Friday’s List of 13: Random stuff, with weekend here…….

13) When I shop on the Interweb, it is a little eerie how the sites where I shop suddenly show up in ads when I surf the Web from that point on. Its like you’re getting stalked by people who watch where you visit on the Interweb. Who would care where I go?

12) Did Arizona State really pay Todd Graham $12M to go away, just so they could hire Herm Edwards as their new coach? I mean, UCLA paid Jim Mora to take a hike, but they wound up hiring Chip Kelly, which should pay off down the road. Herm Edwards has never coached in college football; maybe he’ll be great. We’ll see.

11) Cowboys 38, Redskins 14— Alfred Morris is only second RB ever to run for 100+ yards in Redskin-Cowboy games, for both Dallas and Washington. Duane Thomas was the first player to do that.

10) UConn 77, Columbia 73 OT— Red flag for the Huskies; if they need OT to beat a second-tier Ivy League team, could be a long winter— fans in the Nutmeg State aren’t used to long winters.

By way of reminder, 75-year old Jim Calhoun will be coaching a D-III team next winter.

9) Current list of college football coaches who will get raises/improvments from their current employer, just because they didn’t bolt when another school showed interest in them:
— Matt Campbell, Iowa State
— Dave Doeren, NC State
— Jeff Brohm, Purdue
— David Cutcliffe, Duke

8) Baylor’s basketball team loses Terry Maston until conference play starts; he was averaging 11.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg.

7) Kansas only has 8 scholarship basketball players right now; they’ll get ASU transfer Sam Cunliffe eligible later in December, but they also added a tight end from the football team to be a practice player.

6) You know you’re watching a TV broadcast from the Midwest when the game’s stats are sponsored by Purina Dog Chow, the way they were on the UNLV-Northern Iowa broadcast on ESPN3 Wednesday night.

5) Speaking of UNLV, coach Marvin Menzies has a goal of 35 deflections per game, which means if you’re watching the game, look and see if they deflect a pass every two possessions or so.

4) Ben Simmons took 24 foul shots in the 4th quarter Wednesday, as the Wizards played Hack-a-Ben in their 118-113 loss in Philly. Simmons was 15-29 on the foul line— he needs to improve his shooting. 24 foul shots in one quarter by one player is a new NBA record.

3) Atlanta Braves traded reliever Jim Johnson to the Angels for a minor leaguer; Johnson used to be a good closer for the Orioles, but over the last four years, his WHIP has been:
2014: 1.95, 2015: 1.46, 2016: 1.19, 2017: 1.48. Not good.

Amazing he is still in the major leagues.

2) Georgia’s 20-19 win over Notre Dame in September is their only game this season that was decided by less than 14 points; they’re playing Auburn in SEC title game tomorrow- Auburn is only team to beat the Dawgs this year- they beat Georgia 40-17 on November 11.

1) Bowl bids come out Sunday; will be interesting to see where Florida State winds up, and if Jimbo Fisher will still be coaching them. Three recruits already de-committed from FSU, when word of Texas A&M’s dalliance with Fisher hit the Interweb.

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) University of Tennessee’s football team is still looking for a football coach, as they re-define the term “clusterfuck”. At this rate, they’ll be interviewing Al Pacino for the job; he was good as the football coach in Any Given Sunday.

What a bunch of bumbling fools the Tennessee administration is; they offer Jeff Brohm a deal, he says yes, the AD takes it to the chancellor, who says no— they make changes, the AD takes it back to Brohm, who then says no. Oy.

12) Since Les Miles doesn’t appear to be a candidate in Knoxville, how about Tee Martin, who is the offensive coordinator at USC now and was a QB in college who led Tennessee to the national title in 1998? Martin replaced Peyton Manning as the Vols’ QB- wouldn’t he be a good choice?

11) I’m sure the NFL offices were thrilled that Sports Illustrated came out with an article saying that Browns’ WR Josh Gordon was making $10,000 a month in college selling weed.

Gordon is playing this week for the first time in three years after various suspensions.

10) There will be conference games in college basketball this weekend; the Big 14 is playing two games per team, because their conference season is a week shorter this year, with the conference tournament in Madison Square Garden in March.

That means the Big 14 teams who make the NCAA tournament will have a week off before Selection Sunday, which is very unusual.

9) March 17 will be Decision Day for Eli Manning and the Giants- they owe him a $5M bonus if he is still on the roster then. Chances seem pretty good that he will not be.

8) Best red zone offenses in the NFL (when teams get inside the opponents’ 20-yard line): Eagles 6.11 points/drive, Packers 5.35, Saints/Raiders 5.29

Worst red zone offenses: Browns 3.11, Colts 3.36, Jets 3.38, Cardinals 4.00

7) Best black zone offenses in NFL (drives that start 75+ yards from goal line): Patriots 2.59 pts/drive, Saints 2.43 Eagles 2.21, Vikings 2.07

Worst black zone offenses: Colts 0.64, Browns 0.78, Giants 0.92, Ravens 0.93

6) Best ratios of 20+-yard plays, for/against: Vikings +24 (54-30), Eagles +17 (47-30), Falcons +16 (48-32)

Worst ratios: Giants -26 (26-52), Colts -22 (36-58), Buccaneers -17 (38-55).

5) East Carolina basketball coach Jeff Lebo resigned (got fired) Wednesday; Pirates are 2-4 in what was Lebo’s 8th year in charge at ECU- he is the second coach to leave his job this week, and it isn’t December yet.

4) Dak Prescott has thrown six INT’s in 4th quarter, most of any QB in NFL this season.

3) Nation-wide in college football conference title games that are rematches, the team that won the first game is 17-13 vs spread in the second meeting.

2) You can’t make this stuff up: American Airlines says a computer glitch allowed all their pilots to take vacation over Christmas week. Now the pilots’ union says thousands of flights are in jeopardy of cancellation. Americans says they’re offering time and a half pay for pilots to fill in and expect (hope) to resolve the issue.

1) Since Eli Manning has been the Giants’ starting QB, the three other NFC East teams have all had 10+ starting QB’s- Washington has had 10, Eagles/Dallas 12 each.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings……..

13) Eli Manning will take a seat Sunday and Geno Smith will start for the Giants Sunday in Oakland. Last Giants’ QB to start instead of Manning? Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, in 2004.

12) Auburn beat Georgia a few weeks ago, now the teams meet again in SEC title game; the surprising fact is this— last six SEC title games that were rematches, the team that won the first meeting also won the second meeting. I wouldn’t have guessed that.

11) Duke football coach David Cutcliffe turned down Tennessee? Really? Cutcliffe was the Vols’ OC during the Peyton Manning years, the Ole Miss coach during the Eli Manning years, but he has found the Duke job as a good place to work.

Ole Miss ran Cutcliffe off despite the Rebels going 44-29 (25-23 in SEC games) under his tutelage. Tennessee is a bigger fishbowl than Ole Miss, so Cutcliffe said no thanks.

10) Dak Prescott will get very rich someday, in part because of the training he got playing for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State.

Dan Mullen just got really rich, in part of because of how well Prescott played for him at Miss State. Hopefully the two of them send each other Christmas cards and thank each other, maybe even exchange expensive gifts.

9) Blake Griffin sprained his MCL, is likely out 6-8 weeks for the Clippers, who are relieved the injury wasn’t worse.

8) Lonzo Ball shot 41.2% on 3’s last year, 67.3% on foul line, 73% inside the arc, so I refuse to say “He can’t shoot”, but he ain’t shooting well this year (24.5% of 3’s, 42.9% of FT’s, 30.9% inside arc). Whether his problem is mental or physical, who knows?

Don MacLean, who does studio work on Clipper games, was saying Monday night that Ball’s shooting problem is a mechanical flaw that won’t be easy to fix. Seeing how Ball’s father is also his trainer, we’ll see if the problem gets fixed.

7) Virginia 49, Wisconsin 37— Why would ESPN match these two teams for a TV game? They both play slowish, unattractive styles; at least they were smart enough to put the game up against Monday Night Football, so we could easily pass on watching it.

6) Actors Matt Damon/Edward Norton made the great poker movie Rounders in 1998; that summer, both actors played for real in the main event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Damon got knocked out of the Main Event by poker legend Doyle Brunson; Damon had pocket kings, but Brunson had pocket aces. Would be fun if there was video of that hand.

5) Daytime TV is generally horrible, but SEC Network has an hour-long show called Thinking Out Loud which is worth watching. Think it is on Monday and Friday for an hour, with Greg McElroy and Marcus Spears talking mostly about college football.

If ESPN was smart, they’d give those two their own talk show on a regular basis; they’re smart, have a sense of humor and are fun to listen to.

4) I’m reading baseball articles and I see these names mentioned as trade chips this winter:

Stanton-Abreu-Ozuna-Santana. Good grief, they’re all on my fantasy team. Had a good season last year, I don’t need lot of guys changing teams, though if one or two of them got traded to the Phillies and that tiny ballpark, I wouldn’t mind.

3) Jimmy Garoppolo and Geno Smith will be the 50/51st QB’s to start an NFL game this year; all of last year, 54 different quarterbacks started a game.

2) ESPN’s Herm Edwards interviewed for the Arizona State coaching job, which is interesting and could signal that Herm is gone from ESPN when their next round of personnel cuts happen.

1) Ole Miss gave interim football coach Matt Luke the full-time head coaching job- they posted his contract on Twitter. Here are some particulars of his contract:

— Luke’s salary is $12.6M, over four years (2018-21)
— Luke gets $150,000 for SEC every win Ole Miss gets, starting with Rebels’ 3rd SEC win each year.
— $150,000 for getting to the SEC title game, $400,000 if he wins the title game.
— His bowl bonus is anywhere from $50,000-$250,000, depending on the bowl’s level.
— $500,000 for getting the national playoff semifinals, $1M for winning national title.

— Just for comedy, he gets $100,000 if Ole Miss players have an APR score of 975 or better. Getting to the SEC title game is worth $150,000.

— Ole Miss has a salary pool of $5,135,000 to pay ten assistant coaches.
— They have a salary pool of $2,100,000 to staff strength conditioning crew, video analysts, football operations and other miscellaneous support staff.

College sports is big business, for sure.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……

13) Thanksgiving Week is our busiest week of the year on this site, so much stuff going on, with pro/college football, NBA, NHL and taking a crash course on college basketball as their season cranks up. I’m a little bleary-eyed today, so I apologize for any typos here today.

How weird is college football?
— Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin (51-26, 25-23 in SEC games); he was also 35-17 at Houston, 24-8 in conference games.
— Arizona State ousted Todd Graham (46-31, 31-23 in Pac-12 games); he is 49-29 at three other coaching stops, 32-17 in conference games.

When guys with winning conference records get fired, things are a little too strange.

12) Tennessee let it be known they were going to hire former Rutgers/Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano, but the backlash on social media was so severe, the school backed down and now won’t hire Schiano, who was 68-67 at Rutgers, 28-48 in league games (25-24 the last six years).

My suggestion to the fine folks in Knoxville? Give Les Miles a call; he’s a pretty good coach.

11) Dan Mullen bolts from Mississippi State to Florida, both SEC schools; do you realize what a kick in the teeth it is to bolt to a school in the same league?

I can only remember this happening twice before:
After the 1991 season, Arizona State hired Bruce Snyder away from Cal.
After the 1997 season, Tommy Tuberville jumped from Ole Miss to Auburn.

10) Nebraska Cornhuskers went 4-8 this season, first time they lost eight football games in a season since 1957.

9) Northern Iowa lost 64-50 to Villanova in the Bahamas Friday; UNI didn’t take a free throw, none, zero, bupkis. Last year, only three D-I teams all season didn’t take a foul shot in a game.

8) Underrated accomplishment; Central Florida’s football team is 11-0; two years ago, they were 0-12. How is that not blasted over ESPN every day?

7) South Florida QB Quinton Flowers threw for over 500 yards Saturday, ran for 100+ more, but the Bulls lost 49-42 to UCF. Quite a performance.

6) New England Patriots have started 14 drives in enemy territory this season; their opponents have started one drive in Patriot territory.

5) Fresno State upset Boise State Saturday; their reward? They play Boise State again this week in the Mountain West title game. Not often football teams meet two weeks in a row.

4) If Derrick Rose does indeed walk away from the NBA, he leaves $80M from adidas on the table. You have to be pretty freakin’ miserable to quit a job that pays you that much cash. Rose skipped town on the Knicks last year, too; hope the guy finds happiness.

3) Arizona went 0-3 at the Battle of Atlantis, and became the first basketball team ever to go from #2 in the top 25 to unranked, all in one week.

2) Speaking of which, Jay Bilas said on ESPN Sunday night that he expects a tournament with a format similar to the PK80 event to surface in the future. No one mentioned a prospective site, but Las Vegas makes perfect sense, with MGM, Thomas-Mack, Mandalay Bay arenas all in town, plus the bigger T-Mobile Arena and the smaller Orleans and SouthPoint arenas.

1) Still hard to believe that Alabama was +8 in a 10:41 stretch of their basketball game with Minnesota Saturday, while the Crimson Tide was playing 3-on-5. Freshman PG Collin Sexton scored 19 of his 40 points while his team was shorthanded. Gophers won 79-74, but they were up 13 when the game turned into 5-on-3.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

Bengals 30, Browns 16— Cleveland is first team since ’76-’77 Buccaneers to start 0-11 two years in a row, but Bucs were an expansion team. Bengals have won 7 games in a row vs Cleveland. Browns are 0-11, 2-9 vs spread- they did have eight plays of 20+ yards- they had total of 13 in their previous five games. 5-6 Bengals are only a game out of AFC’s second Wild Card.

Eagles 31, Bears 3— Chicago is paying its two QB’s $36M this year; they didn’t have a first down in the first half, trailing 24-0. Eagles have now won nine games in a row, covered last eight, as they head out on an odd, late-season road swing (Seattle-Rams-Giants). Playing a rookie QB can get a coach fired; Bears had total of 8 first downs, only 140 yards- their longest play: 19 yards.

Patriots 35, Dolphins 17— Patriots have a 3-game lead in AFC East with five games to play; they won their last seven games (6-1 vs spread). Miami lost its last five games (0-3-2 vs spread); they’ve made playoffs twice in last 16 years- last time they won a playoff game was after the ’00 season.  Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross is a Michigan alum; rough week for him all around.

Bills 16, Chiefs 10— Third year in a row, a team that started out 5-0 went 1-5 or worse in its next six games (’15 Falcons/’16 Vikings).  KC scored 32.8 pts/game in its 5-0 start; they’ve scored 18 pts/game in the 1-5 skid. Despite that, Chiefs lead an awful AFC West by a game over the surging Chargers. Bills won field position by 13 yards; they’re -7 in turnovers in their losses, +13 in wins.

Falcons 34, Buccaneers 20— Julio Jones caught 15 passes for 253 yards; he caught 54 passes in his first ten games. Atlanta won four of its last five games overall; they’re tied with the Seahawks for 2nd Wild Card in NFC, and they beat the Seahawks. Falcons outgained Tampa 516-373; they had 10 plays of 20+ yards. Average total in last nine games with Tampa Bay is now 55.8.

Panthers 35, Jets 27— Carolina scored TD’s on defense, special teams in this game. If playoffs started today (they don’t), NFC South would get three teams in playoffs, with Panthers being #5 seed. Carolina won/covered its last four games; they’re 5-1 on road, winning by 20-3-3-14-8 points away from home. Jets lost four of last five games; this was first time they trailed at half since Week 2.

Titans 20, Colts 16— Indy had ball up 16-6 with 2:30 left in 3rd quarter, but lost fumble deep in their own territory and imploded from that point on. This was Tennessee’s first win in 10 visits to Lucas Oil Stadium; they swept the Colts this year. Titans are now tied for first with Jaguars in AFC South; they host Jacksonville on New Year’s Eve in the season finale.

Seahawks 24, 49ers 13— Seahawks won their last four road games; they’re tied with Atlanta for last Wild Card spot and play Eagles-Rams-Jaguars the next three weeks. Seattle won last nine games against the 49ers, winning last four visits to Santa Clara, by 16-17-2-11 points. Niners finally put new QB Jimmy Garoppolo in a game- he was 2-2 passing and threw a TD pass- if they want fans to buy tickets for 2018, how about playing him the last five weeks?

Rams 26, Saints 20— Rams threw for 354 yards despite their leading WR Woods being out; of course, it didn’t hurt that the Saints’ top two CB’s were also out.

Here are Rams’ receiving numbers Sunday:
Kupp caught 8 balls for 116 yards
Watkins caught 4 balls for 82 yards
Gurley caught 4 balls for 54 yards
Reynolds caught 4 balls for 37 yards and a TD
Higbee caught 3 balls for 48.

Except for Gurley, none of those guys were on the Rams two years ago; kudos to GM Les Snead, who at this time last year was taking a ton of grief. Now he is the GM of a contending team.

Cardinals 27, Jaguars 24— Blaine Gabbert went 5-22 as Jacksonville’s QB, from 2011-13; he dealt the Jaguars’ playoff hopes a blow here- Phil Dawson cranked a 57-yard FG as time expired to give Arizona the win. Jaguars are at home the next three weeks (Colts-Seattle-Texans); they are tied with Tennessee for first in AFC South. Jaguars visit Nashville in Week 17.

Raiders 21. Broncos 14— There was a brawl in first quarter of this game; Talib/Crabtree both got tossed. Broncos lost their last seven games (0-7 vs spread); they’re 0-5 on road (0-5 vs spread) losing by 10-21-10-28-7 points. Paxton Lynch got hurt, so Denver is back to Siemian at QB. Raiders were only NFL team in 83 years to have zero INTs in their first 10 games- they finally got one in this game.

Steelers 31, Packers 28— Green Bay scored four TD’s, three on plays of 39+ yards, but in the end, the Steelers kicked a 53-yard FG on last play of the game to move to 9-2. Pittsburgh hosts the Patriots in Week 15, with #1 seed in AFC likely at stake. Packers lost five of their last six games, are two games out of Wild Card.

1) College hoop tournament finals—
Wooden Legacy: Washington State 93, San Diego State 86
PK80: Duke 87, Florida 84;
Michigan State 63, North Carolina 45
AdvoCare Tourney: West Virginia 83, Missouri 79

Elsewhere, Texas A&M won 75-59 at USC.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday……

13) Auburn 26, Alabama 14— Auburn heads to SEC title game after beating Georgia/Alabama; their reward? A rematch with the Dawgs next week.

As for the four-team college playoff, talk radio wins out, since the debate about who should get in will be loud for the next 10 days.

12) Pitt 24, Miami 14— Panthers held Miami to 232 yards, handed ‘canes their first loss. Miami plays Clemson in ACC title game next week, still has a path to the national playoff.

11) Someone at SouthPoint Casino in Las Vegas played a $50,000 money line parlay this weekend on: Northwestern-LSU-Patriots-Falcons- all big favorites.

No pointspreads, all four teams have to win– Northwestern/LSU won on Saturday, so now the guy needs Patriots/Falcons to both win.

10) Louisville 44, Kentucky 17— At halftime, Kentucky’s marching band formed a dollar sign, to troll the Cardinals’ basketball program, which is in trouble with the FBI.

9) UCLA 30, California 27— Few hours after this game ended, Bruins gave Chip Kelly a five-year, $23.3M contract to become its football coach.

It costs a lot of money to live in Los Angeles; read Saturday that USC gives its assistant coaches interest-free loans to help them pay for their housing.

In last seven years, Kelly has signed four contracts, worth a total of $100.5M:

2010: six years, $20.5M at Oregon
2013: five years, $32.5M with Eagles
2016: four years, $24M with 49ers
2017: five years, $23.5M at UCLA— Head coaches don’t need loans.

8) Iowa 56, Nebraska 14— Cornhuskers told coach Mike Riley to take a hike after this game, after a dismal 4-8 season. Back in its heyday, Nebraska ran the ball all the time. Riley, who has been a head coach in both the NFL/CFL, is more of a short passing specialist. Bad fit.

7) Central Florida 49, South Florida 42— There were three TD’s in last 2:21 of this game. USF threw an 83-yard TD pass with 1:41 left to tie game 42-all, but UCF ran the ensuing kickoff back for the game-winning TD.

USF QB Quinton Flowers was 24-45/503 passing, ran ball 20 times for 101 yards, accounting for five touchdowns, and his team didn’t win. Quite a game.

6) Missouri 48, Arkansas 45— Mizzou won its 6th game in a row after a 1-5 start, saving lot of people’s jobs. As for Arkansas, they fired Bret Bielema as he was walking off the field after the game. Missouri is 0-5 this season when scoring less than 45 points.

5) Florida State 38, Florida 22— Number 6 on Florida State picked off a pass early in 4th quarter and was headed to an easy TD— he does some stupid, show-off stunt to celebrate, but his knee hit the ground before he crossed the goal line, then he gets hit with a 15-yard penalty for being a jackass, so Florida State winds up with the ball on the 16-yard line, instead of a TD.

4) Cincinnati 22, UConn 21— Huskies scored TD with 0:00 left to pull within 22-21; they were going to go for two points and the win, but they got a 15-yard showing off penalty, pushing the ball back 15 yards, so they kicked the PAT instead, only they missed the PAT and lost the game.

HEY!!! Look at me!!!! I cost us the game!!! But look at me!!!!

3) Minnesota 89, Alabama 84— Rough day for Crimson Tide all around; there was a scuffle in front of the Alabama bench with about 14:00 left— all the Alabama subs came on the floor, but none of them actually did anything- they were all ejected anyway.

That left the Crimson Tide with five players; one fouled out about 90 seconds later, and soon after, an Alabama player sprained his ankle and had to leave. They played the last 10:41 with only three players.

2) Upsets of the Week:
San Jose State (+19) 20, Wyoming 17
Ole Miss (+15) 31, Mississippi State 28
Pittsburgh (+13.5) 24, Miami 14
Duke (+11.5) 31, Wake Forest 23
Texas Tech (+9.5) 27, Texas 23
Fresno State 28 (+7), Boise State 17

1) Florida plays Duke in the PK80 tourney tonight; Florida coach Mike White is the son of Kevin White, who is Duke’s athletic director.

Ohio State plays Butler in the same event; Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann bolted Butler for Ohio State (and more $$$) last spring- now he faces his former players in this game.

Saturday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) If you coach basketball, find a tape of Wichita State— look for #0, Rashard Kelly, then play  the tape and have your kids watch how hard Kelly plays. (I know, its not tape anymore)

Kelly is scoring 4.8 pts/game, no big deal, but against Marquette, he had 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocked shots. He dominated the game with sheer physical effort. At one point, he blocked a breakaway layup, then blocked the kid again when he got the rebound, then ran down to the other end and got an offensive rebound, all without any whistles blowing.

Every great team has a player like Kelly who busts his butt and does the dirty work.

12) Gonzaga has 14 basketball players; they represent 10 states in this country, plus three other countries.

11) For older guys like me who love basketball, a historic perspective; Gonzaga today is a lot like UNLV was 25-30 years ago. Gonzaga has grabbed the entire WCC by the collar and picked up their profile, much like the Rebels did with the Big West in the 80’s.

Teams like New New Mexico State/Cal-Santa Barbara became top 50 programs because they got national TV exposure playing against Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV teams in the Big West. Ever heard of the Aggies or Gauchos lately? They don’t get on TV since UNLV left the Big West.

Players like Brian Shaw, Eric McArthur were big time players who went to UCSB. New Mexico state got at-large bids to the NCAA’s with players like Sam Crawford, Tracey Ware.

Nowadays, St Mary’s/BYU’s profile have been raised by its nationally-televised games with Gonzaga. The rest of the WCC has been stumbling over itself trying to close ground with the top of the WCC- half the league’s teams have changed coaches recently.

As long as Mark Few stays at Gonzaga, it will be tough for the WCC to unseat the king.

10) Random Cal-Santa Barbara trivia; Joe Pasternack is the Gauchos’ new basketball coach; his wife is the sister of ESPN play-by-play guy Roxy Bernstein.

9) Houston Rockets beat Denver 125-95 the other night; saw a stat I’ve never seen before. One of the Rockets, Luc Mbah a Moute, was +57; the Rockets were outscored 59-32 while he was off the court- they outscored Denver 93-36 while he was on the floor. Never saw something like that.

It is a modern NBA record.

9) Rice is off to a 1-4 start under new coach Scott Pera, who was James Harden’s high school coach at Artesia HS in Los Angeles.

8) 6-5 freshman Justin Minaya is scoring 8 pts/game for South Carolina’s hoop team; his dad is former Mets’ GM Omar Minaya.

7) Last six years, Dayton’s leading scorer has been a guy who transferred into the Flyers’ program.

6) Miami Marlins fired TV guy Rich Waltz this week; he was the Marlns’ voice for the last 13 years. Derek Jeter isn’t making a lot of friends early in his tenure in Miami.

I watch a ton of Marlins games, having Stanton/Ozuna on my fantasy team. Waltz is as a good an announcer as anyone else at the big league level— he also does college basketball in the winter, and is really good at that. Not sure why decisions like these get made.

5) Surprised that Dick Vitale isn’t at the Phil Knight/Nike tournament in Oregon- they have him at the Battle of Atlantis.

4) Kicker Jay Feely was in the NFL for 14 years for six teams; he does TV work now. The other day, they showed a clip of Feely kicking for the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena League- it was the only Arena League game Feely kicked in. Tampa Bay cut him after one game, then he went on to kick in 211 NFL games. Go figure.

3) Shohei Ohtani is a Japanese baseball player who will be very rich very soon; he will be the subject of a bidding war. Apparently Mr Ohtani wants to pitch and hit in the major leagues, so it will be interesting to see how that all plays out.

2) Disappointed to report that after this year, Chaminade will be in the Maui Classic every other year, instead of every year. Guess a lot of teams want to spend Thanksgiving in Maui, so the D-II hosts were demoted to playing every other year.

1) This was the 34th Maui Classic; of the first 33 Maui Classic champs, 31 made the NCAA tournament, 13 made the Sweet 16, 8 made the Final Four, 5 won the national title.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a terrific Turkey Day…….

13) For as long as I could remember, TV on Thanksgiving Day was two NFL games, and then a college game at night; NFL then added a third game at night, but ESPN has really juiced up Turkey Day wth the addition of several college basketball tournaments, giving you a ton of stuff to watch all day and into the evening.

Orlando-Fullerton-Atlantis-Las Vegas-Portland-Brooklyn all hosted tournaments Thursday and thats not even counting the Alaskan Shootout, which isn’t on TV anymore and is in its last year.

ESPN takes a lot of grief for many reasons, but this is a good thing.

12) Duke 99, Portland State 81— Score looks like an easy win; it wasn’t. Duke was 31-42 on foul line, Vikings were 9-12. Portland State led 49-45 at the half. But it was more than that.

Duke led by 5 with 8:38 left when the refs gave up Portland State’s Deontae North a technical foul for something he said, which was highly unusual. Why was it unusual/damaging?

a) North had scored 24 points in 20:00 for Portland State
b) The technical is also a personal foul and it was North’s 5th foul of the game
c) North was sitting at the scorer’s table when he got the technical, waiting to check in.

I’ve never seen a guy foul out while sitting at the scorer’s table.

11) Chargers 28, Cowboys 6— Dallas is a mess; in their last three games, Cowboys have been outscored 72-6 in second half. 72. to. 6. Major problems.

This score could’ve been a lot worse; Chargers had ball in red zone four times, and only scored 10 points on those four drives, plus they missed a couple PAT’s.

10) Vikings 30, Lions 23— Case Keenum is inching into the conversation for MVP of the freakin’ league, but you still read how Keenum still has to be confirmed  every week as the starting QB. How many games does Minnesota have to win before Keenum becomes the permanent starter, at least for the rest of this season?

9) Redskins 20, Giants 10— Only Giants’ TD was scored by the defense on a tipped ball/INT. Boy do they have some questions to face in the offseason:

a) Who will the next coach be?
b) Who will the QB be next year?
c) Do you give Odell Beckham a big-money contract?
d) Will they make the new coach keep Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator?

8) Cris Collinsworth told an interesting story on TV near the end of the Redskins’ game:

Jay Gruden played in the Arena League, then was a head coach, then quit coaching and played again for a while. In his second stint as a player, a guy hit Gruden and broke his leg— Gruden had cut the guy when he was coaching.

The guy looked down on Gruden, who was on the ground in pain and said “I got ya back.”

7) Western Kentucky 77, Purdue 73— Boilermakers headed to Atlantis as a top 10 team, but now they’ve lost to Tennessee/WKU this week. Good win for Rick Stansbury’s Hilltoppers.

6) SMU 66, Arizona 60— Much like Purdue, Wildcats headed to Atlantis as a top 10 team- they were ranked 2nd in country, but now they’re 0-2 this week, also losing to NC State. Arizona is a very young team; talented, but young. We’ll see how they respond to this.

The 7th-place game in the Battle of Atlantis: Purdue-Arizona, two ex-top-10 teams.

5) West Virginia 84, Marist 78— West Virginia led by 15, then winless Red Foxes got hot and tied game 67-67- at one point they were 15-18 in 2nd half, 6-8 behind the arc.

Marist’s first three losses: Lehigh, Mass-Lowell, Army. They looked better than that here.

4) Ole Miss 31, Mississippi State 28— State QB Fitzgerald broke his leg, ending his fine season. Rebels finish 6-5, but can’t go to a bowl because they’re on double secret probation.

3) Arizona State 92, Kansas State 90— K-State scored 1.32 points/possession, which is huge, but they lost. ASU was 29-44 on foul line, Wildcats were 7-9. K-State was 15-32 on arc. Sun Devils are 5-0; Bobby Hurley played four of his starters 37:00+ in this game.

2) Florida 108, Stanford 85— Gators looked like world-beaters in this game- they had 96 points with 6:18 left in game. Stanford isn’t very good.

1) Arkansas 92, Oklahoma 83— Bill Walton did this game and the Carolina-Portland game; at one point, apparently he wasn’t happy with the officials, so he said “…….the referees need to go back to Foot Locker” because, you know, employees at Foot Locker wear referee’s shirts.

It is great to read Twitter when fans have never heard Walton do a game before, because they get all indignant because Walton is different. It is television; if you don’t like him, hit the damn mute button and watch the game. I enjoy listening to him, I always learn something, but it is rarely about basketball.

People actually get mad because he doesn’t always talk about basketball; get over it.

Thursday’s List of 13: Things I’m thankful for……..

I’m a lucky person; lot of good things have happened for me over the years. Here are 13 things I’m grateful for on Thanksgiving Day……..

13) First things first; I’m lucky that I had parents who taught me right from wrong. Its a lot easier to get thru life when you are shown a roadmap on how to do things the right way. I haven’t always followed their roadmap, but I haven’t strayed too far from it, either.

12) Given the state of modern affairs, I’m thankful to whoever invented the mute button. There are so many mouthy, obnoxious people now; you see them, you hit the mute button and their voice goes away.

Younger people may not realize that there was a time when you had to get up and change the channel EVERY TIME you changed channels. Nowadays, our thumbs get a solid workout from working the remote control— I’m also thankful to whoever invented the remote.

11) To whoever invented the Internet, whether it was Al Gore or someone else, thank you!!! There is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips now that wasn’t there when we were kids. Myself, I spend lot of time on Twitter- there is so much information there. Lot to learn.

10) I’m thankful to live in an area where I’m not too far from NYC, Boston, Philly, Montreal; an underrated thing is taking the train from Albany to Manhattan- what a beehive of activity Penn Station is. If you’ve never visited New York City, do it sometime— very busy place. Best time to visit, for me, would be from now until Christmas— its a lot friendlier around Christmas.

One thing about living in Albany that I’m not thankful for— snow. Hate snow.

9) Having the chance to travel has been a joy; when I was in college, took a trip to Sweden one summer- that was fun. There is so much to see in this country; the beaches in California and Florida, the Alamo in San Antonio and my personal favorite, any casino in Las Vegas.

8) I’m thankful to a man named John Connolly who was my high school principal who hooked me up to be a student manager for our high school basketball team— that started me on a path where I did the same thing in college, going basically for free.

Being manager of a basketball team isn’t glamorous, it wasn’t good for your social standing, but it was great fun and educational—you learned how an organization works from the inside, how it takes doing the little things to make the big things happen.

7) Thank you to whoever invented the cellphone— there was a TV show in the 60’s called Get Smart where special agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe. Mel Brooks wrote the show and it was genuinely comic genius, really coming up with the cellphone before it existed.

I can remember going to Saratoga racetrack and there were no phones- you were completely off the grid while you were there. Nowadays, probably 90% of people there have phones in their pockets. There weren’t even payphones at the track- they were banned.

6) I’m thankful to my teachers in grade school who taught me that reading/writing/math were all important things. I have no idea what kids learn in school now, but I once got a $10,000 raise at work, all because I could do math in my head without a pen or calculator— seriously.

Then there was Sister Catherine Greene, one of my teachers in 7th grade. I wasn’t paying any attention in a religion class one day and she knew that, so she calls on me, asking “Who is your favorite saint?” I was a quiet kid and it was embarrassing that I had no idea what she had been talking about- she was talking about religion, I had been daydreaming about football.

Now this is maybe 1972 or so, and I’m 12 or 13 and I wasn’t trying to be a wiseass, but I also was not paying attention, so when she asked who my favorite saint was, I just looked her and said:

“Archie Manning”

Sister Catherine was not amused; my classmates were.

5) I’m thankful that someone invented fantasy sports; since free agency doomed the A’s to being a second-tier franchise, being in a fantasy league has kept baseball season consistently fun.

Quick story about being an A’s fan— this was in 1978, I’m lying in bed late at night listening to an A’s-Red Sox game on the radio. When I was a kid, listening to baseball games on the radio was a big thing.

A’s send a pinch-hitter up to the plate, but the guy had just been called up from AAA and didn’t have his name on his jersey. Red Sox announcers had no clue who the guy was and because the low-budget A’s had very little front office help, no one in the press box did, either.

Turns out the guy’s name was Mark Budaska, who wound up playing in only 13 big league games. Nowadays, stuff like that would never, ever happen.

4) In the late 80’s, I found myself writing a daily picks column in the Albany Times-Union; did it for four years,- it was a much smaller version of what we do here every day. Picked games most every day all year round and I had to sink or swim, because it was out there for everyone to see, and I took a good share of grief during the inevitable slumps.

3) I’m very lucky that I wound up as an assistant coach at Schenectady High School in the mid-90’s; my eight years there were filled with fun and laughter, and I made good friends there.

What a learning experience; a suburban guy finds himself coaching at an inner -city high school, where the basketball team was horrible the first year, but four years later, we were state champs. I learned so much about dealing with people and how to get things done.

2) I’m very thankful to all my friends who’ve made my life a lot more fun. We all get caught up in our own lives and don’t stay in contact as much as I’d like to, but we’ve shared experiences that have made life a lot more enjoyable.

1) We’re all very lucky to live in this country, despite the hijinx of the past couple years. Few years from now, we’ll emerge from this mess a stronger/healthier country.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings…….

Occasionally I take some grief from readers for not picking enough college basketball games on this site, but to me, this time of year has almost become like spring training in baseball; there is no way to gauge teams anymore without seeing them a play a little bit first. Have to study before you begin taking tests…….

Cal has a whole new team? There were up 18 on Wichita State, when they were a 19-point dog. Stuff happens this month that makes no sense, but I’m doing my best to sit here and make some sense of it, so when the picks do start showing up, they’re successful.

13) UNLV was 47-51 the last three years, but they’re 4-0 this season, with 15 points their closest win. Rebels haven’t been in NCAA’s since 2013- they play Utah tonight at T-Mobile Arena, a big game in Las Vegas, a big step up in class for the Rebels. Interesting game.

12) Missouri Valley Conference lost Creighton/Wichita State the last few years, and it has hurt them nationally. Right now, four teams are tightly bunched as the top-rated team in the Valley, but they’re all ranked between 92nd and 105th nationally.

Looks like a one-bid league, which will make their conference tournament— Arch Madness, the most important weekend of the season.

11) Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas are 3-0 this season, against teams ranked 324-280-332. Hoyas have eight games left before Big East play starts- they host Richmond Saturday, play Syracuse Dec 16, but their other six pre-conference games are all against teams outside the top 300 in the country. Very, very soft pre-conference schedule for Georgetown.

10) Best 3-point shooting teams so far this young season:
Providence 54.4%, Tex-Arlington 51.1%, Arizona 50.9%, Portland 50%

9) Sun Belt Conference is on the rise; currently ranked as the #13 league, Sun Belt hasn’t finished a season this high since 2003, when they were ranked #11 in America. Lot of good teams, lot of really good athletes.

8) Siena lost 115-92 to 0-4 Bucknell Monday; Siena fans aren’t happy about this, but a closer look at Bucknell’s schedule explains some stuff:

Bucknell has played the #26 schedule in the country- they lost 93-81 at North Carolina, 80-78 at Maryland- they can play, and will be a big favorite to win the Patriot League this season. Bison are also the #64 team in America in terms of experience.

7) Similarly, Vermont lost 73-69 at Kentucky, an impressive loss for an America East team. two of Catamounts’ three wins are against teams in top 125, both on a neutral floor. Vermont, Albany figure to battle it out for the America East championship.

6) Wake Forest/Pitt figure to trail the field in the ACC— Deacons are 1-4, with losses to Liberty and Drake. Pittsburgh is 1-4 with losses to Navy/Montana.

5) VCU has two players who were there when Shaka Smart was coach of the Rams three years ago; they’re on their third coach in four years, after Will Wade bolted to LSU last spring.

Has to be a little awkward in Maui this week, with VCU/LSU both there, and Wade coaching the Tigers now. VCU’s kids helped Wade get a pretty steep pay increase.

4) Nation’s most inexperienced teams, of leagues that we follow:
Kentucky-Duke-Alabama-VMI-Bowling Green.

3) Nation’s most experienced teams, of leagues that we follow:
Tex-Arlington, Drake, Tennessee Tech, Idaho, Missouri State

2) DePaul is in Chicago, where there are a ton of really good high school players, but the Blue Demons haven’t been able to cash in on their location.

Over last ten years, DePaul is 27-153 in conference games. 27, and. 153. Not good. Prognosis for this season isn’t a whole lot better, but the Blue Demons have a new arena, which hopefully can help persuade some local kids stay at home for college.

1) Texas A&M and Florida figure to challenge Kentucky at the top of the SEC; Aggies play Kentucky Jan 9, Feb 10- they play Florida Jan 2. The two Kentucky-Florida games are Jan 20 and March 3rd. If you took the school’s names off the uniforms, A&M seems like the best team, as of right now.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Denver Broncos fired OC Mike McCoy Monday; no idea what happened behind closed doors, but it ain’t McCoy’s fault the Denver GM stocked the Broncos’ roster with lousy QB’s. Of course, the GM is John Elway, who fired McCoy.

12) I have this college basketball debate with myself, every now and then, comparing different head coaching jobs, as to which one is the better job to have.

Will Wade left VCU for LSU; now I’m 99% sure the $$$ is way better at LSU, but VCU’s coach still makes serious money, and VCU doesn’t have football, so basketball is king on their campus. Rams have sold out 100 straight home games, and they play in a league that gets multiple bids to the NCAA tournament.

Football will always be king at LSU; they’ve been in NCAAs in basketball twice in the last 11 years. Shaquille O’Neal, Pete Maravich and Ben Simmons played there, but despite those great players, LSU hasn’t won a whole lot at the national level.

If a friend of mine was a coach and was at VCU, think I’d tell him that it is better to be a big fish in smaller pond than the other way around.

11) Best way to know which players a basketball coach trusts the most: the five guys who are on the floor in the last 2:00 of close games. Much more telling than who starts.

10) Pac-12 North champ is 6-0 vs the Pac-12 South champ in the Pac-12 football title game.

9) Interesting conversation on a college football TV game the other night about the differences in high school football between Florida and Texas.

In Texas, coaches start coaching kids up in 6th or 7th grade, preparing them for the roles they’ll play for that high school— it is much more structured.

In Florida, there are much better athletes for the most part, with lot less coaching until they get to the high school level, or so these TV guys were emphatically claiming.

8) South Florida has 106 kids on its football team; 97 of them are from Florida, three are from Georgia. Six other kids are from six other states.

7) Robert Covington of the 76ers just signed a $62M contract; when he was a high school senior, he had only two scholarships offers, and went to obscure Tennessee State. He kept working hard on his game, had some good coaching along the way, and now is a very wealthy person.

Thats what can happen when you work hard and get some breaks along the way.

6) You know those Peloton commercials that are on all the time, the exercise bike commercials? What exactly is their advertising budget? How many bikes do they have to sell to break even?

5) Alex Rodriguez was the guest analyst on ESPN’s college football GameDay ten days ago, from the Notre Dame-Miami game; he went 12-0 with his picks.

4) Kid named Rashaad Penny is a running back for San Diego State; he had 429 total yards the other night against Nevada, scoring TD’s on both a punt return and a kick return. Quite a game for the young man, whose grandmother passed away earlier that morning.

3) They imploded the Georgia Dome Monday, the stadium that Falcons used to play in, but more importantly, the stadium where the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV. No bueno.

Weather Channel set up a remote camera to broadcast the implosion, across the street from the site, but at the exact moment when the implosion was going to happen, a city bus stopped at a red light and blocked the camera’s view.

All you could see was the top of the bus and all you could hear was the camera guy cursing; the bus then pulled away, but the stadium had already been imploded.

2) In their first seven games, Buffalo Bills were 5-2 with a +14 turnover ratio; in their last three games, all losses, they’re -9 in turnovers, and lost field position by 13-18-22 yards.

1) In their last five games, Cincinnati Bengals ran a total of 244 plays; their opponents have run a total of 381 plays- thats 27 plays a game less than their opponents. Hard to win that way, but the Bengals did win two of those five games.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Saints 34, Redskins 31 OT— Washington led 31-16 with 3:10 left to play, but then gave up two TD’s in 1:48, and screwed up a chance to win game at the end of regulation, getting intentional grounding called on them when they were in Saints territory.

Saints have now won eight games in a row (6-2 vs spread); Redskins were first team since Week 2 to pass for more than 5.0 yds/pass attempt against them (8.2). New Orleans has run ball for 150+ yards in five of their last six games. Over is 5-1 in Washington’s last six games.

Vikings 24, Rams 7— Rams scored on their first drive of the game, never scored again; they lost a fumble on 1-yard line when game was 7-7 in 2nd quarter- they’ve done that in two of their three losses. LA is -6 in turnovers in their three losses, +12 in their wins.

Minnesota has won six games in row, covered last five; they were held to 9-7 points in their two losses. Vikings only went 3/out once in this game, which helped their field position.

Giants 12, Chiefs 9 OT— KC has now lost four of its last five games after a 5-0 start, this one in dismal fashion- they didn’t score a TD against a Giant team that had given up 13 TD’s on its opponents’ last 32 drives. 6-4 Chiefs are still in first place in AFC West, but only because their division stinks this year.

Alex Smith threw three INTs, which led to Giants having an 8-yard advantage in field position; there will now be murmurs about Patrick Mahomes taking over at QB next year, when Smith is a free agent— the rumor mill thinks Kansas City will let Smith walk.

Texans 31, Cardinals 21— Houston’s 2nd-string QB beats Arizona’s 3rd-string QB; Cardinals scored three TD’s, but on drives of 17-15-51 yards, all set up by the Arizona defense. Redbirds lost despite a 13-yard edge in field position, which doesn’t happen much- they’re 1-6 when they allow more than 15 points.

Jaguars 19, Browns 7— Three NFL teams turned ball over five times Sunday; all of them played at home, including the God-awful Browns, who are now 0-10, 2-8 vs spread.

If you were optimistic (dumb) enough to bet on the Browns in this game, you were on the wrong side of the Bad Beat of the Week. Jaguars were sleep-walking their way to a 13-7 win— Cleveland had the ball on its own 20 with 1:24 left, but Kizer was sacked/fumbled and Jacksonville covered the 8-point spread on a defensive TD with 1:14 left.

Jacksonville has won four games in a row and is in first place in the AFC South.

Lions 27, Bears 24— Prater kicked a 52-yard FG with 1:35 left as Detroit won its third game in a row, scoring 31.7 ppg in those games; they’re 3-1 on the road. Having a kicker who makes long FG’s outdoors in November is a huge plus. Lions are 8-1 in their last nine games with Chicago, which had ball up 10-0 in 2nd quarter, before Detroit scored a defensive TD on a fumble return that helped turn the tide in their favor. Bears lost their last three games, are now 3-7.

7) UCLA fired football coach Jim Mora Jr on his birthday Sunday, which was the bad news. Good news for Mora? He gets an $11M severance package. Birthday cake is on him!!!!

Rumor mill has UCLA going heavy after former Eagles/Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Buccaneers 30, Dolphins 20— Miami is awful; they turned ball over five times, were called for 17 (accepted) penalties for 133 yards- they threw an INT on three of their first four drives.

Down 20-7, Dolphins battled back to tie game 20-all, before Bucs won it on a FG with 0:04 left; Tampa Bay had an 11-yard edge in field position- their two TD drives were only 5-37 yards, as Miami’s turnovers were their undoing. Dolphins have now lost four games in a row.

Ravens 23, Packers 0— You know it could be a long day for a team when a score graphic comes on at 1:25 and that team’s QB already has two INT’s. Baltimore had a ridiculous 27-yard edge in field position in this game- five of their 13 drives started in Green Bay territory.

Packers have lost four of their last five games; Ravens are 13-3 in last 16 post-bye games. Four of Baltimore’s five wins have come against backup QB’s, Andy Dalton being the exception.

Chargers 54, Bills 24— Buffalo benched QB Tyrod Taylor despite a 5-4 record and started rookie Nathan Peterman in this game, who then threw four INT’s on his first nine passes, as Chargers jogged to a ridiculously easy win.

Bills have lost three games in a row; coach McDermott has to be careful he doesn’t lose his locker room, putting in an incompetent rookie QB when Buffalo was 5-4 and in possession of the last playoff spot. Taylor played the second half of this game, figures to start going forward.

Patriots 33, Raiders 8— New England won its last six games (5-1 vs spread); they outscored last four opponents 76-16 in first half. Oakland lost six of its last eight games, as AFC West suffers thru one of its worst seasons ever. Raiders have only two takeaways (-11) in their last seven games- they allowed 121 points in their last four games.

In college basketball Sunday, Ohio U beat Indiana State 96-94 in four OT’s; must’ve been a fun game to watch.

Bengals 20, Broncos 17— Denver lost its last six games (0-6 vs spread), thanks to a -14 turnover ratio in those games; they lost last three home games. Cincy ends a 10-game losing streak in the Mile High City, but in their last three games, Bengals have run 140 plays, their opponents 241- the Cincinnati offense needs to give the defense a break now and then.

Cincinnati had a 100-yard INT return in this game that wasn’t a TD— the guy dropped the ball while he was running and fell on it, on the 1-yard line.

I’m guessing its not a lot of fun being around John Elway these days.

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9— Dallas led this game 9-7 at the half; in second half, Eagles had ball four times before they ran clock out the last time they had ball- Philly ran 29 plays for 271 yards three TD’s, just in the second half. Eagles have a three-game lead in NFC East with six weeks left to play.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Texas 28, West Virginia 14— We talked earlier this week about players stretching the ball towards the goal line, trying to score a TD, but then getting hit and fumbling. West Virginia QB Grier did this when game was 0-0, fumbled for a touchback, and also broke the middle finger on his throwing hand, ending his day and likely his season. Not good.

In the ESPN studios later on, Booger MacFarland showed his hand to the camera; MacFarland played defensive line for LSU and then for nine years in the NFL. The pinky on one hand points almost straight out to the right; the middle finger on that hand looks like a dogleg left on a golf course. Apparently he didn’t ice his hand after it was splinted and it didn’t heal properly.

12) Purdue 24, Iowa 15— Hawkeyes scored TD with 1:04 left to cut lead to 24-15; instead of kicking PAT to get within one score, they went for 2 points and failed, ending the game. Unsure why they did that— just kick the PAT and put more pressure on Purdue to close the game out.

As for Purdue, they’re 5-6, making the Old Oaken Bucket game next week against rival Indiana for a bowl bid.

11) Miami 44, Virginia 28— Cavaliers led 14-0 early, 21-14 at half, 28-14 early in third quarter, then Miami stormed back and won going away. Virginia gained 439 yards but turned ball over three times and had a failed onside kick when they led 14-0.

10) Upsets of the Week:
Kansas State (+20) 45, Oklahoma State 40
Akron (+14.5) 37, Ohio U 34
Tulane (+9) 20, Houston 17
Purdue (+7) 24, Iowa 15
Coastal Carolina (+7) 13, Idaho 7
Duke (+6.5) 43, Georgia Tech 20

9) Alabama 56, Mercer 0
Clemson 61, Mercer 3
Florida State 77, Delaware State 6

To paraphrase Nancy Kerrigan, why? why? why? These games cheat the fans out of watching a competitive contest. Go play a Sun Belt team like Auburn did, or a MAC or C-USA team. Don’t play I-AA teams, its ridiculous.

8) Kansas State 45, Oklahoma State 40— 20-point underdog Kansas State led 42-13 late in 3rd quarter, but they wound up with their 4th-string QB in game in last 4:00, trying to preserve a 45-40 lead- they ran the Wildcat, went 3/out., but the defense preserved the win, making Bill Snyder’s team bowl eligible for the 8th year in a row.

K-State WR Byron Pringle caught four passes for 166 yards and three TD’s; he also ran a kickoff back 89 yards for a touchdown. Pretty good day.

7) LSU 30, Tennessee 10- Next year Vols will have their 7th head coach since Nick Saban has been at Alabama. LSU has had five coaches since Saban has been in Tuscaloosa.

6) Penn State 56, Nebraska 44— Cornhuskers allowed 50+ points in consecutive games for first time since 1945. I’m guessing Nebraska’s next coach will have from defensive side of the ball.

5) Texas A&M 31, Ole Miss 24- Shane Tripucka is A&M’s punter; his uncle is Kelly Tripucka, who played in the NBA for 10 years, scoring 12,142 points (17.2 pts/game).

4) Michigan State 17, Maryland 7— On a snowy day in East Lansing, the WINNING quarterback completed 2-14 passes for 20 yards. For the whole game. And they won.

3) Warriors 124, 76ers 116— Philly led this game 47-28 after the first quarter, led by 22 at the half, then Golden State went off in third quarter, outscoring the 76ers 47-15. Last time Sixers scored 47+ points in the first quarter of a game? March of 1990. They won that day.

2) USC 28, UCLA 23— Was surprised to hear Kirk Herbstreit say that he wouldn’t be surprised if QB Sam Darnold goes back to USC next season. Only a cynic would translate that as meaning: “I don’t want to play for Cleveland”

Herbstreit later said that right now, Rosen is clearly ahead of Darnold as an NFL prospect. Very unusual to hear that kind of candid analysis. Agree or disagree, but we need more of that.

1) Wake Forest 30, NC State 24— Freshman WR for NC State had ball on one-yard line with 2:00 left, tried to lunge forward to get the ball over the goal line……and fumbled. No bueno.

Maybe it is what Phil Jackson calls “heightened awareness”, I notice it more because it bugs me so much, but it does seem like lot of ballcarriers are fumbling near the goal line.

NC State was 14-23 on 3rd down in this game; pretty sure I’ve never seen a team convert 14 third down plays for first downs in one game. Wolfpack ran 94 plays, Wake Forest ran 56, but the Deacons won. Go figure.

Saturday’s List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend…….

13) Saints won their last seven games after an 0-2 start, only second time that has happened in the NFL (’93 Cowboys). Washington comes calling to the Superdome Sunday; they’ve won four of last five games against New Orleans.

12) USC hasn’t had a week off this season, but they’ll have one next week, before the Pac-12 title game. Trojans beat UCLA 36-14/40-21 the last two years, figure to make it three in a row here.

11) Huge trap game for the 6-3 Jaguars, who head to Cleveland after one of the Jaguars picked the Browns to finish 0-16 this season. Cleveland has couple of offensive linemen banged up, are unsure if they’ll play. Browns are not only 0-9, they’re 2-7 against the spread this year.

10) Wake Forest allowed 1,321 yards the last two weeks, but they outscored Syracuse 40-5 in the second half LW, and now the Demon Deacons are bowl eligible. Wake plays NC State this week; they’ve lost three in a row to the WolfPack, allowing 36.7 ppg.

9) Buccaneers-Dolphins play their re-scheduled game from Week 1; Tampa Bay is on the road for the next three weeks; they scored total of 28 points in their last three games. Dolphins are on a short week after their dismal performance in Charlotte.

8) Arizona ran the ball for 310+ yards in five of their last six games; they’re 3-1 on road, scoring 47 ppg. 7-3 Wildcats are playing Oregon Saturday for the first time since 2014.

7) How will Seattle’s defense be with Richard Sherman out for the season? 5-4 Falcons lost four of last six games (1-5 vs spread); they’re on road for fourth time in last five weeks.

6) Miami Hurricanes have been getting slapped on back all week after whacking Notre Dame last week; now they’re a 19-point favorite over a Virginia team that lost three of its last four games, with all three losses by 17+ points. Hurricanes beat Virginia 27-21/34-14 the last two years.

5) Eagles-Cowboys on Sunday Night Football should be interesting. Key point for me is how the Cowboys protect QB Prescott, who was sacked eight times in Atlanta? Philly had last week off; they went south after their bye last year, but that was in Week 4 after a 3-0 start.

4) Wisconsin is unbeaten; their basketball team lost before the football team. Badgers covered four of last five games with Michigan, are already in Big 14 title game. Underdogs are 7-3 vs spread in last 10 Michigan-Wisconsin games; Wolverines lost last three visits to Madison.

3) The Nathan Peterman era begins for the Bills in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium in Carson, CA, home of the Chargers. Buffalo doesn’t think Tyrod Taylor goes thru his progressions quickly enough, so Peterman gets the nod, a year to the day after Jared Goff made his NFL debut in the Coliseum for the Rams.

2) Florida Atlantic scored 47.5 ppg in winning its last six games; underdogs are 7-1 vs spread in last eight FAU-FIU games. Is Lane Kiffin headed to another big time job? This is a rivalry game, with both teams having first-year coaches.

1) Rams-Vikings pits pair of 7-2 teams against each other in a nice warm dome in Minneapolis. Wish the Vikings had a dome back in the 70’s, when the Rams use to regularly lose playoff games in the frozen climate of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Friday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here……..

13) UCLA is on the hook for a lot of money, regarding the housing/feeding for a week of the three nitwits who stole stuff in China- they also have to check with the NCAA to make sure that paying for all of that won’t be a violation of NCAA rules, as far as the special benefits rules are concerned.

Next year’s China game is Yale vs Cal; you think those kids will get sick of hearing lectures about how they represent their families, school and country while overseas?

12) If it was my choice, I’d cap Roger Goodell’s salary at $32M a year, $1M from each team. If he can’t live on that and buy health insurance for his family, then go find another bleeping job.

11) Joel Embiid went off Wednesday night— 46 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 blocked shots. Quite a performance; 76ers are fun to watch on the NBA League Pass.

10) Speaking of the 76ers, Robert Covington got a 4-year, $62M extension this week; not bad for a guy who playing in the D-League four years ago.

9) Mets said they may restrict most of their starting pitchers to two trips thru the lineup next year, the exceptions being deGrom/Syndegaard.

Two times thru the order is obviously 18 hitters; average pitches per at bat is around 3.9, we’ll round up to 4.0, so that is only 72 pitches per start for starting pitchers 3-5, which is going to put a huge amount of stress on bullpens. Will be an interesting experiment, if they try it.

8) Roy Williams is the first college basketball coach to win 400+ games at two different schools, Kansas and North Carolina.

7) Charleston junior F Jarrell Brantley is out 4-6 weeks wth a knee injury, bad mews for a Cougar squad that was picked to win the CAA this year. Brantley was a first-team CAA pick, so this is a big deal for them……….Rhode Island loses EC Matthews for 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist. This poor guy missed the whole season two years ago with an injury, too.

6) Arkansas fired AD Jeff Long, meaning that football coach Bret Bielema is just about out the door. Boosters want to go after Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, but why would Malzahn leave a better job in the same league?

5) Titans’ tackle Taylor Lewan, on Tennessee’s powder blue uniforms for Thursday’s game:

“When you look at us, it’s pretty self-explanatory – we look like Smurfs. But the Smurf look is solid. I don’t mind it. I think it is a pretty rad deal. Hey, it’s fun to switch it up every once in a while and have those funky uniforms. I think it’s pretty cool, I really do. I think you’ll find some guys love them, and other guys hate them. Personally, I don’t really care too much about what I am wearing during the game, but I do think it’s fun.”

4) Every time I see Grayson Allen play for Duke, I think he is somehow related to Ted Cruz, the guy who ran for President last year. They could easily be father/son, they look that much alike.

3) Celtics 92, Warriors 88- Boston is 14-0 since an 0-2 start, despite Gordon Hayward blowing his ankle out 5:00 into the season. NBA season is a marathon, but this is a remarkable streak Celtics are on, seeing how Kyrie Irving was also hurt during part of the streak.

2) Steelers 40, Titans 17— Mariota threw four INT’s, Steelers had five sacks, outscoring Titans 17-0 in 4th quarter. 19 of Pittsburgh’s 25 first downs came thru the air.

1) So Kevin Durant is upset because the Oklahoma City Thunder gave his old #35 jersey to undrafted rookie P.J. Dozier last month. Let him explain:

“I didn’t have that perspective at first. I didn’t have it when I went back to OKC. I was like, ‘F— all of them. I didn’t have it when they gave my number away. I was, ‘F— all of them.’ My best friend works for the team, I told him, ‘F— all y’all. That’s f—ed up.’ Then I had to get out of my head, tell myself, ‘It’s not that serious, it is what it is.’

“I understand it’s not my number anymore, they can do whatever they want with it, but you hand that number to a two-way player, you’ve got to be, like, ‘Nah, we’ve got too many good memories with this number, man.’ But at some point, that thing’s going to be in the rafters anyway; it’s all good. I did something they didn’t like. They did something I didn’t like. S— happens.”