Saturday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

College hoop information on hoops page………college football info on CF page……..NFL knowledge on NFL page……..NBA stuff on hoops page

Saturday’s 6-pack
Week 15 NFL trends to ponder……..
— Bears are 5-1-1 in their last seven games as an underdog.
— Kansas City covered eight of last ten divisional games.
— Browns are 3-13 in last 16 games as a home underdog.
— Arizona is 7-16-1 vs spread in its last 24 games.
— New England covered six of its last seven games.
— Ravens covered 11 of their last 13 divisional games.

Quote of the Day
“Never miss a good opportunity to shut up.”
Will Rogers

Saturday’s quiz
How many NFL teams did Bill Parcells coach?

Friday’s quiz
Craig Morton was the Denver Broncos’ QB the first time they played in the Super Bowl.

Thursday’s quiz
Austin is the capital of Texas.

Saturday’s Den: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) When I was 7 years old, back in the mid-60’s, my parents went to a Christmas party at this restaurant so I went too. I’m sitting at the bar with a bunch of grown men and the Rams-Colts game was on TV— it was the last week of the NFL season.

Colts were 11-0-2, Rams were 10-1-2; for some reason, they were in the same division, and had tied in their first meeting. Johnny Unitas was the Colts’ QB, a legendary figure— all the men at the bar were rooting for the Colts. 7-year old me was rooting for the Rams, drinking a Coke with a cherry in it (the bartender was a friend of my parents).

First play of the game: Roman Gabriel to Jack Snow, 80-yard TD. I can’t remember, but there is almost no chance I wasn’t really annoying. Hell, I was 7 and I loved the team with the cool horns on their helmets. The adults at the bar tolerated me.

Rams won 34-10, won the division, and the Colts missed the playoffs, despite being unbeaten going into the last weekend of the season. I’m guessing thats when the whole Wild Card idea began to be look like a good idea.

12) Pitcher Zach Greinke makes so much money; he eats up 27% of Arizona’s payroll, which is why the Diamondbacks are rumored to be trading him. Greinke is owed $138M over the next four seasons; Arizona’s whole payroll was $93M last year.

Arizona’s 2nd-highest paid player is OF Yasmany Tomas, who is owed $46M over the next three years. Tomas hit only .241 last year— his season ended on June 2, with a groin injury.

11) Phillies gave 1B Carlos Santana $60M for three years.
— SS/3B Zack Cozart signed with the Angels

10) Jets have so much faith in backup QB Bryce Petty that they “ran up the white flag” in the last 10:00 of the Denver game, figuring they had no chance to win anyway. Strange thing to admit, but if they have that little faith in Petty, how are 2-3 practices during the week going to help him all that much?

9) ESPN2 had a high school basketball game on Thursday night, with a team from Memphis playing a team from St Louis. Memphis East is coached by former NBA star Penny Hardaway, whose team is ranked #1 in the country.

Former NBA players Brandon Roy, Mike Bibby are also coaching high school ball, putting their post-playing years to good use.

Hardaway’s team was playing Webster Grove HS from St Louis, whose most famous alum is the great baseball announcer, the late Harry Caray.

8) Denver Broncos led 14-13 late in 3rd quarter Thursday, then scored a TD to make it 20-13- they go for two, make it and now they led 22-13, by two scores. This is brilliant strategy; even if the try for 2 points fails, you still have a full 7-point lead. Well worth the risk; I’ve never seen an NFL team try this before— saw the Minnesota Gophers try it in college.

7) Rhode Island gets guard EC Matthews back from injury this weekend; Matthews is one of their best players, so this really helps the Rams.

6) Oklahoma State (7-0), Manhattan (6-0) are only college hoop teams with 5+ lined games who have yet to go over the total this season.

5) Actor/former pro wrestler Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock, got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this week.

4) When the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, apparently they wanted to move to Louisville first, but Rick Pitino/former AD Tom Jurich blocked the move.

Think about U of Memphis; what college hoop team wants to share a city with an NBA team?

3) According to SI.com, Colts’ QB Jacoby Brissett saved around $100,000 in agents’ fees by negotiating his own contract. Rookie contracts are pretty much scripted, wth the NFL setting a value for every pick in the draft.

2) Why are there medical treatments available in Europe that aren’t available here? Andrew Luck is in Europe getting treatment for his injured shoulder; others have done the same thing- Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez. Why is that?

1) Closer Fernando Rodney signed up wth the Minnesota Twins for 2018. Rodney wears his hat crooked in honor of his late father, who was a fisherman who wore his hat crooked to protect his face from the sun when he was fishing. The elder Rodney passed away six days before Fernando made his major league debut.

Friday’s Den: Ranking the months of the year…….

12) January— Keep in mind that I live in upstate New York, where the weather sucks from Thanksgiving to St Patrick’s Day. January is a long, cold month; conference games in college basketball are the thing that makes it tolerable; that and the NFL playoffs.

11) February— Same as January, only three days shorter; there is something about watching golf on TV that makes you feel warmer. Super Bowl is in February and college hoop and baseball is starting in Florida and Arizona.

10) December— Today, the sun sets at 4:22; next week, the days start getting longer, but this is a long, cold, dark month. Most of the good pre-conference college basketball games are November games— Saturdays are the best basketball days in December. Christmas, bowl games and the NFL help December’s rating, but not a lot.

9) November— Steep drop-off after October; it snows sometime in November- I don’t like snow. This is a better college basketball month than December, since Thanksgiving Week is one of the best sports weeks of the year. When I was working for New York State, I had three days off in November— days off were a good thing. Now I have every day off.

8) May— 20 or so years ago, I coached Little League, which seems like a shaky decision now. Practice every weekday, couple of games a week. Kids were fine; the parents? Not so much. Nowadays, social media would make Little League easier. Could just have a Twitter page and post if practices/games were rained out. Back then? Every rainout was 12 phone calls.

7) June— I got married in June; despite that, it gets a middle-of-pack ranking because of the great weather and six hours of baseball every day.

When I was a kid, June was the best month, with school ending for the year. Little did I know back that the teachers were probably more anxious for the school year to end than we were.

6) July— If you really like the NBA, I would strongly recommend you go to Las Vegas one year and go to the NBA Summer League at UNLV. For $28 or $30 for a full day, you can watch 3-4 games, and rub elbows with NBA owners, coaches, players— lot of them are there.

Later in July, AAU basketball invades Las Vegas, with lot of tournaments— almost all the college coaches show up at events at either Cashman Center or Bishop Gorman HS or the convention center.

5) August— Here in the Albany area, August is the best social month of the year, with the horse racing in Saratoga and concerts at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and nice weather every day. Baseball’s pennant races are going on and the college football magazines are out.

4) April— Baseball season starts, the Final Four takes place and I almost always spend ten days in Las Vegas every April. Watching the Final Four in Vegas is something you should do; great fun.

Couple years ago, was sitting next to a guy who had lot of money on Villanova/under in the national title game. When Paige hits the jumper for North Carolina, the guy slumps; his under bet is a loser, but when Villanova wins at the buzzer, he was damn glad to get out of there with a split. Didn’t ask how much, but seemed like he had a lot of money riding on it.

3) October— Baseball playoffs, football is in full swing, college basketball magazines come out and I almost always spend some time in the desert.

Few years ago, I’m sitting in the theater at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, watching the NFL; they have the best set-up, all the games up on a screen, with the audio up on one main game. There are betting windows in the back, food off to the left.

I’m talking to this guy who is wearing a Cardinals’ jersey; all of a sudden it dawns on me that this guy is betting thousands of dollars on the games. Serious money and he doesn’t seem like he is stressed out at all. Good guy, but I would’ve been having a nervous breakdown.

Las Vegas is the big leagues when it comes to that stuff; I forget that sometimes.

2) March— Best month of year for college basketball, spring training baseball on TV every day, the weather is getting better. Still snows sometimes, but March is usually excellent.

1) September— When I was a kid, there was September/January were by far the worst months of the year. Nothing worse than the first day of school every year, but now, September is still really a summer month, and football starts during the baseball pennant races.

I went to private grade school, but then to public high school, where 9th grade was in a building by itself. I was painfully shy, and had never ridden a school bus before; my 8th grade class had 24 kids, my 9th grade class had 730 kids. Will never forget how terrified I was those first few days of 9th grade changing classes and having a locker for the first time.

Everything turned out fine, but boy I hated September back then; it never would’ve made it above #11 on my ranking back then.

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) How would you like to be a season ticket salesman for the Miami Marlins? They’ve traded Stanton, Gordon and now Marcell Ozuna, who heads to St Louis. Maybe the ushers in Miami’s ballpark will get fired too, since there won’t be many fans to lead to their seats next year.

12) I mentioned last month how the Marlins fired TV announcer Rich Waltz, who had been in Miami for 13 years. Now it doesn’t matter to me anymore; I have Stanton/Ozuna in my fantasy league, so now I have zero reason to watch the Marlins anyway.

11) I’m watching the 76ers-Wolves game on ESPN Tuesday night; good game, it is 94-94 in the 4th quarter and then I realize, Ben Simmons hasn’t scored a point in this game. 33 minutes, 0-4 from the floor, no foul shots. How can this be?

76ers won in OT; Simmons wound up with 7 points, 8 assists, 7 turnovers. He is an unusual player, almost seems to dislike shooting, but he is a great passer.

10) Twitter can be fun; I posted something about “How can Simmons play 33:00 and not score?” during the 4th quarter. I get one reply, from a 76ers’ fan in Texas:

“Good (bleep)ing question.”

9) Arizona State media relations director Doug Tammaro made a promise to his daughter this summer, that if ASU beat Kansas in basketball the year, he’d give her $500 to spend at a mall. Unknown to him, she taped the promise on her phone.

Sun Devils won 95-85 in Lawrence Sunday and Tammaro’s daughter posted the video of her dad’s promise on Twitter. He says he will happily pay up.

8) Sounds like no matter who Manny Machado plays for next season, he will be a shortstop and not a third baseman.

7) Couple years ago, I rent a car in Las Vegas in July; it is freakin’ hot in the desert in July. So I go to the hotel’s parking garage to pick up the car, and I realize it is a push-button ignition— had never seen one of those.

So I’m sitting in the car and I push the button and nothing happens. I’m looking around- no idea what to do. No owner’s manual, nothing. Push the button again, nothing happens. It is too damn hot to walk back into the hotel and ask them, but it is getting really hot in the car too and I’m sweating and getting aggravated.

Finally I realized that if I pushed the button while stepping on (kicking) the brake pedal, the freakin’ car will start. Not one of my finer moments.

6) With bowl season starting Saturday, keep in mind that since 2013, the MAC is 5-18 in bowl games. No bueno.

5) I’m looking forward to when kids can jump from high school to the NBA again; think it will be healthier for everyone; the NBA, college ball and the G-League.

4) Twins signed Michael Pineda to a 2-year, $10M contract, but Pineda had Tommy John surgery in July and figures to miss most of the 2018 season.

3) Lookalikes: Cincinnati Reds’ manager Bryan Price and Phil Mickelson.

2) Daytime TV gets a huge positive jolt this week, with baseball’s winter meetings on MLB Network. Actual interesting stuff.

1) It is so difficult to win a championship; you have to dance thru a minefield of potential disasters, avoiding injuries in addition to playing well enough to win.

Think about the Eagles; they lose their starting QB for the year, moments after they got the benefit of a terrible taunting penalty against Trumaine Johnson. Had that penalty not been called, Eagles try a 50-yard FG on next play and Wentz is on the sidelines, healthy.

Wentz didn’t get hurt when he was hit, by the way. Apparently the injury happened earlier on that play when he planted his foot and cut. Kind of like Teddy Bridgewater’s injury.

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

13) In 2004, there were 31 unbeaten college basketball teams on December 10; 12 of them were at least 10-0. This year, there were only seven unbeaten teams on December 10, five of whom were 10-0 or better.

College basketball season starts earlier now than it did in ’04, but still, there don’t seem to be any great teams this year.

12) Aaron Rodgers was medically cleared to play in the Packers’ game in Carolina this week. Rodgers broke his collarbone in a game against the Vikings October 15- he has 13 screws in his collarbone. It hasn’t been announced if he’ll play, but you figure if they cleared him, he will.

11) Philadelphia Eagles were 6-1 to win the Super Bowl before last Sunday’s game; had Carson Wentz not gotten hurt, they would’ve been 4-1 after the game. Instead, they’re going to wind up around 14-1 to win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles playing QB.

10) ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla tweeted Tuesday that the Lithuanian coach the Ball brothers will soon be playing for:

1) Doesn’t speak any English
2) Sells meat to his players out of the trunk of his car after practice.

This should go really well.

9) Rams LT Andrew Whitworth celebrated his birthday Tuesday by giving bicycles to 550 elementary students in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Thats a lot of bikes to give away.

8) Wyoming QB Josh Allen is probably the #3 QB prospect in next April’s NFL Draft, but he hurt his shoulder against Air Force and missed Wyoming’s last two games. Allen says his shoulder is now 90% healed and he expects to play in Wyoming’s bowl game. Playing well in that game will quiet lot of questions about his health heading into the draft.

7) OF Marcell Ozuna can be a free agent in two years; his agent is Scott Boras, so you know the Miami Marlins are trading him, too. Christian Yelich is owed $43M over the next four years, so he is affordable and Miami might keep him.

6) Texas Longhorns loses their top scorer Andrew Jones for a while with a broken wrist; he is averaging 15.3 ppg. Longhorns’ first Big X game is December 29 at home vs Kansas.

5) SMU hired former Cal coach Sonny Dykes to replace Chad Morris, who is the new football coach at Arkansas. Dykes went 22-15 as coach at Louisiana Tech, 19-30 at Cal.

4) Patriots signed WR Kenny Britt to a 2-year contract, which will be interesting; Rams, Browns were both starved for talent when they had Britt, but they both let him walk, and New England gobbles him up. Want to see Belichick’s reaction the first time Britt gets a taunting penalty after one of his teammates scores a touchdown.

3) Set-up guy Bryan Shaw gets $9M for three years from Colorado; Shaw appeared in 79 games for Cleveland last year, the most games pitched in the big leagues. Colorado must’ve outbid the other teams by a lot; why else would a pitcher sign to pitch in the Mile High City?

2) Knicks 113, Lakers 109 OT— Kristaps Porzingis had 37 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocked shots and 5 made 3-pointers as Knicks beat LA in overtime.

1) Angels just signed P/DH Shohei Ohtani; now there are reports the Ohtani has a sprained UCL in his elbow, and got one of those platelet-rich injections in his arm to help fix the injury. Oy.

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

13) There was an interesting article in the New York Times over the weekend about a guy who works for the Golden State Warriors; Eric Housen is the Director of Team Operations. This is from the NY Times article:

“Housen juggles no fewer than a gazillion jobs. He packs the players’ uniforms. He transports their bags. He books their hotel rooms. He washes their practice gear. He buys their snacks. He makes sure that the buses that deliver the team from the airport to the hotel to the arena arrive on time. He arranges the private planes for the team’s massive traveling party, which includes family members and broadcasters. He plans the players’ meals and manages their schedules and troubleshoots their problems and tries hard to limit himself to two energy drinks a day.”

I seriously had no idea all this stuff would be handled by one person. Sounds like a busy guy.

12) His Fitbit app or however he tracks his activity said he walked 13.2 miles in one day. On this road trip, the Warriors had 127 pieces of luggage that he had to account for.

11) Remember when you’re watching games and thinking about teams; the best player on the team isn’t always the team leader. There are guys with strong personalities who are leaders within a group and they are important, sometimes more important than the team’s “star.”

10) Akron Zips are in a bowl game with a 7-6 record; they were a double digit underdog in seven of their 13 games. I’m guessing this is first time ever a team made a bowl game when they were a double digit dog that many times during that season.

9) Arizona State 95, Kansas 85— Sun Devils have a really good backcourt; Bobby Hurley’s team is 9-0, with wins over the Jayhawks, Xavier and Kansas State. ASU is shooting 42.7% behind the arc.

8) Music trivia: the late Jim Morrison was a famous musician, best known as lead singer of The Doors. Morrison’s father was a rear admiral in the US Navy.

7) Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger was a good enough baseball player that he was drafted twice by major league teams; the Astros took him in the 12th round in 1970, the Cardinals took him in the 21st round in 1974.

Kruger started 11 games in A ball in 1974, going 1-6 with a 2.81 ERA in his only season of pro baseball.

6) Tennessee Volunteers are in the college basketball top 25 for the first time since 2010.

5) 34-year old catcher Chris Iannetta hit 17 HR’s in 89 games for Arizona LY; he signed on with the Colorado Rockies over the weekend. Iannetta played for Colorado from 2006-11.

4) Charles Barkley was out in Alabama last night campaigning for Doug Jones in the senator’s race down there— the special election to fill Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat is tomorrow.

3) Miami Dolphins made sure all their players are registered to vote; I’m guessing this was a by-product of the hubbub after the national anthem protests; you want to make your voice heard? Then register to vote. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the way things are.

2) Dolphins 27, Patriots 20— New England was 0-11 on 3rd down, first time since 1991 they had a game where they went 0-fer on 3rd down conversions. Patriots have now lost four of last five visits to Miami.

Patriots’ two TD drives were 51-53 yards; on their 11 drives that started 75+ yards from goal line, all they got was two field goals.

1) There are rumors the Los Angeles Angels might go with a 6-man pitching rotation, which is what most Japanese teams do. American teams do not do that; would be an interesting experiment.

Monday’s List of 14: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Steelers 39, Ravens 38— Roethlisberger is now first NFL QB with three 500+-yard passing games; Steelers converted 12-18 on 3rd down, overcame 31-20 deficit in 4th quarter, kicking GW FG with 0:42 left. Pitt won its last eight games; five of their last six wins were by 5 or less points. Ravens are +20 in turnovers in their wins, -7 in losses. Antonio Brown caught 11 balls for 213 yards for the Steelers, who host New England next week.

Steelers led this game 14-0 early; in their history, Pittsburgh is 216-0-2 at home when they lead by 14+ points in the first half.

Eagles 43, Rams 35— Both teams lost here; Rams lost the game, Eagles fear they lost QB Wentz with a torn ACL. Backup QB Foles led three drives for Eagles; two of them ended in FG’s, but he is no Wentz. Philly led 21-7 early, but LA blocked a punt for a TD to take a 28-24 lead. Rams are only 11 of last 43 on 3rd down; they lost both starting CB’s to injury.

Pet Peeve Department: This was a really good game between two really good teams; there were 130 plays in this game, plus 15 kickoffs— can you imagine the amount of trash talking going on, in a game with over 67,000 fans, many of whom were Eagle fans?

Yet only one taunting penalty was called the whole game, a huge penalty on Rams’ CB Trumaine Johnson after an incomplete pass on a 3rd-and-10 with 5:56 left in third quarter, that turned an Eagles’ FG attempt into an Eagles’ TD. You call a taunting penalty in that spot, you’re determining who wins the game.

Panthers 31, Vikings 24— Cam Newton threw an INT on a tipped ball with 4:36 left that gave Minnesota great field position for tying FG, but then he led Carolina 75 yards on five plays for the game-winning TD with 1:47 left, snapping Minnesota’s 8-game win streak. In their last five games, Minnesota is 34-66 (51.5%) on 3rd down, their opponents  17-61 (27.9%). Panthers won five of last six games, are tied with Saints for first place in NFC South.

Jaguars 30, Seahawks 24— Game was 3-0 at the half; if you bet the under, yikes. Seattle scored three TD’s in this game, on drives of 2-1-2 plays, on plays of 26-61-74 yards, but Wilson threw three INTs and Jaguars had TD drives of 42-1-75 yards, and averaged 9.9 yards/pass attempt.

With three games left, Jacksonville leads AFC South by a game; Seattle trails the Rams by a game in NFC West, but they host LA this coming week.

Bills 13, Colts 7 OT— Game was played during a blizzard; as much as a foot of snow fell during the game. Carts couldn’t come on the field to take injured players off the field, because they’d get stuck in the snow. Colts tied game with 1:16 left, but then Buffalo scored on a 21-yard run by McCoy to improve to 7-6. Buffalo somehow converted 10-18 on 3rd down, with 3rd-string QB Webb playing second half after rookie starter Peterman got hurt.

Cardinals 12, Titans 7— Arizona won without scoring a TD; NFL teams are 5-26 this season when they don’t score an offensive TD- in three of other four wins, the losing team didn’t score an offensive TD either, making that stat effectively 2-23.

Tennessee was -2 in turnovers; this week, teams that were -2 or worse in turnovers are 2-9. Titans are game behind Jacksonville in AFC South but are still in Wild Card race too.

Lions 24, Buccaneers 21— Matthew Stafford is making around $28M a year now, so when you make $28M and you hurt your hand, you play anyway, and you go 36-44/381 passing, and lead the team to the game-winning FG with 0:20 left.

This was an ugly game; Bucs turned ball over five times. Detroit three, but there are no ugly wins and the Lions are now 7-6 and have life in the Wild Card chase.

Packers 27, Browns 21 OT— Cleveland led 21-7 after three quarters; Packers tied game with 0:17 left, then won it in OT and are now 7-6, with Rodgers expected at QB in next week or two. Last three weeks, Green Bay opponents converted 24 of 42 third down plays.

Browns are now 3-10 vs spread; if you bet Cleveland +3, this was a brutal beat, but if you bet on the Browns +3, you deserve a brutal beat or two. Don’t wager on terrible teams.

Chiefs 26, Raiders 15— KC and Chargers are now tied atop AFC West after this surprisingly easy win by the Chiefs over their longtime rivals, just their second win in last eight games overall.

Dismal effort by the Raiders, who ran the ball only 11 times, threw it 41- they were outgained 408-268.

Chargers 30, Redskins 13— Washington went 3/out on five of 11 drives; they were outgunned 488-201. This is a small point, but with 2:34 left in game, Jay Gruden committed coaching malpractice- here’s how:

Chargers led 30-6 in last 3:00, but Redskins scored on a pick-6 to make it 30-12 with 2:34 left. This is a about a 1,000-1 shot, but if Washington gets a 2-point conversion, then it is 30-14 and a two-score game. You try the onside kick and who knows?

To me it is inexcusable not to at least TRY the 2-point conversion; it is called giving up.

Bears 33, Bengals 7— Cincy had a hangover from blowing a 17-0 lead to their rival Steelers Monday night; Chicago outgained them 482-234 with a rookie QB playing on the road. Since 2005, Cincy is 5-10-1 vs spread in game the week following a loss to Pittsburgh.

Cowboys 30, Giants 10— Game was tied 10-10 with 8:00 left, but then Dallas scored three TD’s in a 4:41 span to win going away. Giants scored TD/FG on their first three drives, but for rest of the game, they ran 48 plays for 176 yards, as they dropped to 1-5 at home.

49ers 26, Texans 16— Houston QB Savage got knocked goofy, 3rd-stringer TJ Yates finished up for Texan squad that lost six of its last seven games. 49ers won three of last four games after a 0-9 start; Garoppolo is now 4-0 as an NFL starter.

Broncos 23, Jets 0— Denver snaps an 8-game skid by blanking Jets squad that lost QB McCown to injury; Gang Green didn’t any plays longer than 14 yards, was held to 100 total yards for the game. Jets are 1-5 on the road and the only win was in Cleveland.

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

13) Boston College 89, Duke 84— Eagles made 15-26 on arc, 11-16 in first half. BC played only seven players, and the 2nd sub played only 4:00. Eagles were a 15-point underdog.

12) Looks like Giancarlo Stanton is getting traded to the Bronx, in a total salary dump by the new owners of the Marlins, who apparently want their home games to be played in an empty stadium next year.

Conservative estimate: I’ve seen 80% of Stanton’s at-bats the last three years. Now he plays in a way smaller stadium, so he should at least put up similar numbers to 2017, but he will be playing on a team I can’t stand so it’ll be harder to root for him.

11) If you care about such things, the two minor leaguers the Marlins get in the Stanton trade are:

— Jose Devers, an 18-year old SS who hit .246 in A-ball last year.
— Jorge Guzman, a 21-year old P who is 11-11, 3.67 in 33 starts in A ball over three years.

10) Army 14, Navy 13— Cadets win Commander-in-Chief trophy for first time since 1996 on a snowy day in Philadelphia. Navy missed a 48-yard FG at the end that would’ve won it.

9) Middle Tennessee State 77, Ole Miss 58— Anytime a Conference USA team beats an SEC team, it is a big deal for them and their league. Helps raise the whole league’s profile.

8) California 63, San Diego State 62— Opposite side of that; this score is bad for the whole Mountain West, especially Nevada. 2015 was last time the Mountain West got multiple bids to the NCAA tournament.

7) Michigan 78, UCLA 69 OT— Bruins led by 15 in second half, but Michigan rallied for the win. You wonder if the two UCLA kids who are still suspended after the China incident would’ve made a difference here, and you wonder if the two of them will play at all this season (I’m guessing no).

6) Upsets of the Day:
Boston College (+15) 89, Duke 84
California (+14.5) 63, San Diego State 62
Tulsa (+10.5) 61, Kansas State 54
SE Missouri St (+10) 75, Southern Illinois 69
Marquette (+7) 63, Wisconsin 62
Miami OH (+6.5) 81, Fort Wayne 73
Penn (+6) 78, Dayton 70

5) Interesting thing on MLB Network on why Shohei Ohtani wanted to play on west coast; if he played in the east, his games would air in Japan in the middle of the night, instead of early in the morning, when people in Japan could watch them live.

If Ohtani DH’s three days a week, does that mean Albert Pujols plays 1B three days a week?

4) Albany 74, Siena 69— This is a local rivalry game here in Albany; they drew 9,071 fans on a snowy night. Great Danes have now won this game five of the last six years.

3) UNLV 89, Illinois 82— Rebels were 33-48 on foul line, Illini 11-15; 48 FT’s in a college game is an awful lot. Illinois stayed in game going 11-25 on arc, but they had seven guys finish game with four or five fouls.

Lot of Illinois fans made the trip out west for this game, which was played in the MGM Arena because the rodeo is in the Thomas & Mack Center.

2) Was surprised by this: looking at SEC football records fro 2013-17, conference games only. Alabama is obviously strong (36-4), Georgia 27-13……..worst records are Vanderbilt at 10-30, then Arkansas at 11-29. Wouldn’t have guessed the Razorbacks to have the 2nd-worst record.

1) Arkansas 95, Minnesota 79— Surprisingly easy win for the basketball Razorbacks; Big 14 is having a rough time in their pre-conference games.

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

13) 23-year old Japanese prospect Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels. From CBSSports.com:

“Because he is only 23, Ohtani is subject to MLB’s international hard cap. The Angels have $2.315 million in cap space and certainly all of that will go to Ohtani. Both the Mariners ($3.5575 million) and Rangers ($3.535 million) had more to offer, though Ohtani will instead head to Anaheim. The Angels will pay the (Nippon Ham) Fighters a $20 million posting fee.”

Ohtani wants to pitch and also be a position player in the majors. In Japan, he pitched most every Sunday, he DH’d Tuesday-Thursday and rested Friday-Saturday. Starting pitchers in Japan generally only pitch once a week; most Mondays are off days.

12) Cleveland Browns fired their GM, then hired former Chiefs’ GM John Dorsey the same day; one of Dorsey’s first moves was to dump WR Kenny Britt, who had signed a 4-year deal with Cleveland, with over $10M guaranteed.

This is called addition by subtraction; you wait and see, the Browns will be good fairly soon. I’ll predict they make the playoffs in 2019.

11) From Football Perspective: Jets ran the ball 49 times against the Chiefs despite allowing 31 points, which basically never happens. Since 1983, no team has had 50 rush attempts when allowing 31+ points.

10) If Giancarlo Stanton wants to play for the Dodgers and has veto power over any trade, why would the Marlins think he would agree to play in San Francisco?

Now it looks like Stanton (not surprisingly) will wind up in the Bronx or Dodger Stadium.

9) Of the last 30 National League teams to make playoffs, 26 ranked in the top-5 in league in rotation ERA, so teams pouting about not landing Stanton should try to improve their pitching.

8) According to the Fieldhouse, here are their top 4 mid-major basketball teams:
Nevada, Rhode Island, St Mary’s, Northern Iowa.

Not sure how St Mary’s is a mid-major but Gonzaga isn’t, seeing how they’re in the same league, but Gonzaga isn’t in their poll. My alma mater Albany is #17 in this poll.

7) The Big 14 is having its basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden in March; it is said to be a one-time thing— they’ll be in Chicago, Indianapolis twice each from 2019-22. The Big 14 is a midwestern league, despite Maryland/Rutgers’ presence, but greed knows no bounds.

6) Maryland Terrapins have basketball players from eight different countries.

5) Weird basketball season at Louisville; the school’s president, athletic director and basketball coach are all interim. Which spot gets filled first?

4) Exciting times at the University of Delaware; they’re spending $60M to improve their athletic facilities; Notre Dame is in town to play the Blue Hens Saturday- you don’t see ACC teams going on the road for true road games very much.

Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby is a former Notre Dame assistant; Irish coach Mike Brey came to South Bend from Delaware— he still vacations in Rehoboth Beach.

3) Pacers 106, Cavaliers 102— Indiana won its secord straight game with Cleveland, snapping the Cavaliers’ 13-game winning streak, with Oladipo scoring 33 points, with 8 rebounds, 5 assists.

2) Arizona State 82, St John’s 70— Sun Devils outscored St John’s 11-0 over the last 2:43.

1) Now that Ohtani is in Anaheim, what does Seattle do with all that international slot money they traded for? Mariners traded three of their top 10 minor league prospects to the Marlins for Dee Gordon and slot money. Friday had to be a depressing day for the Mariners.

Friday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) Falcons 20, Saints 17— Strange game; both QB’s threw an INT in the end zone, with Brees’ critical turnover coming in the game’s last 2:00. Falcons were -2 in turnovers but won and are now 8-5, a game out of first place in NFC South. These teams meet again in Week 16.

12) Tuesday night, St John’s beat Grand Canyon 68-60 in a sloppily-played game in Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix. Kid named Keonta Vernon played 30:00 for the Antelopes, who are eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time this season.

Vernon played his ass off; he had 15 rebounds; granted, the shooting in this game was awful so there were a lot of rebounds to be had, but Vernon looks like an NFL tight end. and goes after rebounds like he is one. Problem is, he shoots the basketball like a pro wrestler; he was 0-3 from the floor, 0-6 on the foul line.

Not often a guy grabs 15 rebounds in a game and doesn’t score a point.

11) Cleveland Browns fired GM Sashi Brown Thursday and announced that coach Hue Jackson will be back to coach the team next season.

Browns have four extra draft picks in the 2018 draft, so the next GM has a shot to add a lot of talent. My advice: Draft a bleepin’ quarterback!!!!

10) Washington State opened some eyes when they won the Wooden Legacy tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, but now the bubble has burst.

Coogs were 6-0 after upsetting St Mary’s and San Diego State in Fullerton, but since then, they lost to Cal-Davis at home and by 27 at Idaho. No bueno.

9) Tennessee hired Jeremy Pruitt as its new football coach; the 43-year old Pruitt has been a defensive coordinator the last five years, at Florida State-Georgia-Alabama.

8) There are 14 football teams in the SEC; Nick Saban obviously coaches Alabama. Of the other 13 teams, four of them are now coached by former Saban assistants.

7) Movie trivia: Did you ever see the 1976 movie Network, about a TV network trying for better ratings, starring Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and William Holden?

A woman named Beatrice Straight played a character named Louise Schumaker in the movie. She was on camera for a total of five minutes, two seconds, but she earned the Academy Award for the best performance by a supporting actress.

Hers was the briefest performance ever to win an Oscar.

6) Senator Luther Strange, the man who has held a Senate seat in Alabama for the last ten months (his spot is being filled in next week’s special election), is 6-foot-9, making him the tallest US Senator ever.

5) Angels/Mariners are both maneuvering to sign free agent Shohei Ohtani; they both sent a prospect from the 2017 Draft to Minnesota, each receiving money from the Twins’ international slot money. Both teams are in a bidding war to entice Ohtani to play for them- that international slot money is the key in that bidding war.

4) Seattle Mariners traded for Dee Gordon and are going to move him to centerfield. Gordon is owed $40M+ over the next three years. Mariners also got international slot money from Miami, but they gave the Marlins three of their top 10 minor league prospects.

3) Cubs signed P Tyler Chatwood to a 3-year contract; Chatwood has to be really happy, going to a better team and getting the hell away from hitter-happy Coors Field.

2) I’ve got nothing against Roger Goodell, but $40M a year seems a little excessive.

1) Baseball’s Winter Meetings start Sunday in Orlando. In reality, next week is the start of the 2018 baseball season, when lot of moves will be made that will shape next season’s rosters.

Baseball season starts March 29, little earlier than usual, to create a few more days off during the season. March 31 figures to be a fun day, with the Final Four and a full day of baseball.

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

13) Stellar trivia item: Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright owns a USFL championship ring from the 1986 Philadelphia Stars, coached by Jim Mora Sr.

Wright worked in the Stars’ marketing department that season. Think anyone else won a USFL ring and also won a college basketball national title?

12) Was surprised to learn that new Mets’ manager Mickey Callaway will earn around $800,000 next season. Thats not a lot of cash for a big league skipper.

In other words, the manager of a major league team in New York City makes less than both of the coordinators of LSU’s football team. Not the head coach, the coordinators.

11) Basketball coaches at Virginia Commonwealth have this in their contract:

If the coach bolts VCU for another job, that team has to play a home-and-home series with the Rams, which is why Texas visited VCU Tuesday— LSU will do the same in the near future, since Will Wade skipped town to coach the Bayou Bengals.

10) 75 days after Hurricane Maria, 215,000 people have already migrated from Puerto Rico to Florida. Wonder how many of them will register to vote, or are already registered?

9) Former FBI Director James Comey is apparently writing a book on leadership; what do guys like that do when they lose their job? Guess he’ll do a book tour when it is published and we’ll hear a lot more from Mr Comey.

8) Arena trivia: West Virginia University’s basketball arena opened in 1970; they recently did $26M of improvements on it. Back in 1970, the first event held in the arena was a concert by Grand Funk Railroad. Just thought you’d like to know.

7) Sports agent Andy Miller lost his certification to be an agent this week, as result of the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. Miller represented Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Lowry- Lowry makes around $30M a year.

Very expensive day- losing Lowry as a client costs Miller’s agency $900,000 a year, and thats just one client.

6) There is one of those courtroom TV shows, Judge Mathis; apparently, Judge Mathis’ daughter went to Michigan State and worked as a student assistant for the basketball team. Spartans’ hoop coach Tom Izzo was in the “courtroom” for a recent taping and was recognized by the judge, whose daughter is now a lawyer.

5) Willie Taggart officially signed on to coach Florida State’s football team, meaning that in 2018, the Oregon Ducks will have their third football coach in three years. I’m guessing the next Oregon coach will have a steep buyout clause in their contract. Taggart’s buyout was $4.5M.

4) Kansas City Chiefs have a big game this week, at home against their rivals from Oakland, but they suspended CB Marcus Peters for the week, after Peters threw a penalty flag into the stands at Swamp Stadium Sunday, as he protested a penalty on a play against the Jets.

I laughed out loud when Peters threw the flag in the stands; never saw that before, but even Peters thought the move deserved an ejection— he left the field and threw his gloves to a fan in the stands. But it turns out he was never ejected— took the team ten minutes to get Peters back on the sidelines. He returned, but without socks/gloves.

Chiefs lost six of their last seven games after a 5-0 start; this week’s game is huge for both teams, but Kansas City took a stand and suspended a starter.

3) UCLA cancelled its basketball game with Montana Wednesday because of the wildfires in the Los Angeles area. Team practices/workouts were also cancelled.

2) Fact I learned from listening to Bill Walton on the Arizona-Texas A&&M game Tuesday: Arizona is the 6th-largest state in the country, in terms of area. Didn’t know that.

1) I got an e-mail today, asking to donate to a candidate in the Alabama Senate race— are you bleeping kidding me? I live in upstate New York, I think politicians are gutless weasels- there is a 0% chance I’m giving a politician money. Ever.

Would much rather go find a homeless person up by the supermarket I go to and give him a few bucks.

Wednesday’s List of 13: A quick scan thru the bowl schedule…….

A quick scan thru the bowl schedule……..

13) UCF is getting ten points from Auburn in the Peach Bowl, the same stadium where Auburn just lost the SEC title game. Auburn’s coach just signed a $49M contract to stay on the Plains.

Central Florida is 12-0; two years ago, they were 0-12. Great season, but then their coach took the Nebraska job about 45 seconds after they won the AAC title game. Scott Frost and his staff will still coach their bowl game, but only because he needs the three hours of national TV exposure to remind people he is now the highly-paid coach of Nebraska.

12) Iowa State-Memphis is a good bowl between two upstart teams who had excellent seasons, and surprise!!!— neither coach has bolted yet.

Matt Campbell actually re-upped with the Cyclones, though contracts don’t always mean that much in today’s world. Mike Norvell is in his second year at Memphis; he could still wind up being a candidate at Tennessee, since just about everyone else already has been, but he also signed a contract extension this week to stay at Memphis.

11) Florida State is -15 over Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport; they’re hiring Willie Taggart as coach, but likely he won’t coach the bowl game. Now Derwin James, FSU’s best defensive player, has declared for the NFL Draft and is skipping the bowl game. Lay 15 points here at your own risk.

10) Holiday Bowl has long been the bowl with a tradition of wild, high-scoring games, so fitting that Mike Leach coaches there. Washington State-Michigan State is quite a contrast as far as coaches’ personality, with the offbeat Leach and the gruff Mark D’Antonio matching wits.

When he was at Texas Tech, Leach won ’04 Holiday Bowl 45-31 as an 11-point dog over Cal.

9) Normally, UAB-Ohio U wouldn’t catch my attention, but what a job UAB coach Bill Clark has done. UAB dropped football- they didn’t field a team the last two years, but due to outcry from alumni, they brought the team back this year and now they’re bowling in the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, while Nebraska fired their coach and hired Scott Frost, one of their old coaches, Frank Solich, has gone 88-67 at Ohio U— he went 58-19 as Nebraska’s coach but that wasn’t good enough. Bobcats are only 2-6 in bowls under Solich.

8) Kansas State-UCLA could be Bill Snyder’s last game as coach at K-State. Snyder is 78 and had a cancer scare last year— the job he’s done at K-State (209-110-1) is impossible to overstate.

Before he got to the Little Apple (K-State is in Manhattan, KS), the Wildcats were a joke, going 26-82-3 the previous 11 seasons— they were the welcome mat of college football. Snyder fixed all that, made them respectable, won a lot of games. Their stadium has been named after him for over a decade now.

7) There is a bowl called the “Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl”; it is played in Houston. Problem is, the Sports & Outdoor Bowl is in a domed stadium, where the Texans play.

Missouri-Texas are playing in the indoor Outdoors Bowl; Mizzou started this season 1-5 but won its last six games. Tigers fired their defensive coordinator during the 1-5 start; their OC just left for another opportunity, which could complicate their bowl preparation.

6) Fresno State went 10-28 the last three years, so they hired former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who was Aaron Rodgers’ college coach. Fresno is 9-4 this season; they get their second trip to Hawai’i in two months when they play Houston in the Hawai’i Bowl on Christmas Eve, after a full day of NFL games. There is no NFL game that night, so hopefully this will be a fun game.

5) New Mexico State is in a bowl game for the first time since 1960— good for them!!! Aggies are playing Utah State (also the Aggies) in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson.

New Mexico State was 11-49 the last five years; great year for coach Doug Martin.

4) SMU won’t have to go too far for their bowl game; Mustangs are playing Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl, being played in the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility, which is roughly 25 miles from the SMU campus.

Louisiana Tech won its last three bowls, scoring 35-47-48 points. SMU is in its first bowl in five years.

3) Since 1999, Utah is 13-1 in bowl games, 9-1 under Kyle Whittingham. Utes lost six of their last eight games this year after a 4-0 start- they head to Dallas to play West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, played in the old Cotton Bowl stadium.

2) Boise State won six of its last eight bowl games, winning the Las Vegas Bowl three years in a row, from 2010-12; Broncos are back in Vegas this year, playing an Oregon team whose coach just jumped ship after one year, for the greener pa$ture$ of Florida $tate. Ducks lost the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, 38-8 to BYU.

1) Marshall vs Colorado State in a bowl game in Albuquerque is a little weird; Thundering Herd won its last five bowl games- their last bowl loss was in 2004. Colorado State won 27-24 on this field October 20. Do kids get excited about going to a bowl in Albuquerque?

1a) Which raises the question I raise every year; what is the worst bowl game to go to?
— Pinstripe Bowl, played in the Bronx, where it is almost always damned cold.
— Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, where it often snows.
— Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit can’t be that much fun, but at least the game is indoors.
— Playing Navy in Annapolis probably isn’t that great a trip.

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

13) New Jersey Giants fired their coach and GM Monday, in midst of a terrible 2-10 season that blew up even worse when QB Eli Manning was benched last week.

Interim coach Steve Spagnuolo takes over; owner John Mara says it is Spagnuolo’s choice who starts at quarterback from now on.

Yeah sure…as long as his initials are “E.M.”

12) You could make a case for Giants’ GM Jerry Reese keeping his job; Giants won couple of Super Bowls in Reese’s 11 years as the GM, but he is gone now, too.

11) Instead of two 6-6 teams playing in some obscure bowl game on a Tuesday afternoon in a empty stadium, they should’ve let Ohio State/Alabama play a play-in game in that bowl, 10-14 days before the national semi-finals. Imagine the TV ratings that would get?

10) If you don’t think Alabama should be in the college football playoff, keep in mind that on a neutral field, they would be favored over any college team in the country, including Ohio State. They’re favored over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, and Clemson is #1 in the country.

9) Gus Malzahn gets $49M for seven years to stay at Auburn, as college football coaching salaries continue to go through the roof.

As recently as 2005, Malzahn was a high school coach in Springdale, Arkansas. Go figure.

8) In their last five games, Buffalo Bills were outscored 71-6 in the third quarter; they didn’t say it on TV Sunday, but that would suggest their coaches don’t make good halftime adjustments.

7) Speaking of the Bills, their kicker Steven Hauschka never kicked a football until he was 19 years old. He played soccer/lacrosse and also played trumpet in his HS’s jazz band.

When he went to Middlebury College, Hauschka was cut from the soccer team, so he tried out for the football team, did really well and wound up transferring to NC State. He’s kicked for five NFL teams and also kicked for Las Vegas in the UFL.

6) I see video clips of kids strength-training by turning over these huge tires that must go on tractors or something; who came up with that idea? It must work and it looks cool— they just keep turning the tire over and over. Reminds me of the World’s Strongest Man contest they used to show on TV— they had some creative contests that all looked like too much work for me.

5) Boise State 73, Oregon 70— Go on Twitter or YouTube and find the video clip of the kid on Boise State nailing a runner from just over half court to give Boise this upset win in Eugene over the weekend. Excellent win for both Boise State and the Mountain West.

4) Houston/Cincinnati’s college basketball teams are both playing off-campus this season, as their gyms are undergoing multi-million $$$ renovations. Houston is playing home games this season at Texas Southern; Bearcats are playing over the river, at Northern Kentucky U.

3) Monday had to be a big day for UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford; DiAngelo Ball dropped out of UCLA, giving Alford one less big headache to worry about.

DiAngelo Ball is not expected to ever be an NBA player, so you would think that maybe it would be a good idea if he got a college education, especially for free, but what do I know?

2) Monday Night Football takes:
— Sean McDonough doesn’t enjoy announcing football as much as he enjoys announcing basketball.
— When it rains, could someone please give Mike Tomlin a jacket?

1) These Big 14 conference college hoop games are being played in December this year because of the conference tournament being a week earlier than normal in March, but they’ll continue next year, because the Big 14 is going to a 20-game conference schedule, starting next season.

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

Saints 31, Panthers 21— New Orleans won its 9th game in last 10 tries, sweeping season series with Panthers; they lead NFC South by a game over Carolina, two over Atlanta- they play Falcons two of next three weeks. Saints scored 30+ points in four of last five games. Carolina ran ball for only 112 yards, after running it for 213 yards/week in previous three games.

Ravens 44, Lions 20— Baltimore is 3-0 since its bye, winning by 23-7-24 points; five of their seven wins are vs backup-type QB’s, but they also KO’d Stafford here with a hand injury. Ravens are now +20 in turnovers in their seven wins, -6 in their five losses. Detroit has run ball for only 65.3 ypg the last three weeks- they’re two games out of the playoff picture now.

49ers 15, Bears 14— Niners’ kicker Robbie Gould is the Bears’ all-time leading scoring leader; he kicked five FG’s here to beat Chicago on an oddly-warm December day in the Windy City. QB Garoppolo wins his first 49ers start; he is 3-0 as an NFL starting QB. Tarik Cohen ran a punt back for a TD for Chicago, a great highlight-film type run. 49ers were one of four teams Sunday not to score an offensive TD; other three lost, by 20-5-36 points.

Vikings 14, Falcons 9— Minnesota won its last eight games, covered last seven; Case Keenum might be MVP of the freakin’ league. Vikings have another tough road game next week, agains the Panthers in Charlotte. Falcons were held to 17 or less points in their five losses- they scored 23+ in all their wins- they scored 27-34-34 points in last three games before this one.

Patriots 23, Bills 3— New England won its last eight games, covered last six; Patriots’ opponents started their last 102 drives in their own territory, the longest-such streak in over a decade. Pats have started 15 drives in enemy territory this season. Tyrod Taylor got hurt late in this game, which means Nathan Peterman probably gets another start against Indy at home next week.

Dolphins 35, Broncos 9— Denver’s offense is so pathetic, they were outscored 9-0 by the Miami defense in this game. Broncos have now lost eight games in a row (0-8 vs spread); they’ve lost field position battle by 11+ yards in five of their last six games, which is really bad. As bad a QB as Geno Smith is, he’s head and shoulders above any of Denver’s QB’s. Broncos are 0-6 on the road, 0-4 as a road underdog. I can picture Eli Manning playing there next season.

Titans 24, Texans 13— Tennessee has won six of its last seven games; they were headed for yet another tight win, leading 17-13 when they stopped Houston in their territory with 1:08 left, but then Derrick Henry broke free for a 75-yard TD with 0:46 left to give Titan backers the cover. Texans are now 1-5 in Savage starts, though Savage did pass for 365 yards in this game.

Jaguars 30, Colts 10— Indy lost six of last seven games; they’re 2-4 as road underdogs, with road losses by 37-28-1-14-20 points, with win at Watson-less Houston. Jaguars were 9-15 on third down in this game, after being 12-50 in their previous three games. Colts lost six of their last seven games; hard to believe they won’t have a new coach next season.

Packers 26, Buccaneers 20— Packers’ RB Aaron Jones ran 20 yards for a walk-off TD in OT, on his first carry of the game. Tampa lost seven of its last eight games; teams really aren’t going to want to do Hard Knocks anymore- Jeff Fisher got fired last year, Bucs are 4-8 this year after their coach/GM did lot of talking this summer about how great Tampa Bay’s talent is. Packers are back at .500 and play Cleveland this week; they’re not dead yet.

Jets 38, Chiefs 31— Kansas City started season 5-0, is now in a 3-way tie atop AFC West at 6-6. Alex Smith threw for 366 yards, four TD’s in a losing cause- not often an NFL team averages over 10 yards per play and loses. Andy Reid gave up play-calling duties for this game, and that helped, but it didn’t help KC’s defense. Chiefs led this game 14-0 after 4:24, but lost in Swamp Stadium for second time in three weeks.

Chargers 19, Browns 10— Josh Gordon caught four balls for 85 yards in his first NFL game in three years, but UNTIL CLEVELAND DRAFTS A QB, they’re still going to be dreadful. Chargers have now won six of their last seven games and are tied for first place with four games left. Bolts are 28-43 on third down in their last three games.

Rams 32, Cardinals 16— Rams’ MLB/defensive QB Alex Ogletree had a pick-6 early in this game, then left game with hyperextended elbow— he didn’t play in second half. Rams’ 16-0 lead had shrunk to 16-13 late in 2nd quarter, but as usual, LA played really well in second half and won going away. Todd Gurley had 158 all-purpose yards and the special teams were terrific.

Raiders 24, Giants 17— Giants made a 52-yard FG with 1:38 left for the backdoor cover; if you wagered on the Giants here, good for you, but it was their first game since 2004 that someone other than Eli Manning started at QB. Have to keep in mind that Raiders played without their top two WR’s (Cooper/Crabtree). Three of Oakland’s last four games are on road, including games at Chiefs/Chargers- they’re tied for first place with both of them.

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10— Win puts Seattle back in playoff picture; they were outgained 425-310 in this game, but Wentz’s fumble near goal line was fatal blow for Eagles here. Philly has 4-game lead in NFC East with four weeks left, so not lot of urgency for them, other than home field/bye in playoffs. This loss snapped 9-game winning streak for Iggles. Seattle was 6-12 on 3rd down in this game, breaking a recent trend of Philly’s defense dominating on third down.

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

13) Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21 (football)— How does JT Barrett have a minor knee operation on Sunday, then play six days later? This is smart?

Let the debate begin; Ohio State or Alabama for the 4-team national playoff? In my mind, if you lose 55-24 to Iowa, like Ohio State did, then you don’t make the playoff. I’d vote for Alabama, but by time you read this, it has probably already been determined.

Ohio State 83, Wisconsin 58 (basketball)— Rough day all-around for the Badgers.

12) Central Florida 62, Memphis 55, OT— Fantastic game, with UCF finishing a 12-0 regular season after going 0-11 two years ago. Thats the good news for the Knights.

Bad news: UCF coach Scott Frost agreed to a 7-year, $35M deal with Nebraska. It was a glorious day for the Central Florida kids, but then it gets dampened by their coach skipping town for big bucks. Welcome to the real world.

Frost will apparently coach UCF in its bowl game, which is unusual, but is is national TV exposure for a Nebraska program that went 4-8 this season and obviously isn’t in a bowl.

11) Xavier 89, Cincinnati 76— Bearcats didn’t get the memo that this was a noon tip-off- they played first 10:00 like they hit the snooze button on their alarm clocks. Game was 26-9 after 10:00, then it was pretty much even after that. Cincinnati is 1-7 in Cintas Center.

This rivalry is so intense they played it on a neutral court for a couple years; in Saturday’s game, one of the Xavier players was yapping at Cincy coach Cronin, who then yapped back. The two head coaches already don’t like each other and today didn’t help that any.

10) Oklahoma 41, TCU 17— Horned Frogs didn’t score in the second half.

This game was played in the Cowboys’ beautiful stadium; there is actually a bowl game on Dec 20 inside the Cowboys’ practice facility, which seats 12,000 for games and hosted a ton of high school games in Frisco, TX.

Imagine having a practice facility so nice that it hosts a college bowl game?

9) Georgia 28, Auburn 7— Auburn scored first time they had ball, never scored again; Georgia is first SEC East team to win this game since 2008.

8) Clemson 38, Miami 3— Ugly end to what has been an excellent season for Miami. Bryant was 23-29/252 passing; Clemson coaches did hell of a job developing his passing skills this season.

7) Clippers’ guard Austin Rivers got fined $25,000 by the NBA for telling a fan to “shut the (bleep) up” during a recent home game.

It is surprising this doesn’t happen more, seeing how close NBA fans are to the court and to the coaches/players. Courtside seats cost serious money, too.

6) Wichita State 69, Baylor 62— Solid road win for the Wheatshockers.

Georgia 73, Marquette 66— Same thing for the SEC’s Bulldogs.

5) Florida Atlantic 41, North Texas 17— I’ll take the under on how long Lane Kiffin stays at FAU, but his Owls are 10-3 and Conference USA champs.

One of my pet peeves reared its ugly head in this game; kid on FAU catches a long TD pass, jogs towards the goal line, then casually drops the ball BEFORE HE CROSSES THE GOAL LINE.

Why is this cool? How is this tolerated? Why does it happen so much? It is stupid!!!!

4) Arizona 91, UNLV 88 OT— Rebels were 0-2 this week, with pair of OT losses. UNLV’s three starting guards combined to shoot 5-21 from floor; McCoy/Juiston, their two big guys who will both be in the NBA, were 23-31- they need to get more shots.

This was a great game to watch; two teams playing their hearts out, but the talented freshmen are so young, so raw- they won’t be grownups until they’re in the NBA for a couple of years.

UNLV’s guards need to know they’re much better players when they’re passing the ball to Juistin and McCoy.

3) SMU 72, USC 55— Mustangs avenged a couple of losses to USC last year.

Imagine going to a college game and seeing a former US President sitting in the front row at halfcourt? George W Bush goes to lot of SMU games; he lives pretty close to their campus.

2) UConn 84, Monmouth 81 OT— Huskies won their last two games, over Columbia and Monmouth, with both wins in overtime. Winning is good, but when Columbia takes you to overtime, thats a red flag for a program with NCAA tournament aspirations.

1) A young man named Tyvoris Solomon plays basketball for South Carolina State; during their game with NC State Saturday, Solomon collapsed on the bench and his heart stopped. Only fast work by South Carolina’s trainer saved the young man’s life.

Tyvoris Solomon was in the hospital Saturday night with his family by his side; he was said to be resting comfortably and recovering, which we’re all thankful for.