! I did see that Iowa curb-stomped Ohio State, which was pretty awesome even though I wish the Lions had done it a week earlier. Iowa scored 55 points, which is the most an Urban Meyer team has ever giving up (I think; maybe the most scored against him while he’s been Buckeye coach) and the most scored against Ohio State since 1994, when they gave up 63 … to Penn State! (I will always find a way to bring it back around.) Stupid Alabama won, because of course they did, and stupid Notre Dame won, because of course they did, and stupid Miami won, because of course they did. My dark horse Heisman candidate, Khalil Tate, couldn’t beat stupid USC in Los Angeles, even though he led a furious comeback after a lousy first half. Oh well. He’s still only 18. I’m just mad because stupid USC is going to win the Pac-12, even though they’re not that great. Stupid USC!

Let’s get back to Iowa for a moment and appreciate this weird play. They were just pulling out all the stops on Ohio State. Again, it makes me wonder why Penn State didn’t put their two quarterbacks in the backfield at the same time against the Buckeyes. Trick plays might be cheap, but if you win the game, who fucking cares? (Read more about the play here, including why the dude who snapped the ball is eligible.)

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Then the pros started, and happily for me, the Eagles game was on television. When you live outside the home team’s coverage area and aren’t willing to splurge on Sunday Ticket (I used to have it, but it got expensive and after the kids were born, I didn’t really have the time to watch so much football to make it worth it), seeing the games of your team is always a dicey proposition. This year I’ve been lucky, but if the Eagles aren’t playing a nationally televised game (they’ve played two so far this year), I have to hope for some things. DirecTV makes Sunday Ticket free for the first game of the year, so I always hope the Eagles aren’t playing on Sunday or Monday night that week, because I want to see a “free” game. Then I always have to see when Arizona is playing, because usually Fox only shows that game. But occasionally they’ll have official “double-header” weekends, and maybe the Eagles play the early game, or they’re on CBS (which happens twice a year, when they play an AFC team at home) and they’re in a different time slot than the Cardinals. I’ve been pretty lucky this year. I watched the first game, missed the second (their only loss), saw the second game (although I didn’t see the end because I was so frustrated with them that I turned it off, which I do occasionally), missed the fourth game, saw the fifth game (they played Arizona), saw the sixth and seventh games (a Thursday night game and a Monday night game), missed the eighth game, and saw yesterday’s game because it was on CBS and the Cardinals were playing late. Of course, with a little bit left of the third quarter, CBS switched the game, because IT WAS SUCH A FREAKING BLOW-OUT!!!!!! Yes, the Eagles torched the Broncos, 51-23, rushing for 197 yards and three touchdowns against Denver’s vaunted rush defense, and getting four touchdowns through the air against their vaunted pass defense. Everything the Eagles did worked, from great play calls to simply great execution. They went up 44-9 before they put their back-ups in and Denver scored a couple of touchdowns, but they still went down the field late in the game to get another touchdown and go over 50. I read something that no one else is mentioning – the Eagles are going to kill your fantasy team, because they don’t rely on one guy all the time. Even Carson Wentz didn’t have a dominating game – he threw for 199 yards on 15 completions, but four were for touchdowns. They have had one 100-yard rusher this year even though they’re one of the best rushing teams in the league, and I don’t think they’ve had a 100-yard receiver. They were missing their top tight end with a hamstring injury, but their two back-ups caught five passes for 80 yards. Their third-string running back scored three touchdowns! They have to be murder to game-plan against, and they’re still not terribly healthy. They get a week off to rest, and then they go to Dallas. Man, I hope they put 50 on the Cowboys. That would be sweet.

The Los Angeles Rams also hung 50 on a team, the hapless New York Giants. The Rams are good, and scoring 50 on the road is impressive, but the Giants have given up. They allowed a touchdown on a 3rd down and 33 yards to do, for crying out loud. The best thing to come out of this game for New York is this sound bite:

That’s some quality coaching there.

The Cowboys won, unfortunately, with noted woman-beater Ezekiel Elliott still playing, but Kansas City scored on a weird “Hail Mary” at the end of the half. It’s a terrific play design, actually, and the Cowboys were caught completely off-guard. But I’m done writing about the Cowboys, because fuck those guys.

The pro football weekend was fun because of two somewhat non-descript games: Cincinnati at Jacksonville (won by the suddenly decent Jaguars 23-7) and Tampa at New Orleans (won by the scary Saints 30-10). They weren’t terribly competitive games, but they featured big-time fights, which is kind of a rarity in the NFL. First, Jalen Ramsey of the Jaguars was jawing at A.J. Green, the Bengals’ excellent wide receiver, and also shutting him down early in the game, and then this happened:

This is amazing. Green gives Ramsey a small shove, Ramsey responds with a harder shove, and then Green goes full takedown on Ramsey. I love the sequence – Green’s takedown, the punch to Ramsey’s helmet (smart), another takedown, then, as Ramsey gets up, the other Jags player comes in and launches into Green’s butt. Green was ejected, of course, and so was Ramsey, as the “instigator.” Yeah, I don’t know about that. It looks like Green definitely “threw” the first “punch,” if that first shove counts. But whatever. This is Ramsey’s second ejection in his career. He’s in his second season.

Then, we got elementary school antics in New Orleans. This is glorious:

Look at Jameis Winston, Tampa’s supposedly great young quarterback. The dude isn’t in the game because he hurt his shoulder, but he’s following Marshon Lattimore around pointing his finger at him and not quite touching him, like a third grader coming thisclose to his sister’s face but not touching her so he can say “I’m NOT touching you!” Then he pokes Lattimore’s helmet, and Lattimore just gives him a shove – nothing big, just a “get the fuck away from me, you douchebag” kind of shove. And then Mike Evans LAUNCHES into Lattimore as if Lattimore had just killed a baby, and the fight is on! Evans, inexplicably, was not ejected, but he was suspended for a game for this. This is fucking crazy.

Then, on Sunday night, this happened:

Marshall Newhouse, a Raiders’ lineman, got beat for a sack that led to a fumble. He tried to make up for by picking it up and running with it, even though he was 20 yards away from the first down marker. He was knocked down and fumbled, and the Dolphins recovered (they didn’t score any points, though, and lost the game). The internet went crazy, especially because Newhouse was helicoptered.

Here it is in reverse, which is oddly beautiful:

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The Houston Astros finally won a World Series, after 50+ years in existence, which was nice for them. I was rooting for them, because, as I’ve noted in previous posts, I love when flagship franchises in sports can’t seem to win the championship, and the Dodgers have not won a World Series since 1988, which I think is awesome. The Astros had, I believe, the third-longest wait to win their first World Series. Without checking, I will bet that the Phillies had the longest wait. They started playing in 1883. They won their first World Series in 1980. Man, I love being a Phillies fan! Anyway, Justin Verlander skipped the victory parade through the city to go to Italy to get married, which means it’s another flimsy excuse to post a gif of his fiancée!

Of course, a day after the Astros won, the Texans’ amazing quarterback, Deshaun Watson, tore his ACL in a non-contact play in practice and is out for the year, essentially ending Houston’s season. The Sports Gods giveth, the Sports Gods taketh away!

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Other than that, I got nothin’. Ben Simmons continues to be amazing for the 76ers, while Lonzo Ball continues to be terrible for Los Angeles. I don’t know anything about Lonzo Ball, but I do hate his overbearing father, so the only thing I can do is hope that Lonzo sucks so his dad can’t keep yapping. Well, that and Lonzo plays for the Lakers, who should always be awful. But it’s so early in basketball season that I’m barely paying attention. We’ll see if Philadelphia is good enough to hold my attention.

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What’s new in your sports world? I’m always fascinated by what people like to watch, because it’s such a diverse sports world!

5 Comments

  1. M-Wolverine

    You’re sure McSorley is going to come back next year? I mean, probably, but….

    You didn’t seem to mind the schedule when you go the Bye week before Michigan. But the Big Ten’s scheduling is ass. I mean, teams don’t even play he same number of home and away games. And they sign horrible deals with Fox. There wasn’t a drop of rain an hour away as that game was delayed 3 hours, and when it started back up in the relative dry, it poured and delayed a 7:30 start over an hour down here. Because everyone wants to get home after midnight to see a game vs. the Gophers in the mist. And more rain on Sunday means chopping up jack o lanterns and planting before the heavy rains came again and mopping my basement takes over.

    Ferentz coaches complete dinosaur football that would make any fan outside of Iowa doze off, except for one game a year, where he turns the game into a sandlot game so they can beat someone they have no business beating. But at least he only does that once a year to one team. At some point Satan has to come and collect on the deal Dantonio has made with him. But I don’t know when Saban plans on retiring and collecting what he’s owed.

    Football’s going on, so it’s hard to get that into basketball yet. So the mirage of the Pistons hasn’t excited me enough to set me up for disappointment yet. What about college basketball? Who do you root for? Nothing to get excited about right now, but March will return someday.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I doubt McSorley leaves. He probably won’t get drafted, or he’ll get drafted very late, so there’s no reason for him to leave unless he’s done with his degree. Of course he could, but I doubt it. Tommy Stevens is a very good quarterback, though, so even if he does leave, the drop-off won’t be too great.

      Oh, Michigan probably got hosed with that bye, I agree. They did have Indiana the week before, though, and it’s their fault that the Hoosiers took them to overtime!!!! 🙂

      I didn’t know they delayed the Michigan game. That totally sucks. Ridiculous.

      I don’t care too much about college basketball. I keep an eye on Penn State, of course, but they’ve been lousy for so long it’s tough. From my youth growing up in suburban Philadelphia, I’m a Philly teams fan, especially Villanova (the ‘Nova-Georgetown final in 1985 is one of the most exciting games I’ve ever watched live), so their win a couple of years ago was sweet. But I dig the Big 5 teams – Temple, St. Joe’s, LaSalle, Penn, ‘Nova – so I pay attention to them. But I’m not close to a diehard fan, because college basketball can be brutal to watch. Everyone jacking up jumpers and missing, missing free throws, missing layouts … there’s a lot of missing, is what I’m saying here.

    1. Greg Burgas

      People have wondered that for years, every time the Eagles get a little good (the Steelers are usually always good). This year it’s not even that far-fetched. It would be pretty wacky, especially in someplace like State College, where I swear the fanbases are almost equally represented. But yeah, I’m never counting out the Patriots, unfortunately.

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