Hey, some sports occurred this weekend, and I want to write about it, so you’re just going to have to deal with it!
Item! The U.S. Open finished up this weekend, and it was pretty keen. A Pole beat a Tunisian in the women’s final, and a Spaniard beat a Norwegian in the men’s. I wanted the Tunisian and Norwegian to win, but I don’t really have a problem with Swiatek and Alcaraz. I just dig Ons Jabeur, who seems neat. Anyway, the important thing about the finals is that nobody in them was named Williams, Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic. That’s pretty keen.
Item! College football started two weeks ago (some teams have already played three games!), but I didn’t feel like writing about it then, so just deal with it! I love/hate early season rankings, because they’re so stupid that it means some teams are wildly overrated, so when they lose, the team that beats them suddenly becomes wildly overrated! It’s the Cycle of Crap! Last week, Utah was wildly overrated at #7, so when Florida beat them, they became wildly overrated, and then they lost to Kentucky. Good times! This is just one example. Here’s some of the scores from the “Top 25”:
* Alabama barely beat Texas on a last-second field goal. Texas, which writers desperately want to be “back” for some unknown reason, immediately ranked the Longhorns (they had been unranked), which, it’s believed, is the first time since at least 1997 that an unranked team became ranked after a loss.
* Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, and Clemson played tomato cans and romped.
* Texas A & M, a wildly overrated team, lost at home to Appalachian State. The Mountaineers played a ridiculously fun game the week before, losing to North Carolina 63-61, but they managed to hold A & M to 14 points. The night before, Texas A & M mocked App State, a team that beat Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007 when the Wolverines were ranked higher than A & M, so everyone knows who App State is. I mean, come on, Texas A & M, you’re mocking the “Mountaineers” when you’re the “Aggies”? Really?
* Wildly overrated #8 Notre Dame got boatraced at home by Marshall, and it wasn’t as close as the final score (21-26). Almost nothing is sweeter in college football than Notre Dame losing (Alabama and Ohio State losing are close), so this was awesome.
* USC, which inexplicably jumped from unranked to #12 after pummeling Rice, of all teams, at home, did manage to beat a rival on the road, so there we go. I’m not sold on the Trojans quite yet.
* Tennessee beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, which seems like a good win (Pitt was ranked #17), but really isn’t, as the Panthers were wildly overrated. I mean, it’s a nice win, but not as impressive as it seems.
* Penn State is in the Big (Four)Te(e)n, so I have a love/hate relationship with the teams in the conference. On the one hand, it’s nice when they do well because a rising tide lifts all boats and all, but on the other hand, I hate most of the teams, so Wisconsin inexplicably losing at home to Washington State was a sweet loss. Fuck those cheese-eaters.
In non-Top 25 games, my Nittany Lions smacked around Ohio (not Ohio State, sadly) and ran the ball well, which is something they haven’t done in a while. Penn State is ranked for the first time, at 22 and 23 in the two polls, which feels about right. They’re ranked behind Texas, though, which, well. And Iowa, which won last week against Division 1-AA South Dakota State 7-3 (they got no touchdowns and two safeties, because of course they did), lost to Iowa State 10-7, where the only points they got came when they started a drive at the Cyclones’ 20-yard line. The Hawkeyes are really, really bad on offense, in other words. And Nebraska fired their head coach, even though they had to pay him $15 million to go away and if they had waited until after 1 October they would have only had to pay him $7.5 million. That’s how badly they wanted him gone! Nebraska had won something like 230 consecutive games when they scored 35 points or more at home over the past 120 years, but they lost this one. The Sun Belt Conference had itself a day!
Item! Pro football is back! (Cue the music!) I watch less and less pro football every year, it seems, because my nerves just can’t take it and I don’t get the same thrill I used to out of the wins. But I still enjoy it, and on the first Sunday of the year, NFL Sunday Ticket is free, so I get to watch all the games, and I usually indulge just for that day. It was a weird, fun day. Let’s break it down!
* The Eagles beat the Lions 38-35. They had a 38-21 lead going into the fourth quarter and almost pissed it away. It was an entertaining game, and while the nerves got to me at the end, it did end the way you want games to end – with the Eagles running the clock out and kneeling down. No last minute heroics for Detroit. All these Philadelphia fans whining about only winning by three forget that in the NFL, there are rarely any gimmes. This was a road win, which is good. I’d rather be the Eagles than some other teams that lost badly! This might have been the most “normal” game of the weekend, so there’s not much else to say.
* Kickers had a rough day. In Houston, the Colts and Texans played to a glorious 20-20 tie when Indy’s kicker missed a field goal late in overtime. This might have been the worst miss, because there were no extenuating circumstances – the field was fine, the personnel was fine, and the dude just missed it. In Tennessee, the Titans decided that they had no need to get closer than 47 yards for their kicker to attempt a game-winning field goal, and he missed it. Look, I get it – that’s not too far a distance for today’s kickers, but man, they had some time left and didn’t even try to get closer. Make it easier on the poor dude! We almost had two glorious ties yesterday, as Pittsburgh and Cincinnati seemed determined not to win their game. With two minutes left, Cincinnati inexplicably didn’t challenge this throw, which was not ruled a touchdown:
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) September 11, 2022
They didn’t score on that drive, but they got the ball back and scored with no time left. Then their kicked had the extra point blocked, so they went to overtime. As many people have pointed out, the Bengals’ long snapper – the dude who gets the ball to the kicker, who is not their regular center – was injured, and the back-up had never done it. Long snapping is an extremely specialized skill, and good long snappers are extremely valuable. In this case, the snap was a bit slow, allowing a Steeler to get in and block it. In OT, McPherson missed a game-winning field goal, because the snapper rushed it and snapped it high, and the holder couldn’t get it down into a good position:
🚨 MISSED FIELD GOAL 🚨
EVAN MCPHERSON MISSED THE POTENTIAL GAME WINNING FGpic.twitter.com/ElD5WzZSyi
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) September 11, 2022
Then Chris Boswell, the Steelers’ kicker, missed a field goal that made the greatest sound of the weekend:
When Justin Tucker is up for the Hall of Fame discussion 5 years after he retires, he just needs to show the tape from Week 1 of the 2022 season.pic.twitter.com/hJ3CFaYxyM
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 11, 2022
Then, the Bengals decided to punt the ball away with a minute left, I guess hoping for a tie? They had 15 seconds on the play clock, but they didn’t bleed it and instead booted it, giving the Steelers time to drive down and kick the game-winning field goal. You have no idea how much I was rooting for another miss! Alas, it was not to be.
* A more minor kicking issue came up in Chicago, where the Bears play on a garbage field that didn’t drain well in the downpour that inundated the city. They tried a field goal at the end of the half, and they were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for … wiping the field down with a towel. The NFL is awesome, y’all.
* What else? The Patriots lost badly, which is always good to see. The Packers lost badly, which is always good to see. And the Cowboys lost horribly, which is excellent to see. Their overrated quarterback, Dak Prescott, who is, despite being overrated, the only reason they might have a chance this season, had his thumb fractured during the game and will be out for two months, probably, and the Cowboys’ season is probably dead in the water. They weren’t that great with Prescott, and it feels like they’ll be garbage without him. I know people say you never root for an injury, and it’s too bad he broke his thumb, but maybe he can wrap it in the $100 million Jerruh Jones gave him and that will make him feel better. I also know some Philadelphia fans want the Cowboys to be good so it’s that much sweeter when the Eagles beat them, but I’m not one of them. Fuck those guys. I want them to lose every football game from now until the sun goes nova. That would be cool.
* Penn Staters in the NFL had a good day. Micah Parsons continues to be a beast, and it’s too bad he’s playing for Dallas. Pat Freirmuth made two clutch catches on Pittsburgh’s game-winning drive. Miles Sanders had a good day for the Eagles. Saquon Barkley, healthy again, almost single-handedly won the game for the Giants. And rookie Jahan Dotson caught two touchdown passes from cast-off Carson Wentz, now playing in Washington, including the game-winner, so that was nice, even if it was for Washington. Nittany Lions represent!!!!
Item! And hey, the Phillies swept the Nationals to remain in the thick of the playoff race. Good times!
So that’s the weekend in sports, at least the sports that I checked out. The WNBA Finals began, there was some race car driving, and I assume people played golf somewhere, but I don’t care about those sports. So let this double as the Question of the Week, since I can’t think of a good one this week: What was your favorite sports moment of the weekend?