In case you were busy playing quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
In a Sunday-night battle of division leaders, the New Orleans Saints ran roughshod over the Dallas Cowboys in a 49-17 win. "It was always a tough matchup for us," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said with a deep sigh. "We lost Sean Lee, Austin is still out, Ware's at half speed, our GM and owner are the same crazy old man, and that's a good team we played." Garrett then paused, stared straight ahead unblinking, and added, "metaphorically speaking um, all of that was a metaphor."
In case you were busy arguing that Lane Kiffin really hasn't gotten a fair chance to prove himself as a head coach with a particularly stubborn stop sign, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
Tom Brady finally synced up with his young receiving corps, as the New England Patriots built an early lead and held on late, beating the Atlanta Falcons 30-23. "It's tough to beat them when Brady is back on track, but we gave it our all, and I'm impressed with my team," said a gray-haired man claiming to be Atlanta's head coach. "Wait, seriously, I'm Mike Smith," the man said, giving a clearly fake name, before adding, "You've heard of Dan Reeves? Well, I'm the most successful coach this franchise has ever had. We were in the NFC title game last year." The man, likely a deluded extra who wandered off the set of Boardwalk Empire, then added, "No, I'm not the mayor from Boardwalk Empire. For chrissake, come on, are you messing with me?"
The Major League Baseball regular season ended, but there's yet more to be decided as the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers finished the season tied for the second AL wild-card slot, and will play a one-game playoff. That game will determine which team will face the Cleveland Indians in another one-game playoff, which will determine who will be the AL wild-card representative in the postseason. This will be followed by a series of three-inning "mini-games" to determine home-field advantage in each round, which will be followed by a series of three-out home run derbies to determine which manager will be forced to turn in his lineup card first. Then, naturally, will come the dizzy bat competition, which will be just for fun, followed by a three-legged race, which will supplant this year's World Series, and for which, naturally, the Boston Red Sox are the favorites to win what with their flashy red socks likely to be advantageous for maintaining a three-legged race rhythm.
An appreciation of the word and fashion choices that make the unofficial kickoff of football season great.
Press conference MVP, coaches division: Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
If every SEC Media Days kicked off with the Ol' Ball Coach listing everything about college football that was bothering him that particular season, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Topics of this year's airing of grievances: the desire among SEC coaches to pay players a stipend for games, Notre Dame getting a voice in playoff structure creation along with conference commissioners, and the inequality of scheduling paths to the SEC championship game.
You, the college football consumer, have a wealth of choices each week when it comes to spending your hard-earned money and precious free time. As such, it behooves you to do your homework when planning road trips, so as to extract the maximum enjoyment possible from this too-brief season.
Take, for example, Week 7, the juicy middle of October football. The possibilities are as limitless as the personal tastes of you and your loved ones. You could make a spicy pilgrimage to Baton Rouge and watch the Florida Gators lash out at LSU. You could take in the Red River Rivalry and experience the Texas State Fair. You could even, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, stop in at State College to watch Michigan play Penn State at the nearly scandalous hour of 5 p.m.
But only in Starkville, Mississippi, at Mississippi State's homecoming game versus Bowling Green, will you see a punting battle that pits Baker Swedenburg
against Brian Schmiedebusch. We hope this helps you make an informed decision. Thanks, and have a pleasant day.
In case you were busy waiting up for the Premier League fixture list to be revealed (and who wasn't?) here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
In an electric back-and-forth affair that will surely be remembered as an all-time classic, the Miami Heat stormed back from a late deficit to stave off elimination in the NBA Finals, forcing a Game 7 with a 103-100 overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs. LeBron James overcame a slow start and a number of late mistakes to lead the comeback with a triple-double, and Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds remaining in regulation provided an iconic image for what is becoming an era-defining Finals. But I know why you all come to About Last Night, and it's not for the sort of game recap you can get anywhere else. It's for the big-time predictions. The sort of predictions that other people just won't make because they are too afraid. So here goes, ALN Game 7 prediction time: Game 7 will take place at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Yeah, I said it. Both the Spurs and Heat will play in the game, which will be sanctioned by the rules of the NBA. You can take that to the bank, despite what the lamestream media would have you believe. The game they play will therefore be, wait for it, basketball. Nobody else will dare say it, so you have to hear it from me. The game will be televised on your local ABC affiliate. What? WHAT? I know. But it's going to happen. If you watch the game, you will see ads for White House Down starring Channing Tatum, and you will think to yourself, "Huh, I liked Independence Day, but should they really say, 'From the director of 2012?'" OHHHHH NO I DIDN'T. NO I DID NOT. But I did. Also, the Heat will win 132-65 when Gregg Popovich decides to rest his starters in preparation for the 2013-14 preseason opener against the Seattle Grizzles, leaving Tracy McGrady to play 48 minutes.
The U.S. men's national team is on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup after Jozy Altidore fired them to a 1-0 qualifying win over Honduras. America currently sits two points clear at the top of the so-called Hexagonal that determines which three of the final six North American teams in contention qualify for automatic bids to the World Cup. "We just have to keep the hexagon on its current side and we will be in great shape," explained U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann after the match. "Once it gets momentum and starts rolling off of its point, everything can go into disarray." When asked if he was speaking metaphorically, Klinsmann responded, "No, momentum is a very real thing with shapes, and even flat-sided polygons can roll like circles if put on a steep enough hill."
It's tough to convey, in print and pixel, the gap between the contempt that greeted new Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin at his first SEC Media Days appearance last year and the offense Sumlin actually committed, which for the record was "Showing up to SEC Media Days as head of a team that had the temerity to accept an invitation to join the SEC."
Questions lobbed his way in a ballroom of 700 reporters ranged from flighty to outright condescending. We are almost positive somebody went so far as to ask him how he overcame being named "Kevin." Our favorites, in no particular order, and his delightfully prophetic answers, in which the real difficulty now is not bolding everything for emphasis:
The 2012 college football season was something else, right? Remember all those killer pancake blocks from Eric Fisher? Ryan Nassib leading Syracuse to glory in a series of fearless two-minute drills? Cordarrelle Patterson making an impossible leap to secure a touchdown during a thrilling Tennessee comeback?
See, this is what happens when college football spends more time being viewed as an NFL feeder program than its own glorious ecosystem — you tend to forget that week after week, countless players warm our hearts by piling up untenable, system-abetted statistics, taking advantage of the tactical breakdowns made by 20-year-olds whose physical development far outstrips their mental one, and simply being in the right place at the right time. What became of Matt McGloin? God, remember Sam McGuffie?
There’s no shame in transferring from one college to another. There is, however, usually lots of shame behind that decision. You know how this typically goes down. There’s the guy blindsided by classes that require more academic effort than half-heartedly slapping together dioramas based on the exploits of George Washington Carver. Or, there’s the guy who went to the same university as his high school girlfriend and later had to deal with the indignity of her hooking up with the RA. Or, that same RA lied to the dude after he downed a bottle of Goldschläger to drown his sorrows and said, “Everyone’s gonna forget about you singing 'Fake Plastic Trees' at the top of your lungs while crying naked in the hallway.”
Obviously, it’s bad enough when you gotta break the news to your parents, after they bought a bunch of sweatshirts and put that decal on their car and everything. Now just imagine you’re a top quarterback recruit; your decision to enroll in a certain school was met with months-long national scrutiny and you probably screwed some people over in the process. No one wants to see you succeed, especially if you’re a dude like Gunner Kiel, who I’m assuming is a total dick because his name is Gunner Kiel. Also, because he was last year’s no. 1 QB recruit, who eventually chose Notre Dame after spurning LSU and getting his manhood questioned by Les Miles. And, even more notoriously, he bypassed the chance to be Indiana’s answer to Tim Couch, the homegrown hero leading a beleaguered, basketball-mad program to the dizzying heights of an Outback Bowl bid.
Seriously, we wish Kiel all the success in the world. But if we’re looking at the recent trend of blue-chip QB transfers, the odds aren’t in his favor. Here are the most recent examples, and they don’t appear as if they’re individual pitfalls to avoid so much as a supermassive black hole.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Mason Plumlee scored 21 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Rasheed Sulaimon scored all 17 of his points in the second half, as no. 2 Duke staged a 73-68 comeback win over no. 4 Ohio State. "In the end, 'The Little General' just killed us out there," said Buckeyes coach Thad Matta. Unfortunately, it was unclear who he was referring to, since a majority of Duke players and coaches are nicknamed "The Little General."
Despite Alabama's loss to last year's Big 12 also-ran Texas A&M, reports of the SEC's death are greatly exaggerated. And entirely premature. That conference is like the sunrise. You can't stop it.
From a statistical standpoint, there is only a 1-in-7 shot that all three of the remaining unbeatens in college football — Notre Dame, Oregon, and Kansas State — finish the regular season without a loss.
People freaking out that a 12-0 Notre Dame might not play for a national championship are having the wrong nervous breakdown. Those people should have the heebies and/or jeebies about either of the SEC teams in the current BCS top five (Alabama and Georgia) ending up in Miami. Historically speaking, it's not at all unlikely that multiple teams near the top of the polls still lose. Should that happen, and should the SEC step its way into another title game, it might also be totally undeserved.
I have an admission to make: Several times this season I've tried to watch Alabama play an entire game, and each time I've failed. Sure, I’ve watched quarters of football here and there — the bludgeoning of Michigan, the decimation of Arkansas, and the tidy strangulations of Mississippi State and Tennessee. But watching this team methodically squeeze the life out of opponents is similar to what I imagine it’s like to play against it — occasionally awe-inspiring, but somewhat exhausting. That was again the case until the waning moments of Saturday’s comeback victory against LSU.
For much of the night, Alabama had been outplayed. LSU's offense, which looked flat-out dysfunctional for much of the year, absolutely took it to Alabama's vaunted defense. The Tiger passing attack, in particular, went from awful in previous games — against Florida, South Carolina, and Texas A&M Zach Mettenberger had completion percentages of 44, 48, and 37.9 — to something resembling the Montana–to–Jerry Rice 49ers, hooking up on 25 of 36 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown. The Tigers defense played a stout game as well. Before going 4-for-5 on the final drive, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron was 1-of-7 for seven yards in the second half.
The Tide’s trademark slow suffocation was being used against them. But down just three late in the fourth quarter, there was still enough time for one of those awe-inspiring moments. Games like that can't be reduced to just one play, but if it was going to be, oh what a play it was. AJ McCarron's screen-pass flip to T.J. Yeldon — who took it the remaining 28 yards to the end zone for the game-winning score — already has its place in football history, known simply as "AJ to T.J."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Facing a hostile road crowd, AJ McCarron led no. 1 Alabama on a game-winning drive, completing the winning touchdown pass with 51 seconds remaining as the Tide beat no. 5 LSU 21-17. McCarron said he was motivated by school pride, the desire to win a national championship, and the pulsing pain emanating from the remote-activated chip implanted in his skull by Nick Saban.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The Detroit Tigers took a 2-0 lead on the Yankees in the ALCS with a 3-0 win on Sunday after Derek Jeter suffered a season-ending ankle fracture during Saturday's loss. "As horrible as the pain was, I noticed it made Nick Swisher stop grinning for a second," said Jeter. "So, you know, it's a wash. The whole thing is a wash, because as much as I hate — as we all hate — Nick Swisher, he's so much more despicable when he grins like a buffoon, which is always. Seriously, I'll pay anyone $500 if they can find a photo of him where he's not smiling in a way that makes you want to slap him. So for, like, three seconds after I went down, he was just this annoying idiot with stupid sideburns who can't hit or field but who, for once in his obnoxious life, wasn't grinning. If I had to fracture my ankle to make that possible, then I guess I'm some kind of martyr. I'm Saint Derek, and all my apostles are guys who can't hit a curve."
I'm not sure the world is ready to handle too much serious discussion about Duke football, so I'll make this quick. All I ask is that you look at these rankings. OK, not at the rankings themselves; look a little lower, the "also receiving votes" section. Where the real teams hang. See that team with three votes in the AP poll, and 10 votes in the USA Today poll? Ranked 36th and 34th, respectively? That, my friends, is the pride of Durham, going places where they're not known or expected or wanted. Or invited.
How can I communicate the strangeness of seeing them on that list? How incredibly weird this feels for Duke football fans? Imagine if Paul Ryan showed up at tonight's debate wearing a Phish bandanna and a Grateful Dead poncho, and insisted on coming out to the sunshine part from that "Age of Aquarius" song. (I'm not even sure they make Grateful Dead ponchos anymore, and the ESPN research people get mad when you make that kind of request, so you'll just have to picture it.) That's how unlikely this feels. Everything is clicking with a backup quarterback named Anthony Boone, and if they beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg this weekend, there's even a chance they could be ranked for the first time since 1994. At that point, I would start buying canned goods and digging some kind of apocalypse tunnel that would almost certainly collapse on itself within an hour or two.