Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

Surprise of the Day: Detroit Lions’ offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is staying with Detroit, which is really surprising- thought for sure he would fill one of the eight job openings for head coaches (there are only two left now). Apparently he wanted a boatload of $$$, which scared teams off.

— Can’t let January 30 pass without remembering January 30, 2000, one of my favorite days as a sports fan. Can’t believe its been 24 years since the Rams beat Tennessee 23-16, winning Super Bowl XXXIV, their first Super Bowl title.

Quite a game; Rams tackled a Tennessee receiver on the 1-yard line on the last play of the game to preserve the win, after they had blown a 16-0 third quarter lead. When NFL Network shows the highlights of that game every year, I still get queasy during the 4th quarter.

— The Angelos family is selling the Baltimore Orioles to a couple of really rich guys for $1.725B; Steve Cohen bought the Mets for $2.42B four years ago.

— Underdogs are 8-4 ATS in the last 12 Super Bowls, covering the last three.

— Georgia Tech 74, North Carolina 73
Loss ends North Carolina’s 10-game win streak.
Tar Heels were only 9-17 on the foul line.
Tech has beaten UNC/Duke; they’re 1-7 against the rest of the ACC.

— Marquette 85, Villanova 80
Marquette blew a 20-point lead, trailed by 4 with 13:11 left.
Kolek had 32 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds for the Golden Eagles.
Villanova lost its fifth game in a row.

— TCU 85, Texas Tech 78
TCU is #3 experience team that played non-conference schedule #345.
Horned Frogs are 16-5; all those wins in Nov/Dec built their confidence.
Texas Tech was 14-28 on arc; TCU was 11-20.

— St Bonaventure 67, VCU 62
VCU led this game 39-19 late in first half.
Bonnies out-rebounded VCU, 43-28.
Bonnies were 20-23 on foul line, Rams 9-11.

— Colorado State 79, San Diego State 71
Colorado State outscored Aztecs 19-10 over final 7:29.
Rams shot 67.7% inside the arc.
San Diego State lost 3 of last 5 games, after a 14-2 start.

— South Carolina 63, Tennessee 59
Gamecocks have won four in row, 11 of last 13 games.
Last four games, South Carolina gave up only 62.3 ppg.
Dalton Knecht scored 31 of Tennessee’s 59 points.

— Central Michigan 84, Northern Illinois 77, 2OT
Chippewas are 7-2 in MAC, Northern Illinois 0-8.
NIU led by 13 with 12:05 left in the game.
CMU was 26-37 on foul line, Huskies 16-25.

Baseball Note of the Day: Seattle Mariners acquired 2B Jorge Polanco from the Twins, for four players, one of whom is P Anthony DeSclafani- another is OF Gabriel Gonzalez, who was Seattle’s #3 prospect.

Word of the Day: Relentless- Being determined to do something, refusing to give up, to the point of sometimes being harsh or inflexible.

— If you have ESPN+, I recommend a 30-for-30 they did a while back, The Guru of Go, about former Lakers/LMU coach Paul Westhead.

If you saw HBO’s Winning Time last year, that show did a hatchet job of sorts on both Westhead and Jerry West; this show is a little bit more of an accurate appraisal of Westhead and what he did in a very interesting coaching career, a career that included him winning a WNBA title, 27 years after his NBA title with the Lakers.

— Was watching The Firm the other night, the 1993 movie adapted from one of John Grisham’s books; really good movie with an excellent cast- Gene Hackman, Tom Cruise, Wilford Brimley.

Two actors with smaller parts in the movie were Terry Kinney/David Strathairn; 30 years later, those two actors also worked in Showtime’s series Billions, which ran for seven years.

One of the things I got interested in during the pandemic was watching a ton of movies, and seeing how certain actors worked together a lot (John Cusack/Jeremy Piven come to mind).

— NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks have lost their last 18 road games; their last road win was back on November 9th, at Tampa Bay.

— Nick Dunlap, the 20-year-old golfer who won the American Express golf tournament as an amateur couple weeks ago, has turned pro. He was the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991.

Bad week for the golf coach at Alabama; Dunlap was on his team.

— James Harden has never played on a losing team in the NBA; he played on a 41-41 team once, the 2016 Rockets, but every other team he’s played on finished above .500.

Harden’s teams have a combined playoff record of 80-73; his 2012 Thunder team lost in the NBA Finals to Miami.

— Mobile sports betting is coming to North Carolina on March 11, just in time for people to bet on the ACC Tournament. North Carolina will be the 30th state to have mobile sports betting.

— Let’s compare the coaching resumes of two former NFL coaches:
Coach A: 125-106 in regular season, 0-6 in playoffs.
Coach B: 131-122-3 in regular season, 0-7 in playoffs.

Both coaches turned around losing programs, but couldn’t get over the hump in the playoffs. Any idea who they are? (Hint: they’re both retired)

I’ll let you know tomorrow. 

Tuesday’s Den: College basketball stat leaders…….

College basketball trends (team’s record):

Teams that play the fastest tempos:
1- Western Kentucky (14-6)
3- VMI (4-17)
7- Samford (18-3)
8- New Mexico (18-3)

Teams that play the slowest tempos:
362- North Texas (12-7)
361- Virginia (15-5)
359- Towson (13-8)
358- Charlotte (13-7)

Teams that force highest % of turnovers:
1- Texas-El Paso (11-10)
2- Iowa State (16-4)
3- Houston (18-2)
4- Florida International (7-14)

Teams that turn ball over the most:
24.5%- Siena (3-17)
23%- Sacramento State (6-15)
22.9%- Texas-Arlington (9-11)
22.8%- Stephen F Austin (12-8)

Best teams on offensive boards:
43.8%- Texas A&M (12-8)
40.7%- Florida (14-6)
40.6%- Towson (13-8)
40.1%- St John’s (13-7)

Worst teams on defensive boards:
63.3%- Cleveland State (13-9)
64.1%- North Carolina A&T (6-15)
64.3%- Florida International (7-14)
64.5%- Rio Grande Valley (6-14)

Teams with highest FG %age on 2-point shots:
64%- Cornell (15-3)
60.8%- Indiana State (18-3)
60%- BYU (15-5)
59.8%- Creighton (16-5)

Teams with highest FG %age on 3-point shots:
41.1%- Indiana State (18-3)
41%- Baylor (14-5)
40.2%- Kentucky (15-4)
40.2%- Samford (18-3)

Defenses with best FG %age on 2-point shots:
40.3%- Houston (18-2)
42%- Loyola Chi (13-7)
42.6%- Cal-Irvine (15-6)
42.6%- UConn (18-2)

Defenses with best FG %age on 3-point shots:
27.4%- SMU (13-7)
27.6%- Louisiana (13-8)
27.7%- Mississippi State (14-6)
27.8%- Seattle (12-8)

Teams who get highest %age of points on 3’s:
43%- BYU (15-5)
41.4%- Georgia Southern (5-16)
41%- Liberty (13-8)
41%- St Joe’s (13-7)

Teams who get highest %age of points on 2’s:
63.7%- IUPUI (6-17)
63.4%- Cal-Bakersfield (8-12)
60%- Tarleton State (13-7)
59.9%- Wright State (12-10)

Teams who get highest %age of points on foul shots:
26.2%- Texas-El Paso (11-10)
25.5%- Grand Canyon (19-2)
25.5%- Rio Grande Valley (6-14)
24.7%- Arkansas (10-10)

Teams whose subs play the most:
46.7%- Stephen F Austin (12-8)
44.2%- Samford (18-3)
44.1%- Auburn (16-4)
44%- Vanderbilt (5-14)

Teams whose subs play the least:
14.5%- Princeton (15-2)
17.8%- Tulane (12-8)
17.9%- Ball State (11-9)
18.5%- Michigan (7-13)

Most experienced teams:
St Bonaventure (12-7)
Washington (12-9)
TCU (15-5)
Nevada (16-5)

Least experienced teams:
Idaho (7-13)
Siena (3-17)
North Carolina A&T (6-15)
Notre Dame (7-13)

Teams with most continuity:
Florida Atlantic (17-4)
Columbia (10-7)
Marquette (15-5)
Cal-Davis (12-8)

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

Chiefs 17, Ravens 10
Ravens lost a fumble on 1-yard line, threw an INT in end zone.
Chiefs have won their last five games, giving up 14 ppg.
Since 2019, Chiefs are 13-2 in playoff games, winning two Super Bowls.
Baltimore’s only TD was a 30-yard TD pass late in first quarter.

Chiefs had their first plus turnover game since Week 6.
Mahomes is 88-25 SU as an NFL starter, 14-3 in playoffs.
coach Reid is 25-16 in playoff games, 15-7 with KC.
Lamar Jackson is 60-23 as an NFL starter, only 2-4 in playoff games

— Mahomes is on track to wind up as the NFL’s all-time best QB.

Seriously, if we were starting a football league right now, with every player ever eligible in his prime, which QB would you take first? I’d either take Mahomes or John Elway.

49ers 34, Lions 31
Lions in 1st half: 44 plays, 280 yards, 24 points.
Detroit led 24-7 at halftime.
Leading 24-10 in 3rd quarter, Lions went for it on 4th down, instead of trying a 45-yard FG that would’ve made score 27-10- they didn’t make the first down, and the game swung.
49ers in 2nd half: 36 plays, 281 yards, 27 points.

QB Purdy threw for 267 yards, ran for 48 more.
McCaffrey had 13 touches for 132 yards and 2 TD’s.
49ers are 13-0 when they score 21+ points.
Detroit scored a TD with 0:56 left for the back-door cover.

— Early spread on the Super Bowl: San Francisco, -1

— Football coaching stuff:
Buffalo Bills named Joe Brady offensive coordinator, taking the interim tag away.

Philadelphia Eagles naned Kellen Moore offensive coordinator. 

Atlanta Falcons named Zac Robinson offensive coordinator.

Sean McVay has been an NFL head coach for seven years; six of his former assistants have become head coaches (5 in NFL, Jedd Fisch in college), another seven have become NFL coordinators.

— Michigan Wolverines named Sherrone Moore their new football coach; he was the interim head coach for four games this season, while Jim Harbaugh was suspended. 

— CBS pays Tony Romo $18M a year, which is staggering. Basically works out to $1M a week, maybe a little less. Thats a lot of cabbage, for sure. He’s a good analyst, not really sure anyone is $1M a week good, though.

Baseball Note of the Day: Japanese baseball teams get a boatload of $$$ if a player comes to America before he has nine years of service time in Japan; the team receives a release fee: 20% of the first $25M of a major league contract, 17.5% of the next $25M and 15% of any amount over $50M.

Word of the Day: Eschew- Deliberately avoiding something. 

Lions eschewed three field goal tries Sunday, and went for it on 4th down all three times; they failed on two of the three tries.

Baseball stuff:
Royals gave 2B/OF Adam Frazier a 2-year deal, with a guarantee of $4.5M.

Cubs gave P Hector Neris a one-year deal for $9M

Diamondbacks signed OF Joc Pederson for one year, $9.5M.

Rangers gave P David Robertson a one-year deal for $11.5M; they also signed OF Travis Jankowski to a minor league deal.

Detroit Tigers gave 22-year-old prospect Colt Keith a six-year, $28M extension that has the chance to be much more lucrative, if Keith turns out to be as good as the Tigers think he is. Keith is a 3B who hit .287 in 67 AAA games last summer, with 51 RBI.

— FAU 66, North Texas 63
Owls outscored North Texas 13-6 over final 5:23.
FAU is 7-1 SU/2-6 ATS in the AAC.

— Couple of teams snapped long losing streaks Sunday:
Wichita State (1-6 in AAC, +4.5) upset SMU 77-72.
Manhattan (2-7 in MAAC, +9.5) beat Niagara 84-78 in overtime.

— UAB 97, Memphis 88
Memphis lost its last three games, after a 15-2 start.
Both teams had 20+ turnovers.
Yaxel Lendeborg scored 29 points, had 16 rebounds, 4 assists.

— Ohio State lost five of its last six basketball games SU; they’re 1-8 ATS in their conference games this season.

— Gonzaga’s league, the WCC, is ranked 11th so far this year; the last five years, the WCC finished either #8 or #9 in rankings. You wonder if the league will get more than one bid in the NCAA’s this year, if either Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s stumbles down the stretch.

— Happy birthdays this week to two of the greats: Wayne Gretzky (63) and Bob Uecker (90)- they’re greats for very different reasons, but both Hall of Famers, no doubt. 

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

Big X
TCU 105, Baylor 102, 3OT’s
TCU was down 9 with 9:19 left in regulation.
Nelson scored 30 points for TCU; he didn’t start.

Iowa State 79, Kansas 75
Iowa State shot 14-30 on the arc.
Jayhawks’ bench played total of only 25:00, scored 2 points.
Kansas split its last six games, after a 13-1 start.

ACC
Duke 72, Clemson 71
Duke hit couple foul shots with 0:01 left for the win.
Clemson led by 4 with 1:54 left in game.
Clemson has lost 21 in a row at Duke; their last win there was in 1995.

North Carolina 75, Florida State 68
Tar Heels are 9-0 SU/8-1 ATS in ACC games.
UNC was 19-24 on foul line, Seminoles 5-11- at home.

SEC
Florida 102, Georgia 98 OT
Gators blew a 21-point 2nd half lead, but won in overtime.
Florida was minus-10 in turnovers (19-9).
RJ Melendez scored 35 points for Georgia; he didn’t start.

Mississippi State 64, Auburn 58
Auburn shot 6-24 on arc; they went 0-2 on road this week.

South Carolina 72, Missouri 64
Gamecocks are 17-3, 5-2 in SEC games.
Last three years, South Carolina was 35-49, 17-35 in SEC.

Big East
Butler 88, Villanova 81 2OT
Butler was down 11 with 4:45 left in regulation.
Villanova only took 9 foul shots (6-9) in a 50:00 game.
Third straight loss for the 11-9 Wildcats.

Providence 84, Georgetown 76
Friars shot 76.7% (23-30) inside the arc.
Hoyas have lost five in row, are 1-8 in Big East.

Mountain West
Wyoming 79, Colorado State 76 OT
Colorado State led by 11 with 1:11 left in regulation. Yikes.
Rams are 2-4 in last six games, after a 13-1 start.

Utah State 90, Boise State 84
Aggies shot 62.2% inside arc, 26-31 on foul line.
Utah State has won 17 of its last 18 games.

Atlantic 15
Richmond 69, Dayton 64
Spiders won 10 games in row, are 7-0 in A-15 games.
This loss ended Dayton’s 13-game winning streak.

VCU 63, Davidson 58
Davidson has lost five of its last seven games.
Fifth straight win for VCU, after an 8-7 start.

Upsets of the Day:
Idaho State (+11.5) 74, Weber State 64
Mercer (+11.5) 70, NC-Greensboro 64
Wm & Mary (+8.5) 72, Northeastern 68
Wyoming (+8.5) 79, Colorado State 76, OT
North Dakota (+8.5) 74, St Thomas 64
Ole Miss (+7.5) 71, Texas A&M 68
Miami OH (+7.5) 70, Akron 68
Southern Utah (+6.5) 82, Abilene Christian 67
LaSalle (+5.5) 80, George Washington 70
Jacksonville State (+5.5) 73, Liberty 62
Wofford (+5.5) 77, Furman 67

Movie of the Day: Autumn in New York (2000)- An aging playboy falls for a much younger woman, who turns out to be terminally ill.

Richard Gere is the star, Winona Ryder is the younger woman. Excellent supporting cast, with Anthony LaPaglia, Jill Hennessy, JK Simmons, Sherry Stringfield, Vera Farmiga.

Bad Beat of the Day???: Bradley (+7.5) lost 95-86 in overtime at Indiana State. Braves led by 2 with 0:53 left in regulation.

— Cornell 83, Princeton 68
First Ivy League loss for the 15-2 Tigers; they dropped 13 spots in KenPom’s rankings.
Cornell shot 73.5% (25-34) inside the arc.

— Oakland 91, Milwaukee 87, 2OT
Milwaukee scored 95-87 points vs Oakland this year, but lost both games.
Oakland’s Jack Gohlke was 8-18 on arc, 3-3 on line. He didn’t take a 2-point shot.
Oakland was 15-41 on the arc, 13-33 inside the arc.

— Cal-San Diego 92, Cal-Davis 59
UCSD was 15-32 on the arc, Cal-Davis 4-20
Tritons are 14-7, 8-1 in Big West, but they’re not eligible for NCAA Tournament.
That was just second loss in last nine games for Cal-Davis.

— Arizona 87, Oregon 78
Arizona never trailed; they made 10-19 shots on the arc.
Caleb Love scored 36 points for the Wildcats.

— Miami OH 70, Akron 68
First loss for the Zips in eight MAC games.
Akron led this game by 11 early on, but shot only 34.6% inside arc. 

Saturday’s Den: College basketball notes……..

Notes from 13 of the best leagues in the country:

Southern
71% free throw % is 2nd-worst of any conference.
35.3% on 3’s is 7th-best %age in country.

NC-Greensboro/Samford are tied for first, at 6-1
Furman/Chattanooga are game behind, at 5-2.

From 2015-22, Western Carolina was 101-151, 54-89 in SoCon.
Last two years, Western Carolina is 33-21, 14-11 in SoCon.

WAC
WAC teams are playing 2nd-fastest tempo in country.
WAC games have the most free throws of any league in country.

Grand Canyon is 8-1; they lead the WAC by 2.5 games.
Antelopes will have pressure in WAC tourney; this is a one-bid league.

In three years under Chris Victor, Seattle is 55-29, 30-15 in WAC games.

WCC
WCC teams are shooting 53.4% inside the arc, best in country.
WCC teams have the 3rd-fewest turnovers of any league. 

Saint Mary’s is 6-0 in WCC, after a 9-6 pre-conference mark.
Santa Clara is 6-1, Gonzaga 5-1, right behind the Gaels.

Right now, according to ESPN’s Bracketology, this is a one-bid league, with Gonzaga the first team out of the field of 68, but we’re still in January, still a long way to go.

Missouri Valley
Valley teams are #6 in country in eFG%; lot of good shooters.
Valley teams are outside top 20 in steals, blocked shots; not a great defensive league.

Indiana State leads the Valley with an 8-1 record.
Drake/Bradley are both a game behind. Right now, this is a one-bid league.

Belmont has won 20+ games thirteen years in a row; right now, they’re 11-9.
Last two years, Bradley is 40-15, 23-6 in Valley games.

American
39.6% of shots AAC teams take are 3’s, 3rd-highest %age.
AAC teams rebound 31.2% of their missed shots, #5 in country.

FAU/Charlotte are 6-1 in AAC; North Texas/South Florida are 5-1.
From 2010-21, Wichita State was 168-43 in league games; the last three years, Shockers are 15-24, 0-6 this season.

East Carolina is 3-5 in games decided by 6 or less points, lot of close games.
Florida Atlantic is 6-1 in AAC this year, only 2-5 against the spread.

Atlantic 15
A-15 teams are shooting 48.5% inside arc, 3rd-worst in country.
Home teams are only 25-22 SU in A-15 league games (#24 home win %age)

Dayton/Richmond are tied for first in A-15, with 6-0 records.
Loyola (5-2), VCU (4-2) are next in the standings. 

This is a one-bid league, unless Dayton loses in the A-15 tourney- Flyers are getting in.
In 8 years under Bob McKillop, Davidson was 91-46 in A-15; in the two years since he retired and his son took over the program, Davidson is 10-14 in A-15 games.

Baseball Note of the Day: Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 1991; since then, no Minnesota team has won a championship, or gotten to the finals in their league. Of the 13 places with teams in all four major sports, Minnesota’s drought is 10 years longer than anyone else’s.

— Thought of the Day: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.   

Mountain West
Mountain West teams are playing 4th-slowest tempo in country.
Mountain West teams are shooting 52.9% inside arc, #4 n country.

Utah State/Boise State are 6-1; San Diego State/New Mexico are 5-2.
Colorado State was 12-1 in pre-conference, but is only 3-3 in league games.

Bracketology has five Mountain West teams in Field of 68.
16-4 Nevada is in Next Four Out; MW has six teams in the top 60.

Pac-12
Pac-12 teams are shooting 36.6% on arc, #2 in country.
Home teams are 37-14 in Pac-12 games, #2 %age in country.

Oregon is 6-2 in Pac-12, followed by Colorado at 6-3.
Arizona schools are both 5-3.

Last four years, UCLA was 99-36, 58-19 in Pac-12. This year, they’re 8-11, 3-5.
Arizona is 6-5 in its last eleven games, after an 8-0 start.

ACC
ACC teams are shooting 74% on foul line, 3rd-best in country.
ACC teams are shooting only 49.8% inside arc, #20 in country.

North Carolina is 8-0 in ACC games; their last loss was December 16.
Florida State/Duke are next in standings, at 5-2.

Bracketology has Wake Forest/Virginia in Next Four Out.
Other than UNC, they have Duke as a 5-seed, Clemson as a 7-seed.

Big 14
Big 14 teams are shooting 36% on the arc, #3 in country.
Big 14’s turnover %age is 15.9%, #5 in country.

Wisconsin is 8-1 in Big 14, Purdue 7-2.
Illinois/Northwestern are tied for third, at 5-3.

Bracketology has six Big 14 teams in the Field of 68.
Michigan State is 12-8, 4-5; they haven’t missed NCAA’s since 1997.

SEC
SEC teams have 48.8 eFG%, 4th-worst in country.
SEC teams are playing 4th-fastest tempo in country.

Auburn/Alabama are both 5-1; Tennessee is 4-1.
Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia are all 4-2.

Last 4 years, Arkansas was 95-42, 41-30 in SEC; this year, they’re 10-9, 1-5.
Bracketology has seven SEC teams in, with Ole Miss/Florida near-misses.

Big East
Big East teams are rebounding 30.1% of their misses, #7 in country.
Big East teams are shooting 75.3% on foul line, best in country.

Defending national champ UConn is 7-1 in conference games.
Creighton/Seton Hall are 6-3; Marquette is 5-3.

In Jay Wright’s last nine years, Villanova was 263-53, 130-31 in conference.
In 1.5 years since Wright retired, Villanova is 28-25, 14-14 in conference.

Big X
Big X teams are playing 5th-slowest tempo in country.
Big X teams are shooting 33.2% on the arc (#24)

Texas Tech is 4-1 in Big X; four other teams are 4-2.
Four new teams in the Big X this year are 11-13 in league games.

Bracketology has six teams in, with Texas/TCU in the play-in games
Last 3 years, Oklahoma State was 27-27 in Big X; they’re 0-6 this year. 

Monday’s Den; Wrapping up an NFL Sunday…….

Buccaneers 9, Panthers 0
Tampa Bay clinched NFC South win a win here.
Buccaneers won five of their last six games.
Bucs are 7-1 when they allow less than 18 points.
Tampa Bay will host the Eagles in the playoffs next week.

Panthers are 1st team to be shut out in consecutive games since ‘08 Browns.
Carolina never led a game in 4th quarter TY; both wins were on walk-off FG’s.
Carolina lost nine of its last ten games (3-3 ATS last six).
Panthers didn’t score a TD in four of their last five games.

Bills 21, Dolphins 14
Bills win AFC East; they host the Steelers next week.
Harty tied game 14-14 with a 96-yard punt return TD.
Bills outgained Miami, 473-275.
Buffalo is 5-0 SU/3-2 ATS since its bye week. 

Dolphins in first half: 31 plays, 225 yards; they led 14-7.
Dolphins in 2nd half: 17 plays, 47 yards, 4 punts and an INT
Under McDaniel, Miami is 9-13 ATS as an underdog (0-5 TY).
Next week, Dolphins visit Kansas City Saturday night.

Titans 28, Jaguars 20
Loss knocks Jacksonville out of the playoffs.
Jaguars lost five of their last six games.
Last five weeks, Jaguars were outscored 65-29 in first half.
Jaguars were 8-14 on third down, Titans 6-11.

Tennessee scored TD’s on three of its first four drives.
Titans ran ball for 175 yards; Henry ran for 153 yards and a TD.
Tennessee is 14-7 ATS last 21 games as home dogs (4-2 TY)
Titans are 5-1 scoring 27+ points, 1-10 scoring 17 or less. 

Saints 48, Falcons 17
Falcons’ first two drives: nine plays, 169 yards, two TD’s.
Falcons rest of game: 51 plays, 220 yards, 3 points.
Falcons are 3-11-1 ATS TY in games with spread of 3 or less points.
Saints scored TD with 1:10 left; Falcons WERE NOT HAPPY about it.

This game was 17-17 at halftime.
Saints were eliminated from playoffs when Green Bay won its game.
Carr was 22-28/264 passing with four TD’s.
Saints won nine of last 12 games against Atlanta.

Bengals 31, Browns 14
Bengals led 24-0 at halftime.
Browns in first half: 25 plays, 71 yards, 2 turnovers, no points.
Driskel was 5th QB to start a game for Cleveland TY.
Browns visit Houston in the playoffs next week.

Bengals’ first four drives: 24 plays, 224 yards, 21 points.
Mixon ran ball 14 times for 11 yards and a TD.
Cincinnati is 9-4-1 ATS last 14 games as home favorites (4-3-1 TY).
Bengals are 7-2 giving up 20 or less points, 2-6 allowing more than 2o.

Jets 17, Patriots 3
Jets end a 15-game losing streak vs New England.
Total yardage: Jets 254, New England 119
Teams combined to convert 4 of 29 third down plays. 
Jets went 3-2 in their last five games this season.

NE is 7-15-1 ATS in last 23 games with spread of 3 or less.
Patriots were 1-4 ATS as a favorite this season.
New England was minus-12 in turnovers this year (+38 from 2019-22).
In his career, Belichick is 84-103 without Brady.

Lions 30, Vikings 20
Detroit scored TD’s on two of first three drives.
Last four games, Detroit is +6 in turnovers (9-3)
St Brown caught seven passes for 144 yards and a TD.
Over is 10-4 in their last 14 games.

Vikings lost six of last seven games (the win was 3-0).
Mullens was 30-44/396 passing, but threw INTs on last two drives.
Jefferson caught 12 passes for 192 yards and a TD.
Vikings were 1-7 when they allowed 27+ points.

Cowboys 38, Commanders 10
Dallas wins division, hosts Green Bay in playoffs next week.
Cowboys scored five TD’s on only nine drives.
Prescott was 31-36/279 passing, with four TD’s.
Dallas is 11-4 ATS last 15 games as a road favorite (4-1 TY)

Cowboys outgained Washington, 440-180.
Dallas was 6-10 on 3rd down, Commanders 2-10
Washington lost eight in row, 13 of last 15 games (3-8 ATS last 11)
Washington was 1-12 this year giving up more than 17 points. 

Rams 21, 49ers 20
Rams converted 9 of 15 third down plays.
Rams are 7-1 SU/6-2 ATS last eight games
Rams are 9-3 when they run ball for 92+ yards, 1-4 when they don’t.
Rams visit Detroit (Stafford’s old team) in next week’s playoffs.

49ers led 20-7 at halftime.
49ers in second half: 16 plays, 26 yards, 3 punts and a lost fumble.
SF is 0-5 this year when they score less than 27 points.
49ers are still the #1 seed in NFC, have next week off.

Giants 27, Eagles 10
Giants led Philly 24-0 at halftime.
Eagles turned ball over three times in the first half.
Eagles went 1-5 SU/0-6 ATS in their last six games.
Eagles visit Tampa Bay in next weekend’s playoffs.

Giants outgained Philly 415-299.
Taylor was 23-32/297 passing, with a TD pass.
Last two weeks, Giants gained 389/415 yards, an improvement.
Last 13 games, Giants were +19 in turnovers.

Packers 17, Bears 9
Packers outgained Chicago, 432-192.
Green Bay was 7-10 on third down, Bears 3-10.
Packers are 6-2 SU/5-3 ATS in its last eight games.
Green Bay visits Dallas and its old coach (McCarthy) next week.

Bears were in Green Bay territory on every drive, scored only 9 points.
Bears are 0-5 ATS in their last five visits to Lambeau.
Bears were 2-5 SU in one-score games this season.
Fields is 10-28 as an NFL starter.

Seahawks 21, Cardinals 20
Trailing 20-13, Lockett caught a 34-yard TD pass with 1:54 left.
Lockett also scored 2-point conversion for the deciding points.
Arizona missed a 51-yard FG on last play of the game.
Cardinals outgained Seattle, 466-327.

Seattle was eliminated when Green Bay won its game. 
Seahawks were 9-2 scoring 20+ points, 0-6 scoring less than 20.
Seahawks were 6-4 in one-score games this season.
Cardinals were 0-11 TY when they scored less than 25 points.

Raiders 27, Broncos 14
Denver scored 16-14 points in splitting backup QB Stidham’s starts.
Broncos lost four of their last six games.
Denver was 2-5 ATS as a road underdog this season.
Broncos are 7-16 ATS in last 23 games coming off a win.

Raiders led 17-7 at halftime.
Raiders went 5-4 SU/7-1-1 ATS after they changed coaches.
Las Vegas was 5-2-1 ATS TY in games with spread of 3 or less.
Raiders won their last nine games against Denver. 

Chiefs 13, Chargers 12
Only TD of the game was 97-yard fumble return by the Chiefs.
Chargers outgained KC 353-268, but obviously Mahomes didn’t play.
Chiefs split their last ten games, after a 6-2 start.
Last two games, Kansas City scored one TD on offense, kicked eight FG’s.

Chargers were on KC’s 5-yard line on first drive, fumbled for defensive TD.
Rest of game, Chargers kicked four FG”s, didn’t score a TD.
Chargers lost eight of their last nine games.
Bolts were 0-7 TY in games decided by 3 or fewer points.

Saturday’s 1st Den: Random stuff on a winter night……..

— From 2018-23, Gonzaga posted a 223-24 record, making the Sweet 16 in the last six NCAA Tournaments. Last time Gonzaga didn’t made the second weekend of the tournament? 2014.

But this year, Gonzaga is off to a 10-4 start, 4-3 vs top 100 teams, 0-3 vs top 50 clubs. Their bench is in the bottom 10 in the country in minutes played; they can’t afford any injuries.

The entire WCC is down this year, starting with BYU bolting to the Big X. So far this season, the WCC is:

0-6 SU vs the WAC, 0-6 ATS
6-18 SU vs Mountain West, 8-16 ATS.
4-10 SU vs Big West, 4-10 ATS
7-6 SU vs Pac-12, 6-7 ATS

St Mary’s was picked to win the WCC this year, but they’re 10-6, 2-5 against top 100 teams. There is no guarantee the WCC will get two teams in the NCAAs. 

— SEC teams are 18-12 SU against the ACC this season, 19-11 ATS.

— UConn 88, Butler 81
Butler led by 7 early in the second half.
UConn shot 69% inside the arc.
Huskies had a 33-24 edge on the boards.

— Fairfield 93, Siena 69
Brycen Goodine scored 40 points, made 8-12 on the arc.
Here’s the thing; Goodine didn’t start the game, still scored 40 points.
Siena is 2-12; they played one junior and no seniors.

— New Mexico lost 76-68 at Colorado State Tuesday; Lobos’ star Jaelen House played only 19:00 because of foul trouble. When House and Jamal Mashburn were on the court at the same time, Lobos were +13; they were minus-21 when one/both guys were on the bench.

— ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said he thinks Wake Forest has the best starting 5 in the ACC; so far this season, Demon Deacons are 10-3, winning their last eight games- four of those wins were against top 100 teams. 

Wake Forest’s bench ranks #323 in country in minutes played, something to remember when the ACC Tournament rolls around. Wake Forest is good, but not deep.

Word of the Day: Opportunity- a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.

Baseball Fact of the Day: Rockies C Elias Diaz won MVP of the All-Star Game last year; he was first National Leaguer to win that award since Melky Cabrera won it in 2012, as a member of the Giants.

— Seattle Mariners traded P Robbie Ray to the Giants, for OF Mitch Haniger, P Anthony DeSclafani. Unusual trade; all three players are over 30 years old.

Ray won the 2021 Cy Young while pitching for Toronto, then signed a 5-year deal with Seattle for $23M a year- he is under contract through the 2026 season and is owed $73M over that time. Ray had Tommy John surgery last year, is expected back in the second half of 2024.

Haniger previously played five years with Seattle; he hit 39 homers for the Mariners in 2021, but played total of only 118 games the last two years, hitting .209 for the Giants last year.

DeSclafani was 4-8, 4.88 in 18 starts for the Giants last year; he is 54-56 in his career.

— OF Michael Brantley retired Friday, ending a 15-year career; he hit .298 in his career, with a .794 OPS. He made five All-Star games, helped the Astros win the 2022 World Series.

— Los Angeles Lakers won the first-ever In-Season Tournament, beating the Pacers 123-109 on December 9th; since then, the Lakers are 3-9 and are hanging onto the last playoff spot in the West by a half-game.

Indiana went 2-6 in their first eight games after that loss to the Lakers, but now they’ve won five games in a row, are 19-14, the #5-seed in the East.

— Over/under total for Pacers-Hawks Friday was 262 points, the highest total for any NBA game in the last thirty years- Indiana has been involved with the three highest totals in the last thirty years.

— Former Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten is now a high school coach in Texas; he coaches at Liberty Christian HS in Argyle, TX. Witten’s team won the state title this season, winning all their games by 28+ points- the last two years, Liberty Christian is 24-2.

— Baltimore Ravens are 13-3 this season; they’ve had the lead in the last 2:00 of all 16 games.

Saturday’s 2nd Den: Trends for college basketball (non-conference games)

College basketball leagues, non-conference trends……..

Conference play has started up, so most of this stuff won’t matter again until March, but it is fun to think about, as far as which conferences are the better ones this season.

AAC- 22-25 ATS as an underdog.
5-2 ATS vs ACC teams.
2-7 ATS vs Sun Belt
6-8 ATS vs SEC.

ACC- 27-19 ATS as home favorite, 14-19 ATS as underdogs.
9-3 SU/ATS vs Big X
11-19 ATS vs SEC teams.

Atlantic 15- 28-17 ATS as home favorites, 6-12 as road dogs.
They’ve been beating up on northeastern mid-majors:
8-3 ATS vs MAAC
7-3 ATS vs MAC
8-5 ATS vs Ivy
10-7 ATS vs CAA
Mot so much against the MVC, they’re 1-7 ATS vs MVC.

Big 14- 9-21 ATS as an underdog, 33-31 as a favorite.
4-9 ATS vs SEC
6-3 ATS vs Pac-12

Big X- 38-18 ATS as home favorite, 18-27 ATS on road/neutral
5-12-1 ATS vs Big East
7-5 ATS vs SEC

Big East
15-20 ATS as home favorites
11-12 ATS as underdogs
14-11 ATS on neutral floors

Big Sky- 24-18 ATS as road underdogs.
0-10 SU/3-7 ATS vs Pac-12 (all double digit spreads)
6-7 ATS vs Summit

Big West- 16-19 ATS as favorite, 21-28 as an underdog
6-9 ATS vs both Pac-12/Mountain West
10-4 ATS vs WCC
7-4 ATS vs Summit

CAA
14-20 ATS as a favorite
5-13 ATS on neutral floors

Conference USA
20-27 ATS as an underdog
6-13 ATS as home favorite, 12-3 ATS as favorite in road/neutral games

Horizon
4-8 ATS vs MAC teams
8-5 ATS on neutral floors, 33-30 ATS as underdogs.

Ivy League
1-7 ATS as a home favorite
1-5 ATS vs MAAC

MAAC
23-18 ATS as road underdogs.

MAC- 18-26 ATS on the road
4-7 ATS vs MVC teams
11-7 ATS vs Sun Belt

MVC- 17-8 ATS as home favorites
9-5 ATS vs OVC teams
5-0 ATS vs Summit

Mountain West
9-20 ATS in road games, 17-11 on neutral floors
6-1 SU/4-3 ATS vs Pac-12

Ohio Valley- 22-33 ATS as a road underdog.

Pac-12
35-26 ATS as home favorites.
2-8 ATS in road games
17-21 ATS on neutral floors

SEC
11-3 ATS as road underdogs
SEC teams played 40 games on neutral floors (favorites are 26-14 ATS)

Southern
25-17 ATS as an underdog

Summit League
10-5 ATS as a home favorite
25-32 ATS as an underdog
4-11 ATS on neutral floors

Sun Belt
15-11 ATS at home
6-14 ATS on neutral floors

WAC
12-18 ATS as a favorite

WCC
10-21 ATS on road

20-30 ATS as a favorite
17-30 ATS as an underdog

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

— Week 18 in the NFL has some unusual QB matchups; there are at least five games where both QB’s starting this week are backups:

Steelers (Rudolph) @ Ravens (Hundley)
Browns (Driskel) @ Bengals (Browning)
Chiefs (Gabbert) @ Chargers (Stick)
Rams (Wentz) @ 49ers (Darnold)
Broncos (Stidham) @ Raiders (O’Connell)

Jeff Driskel will be the fifth quarterback to start a game for Cleveland this season.

— Jets cut RB Dalvin Cook, who went unclaimed on waivers; he then signed with the Baltimore Ravens, who’ve had injury issues in their backfield recently.

Cook carried the ball only 67 times for 214 yards for the Jets this season, after the Jets gave him a one-year, $7M contract in August.

— Tough time of year for football coaches whose teams didn’t win this year:

LSU fired four defensive assistant coaches.

Oklahoma fired its defensive coordinator.

North Carolina fired its offensive coordinator.

— It was reported couple weeks ago that Kansas State QB Will Howard was bolting from K-State to USC, but turns out he is going to Ohio State instead.

— Oklahoma State QB Alan Bowman was given a 7th year of eligibility by the NCAA; Bowman played three years at Texas Tech, two at Michigan, before playing for the Cowboys this past season. Bowman passed for 402 yards in OSU’s bowl win over Texas A&M.

— Atlanta Braves signed recently-acquired P Chris Sale to a 2-year, $38M contract; Sale was 6-5, 4.30 in 20 starts for Boston LY, which followed three injury-plagued seasons.

— Mets signed OF Harrison Bader, giving him $10.5M for one year; Bader hit .232 last year, splitting time between Bronx and Cincinnati.

Movie of the Day: Solitary Man (2009)- A prolific car dealer watches his personal and professional life hit the skids because of his business and romantic indiscretions.

Tremendous cast: Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Schiff, Jenna Fischer, Bruce Altman.

The movie was written by the two guys who wrote the Showtime series Billions, which was an excellent show. This movie isn’t always pleasant, but it is interesting.

Baseball Fact of the Day: In 2023, free agent P Blake Snell was the first pitcher since 1913 to lead the major leagues in both ERA and walks allowed.

— Oregon 76, Washington 74
Huskies were only 12-22 on the foul line, at home.

— Memphis 78, Tulsa 75
Memphis led by 14 at the half, needed a 3-pointer with 0:02 left for the win.
Penny Hardaway’s team is 12-2 against schedule #28; they’re #44 in experience, #343 in continuity, so they figure to improve as they play together more.

— Oakland 100, Milwaukee 95
Lot of whistles: Oakland was 30-39 on foul line, Milwaukee 26-35
Jack Gohlke is a senior G for Oakland; so far this year, he’s taken 167 shots- 52-162 on 3-point shots, 3-5 on 2-point shots.

— Cal-San Diego 79, Cal-Santa Barbara 72
Gauchos were expected to win the Big West, but they’re off to an 0-3 start in BW play.
When you shoot 10-17 on the arc at home and still lose, that isn’t good.

— Minnesota 73, Michigan 71
Michigan has lost three in row, eight of last eleven games.
Wolverines outscored Minnesota 17-5 on the foul line, still lost.

— James Madison 68, Louisiana 61
14-0 Dukes survived 19 turnovers and 5-22 shooting on the arc.
JMU started the season with OT wins at Michigan State, Kent State, but overall, they’ve played schedule #314 this season.

— There was an unusual scene they showed during the Colorado-Arizona game on ESPN; during the day, movie star Adam Sandler was playing in a half-court pickup game with the Arizona student managers. Sandler is a pretty good ballplayer for a guy in his late 50’s. 

Thursday’s Den: NHL trends……..

NHL trends (thru January 3rd)
I’ll try to post this once a week……..

Anaheim 13-23-1
— lost five of last six games overall.
— 6-14-1 at home, 7-9 on road.
— over 8-4 last 12 home games

Arizona 19-15-2
— won six of their last eight games
— 12-6 at home, 7-9-2 on road.
— under 6-3 last nine games.

Boston 23-7-6
— won last four games, allowing seven goals
— 11-2-3 at home, 12-5-3 on road.
— under 5-2 last seven home games

Buffalo 15-19-4
— lost five of their last seven games.
— 8-9-1 at home, 7-10-3 on road.
— under 3-0 last three games

Calgary 16-16-5
— won five of their last seven games
— 9-7-1 at home, 7-9-4 on road.
— under 4-2 last six home games

Carolina 21-13-4
— won last four games, scoring 19 goals.
— 10-3-3 at home, 11-10-1 on road.
— over 8-2 last ten home games.

Chicago 11-24-2
— lost seven of their last ten games
— 7-9-1 at home, 4-15-1 on road.
— over 6-3 last nine games

Colorado 24-11-3
— won four of last five games
— 16-4 at home, 8-7-3 on road.
— over 8-5 last thirteen games

Columbus 12-19-8
— lost five of their last six games
— 8-11-3 at home, 4-8-5 on road.
— over 4-1 last five home games

Dallas 22-10-4
— won four of their last six games
— 12-6-1 at home, 10-4-3 on road.
— over 21-8 last 29 games

Detroit 18-16-4
— lost 10 of their last 14 games
— 10-7-3 at home, 8-9-3 on road.
— over 7-1 last eight games

Edmonton 19-15-1
— won their last six games.
— 10-6-1 at home, 9-9 on road.
— over 10-4 last 14 home games 

Florida 23-12-2
— won six of their last eight games.
— 12-5 at home, 11-7-2 on road.
— under 9-1 last ten games

Los Angeles 20-9-5
— lost last three games, scoring four goals.
— 7-7-4 at home, 13-2-1 on road.
— under 20-5 last 25 games

Minnesota 16-16-4
— lost last three games, scoring five goals.
— 10-6-2 at home, 6-10-2 on road.
— under 8-2 last ten home games 

Montreal 16-16-5
— haven’t played at home since December 16
— 1-3 in their last four games.
— 7-9-2 at home, 9-7-3 on road.
— over 5-1 last six games

Nashville 21-16-1
— 7-4 in their last 11 games.
— 12-9 at home, 9-7-1 on road.
— under 5-2 last seven home games

New Jersey 20-14-2
— won four of last five games
— 8-8-2 at home, 12-6 on road.
— over 5-1 last six games

NY Islanders 17-10-10
— lost six of last nine games. 
— 10-4-6 at home, 7-6-4 on road.
— over 17-6 last 23 games

NY Rangers 25-10-1
— split their last six games
— 12-5 at home, 13-5-1 on road.
— 9-1 after a loss this season.
— over 6-1 last seven games

Ottawa 14-19
— lost eight of their last 11 games.
— 10-10 at home, 4-9 on road.
— over 5-1 last six road games.

Philadelphia 19-13-5
— lost five of their last six games.
— 8-7-1 at home, 11-6-4 on road.
— over 4-2 last six home games

Pittsburgh 18-14-4
— won seven of their last ten games 
— 10-7-1 at home, 8-7-3 on road.
— over 6-3 last nine games

St Louis 18-17-1
— 5-3 in their last eight games.
— 11-6 at home, 7-11-1 on road.
— under 4-1 last five games

San Jose 9-26-3
— lost their last nine games
— 6-10-2 at home, 3-16-1 on road.
— over 7-3 last ten road games

Seattle 15-14-9
— won last five games, outscoring foes 12-5. 
— 8-8-3 at home, 7-6-6 on road. 
— under 8-2 last ten games

Tampa Bay 18-16-5
— lost three of last four games.
— 11-5-3 at home, 7-11-2 on road.
— under 4-1 last five games

Toronto 19-10-7
— 3-5 in their last eight games.
— 9-7-2 at home, 10-3-5 on road. 
— under 5-1 last six games

Vancouver 24-10-3
— 8-3 in their last eleven games. 
— 14-4-1 at home, 10-6-2 on road.
— over 5-1 last six games

Vegas 22-11-5
— lost their last five road games. 
— 13-3-2 at home, 9-8-3 on road.
— over 4-1 last five home games

Washington 18-12-6
— lost five of last six games.
— 9-5-4 at home, 9-7-2 on road.
— over 4-1 last five games.

Winnipeg 23-9-4
— 11-3 in their last 14 games.
— 13-5-2 at home, 10-4-2 on road.
— under 3-1 last four games

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

— College basketball refs travel a lot, and they bank a lot of $$$. 

Ref named Keith Kimble worked a game five of the last six nights:
Dec 28- UCLA @ Oregon State
Dec 29- Arizona @ California
Dec 30- Ohio State vs West Virginia, in Cleveland
Dec 31- Washington State @ Colorado
Jan 2- Chicago State @ Kansas State

Lot of NBA players don’t like playing games on back/back nights, but refs who are twice their age work five games in six nights, in five different states. 

Go figure.

— Colorado State 76, New Mexico 68
Two of the four best teams in the Mountain West met in the conference opener.
New Mexico star House was in foul trouble, only scored 14 points.
Colorado State was 18-21 on foul line, Lobos were 4-11.

— St John’s 86, Butler 70
Red Storm is off to a 10-4 start under Hall of Famer Rick Pitino.
St John’s has made the NCAA’s three times in the last 20 years (last time in 2019).
St John’s starts four seniors; they shot 59.6% inside the arc.

— Purdue 67, Maryland 53
Purdue is 13-1 against schedule #9, but they’re suspect until they win in March.
Boilermakers are shooting 38.9% on the arc (#14)
In last year’s NCAA’s loss to #16-seed FDU, Purdue was 5-26 on the arc.

— North Carolina 70, Pitt 57
This was first time in 70 years that UNC’s first true road game came in January.
Tar Heels have played a tough schedule (#18), but had five neutral court games.
Pitt was 5-29 on the arc; they’re 0-3 in the ACC, 0-5 vs top 100 teams.

— Wyoming 75, San Jose State 73
Visiting Spartans led by 17 in first half, 47-35 at halftime.
Wyoming was 23-25 on foul line, San Jose 9-12.
Wyoming is 8-0 giving up 73 or less points; they gave up 78+ points in all six losses.

— Bowling Green 92, Eastern Michigan 90 OT
EMU led by 14 points in first half.
Bowling Green star Hill was 13-17 on foul line; EMU’s whole team was 9-14.
Eastern Michigan only played seven guys, in an overtime game.

Daily baseball trivia: Zack Greinke was the last pitcher to bat in a World Series but not hit 9th in the batting order; he hit 8th in Game 4 of the 2021 World Series. Greinke went 1-2- he was taken out after the 4th inning.

Word of the Day– Precarious- dependent on chance circumstances, unknown conditions, or uncertain developments. 

The fates of most NFL teams are precarious; there’s a fine line between winning/losing. 

— Summit League/Big Sky Conference are having a basketball challenge this weekend; best game of the lot appears to be South Dakota State at Weber State. Good mid-major basketball, will be interesting to see which league comes out on top.

— When ESPN first started up 40+ years ago, one of the first leagues that let them show their games was the Sun Belt Conference. These days, the Sun Belt is still a decent league; they are the #17 league this year, partially because they have 14 teams now and the bottom teams have been dragging the league’s rating down some- they were the #14 league three of the last five years.

ESPN would be wise to set aside two hours a week to show a weekly Sun Belt game; their games are on ESPN+, but putting them on ESPNU would thank the league for helping ESPN get off their feet 40 years ago.

— Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper was fined $300,000 by the NFL after he threw a drink at Jaguar fans after the Panthers lost 26-0 in Jacksonville Sunday.

Tepper is the wealthiest owner in the NFL, worth over $16B; fining hm $300,000 is like fining me $3.

— 2024 NFL Draft has lot of interesting quarterbacks in it; one of the TV networks needs to get Jon Gruden out of retirement to do those pre-draft interviews he did with the QB prospects- he is he best at that kind of stuff. 

— Hard to believe that in lot of states, high school basketball still doesn’t have a shot clock; five starts are adding the shot clock next season. Basketball without a shot clock is a totally different game, often a lot less fun to watch.

— They drew 47,313 fans in Seattle Monday for the outdoor hockey game between the Kraken and the Vegas Golden Knights. NHL has struck gold with its stadium series games.

— In the college football national title game Monday night, Michigan is favored by 4.5 points over Washington, with a total of 55.5. 

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

Michigan 27, Alabama 20 OT
Michigan drove 85 yards, scored TD with 1:34 left that forced overtime.
Total yardage: Michigan 351, Alabama 288
Teams combined to convert 5 of 24 third down plays.
This is only 2nd win for Michigan in their last six bowl games.

SEC went 4-2 against the Big 14 in bowl games this season.

Washington 37, Texas 31
Washington QB Penix was 29-38/430 passing, with two TD’s.
Game was 21-21 at half; Huskies outscored Texas 10-0 in 3rd quarter.
Texas had ball on the Washington 13-yard line when game ended.
Total yardage: Washington 532, Texas 498

— Second half of the Texas game started at 11:05 pm here in the East; doesn’t matter much to me, since I’m a night owl, but they have to lose lot of viewers in this part of the country.

Early betting line on the college football national title game:
Michigan opened as a 4.5-point favorite vs Washington.

LSU 35, Wisconsin 31
LSU drove 98 yards, scored game-winning TD with 3:08 left.
Badgers led 14-0 in first quarter.
Wisconsin was 6-15 on third down, LSU 3-9
Total yardage: 506-492, Wisconsin

Tennessee 35, Iowa 0
Iowa was 9-4; in their losses, they scored 0-10-0-0 points.
Iowa WON four games that they scored 15 or fewer points in.
Total yardage: Tennessee 383, Iowa 173
Vols’ freshman QB Iamaleava was 12-19/151 passing in his first college start.

Oregon 45, Liberty 6
Liberty led 6-3 after the first quarter.
Oregon led 31-6 after the second quarter.
Total yardage: 584-294, Oregon
Oregon QB Nix, in his 61st college start, was 28-35/363 passing, with 5 TD’s.

Elsewhere………
— Tampa Bay Rays’ SS Wander Franco was arrested in the Dominican Republic Monday, for his failure to appear at a summons last week; Franco is the subject of an ongoing investigation into his alleged inappropriate relationships with multiple minors.

In November of 2021, Franco signed an 11-year contract extension worth $182M with Tampa Bay; he got paid all of last season, even though he didn’t play after August 12.

Daily baseball trivia: Babe Ruth threw 29.2 consecutive scoreless innings for the Red Sox in 1918, an MLB record that stood until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.

Word of the Day– Ubitquitous- things that seem or encountered everywhere, whether they actually are or not.

For example, smartphones are now a ubiquitous technology; almost everyone has one.

— If you like college basketball, Highly recommend getting ESPN+; they have tons of games on from all over the country. Nothing like watching Big West games on the tube at 2am.

— NFL announced their Week 18 schedule Sunday night:

Saturday doubleheader is:
Steelers @ Baltimore, then Texans @ Indianapolis.
Sunday night game is Buffalo at Miami, with the AFC East title on the line.

— Bill Cowher said on TV Sunday that if he was coaching the Ravens, Lamar Jackson wouldn’t play this week- the game means nothing to Baltimore, it means everything to Pittsburgh, No sense risking an injury to your star QB.

Reader named Conquistador sent me a good note: Sunday was Jackson’s second NFL game with a perfect passing rating; the first one was in 2019, also against Miami.

— In case you were wondering, AFC beat the NFC 46-34 head-to-head this season. Every game in Week 18 in a divisional game, so the only inter-conference game left is the Super Bowl.

— Rams changed kickers again Monday; they brought back Brett Maher, who was 17-23 on field goals for the Rams earlier this season.

— If you’re a Lions’ fan, you have to love coach Dan Campbell; he led Detroit to its first division title in 30 years this season, but jeez, some of his game management decisions are interesting.

Saturday night, after the sketchy penalty call negated a Lions’ 2-point conversion, Detroit had the ball on the 8-yard line. Instead of just kicking the PAT to go to overtime, Campbell went for two from the 8 and the Lions lost the game, 20-19. Why?

Did Campbell not want his players playing an overtime, and risk injury? The game wasn’t life-or-death for Detroit, but it could’ve helped their seeding and given them home field for the second round of the playoffs, if they get that far.

— USFL/XFL have merged into an 8-team league called the UFL; their season begins March 30. San Antonio Brahmas announced Monday that Wade Phillips is their coach.

— QB DJ Uiagalelei started his college career at Clemson, he started for two years there, then transferred to Oregon State this year, but after the Beavers’ coach bolted to Michigan State, Uiagalelei packed his bags and will play next season at Florida State.

— UNLV freshman QB Jayden Maiava hit the transfer portal, really bad news for a UNLV program that played in its first bowl game in 10 years this season.

Maiava threw for 3,085 yards with 17 TD’s; he also ran for 277 yards and three TD’s. Big loss for the Rebels, who went 9-5 this season.