From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while gearing up for a southern smorgasbord of college football games between Clemson-Florida State, Georgia-Florida and Tennessee-South Carolina:

Recruiting bling

There’s a reason why the Southeastern Conference rules college football every season, and 247 Sports spells it out clearly with its current rankings of the Top 25 program facilities.

While Oregon makes the most of its money from Nike’s Phil Knight to claim the top spot this season for the Pac-12, and Clemson represents the ACC with the No. 2 spot, the next three schools are all from the SEC. Texas A&M is No. 3, Tennessee is No. 4 and Alabama is No. 5.

Yeah, that’s quite a handicap Nick Saban has to overcome, right?

Overall, the SEC claims nine of the 25 spots in the rankings with Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Auburn and LSU also making the cut.

The Pac-12 and ACC each only had two other schools to make the list. But yeah, Notre Dame made the rankings, so I guess you can argue the ACC should get half credit even if the Irish are independent in football.

The Big Ten with five schools in the rankings is the nearest challenger to the SEC when it comes to facilities, which includes stadiums, weight rooms, locker rooms, practice fields, etc. The Big 12 had four schools make the rankings.

If you’re curious, you’ll have to look up the full list yourself.

But sadly, Purdue isn’t represented.

Which gives me another reason to praise the Boilermakers for their butt-kicking of previously No. 2-ranked Ohio State. Urban Meyer’s lads tumbled to No. 11 in this week’s AP poll, one spot behind Central Florida.

Catch of year?

It was at a hockey game, and the thrown puck may have missed its intended target – maybe – but now seemingly everyone in the San Jose area knows a catch when they see it.

Her name is Diana Hsaio.

Hsaio said she was at the Sharks game against the Islanders, looking for a friend while talking on her cell phone before the game, when she saw a puck thrown by Joe Pavelski coming her way.

Reaching up with her left hand at the last second, she knocked the puck down, and then made a chest trap. And yes, she was wearing a low-cut tank top.

So her “talented” cleavage catch quickly went viral.

When she heard the roar of the crowd, she realized all eyes were on her, so she held up the puck in celebration. She then gave it to a girl in the row in front of her.

Her reaction on Twitter to the video: “I’m genuinely confused on why this video is going viral.”

Other Twitter reactions:

@philly_carl: “There’s a hockey puck in this video?”

@Swearengen95: “Top shelf save right there.”

LeBron’s world

RJ Currie of the SportsDeke.com: “Cleveland center Tristan Thompson said even without LeBron James the Cavs are the East’s team to beat. What color is the sky in his world?”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “I know it’s early in the season, but, somehow I missed NBA rule change that Lebron James has to take at LEAST four steps for refs to call traveling.”

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “On Halloween only kids dressed as Scott Frost or a Husker football player or Bill Moos will get a treat at my house. Otherwise, don’t bother.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “A former Adidas executive was convicted in the college basketball corruption case. It looks like he will be wearing gear with a whole new set of stripes.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Just pointing out to Fox Sports and ESPN that East Coast bias may not be so good for ratings when only West Coast fans can stay up to see World Series.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “A trio of tennis umpires in Thailand caught match-fixing got banned — for life. Now that’s a Thai-breaker.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: The cruise ship Titanic II is set to make its maiden voyage in 2022. And in a related story, Vince McMahon just named it the official cruise ship of the XFL.

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Dell and Stephan Curry are now the number two father and son scoring team in NBA history, behind Kobe and Joe Bryant. However, they would all still behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar if his dad was in the league long enough to make one basket.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “The Nebraska men’s basketball team is ranked in the pre-season top 25. What in the name of Danny Nee is going on around here?”

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg on Chris Sale, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound left-hander for the Red Sox: “Now, I don’t want to say Sale is skinny, but if the Red Sox wore pinstripes, he would wear a pinstripe.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Top high school basketball prospect Darius Bazley has signed a shoe contract that could be worth up to $14 Million. At this rate, kids are going to be endorsing shoes before they are old enough to learn how to tie them.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Breaking news: based on the huge turnout for the Husker men’s basketball scrimmage last night A.D. Bill Moos has extended Tim Miles’ contract for another two days.”

Nick Rousso, unimpressed with the upcoming Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pay-per-view golf match: “Four-plus hours of two guys walking around an empty golf course? Tiger will need to drop several F-bombs to get your money’s worth.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is denying he cried after being injured. He was actually crying about being stuck on a 1-5 team that will probably finish with a worse record than the Browns.”

Janice Hough of LeftcoastSportsBabe.com: “So NFL took 49ers vs. Rams off Sunday Night football because it would be too much of a blowout.   Replaced game with Bengals vs. Chiefs. SF lost by 29 today. Cincinnati to lost KC by 35. Mean bitch karma popping an autumnal mead?”

Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press on Connor McDavid playing for the struggling Edmonton Oilers: “Like Jimi Hendrix playing lead guitar for The Monkees.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Bethune-Cookman game is a no-win situation. Win by only two touchdowns or god forbid lose & it’s “What’s wrong with this team?” Win 60-3 and it’s “Nebraska had no business playing the game.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Tom Brady says he hates the Dodgers after growing up near San Francisco. He would also love to help the Red Sox win but is of no use since you can’t let the air out of baseballs.”

Wishful thinking

Now we know what Turner Sports plans to charge for the pay-per-view golf showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Nov. 23.

I supposed that’s a bargain since Turner Sports has already lowered its price from a rumored $25 to $19.99. That’s still too pricey for me, especially for one of the worst pay TV sporting events since Zolani Tete only needed 11 seconds to knock out Siboniso Gonya in a WBO Bantamweight bout last November.

If you were snookered into paying for that fight, I hope you didn’t blink.

Meanwhile, unless Tiger and Phil replicate the alleged fisticuffs between Ryder Cup teammates Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, there will be nothing to see that you can’t catch at two dozen other golf tournaments.

It’s golf. A well-hit drive off the tee here, a soft landing on the green there and maybe a nice chip out of a bunker.

Like I said, it’s golf. The only sport where the players could also strut down a fashion runway.

Fittingly, it will take place in Las Vegas on a Friday afternoon so all the gamblers can gather and then celebrate a long weekend.

Woods and Mickelson will be battling over a total of $9 million in a winner-take-all cash grab. They’ll also be able to place side bets on all 18 holes, which gives the eventual loser a chance to reap a small windfall.

I’d be more excited knowing most of the money was going to a worthwhile charity on a Thanksgiving weekend.

Giant steps

Comedian Eric  Stangel on Twitter: “Eli Manning couldn’t get in on 2 QB sneaks at the goal line. They might have to draft a running back #1 in next year’s draft.”

Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times: “Harley-Davidson has recalled 238,000 motorcycles because they have a clutch problem. The NFL, not to be outdone, immediately recalled the New York Giants.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Peyton Manning has been retired for three seasons. If you’re keeping stats at home, so far this year Eli Manning has won one more game than his brother.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Fans ripped the New York Giants for horrible clock management at the end of Monday night’s game. It’s just too bad they can’t manage the clock to turn it back to the last time they were good in 2012.”

Splitting splinters

Unless a player decides to gift a broken bat to a nearby fan, you can pretty much expect that the damaged equipment will be claimed by a memorabilia company to be sold on its website or perhaps donated to a charity to raise money for a worthwhile cause.

Meanwhile, in Japan, such bats are salvaged and turned into chopsticks. In a country that puts a priority on recycling, the process allows Japan to preserve and replenish the aodama ash trees.

There’s even a word for the recycling effort – “kattobashi.” It’s a mix of the word for chopsticks and the chant for getting a big hit.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Manny Machado denies playing dirty after late slide into pitcher’s mound.”

Fark.com: “NFL clarifies their new roughing-the-passer rules, says it will only be called on the Packers and anyone approaching Tom Brady.”

SportsPickle.com: “Starting Clayton Kershaw always seems to me like a very expensive way to forfeit.”

TheOnion.com: “Busy referee regrets not finding time to throw flag around with son.”

Fark.com: “In Japan you can’t play baseball with a broken bat but you can still play chopsticks.”

Sportspickle.com: “NFL players need to have media contracts and media people need to have NFL contracts.”

TheOnion.com: “Does Amari Cooper’s experience playing under a terrible head coach make him a perfect fit for the Cowboys?”

Fark.com: “Breaking News: World Series tickets are expensive.”

SportsPickle.com: “If Amari Cooper is worth a 1st Round pick, LeVeon Bell is worth the entire NFL draft through 2044.”

SportsPickle.com: “Is there a baseball rule that the Red Sox must always have a closer who should be punched in the face?”

Fark.com: “Philadelphia Eagles go into 4th quarter up 17-0 against Carolina Panthers. Then things get all Atlanta Falcon-y.”

SportsPickle.com: “Every Browns game should start in overtime. And all the players should be drunk.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “Mike Francesca thought a legit question about Syracuse football coach Dino Babers was a prank call.

Fark.com: “Appalachian State is ranked for the first time ever, and they didn’t even need to beat a Big Ten team to do it.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • I feel much better knowing Ben Roethlisberger has said that crying in football, baseball, basketball, soccer, maybe even lacrosse, and also movie theaters is OK.
  • How good has Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa been this season? Of 61 drives he’s led, only 20 have ended without a touchdown and 5 of those have reaped field goals. That’s a 75.4 scoring percentage. That’s domination.
  • So bombing suspect has bunch of stickers on his van supporting Trump, including “Top youth soccer recruits for Trump” and one touting college programs in Carolinas, including Clemson. Clearly, these are all players suffering brain damage from improper technique heading the ball.
  • Boston takes 2-0 lead over L.A. in the North America Series.
  • Will Urban Meyer resign tonight to spend more time with his family? Hey could also claim an upset tummy after Purdue’s D.J. Knox torched Buckeyes for 131 yards and 3 TDs on just 15 carries. Two of scores were 40-plus yards.
  • Boilermakers > Buckeyes

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while hoping the Braves can give me reason to jump on the baseball bandwagon this postseason:

Knockout punch?

HBO’s decision to eliminate live boxing coverage from its sports programming was another body blow to the sport.

Based on its stockpile of Emmy’s for original programming, the network no longer needs sports programming to increase its viewership numbers. But that doesn’t mean it’s abandoning sports, altogether.

HBO just plans to concentrate on doing more feature coverage of athletes, like its recent series on Serena Williams returning to tennis after having a baby, its documentary on Muhammad Ali, LeBron James’ “The Shop” and the NFL reality series “Hard Knocks.”

The final boxing card for HBO will be on Oct. 27, featuring former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs and Russia’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden.

HBO first tested the boxing waters with its coverage of the 1973 heavyweight championship fight between George Foreman and Joe Frazier.

Peter Nelson, a vice president for HBO sports, didn’t rule out the network bidding on a future fight if it generates significant interest among average sports fans, but he said lower than expected ratings for boxing figured into the decision.

“We have a tremendous heritage to point to in regard to the road map we provided on how to humanize these fighters and their communities … that aspect of storytelling is one we look to continue,” said Nelson.

Former HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant had this take on the decision, comparing HBO to a fighter who hung on too long: “Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired. So long, champ.”

What’s shaking?

Last week’s college football drama in the Palmetto State centered on the quarterback position at Clemson.

That focus is now in play at South Carolina.

Gamecock starter Jake Bentley sprained a knee late in last week’s game at Kentucky. But it was also his poorest effort in three seasons. He finished with three interceptions and only had nine yards passing in the first half against the Wildcats, who opened up a 24-3 lead at the break.

If Bentley can’t play this week against Missouri, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is prepared to start fifth-year senior Michael Scarnecchia. Muschamp is going to take his time making that decision with the noon start on Saturday his only deadline.

But frankly, what do the Gamecocks have to lose by making a change. Even if it is only temporary, it might be enough to shake things up. Maybe even light a competitive fire in Bentley.

Meanwhile, at Clemson, Dabo Swinney is still facing season-long concerns after  senior Kelly Bryant decided to transfer prior to last week’s game against Syracuse.

Bryant made his decision after Swinney announced that freshman Trevor Lawrence would get the start against Syracuse. Based on Lawence’s ability to get the Tigers into the end zone with his passing accuracy, it was the right decision.

But it was enough to upset Bryant, and he quickly took advantage of the NCAA’s new transfer rule to preserve his senior season. He’ll be able to transfer with no penalty while using this season to sit out, even if he has played in four games.

But that decision could have proven costly to the Tigers, who had to rally in the final minutes to avoid losing to Syracuse for the second consecutive season.

When Lawrence suffered a concussion, there were Clemson fans hoping Bryant was at the stadium and would come running out of the locker room any minute to save the day. Didn’t happen.

What did happen was the emergence of redshirt freshman Chase Brice as a legitimate backup to Lawrence. Maybe even a fill-in starter in combo with tailback  Travis Etienne, who rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in the 27-23 win.

Brice, meanwhile, completed 7 of 13 passes for 83 yards and scrambled for 17 yards on the winning 94-yard drive.

Brice said one of the first people to congratulate him after he left the stadium was Bryant, who wasn’t second-guessing his decision to transfer.

“Yeah, he sent me a text congratulating me and all that,” said Brice. “I saw him after the game and he was happy for me and he gave me a hug … I’m happy for him that he’s gonna be happy. Hope he finds the right spot.”

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Last night I was watching the local news and it was one depressing story after another. And that was just the sportscast.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Richard Sherman says that new NFL rules make quarterbacks ‘unstoppable.’ Jets fans are thinking, can somebody tell Sam Darnold?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Hear about the minor-league pitcher who split his pants in a couple of places while throwing a 100-mph strike? I’m guessing it was a two-seam fastball.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Fans of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, MLB’s  San Diego Padres and NFL’s Cleveland Cavaliers came in 1-2-3 in ESPN’s Fan Misery Index Ratings, based on championships, playoff appearance/wins, heartbreaks and rival teams’ success. Mariners fans – merely 17th – have never been so happy to finish out of contention.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com:  “A report says soccer organization FIFA spent $11.7 Million on private jets and sightseeing trips for top officials. What were they doing, auditioning for a position in Donald Trump’s Cabinet?”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again:  “Bill Murray was at the Nebraska football game. Based on the 8 straight losses I believe he was doing research for “Groundhog Day II.” (III?).”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Nick Saban is upset that Alabama student section was only half full for last weekend’s game, a 56-14 win over over Louisiana-Lafayette. Uh, here’s a suggestion, schedule a real opponent that would give the game more drama than Lions vs. Christians.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “This just in: the Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch set for December may be in jeopardy. One of them has tested positive for Poligrip.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “It’s 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and the referees just called another penalty on Nebraska.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Meanwhile, University of Georgia dismissed star 1st baseman Adam Sasser from the baseball team for allegedly shooting racist slurs at Georgia QB Justin Fields during last week’s game. Kudos to the Bulldogs for doing the right thing. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that for Georgia fans, football rules!”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Richard Mietz of Germany broke a Guinness world record for fastest marathon by a guy dressed as a landmark. It was a monumental achievement.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “If you’re big on stats Kade Warner is the all-time Husker leader in receptions among sons of guys who used to work at grocery stores in Cedar Falls.”

Greg Cote of The Miami Herald on the Browns winning for the first time in 635 days: “And now, a few words from Cleveland Mayor Baker Mayfield.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson, again,  on the 106,000 packing Michigan Stadium for the Nebraska game: “It looks like the last time I went to the DMV on a Saturday.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith will reimburse a fan after throwing their cellphone. Not only that, he threw it so far he has to cover the roaming charges.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “Purdue could’ve been called for having 14 men on the field including the officials.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again:  “A report says golf fans like the one at the Ryder Cup who was injured by a Brooks Koepka tee shot probably have no legal recourse. Although hopefully she can pay for a few medical bills by selling the autographed golf glove Koepka gave her on eBay.”

Nice catch, Mom

As reported by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

Julie List, 78, found quite the $1.49 bargain at a thrift store in Jupiter, Fla. When she discovered her son Christopher’s Little League glove with his name still written on it. He’d lost it 40 years earlier in Willoughby, Ohio – 1,000 miles away – amid the postgame celebration after hitting two home runs in the season-ending game. “He was thrilled, he was jumping up and down,” she told the New York Times. “He just said, ‘Mom, bring it home.’ He plans to pass it on to a grandson someday.”

Rough outing

After whiffing during last week’s Ryder Cup, Phil Mickelson has decided that he no longer has any interest in playing on golf courses that have “brutal rough.”

The American golfer failed to win a match for the United States, which was defeated 17.5 to 10.5 by the European team.

Mickelson also had to bear the additional embarrasment of being selected for only two matches at Le Golf National in Paris. He lost his only singles match to British Open champion Francesco Molinari and also was defeated in a foursome match in which he was paired with Bryson DeChambeau.

Mickelson, 48, said his game isn’t suited for courses with narrow fairways and deep rough.

“I’m not going to play tournament golf with rough like that anymore. It’s a waste of my time,” Mickelson said. “I’m going to play courses that are playable, and I can play aggressive, attacking, make lots of birdies.”

 Juvenile behavior

TheOnion.com: “Let’s avoid the Brett Favre comparisons until Patrick Mahomes can consistently send dick pics to reporters.”

Fark.com: “Iowa bar offers to unlock fridge full of beer for Nebraska fans when the Huskers get their first win of the season.”

TheOnion.com: “NFL player rewarded for butt wiping celebration with an endorsement contract. Other players excited by the news that Tri-State Colonoscopy is still searching for a spokesman.

SportsPickle.com: “If you are a fan of dorky celebrations, there is no better entertainment than Ryder Cup golf.”

Safety first

South Carolina football fans could find themselves being scanned by metal detectors at Williams-Brice Stadium for Saturday’s football game against Missouri.

Although the metal detectors won’t be at every gate this weekend, Gamecock fans better get used to it. The school prides itself on being a leader in security procedures.

When the SEC mandated two years ago that it would have a clear bag policy in place for this season, South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner made that a policy at USC facilities last season.

So  now the SEC’s Working Group on Event Security has mandated that metal detectors will be used at the conference’s football stadiums by the 2020 season. USC, which is making a test run this weekend, plans to have the devices at all gates by next season.

Tanner said that the school will welcome any additional security measures that make the game day experience safer for fans.

The school has already been recognized for its security procedures at Williams-Brice. The stadium is only one of three college facilities to receive the Facility of Merit for Safety and Security Award from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security.

Seriously, that’s a real thing.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Polite high school football team runs around banner that took hours to make.”

Sportspickle.com: “Kliff Kingsbury should probably be fired for never winning more than 7 games with Patrick Mahomes.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “A whole lot of media thought Grant Wahl’s Twitter joke about U.S. Soccer waiting for Jose Mourinho was a serious report.”

TheOnion.com: “Should the Houston Texans change their crude, offensive nickname?”

Sportspickle.com: “Credit to the Falcons for playing every game like it’s the Super Bowl.”

TheOnion.com: “High school kicker finds it helpful to imagine football as object that needs to be kicked through goal posts in order to gain points.”

SportsPickle.com: “It costs too much to play sports nowadays. The Detroit Lions’ parents couldn’t even afford to buy them real uniforms.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “Paul Finebaum’s pick to win Oklahoma State-Boise State: the Oklahoma Sooners.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Europe won Ryder Cup 17.5 to 10.5, giving them 9 of last 12 showdowns. You’d think we’d be better than this since golf is so important to our president.
  • Guess Tiger Woods’ comeback is on hold after 0-4 performance in Ryder Cup. But he wasn’t alone in playing disappointing golf for USA. Only Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson had winning records, going combined 11-5.
  • Gamecocks threaten to pull within one score but end 20-play drive with goal-line interception that costs them a scoreboard opportunity. That’s not easy to do, but then, that’s not something you want to do.
  • South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, often touted as one of best QBs in SEC, completed 3 of 11 passes in first half vs. Kentucky for 9 yards. I could be wrong but I don’t even think that’s considered elite in Pop Warner.
  • Uhh oh, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is shaken up. Is it too late for incumbent QB Kelly Bryant to change his mind about transferring?
  • Clemson needs most of first quarter to take 7-6 lead over Syracuse. If this was Big Ten, not ACC, this would be a trophy game. The Orange JULIUS Bowl? Hey, Dairy Queen now owns the frothy drink and a DQ is always right down the road.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A Different View of Sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while admitting I’m already bored with the college football season because I’m growing tired of the pecking order:

Girl power

I’ll confess to having tapped the brakes on a bicyle whenever descending a hill with a slope greater than 30 degrees – even if the downward stretch covered no more than 30 feet.

And I’m not talking about childhood memories; these are all-time memories. Heck, I may have even feigned an injury (chafing?) or two so I could walk the bike to safety with a fake limp.

So no, I definitely have never had the courage Denise Mueller-Korenek had last week to put all Tour de France daydreamers to shame while breaking the land speed record for a motor-paced bike at 183.93 mph.

Clearly, her mode of transportation wasn’t just any contraption with handlebars and a pair of spoked wheels, either.  Her low-slung, KHS chopper-style bicycle has 17-inch motorbike wheels to provide greater stability and a two-wheel drivetrain to propel the massive gear apparatus.

Plus, she was tethered behind a race car driven by team partner Shea Holbrook until she reached a launching speed of 100 mph.

If traditional cyclists can’t use performance-enhancing drugs to climb the mountain stages in the Tour de France, they can’t get away with using jet power to boost their peddling power. But just knowing what’s involved in chasing the motor-powered bicycle speed record tells you how much courage it requires. Indeed, several cyclists have died since Charles “Mile-a-Minute” Murphy set a 60 mph pace drafting off a steam train.

The previous speed record of 167 mph was established by a Dutch rider Fred Rompelberg in 1995. He twice crashed at Bonneville Salt Flats at speeds of over 100 mph, breaking 24 bones in 1988.

We should also note that Mueller-Korenek has a 23-year gap in her competitive resume, having taken time off to have three kids. That’s one hurdle most competitive bike racers can’t list in their bio.

After falling short of setting the all-time record two years ago, Mueller-Korenek and Holbrook pulled into Bonneville last weekend with the same 1,000-horsepower dragster that Rompelberg had used to set his record.

John Howard, who has worked with Mueler-Korenek for three decades, is listed in the record books himself with a 1985 clocking of 152 mph. He also had previously guided them to the women’s record of 147.7 mph.

Now they have the all-gender record.

Mixed reviews

SportsPickle.com: “Sam Darnold struggling against the Browns makes the Pac-12 look even worse.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson:  “The Cleveland Browns won a game. Statistically, this occurs less frequently than total solar eclipses.”

Comedian Eric Stangel:  “Kind of hoping for the season the Browns go 6-5-5.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “New Orleans Saints tried to gift wrap a win for the Browns. The Browns returned the gift.”

Fark.com: “Browns win. Browns win. Browns win.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “The Cleveland Browns suspended a sideline reporter for eight games for yelling at an official. After which the players were asking why he was the lucky one.”

Too much protection?

Even if he has had his share of injuries, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers questions some of the penalties being whistled for roughing the passer.

Two of those questionable flags in his opinion were thrown in Sunday’s tie between the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. The last one wiped out an interception that allowed the Vikings to continue a drive that led to the tying field goal.

Rodgers didn’t agree with the foul called on Clay Matthews for his hit on the Vikes’ Kirk Cousins. But he also was surprised a flag was tossed on the Vikings’ Eric Kendricks for a sack of Rodgers earlier in the game.

The irony is that the NFL tweaked the roughing the passer rule largely because Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in a game against Minnesota last season. As a result, defensive players can be flagged for what otherwise might be considered a clean hit if an official decides it was packed with a little intentional “oomph.”

Rodgers doesn’t like referees making such judgement calls.

“Some of the rules are maybe going the wrong direction. They’re trying to think about the progress of the game and the safety and stuff,” said Rodgers. “But it’s still a collision sport, and those to me are not penalties.”

They said it

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon on the Chiefs and Rams playing in Mexico City on Nov. 19: “It’s all part of the league’s plan to combine as many things that Trump hates as possible. It’s really clever. Rosie O’Donnell is doing the halftime show. Jeff Sessions is a referee.”

ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel on America’s love of fantasy sports: “Most of the guys I know studied harder for their fantasy-football draft this year than all of high school and college combined.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “On paper, Bethune Cookman looks to be better than a couple of Big Ten teams.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Georgia State football coach Shawn Elliott celebrated his team’s touchdown in a 41-7 loss to N.C. State with a fist bump — and tore his right biceps doing it. Luckily his team scored just that once, or Elliott might have wound up in traction.

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on why Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is having trouble rehabbing his injured knee after leading the Packers to victory from a 20-0 deficit: “He wants to get into the exercise pool, but he keeps walking on top of the water instead.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Ten games left in the season and in American League now all playoff spots are set, making those games essentially meaningless. So for a little over a week everyone gets to see what it’s like to be an Orioles fan.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Among the demands in the Buffalo Jills ongoing lawsuit against the Bills and the NFL is paying cheerleaders at least minimum wage. Only seems fair since they have to wear minimum clothing.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Way to fix the Giants offense. The Super Shotgun. Eli lines up from a punting position. Problem solved.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Archaeologists have discovered a 73,000-year-old drawing on a cave wall in South Africa. Initial reports say the depiction is a dead ringer for Woody Hayes’ off-tackle play.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson, again:  “I’ve just figured out I’ve collectively spent 14 months of my life waiting for the results of some dumb booth review from a football game.”
Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “University of Colorado’s mascot Chip the Buffalo was carried off the field after a T-shirt gun malfunctioned and shot him in the abdomen. Which immediately sparked demonstrations by students for T-shirt gun control.”

Coaching legend Lefty Driesell, 86, during his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech: “The older you get, all you do is try to remember names and go to the bathroom.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “The LA Dodgers have 7 players with 20 home runs. Unless Evan Longoria goes on a tear and hits 4 in the last 10 games, the SF Giants won’t even have one.  I’m not a “chicks dig the long ball” kind of gal, but this is ridiculous.”

Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News after a calm.com poll suggested the dullest sports to watch are golf, cricket, soccer and baseball: “Synchronized swimming officials are demanding a recount.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg, with just one magic bullet of a pitch, hit Phillies batter J.P. Crawford’s arm, catcher Matt Wieters’ mask and plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s mask. Strasburg’s next act, we assume, takes place in a saloon, with a six-shooter, a mirror and a frying pan.”

The greed principle

Eric Dickerson may have played in college at SMU, but the former All-Pro running back apparently wants to adopt the SEC’s marketing line.

He’s convinced his name “just means more.” Because of that name recognition, he believes the NFL should fatten his retirement account and that of other Hall of Famers.

He’s leading an NFLPA effort to get a $300,000 a year stipend for life. The push includes increased health care benefits. But in pushing to get the increase for players who didn’t have the opportunity to earn today’s dollars, the NFLPA is suggesting that that stars of the past could boycott future hall of fame festivities.

Its comforting to know that some former greats don’t agree with the  tactics, saying the $300,000 figure seems arbitrary and excessive.

It also should be pointed out that Dickerson appears to be trying to get a do-over for the fact he crossed the picket line during the 1987 strike, which undermined the NFLPA’s push at that time for better health care and retirement benefits.

Headlines

Fark.com: “ESPN’s Monday Night Football producer admits he has no idea what he’s doing.”

TheOnion.com: “Can a serial marijuana user like Josh Gordon fit in with the Patriots’ cocaine-based culture?”

Sportspickle.com:  “Celtics fans are going to be shocked when they find out what Danny Ainge used to do for a living.”

Fark.com: “NCAA moves quickly to ensure entertaining football play never happens again.”

TheOnion.com: Will Monday Night Football cut Jason Witten after the analyst went 0 for 65 while talking?”

Sportspickle.com: “The Steelers have figured out how to get around the new tackling rules by not tackling anyone at all. Smart.”

TheOnion.com: “Jimmy Butler gives Wolves list of 29 preferred trade destinations.”

SportsPickle.com: Seattle clears major hurdle for an NHL team mascot expected to be made-up bird.”

TheOnion.com: “Is football bad for the NFL?”
Fark.SportsPickle.com: “No one ever expects the Hail Mary kick return.”

Fark.com: “T-shirt related injuries are pretty darn rare but when they happen they’re spectacular.”

SportsPickle.com: “Troy Aikman broadcasting tonight’s game means there’s a future in media for Ryan Fitzpatrick.”

Culture clash

No matter where you turn these days, there seems to be a porn star ready to weigh in on the most popular topics.

Politics and sports.

We’ll leave Stormy Daniels to speak for herself on all matters Donald Trump. But now former adult-film star Mia Khalifa has jumped into the Florida State’s football coaching debate by starting her own GoFundMe page to buyout Willie Taggart’s contract.

Trying to get Taggart dismissed just three games into his coaching career in Tallahassee strikes me as little more than a case of premature … uhh ….ejection.

Yes, three weeks into the season the Seminoles have looked poorly prepared on offense and are 0-2 in the ACC while scoring a combined 10 points in losses at home to Virginia Tech and at Syracuse.

Khalifia, who is an FSU fan, has a goal of raising $21 million. So far she’s raised $121. Yes, were talking hundreds, not millions for her overblown publicity stunt.

But to be fair, Khalifia has long inserted herself into sports debates, including having co-hosting duties on sports radio. Sounds like a sensible career move since sports radio dialogue is often about as intelligent as in pppppher former job.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Baker Mayfield comes off bench, leads Cleveland comeback from down 14-0 to a 21-17 win over NYJ and Sam Darnold.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve missed Urban Meyer. Raise your hand if you’ve ever craved a Thurmanator sandwich. Trust me, neither is good for you, so let go of the insanity.
  • FSU’s offense has just 4 first downs and are closing in on dozen 3-and-outs heading into fourth quarter while losing 20-0 at Syracuse. The Seminoles should leave the ACC and petition the AAC for membership.
  • Stupid clock management by FSU cost chance to put points on the board at Syracuse. Willie Taggart, what were you thinking? 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A Different View of Sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while admitting I’m already bored with the college football season because I’m growing tired of the pecking order:

Girl power

I’ll confess to having tapped the brakes on a bicyle whenever descending a hill with a slope greater than 30 degrees – even if the downward stretch covered no more than 30 feet.

And I’m not talking about childhood memories; these are all-time memories. Heck, I may have even feigned an injury (chafing?) or two so I could walk the bike to safety with a fake limp.

So no, I definitely have never had the courage Denise Mueller-Korenek had last week to put all Tour de France daydreamers to shame while breaking the land speed record for a motor-paced bike at 183.93 mph.

Clearly, her mode of transportation wasn’t just any contraption with handlebars and a pair of spoked wheels, either.  Her low-slung, KHS chopper-style bicycle has 17-inch motorbike wheels to provide greater stability and a two-wheel drivetrain to propel the massive gear apparatus.

Plus, she was tethered behind a race car driven by team partner Shea Holbrook until she reached a launching speed of 100 mph.

If traditional cyclists can’t use performance-enhancing drugs to climb the mountain stages in the Tour de France, they can’t get away with using jet power to boost their peddling power. But just knowing what’s involved in chasing the motor-powered bicycle speed record tells you how much courage it requires. Indeed, several cyclists have died since Charles “Mile-a-Minute” Murphy set a 60 mph pace drafting off a steam train.

The previous speed record of 167 mph was established by a Dutch rider Fred Rompelberg in 1995. He twice crashed at Bonneville Salt Flats at speeds of over 100 mph, breaking 24 bones in 1988.

We should also note that Mueller-Korenek has a 23-year gap in her competitive resume, having taken time off to have three kids. That’s one hurdle most competitive bike racers can’t list in their bio.

After falling short of setting the all-time record two years ago, Mueller-Korenek and Holbrook pulled into Bonneville last weekend with the same 1,000-horsepower dragster that Rompelberg had used to set his record.

John Howard, who has worked with Mueler-Korenek for three decades, is listed in the record books himself with a 1985 clocking of 152 mph. He also had previously guided them to the women’s record of 147.7 mph.

Now they have the all-gender record.

Mixed reviews

SportsPickle.com: “Sam Darnold struggling against the Browns makes the Pac-12 look even worse.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson:  “The Cleveland Browns won a game. Statistically, this occurs less frequently than total solar eclipses.”

Comedian Eric Stangel:  “Kind of hoping for the season the Browns go 6-5-5.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “New Orleans Saints tried to gift wrap a win for the Browns. The Browns returned the gift.”

Fark.com: “Browns win. Browns win. Browns win.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “The Cleveland Browns suspended a sideline reporter for eight games for yelling at an official. After which the players were asking why he was the lucky one.”

Too much protection?

Even if he has had his share of injuries, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers questions some of the penalties being whistled for roughing the passer.

Two of those questionable flags in his opinion were thrown in Sunday’s tie between the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. The last one wiped out an interception that allowed the Vikings to continue a drive that led to the tying field goal.

Rodgers didn’t agree with the foul called on Clay Matthews for his hit on the Vikes’ Kirk Cousins. But he also was surprised a flag was tossed on the Vikings’ Eric Kendricks for a sack of Rodgers earlier in the game.

The irony is that the NFL tweaked the roughing the passer rule largely because Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in a game against Minnesota last season. As a result, defensive players can be flagged for what otherwise might be considered a clean hit if an official decides it was packed with a little intentional “oomph.”

Rodgers doesn’t like referees making such judgement calls.

“Some of the rules are maybe going the wrong direction. They’re trying to think about the progress of the game and the safety and stuff,” said Rodgers. “But it’s still a collision sport, and those to me are not penalties.”

They said it

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon on the Chiefs and Rams playing in Mexico City on Nov. 19: “It’s all part of the league’s plan to combine as many things that Trump hates as possible. It’s really clever. Rosie O’Donnell is doing the halftime show. Jeff Sessions is a referee.”

ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel on America’s love of fantasy sports: “Most of the guys I know studied harder for their fantasy-football draft this year than all of high school and college combined.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “On paper, Bethune Cookman looks to be better than a couple of Big Ten teams.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Georgia State football coach Shawn Elliott celebrated his team’s touchdown in a 41-7 loss to N.C. State with a fist bump — and tore his right biceps doing it. Luckily his team scored just that once, or Elliott might have wound up in traction.

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on why Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is having trouble rehabbing his injured knee after leading the Packers to victory from a 20-0 deficit: “He wants to get into the exercise pool, but he keeps walking on top of the water instead.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Ten games left in the season and in American League now all playoff spots are set, making those games essentially meaningless. So for a little over a week everyone gets to see what it’s like to be an Orioles fan.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Among the demands in the Buffalo Jills ongoing lawsuit against the Bills and the NFL is paying cheerleaders at least minimum wage. Only seems fair since they have to wear minimum clothing.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Way to fix the Giants offense. The Super Shotgun. Eli lines up from a punting position. Problem solved.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Archaeologists have discovered a 73,000-year-old drawing on a cave wall in South Africa. Initial reports say the depiction is a dead ringer for Woody Hayes’ off-tackle play.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson, again:  “I’ve just figured out I’ve collectively spent 14 months of my life waiting for the results of some dumb booth review from a football game.”
Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “University of Colorado’s mascot Chip the Buffalo was carried off the field after a T-shirt gun malfunctioned and shot him in the abdomen. Which immediately sparked demonstrations by students for T-shirt gun control.”

Coaching legend Lefty Driesell, 86, during his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech: “The older you get, all you do is try to remember names and go to the bathroom.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “The LA Dodgers have 7 players with 20 home runs. Unless Evan Longoria goes on a tear and hits 4 in the last 10 games, the SF Giants won’t even have one.  I’m not a “chicks dig the long ball” kind of gal, but this is ridiculous.”

Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News after a calm.com poll suggested the dullest sports to watch are golf, cricket, soccer and baseball: “Synchronized swimming officials are demanding a recount.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg, with just one magic bullet of a pitch, hit Phillies batter J.P. Crawford’s arm, catcher Matt Wieters’ mask and plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s mask. Strasburg’s next act, we assume, takes place in a saloon, with a six-shooter, a mirror and a frying pan.”

The greed principle

Eric Dickerson may have played in college at SMU, but the former All-Pro running back apparently wants to adopt the SEC’s marketing line.

He’s convinced his name “just means more.” Because of that name recognition, he believes the NFL should fatten his retirement account and that of other Hall of Famers.

He’s leading an NFLPA effort to get a $300,000 a year stipend for life. The push includes increased health care benefits. But in pushing to get the increase for players who didn’t have the opportunity to earn today’s dollars, the NFLPA is suggesting that that stars of the past could boycott future hall of fame festivities.

Its comforting to know that some former greats don’t agree with the  tactics, saying the $300,000 figure seems arbitrary and excessive.

It also should be pointed out that Dickerson appears to be trying to get a do-over for the fact he crossed the picket line during the 1987 strike, which undermined the NFLPA’s push at that time for better health care and retirement benefits.

Headlines

Fark.com: “ESPN’s Monday Night Football producer admits he has no idea what he’s doing.”

TheOnion.com: “Can a serial marijuana user like Josh Gordon fit in with the Patriots’ cocaine-based culture?”

Sportspickle.com:  “Celtics fans are going to be shocked when they find out what Danny Ainge used to do for a living.”

Fark.com: “NCAA moves quickly to ensure entertaining football play never happens again.”

TheOnion.com: Will Monday Night Football cut Jason Witten after the analyst went 0 for 65 while talking?”

Sportspickle.com: “The Steelers have figured out how to get around the new tackling rules by not tackling anyone at all. Smart.”

TheOnion.com: “Jimmy Butler gives Wolves list of 29 preferred trade destinations.”

SportsPickle.com: Seattle clears major hurdle for an NHL team mascot expected to be made-up bird.”

TheOnion.com: “Is football bad for the NFL?”
Fark.SportsPickle.com: “No one ever expects the Hail Mary kick return.”

Fark.com: “T-shirt related injuries are pretty darn rare but when they happen they’re spectacular.”

SportsPickle.com: “Troy Aikman broadcasting tonight’s game means there’s a future in media for Ryan Fitzpatrick.”

Culture clash

No matter where you turn these days, there seems to be a porn star ready to weigh in on the most popular topics.

Politics and sports.

We’ll leave Stormy Daniels to speak for herself on all matters Donald Trump. But now former adult-film star Mia Khalifa has jumped into the Florida State’s football coaching debate by starting her own GoFundMe page to buyout Willie Taggart’s contract.

Trying to get Taggart dismissed just three games into his coaching career in Tallahassee strikes me as little more than a case of premature … uhh ….ejection.

Yes, three weeks into the season the Seminoles have looked poorly prepared on offense and are 0-2 in the ACC while scoring a combined 10 points in losses at home to Virginia Tech and at Syracuse.

Khalifia, who is an FSU fan, has a goal of raising $21 million. So far she’s raised $121. Yes, were talking hundreds, not millions for her overblown publicity stunt.

But to be fair, Khalifia has long inserted herself into sports debates, including having co-hosting duties on sports radio. Sounds like a sensible career move since sports radio dialogue is often about as intelligent as in pppppher former job.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Baker Mayfield comes off bench, leads Cleveland comeback from down 14-0 to a 21-17 win over NYJ and Sam Darnold.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve missed Urban Meyer. Raise your hand if you’ve ever craved a Thurmanator sandwich. Trust me, neither is good for you, so let go of the insanity.
  • FSU’s offense has just 4 first downs and are closing in on dozen 3-and-outs heading into fourth quarter while losing 20-0 at Syracuse. The Seminoles should leave the ACC and petition the AAC for membership.
  • Stupid clock management by FSU cost chance to put points on the board at Syracuse. Willie Taggart, what were you thinking? 

ACC Landscape: Week Fourteen

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW CAPSULE

TV: Saturday 7 p.m. CT, ABC

CLEMSON

Record: 11-1

CFP rank: No. 1

Best win: vs. Auburn, 14-6

Worst loss: at Syracuse, 27-24

Offensive stars: Leading passer — Kelly Bryant (2,426 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INT); Leading rushers — Kelly Bryant (164-804, 10 TD), Travis Etienne (97-735, 12 TD); Leading receivers Hunter Renfrow (50-526. 3 TD), Deon Cain (49-620. 5TD).

Defensive stars: Dorian O’Daniel (95 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss); Kendall Joseph (73 tackles, 4 tackles for loss).

Key team statistics: Total offense — 24 (457.9); Scoring offense — 25 (35.2 ppg); Total defense — 6 (283.3 ypg); Scoring defense 4 (13.6 ppg).

Dabo Swinney on Miami: “They’re running the football. They’re playing fast and physical on defense. They’ve made plays on special teams. They’re playing complementary ball as a team. They’re well-coached and they look like they’re having fun doing it, too. They’ve had a great year.”

MIAMI

Record: 10-1

CFP Rank: No. 7

Best win: vs. Notre Dame, 41-8

Worst loss: at Pittsburgh, 24-14

Offensive stars: Leading passer — Malik Rosier (2,798 yards, 25 TDs, 9 INTs); Leading rushers — Travis Homer (137-866, 7 TDs), Malik Rosier (112-408, 5 TDs); Leading receivers –  Braxton Berrios (44-574, 9 TDs), Travis Homer (18-229, 1 TD).

Defensive stars: Jaquon Johnson (81 tackles, 4 interceptions); Michael Pinkney (55 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception).

Key team statistics: Total offense 44 (422.9); Scoring offense  –– 40 (31.9 ppg); Total defense — 41 (362.4 ypg); Scoring defense — 15 (18.3 ppg).

Mark Richt on any advantage Clemson might have as defending champion:  “Yeah, well, first of all, being used to winning at a high level, being used to being a champion, not only an ACC champion but a national champion, playing in two national championship games in a row, it doesn’t get any bigger than that … Experience is a great teacher. We all know that. We’re just experiencing some things for the first time as a group of coaches and players. It should be an advantage to have lived through those types of moments.”

                  

 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

(All times Central)

ACC Championship Game: Miami (10-1) vs. Clemson (11-1), Saturday 7 p.m. CT, ABC

Louisiana-Monroe (4-7) at Florida State (5-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ACC Network

FAB FIVE

  1. Clemson (11-1, 7-1): Last Week – W, South Carolina, 34-10. The Impact – If Tigers beat Miami Saturday, Dabo Swinney’s program will be in position to defend its national title and at least make a third straight appearance in CFP semifinals. Clemson, which beat state rival USC for the fourth consecutive year, is favored to beat Hurricanes by 9.5 points in latest Vegas odds.

 

2. Miami (10-1, 7-1): Last Week – L, Pittsburgh, 24-14. The Impact – Mark Richt’s Hurricanes may have squandered chance of a lifetime after losing on the road to unheralded Pittsburgh. The loss knocked them from the second spot in the College Football Playoff poll to No. 7, so unless UM defeats Clemson Saturday it will have to settle for a regular bowl bid. If they had remained No. 2 and kept the nation’s longest win streak alive entering the ACC title game, the ’Canes y might have been safe even with close loss to Tigers. That setback also was Malik Rosier’s first in college. He completed just 15 of 34 passes for 187 yards, which led him to be pulled for a series.

3. Virginia Tech (9-3, 5-3): Last Week – W, Virginia, 10-0. The Impact – Hokies struggled on offense but excelled on defense, holding rival Virginia to 5 yards rushing. It was third shutout of season for Bud Foster’s unit but first over Power-5 opponent. It was Va. Tech’s 14th consecutive win in series, which covers their ACC era.

4. N. C. State (8-4, 6-2): Last Week – W, North Carolina, 33-21. The Impact – Nyheim Hines rushed for a career-best 196 yards, including touchdown runs of 54 and 48 yards, to give him more than 1,000 yards on the season. The win over UNC was only second in last five games but it was eighth overall, elevating Wolfpack’s status in bowl pecking order. It also may have made it easier for Dave Doeren to turn down a chance to interview for the Tennessee coaching job.

 

5. Louisville (8-4, 4-4): Last Week – W, at Kentucky, 44-17. The Impact – Lamar Jackson and his teammates avenged a stunning loss at home to rival Kentucky last season by taking care of business in dominating fashion on the Wildcats’ home field. The 2016 Heisman winner even provided an emotional lift when he and UK linebacker Jordan Jones got into a scuffle that nearly ignited a brawl. Jackson had 216 yards passing and 156 rushing to likely assure another trip to New York as a Heisman candidate.

 

THE PACK

 

6. Wake Forest (7-5, 4-4): Last Week – L, Duke, 31-23. The Impact – Quarterback John Wolford finished regular season with school record 3,417 yards of total offense and will have a bowl game to add to that total. After 4-0 start to season, Demon Deacons have struggled to maintain any consistency, winning only three of last eight games. They did excel at ball protection, finishing with plus-7 turnover ratio for season.

 

7. Boston College (7-5, 4-4): Last Week – W, Syracuse, 42-14. The Impact – Freshman running back A.J. Dillon assured that B.C.’s turnaround would continue, scoring three touchdowns and finishing with 193 yards rushing. Steve Addazio’s team has won five of its last six games and will have a chance at winning eight games in a bowl.

8. Florida State (5-6, 3-5): Last Week – W, at Florida, 38-22. The Impact – Jimbo Fisher finally took the hint and accepted the job at Texas A&M on Friday. FSU fans had grown tired of his refusal to say he was even considering Aggies’ job when all reports out of College Station indicated he was ready to sign on the dotted line. It means Fisher won’t be on the sidelines Saturday for Seminoles’ monumental clash with Louisiana-Monroe, a game that was postponed because of Hurricane Irma and only rescheduled after FSU realized it might need a guaranteed sixth win to preserve its bowl eligibility streak of 36 consecutive years. The win over Florida extended FSU best-ever streak to four years.

9. Virginia (6-6, 3-5): Last Week – L, Virginia Tech, 10-0.44-28. The Impact – Despite being blanked by Hokies, quarterback Kurt Benkert set school’s single-season passing record with 3,026 yards to move past Matt Schaub (2002). Benkert is also first UVA QB to surpass 3,000 yards in a season. Despite losing last three games, Cavs are headed to a bowl game for the first time since 2011.

10. Duke (6-6, 3-5): Last Week – W, at Wake Forest, 31-23. The Impact – Blue Devils won consecutive games for first time since opening season 4-0 to secure bowl eligibility. Before beating Georgia Tech and Wake Forest back-to-back, David Cutcliffe’s team had lost six straight. It should earn Duke a bowl berth for just 13th time. The good news is that Blue Devils’ defense is steadily improving. Despite the losses, Duke has held opponents to fewer than 25 points in six straight games and 10 of 12 games this season.

11. Georgia Tech (5-6, 4-4): Last Week – L, Georgia, 38-7. The Impact – Five weeks ago the Yellow Jackets were in decent shape in terms of earning a bowl berth with four wins, but lost four of five games to close the season, including a home loss to rival Georgia. Since winning 11 games in 2014, Paul Johnson’s Techsters are just 17-19 in the past three seasons. Expect staff changes, particularly on defense, after Georgia Tech allowed three of its last four opponents to score at least 38 points.

 

THE UNPROVEN

 

12. Pittsburgh (5-7, 3-5): Last Week – W, Miami, 24-14. The Impact – There will be no bowl game for the Panthers, but they did win three of their final five games, including a stunning upset of second-ranked Miami that shook up the College Football Playoff scenario by ending the nation’s longest win streak of 13 games. Freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett, getting his first start, ran for two touchdowns and passed for another.

13. Syracuse (4-8, 2-6): Last Week – L, Boston College, 42-14. The Impact – The highpoint of the season for Dino Babers’ team was its Oct. 13 upset of defending national champion Clemson. But instead of feeding off that feel-good moment, Orange lost its last five games, including the last two by a combined score of 98-24 to Louisville and Boston College. Receivers Steve Ishmael and Erv Phillips combined to set ACC record with 194 receptions between them. Phillips and Amba Etta-Tawo set old mark for receptions by two teammates (184).

14. North Carolina (3-9, 1-7): Last Week – L, at N.C. State, 35-21. The Impact – Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels were showing signs of life after winning previous two games, including winning at Pittsburgh two weeks before Panthers upset Miami. But all that was forgotten with road loss to Wolfpack. It ended a streak of four years in which the road team had won in the series.

BEARD’S PICKS

(Predicted winners in bold caps)

Saturday’s games

MIAMI 23, Clemson 21

FLORIDA STATE 38, Louisiana-Monroe 23

 Last Week: 5-4

Overall: 79-27 (74.5%)

ACC Landscape: Week Thirteen

Wrapping up his second season as South Carolina’s head football coach, Will Muschamp’s quest to rebuild the Gamecocks into an SEC  contender is ahead of schedule.

Picked to finish only fourth in the SEC East, his players exceeded expectations with five conference wins. USC (8-3, 5-3 SEC) was even in contention for the division title until a 24-10 loss to Georgia three weeks ago.

Now, with Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC) visiting Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, the Gamecocks have another chance at earning a signature win.

“You don’t need a lot of extra motivation at the end of the day,” said Muschamp. “If you don’t get excited about playing your archrival, then something is wrong with you. That’s the way I look at it.”

The fact Clemson is looking to extend its winning streak in the series to four in a row, including a 56-7 rout last year, should light an extra fire under his players, Muschamp said. So should the fact that the game has been picked for a national primetime telecast on ESPN.

That may even explain why so many national college football writers have picked South Carolina to win, choosing to make the game their upset special of the week. I’m not that reckless with my picks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the game qualifies as an instant classic.

Of course, Rivalry Weekend’s biggest upset occurred Friday when Pittsburgh stunned No. 2 Miami, 24-14.

That’s the loss Swinney will talk to his players about since the Tigers will face Miami in the ACC Championship Game next Saturday in Charlotte. He’ll remind his players that the Hurricanes were undefeated until they dropped their guard and were sucker punched by the Panthers. He may even remind his players that Pitt did the same thing to them last November.

“It’s about winning the game and this team having an opportunity to continue on because its playoff football for us every week,” said Swinney, who knows a second loss now could deny Clemson one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. “We’ve got a challenge on our hands with South Carolina. They’ve gotten better as the year has gone.”

Swinney, who played and coached at Alabama, said he believes the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is as intense as the Iron Bowl clash between Auburn and Alabama.

 “Zero difference in this state. Zero. Year-round, that’s all people talk about. It’s just different logos. It’s the same type of intensity, emotion,” Swinney said.

The strength of both teams is their defenses, but Clemson has a decided edge on the defensive front. Not only are they difficult to run on, but the Tigers have one of the nation’s fiercest pass rushes.

If the Gamecocks are going to keep the game close into the fourth quarter, quarterback Jake Bentley will have to be effective keeping plays alive with his legs. He’s passed for nearly 2,500 yards and 15 touchdowns and run for another six touchdowns. But he’s also tossed nine interceptions, and if he’s turnover prone against the Tigers, South Carolina could be staring at another huge lategame deficit.

Meanwhile, Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant has been efficient, and occasionally explosive, for the Tigers. He’s passed for 2,200 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions.

The Tigers are scoring an average of 10 points more per game than the Gamecocks – 35.3 to 25.4. Meanwhile, both teams rank among the top 20 teams in the nation in scoring defense with the Tigers at No. 3 while allowing 13.9 points per game and the Gamecocks ranking No. 20 at 19.6.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

(All times Central)

Friday’s games

Pittsburgh 24, Miami 14

(Pittsburgh improves to 5-7, 3-5 ACC; Miami 10-1, 7-1 ACC)

Virginia Tech 10, at Virginia 0

(Virginia Tech improves to 9-3, 5-3 ACC; Virginia 6-6, 3-5)

Saturday’s games

Florida State (4-6) at Florida (4-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Georgia (10-1) at Georgia Tech (5-5), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ABC

Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (7-4), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

Boston College (6-5) at Syracuse (4-7), Saturday 11:20 a.m., ACC Network

Duke (5-6) at Wake Forest (7-4), Saturday 11:30 CT, ACC Network

North Carolina (3-8) at N.C. State (7-4), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (8-3), Saturday 6:30 p.m., ESPN

FAB FIVE

1 Miami (10-0, 7-0): Last Week – W, Virginia, 44-28. The Impact – Hurricanes twice rallied from 14-point deficits, scoring pair of touchdowns in seven seconds for first comeback and then finishing game with 30 unanswered points. Malik Rosier passed for three touchdowns and ran for another as UM extended nation’s longest win streak to 15 games. Mark Richt now needs to make sure his players don’t overlook Pitt since ’Canes are already set to face Clemson for ACC title on Dec. 2.

  1. Clemson (10-1, 7-1): Last Week – W, The Citadel, 61-3. The Impact – Tigers scored on 10 of 13 possessions as Dabo Swinney emptied his bench early and often against an outmatched FCS opponent in The Citadel. Fifteen players caught passes and nine carried the football, but the rout wasn’t enough to prevent Miami from taking the No. 2 spot in the CFP rankings. That’s a battle that will be settled next week, though. This weekend the Tigers are looking to win their fourth straight over rival South Carolina after losing five in a row.
  1. Wake Forest (7-4, 4-3): Last Week – W, N.C. State, 30-24. The Impact – Demetrius Kemp’s forced fumble and end zone recovery allowed the Demon Deacons to win their fourth conference game and continue N.C. State’s late-season slump. It was also the Deacons’ first win over a Top 25 opponent since 2011. John Wolford and Tabari Hines connected on three touchdown passes of 21, 7 and 18 yards and Wolford finished with 247 yards passing.

 

  1. N. C. State (7-4, 5-2): Last Week – L, at Wake Forest, 30-24. The Impact –  Since Dave Doeren announced his goal was still to win 10 games after losing at Notre Dame, N.C. State has lost two more. Three of the Wolfpack’s four losses have been by seven or fewer points. But the loss to Wake Forest was particularly painful since the Wolfpack held a 22-minute edge in time of possession and ran 94 plays in compiling more than 500 yards.
  1. Louisville (7-4, 4-4): Last Week – W, Syracuse, 56-10. The Impact – Lamar Jackson continued his assault on the school record book, compiling 381 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Jackson racked up his 11th consecutive 300-yard game to become the Cardinals’ career yardage leader with 12,474, which is third best in the ACC. Tailback Malik Williams had a career-high 180 rushing yards on only nine carries, including TD runs of 46 and 56 yards.

 

THE PACK

  1. Virginia Tech (8-3, 4-3): Last Week – W, Pittsburgh, 20-14. The Impact – Hokies’ defense kept Panthers out of end zone on final drive despite Pitt having a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Cam Phillips had 117 yards on eight catches to increase his school record to 2,981 receiving yards. The win allowed Justin Fuente’s team to end two-game skid.

 

  1. Boston College (6-5, 3-4): Last Week – W, Connecticut 39-16. The Impact – Playing at Fenway, BC became bowl eligible after winning for fourth time in five weeks. A win over Syracuse would allow Eagles to break even in ACC after an 0-3 start in conference. A.J. Dillon rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns covering 48 and 53 yards.
  2. Florida State (4-6, 3-5): Last Week – W, Delaware State, 77-6. The Impact – FSU played MEAC school and it wasn’t nearby Florida A&M. Seminoles nearly tied school record for largest margin of victory. If FSU beats Florida Saturday, earning a bowl bid will become mere formality since Louisiana-Monroe comes to Tallahassee for a rescheduled game on Dec. 2. Receiver Justin Motlow became the first Seminole Tribe of Florida product to score a touchdown for FSU.
  3. Virginia (6-5, 3-4): Last Week – L, at Miami, 44-28. The Impact – After 5-1 start to season, the Cavaliers have lost four of five. Still, Bronco Mendenhall’s squad should be able to relax heading into Saturday’s home game against rival Va Tech since a bowl berth is already in the bag. Against UM, Cavs couldn’t run the football, finishing with 55 yards on 28 carries, including 23-yarder by Jordan Ellis on final play. They’ll need to be more productive that against Hokies.
  1. Syracuse (4-7, 2-5): Last Week – L, at Louisville, 56-10. The Impact – The schedule has taken its toll on Dino Babers’ Orange. Since upsetting Clemson Oct 13, the Orange has played road games at Miami, Florida State and Louisville and had a home date against Wake Forest. Syracuse lost all four contests with Louisville shredding the Orange defense for 727 yards.
  2. Duke (5-6, 2-5): Last Week – W, Georgia Tech, 43-20. The Impact – David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils, who had been held to combined 46 points in previous four games, racked up 43 while shutting out Georgia Tech in the second half. The win ended a six-game skid by Duke and revives the Blue Devils’ hopes of earning a bowl berth by beating Wake Forest. For that to happen, Blue Devils will have to be exceptional on defense.

 

THE UNPROVEN

  1. Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-4): Last Week – L, at Duke, 43-20. The Impact – Yellow Jackets have lost three of their last four games and likely would have to upset Georgia Saturday to become bowl eligible. There’s a slight chance they could get an invitation with five wins since they only played 11 games this season. But that’s a gamble Paul Johnson would rather not take. After trip to Athens on Saturday, Johnson may regret schools’ decision not to reschedule or replace game against UCF that was postponed by Hurricane Irma.
  2. Pittsburgh (4-7, 2-5): Last Week – L, at Virginia Tech, 20-14. The Impact – Panthers’ chances of staying in contention for bowl bid ended when Virginia Tech made a late goal-line stand. Pat Narduzzi’s team had a first down at the 1-yard line after Kenny Pickett connected with Jester Weah on 74-yard pass with less than 30 seconds remaining. But the threat ended with a pass breakup in the end zone with three seconds left and tailback Darrin Hall being dropped for a 3-yard loss on the final play. Hall finished with four yards on 15 carries and Pitt gained just 55 yards on 30 carries.
  1. North Carolina (3-8, 1-6): Last Week – W, Western Carolina, 65-10. The Impact – It took all season but Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels finally won back-to-back games. After falling behind 7-0, UNC responded with six consecutive touchdown drives, including three scores in less than three minutes. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Elliott tossed four touchdown passes in the first half. Tar Heels had a 231-32 edge in yardage in second quarter while scoring 35 of their points.

BEARD’S PICKS

(Predicted winners in bold caps)

Friday’s games

Pittsburgh 24, MIAMI 14 — STUNNING UPSET

Virginia Tech 10, at VIRGINIA 0

Saturday’s games

Florida State at FLORIDA

GEORGIA at Georgia Tech

LOUISVILLE at Kentucky

BOSTON COLLEGE at Syracuse

Duke at WAKE FOREST

North Carolina at N.C. STATE

CLEMSON at South Carolina

Last Week: 7-2

Overall: 69-21 (76.6%)

ACC Landscape: Week Twelve

Mark Richt’s toughest challenge this week may be convincing his University of Miami football players that they are still quite capable of beating themselves.

Coming off a dominating 41-8 rout of Notre Dame last Saturday night in front of a national audience on ABC, it would be easy for the Hurricanes (9-0, 6-0) to be overconfident going into this Saturday’s game against a 17-point underdog like Virginia (6-4, 3-3). And it probably doesn’t help that the game is scheduled for a noon ET kickoff – even if it will be the second straight week the Hurricanes will be televised to a national audience by ABC.

Richt, of course, has a season’s worth of close calls to use to remind his players that they haven’t been a dominating football team every week. Indeed, three of the Hurricanes’ ACC wins were by eight or fewer points, including a 25-24 win just five weeks ago against Georgia Tech.

Richt has reminded his players that they can’t afford to relax even if they have clinched a spot in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2 in Charlotte, N.C. against defending national champion Clemson.

The win over the Fighting Irish elevated Miami four spots to No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings. But Richt told his players on Monday “we are the same team that started this season that was grinding and fighting and trying to find ways to win games. We’re the same team and if we forget that, then we are going to find ourselves being in trouble.”

Still,  he wants them to enjoy the excitement they have generated in Miami. For the first time in years, there’s a buzz around the Hurricanes’ program.

And he’s having fun, too. Things like UM’s “Turnover Chain” feed into that narrative that college football is a game to enjoy by players and fans alike.

Putting the fun back into his job was one thing Richt said he was determined to do when he decided to get back into coaching after being forced out at Georgia after 15 years.

“Sometimes after a game, you’re thankful you won and that’s about all you can muster, but I’m like, forget being thankful,” said Richt. “Let’s celebrate. So I wanted to celebrate all the good things along the way and that’s really what the turnover chain is about.
“It’s about celebrating a great play and doing it in a big way, and doing it, quite frankly, in a fun way. We’ve got guys sprinting off the field on to the sideline to pop their helmet off to be able to get the chain and be able to celebrate with teammates and coaches and fans. I think it’s good, clean fun. There’s not anybody taunting anybody with it.”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

(All times Central)

Delaware State (2-8) at Florida State (3-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Virginia (6-4) at Miami (9-0), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ABC

The Citadel (5-5) at Clemson (9-1), Saturday 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Pittsburgh (4-6) at Virginia Tech (7-3), Saturday 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Western Carolina (7-4) at North Carolina (2-8), Saturday 2 p.m. CT, ACC Network

Georgia Tech (5-4) at Duke (4-6), Saturday 2:30 p.m., ACC Network

Syracuse (4-6) at Louisville (6-4), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

Boston College (5-5) at Connecticut (3-7), Saturday 6 p.m. CT, CBS Sports Network

N.C. State (7-3) at Wake Forest (6-4), Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

FAB FIVE

1 Miami (9-0, 6-0): Last Week – W, Notre Dame, 41-8. The Impact – Mark Richt’s unbeaten Hurricanes locked up a spot in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2 and put themselves into the national championship conversation by jumping into the third spot in the CFP rankings. After losing to FSU, UNC, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame last season, UM has beaten all four this season.

2. Clemson (9-1, 7-1): Last Week – W, Florida State, 31-14. The Impact – Dabo Swinney’s Tigers clinched the ACC Atlantic Division to set up conference championship game with Miami on Dec. 2, but had to survive a second-half scare from FSU before tacking on two late touchdowns. Tigers will need to sort out its offensive issues if they are going to have a chance to defend national title.

3. N. C. State (7-3, 5-1): Last Week – W, at Boston College, 17-14. The Impact – After two consecutive losses crushed what was looking like a dream season for Dave Doeren’s squad, the Wolfpack earned their fifth conference win for first time in seven seasons. Nyheim Hines scored on a 50-yard run with 8:22 left for the winning score. 

 4. Wake Forest (6-4, 3-3): Last Week – W, at Syracuse, 64-43. The Impact – Trailing 41-27 late in the third quarter, the Demon Deacons outscored Syracuse 37-2 the rest of the way to clinch their sixth win. QB John Wolford ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more during the second half surge. He finished with 363 yards passing and 136 rushing while scoring six TDs. He now has the Deacons’ school record for touchdowns with 69.

5. Virginia Tech (7-3, 3-3): Last Week – L, at Georgia Tech, 28-22. The Impact – A lack of big plays the past two weeks have the Hokies looking to regroup. Justin Fuente’s team was outgained on the ground 262 to 105

 

THE PACK

 6. Louisville (6-4, 3-4): Last Week – W, Virginia, 38-21. The Impact – Lamar Jackson added 342 yards of total offense and four more touchdowns to his legacy while becoming the first player in NCAA history to have two seasons with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing. The Cardinals’ four losses will prevent him from winning a second straight Heisman.

7. Boston College (5-5, 3-4): Last Week – L, N.C. State, 17-14. The Impact – Eagles lost starting quarterback Anthony Brown to a knee injury in the first half against N.C. State and backup Darius Wade was sacked five times. BC compensated with their rushing attack as AJ Dillon had nearly 200 yards, including a 66-yarder for a score. Thadd Smith added a 12-yard TD run

8. Georgia Tech (5-4, 4-3): Last Week – W, Virginia Tech, 28-22. The Impact – QB TaQuon Marshall completed just two passes but both went for touchdowns covering a combined 140 yards, including 60 yards to Brad Stewart and 80 to Ricky Jeune. Marshall, who also had two scoring run, had a huge mistake with a late Pick-6 that gave the Hokies a late lead. The win kep the Yellow Jackets’ bowl hopes alive.

9. Florida State (3-6, 3-5): Last Week – L, at Clemson, 31-14. The Impact – With five of their six losses in conference action, the Seminoles finished with                   their first losing record in the ACC since 2006. In a desperate attempt to qualify for a bowl game, FSU has rescheduled a game against Louisiana-Monroe that had been postponed by Hurricane Irma. With another “guaranteed win” with Delaware State this week, the Seminoles will need to win at Florida next week.

 10. Virginia (6-4, 3-3): Last Week – L, at Louisville, 38-21. The Impact – With three losses in last four games while surrendering at least 31 points in each of those games, the Cavaliers are in need of a defensive fix heading into Saturday’s game at Miami.

11. Syracuse (4-6, 2-4): Last Week – L, Wake Forest, 64-43. The Impact – Dino Babers’ Orange have been in a freefall since upsetting Clemson, losing three in a row. Syracuse would now have to win its final two games to become bowl eligible. QB Zach Mahoney did pass for 384 yards and three touchdowns but was picked off twice.

 

THE UNPROVEN

12. Pittsburgh (4-6, 2-4): Last Week – L, North Carolina, 34-31. The Impact – Panthers squandered a chance to get to .500 for the first time since Week 2 when UNC rallied late. The pivotal play came late in the first half when receiver Quadree Henderson was stripped of the football right before the goal line and the Tar Heels instead added a field goal.

13. Duke (4-6, 1-5): Last Week – L, at Army, 21-16. The Impact – Needing a stop in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils didn’t get one until Army had marched 75 yards on 18 plays while burning more than 12 minutes. David Cutcliffe’s bunch did block the ensuing field goal attempt but failed to mount a drive of their own in the final two minutes. The loss extended Duke’s skid to six games, including four losses by seven or fewer points.

 14. North Carolina (2-8, 1-6): Last Week – W, at Pittsburgh, 34-31.The Impact – Larry Fedora’s travel squad to Pittsburgh included a welcome playmaker as receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams returned the opening kickoff for one score, threw for another and then caught a go-ahead TD pass in the final six minutes. The effort was enough to give the Tar Heels an ACC win this season. Interestingly enough, UNC is 5-0 against the Panthers since they joined the ACC.

BEARD’S PICKS

(Predicted winners in bold caps)

Delaware State at FLORIDA STATE

Virginia at MIAMI

The Citadel at CLEMSON

Pittsburgh at VIRGINIA TECH

WESTERN CAROLINA at North Carolina

GEORGIA TECH at Duke

Syracuse at LOUISIVILLE

BOSTON COLLEGE at Connecticut

N.C. State at WAKE FOREST

Last Week: 4-4

Overall: 62-19 (76.5%)

ACC Landscape: Week Eleven

When Miami and Notre Dame met last season in South Bend, it turned out to be a game worthy of the intense rivalry between the two programs with the Fighting Irish winning 30-27 on a last-minute field goal.

But that was then and this is now, and that 2016 contest didn’t have the national implications that are rolled into this Saturday’s meeting. Miami (8-0, 6-0) needs to win to continue its climb from No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings, while a loss by the Fighting Irish (8-1) would knock them from the top four because it would be a second loss.

The fact this is Notre Dame’s first trip to Miami since 1989 only ramps up the excitement around UM coach Mark Richt’s program.

“It takes a lot of work to get here this late in the season and we are excited about that and we are proud of our guys, but we know we have a monster challenge here this weekend,” said Richt.

Notre Dame’s only loss came against Georgia, which has topped the CFP rankings the past two weeks.

“This is why we came here. This is why I came back to my alma mater, these types of moments,” said Richt, who coached at Irish-slayer Georgia prior to coming to UM two years ago.

Meanwhile, Brian Kelly likes the direction his Notre Dame team is headed after rattling off seven consecutive wins.

“I know our guys are excited about this championship drive that they’re on now,” said Kelly.

Kelly said there wasn’t much value in looking at the film from last season’s game.

“It’s really about both these teams this year,” Kelly said. “(They have) a new quarterback. (Malik) Rosier is a really gritty kid. As a first-year starter, he finds ways to make plays.

“He’s a lot like Brandon (Wimbush) … He just finds ways to win football games.”

The difference between the two quarterbacks is that Rosier is more prone to throw the deep ball. The Miami freshman has passed for 2,773 yards and 19 touchdowns –  nearly a thousand more yards and eight more scores than Wimbush.

But Wimbush also has only thrown two interceptions, while Rosier has been picked off seven times, including three errant throws last week against Virginia Tech.

Richt knows Rosier will have to do a better job taking care of the football against the Irish, who expect to have tailback Josh Adams back in action. He missed the second half against Wake Forest last week and finished with just 22 yards because of what Notre Dame’s sports information office first labeled as “fatigue” but later changed to a “headache.”

Adams ranks ninth nationally with 132.2 rushing yards per game.

With Adams in the same backfield with Wimbush, the Irish have a one-two punch that will test UM’s run defense.

In the latest NCAA rankings, the teams are fairly evenly matched.

Notre Dame is No. 7 in scoring offense (41.3), 13th in total offense (495.1), 17th in scoring defense (18.4) and 50th in total defense (375.6).

Meanwhile, Miami is 44th in scoring offense (31.5), 25th in total offense (461.0), 12th in scoring defense (17.6) and 43rd in total defense (367.6).

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

(All times Central)

North Carolina 34, at PITTSBURGH 31, Thursday

Duke at Army, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, CBS Sports Channel

N.C. State at Boston College, Saturday 11 a.m., ABC, ESPN2

Virginia  Tech at Georgia Tech, Saturday 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Wake Forest at Syracuse, Saturday 2 p.m. CT, ACC Network

Florida State at Clemson, Saturday 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Virginia at Louisville, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

Notre Dame at Miami, Saturday 7 p.m. CT, ABC

FAB FIVE

  1. Miami (8-0, 6-0): Last Week – W, Virginia Tech, 28-10. The Impact – With A-Rod and J-Lo jumping on the bandwagon, Hurricanes extended nation’s longest win streak to 13 games as Malik Rosier passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another. But UM has even bigger test Saturday with Notre Dame, the last team to beat UM, visiting.
  1. Clemson (8-1, 6-1): Last Week – W, at N.C. State, 38-31. The Impact – After flirting with being upset last week, Tigers need to shift into beast mode to strengthen standing in CFP poll. K’Von Wallace picked off Wolfpack’s Ryan Finley on final play to preserve last week’s comeback win.
  1. Virginia Tech (7-2, 3-2): Last Week – L, at Miami, 28-10. The Impact – Hokies had three interceptions against Miami, but it wasn’t enough to fuel an upset, mainly because Justin Fuente’s team turned it over four times to lose for just second time this season.
  1. N.C. State (6-3, 4-1): Last Week – L, Clemson, 38-31. The Impact – Dave Doeren was mad enough to accuse defending national champs of cheating after Wolfpack lost for second straight week following six-game win streak. With next two games on road, Doeren needs to be more concerned about a defense that has given up 73 points in last two weeks.
  1. Wake Forest (5-4, 2-3): Last Week – L, at Notre Dame, 48-37. The Impact – Demon Deacons surrendered 24 points in second quarter to dig early hole against Irish. But despite losing four of last five games, Deacs still just need one win to become bowl eligible.

 

THE PACK

 6. Boston College (5-4, 3-3): Last Week –The Impact – Eagles have nation’s No. 2 overall pass defense and rank seventh in interceptions with 13, so facing pass-happy Wolfpack should be a huge issue. While BC has won three in a row, Steve Addazio’s team still needs one more to become bowl eligibile.

 7. Louisville (5-4, 2-4): Last Week –The Impact –Cardinals are fifth in nation in big plays with 62 of 20 or more yards. Lamar Jackson is now third player in NCAA history to surpass 8,000 yards passing and 3,500 yards rushing. Bobby Petrino’s squad needs to get back on track after losing three of four games.

8. Florida State (3-5, 3-4): Last Week – Syracuse, 27-24. The Impact – If Jimbo Fisher wants his players to regain respect, there’s no better time to defy all odds than this weekend in Clemson. Hey, it’s just a thought. And if nothing else, FSU finally won a home game last week as Cam Akers rushed for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns.

9. Virginia (6-3, 3-2): Last Week – W, Georgia Tech, 40-36. The Impact – Blown out in previous two games, Cavs rallied from double-digit deficit to pull out bowl-clinching win over Yellow Jackets in final 82 seconds. Kurt Benkert tossed three TD passes covering at least 27 yards, including two to Andre Levrone.

10. Georgia Tech (4-4, 3-3): Last Week – L, at Virginia, 40-36. The Impact – Despite knack for making big plays, Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets have lost three of four games to put bowl hopes in jeopardy. QB TaQuon Marshall rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, including 78 yarder, and passed for 179 yards and another score. But he also left plenty more yards on the field, completing just 6 of 22 passes.

11. Syracuse (4-5, 2-3): Last Week – L, at Florida State, 27-24. The Impact – Orange have split four straight games in which winning team scored 27 points, including three games with final score of 27-24. If it doesn’t want to squander upset of Clemson three weeks ago, Dino Babers’ team needs two more wins to become bowl eligible for first time since 2013.

 

THE UNPROVEN

12. Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-3): Last Week – Idle. This Week – L, North Carolina, 34-31. The Impact – In battle of teams coming off open dates, Panthers squandered chance to reach .500 in ACC action despite four second-half touchdowns by tailback Darrin Hall, who finished with 121 yards.

13. Duke (4-5, 1-5): Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Blue Devils have lost five in row and now face Army team that has won its last five and hasn’t lost at home. Black Knights also lead nation with 365 rushing yards per game. David Cutcliffe’s team has set school record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns, including two by corner back Byron Fields Jr.

14. North Carolina (2-8, 1-6): Last Week – Idle. This Week – W, Pittsburgh, 34-31. The Impact – Anthony Ratliff-Williams accounted for three touchdowns, including returning opening kickoff 98 yards and then catching game-winning 3-yard pass from Nathan Elliott. Ratliff-Williams also threw 35-yard TD pass to Josh Cabrera as Tar Heels won first ACC game of season.

BEARD’S PICKS

North Carolina 34, at PITTSBURGH 31

Duke at ARMY

N.C. State at BOSTON COLLEGE

VIRGINIA TECH at Georgia Tech

Wake Forest at SYRACUSE

Florida State at CLEMSON

Virginia at LOUISVILLE

Notre Dame at MIAMI

Last Week: 4-1

Overall: 58-15 (79.4%)

Note: Each week during the college football season, I’ll be  updating how things are unfolding in the Big Ten by Wednesday, the SEC by Thursday and ACC by Friday.  

 

Recapping my Week Eight Picks in ACC, Big Ten and SEC

Recapping my weekend college football picks in the ACC, Big Ten and SEC with TV networks and game times.

ACC

Louisville at FLORIDA STATE, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Pittsburgh at DUKE, 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Boston College at VIRGINIA, 11:30 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Syracuse at MIAMI, 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN

North Carolina at VIRGINIA TECH, 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2

Wake Forest at GEORGIA TECH, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

Last Week: 4-2

Overall: 46-9 (83.6%)

 

BIG TEN

Iowa at NORTHWESTERN, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN2

PURDUE at Rutgers, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, BTN

Maryland at WISCONSIN, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, FOX

Indiana at MICHIGAN STATE, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC

Illinois at MINNESOTA, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, BTN

Michigan at PENN STATE, Saturday 6 p.m. CT, ABC

Last Week: 5-1

Overall: 45-13 (77.5%)

 

SEC

Idaho at MISSOURI,  Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

Tennessee at ALABAMA, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS

Kentucky at MISSISSIPPI STATE, Saturday 3 p.m. CT,  SEC Network

LSU at Mississippi, Saturday 6:15 p.m. CT,  ESPN

AUBURN at Arkansas, Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network

Last Week: 5-2

Overall: 45-12 (78.9%)

ACC Landscape: Week Eight

The Syracuse team that took the field in September hardly resembles the one that has yet to lose in October, including pulling off an upset of defending national champion Clemson last week.

Dino Babers, miracle worker?

We’ll know for certain after the Orange (4-3, 2-1 ACC) take their talents to South Florida on Saturday to face No. 8/7 Miami (5-0, 3-0 ACC). If they pull off another upset of a Top 10 team, it would be just the seventh time an unranked team has done it in consecutive weeks.

“They have the athletes,” said Babers. “We’re trying to get athletes like they have, and we’re playing at their place. It’s going to be a difficult, difficult game.”

One of the three losses the Orange suffered in their first five games was at home to Middle Tennessee. They then struggled to defeat Pittsburgh 27-24  in another game at the Carrier Dome.

Babers said that upsetting the Tigers in a Friday night game carried added value because of the national attention it brought to the Syracuse program.

“Everyone sees you,” said Babers. “It’s a big moment. It’s a trending moment that everyone is watching. Social media is buzzing and everyone knows what is going on.”

Miami head coach Mark Richt said his players were watching Syracuse’s stunning win from the hotel they check into the night before home games.

“Obviously what happened last Friday was pretty remarkable,” said Richt. “When you think about what happened the year prior – I think they lost 54-0 to Clemson – then Clemson comes to their house and they come out with a victory, it’s just so impressive to have that kind of turnaround in that short of a time.”

The win over Clemson raised the campus profile of Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey even higher. Students surrounded him on the field and were chanting his name during a postgame TV interview.

He’s earned the BMOC status. He’s now passed for more than 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 400 yards and eight more TDs.

His favorite targets, Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips, rank No. 1 and No. 3 in the nation with 62 and 56 receptions, respectively. They have combined for more than 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns.

“I don’t have to explain anything to anybody about how good these guys are. It’s very evident,” said Richt.

Obviously, the Hurricanes aren’t too shabby, either. Miami has knocked off Florida State and Georgia Tech the past two weeks, rallying in the final seconds to remain unbeaten.

“We’re not at the point where we can just line up and impose our will on people. Obviously Florida State was a battle royale until the end, Georgia Tech a battle royale until the end,” said Richt. “We have to battle every week … I’ve said it before, I do think we’re moving in the right direction.”

Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier is now 6-0 as a starter and has passed for 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He can also run when needed and that may become an even bigger part of the UM game plan with tailback Mark Walton now out for the season after ankle surgery.

Travis Homer rushed for 170 yards and one touchdown in last week’s win over the Yellow Jackets.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

All times Central

Saturday’s games

Louisville at Florida State, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Pittsburgh at Duke, 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Boston College at Virginia, 11:30 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Syracuse at Miami, 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN

North Carolina at Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2

Wake Forest at Georgia Tech, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

FAB FIVE

  1. Miami (5-0, 3-0):Last Week – W, Georgia Tech, 25-24. The Impact – Darrell Langham’s miraculous 28-yard catch of deflected pass with 35 seconds left on fourth down set up ‘Canes for another late comeback.
  2. Clemson (6-1, 4-1):Last Week – L, at Syracuse, 27-24. The Impact – Bye week comes at good times for Tigers after QB Kelly Bryant suffered concussion in loss to Syracuse. The setback ended 11-game winning streak for Tigers.
  3. Virginia Tech (5-1, 1-1): Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Justin Fuente can get his 16th win with Hokies in less than two seasons, which would set program record. .
  4. N.C. State (6-1, 4-0):Last Week – W, at Pittsburgh, 35-17. The Impact – Wolfpack’s Nyheim Hines had pair of long TDs – an 83-yard run and a 92-yard punt return – and finished with 249 total offense.
  5. Virginia (5-1, 2-0):Last Week – W, North Carolina, 20-14. The Impact – Cavaliers have won last four, ended seven-game losing streak to UNC, and are off to best start since 2007. Bronco Mendelhall’s team one win from being bowl eligible.

THE PACK

6. Florida State (2-3, 2-2):Last Week – L, Miami, 24-20. The Impact – Seminoles struggling to put teams away, playing fourth straight game decided by seven or fewer points. Jimbo Fisher just hopes FSU has shot against Louisville, which won 63-20 a year ago.

7. Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1):Last Week – L, at Miami, 25-24. The Impact – Yellow Jackets struggled again against a Mark Richt-coached team (Georgia, Miami), going 15-2.

8. Syracuse (4-3, 2-1):Last Week – W, Clemson, 27-24. The Impact – Orange beat another ranked orange-clad foe in October, taking down Clemson a year after beating Virginia Tech. Dino Babers’ defense allowed chains to reset on just 2 of 11 third downs.

9. Wake Forest (4-2, 1-2):Last Week – Idle. The Impact – The Deacs are plus-6 in turnover margin, which is second best among ACC teams, and lead the nation with 9.2 tackles for loss per game.

10. Louisville (4-3, 1-3):Last Week – L, Boston College, 45-42. The Impact – Cardinals’ season has unraveled as defensive woes continue and now Lamar Jackson & Co. head to Tallahassee, where a revenge-minded FSU awaits.

11. Boston College (3-4, 1-3): Last Week – W, at Louisville, 45-42. The Impact – Eagles survived attempted fourth-quarter rally by Lamar Jackson and pulled out first ACC win on Colton Lichtenberg’s 27-yard field goal.

THE UNPROVEN

12. Duke (4-3, 1-3):Last Week – L, Florida State, 17-10. The Impact – Blue Devils have followed four-game win streak with three-game skid but should find relief with Pitt visiting Saturday.

13. Pittsburgh (2-5, 0-3): Last Week – L, N.C. State, 35-17. The Impact – Struggling Panthers have won during their last four trips to Durham. But these Panthers aren’t those Panthers. Duke is still Duke, though.

14. North Carolina (1-6, 0-4):Last Week – L, Virginia, 20-14. The Impact – Tar Heels’ run of four straight bowl games is over without five-game win streak to end season. Hokies will crush those hopes on Saturday.

BEARD’S PICKS

Louisville at FLORIDA STATE

Pittsburgh at DUKE

Boston College at VIRGINIA

Syracuse at MIAMI

North Carolina at VIRGINIA TECH

Wake Forest at GEORGIA TECH

 Last Week:  4-2

Overall: 46-9