An entertaining look at sports

Clearing my mind and notebook  while disappointed the calendar flipped to November so fast:

Heisman struggles

It wasn’t a good day to be a Heisman Trophy front runner:

Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett was intercepted four times, including a Pick-6 of 30 yards on the first play of the game as the sixth-ranked Buckeyes were crushed 55-24 at Iowa.

Barrett did finish with 208 yards passing with three touchdowns and ran for another 63 yards, but the stunning loss to the Hawkeyes came only a week after Urban Meyer’s team appeared in control of the Big Ten East after beating Penn State.

The day didn’t go well for Saquon Barkley and seventh ranked Penn State, either. The Nittany Lions’ running back finished with just 63 yards on 14 carries in a 27-24 loss at No. 24 Michigan State. He did catch three passes for 30 yards and throw a 20-yard completion.

Notre Dame running back Josh Adams was  held to 22 yards on five carries while sitting out the second half due to “fatique,” according to school officials.
The No. 3 Fighting Irish did outlast Wake Forest, 48-37.

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and the fifth-ranked Sooners survived a shootout at No. 11 Oklahoma State, winning 62-52. Mayfield threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns with  one interception. He completed 24 of 36 passes while being sacked five times. But the Sooners needed every one of Mayfield’s passing yards to avoid losing to the Cowboys and their gunslinger Mason Rudolph, who also threw five TD passes.

Stanford’s Bryce Love had only  69 yards rushing on 16 carries, but he did score on a 52-yard run less than a minute into the game. The No. 21 Cardinals lost 24-21 to No. 25 Washington State.

As for reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, maybe it was a good thing Louisville  had the day off. Despite more gaudy stats this season, Jackson’s hopes of repeating already have been damaged in the past month with the Cardinals losing three of their past four games.

Headlines “Aaron Rodgers balloons to 450 pounds after single inactive week in Wisconsin.” “Seven-letter word for awesome? Alabama. Nine-letter word for abject misery? Cleveland.” “Houston residents admit World Series win won’t heal hurricane-ravaged city as much as Super Bowl win would.” “Glade releases new spray to make home smell like Patriots locker room.” “Midway through NFL season, football ratings are down, probably due to annoying pizza commercials.” “Only 1,527 or so NBA games of Lavar and Lonzo Ball to go.”

Bleeding blue

By the time Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw entered Game 7 in the third inning Wednesday night, it was too late. All of the Astros’ scoring in a 5-1 win came in the first two innings at the expense of L.A. starter Yu Darvish.

Even so, Kershaw couldn’t help but internalize more postseason disappointment. After all, he did  surrender six runs in 4 ½ innings of a 10 inning, 13-12 loss in Game 5.

But in Game 7, Kershaw didn’t do anything he needs to regret. He was as masterful as ever, striking out four while allowing just two hits.

“Maybe one of these days I won’t fail, we won’t fail and we’ll win one of these things,” he told USA Today’s Josh Peter. “… I think once the dust settles and we go home, we can realize that we had a pretty amazing season and we finished in second place, which nobody cares about or remembers.”

Here’s hoping the dust settles soon.

Editor’s note: When I landed my first sports editor job 29 years ago in South Carolina, Josh Peter was one of my first hires. He continues to make me proud.

World Series laughs

NBC comedian Seth Myers: “The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers last night to win their first World Series title in team history. Sad news for Dodgers fans, some of whom have been following the team since as far back as Game 3.”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien: “A gambler won $14 million on last night’s World Series game. Here’s what’s suspicious — turns out it was some guy named Yu Darvish.”

CBS comedian James Corden: “After Houston won, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend live on television. It was a beautiful moment. Although it confused Donald Trump. He was like, ‘Wait, now athletes are kneeling after the game too?”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “What a great week for our guest tonight, Jose Altuve. He’s the shortest player in Major League Baseball. First, he wins the World Series, then he found out he’s going to Disney World, then he heard he’s tall enough to ride almost all the roller coasters.”

More from Corden: “A Sports Illustrated cover from three years ago predicted that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. They predicted it, to which Americans replied, “You knew what was going to happen in 2017 and this is what you give us a heads up on? Thanks for nothing, Sports Illustrated.”

Fun & fundamentals

With interim coach Randy Shannon running the show, Florida’s offensive struggles continued Saturday in a 45-16 loss at Missouri.

The Gators now have been held to 20 or fewer points in five of seven SEC contests. And after allowing more than 40 points for the second straight week, they appear to have lost their defensive focus, too.

UF athletic director Scott Stricklin won’t comment on who he might have in mind to replace Jim McElwain, who was fired after a 42-7 loss to Georgia last week, but it’s clear that someone who is offensive minded will be high on his search list. It’s why Central Florida’s Scott Frost, whose team leads the nation in scoring at 51 points per game, has emerged as a fan favorite.

It doesn’t hurt that Frost has impressed Gators legend Steve Spurrier, who has been an advisor to Florida’s athletic department for the past year after moving back to Gainesville. And Stricklin has said he wants a coach who can bring the fun back to The Swamp, which can be interpreted as a throwback to Spurrier’s coaching days.

“Our fans deserve it to be really fun, and I want our players to have a lot of fun,” he said.

Hoop longshots

Sports Illustrated recently weighed in with its preseason rankings of all 351 Division I men’s basketball teams with the ACC leading the way with five teams ranked among the top 20.

SI’s Top 20: 1. Arizona; 2. Michigan State; 3. Duke; 4. Wichita State; 5. Villanova; 6. Cincinnati; 7. Kansas; 8. Kentucky; 9. Louisville; 10. Florida; 11. West Virginia; 12. Miami; 13. Southern California; 14. Saint Mary’s; 15. Xavier; 16. Notre Dame; 17. Purdue; 18. North Carolina; 19. Baylor; 20. UCLA.

ACC: 3. Duke; 9. Louisville; 12. Miami; 16. Notre Dame; 18. North Carolina; 30. Virginia; 42. Virginia Tech; 60. Clemson; 62. Syracuse; 66. Florida State; 72. Georgia Tech; 73. Wake Forest; 79. N.C. State.

Big Ten: 2. Michigan State; 17. Purdue; 22. Northwestern; 26. Minnesota; 27. Maryland; 35. Michigan; 41. Wisconsin; 46. Indiana; 52. Iowa; 54. Penn State; 77. Ohio State; 81. Nebraska; 85. Illinois; 129. Rutgers.

SEC: 8. Kentucky; 10. Florida; 26. Alabama; 29. Texas A&M; 33. Auburn; 39. Missouri; 48. Mississippi State; 49. Arkansas; 53. Mississipp; 58. Georgia; 59. Vanderbilt; 61. South Carolina; 76. Tennessee; 91. Louisiana State.

Personally, I think there should be a rule that preseason polls include the previous season’s Final Four teams among the Top 20. A No. 61 ranking for Frank Martin’s Gamecocks is way too low, And yes, as a South Carolina grad, I am biased.

But I’m also correct in believing  Martin’s team will finish among the top six in the SEC, not 12th where SI has pegged them.

They said it

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel on the dismal 3-5 football seasons at Florida and Florida State: “Breaking News: ESPN just announced that the Florida-Florida State game has been moved to Wednesday at 8 a.m. and will be broadcast on Facebook Live!”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Husband and wife Michael and Jasmine Snell bowled 300 games on the same night in Omaha, Nebraska. Or as they’re now known around Chops Bowling Alley, The Perfect Couple.”

RJ Currie of “A Welsh rugby player missed a game after a lion bit his hand as he tried patting it in its cage. Lucky for sports humorists, pro athletes continue to do really dumb things.”

Van Jones on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on President Trump’s attack on professional athletes, including the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry: “Steph Curry was invented in a lab by dads who want their kids not to get into trouble. I don’t know why you’d attack Steph Curry.”

Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald on the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig dying his hair blue for the World Series: “Now he matches the air in L.A.”

Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleson, W.Va. on why Golden State guard Steph Curry was mentioned in the GOP tax proposal: “The new Republican strategy of dribble-down economics.”

Sweet tweets

Rehastagging this weeks’ top Twitter shots from @Randy_Beard11:

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good: FSU wins for first time at home this season, 27-24, when Syracuse misses 43 yd. FG on last play.

Kate Upton, who is marrying Justin Verlander this weekend, says Astros pitcher fully supports her modeling career. So do I, Kate. So do I.

Isn’t it MLB rule that a World Series Game 7 will be dramatic? Yawn!!!!! I sure do wish I had tape of 2016 Cubs’ 8-7 win in 10 over Indians.

Money for nothing: Andrew Luck and est. $15 mil salary will be on injured reserve rest of season.

Since The ‘Ol Ball Coach walked out on South Carolina after 6 games in 2015 maybe Steve Spurrier can fill in at Florida the rest of this season.

Having a blast

The best of’s Top 10 reasons so many home runs were hit in the 2017 World Series “with approximately 11 being hit every inning and six more during commercial breaks”:

1. The baseballs are clearly more clutch than they used to be.

2. The trees that the bats are made out of were on growth hormones.

4. The baseballs want to get as far away as possible from Marlins Man.

7. The players don’t want anyone to be on base so there are no stolen bases and America doesn’t get free tacos. Frigging jerks.

8. Chicks dig the long ball … or at least they do until some tool two seats over rips the ball out of their hands and throws it on to the field.

10. Playing the World Series at the neutral site of the Little League World Series in   Williamsport, Pa., had unforeseen consequences.

 Weekend success

With nine Top 25 teams stumbling on Saturday, I can’t feel too bad about my combined  16-5 record picking college football games in the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. Although I’m shooting for an 80 percent success rate for the season, my current winning percentage of 76.2 will suffice for now.

In the ACC, I was 4-1 to improve to 58-15 overall, which is 79.4 percent. In the Big Ten, I was 5-2 for a season total of 60-18 (76.9%). And in the SEC, I was 7-2 for a 61-16 total (79.2 percent).

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