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

1) March— Conference tournament basketball, March Madness, spring training games on TV every day, plus winter is winding down. March is a good time of year. 

2) November— Lot of football going on, plus college basketball starts

T3) June/July/August— Summer months are all good in upstate New York; hot weather, the horses are up in Saratoga in late July/August, baseball on the tube every night.

6) December— I spend 10 days in Las Vegas every December, wrapped around Christmas, so that ramps up this month’s ranking a lot. Walking on the Strip and seeing all the Christmas decorations is a little unique. 

College basketball games, the NFL stretch run, bowl games- good stuff.

7) September— When I was a kid, this was the worst month of the year, going back to school and all, but as an adult, football season starts, the pennant races in baseball, plus the weather is mostly still summer-ish. 

8) October— Slowest month for this website, which usually means a trip to the desert, never a bad thing. Football Sundays at the Westgate Theater are really good. 

9) May— Really the same month as April, except one more day and the weather is usually a little bit warmer. 

10) April— Baseball season starts, which is very good and winter is replaced by mostly rain, but the NBA/NHL playoffs start

11) January— 31 days of cruddy weather offsets the NFL playoffs and conference play in college basketball. There are no bad months of the year, but January is a damn cold month. 

12) February— Only 28 days (usually) but the same cruddy weather, plus only one football game, though the new AAF could start making February a little better. 

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

13) 40 years ago this week, one of my all-time favorite TV shows made its debut on CBS. 

The White Shadow was about a retired NBA player who coached an inner-city high school team in Los Angeles- his old college friend was the school’s principal. 

The show starred Ken Howard, who was brilliant as a high school coach who bickered with the female assistant principal; the show was written by Bruce Paltrow, better known as Gwyneth Paltrow’s father. 

Now that I’ve written that, I feel old. 40 years ago. Damn 

12) This week, Major League Baseball announced a multi-year partnership with MGM Resorts that includes sponsorships and promotions across various media platforms, as legalized wagering becomes an established thing all over America. Right now, eight states have legal sports betting, with more to come, for sure. 

11) Last year, Scott Tolzien started at QB in the Colts’ season opener against the Rams in LA; Tuesday night, he was the THIRD quarterback taken by the Birmingham Fire in the new AAF, who will be coached by former Packers’ DB Tim Lewis.

10) If you’re wondering about this new football league, the AAF that drafted its QBs Tuesday night, there will be no TV timeouts and 60% fewer commercials than NFL games. 

Other differences will include no kickoffs and instead of onside kicks, the trailing team will get the ball on their own 35-yard line facing 4th-and-10. There will also be a 30-second play clock and mandatory two-point conversion attempts after touchdowns.

The league starts the Saturday night after the Super Bowl and has a 10-game schedule this year, with eight teams in the league, at least for the first season.

9) USC kept head football coach Clay Helton, but four assistant coaches were told to take a hike over the weekend. In college football, the assistant coaches do the recruiting, so this is no small thing, since college football recruiting is basically a 24/7/365 pursuit. 

8) Larry Scott is the commissioner of the Pac-12 conference; he makes $3.1M a year, more money than every football coach in the Pac-12. 

Greg Sankey is the commissioner of the SEC; he makes around a million bucks a year, less than every head football coach in the SEC. 

At $3M a year, you’d think Mr Scott could find a way to get the Pac-12 Network on DirecTV. 

7) West Virginia OC/play caller Jake Spavital is the new football coach at Texas State; they must’ve been watching that 59-56 game with Oklahoma last week. Mountaineers finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense this year; Spavital is considered a really good recruiter, which will come in handy at Texas State, which needs a lot of players. 

6) Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm turned down Louisville’s offer, will stay as coach of the Boilermakers, which is good news for Purdue football fans. 

5) Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz for two future 2nd-round picks and Alec Burks,

4) Why is ESPN running another hour-long story on Bob Knight? Hasn’t this subject been beaten to death by now? Knight won three national titles but was a creep/bully who made the game less fun for everyone around him. When winning isn’t fun, thats a problem. 

3) Vanderbilt’s star freshman guard Darius Garland is out for this season after he had meniscus surgery; big loss for the Commodores. 

2) Fact that I found weird: Eldrick Woods made his first hole-in-one in 20 years last week while playing golf with Fred Couples in La Quinta, CA. How does a guy who is that good a golfer go 20 years in between hole-in-ones?

1) I’m guessing you do too, but I get dozens of e-mails from companies promoting their Cyber Monday or Black Friday sales. They shout out “Hurry before its too late!!!!” 

When it comes to spending your money, it is never too late. A few hours after that sale ends, another one just like it begins, and that too, according to e-mails, is too good to pass up. 

Guess it is a cheaper way of advertising, but enough already with the e-mails!!!!

Wednesday’s 2nd list of 13: Catching up on college hoop

If you spent all of November watching football and you missed the start of college basketball season, here is some of what you missed…….

13) Gonzaga 89, Duke 87— Finals of Maui Classic was a terrific game; Duke led 2-0, but that was it- they were down by 16 with 15:54 left, before tying game late. Zags made 10-19 on the arc, and they were playing without Tillie, who made 47.9% of his 3’s last year. 

12) Virginia 53, Wisconsin 46— Predictably slow-paced game (58 possessions) in final of the Battle for Atlantis. Teams combined to go 6-28 on arc; Badgers only got to foul line three times and forced only five turnovers (-8). If you bet the under, this was a rocking chair game. 

11) Kansas 87, Tennessee 81 OT— Vols start three seniors, two juniors, led by 8 early in 2nd half, but three Jayhawks played 40:00+ in this OT thriller. Kansas made 44% of its 3’s in its 5-0 start. Tennessee is #36 experience team, Kansas #283. 

10) Virginia Tech 89, Purdue 83— Finals of Charleston tourney elevated Hokies into the top 25, which they may have floundered by losing at Penn State last night. Tech outscored Purdue 19-7 on foul line. Both teams made over 40% of their 3’s. 

9) Duke 118, Kentucky 84— Result like this in a season opener distorted everyone’s view of the season; did Duke become a little overrated because they played so well in this game? If you’re John Calipari, how do you restore the young Wildcats’ confidence- they were down 91-54 at one point. 

8) Louisville 82, Michigan State 78 OT— Chris Mack has a tough job, following Rick Pitino at a place where the fanbase isn’t exactly patient, but this win gets him off on the right foot.

7) San Diego 70, Colorado 64— Toreros are #6 experience team in America; they’re 5-1 with a 3-point loss at Washington. The middle of the WCC is better this season than it has been for a few years. San Diego starts four seniors, so this is a big year for them. 

6) Buffalo 99, West Virginia 94 OT— Bob Huggins has young guards this year, which isn’t a good thing, but Buffalo is really good and should dominate the MAC. Bulls were down 69-56 with 8:05 left in regulation, but they forced 19 turnovers (+8) and got a great road win. 

5) UConn 83, Syracuse 76— Orangemen don’t leave home before Christmas too much; they made only 23.3% of their 3’s in their first five games. This was Danny Hurley’s first statement win as the new UConn coach, coming in New York City, where it was like an old Big East conference tournament game. 

4) Michigan 73, Villanova 46— Wildcats graduated four guys from LY’s national champs, and Michigan took its frustrations out for losing the national title game to Villanova eight months ago- this game was 49-17 at one point. Another early season brickfest, with teams combining to make only 8-32 on the arc. 

3) Ohio State 64, Cincinnati 56— Good road win for Buckeyes squad that is experience team #281, while Cincy is #131 in experience. OSU led 55-39 with 5:23 left, before Bearcats made a late run but fell short. Buckeyes also have a road win at Creighton already. 

2) Seton Hall 83, Miami 81— Finals of Wooden Legacy tournament in Fullerton; when they announce the Field of 68 in March, games like this will carry some weight, even though it was played almost four months before Selection Sunday. Pirates are #233 experience team; this is a great win for them. 

1) Texas 92, North Carolina 89— Longhorns look to be improved this year, after going 30-37 the last two years. Texas lost to Michigan State the next night, but they’ve got this win and a neutral court win over Arkansas- the #256 experience Longhorns hope to be a factor in March. 

Wednesday’s List of 13: College basketball knowledge…….

13) Top four rated conferences so far this season:

Big X, Big 14, ACC and the Big East. 

12) Teams with least experience in country, among teams in the betting rotation:

Kentucky, UCLA, Cal State-Northridge, Maryland, Chattanooga and Duke

One of those six teams has a lot more talent than the other five. 

11) Minutes Continuity measures how much guys have played together more than their experience- teams cobbled together by transfers are rated low in this metric:

Highest: Washington, Kansas State, Brown, Cal State-Fullerton, George Mason

Lowest: Tex-Arlington, Chattanooga, Idaho, Wichita State, Oakland

10) Teams who used their bench the most so far this year:
Denver, Manhattan, Georgia, Princeton, NC State

Teams who used their bench the least:
San Diego, Furman, Georgia State, St John’s, Boston College

9) Challengers to Gonzaga’s dynasty in the WCC are changing a little. St Mary’s is only 3-3 to start the season, but San Francisco and LMU are both still unbeaten. Conference seems to be a little deeper this season; BYU is still pretty good and San Diego seems improved, too. 

8) Mike Davis is the guy who replaced Bob Knight as the basketball coach at Indiana, which was an enormous job for a rookie coach. That was 18 years ago. 

18 years and three jobs later (he has won at all his coaching stops) Davis is now the coach at Detroit Mercy in the Horizon League. His son Antone is a freshman for the Titans, and the kid can shoot a basketball- he’s made 24 of his last 38 3-point shots. 

Horizon League has slipped of late (ranked #24 LY, were as high as #10 in 2011) and Davis got this job because the Titans are 16-47 the last five years. Detroit’s last winning season was in 2013, when their best player was the then-coach’s son (Ray McCallum Jr). 

Detroit starts young Davis and four seniors, so they’ll be an interesting follow this winter. They also have five true freshmen, six JC transfers and two graduate transfers. 

7) Rough start to the season for the Pac-12; Oregon is their highest-rated team, but the Ducks lost at home to Texas Southern Monday, as a 24-point favorite. Not looking good right now for the Pac-12 to get a lot of at-large spots in the NCAA’s. 

6) Texas Southern uses November/December to fund its program, playing a ridiculous number of road games for guarantee fees. Here is who they’ve played so far:

Nov 6, won 72-69 at Baylor
Nov 10, lost 104-67 at Gonzaga
Nov 12, lost 85-73 at Iowa State
Nov 14, lost 103-64 at San Diego State
Nov 18, lost 85-63 at Evansville
Nov 26, won 89-84 at Oregon

Their first Division I home game is January 19th. January freakin’ 19th. 

5) Teams who have taken the highest % of 3-point shots:
Drake, Eastern Washington, Villanova, Siena, North Dakota State

4) Teams who have made the highest % of 3-point shots:
Indiana State, New Mexico, Detroit, South Dakota State, Creighton

3) Teams playing the fastest tempos so far this season:
FIU, Marshall, Eastern Kentucky, Citadel, Rider, Green Bay

Teams playing slowest tempo so far this season:
Virginia, Siena, Marist, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Houston

2) As of Monday night, there were still 15 kids in the country who’ve taken 2+ foul shots per game and made all of them, led by Oakland’s Jaevin Cumberland, at 26-26. 

1) Oakland’s Braden Norris was leading the country in 3-point %age, making 12 of his 14 shots behind the arc. Ian Sistare of Dartmouth was next, at 11-14. 

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

13) OK, first thing today, I’d like some feedback from you, the reader; whats your favorite Christmas song? I’ll post some of the more interesting answers I get sometime before Christmas. 

E-mail me at Thanks. 

12) Jacksonville Jaguars fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett Monday, then named Cody Kessler their new starting QB for their home game against the Colts this week. 

Previous starter Blake Bortles had started 70+ consecutive games for Jacksonville, but the team’s 7-game losing streak cost him his starting job, at least for now. During Bortles’ tenure as the Jaguars’ starting QB, Jacksonville fired three offensive coordinators. 

11) We all think its great to be a pro athlete or a celebrity, but can you imagine what it is like to be sitting at home Monday night watching the ballgame and while a Tennessee player is hurt. the TV geniuses decide to analyze whats wrong with the Jaguars. 

All of a sudden, it becomes a “bash Bortles” thing; we all know that QB’s get too much credit and too much blame, thats why they get paid a lot of cash. But it still has to be weird to be sitting at home and hear guys who may or may not know a lot critiquing your career. 

10) Aaron Rodgers lost his last eight road starts; it’s the longest road losing streak by a Packers QB since David Whitehurst lost nine straight from 1978-81.

9) Bengals lost QB Andy Dalton (hand) for the season; backup Jeff Driskel will get his first NFL start Sunday at home against Denver. Driskel has thrown 36 passes in four NFL games; he was 17-29 passing in Sunday’s loss to the Browns. 

8) Texans 34, Titans 17— When did it become OK for football coaches to become reckless and go for it on 4th down whenever they feel like it? The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business, do things that are smart!!! 

Down 14-10 late in 2nd quarter, Tennessee had 4th-and-1 on the Houston 2-yard line. Instead of doing the smart thing, kicking a FG to make it 14-13, Titans not only go for it, they give the ball to a backup TE masquerading as a fullback, first time he ever carried the ball in the NFL. 

The play doesn’t work, Houston runs the next play 97 yards for a TD and school is out. There is a proper time to be conservative and/or “normal.” You do enough goofy things that don’t work, and your players will stop believing in you. 

7) Last week was the first time the Big East didn’t have anyone in college basketball’s top 25 since February, 1982. Villanova is back in the top 25 this week. 

6) Of the first 85 games ACC basketball teams played this month, only four of them were true road games, and North Carolina played two of those (Wofford, Elon). 

5) Atlanta Braves signed C Brian McCann to replace Kurt Suzuki and fill out their platoon at catcher with Tyler Flowers. Braves are also expected to sign 3B Josh Donaldson to a one-year deal, which Donaldson would use to get a longer deal at this time next year. 

4) Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series; the difference in each player’s winning share and losing share of World Series money: $154,810.23. 

3) Random fact: 19,429 baseball players have made it to the major leagues. 

2) Ole Miss football team went 0-8 against the spread in conference games this season, the first SEC team to do that, since at least 1985. They’re fifth team since 2005 in any conference to go winless against the spread in league play. 

1) This week, Rhode Island became the 8th state to have legalized sports betting; New York hasn’t done a damn thing yet, while everyone goes over to New Jersey to bet, and spend money on food and Christmas shopping. Brilliant!!!

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

Seahawks 30, Panthers 27— Carolina had ball nine times in this game; they got inside Seattle 20-yard line on seven of those nine drives, but scored only 27 points, which isn’t good, and it cost them this game- they also missed a 51-yard FG on one of the two drives that didn’t get into the red zone. Panthers also fumbled five times, though they didn’t lose any of them. 

Carolina lost its last three games, with no takeaways in any of them; this was their first home loss this season. Seattle passes the Panthers in Wild Card race; they’re 10-6-2 in last 18 games as a road underdog. 

Browns 35, Bengals 20— Maybe it IS Hue Jackson’s fault; Browns won two of three games since they sent Jackson away, scoring 28-35 points in last two games. Bengals brought Jackson on as an assistant coach and haven’t won since, giving up 51-24-35 points in their last three games. 

Cleveland’s offense in first half: 4 drives, 37 plays, 289 yards, four TD’s. They ran out the last 0:32 of the first half with a fifth drive. 

Andy Dalton hurt his thumb in this game, as Cincy lost for 5th time in last six tries. 

Browns ended a 25-game losing streak with this win. This was first time the expansion-Browns ever scored 28+ points in a first half; last time the old Browns (now the Ravens) scored 28+ points in the first half of a game was back in 1991. 

Buccaneers 27, 49ers 9— This doesn’t happen much, but every so often, handicapping is a simple game. Saturday night, 49ers’ LB Reuben Foster was arrested at the team’s hotel and charged with domestic violence. The night before a game- brilliant!!! This makes the 49ers a go-against play.

49ers released Foster after the game.

Buccaneers gained 400+ yards for 6th time in last seven games, but won for first time in last five weeks. For once, they didn’t turn the ball over, going +3 in turnovers. 

Eagles 25, Giants 22:
— Giants in first half: 5 drives, 38 plays, 346 yards, 19 points
— Giants in second half: 5 drives, 22 plays, 56 yards, 3 points.
— Philly was scoreless in first quarter for 5th game in a row.
— Eagles won 17 of their last 21 games against the Giants.

Unless Saquon Barkley is hurt and Giants are hushing it up, they committed malpractice here by not feeding him the ball enough. 13 runs, 8 pass targets wasn’t near enough in this game and for the love of God, if you go for two points from the 1-yard line, give him the bleeping ball!!!! 

Bills 24, Jaguars 21— This game was like a throwback to the 70’s; both teams ran for more yards than they threw for; Bills completed only 8 passes all day, but on an unseasonably warm day in western NY (44 degrees), Jacksonville lost its 7th game in a row. 

Bills’ rookie QB Allen ran the ball 13 times for 99 yards; unless he learns to slide or get OB and avoid big hits, he is going to have a short NFL career. He’s got talent, but he’s got to preserve his health, or else……..

Ravens 34, Raiders 17— Speaking of running QB’s, Lamar Jackson toned it down in this game, running only 11 times, after 27 runs LW; Jackson is 2-0 as an NFL starter while Oakland lost for 6th time in its last seven games. Raiders are 15 for their last 55 on third down. 

Patriots 27, Jets 13— New England is now 13-2 in last 15 series games; they gained 498 yards in this game, averaging 9.1 yards/pass attempt in a game where Jets had 10-yard advantage in field position. Patriots won last five series games played in the New Jersey swamp; they’re 14-7 vs spread in last 21 games as road favorites. 

Colts 27, Dolphins 24— Indy won its fifth straight game after a 1-5 start; they’ve scored 26 TD”s on their last 63 drives. Andrew Luck seems like a lock for Comeback Player of the Year. 

Colts were sloppy in this game; they turned ball over three times (-2), missed a FG, but scored all three times they had ball in 4th quarter and pulled this game out. Right now, Indy is #7 seed in AFC. Miami lost six of its last eight games after a 3-0 start; I’m guessing jobs are in jeopardy at this point. Dolphins lost their last five road games. 

Chargers 45, Cardinals 10— Arizona led 10-0 after first quarter, then they played the rest of the game, and they got crushed. Cardinals lost five of their last six games; they’re 1-4 on road, with all four losses by 10+ points

Philip Rivers completed his first 25 passes, was 28-29 for the game. Chargers scored TD’s on five consecutive drives spanning 2nd/3rd quarters, gaining 320 yards on 40 plays, in an impressive display of offense (or bad defense). Bolts won seven of their last eight games. 

Broncos 24, Steelers 17— Wild game, with lots of twists/turns:
— Steelers outgained Denver 527-308, but they were -4 in turnovers, which is almost always a recipe for disaster.
— Pittsburgh tied game on last play of first half, on a fake FG- the kicker threw a TD pass to an offensive lineman. Gutsy call, borderline insane, but it worked.
— Steelers had ball on the Denver 2-yard line with 1:10 left, but Roethlisberger’s pass was picked off by a defensive lineman— not Big Ben’s finest moment.
— Pittsburgh drops to #4 seed in AFC with this loss; they would play Chargers in first round, if playoffs started today. Pittsburgh hosts the Chargers this coming Sunday night. 

Vikings 24, Packers 17— Green Bay is 0-6 on the road, and Mike McCarthy’s job security has to be almost zero. Was thinking about possible replacements; how about Jeff Tedford? 

Tedford was Aaron Rodgers’ college coach at Cal; he was at Cal for 11 years, has been at Fresno State the last two years, and was HC in the CFL for a year in between.  It makes some sense.

Right now, Minnesota is the #5 seed in the NFC; three teams are a half-game behind them. 

Calgary 27, Ottawa 16— Stampeders lost the CFL’s championship game the last couple years, so they get some vindication by winning their second Grey Cup in five years- they also won in ’14. 

College football coaching carousel:
— Texas Tech fired Cliff Kingsbury
— North Carolina fired Larry Fedora
— USC retained Clay Helton, despite their 5-7 record. 

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

13) Ohio State 62, Michigan 39
— Rough day for the Wolverines, the most points they’ve ever allowed in a non-OT game.
— Michigan has now lost its last nine visits to Columbus.
— Urban Meyer is 7-0 SU as an underdog with the Buckeyes.
— Ohio State had four TD plays of 24+ yards; they also blocked a punt for a TD.
— Michigan QB Patterson got hurt late in game; check status for their bowl game. 

Who does this promote to the #4 spot nationally? Oklahoma? Ohio State? Georgia? Oklahoma is 108th in country in yardage defense, giving up 449 yards per game. Oy. 

12) Texas A&M 74, LSU 72, 7 OT’s— Fifth 7-OT game in history, highest scoring game in I-A history. I actually felt bad that someone had to lose— kids were all trying so hard. 

Aggies ended a 7-game losing streak to LSU. 

Plays run: Texas A&M 107, LSU 90. By way of comparison, in the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Chiefs Monday night, plays run were: Rams 75, Chiefs 69

11) Arizona State 41, Arizona 40— Wildcats missed a 45-yard FG with 0:13 left; the kid had gone 4-4 on FG’s before that, but now Arizona doesn’t go bowling. 

This was first time since 2007 that ASU won a game after trailing by 19+ points. 

10) Purdue 28, Indiana 21— Boilermakers are bowl eligible, Hoosiers aren’t. Question becomes this for Purdue; will coach Brohm still be their coach for the bowl game, or will have bolted to Louisville by then? It is a fair question.

9) Baylor 35, Texas Tech 24— Bears are 6-6 and bowl eligible; Texas Tech is 5-7 and may be looking for a new head coach. Baylor coach Matt Rhule won at Temple, which says a lot; he is a very good coach. 

Baylor was 32-7 from 2013-15, so the fanbase was getting spoiled before off-field issues sent the Bears into a tailspin. Rhule has pulled them out of the tailspin. 

8) Florida 41, Florida State 14— Seminoles finish 5-7, their first losing season since 1976, the first time they’re not going bowling since 1981. Over last 11 years, FSU is 1-6 vs spread when they’re a home underdog. 

7) Upsets of the Week:
— Charlotte (+17) 24, Florida Atlantic 21
— UNLV (+13.5) 34, Nevada 29
— Wake Forest (+12.5) 59, Duke 7
— Minnesota (+11) 37, Wisconsin 15
— Western Kentucky (+10.5) 30, Louisiana Tech 15
— Rice (+7.5) 27, Old Dominion 13
— Syracuse (+7) 42, Boston College 21
— Western Michigan (+6.5) 28, Northern Illinois 21

6) NC State 34, North Carolina 28 OT— A fracas broke out right after the Wolfpack scored the game-winning TD. Watching a replay of it, the funny thing is that there are no officials in the picture at all- they must have bolted to the locker room as soon as the kid crossed the goal line.

Tar Heels finish a putrid season 2-9, which started with a lot of their players being suspended for selling the free Jordan Brand stuff they get from the school.  

5) Southern Mississippi 39, UTEP 7— Eagles are the 78th I-A team to clinch at least a 6-6 record, so with 39 bowl games, there will be no 5-7 teams headed to bowls this season. 

Tulane 29, Navy 28— Congrats to the Green Wave on going bowling for first time since 2013. 

4) Central Michigan fired football coach John Bonamego this week, ending a cruddy year for the Chippewas. Earlier this season, Paulette Bonamego, the coach’s wife, was banned from Kelly/Shorts Stadium following an October 13 confrontation with CMU play-by-play broadcaster Don Chiodo in the press box.

Losing is often as hard on the coach’s family as it is on the coach. 

3) Washington 28, Washington State 15— Huskies win Apple Cup for sixth year in a row, and wins a spot in next weekend’s Pac-12 title game. 

2) University of Albany was supposed to be one of the best basketball teams in America East this winter, but both their returning senior guards bolted as graduate transfers, one to Villanova, one to Florida State. The grass always looks greener on someone else’s lawn.

As luck would have it, Villanova-Florida State play today in finals of the AdvoCare tournament at DisneyWorld in Orlando. Neither kid starts for his new team. 

1) Best wishes to NFL legend Mike Ditka 79, who had a mild heart attack in Florida this week. Get well soon, coach. 

Saturday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a busy Black Friday…..

13) Why the Redskins have a big problem; Alex Smith’s strength as a QB is “not losing” games; the last three years, Kansas City had a +45 turnover ratio (in 48 regular season games). This season, Washington’s turnover ratio was +12 in Smith’s ten starts. 

A +57 turnover ratio in 58 NFL games is pretty damn strong. 

But now Smith has a broken leg and Colt McCoy is Washington’s QB; a team that is built on good defense and protecting the ball on offense threw three INTs in Dallas Thursday, and now they’re not in first place anymore, though they’re still close. 

What happens if all four teams in the NFC East wind up 8-8? 

12) Oklahoma 59, West Virginia 56:
— Total on this game closed at 88, the highest total ever.
— How much do the defensive coordinators for these teams get paid?
— Seems like neither defense is very well-coordinated. Halftime score was 35-28.
— West Virginia gained 704 yards on 90 plays, but lost.
— Oklahoma gained 668 yards on only 65 plays.
— Sooners also scored two defensive TD’s. 

11) Virginia 53, Wisconsin 46— Cavaliers win the Battle for Atlantis; the last four years, team that won this tournament made the Final Four three times- the 4th team lost in the Sweet 16. 

10) Lamar Jackson will start at QB again for the Ravens this week; it will be his 2nd NFL start. 

Josh McCown will start again for the Jets; it will be his 75th career start, the first of which happened when Lamar Jackson was five years old. 

9) Central Florida 38, South Florida 10— Knights remain unbeaten but they lost their QB McKenzie Milton with what appeared to be a severe leg injury. 

8) Chicago Bears’ Eddie Jackson was a 4th round draft pick in 2017, out of Alabama; he’s scored five TD’s in his first 27 NFL games, and he’s a damn safety!!!

7) Baseball writers who plan on voting for David Ortiz for the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible better be voting for Edgar Martinez this year, too. 

Career OPS of .933, 309 homers, seven All-Star Games. Martinez shouldn’t be penalized for playing his whole career in Seattle, out of the national spotlight. 

6) Harold and Tina Ehrenberg, a couple from Mandeville, LA, were cleaning their house to get ready for hosting Thanksgiving dinner, when they found a lottery ticket they’d bought months earlier. The ticket turned out to be worth $1.8M; Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

5) Stanford’s basketball team scored 46-49 points in losing their first two games at the Battle for Atlantis; it was the first time since 1961 that Stanford scored less than 50 points in consecutive games. Cardinal rallied to beat Middle Tennessee 67-54 in the 7th place game Friday. 

4) Marquette has a 6-8 freshman named Brendan Bailey who is the son of Thurl Bailey, the former NC State star who played 13 years in the NBA, scoring over 11,000 points. 

3) Marquette 77, Louisville 74 OT— Every November I’m reminded of how much I dislike Jay Bilas as an ESPN analyst; its like the swallows returning to Capistrano. Bilas should be a referee supervisor, because thats about half of all his analysis- ripping the officials. 

To me, listening to really good announcers is like listening to a couple of friends talk about a game; we’re not going to agree on everything, but you enjoy the debate. When Bilas is on a game, half the time I feel like I’m being scolded. 

This was an interesting game, but not sure how good these teams are. Marquette is 77-61 in Wolciechowski’s 4+ years as coach (31-41 in Big East games), Louisville is rebuilding with Chris Mack taking over as they start the post-Pitino era. 

2) North Carolina 94, UCLA 78— Bruins led by 5 at halftime, so not only did UCLA lose both its game in Las Vegas, they were outscored by 20+ points in a half in both games. Safe to say that the natives in Westwood are getting a little annoyed with the Steve Alford era. 

1) Kent State 77, Vanderbilt 75— Commodores were a 12-point favorite and lost, but thats not the worst news; star freshman Darius Garland hurt his knee- the exact extent of the injury is not yet known, but the loss of the 6-2 NBA prospect would be a huge blow to Vandy’s hopes. 

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up Thanksgiving leftovers……

13) Bears 23, Lions 16— Chicago won its last five games, beating Detroit twice in 12 days. Chase Daniel won his first NFL start in four years, and only the third of his 9-year career. 

Chicago now has 29 takeaways, most in the NFL, and a +14 turnover ratio. 

12) Cowboys 31, Redskins 23— Three weeks ago, Dallas was 3-5 and pundits were calling for coach Jason Garrett’s head. Now Dallas is in first place in the NFC East, a division that figures to have a wild finish. What if all four teams wound up 8-8? 

11) Saints 31, Falcons 17— New Orleans won its last 10 games, covered its last nine. Some pundits are already awarding them the Lombardi Trophy. 

Falcons have a running back named Ito Smith, a rookie from Southern Miss, and apparently, he was named after Judge Lance Ito, the judge who presided over OJ Simpson’s murder trial. 

One of his parents thought young Mr Smith resembled Judge Ito right after he was born, so he was named after the then-famous judge, who was on TV almost every day for about a year. 

10) Its funny, you hear about these college basketball teams who take international trips in the summer and how much it helps them the following season, which it usually does. 

Except when it doesn’t; few years ago, a team I can’t remember who (USC maybe??) lost its point guard with a torn ACL on its international trip during the late summer and their season that winter was a total disaster. Goes to show you; there are no guarantees in life. 

9) Basketball referee Ed Corbett worked the Maui Classic this week, then retired from being a basketball official— pretty good way to go out. Corbett was a D-I referee for 33 years. 

8) Referee Ted Valentine, often known as TV Teddy for his tendency to attract attention while he referees, also worked the Maui Classic Monday-Wednesday, but then on Thursday, he was at Cal State-Fullerton working the Wooden Legacy tournament. 

The best college basketball refs work 70-80 games a year from November-March and rake in a six-figure income from a job that usually isn’t their primary source of income.  

7) Wisconsin 78, Oklahoma 58
Virginia 66, Dayton 59— Badgers-Cavaliers meet for the title at the Battle for Atlantis. 

6) Michigan State 87, UCLA 67
Texas 92, North Carolina 89— Think FS1 was hoping for Carolina-Michigan State for its Friday night programming, but the Longhorns spoiled the party. 

UCLA was down 51-26 at the half and now they have to play the Tar Heels in a consolation game tonight; going to be a long bus ride back to Westwood. 

5) Hawai’i 90, Utah 79— Solid win for the Big West’s Rainbows; it is Hawai’s first win over a Pac-12 team since they upset Cal Bears in the 2016 NCAA’s. 

4) At the Advocate tournament at Disney in Florida, all four favorites won/covered in the first round, which is pretty unusual. Also means there were four lousy games. 

3) Mississippi State 35, Ole Miss 3— Rebels lost their last five games, finished their season 5-7, on a night where a fracas broke out and every player on both teams was assessed a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Never saw that before. 

2) North Carolina had a football game cancelled by weather on September 15; they’re not going to make the game up, for financial reasons. 

Turns out the Tar Heels had game cancellation insurance worth $1.6M; with low fan interest in another game, only a few teams available to play, UNC chose not to pay to add a week to its second consecutive losing season- they weren’t going to a bowl game either way.

1) The bus carrying U of Washington  band rolled over last night, on its way to the Huskies’ rivalry game with Washington State. Luckily, no serious injuries were reported. 

Thursday’s Den: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!!

13) Bears’ backup QB Chase Daniel has been in the NFL for nine years, during which time he’s banked $28M while starting two games; one each for the Chiefs in 2013, 2014. Looks like it’ll be Daniel making the start for Chicago in their game at Detroit today— Mitch Trubisky’s shoulder is banged up, so it is likely he will take Thanksgiving Day off. 

12) Gonzaga 89, Duke 87— Quite a ballgame; Zags gagged pretty badly in last 0:30, going 0-4 on foul line, but Duke missed their last seven shots from floor and Gonzaga wins the Maui Classic. This is the triumph of a more experienced team over a younger, more talented group. 

11) On Duke’s last shot of this game, there was contact but no foul was called; ESPN analyst Jay Bilas (a Duke alum) offered a mild protest, but where was he Tuesday, when Duke shot 20 free throws before Auburn took one? Its not so easy when you don’t get every call.

Bilas/Bill Walton were ESPN’s two analysts for the Maui Classic; Bilas had the Duke side of the broadcast all three days. Is Walton not allowed to work Duke games? 

10) Thanks to Nike for saving me some money by designing the ugliest polo shirts ever this year; the polo shirts the coaches of Nike teams are wearing this week aren’t good. 

9) Fran Fraschilla is working games for ESPN in Brooklyn this week; I’m sure he thrilled the people in Cincinnati when he called Chris Mack’s move from Xavier to Louisville a “no-brainer” 

Mack went to college at Xavier and coached there for 18 years, nine as head coach- I’m guessing he put a lot of thought into the decision. Mrs Mack is from Louisville, which probably sealed the deal, but you don’t just bolt your alma mater, especially a school in the basketball-only Big East. 

8) Jim Hickey is out as pitching coach of the Cubs; manager Joe Maddon will be a lame duck skipper in 2019— Hickey also worked with Maddon in Tampa Bay. Not lot of appreciation being shown for Maddon winning the World Series in 2016. 

7) Tampa Bay Rays dumped 1B/DH CJ Cron, who hit 30 homers last year. There has to be some place in the majors this guy can play. His career OB% is .311 which hurts him in this age of analytics, but come on, there isn’t one MLB team that could use a 30-homer guy? 

6) Marquette has a very good basketball player named Markus Howard whose dad played football at Indiana— his coach there was ESPN GameDay analyst Lee Corso, who coached the Hoosiers for ten seasons (1973-82).  

5) Grizzlies 104, Spurs 103— Right now, Memphis has the best record in the west, which is a huge surprise. Golden State is 12-7 and is the 5th seed in the west right now. 

4) Georgia State 91, Georgia 67— Huge win for the erratic Panthers, who lost to Creighton by 25 on Tuesday. Tom Crean’s Dawgs had a rough week on the Cayman Islands. 

3) Dayton 69, Butler 64— Big win for the Atlantic 14, which is 10th-rated conference right now; last time they ended a season ranked this low was 12 years ago. 

2) Pittsburgh 75, Saint Louis 73— Panthers are already 6-0, after going 8-24 last year; they’re starting three freshmen and two juniors, are #299 experience team. Saint Louis is top-ranked team in A-14, so this loss hurts that conference. 

1) Knicks 117, Celtics 109— Boston is a disappointing 9-9 on Thanksgiving morning.

“(Bleep) Thanksgiving,” said Kyrie Irving after this game. Alrighty then. 

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

13) This exchange happened on ESPN2’s telecast during the Arizona-Iowa State game Monday night at the Maui Classic.

Bill Walton: “Did your dad play for Jerry Tarkanian?”

Jason Benetti: “My dad was an air traffic controller.”

Walton: “How cool would it have been, though, if your dad had played for Jerry Tarkanian?”

Benetti: Silence.

I enjoy listening to Walton a lot; it is a little bizarre at times, but always fun. 

12) How to get ahead in the salary cap era; have really productive players who are early in their career. Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes makes $1.2M, RB Kareem Hunt $584,000, WR Tyreek Hill $687,000. NFL stands for “Not For Long” when it comes to those salaries. 

11) In college football, assistant coaches in the press box have to take an elevator to get down to the locker room at halftime. Not all of the elevators are fast. In a UCLA game recently, Bruins’ coach Chip Kelly actually called a timeout to stall for time so his assistants would be in the locker room when the players got there. Thats called thinking of everything. 

10) In his last two games, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker scored 60 points against the 76ers, 43 against the Celtics.

9) Why did the Redskins sign Mark Sanchez as their backup QB? Washington OC Matt Cavanaugh was Jets’ QB coach from ’09-’12. OL coach Bill Callahan was Jets’ OL Coach 2008-2011. Redskins’ QB coach Kevin O’Connell was once a backup QB for the Jets, so there is ton of familiarity for Sanchez to learn Washington’s system.

8) It is Thanksgiving week and four NHL coaches have already been fired. Seems a little early to be firing coaches, but what do I know?

7) Adrian Beltre retired this week, with 477 home runs in 21 years. Excellent career. Five Gold Gloves, over 3,100 hits, four All-Star games. 

6) Kid on Iowa State wore different colored sneakers during their game with Illinois Tuesday; not sure why he did that, but I’m guessing he had another pair just like it in his locker. Am thinking the Nike people loved it when the kid was shooting free throws and the camera focused on his Nike sneakers for a few seconds. Free advertising. 

5) Why would anyone trade for JR Smith? When a player publicly announces he wants to jump ship from a losing team that was recently a winning team, it tells you one thing: “The guy isn’t loyal” Why would you give up a player/draft pick to acquire this guy? 

Smith is 33, is in his 15th NBA season, a career 37.3% 3-point shooter. Shooting is and always will be marketable; Smith will find a home, but that coach will probably have more headaches. 

4) Ravens’ rookie QB Lamar Jackson ran the ball 27 times Sunday; since 1999, no QB has run the ball that many times in one game. 

3) Gonzaga 91, Arizona 74— Wildcats led this game by 13 early in 2nd half, but Zags went wild after Arizona’s Chase Jeter got his 4th foul, bitched at the ref and got a technical, which became his 5th foul, ending his night. Gonzaga-Duke play for the Maui title tonight. 

2) Lipscomb 73, TCU 64— Lipscomb is never on TV except maybe during Champ Week, but they’ve won 43 games the last two years, are 4-1 this year and were rated #115 in country prior to this upset of the Horned Frogs. Lipscomb was a 12.5-point underdog in this game. 

1) The more I think about it, the more Jared Goff is starting to remind me of Troy Aikman; he is surrounded by a lot of stars on his team, including his coach, but he just does his job and wins lot of games and is a quiet star. Nothing wrong with that; Aikman is a Hall of Famer, and I’m pretty sure he’s really rich. 

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

13) I hope this isn’t offensive but it made me laugh………

“An Albuquerque woman is suing Samsung for $1.8M after she necessitated medical attention after inserting her cellphone inside her vagina and was unable to retrieve it for 96 hours.”

The 39-year old woman claims her medical bills at University of New Mexico’s Hospital amount to $1,168,000 and that she has suffered from severe psychological distress because of the whole ordeal. She said she first inserted the cell phone inside her vagina as a dare from one of her friends, but quickly realized that the phone would not come out.

Moving right along………

12) Did you know that over the last six basketball seasons, Kentucky is just 2-10-1 vs the spread as a road underdog in conference games? 

11) Colorado fired football coach Mike MacIntyre, who had a 30-44 record in six seasons. Buffs started this season 5-0, but an injury-depleted team lost its last six games. MacIntyre will not coach Colorado in its last regular season game, against Cal. 

10) Kansas’ new football coach Les Miles gets a 5-year contract that will pay him $2,775,000 a year, with longevity bonuses 2020 and 2022. Its good to be friends with the AD. 

Miles gives a great press conference; he probably has been our Quote of the Day on this site as much as anyone, except maybe Steve Kerr.

9) We’ve talked before this season about Washington State QB Gardner Minshew, who has led the Coogs to a 10-1 record, throwing for 29 TDs and 3,852 yards. 

My question is this: How on God’s green earth was Minshew not the full-time starter last year at East Carolina? He split time with a Duke transfer named Thomas Sirk. Coaching matters. 

8) San Diego State football coach Rocky Long played DB in the old World Football League, playing for the Detroit Wheels in 1974. Great name for a team. WFL used a yellow football so it would show up better on TV. Pretty sure Pat Haden played in that league too ,maybe for the South California Sun.

7) Friday night, Utah Jazz lost 113-107; the team’s star Donovan Mitchell took 35 shots and had zero assists, which usually infers that the player is selfish, which Mitchell isn’t. 

Mitchell was 12-24 on 2-point shots, 1-11 outside the arc; you can pass the ball and not get an assist because your teammates miss shots, but 35 shots and zero assists is very unusual. 

Saturday night in their win at Boston, Mitchell took 21 shots and had six assists. 

6) QB’s the Redskins are working out this week to be a backup to new starter Colt McCoy; Mark Sanchez, EJ Manuel, Josh Johnson, TJ Yates and Kellen Clemens. 

How does every NFL team not keep three QB’s on their roster? What would’ve happened if McCoy had gotten hurt during the Houston game? Who would play QB then? Redskins don’t have a quarterback on their practice squad. 

5) Carolina QB Cam Newton threw an 82-yard pass to DJ Moore early in the third quarter in Detroit Sunday; it was the longest NFL reception in three years that didn’t wind up as a TD. Panthers kicked a FG on that drive; the 4-point difference was important in a 20-19 game. 

4) Los Angeles Rams’ business offices are pretty close to where the wildfires have been burning; the offices will be closed for a couple more weeks. Lot of team employees have been working from their homes during this difficult time in southern California. 

3) Singer Dolly Parton has donated over 100 million books to children; in a world that is going crazier by the day, thought I’d point out some good news, too. 

2) Sacramento Kings are 8-8 and much-improved this season, but there are rumors that the team’s powers-that-be are unhappy about the playing time their younger players are getting, and as a result, coach Dave Joerger’s job is in jeopardy. The front office wants the young players to play more; the coach wants to win now, so he can stay employed. Go figure. 

You wonder why some teams always, always lose???

1) Speaking of which, I wake up Sunday morning and one of first things I read is that the Browns are thinking about interviewing former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to be their new head coach. Seriously.  

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday……

Texans 23, Redskins 21— 33 years ago Sunday, Joe Theismann broke his leg in a Monday night game; just a gruesome injury. In this game, Alex Smith broke his leg in third quarter, with Redskins down 17-7; Colt McCoy came off bench and led two TD drives, but Houston kicked FG with 7:30 to win the game and improve their record to 7-3. 

Skins’ TD that put them up 21-20 in third quarter was first lead change in any Redskin game all season, which is kind of hard to believe. Washington allowed 17 or fewer points in all six of their wins; they’re 0-4 allowing more than 17. 

Cowboys 22, Falcons 19— First three quarters of this game, no TD’s, five FG’s, which is very un-Falcon-like. Teams both converted 50%+ of their 3rd down conversions, but they were poor in the red zone. 

Dallas is 4-0 when it scores 20+ points, 0-5 when it doesn’t; they’re 27-16 vs spread in last 43 games as road underdogs. Under Quinn, Atlanta is 10-17 as a home favorite. 

Lions 20, Panthers 19— Carolina hit the left upright with 34-yard FG in 3rd quarter, then missed PAT on TD with 5:13 left to play, so when they scored TD with 1:07 left that made score 20-19, Ron Rivera decided to go for 2…..and that didn’t work either. Panthers are now 6-15-1 vs spread in last 22 games as a road favorite. 

Giants 38, Buccaneers 35— These is no excuse for the Bucs being 3-7; they’ve gained 500+ TY in four of their last six games, but they cannot protect the ball. In their last eight games, Tampa Bay has turned ball over 27 times (-25). As the Hall of Fame coach George Allen used to say, “More games are lost than won.” 

Bucs benched Fitzpatrick after an awful INT in end zone; Jameis Winston came in and looked like Dan Fouts, completing 12-16 passes for 199 yards and two TD’s, but Manning completed 17-18 passes on the day, as Giants won their second game in a row after a 1-7 start. 

Don’t think I’ve seen this before: on their last nine drives, Tampa Bay scored five TD’s but threw four INT’s. All or nothing. They were also stopped on 4th down inside the Giants’ 5-yard line on their first drive of the game. 

Ravens 24, Bengals 21— Rookie QB Jackson won his first NFL start, running for 117 yards and throwing for 150 more, playing against a defense that had allowed 500+ yards in their previous three games- Cincy fired their DC last Monday. Bengals lost four of their last five games. 

Steelers 20, Jaguars 16— With 2:00 left in 3rd quarter, Jaguars led 16-0; this is a brutal loss for Jags, making them 3-7 and basically ending their season. Jags started three drives in Steelers territory, but scored only three points on those drives. Jaguars passed for only 64 yards. 

Steelers’ first 9 drives: 33 plays, 125 yards, zero points, five 3/outs.
Steelers’ last 5 drives: 27 plays, 249 yards, 20 points. 

Roethlisberger ran for the winning TD with 0:05 left; Steelers won their last six games. 

Seahawks 27, Packers 24— Seattle outrushed Green Bay 173-48; Packers converted only 3-11 third down plays. 46-yard FG Crosby missed when Packers led 7-0 turned out to be painful. 

Home teams are now 9-2 in Thursday night games this season. 

Colts 38, Titans 10— Tennessee crushed New England LW, so of course they come here and get their butts kicked. Titans’ QB Mariota hurt his elbow near end of first half; Gabbert played 2nd half. Colts have now won 17 of last 20 series games, 10 of last 11 played here. Indy has won four games in a row after a 1-5 start. 

In the first half, Titans’ DC, 69-year old Dean Pees was taken to the hospital with “a medical issue.” We wish him well. 

Saints 48, Eagles 7— If you don’t think the NFL season is long, consider this: the Saints lost at home to the Buccaneers in their season opener. Not exactly an omen of things to come. Saints won their last eight games, covered last eight- they scored 45-51-48 points last three games. 

Eagles are learning a fact of life in the NFL; it is never far from the penthouse to the outhouse. Philly lost five of its last seven games- they have one takeaway in their last four games. 

Broncos 23, Chargers 22— LA’s six-game win streak comes to an end; they screwed up clock management while trying to run out the clock. Chargers had ball at midfield at the 2:00 warning, but they took hardly any time off the clock before punting the ball back to Denver. 

Broncos won 12 of last 15 series games; five of last six Charger games, seven of last nine Denver games stayed under the total. Chargers’ loss gives Kansas City some breathing room heading into the Monday night headliner in the Coliseum. 

Chargers outgained Denver 479-325; they converted 9-15 on third down; six of those nine conversions were on plays of 20+ yards. But they didn’t win. 

Raiders 23, Cardinals 21— These two teams and the 49ers are all 2-8, tied for worst record in the league, which will be interesting when the draft comes around in April. Cardinals beat the 49ers twice; Oakland won this game but got crushed by San Francisco. 

Arizona ran only 52 plays, completed only 9-20 passes, converted 3-11 on third down, and their best player is Larry Fitzgerald, who will retire soon. Cardinals are minus-10 in turnovers in their last four games. Not sure how strong their future is. 

Bears 25, Vikings 20— Chicago won/covered its last four games; they’re 5-1 at home, 5-0 as a home favorite. Quick turnaround for Chicago; Bears had the Sunday night game, then play at 12:30 Thursday afternoon.  

Both teams turned ball over three times in this game; Minnesota threw 46 passes, ran ball 14 times. This wasn’t one of Kirk Cousins’ best nights. 

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

13) Ohio State 52, Maryland 51 OT— This was the strangest of games……..
— Maryland’s QB tore his knee up last week, is out for the year; they gained 535 yards in a game where their backup QB played the whole game.
— Terps had TD runs of 81-75 yards, just in the first quarter- they ran the ball for 339 freakin’ yards, which we’ll get back to later.
— Urban Meyer looks stressed out on sidelines, like he could keel over for good at any minute.
— Buckeyes have allowed 31+ points in three of their last four games.
— Maryland scores in OT to make score 52-51; did we mention they ran the ball for 339 yards? They go for 2 points and the win, but they throw a pass with their backup QB. No bueno.
— 47 of their first 61 plays were runs, but they threw a pass with the game on the line.

I was thoroughly entertained by this game, but the end just ticked me off. Do what you do best!!!! Run the damn ball. Maryland wins this game, and the interim coach might become the full-time coach. Now? Good luck interviewing for jobs this winter.  

12) Oklahoma State 45, West Virginia 41— Not everyone who plays college football is going to the NFL; senior QB Tyler Cornelius threw a total of 24 passes in his first three years at OSU, but he is the starter this year and this was a big day for him on Senior Day, going 30-46 for 338 yards and three TD’s as they upset West Virginia. 

Here are the distances between West Virginia and their Big X rivals:
— Iowa State 872 miles; Kansas 902, Kansas State 983
— Oklahoma State 1,086, Oklahoma 1,137, TCU 1,238
— Baylor, 1,299, Texas 1,401, Texas Tech 1,467

Why the bleep is West Virginia in this league and not the Big 14 or the ACC? 

11) UCLA 34, USC 27— Joshua Kelley ran ball 40 times for 289 yards, the most yards for any UCLA RB since 2004; Bruins are 3-8, USC is 5-6. Last time both of these schools finished with losing records was 1958, before I was born. Trojans have to upset Notre Dame next week to get to 6-6 and be bowl eligible— ain’t gonna happen. 

Where does USC look for a new coach? Would they dare consider Lane Kiffin again? How about John Harbaugh or Mike Leach? 

USC has had three former football players (Garrett, Haden, Swann) as AD’s; how about hiring an experienced administrator and running things the right way? 

10) Nebraska 9, Michigan State 6
— Neither team scored a TD, or completed half their passes.
— Total yardage was 289-248 MSU
— Spartans converted 9-20 on 3rd down, but only scored three points?
— Nebraska won four of its last five games after an 0-6 start.
— This is first time Nebraska had won a game without scoring a TD since a 3-0 victory over Kansas State in 1937.

9) Utah 30, Colorado 7— When I was in Las Vegas last month, my only college football bet was Colorado over Arizona State; the Buffs won/covered, but they haven’t won since, turning a 5-0 start into a 5-6 debacle. Colorado blew a 31-3 lead in an awful home loss to Oregon State late last month, and they haven’t recovered from that. 

In their last five games, Buffaloes were outscored 101-20 in the 2nd half.

8) Wisconsin 47, Purdue 44 OT— Boilermakers led 27:13 with 7:00 left in game, but they let game slip away and lost to the Badgers for 7th time in a row. Wisconsin had 13 penalties for 171 yards, but ran the ball for 385 yards. 

Purdue is 5-6, with four losses by 4 or fewer points; they need a win at Indiana next week to go to a bowl game. 

7) Upsets of the Week:
— Ball State (+9.5) 42, Western Michigan 41 OT
— Bowling Green (+7) 21, Akron 6
— Kansas State (+6.5) 21, Texas Tech 6
— Miami OH (+6.5) 13, Northern Illinois 7
— Oklahoma State (+5) 45, West Virginia 41

6) Utah State 29, Colorado State 24— Aggies were a 27-point road favorite, but host Rams scored with 1:36 left to take a 24-23 lead. Utah State then drove 71 yards on six plays for the GW TD, scoring on a 33-yard pass with 0:43 left to play. 

Colorado State appeared to score a TD on a Hail Mary on the last play of the game, but the kid who caught the ball had stepped out of bounds running down the field, so he was ineligible to touch the ball first, so that nullified the TD, luckily for 10-1 Utah State. 

5) Temple 27, South Florida 17— USF led this game 17-0 at halftime; Owls’ last two scores came on a punt return with 10:35 left and then a defensive score with 1:37 left. 

4) Florida State 22, Boston College 21— Seminoles hit on a 74-yard pass with 1:49 left to snap a 3-game skid and stay bowl eligible; they play the Florida Gators next week. FSU needs to win that game to get to 6-6. 

In itself, going to a bowl isn’t that big a deal, especially a minor bowl, but the practices teams have before those bowls are important— it helps coaches develop their younger players who might be starters next year. Also, it appeases the boosters, at least a little bit. 

The 3-4 hours the bowl is on TV also helps for recruiting; it is free advertising for the program. 

3) Furman 76, Villanova 68 OT— Paladins were a 16-point underdog; looks like the defending national champs might be in for a tough year. Wildcats took 44 3-pointers, only 27 2-point shots against a Southern League team, which doesn’t bode well for Big East play. 

Villanova is the first defending national champ since 1996 to start the next season 2-2 or worse. 

It is November 18 and Furman has already beaten two of last year’s Final Four teams; they won at the buzzer at Loyola, Chi earlier this month. 

2) Clemson 35, Duke 6— These teams are in same league, but since 2009, Clemson has had 52 players drafted by NFL teams; Duke has had four. David Cutcliffe is doing an excellent job of keeping the Blue Devils going to bowl games with lesser talent. 

1) Vanderbilt 36, Ole Miss 29 OT— This was a fun game to watch; a sketchy replay reversal nullified the Rebels’ tying TD in OT. Vandy plays Tennessee next week; the winner will be bowl eligible. 

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

13) Today’s Cal-Stanford football game was moved to December 1, due to poor air quality in the Berkeley area because of the wildfires in northern California. 

12) Monday is always one of my favorite sports days of the year; first day of the Maui Classic, plus Monday Night Football, but this year should be even better. 

Rams-Chiefs is obviously a possible Super Bowl preview, plus the Maui Classic this year has an amazing field, eight good-to-great teams. 

First round Maui matchups:
Game 1: Auburn vs. Xavier, 2:30 on ESPN2
Game 2: Duke vs. San Diego State, 5:00 on ESPN2
Game 3: Arizona vs. Iowa State, 9:00 on ESPNU
Game 4: Gonzaga vs. Illinois, 11:30 on ESPN2

Not a bad day; I’m guessing there will also be pizza involved. 

11) The record for most 3-pointers made in a D-I basketball game is 15; the record has been tied twice this week, first by Furman’s Jordan Lyons, and then by Josh Williams of Robert Morris. 

Lyons was 15-34 on the arc in a 107-67 win over North Georgia; Williams was 15-25 in a 104-57 win over Mt Aloysius- both of those opponents are obviously not D-I opponents, but still…….

10) It is funny how TV people change their mind: 15-20 years ago, when John Chaney had his Temple Owls rolling, he helped popularize the idea that when one of your players got two fouls in the first half, he sat for the rest of the half. It became almost an unwritten rule, and guys on TV religiously adhered to that. Keep the player out of foul trouble so he can play hard later on. 

Nowadays, coaches don’t do that as much; with thinner rosters due to more transfers and early jumps to the NBA, coaches try to steal minutes here and there when a guy has two fouls in the first half, and yes, the TV guys are now saying that THIS is the right way to coach. Go figure. 

9) University of Houston DT Ed Oliver, projected as a first round pick in next April’s NFL Draft, missed his 4th straight game Thursday; apparently there is tension between Oliver and the Houston coaching staff on that issue- Cougars lost two of their last three games. 

Oliver and coach Major Applewhite had a heated exchange as the team walked off the field at halftime Thursday; Oliver didn’t return to the sidelines for the second half.

8) Worse news for Houston is that their QB, D’Eriq King, tore up his knee Thursday and is done for the season. 

7) Green Bay Packers were trailing Seattle 27-24 Thursday night and had a 4th-and-2 from their own 33 with around 4:30 left; they punted, despite having only one timeout left and having Aaron Rodgers as their QB. Green Bay never got the ball back and coach Mike McCarthy took a ton of grief for it Friday. 

Winning only one Super Bowl in 13 years when your QB’s were Brett Favre and Rodgers might get McCarthy shown the door after this season.

6) Packers’ TE Jimmy Graham broke his thumb Thursday; not sure how long he is out for. 

5) NFL teams who have the fewest draft picks playing somewhere in the NFL:
— 31 Giants
— 32 Jets
— 34 Falcons, Chargers
— 35 Titans, Bears
— 37 Saints

4) A 27-year-old Georgia man and his 54-year-old mother were arrested Tuesday at an IHOP restaurant in Newnan, GA after the man escaped prison, but then stopped at IHOP for pancakes, and also to meet with his children. Unfortunately the mother ran a stop sign on her way to the IHOP, which was her undoing. 

The man had been slated for work release; now he’s charged with felony escape and his mother is charged with aiding and abetting.

3) Iowa 91, UConn 72— Huskies had an emotional win over Syracuse Thursday, then were flat as a pancake here, and got squashed by the Hawkeyes. 

2) Loyola Marymount 65, Georgetown 52— Lions are 4-0; Mike Dunlap is a really good coach- he used to be a head coach in the NBA and he won a national title in D-2 ball. LMU is trying to play like Virginia this year and so far, it is working. 

1) RIP William Goldman, 87, who wrote All The President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; he also worked on the script for A Few Good Men and had a great writing career that included Marathon Man, The Princess Bride, The Stepford Wives, The Great Waldo Pepper, A Bridge Too Far, Chaplin and Misery.

RIP, sir.