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

Baseball knowledge is posted every day!!!
Team, pitcher trends are posted
College football stuff, NFL knowledge every week……

The Bunker is at 2390 Western Ave, on Route 20 by Western Turnpike golf course. It is a golf simulator with a bar/TV’s where you can hang out with friends and work on your golf game, or just make fun of your friends who are working on their game. Excellent place.

Wednesday’s 6-pack:
Andy Katz’s preseason top 6 in college basketball:
6) Purdue
5) Villanova
4) Kansas
3) Texas
2) Gonzaga

Quote of the Day
“Sacramento has informed Marvin Bagley he is not in the opening night rotation, which is completely baffling. It’s clear they have no plans for him in the future, and yet, passed on potential deals at last year’s deadline and this summer based on ‘value.’ Instead, they chose to bring him back but not play him, a move completely contradictory to their ‘value’ argument.”
Begley’s agent, Jeff Schwartz

Wednesday’s quiz
Where did Steph Curry play his college basketball?

Tuesday’s quiz
Jack Del Rio was coach of the Raiders, before Jon Gruden.

Monday’s quiz
Buffalo Bills lost 22-16 at Tennessee in a 1999 playoff game, on a 75-yard kick return with 0:03 left. Wade Phillips was coach of the Bills back then.

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Dodgers 6, Braves 5:
— LA erupted for four runs in bottom of 8th inning.
— Cody Bellinger’s 3-run tater was the big hit.
— All three games, team won in its final at-bat.
— Braves lead series, 2-1. 

12) Astros 9, Red Sox 2:
— Altuve tied it with HR in 8th, Astros scored seven runs in 9th.
— Houston’s bullpen threw 7.2 scoreless IP.
— So far in series, Astro starters have an 18.90 ERA. Not good.
— Series is tied 2-2.

11) Washington State fired football coach Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants because they refused to get the COVID vaccine; the state of Washington required full vaccinations by Monday for most state employees.

Rolovich was in his second season coaching the Coogs, who are 4-3 after winning their third game in a row last week, 34-31 over Stanford.

10) Chargers’ coach Brandon Staley is a defensive guru, but so far this season, on opponents’ first drive of the second half, they’ve scored five TD’s on six drives, so opposing offenses have obviously been making better halftime adjustments than the Chargers’ defensive coaches.

9) Padres’ star Fernando Tatis isn’t going to have shoulder surgery this winter, leaving open the possibility of more shoulder injuries next season. Fantasy baseball experts on the Interweb are saying this will lower his rating in drafts next spring.

8) Teams are 1-5 ATS this season, the week after playing Notre Dame; that one cover belongs to Cincinnati, which is trying to impress pollsters in order to make it into the national playoffs.

7) 76ers coach Doc Rivers threw Ben Simmons out of practice Tuesday after Simmons refused to participate in a defensive drill- the team then suspended Simmons for Wednesday’s season opener against the Pelicans.

Simmons wants to be traded, but who would trade for him? He is a difficult person who seems to be a bad teammate. His one year at LSU, his team didn’t even make the NCAA tournament, losing their last game 71-38, a horrendous tank job.

You have a player as talented as Simmons and you can’t make it into the tournament?

If I owned an NBA team, or coached one, wouldn’t want Simmons on my team.

6) Texas-San Antonio has great helmets; their Roadrunner logo is one of the country’s best.

5) You know you’re watching an old movie when there’s a scene at a gas station and gas is $1.21 a gallon. It is $3.38 a gallon around here now.

4) Atlanta Hawks signed Kevin Huerter to a 4-year, $65M contract extension, pretty good for a kid from Clifton Park, 15-20 minutes north of Armadillo World HQ.

3) Mets’ owner Steve Cohen is the richest owner in baseball, worth $14B. Carolina Panthers’ owner David Tepper is NFL’s wealthiest owner ($15.6B), but Steve Ballmer, who owns the NBA’s LA Clippers, is worth around $70B.

Must be nice.

2) New York City radio icon Howie Rose was saying on Twitter how he loves the NHL’s 3-on-3 overtime; wishes they would make the 3-on-3 10:00 instead of 5:00 and scrap shootouts, and just have tie games sometimes.

1) New Orleans Saints play Monday night in Seattle; it’ll be their sixth game this season, played in six different cities- they played a “home” game in Jacksonville in Week 1.

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Titans 34, Bills 31:
— Allen got stopped on 4th down on 3-yard line in last minute.
— Bills were 7-13 on third down, Titans 4-10.
— Allen threw for 353 yards; three WR’s had 88+ receiving yards.

— Titans’ first 3 drives: 12 plays, 29 yards, 2 first downs, no points.
— Titans’ next 6 drives: 39 plays, 322 yards, 34 points.
— Henry ran ball for 143 yards, had 76-yard TD run. 

12) Red Sox 12, Astros 3:
— Boston scored 6 runs in 2nd inning, 3 more in 3rd.
— Schwarber hit a grand slam.
— Red Sox lead series, 2-1.
— Boston led this game 9-0 in 3rd inning, they led Game 2 8-0 in 2nd inning. Not good for TV ratings.

11) Lets compare Hall of Fame qualifications of two former NFL coaches:
— coach A: 161-111 regular season, 13-11 in playoffs, 1-2 in Super Bowls
— coach B: 149-90-1 regular season, 21-12 in playoffs, 1-1 in Super Bowls

Coach A led two teams to a Super Bowl. Coach B coached one team.
Coach B is in the Hall of Fame, Coach A isn’t, but should be.

Any idea who they are? Answer is further down in this space.

10) FOX announcer Joe Buck is a busy man these days; he could conceivably call nine games in ten days, between NFL and baseball playoff games. Not sure why they don’t slide someone else into his football duties. Nine games in ten days seems like a bit much.

9) NFL trends:
— Rookie QB’s struggle; they’re 8-18 ATS so far this season.
— First-time head coaches are 17-23 ATS this season.

8) When college football teams have alums who become NFL stars, they promote it. Louisville is going to retire Lamar Jackson’s number 8; the only Louisville player who has had his number retired is Johnny Unitas.

7) Texas-El Paso’s football is 6-1 and bowl eligible, after going a combined 5-39 the previous five seasons. Quite a turnaround for the Miners. Hopefully they don’t put them in the Sun Bowl on their home field; put them in a bowl somewhere fun, let the kids travel.

6) Ed Orgeron is out as LSU’s football coach, less than two years after he won the national title with the Bayou Bengals. Oregon is expected to get a $17M buyout, pretty good bank for walking out the door. There were non-football issues involved, but bottom line is, 9-8 the last two years doesn’t butter the biscuit.

5) Why did the Cardinals trade for Zach Ertz? Last time Arizona had a tight end who had 100+ receiving yards in a game was way back in 1989, when Robert Awalt had 105 yards in a 24-20 win over Dallas.

Since 2013, every other NFL team has had a 100+-yard receiving game from a tight end.

4) Louisiana-Monroe (+33) upset Liberty 31-28 Saturday; it was the biggest upset in a I-A game since 2012. Warhawks are 3-3 under 1st-year coach Terry Bowden, after going 0-10 last year- their losses this season are by 35-54-34 points, but 3-3 is still way better than 0-10.

3) Houston Texans lost last five games, giving up 30.2 ppg; they’re 0-3 on road, outscored 102-24. They need to trade Deshaun Watson before the November 2 trade deadline- they’ll get lot of draft choices back for him, which is what the need, good ballplayers.

2) Red Sox OF Kike Hernandez is 18-36 in playoffs this month with five homers, quite a run he is on. Earlier this summer, when Corey Seager was hurt, I added Hernandez to my fantasy team to take Seager’s place at shortstop. He was active on my team one week, went 4-22. Not good.

Could have used that 18-36 back then, ya know?

Coach A up above is Mike Holmgren; Coach B is Bill Cowher.

1) NBA season starts Tuesday night with two games; basketball season is underway, with college hoop right behind it next month. Much better weeknight entertainment.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Minnesota 34, Carolina 28, OT:
— Minnesota drove 75 yards on nine plays for winning TD in OT.
— Vikings: 84 plays, 571 yards. Carolina: 68 plays, 306 yards.
— Dalvin Cook carried ball 29 times for 140 yards and a TD.
— Minnesota has been outscored 53-6 in last 2:00 of each half.

— Panthers scored 11 points in last 4:41 to force OT.
— Carolina lost last three games after 3-0 start, giving up 30.3 ppg.
— Darnold completed only 17-41 passes (4.2 yards/attempt).
— Panthers blocked a punt for a touchdown.

Jacksonville 23, Miami 20:
— Wright made 53-yard FG at 0:00 for the win.
— Rookie QB Lawrence threw for 319 yards, gets first NFL win.
— Jaguars trailed 13-3 late in first half.
— Jax’ville scored two TD’s, kicked two FG’s on last seven drives.

— Miami lost last five games, giving up 32.2 ppg.
— Tagovailoa threw for 329 yards, two TD’s.
— Waddle caught two passes for 70 yards, two TD’s.
— Dolphins have 24 plays of 20+ yards, they’ve given up 39.

Indianapolis 31, Houston 3:
— Texans lost last five games, giving up 30.2 ppg.
— Houston is 0-3 on road, outscored 102-24.
— Last three games, Houston converted 15-46 on third down.
— First-time head coaches are 17-23 ATS this season.

— Taylor ran football for 145 yards, two TD’s.
— Wentz averaged 9.7 yards/pass attempt.
— indy has 11 takeaways in last five games (+7)
— Colts won eight of last ten series games.

Green Bay 24, Chicago 14:
— Green Bay won last four games, scoring 29.3 ppg.
— Only 8 of Packers’ 57 plays came on third down.
— Last 2+ years, Green Bay is 5-2 ATS in NFC North road tilts.
— Last four games, Packers have 26 plays of 20+ yards; opponents have 10.

— Chicago drove 80 yards for a TD on their first drive.
— Rest of game: 7 drives, 49 plays, 279 yards, 7 points.
— Bears averaged only 4.4 yards/pass attempt.
— Packers won five in row, 10 of last 11 series games

Kansas City 31, Washington 13:
— Chiefs converted 11-17 third down plays.
— KC started four drives in Washington territory.
— Mahomes threw for 397 yards, two TD’s.
— Chiefs have scored 23 TD’s on 54 drives this season.

— Washington allowed 33.2 ppg in last five games.
— KC outgained Washington, 571-306.
— Washington opponents have converted 52-89 on 3rd down (58.4%).
— Washington scored 30-34 points in wins, 22 or less in losses.

Baltimore 34, LA Chargers 6:
— LA’s first three drives: 15 plays, 39 yards, three punts.
— Chargers missed PAT after their only TD.
— Bolts ran ball only 12 times, for 26 yards.
— Last four games, Chargers allowed 200.3 rushing yards/game.

— First two drives: 20 plays, 164 yards, two TD’s.
— Ravens converted 6-11 3rd down plays, Chargers 3-12.
— Neither team averaged 5.0 yards/pass attempt.
— Baltimore won last five games, scoring 28.6 ppg.

Cincinnati 34, Detroit 11:
— Bengals in 2nd half: 32 plays, 272 yards, 3 TD’s and a FG.
— Cincy outgained Detroit, 398-228.
— Cincy outscored last four opponents 66-30 in 2nd half.
— Bengals have had a TD play of 31+ yards in all six games.

— Lions’ first 8 drives: 36 plays, 71 yards, 5 first downs, zero points.
— Lions ran ball 18 times for only 36 yards.
— Detroit gave up at least 7.3 yards/pass attempt in every game.
— Last four games, Lions were outscored 47-6 in first half.

LA Rams 38, NY Giants 11:
— Rams gained 193 yards, just in second quarter.
— Cooper Kupp caught 9 balls for 130 yards, 2 TD’s.
— Rams had TD drives of 12-14 yards.
— Under McVay, LA is 15-11 ATS as a road favorite.

— Rams had 17-yard edge in average field position. 
— Big Blue is 0-3 at home, losing by 14-3-27 points.
— Giants have been outscored 58-12 in last 2:00 of each half.
— Giants are 4-16 ATS last 20 games as a home underdog.

Arizona 37, Cleveland 14:
— Cardinals in first half: 5 drives, 40 plays, 203 yards, 2 TD, 3 FG’s.
— Arizona won its first six games, scoring 32.0 ppg.
— Cardinals have 22 TD’s on 61 drives this season.
— Cardinals are 4-0 on road, scoring 35.8 ppg.

— Arizona had a 13-yard edge in field position.
— Browns ran ball for only 73 yards, were minus-3 in turnovers.
— Cleveland outscored foes 42-9 in last 2:00 of each half.
— Cleveland is 4-8-1 ATS last 13 games with spread of 3 or fewer points.

Las Vegas 34, Denver 24:
— Carr threw for 341 yards, averaged 11.7 yards/attempt.
— Raiders gained 426 yards for game, 8.2 yards/play.
— Las Vegas had 13-yard edge in field position.
— Raiders are 9-5 ATS in last 14 games as road underdogs.

— Denver lost last three games, scoring 16.7 ppg.
— Raiders won five of last six series games.
— Last five weeks, Denver converted only 16-62 third down plays.
— Two of Broncos’ three wins were against a rookie QB.

Dallas 35, New England 29, OT
— Dallas is 6-0 ATS; their only loss was 31-29 at Tampa in Week 1.
— Cowboys ran 82 plays for 567 yards; Patriots 50 for 335 yards.
— Last five Dallas drives: 41 plays, 312 yards, 2 TDs, 2 FGs, a missed FG.
— Over is 5-1 in Cowboys’ games this season.

— NE held Cowboys to 17 points on five red zone drives.
— Patriots’ two wins are both over rookie QB’s.
— Speaking of which, rookie QB’s are 8-18 ATS this season.
— Belichick’s career record without Brady: 64-76 SU

Pittsburgh 23, Seattle 20, OT
— Seahawks in first half: 20 plays, 56 yards, 5 punts, no points.
— Seahawks’ first two drives in 2nd half: 16 plays, 135 yards, two TD’s.
— Seattle has 29 plays of 20+ yards; they’ve given up 22.
— Last three games, opponents converted 9-38 on third down.

— TJ Watt forced fumble in OT that set up game-winning FG.
— Pittsburgh led this game 14-0 at halftime.
— Last five weeks, Steelers were outscored 70-36 in second half.
— Steelers scored 17-10-17 points in losses, 23-27-23 in wins. 

Braves 5, Dodgers 4:
— Rosario’s 4th hit of game walked it off in 9th inning.
— Dodgers had only 4 hits against 8 different pitchers.
— Braves lead series, 2-0. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday…….

13) Oklahoma State 32, Texas 24:
— Leading 17-3 in 2nd quarter, Texas threw an 85-yard pick-6 that turned game around.
— Oklahoma State scored last 19 points of the game.
— Cowboys ran ball for 220 yards, outgained Texas 398-317.
— Longhorns lost last two games, giving up 86 points. 

12) Ole Miss 31, Tennessee 26:
— Ole Miss QB Corral threw for 231 yards, ran for 195 more.
— Ole Miss ran 101 plays, Volunteers ran 79. 101 plays is a lot of plays.
— Ole Miss converted 11-21 on third down.

— Rebels’ coach Kiffin coached Tennessee for one year, in 2009; he bolted after one year for USC. He is not well-liked in Knoxville.
— An imbecile in the crowd threw a golf ball at Kiffin from the stands, and hit him.
— Someone actually threw a plastic bottle of mustard on field; who has mustard at a game?

11) LSU 49, Florida 42:
— LSU blew 21-6 lead, scored winning TD with 3:30 left.
— Davis-Price carried ball 36 times for 287 yards, three TD’s.
— Florida played two QB’s, who both threw two INT’s.

10) Purdue 24, Iowa 7:
— 4th time in five years Boilermakers beat Iowa.
— Purdue outgained Hawkeyes 464-271.
— Boilers picked off four passes, were +3 in turnovers.

9) Washington State 34, Stanford 31:
— Stanford led 13-0 in first quarter.
— Coogs blew 27-16 lead in 4th quarter, scored winning TD with 1:30 left.

8) North Carolina 45, Miami 42:
— Tar Heels led 31-17 at the half.
— Miami completed only 20-45 passes.
— Miami, Florida State are both 2-4; what the hell is going on? 

7) Upsets of the Week:
— UL-Monroe (+31) 31, Liberty 28
— LSU (+13) 49, Florida 42
— Purdue (+11.5) 24, Iowa 7:
— Central Michigan (+5) 26, Toledo 23 OT
— Auburn (+4.5) 38, Arkansas 23
— Minnesota (+4.5) 30, Nebraska 23
— Oklahoma State (+3.5) 32, Texas 24

6)  Auburn 38, Arkansas 23:
— Auburn had TD plays of 39-71-23 yards.
— Tigers also scored a defensive TD.
— Hogs lost third game in row after 4-0 start, giving up 42.3 ppg.
— Arkansas outgained Auburn 460-427; they were 10-19 on 3rd down.

5) Tulsa 32, South Florida 31:
— USF led 24-10 with 1:30 left in third quarter.
— Tulsa scored game-winning TD with 0:42 left.
— Tulsa outgained Bulls, 535-268, overcame minus-2 turnover ratio.

4) Cincinnati 56, Central Florida 21:
— Bearcats are running up scores to try to impress pollsters.
— Ford had 176 yards rushing, four TD’s…..…in first half.

3) Buffalo 27, Ohio U 26:
— Buffalo kicked 26-yard FG at 0:00 for the win.
— Bulls outscored Ohio 17-0 in fourth quarter.
— Ohio QB Rogers ran for 183 yards, including a 99-yard TD run.

2) Oklahoma 52, TCU 31:
— Sooner QB Williams threw for 295 yards, four TD’s in his first start. 
— The old starter, Spencer Rattler, should be transferring any day now.

1) Red Sox 9, Astros 5:
— Boston is first team ever with two grand slams in a postseason game.
— Series heads to Boston, 1-1.

Braves 3, Dodgers 2:
— Austin Riley had walk-off single in 9th inning.
— Dodgers used 8 pitchers; none of them got more than five outs. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Friday

13) Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury tested positive for COVID, will miss Sunday’s game in Cleveland.

Cardinals also traded a 5th-round pick and a cornerback to Philly for TE Zach Ertz, who caught a TD pass for the Eagles Thursday night. Ertz isn’t eligible to play for Arizona Sunday. 

12) Houston 5, Boston 4:
— Jose Altuve hit his 20th career postseason home run.
— Kike Hernandez has 13 hits in his last four games.
— Both teams used eight pitchers.
— Astros lead series, 1-0.

11) Boston’s JD Martinez has knocked in 100+ runs four times in his career; he knocked in 99 runs this year, hitting a league-high 42 doubles. Very good hitter.

Back in 2013, Martinez played for an Astros team that went 51-111; they were terrible. Houston released him in spring training the next year, flat out released him, and he went to Detroit, where his career began to blossom.

How does a team that loses 111 games release a hitter who winds up being this good? Houston wound up making the playoffs two years later, beginning their great run, but they also had Kike Hernandez in 2014, and traded him to Miami, not getting much in return.

10) Dodgers don’t have home field edge in the NLCS, but they’re still -190 to win the series, the biggest favorite in an LCS without the home field advantage since the ’86 Mets were -175 over Houston in 1986. Mets won in six games that year.

9) 42.7% of runs scored in the major leagues this season came via a home run, so basically, out of every seven runs that scored, three came via a home run.

8) Clemson 17, Syracuse 14:
— With 0:40 left, Syracuse tried a 47-yard FG, instead of going for it on 4th-and-1.
— Clemson is 4-2; they’ve scored only 14.8 ppg in five I-A games.

7) Oregon 24, California 17:
— Ducks outscored Cal 14-0 over last 12:00 of game.
— Oregon outgained Cal 459-409; Cal was +2 in turnovers.
— Last four years, Cal is 11-1 ATS as a road underdog.

6) Kentucky Wildcats are 8-3-1 ATS last dozen times they were a double digit underdog, like they are tomorrow between the hedges at Georgia.

5) Aaron Rodgers became Green Bay’s starting QB in 2008; since then, Chicago Bears have started 16 different starting quarterbacks. Rodgers has missed 18 starts in 13+ seasons as the #1 guy in Green Bay.

4) Thursday night in Los Angeles, Kings’ Anze Kopitar scored three goals, had two assists in the Kings’ 6-2 win over Las Vegas. 

Kopitar’s five points are tied for second in any players’ season opener (since 1966); back in 1990, Kevin Stevens had six points in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season opener.

3) San Diego State 19, San Jose State 13, OT
— Neither team scored a touchdown in regulation.
— Spartans outgained San Diego State, 340-240.
— San Jose threw an awful INT in the end zone in the 2nd OT.
— This game ended at 2:29am here in the east.

2) Zion Williamson has a foot injury, will miss the start of the New Orleans Pelicans’ season. This is Williamson’s third year in the NBA; he played 89 of a possible 144 games (61.8%) in his first two seasons. Pelicans need him to play more; he’s scored 25.7 ppg when he’s been in there.

1) Miami Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa will start for Miami Sunday, in their game against the Jaguars in London; Tagovailoa (ribs) hasn’t played since Week 2.

Most teams that play in London have their bye week the next week, but the Dolphins go home and play the Falcons next week, against a Falcons team that has this week off after playing in London last week.

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

13) Flash back to Week 11 of 2016, Rams were 4-5 when they gave rookie QB Jared Goff his first NFL start; they played Miami at home that day. Leading 10-0 with 5:00 to play, Rams screwed up the end of the game and lost, 14-10. They wouldn’t win another game the rest of the year.

At that point, Rams hadn’t had a winning season since 2003; I was really mad after that game, mostly mad at myself for rooting for a team that was so incredibly inept- they fired the coach about a month later.

Had the Rams won that game against Miami, they would’ve been 5-5 and on an uptick; they probably would’ve gone at least 2-4 the rest of the way. Owner Stan Kroenke has said that if the Rams finished 7-9 that year, he wouldn’t have fired the coach. He said it.

My point is this; hiring Sean McVay is the best thing to happen to the Rams since Kurt Warner led the Greatest Show on Turf, but McVay would most likely be coaching another team had the Rams won that game against Miami.

Sometimes in the long run, losing isn’t so horrible. Sometimes.

12) Bucs 28, Eagles 22:
— First two drives: 19 plays, 150 yards, 14 points.
— Tampa averaged 7.1 yards/pass attempt, Philly 4.0.
— Bucs were 7-13 on 3rd down, Eagles 3-10.

— Hurts ran ball 10 times for 44 yards, completed only 12-26 passes.
— RB Sanders ran ball only nine times, but for 56 yards.
— Bucs 73 plays, 399 yards; Eagles 47 plays, 213 yards.

11) Dodgers 2, Giants 1:
— Bellinger’s hit in 9th inning drove in winning run.
— Webb allowed one run in 7 IP for Giants.
— Scherzer closed it out for his first career save.

10) St Louis Cardinals surprisingly fired manager Mike Shildt Thursday; they said it was “philosophical differences”. Being a big league skipper ain’t as much fun as it used to be. Shildt went 252-199 in regular season games with St Louis, 4-9 in playoff games.

Tony LaRussa was 93-69 in Chicago this season, lost in playoffs to Houston; he’ll be back next with the White Sox next season.

They say if Aaron Boone returns in the Bronx next year, his coaching staff will be picked by the front office, not by Boone. They already fired the batting coach and 3rd base coach.

9) In college football, Missouri/New Mexico are both 0-6 ATS. Clemson/Kansas are 0-5.

8) Wild Card weekend in the NFL has four games; one of those games will on Monday night, an ESPN game. Don’t even think about putting that game in a cold weather city. Games with poor weather get better TV ratings, but this is a playoff game. Put it in warm weather or a dome.

7) South Alabama 41, Georgia Southern 14— Jaguars’ QB Scott Bentley is playing his 6th year of college football; he played 34 games at South Carolina, five at Utah, and is now in the Sun Belt with the 4-2 Jaguars, who got their first conference win here.

Bentley threw for 389 TD’s, three TD’s in this game.

6) Jacksonville Jaguars still haven’t made a field goal this season, they’re 0-5. Jaguars are first team in Super Bowl era (since 1966) not to have a FG in their first five games.

5) Some of the better games in the ACC/Big 14 basketball challenge, Nov 29-Dec 1st:
— Iowa @ Virginia
— Duke @ Ohio State
— Michigan @ North Carolina
— Louisville @ Michigan State

4) It wasn’t that game, but I was watching another NBA preseason game and the TV people are discussing who will win the MVP this year— who cares ?!?!?! It was freakin’ October 13, let the season begin at least before you speculate on who the MVP will be.

3) 33-year old point guard Ish Smith played college ball at Wake Forest; I hope he writes a book someday- he’s played for lot of teams. Here is his career path:

2010-11: Houston/Memphis
2011-12: Golden State/Orlando
2012-13: Orlando/Milwaukee
2013-14: Phoenix
2014-15: Oklahoma City/Philly
2015-16: Philly/New Orleans
2016-19: Detroit
2019-21: Washington
2012-22: Charlotte

He must have some great stories to tell; 2,555 assists, 5,055 points. Quite a career.

2) Dallas 127, Charlotte 59— I know this was an exhibition game, I know the score doesn’t matter, but this might’ve been the worst basketball game I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of basketball games.

Not sure what the Hornets were doing, but they weren’t competing, not even close. Guys try harder in pickup games on the playground.

1) During the pandemic, when there were no ballgames going on and I was doing movie lists and stuff like that in this space, it bugged me that one day, I’d realize that I left a great movie off my list. Well…….

I’m flipping channels the other night and the 1989 movie Cousins is on; Ted Danson, Isabella Rosselini, Lloyd Bridges. Loved this movie when it came out, but hadn’t seen it in almost 30 years and it never got on one of my lists, when it belongs there.

William Peterson is also in the movie; he plays Gil Grissom on CSI, so this movie had two of the three actors who would later play the head of the crime lab on CSI, one of my favorite TV shows.

Anyway, Cousins is on HBOMax now, if you want to catch up with it. It is worth your time. 

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

13) A voice that has been in my living room most every summer night for the last 20 or so years has left us. Oakland A’s TV analyst Ray Fosse passed away this week from cancer, at age 74.

Most people remember Ray Fosse as the catcher Pete Rose crashed into at the end of the 1970 All-Star Game; that play fractured Fosse’s shoulder and made him less of a player. So much so that Cleveland traded him to the A’s after the 1972 season. 

Fosse helped the A’s win the World Series in ’73 and ’74; he wound up playing 12 years in the big leagues, but he was never the same as he was as a rookie in 1970. He started broadcasting A’s baseball in 1985, never stopped until this summer, when his 16-year battle with cancer became too much.

He was a good ballplayer who lasted a dozen years behind the plate, he was a calming influence for me on TV on nights when my blood pressure got a little high. He will be missed.

RIP, sir.

12) From Chris Fallica of ESPN: This is the first time since October 12, 2014 that Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State are all outside the AP Top 4.

The Top 4 that week in 2014 was Mississippi State, Florida State, Ole Miss and Baylor.

11) In their last three games, Buffalo Bills are +11 in turnovers; in three of their last four games, they played against a backup QB.

10) Texas-El Paso’s football team is 5-1 this season; the previous four years combined the Miners were 5-39, so great coaching job by Dana Dimel. Getting to a bowl game this season would be a terrific accomplishment for UTEP.

9) NFC East teams are 6-1 ATS in non-divisional road games; they’re 1-6 ATS in non-divisional home games.

8) Other NFL trends:
— NFC North teams are 5-1 ATS in non-divisional home games.
— AFC South teams are 5-s ATS as non-divisional road underdogs.
— AFC West teams are 3-6 ATS in non-divisional home games.

7) Matthew Kerr, son of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, is one of the writers on the Apple TV show, Ted Lasso.

6) Texas Longhorns had 90 recruits in Dallas Saturday for the Oklahoma game; seeing how Texas lost 54-48, hopefully lot of those kids play defense.

5) From the category of “great wastes of money” are the cardboard postcards local politicians mail out when they’re campaigning. Does anyone read these? Mailman should save me some time and just slide them into my garbage can, instead of the mailbox.

4) San Francisco Giants have 13 coaches, a huge coaching staff.

3) I’ve never heard of St Thomas (MN) College before, but they’re making a big jump in hoops, from Division III to Division I. Turns out the Tommies got thrown out of their D-III league for being too dominant, so they’re making a huge leap into the Summit League, which last year was #16-ranked league in country, right in middle nationally.

2) United Airlines had 2,000 openings for flight attendants; they got 20,000 applications for those jobs. Good to see people wanting to get back to work.

1) Nate Silver is a writer, a very smart person who analyzes baseball and politics; he also plays poker- he finished 2nd recently in a tournament at the World Series of Poker, which is going on now in Las Vegas, instead of its usual summer date.

Silver cashed in $154,000 for that second place finish; its good to be smart.

Wednesday’s Den: How NFL teams do on their first drive of each half:

Teams have played five games, so we’re looking at 10 drives for each team:

— Teams that scored most points on their first drive of game:
Vikings 24, Bills 21, Chiefs 20, Rams/Bears 17

— Teams that gained most yards on their first drive of game:
Chiefs 71.8 yards/drive, Vikings 57.8, Lions 50.8, Rams 49.2

— Teams that scored least points on their first drive of game:
Ravens, Bengals, Raiders, Jets 0
Broncos, Saints, Titans, Washington 3

— Teams that scored most points on their first drive of 2nd half:
Rams 28, Chiefs/Titans 21, Bengals 20

— Teams that scored least points on their first drive of 2nd half:
Jaguars, Seattle 0
Cardinals, Vikings, Eagles 3

— Teams that scored most points on first drive of all 10 halves:
Rams 45, Bills 41, Chiefs 38, Bears/Dallas 31

— Teams that scored fewest points on first drive of all 10 halves:
Jaguars, Jets 7
Ravens, Saints 10
Cardinals, Eagles, Washington 13

— Teams that allowed fewest points on first drive of game:
Panthers, Dallas, Giants 0
Bills, Jaguars, Steelers, Bucs, Titans 3

— Teams that allowed most points on first drive of game:
Washington 24, Eagles 20, Falcons, Lions, Packers, Chiefs, Seattle 17

— Teams that allowed fewest points on first drive of 2nd half:
Raiders, Eagles, Giants 0
Bills, Bengals, Saints, Titans 3

— Teams that allowed most points on first drive of 2nd half:
Chargers 28, Dolphins 24, Ravens/Giants 21

— Teams that allowed fewest points on first drive of all 10 halves:
Bills, Dallas, Titans 6
Panthers/Raiders 7, Steelers 9, Bengals/49ers 10

— Teams that allowed most points on first drive of all 10 halves:
Washington 41, Chargers/Dolphins 38, Ravens 35
Falcons, Browns, Lions, Seattle 34

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Right now, every coach in America is having his computer’s hard drive scrubbed, maybe every person in America who has a job they value.

Raiders told coach Jon Gruden to take a hike Monday night, after emails were leaked in which Gruden repeatedly used insensitive language. People’s feelings were hurt, though the people he was talking about didn’t actually see those e-mails. Until now, years later.

Let me repeat that; Gruden lost a $10M a year job because he used insensitive language in an e-mail.

Assistant coach Rich Bisaccia is going to replace Gruden as the Raiders’ interim HC. He isn’t making $10M a year; profitable night for owner Mark Davis. $60M worth of profitable.

12) Must admit that I enjoy a good conspiracy theory; Gruden went 22-31 during his second stint with the Raiders. 22-31 ain’t good; maybe Mark Davis had enough and was looking for a way out of his $100 million hiring debacle. Hire a private investigator to dig up some dirt on his coach? Wouldn’t be the first time that happened.

11) Had to order a new remote control for my TV over the weekend, wore this one out- the #5 doesn’t work much, either does #2. Ordered the new remote late Friday night; it was on my stoop Monday morning, so kudos to DirecTV for fast action.  

10) Saw something I’ve never seen before in Thursday’s NFL game; not sure anyone else had seen it either. Rams blocked a Seattle punt; the Seahawks punter (an Australian) made like it was Aussie Rules Football and scooped it up on the run and booted it again.

I was 95% sure that wasn’t legal, same as Troy Aikman, Mike Pereira on FOX, but turns out it is legal, as long as both kicks come behind the line of scrimmage (it was sketchy whether he was behind the line for the 2nd kick, but the Rams won, so I’ll shut up).

Anyway, you learn something every day; this was a good one.

9) Seattle QB Russell Wilson’s streak of 149 consecutive starts will end Sunday, after he had surgery on his injured finger. Geno Smith gets the start in his place.

As a Ram fan, Wilson has made me queasy twice a year for the last 10 years; great player, sure Hall of Famer.

The last bet I made in Las Vegas was two years ago; bet on the Seahawks in Cleveland at MGM (a great sportsbook). For once, I got to root for Wilson and I wasn’t queasy, even won my bet.

8) By the way, if you’re at the MGM betting on games, there is an excellent pizza place right around the corner, Bonanno’s. An ideal Sunday is sitting there, watching NFL games with a couple slices from Bonanno’s. And winning your bets, of course.

7) College football can be strange; Oklahoma benched its starting QB Saturday, the backup played great- they scored a TD to make score 41-39 Texas, but probably because the backup hasn’t practiced the 2-point plays much, they put the starter back in for the conversion, and Oklahoma tied the game 41-41. Backup played the rest of the game.

Seeing as this is 2021 though, does the QB who doesn’t start Oklahoma’s next game enter the transfer portal? Remember, “If I ain’t startin’, then I’ll be departin’….”

6) Kansas City Chiefs are 2-11 ATS in their last 13 games (9-4 SU). 

Chiefs have turned ball over 11 times since their last takeaway; not good.

5) Tampa Bay Rays have only five homegrown players on their roster for the Boston series; they develop good players, then trade them, and they usually win their trades.

Exhibit A: July 31, 2018, Rays traded P Chris Archer to Pittsburgh, for P Tyler Glasnow, OF Austin Meadows and a player to be named later, who turned out to be top prospect Shane Baz, who started Game 1 of the Boston series.

4) Braves 3, Brewers 0:
— Milwaukee pinch-hit for P Peralta in top of 5th, in scoreless game; they didn’t score.
— Peralta had thrown only 57 pitches, was on a roll.
— Atlanta scored three runs in bottom of 5th; not a great day for Craig Counsell.
— Milwaukee is 0-16 with RISP in this series.

3) Red Sox 6, Rays 5:
— Kike Hernandez walked it off with a 9th-inning sac fly.
— Boston led 5-0 in third inning, blew the lead, then won the game.
— Red Sox win series 3-1, advance to the ALCS.

2) Giants 1, Dodgers 0:
— Longoria homered in 5th inning for only run of game.
— SF bullpen threw 4.1 innings to nail game down.
— Giants lead series, 2-1.

1) Baltimore 31, Indianapolis 25:
— Colts led 22-3; it was 25-9 with 10:00 to play.
— Wentz threw for 402 yards and two TD’s.
— On their last two drives, Colts missed FG, had another one blocked.
— Total yardage: Ravens 523, Colts 513.

— Ravens’ first four drives: 20 plays, 58 yards, four punts.
— Ravens’ last four drives: 32 plays, 297 yards, four TD’s.
— Jackson threw for 442 yards, ran for 62 more.
— Baltimore won last four games, scoring 27.3 ppg.
— Four of their five games were decided by 1 or 2 points, or in OT.  

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a football Sunday

Green Bay 25, Cincinnati 22, OT:
— Green Bay missed a PAT and three FG tries.
— Packers’ six drives in 2nd half/OT: six FG tries (3-6).
— Five drives to red zone, only 16 points.
— Jones ran football 14 times for 103 yards.

— WR Chase caught six passes for 159 yards and a TD.
— Cincy’s last three drives: MFG, INT, MFG
— Green Bay outgained Bengals 466-367.
— Bengals have had a TD play of 31+ yards in all five games.

Minnesota 19, Detroit 17:
— Lions’ only TD came on a 20-yard drive.
— Detroit averaged 4.6 yards/pass attempt, Vikings 7.3.
— Lions are already done with their NFC North road games.
— Detroit is winless SU this year, but 3-2 ATS.

— Vikings kicked 54-yard FG at 0:00 for the win.
— Minnesota scored one TD, tried 5 FG’s, a red flag for offense.
— Vikings outgained Detroit 384-288.
— Vikings are 1-9 ATS in last ten games as home favorites.

Atlanta 27, NJ Jets 20:
— Jets’ first three drives: 8 plays, 16 yards, no first downs.
— Jets have been outscored 75-13 in first half.
— Jets got TD on 1st drive of 3rd quarter, their first score on first drive of a half.
— Last 3+ years, Jets are 5-9 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less points.

— Falcons’ first three drives: 32 plays, 231 yards, 17 points.
— Atlanta converted 9-14 third down plays.
— Falcons outgained Jets, 450-230.
— Pitts caught nine passes for 119 yards and a TD. 

Tampa Bay 45, Miami 17:
— Miami lost last four games, giving up 34.5 ppg.
— Dolphins’ first two drives: 16 plays, 145 yards, 10 points.
— Dolphins’ last seven drives: 36 plays, 184 yards, 7 points.
— Miami has given up 32 plays of 20+ yards, has only 16 themselves.

— Tampa Bay won first three home games, scoring 41.3 ppg.
— Buccaneers scored 6 TD’s, tried 2 FGs on nine drives.
— Total yardage: 558-301, Tampa Bay.
— Buccaneers have 19 TD’s on 53 drives this season.

Philadelphia 21, Carolina 18:
— Philly scored winning TD on 27-yard drive after blocked punt.
— Eagles’ first 11 drives: 38 plays, 65 yards, 2 FG’s, safety.
— Eagles’ next three drives: 18 plays, 143 yards, 2 TD’s
— Eagles kicked 58-yard FG on last play of first half.

— Carolina lost last two games, after a 3-0 start.
— Panthers after 1st quarter: 54 plays, 162 yards, 6 points.
— Carolina outscored opponents 69-25 in first half.
— Total yardage: Eagles 273, Panthers 267.

New Orleans 33, Washington 22:
— New Orleans scored 49-yard TD on last play of first half.
— Saints had TD plays of 75-23-49 yards.
— Winston averaged 8.5 yards/pass attempt.
— Last 3+ years, NO is 13-3 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less points..

— Washington scored 30-34 points in wins, 16-21-22 in losses.
— Washington’s first 3 drives: 13 points.
— Washington’s last 9 drives: 9 points.
— Last four Washington games went over the total.

Tennessee 37, Jacksonville 19:
— Titans scored defensive TD in first minute of game.
— Titans’ first 5 drives: 42 plays, 288 yards, 3 TD’s, FG.
— Last four weeks, Titans ran ball for 188.3 yards/game.
— Tennessee won eight of last nine series games.

— Jaguars have now lost 20 games in a row.
— Jacksonville outgained Titans, 454-368.
— Jaguars had ball in red zone 2 of last 3 drives, came up empty on both.
— Last 2+ years, Jacksonville is 5-10 ATS as home underdogs.

Pittsburgh 27, Denver 19:
— Broncos lost despite 13-yard edge in field position.
— Last four weeks, Denver converted only 11-48 third down plays.
— Three trips to red zone, Broncos scored only 10 points.
— Two of Denver’s three wins came against a rookie QB.

— Steelers ran ball for 147 yards; they had 221 RY in first four games.
— Pitt averaged 9.4 yards/pass attempt.
— Claypool caught five passes for 130 yards and a TD.
— Opponents have started 8 drives in Pittsburgh territory.
— Steelers haven’t started any drives in opposing territory. 

New England 25, Houston 22
— Patriots outscored Houston 16-0 over last 28:00 of game.
— Last four NE drives: 33 plays, 188 yards, 3 FGs and a TD.
— Patriots gained 42+ yards on six of nine drives.
— Patriots’ wins are both over rookie QBs.

— Texans lost last four games, giving up 30 ppg.
— Houston led 22-9 early in third quarter.
— Texans’ last five drives: 20 plays, 69 yards, 2 first downs, zero points.
— Texans have 16 plays of 20+ yards; their opponents have 26.

LA Chargers 47, Cleveland 42:
— Browns won 14-7 last week, lost 47-42 here; go figure.
— Browns ran ball for 187.6 yards/game the first five weeks.
— Cleveland outscored foes 35-6 in last 2:00 of each half.
— Cleveland is 9-18 ATS in last 27 games on artificial turf.

— Chargers’ last four drives: 26 plays, 259 yards, 26 points.
— Williams caught eight passes for 165 yards, two TD’s.
— Bolts have converted 33 of 68 third down plays.
— Chargers allowed 198-186-230 rushing yards in last three games.

Chicago 20, Las Vegas 9:
— Bears won three of their last four games, despite passing for 94.5 ypg.
— Chicago allowed 17 or fewer points in its three wins.
— Last three games, Bears converted only 8-32 third down plays.
— Chicago’s last four games stayed under the total.

— Raiders lost last two games, scoring three TD’s on 20 drives.
— First 3 quarters, Raiders ran 38 plays for 162 yards, 8 first downs, 3 points.
— Total yardage for game: 259-252, Raiders.
— Raiders are 2-5 ATS in last seven games as a home favorite.

Dallas 44, NY Giants 20:
— Dallas won its first three home games, scoring 40.3 ppg.
— Dallas has converted 32-62 third down plays.
— Cowboys have 12 takeaways in five games (+7).
— Over is 19-8 in Cowboys’ last 27 home games.

— QB Jones (concussion) left game, as did RB Barkley (ankle).
— Giants have been outscored 51-12 in last 2:00 of each half.
— Dallas outgained Big Blue, 515-367.
— Giants lost last five visits to Dallas, by average of 13 points.

Arizona 17, San Francisco 10:
— Hopkins caught six passes for 87 yards and a TD.
— Arizona has 23 plays of 20+ yards; their opponents have 14.
— Arizona has 123 points on 21 drives to red zone (5.86)
— Cardinals are last unbeaten team in NFL.

— Rookie QB Lance threw for 192 yards, ran for 89 in first NFL start.
— 49ers had 93-yard drive in first half, were stopped on downs at the 1.
— Niners have only takeaway (-6) in first five games.
— 49ers had 8 plays of 20+ yards in opener, total of only 11 last four games.

Buffalo 38, Kansas City 20:
— Bills won last four games, scoring 39 ppg.
— Buffalo has given up six TD’s on 53 drives.
— Bills are 9-1-2 ATS last 12 games as road underdogs.
— Buffalo outscored opponents 91-27 in first half.

— Halftime was extended 45 minutes by lightning.
— Chiefs allowed 32.6 ppg in first five games (20 TD’s/43 drives).
— Chiefs turned ball over four times (minus-4)
— KC has 18 plays of 20+ yards, their opponents have 28.

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a fun Saturday of football…….

13) Texas A&M 41, Alabama 38:
— Aggies led this game 24-10 at halftime.
— Alabama blocked punt for a TD; A&M ran ensuing kick back for a TD.
— A&M scored ten points in last 3:00 to post the upset.

— Alabama outgained A&M 522-379.
— A&M QB Calzada threw for 285 yards, tying TD with 3:00 left.
— Alabama QB Young threw for 369 yards, three TD’s.

12) Oklahoma 54, Texas 48:
— RB Brooks ran 33 yards for a TD with 0:03 left.
— Longhorns hit 31-yard TD pass with 1:23 left to tie game.
— Texas led this game 28-7 after first quarter.

— Sooners’ freshman QB Williams came off bench, threw for 211 yards, 2 TD’s.
— Brooks carried ball 25 times for 217 yards.
— Total yardage: 662-516, Oklahoma

11) Ole Miss 52, Arkansas 51:
— Hogs scored TD at 0:00 to make score 52-51; they went for 2 points and the win.
— To me, this was such a terrific game; you go to OT and the added TV exposure, which should benefit your recruiting. STAY ON TV!!!! Free advertising.
— Been long time since I saw a game where both team ran for 300+ yards.
— Total yardage was 676-611, Arkansas; Hogs had 38 first downs. Thirty. Eight.

The two offensive coordinators in this game, Kendal Briles and Jeff Lebby, are brothers-in-law.

10) Wake Forest 40, Syracuse 37 OT:
— Wake Forest is 6-0 for first time since 1944.
— Syracuse led 21-10 in second quarter.
— Deacons’ WR Perry caught three passes for 137 yards, all TD’s, one in OT.
— Syracuse ran ball for 354 yards, outgained Wake 514-426.

9) Utah 42, USC 26:
— If USC’s athletic director doesn’t have Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson on top of his list for the Trojans’ head coaching job, then he is committing malpractice. Wake Forest is smallest of all the Power 5 colleges; very tough place to win- Wake is 40-27 the last six seasons- they were 21-40 the five years before that.
— Firing Clay Helton in September made a rich donor(s) happy, but it was stupid.

8) Virginia 34, Louisville 33:
— Down 30-13 at one point, Cavaliers scored winning TD with 0:22 left.
— Virginia’s lefty QB Armstrong threw for 487 yards, three TD’s.
— Total yardage: Virginia, 522-503.

7) Upsets of the Week:
— Texas A&M (+19) 41, Alabama 38
— Florida State (+17.5) 35, North Carolina 25
— Akron (+14) 35, Bowling Green 20
— Northern Illinois (+13) 22, Toledo 20- Upsetting day in the MAC.
— Ball State (+12.5) 45, Western Michigan 20- Three double digit dogs won SU in MAC
— Boise State (+6.5) 26, BYU 17

6) Iowa 23, Penn State 20:
— Penn State led 17-3 in first half, then their QB got hurt. Not good.
— Nittany Lions’ backup QB was 7-21 for 34 yards, two INT’s.
— Iowa outscored PSU 13-0 over final 16:36 of the game.

5) Kentucky 42, LSU 21:
— Kentucky is 6-0 for first time since 1950.
— SEC Network did this game; Jordan Rodgers is a very good analyst- he is also Aaron Rodgers’ brother, who played QB at Vanderbilt.

The best TV teams are like two friends sitting there watching the game, having a beer, and we get to eavesdrop on them. Thats what this game was like; Rodgers and Tom Hart.

They were talking openly on the air about LSU coach Ed Orgeron being on the hot seat now; he won the national title when he had Joe Burrow at QB two years ago, but now they’re 8-8 since Burrow went to the NFL, and 8-8 doesn’t cut it in Baton Rouge.

There is a book out there called Meat Market, about recruiting in college football and it focuses on when Orgeron was coach at Ole Miss. If you like college football, read that book, and make your own judgements; I won’t say another word about it.

4) Notre Dame 32, Virginia Tech 29:
— Senior K Doerer made a 48-yard FG with 0:17 left.
— Notre Dame scored 10 points in final 2:29 to pull out the win.

3) Georgia Tech 31, Duke 27:
— Tech threw a 36-yard TD pass with 0:51 left.
— Yellow Jackets led 14-0 in first quarter.
— Duke ran 91 plays, Tech 64.

2) Michigan 32, Nebraska 29:
— Wolverines kicked FG with 1:29 left for the win.
— Nebraska rallied to lead 29-26 after trailing 19-7.
— Michigan kicked two FG’s in last 3:00; they’re 6-0.

1) Texas State 33, South Alabama 31, OT:
— They needed four rounds of OT to settle this one.
— South Alabama led 17-7 at halftime, 24-10 in 4th quarter.
— South Alabama’s QB is Jake Bentley, who previously played at South Carolina, Utah. 

Saturday’s Den: Info on 13 college games not in my top 13 this week

East Carolina (3-2) @ Central Florida (2-2)
— East Carolina won last two I-A games, scoring 42-52 points. 
— ECU gave up 536 yards to a I-AA team, surviving 31-28.
— East Carolina has 10 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Pirates have 69 returning starts on the offensive line.
— East Carolina has a junior QB has started 30 games.
— Under coach Houston, Pirates are 6-3 ATS as road underdog.

— UCF lost last two games, giving up 42-34 points to Louisville/Navy.
— Knights ran ball for 255 yards, threw for 318.
— Knights lost as 15-point road favorite LW; couldn’t handle Navy’s option.
— UCF has 99 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Knights have a soph QB with 26 career starts.
— Last 2+ years, UCF is 3-7 ATS as a home favorite.
— Malzahn is 22-27-1 ATS as a home favorite.

— UCF won last five series games, scoring 47.8 ppg.
— East Carolina is 5-2 ATS in last seven trips to UCF.
— ECU gained 459+ TY in last three meetings. 

Buffalo (2-3) @ Kent State (2-3)
— Bulls are 1-3 vs I-A teams; they beat Old Dominion 35-34. 
— Buffalo gave up 433+ TY in all four I-A games.
— Buffalo has 4 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Bulls have only 18 returning starts on offensive line.
— Buffalo has a junior QB with 20 starts.
— Bulls are 4-9-1 ATS in last 14 games as road underdogs.

— Kent State is 1-3 vs I-A teams, giving up 41-30-37 points in losses. 
— Flashes ran for 262 yards LY, in 27-20 win over Bowling Green.
— Kent State has 10 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Flashes have 67 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Kent State has a senior QB with 21 starts.
— Last 7+ years, Flashes are 5-8 ATS as home favorites.

— Buffalo beat Kent State 70-41 LY, running for 515 yards.
— Bulls are 9-4 in last 13 series games.
— Buffalo is 5-2-1 ATS in last eight visits to Kent.

Georgia Tech (2-3) @ Duke (3-2)
— Georgia Tech is 1-3 vs I-A teams; they did upset North Carolina.
— Jackets gave up 580 TY in 52-21 home loss to Pitt LW.
— Georgia Tech has 7 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Jackets have 117 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Georgia Tech has been using two QB’s this season.
— Last six years, Jackets are 2-9 ATS as road favorites.

— Duke gave up 31+ points in three of four I-A games.
— Blue Devils gave up 530-456 TY in last two games.
— Duke has 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Blue Devils have 91 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Duke has soph QB with five career starts.
— Under Cutcliffe, Blue Devils are 18-13-1 ATS as home dogs.

— Tech (even) ran for 377 yards, beat Duke 56-33 LY.
— Duke won five of last seven series games.
— Tech lost last three visits to Duke, by 18-23-14 points. 

Virginia (3-2) @ Louisville (3-2)
— Virginia split four I-A games, giving up 41.3 ppg last three games.
— Cavaliers scored 30+ points in three of four I-A games.
— Virginia has 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Cavaliers have 122 returning starts on offensive line.
— Virginia has a soph QB with 15 starts.
— Cavaliers are 7-5 ATS in last 12 games as road underdogs.

— Louisville gave up 43-37 points in losses to Ole Miss/Wake Forest.
— Cardinals allowed 453-501 TY in their last two games.
— Louisville has 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Cardinals have 95 returning starts on offensive line.
— Cardinals’ junior QB has started 17 games.
— Under Satterfield, Louisville is 6-2 ATS as home favorites. 

— Louisville is 4-2 in last six series games.
— Cavaliers lost last three visits here, by 7-17-7 points.
— Louisville ran for 317 yards in 31-17 loss at Virginia LY.

Wyoming (4-0) @ Air Force (4-1)
— Wyoming escaped road games at No Illinois (50-43), UConn (24-22)
— Cowboys even squeezed out a 19-16 win over I-AA Montana State.
— Cowboys have 10 starters back on offense, 11 on defense.
— Wyoming has 144 returning starts on offensive line.
— Cowboys have a soph QB with 16 starts.
— Last three years, Wyoming is 3-6 ATS as road underdogs.

— Air Force ran for 400+ yards in its last three games.
— Falcons’ one loss was 49-45 (-9) at home to Utah State.
— Falcons have 4 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— Air Force has only 3 returning starts on offensive line.
— Falcons have junior QB this year, with 10 starts.
— Air Force is 6-3 ATS last nome games as home favorites.

— Wyoming won five of last seven series games.
— Cowboys split their last eight visits to Air Force.
— Underdogs are 8-3 ATS in last 11 series games.

San Jose State (3-2) @ Colorado State (1-3)
— San Jose split four I-A games, scoring 7-3 points in losses.
— Spartans are minus-7 in turnovers this season.
— Spartans have 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— San Jose has 112 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Spartans have senior QB with 13 career starts- he used to play at Arkansas.
— San Jose is 9-5 ATS last 14 games as a road dog (0-2 TY).

— Colorado State is 1-3, with 42-23 loss to a I-AA team.
— Rams were outgained only 278-250 in 24-14 loss at Iowa. 
— Rams have 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— CSU has 91 returning starts on offensive line.
— Rams have a senior QB with five career starts.
— Colorado State is 3-8 ATS last 11 games as a home favorite.

— Colorado State won last three series games, scoring 38 ppg.
— Teams last met in 2018.
— Spartans won two of last three visits to Fort Collins.

Oregon State (4-1) @ Washington State (1-1)
— Oregon State won last four games, beating USC/Washington in last two.
— Beavers ran ball for 242+ yards in each of  last four games.
— Beavers have 10 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— OSU has 86 returning starts on offensive line.
— OSU’s sophomore QB has 8 career starts.
— Over last decade, Beavers are 1-5 ATS as road favorites.

— Wazzu is 1-3 vs I-A teams, scoring only 17.8 ppg.
— Rolovich is 5-8-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— All four of Wazzu’s I-A games stayed under total.
— Coogs have 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Wazzu has 68 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Coogs have a soph QB with nine career starts.
— Last 6+ years, Wazzu is 4-3 ATS as home underdog.

— Wazzu won last seven series games (5-2 ATS)
— Coogs scored 46.6 ppg in those seven wins.
— Beavers are 8-2 ATS in last ten visits to Pullman.

South Carolina (2-3) @ Tennessee (3-2)
— South Carolina lost its first two SEC games, 40-13/16-10.
— Average total in their four I-A games is only 35.8.
— South Carolina has 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Gamecocks have 84 returning starts on offensive line.
— South Carolina has a freshman QB with 6 starts.
— Gamecocks are 3-5 ATS last 8 games as road underdogs.

— Tennessee split four I-A games, giving up 41-38 points in losses
— Tennessee ran for 458 yards in LW’s 62-24 win at Missouri. 
— Tennessee has 5 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Vols have 70 returning starts on offensive line.
— Vols have QB with 19 starts who transferred from Va Tech.
— Tennessee is 5-10 ATS last 15 games as home favorites.

— Underdogs covered 8 of last 9 series games.
— Tennessee won last two meetings, 31-27/41-21.
— Gameoccks are 8-3-1 ATS in last 12 visits to Knoxville.

West Virginia (2-3) @ Baylor (3-0)
— West Virginia is 1-3 vs I-A teams, with losses by 6-3-3 points. 
— All four of WVU’s I-A games stayed under the total.
— Mountaineers have 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— WVU has 54 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Mountaineers have junior QB with 36 career starts.
— West Virginia is 8-5 ATS last 13 games as road dogs.

— Baylor ran ball for 321.3 yds/game in whacking three stiffs.
— Bears outgained Kansas 576-166 in Big X opener LW.
— Bears have 7 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Baylor has 95 returning starts on the offensive line.
— Bears have a soph QB this year, with 3 starts.
— Last four years, Baylor is 5-4 ATS as a home underdog.

— West Virginia won four of last five series games.
— WVU lost three of last four visits to Waco, losing by 3-24-31 points.
— Underdogs are 4-1 ATS in last five series games.

Memphis (3-2) @ Tulsa (1-4)
— Memphis split four I-A games, all decided by 5 or less points.
— Tigers allowed 468+ TY in three of those four games.
— Tigers have 8 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Memphis has 104 returning starts on offensive line.
— Memphis has a freshman QB with five starts.
— Last 6 years, Memphis was 1-6-1 ATS as a road dog.

— Tulsa gave up average of 40 ppg in last three games.
— Golden Hurricane lost to I-AA team, but gained 501 TY at Ohio State.
— Golden Hurricane has 10 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Tulsa has 120 returning starts on offensive line.
— Tulsa’s soph QB has started 5 games.
— Tulsa is 1-5-1 ATS last seven games as a home favorite.

— Memphis won last three series games, scoring 42-47-41 points.
— Tigers gained 426+ TY in last six meetings.
— Memphis won last three trips to Tulsa, by 1-27-24 points.

Alabama (5-0) @ Texas A&M (3-2)
— Alabama had one close game, winning 31-29 @ Florida Sept 18.
— Alabama held four of five opponents under 300 TY.
— Crimson Tide has 3 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Alabama has 89 returning starts on offensive line.
— Bama’s new QB has started five games. 
— Last 3+ years, Alabama is 8-6 ATS as a road favorite.

— A&M lost last two games, Arkansas (20-10), Miss State (26-22).
— Aggies were held under 300 TY in three of last four games.
— A&M has 6 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— Aggies have 15 returning starts on offensive line.
— A&M is playing two freshman QB’s; they’re struggling.
— Aggies are 3-6-1 ATS last 10 games as home underdogs.

— Alabama won last eight series games (5-2 ATS last seven)
— Crimson Tide scored 52-47-45 points in last three meetings.

Texas-El Paso (4-1) @ Southern Miss (1-4)
— Miners are 4-1; their last winning year was in 2014.
— UTEP held opponent under 300 TY in 3 of 4 I-A games.
— Miners have 11 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— UTEP has 101 returning starts on offensive line.
— UTEP’s soph QB has 12 starts.
— Last 11 years, UTEP is 2-1 ATS as road favorites.

— Southern Miss is 0-4 vs I-A teams, scoring 12.3 ppg.
— Eagles were held under 260 TY in three of those four games.
— Southern Miss has 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— Eagles have 47 returning starts on offensive line.
— Southern Miss appears to be using three QB’s.
— Last 6+ years, Eagles are 6-2 ATS as home underdogs.

— Southern Miss won last five series games (3-1 ATS last four).
— UTEP is 3-2 ATS in last five visits to Hattiesburg.

Tex-San Antonio (5-0) @ Western Kentucky (1-3)
— Unbeaten Roadrunners have wins at Illinois (37-30), Memphis (31-28).
— UTSA gave up 329/316 passing yards in last two games. 
— A&M has 10 starters back on offense, 11 on defense.
— Roadrunners have 122 returning starts on offensive line.
— UTSA has junior QB with 19 career starts.
— Roadrunners are 8-3 ATS last 11 games as road dogs.

— WKU is 1-3, but lost to two Big 14 teams (Indiana/Mich State).
— Hilltoppers scored 35-31-31 points in the three losses.
— WKU has 6 starters back on offense, 4 on defense.
— Hilltoppers have 75 returning starts on offensive line.
— WKU’s QB played four years at I-AA Houston Baptist (40 starts)
— Last three years, WKU is 3-8 ATS as home favorites.

— These teams haven’t met since 2014.

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

13) Rams 26, Seahawks 17:
— Stafford threw for 365 yards in his first outdoor game this year.
— Woods caught 12 passes for 150 yards.
— Rams outgained Seattle, 476-354.
— LA in 2nd half: 32 plays, 301 yards, 3 TD’s, FG on six drives.

— QB Wilson hurt middle finger on right hand, didn’t play 4th quarter.
— Seattle scored 10 points on backup QB Geno Smith’s three drives.
— Rams won seven of last nine series games.
— Seattle’s last five Thursday games have all been at home. 

12)  Astros 6, White Sox 1:
— Alvarez, Brantley both knocked in two runs.
— McCullers threw 6.2 scoreless IP.

11) Rays 5, Red Sox 0:
— Leadoff hitter Arozarena scored 3 of Tampa Bay’s 5 runs.
— Boston had nine hits, were 1-7 with RISP.

10) Bowling Green is the only college football team that is 5-0 ATS: Clemson, Missouri and New Mexico are all 0-5 ATS.

9) By my calculations, Kyrie Irving will earn $425,807 per game this season; do the math if he can’t play in the Nets’ 41 home games, because he won’t get vaccinated.

8) Was pretty cool to see Juan Soto and Nationals’ hitting coach Kevin Long at Dodger Stadium Wednesday night, rooting for ex-teammates Scherzer/Turner in the NL Wild Card game.

7) Justin Turner’s career:
— 2 years with Orioles: .111 BA, .226 OB%, .337 OPS, 2 runs, 3 RBI
— 4 years with Mets: .265 BA, .326 OB%, .696 OPS, 82 runs, 86 RBI
— 8 years with LA: .298 BA, .379 OB%, .877 OPS, 591 runs, 582 RBI

Max Muncy’s career:
— 2 years with A’s: .195BA, .290 OB%, .611 OPS, 27 runs, 17 RBI
— 4 years with LA: .246 BA, .371 OB%, .890 OPS, 307 runs, 298 RBI

Dodgers apparently do a superior job of developing hitters.

6) Lakers’ SF Trevor Ariza hurt his ankle, is out at least eight weeks.

5) Cleveland Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield partially tore the labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder couple weeks ago, is playing through it.

4) Patriots traded CB Stephon Gilmore to Carolina, for a 6th-round draft pick.

3) So far this college football season, double digit favorites are 20-26 ATS in conference games.

2) In non-conference games, SEC home favorites are 12-5 ATS; Big 14 teams are 14-6-1.

1) On the other end of stick, MAC road underdogs are 7-16 ATS out of conference; Sun Belt road dogs are 4-8. 

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

13) Wild Card games:
Boston 6, New York 2— Gerrit Cole makes $36M a year, but he only got six outs in this game, leaving after throwing 50 pitches. Is his leg healthy? He only gave up three runs, seemed like a quick hook, if he is healthy. Red Sox play Tampa Bay in the next round.

Dodgers 3, Cardinals 1:
— Chris Taylor didn’t start game, but he ended it with a 2-run homer.
— Taylor entered game in an 8-for-72 slump.
— Dodgers/Giants meet in next round; both teams have 107 wins.

12) Pet Peeve Alert: TV people should not intrude on managers during a playoff game; its just not worth it. Not like the manager is going to say anything interesting anyway; these are playoff games, let the managers do their jobs.

ESPN did it Sunday night; TBS wisely didn’t do it in Los Angeles.

11) San Diego Padres told manager Jayce Tingler to take a hike Tuesday; the much-hyped Padres were 79-83 this year, 28 games behind the Giants in the NL West. Padres made playoffs LY, but lost 3-0 to Los Angeles in the NLDS.

Not sure how GM AJ Preller keeps his job; guy has been snagged twice by MLB for cheating, San Diego has made the playoffs once in his tenure, but hey, fire the manager.

10) Speaking of the Padres, I felt kind of old the other night when they showed Dave Winfield in a box at the Chargers game at SoFi Stadium— he celebrated his 70th birthday last weekend. Yikes. Winfield was an awesome athlete, also played college hoop at U of Minnesota. 

9) Red Sox star JD Martinez sprained his ankle the other day when he slipped on second base in Washington; I’m thinking MLB may switch to flatter bases next year. Seriously, people were talking about that this past spring.

8) Washington’s Juan Soto had a .465 on-base %age this year; he hit .313 and walked 145 times. Great year. 

Then you realize that Ted Williams had a career on-base %age of .482. Amazing.

7) There were 5,944 home runs hit in the major leagues this season, 832 less than 2019, the last full season. Toronto (262) hit the most; Pittsburgh (124) the least.

6) Chicago Bears’ star RB David Montgomery is expected to miss 4-5 weeks with a sprained left knee, big loss for a team that needs to run, to set up rookie QB Justin Fields’ passing game- they threw only 17 passes in their win over Detroit last week, but averaged 10.2 yards/attempt.

5) Odds on the four series in this round of baseball playoffs:
— Tampa Bay (-190) vs Boston
— Houston (-135) vs Chicago
— Dodgers (-160) vs San Francisco
— Milwaukee (-140) vs Atlanta

4) College football teams that are running the most plays this season:
84.0— North Texas
80.4— Central Michigan
80.4— Utah State
79.2— Arkansas State

3) Golden State Warriors F Andrew Wiggins has averaged 19.5 ppg in his 7-year NBA career; he will make $31,579,390 this season, which undoubtedly forced his hand in the decision. He had been adamant about not getting the vaccine, but that’s not what happened.

2) Was very surprised when season 5 of Showtime’s fine series Billions ended Sunday night; I didn’t know that star Damian Lewis was leaving the series. In real life, his wife passed away this past year and he lives in England, so he stepped away from his career for a while.

It’ll be interesting to see how the show evolves without its main character.

1) It turns out that Maris Valainis, the actor who played Jimmy Chitwood in Hoosiers, never made his high school basketball team in Indiana. He was an all-state golfer in high school and played college golf at Purdue.