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

A quick scan thru the bowl schedule……..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) SMU won’t have to go too far for their bowl game; Mustangs are playing Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl, being played in a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, which is roughly 25 miles from the SMU campus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13) When someone throws their Christmas tree out on the front lawn on December 1st, there is a pretty good chance that person is moving soon.

Thats how reporters were clued in that Jimbo Fi$her was bolting Florida State for the greener pa$ture$ of Texa$ A&M. You mock my dollar signs? Fi$her got $75M guaranteed for ten year$.

Seminoles need to beat UL-Monroe Saturday to go to a bowl; Fi$her is gone, DL coach Odell Higgins is the interim coach for Saturday and if they win, the bowl game.

12) So now Oregon’s Willie Taggert is the favorite for the Florida State job; FSU would be his third job in three years- he went from South Florida to Oregon last year.

If Taggert bolts Oregon, the Ducks would have their third coach in three years in 2018.

11) Then there is Tennessee, which still hasn’t hired a football coach and now they also have to hire a new athletic director. Pretty soon they also may need a new chancellor.

Good luck hiring a quality coach when the jackasses on Twitter have veto power over which coach gets hired, which is what happened earlier this week with the Greg Schiano debacle.

10) Interesting story on the TheMMQB.com on how the Buffalo Bills have a different player stand in front of the team every week and talk about what motivates him and what people have been the driving forces in their lives.

It allows players to get to know their teammates better and hopefully bonds them tighter as a team. An unusual approach; if the Bills make the playoffs, more teams will do it.

9) Six Sutter brothers played in the NHL; they combined to score 2,936 points, which is the NHL record for most points scored by a family.

Two Gretzky brothers played in the NHL; Brent Gretzky had one goal, three assists. Wayne Gretzky scored the rest of the family’s 2,861 points.

8) Sounds like major league baseball might add expansion teams in Portland/Montreal, go to 32 teams, four geographically-based divisions with a 156-game schedule.

7) Charlie Hoffman made 12 birdies Friday, shot a 63 and leads the Hero World Challenge; I’m only telling you because ESPN won’t report anything except what Eldrick Woods shoots. Guy makes 12 birdies out of 18 holes, it deserves some publicity.

6) Shohei Ohtani has until December 22 to sign with a major league team; there are reports from a Japanese newspaper that the Padres are one of his final five teams. Ohtani wants to hit and pitch in the majors and there are reports he wants to play on a team that doesn’t already have a Japanese player on it— no idea why.

5) Purdue 80, Maryland 75— NFL referee Gene Steratore worked this game; wonder if he has the Ravens’ game in Baltimore Sunday- would make his travel simpler.

4) Grambling 64, Georgia Tech 63— Awful loss for the Yellow Jackets; Grambling was ranked #338 before this game. Grambling had lost 63 games in a row against Power 5 teams, dating back 21 years. Yikes.

3) USC 31, Stanford 28— Wow, Sam Darnold has an interesting decision ahead of him after the Trojans’ bowl game; go play pro football and get rich, or stay in college and prepare for the NFL for one more season? If the Browns go 0-16, I’m guessing he stays at USC.

2) One of the themes of Moneyball was that Billy Beane “wanted to change the game” as far as how baseball front offices did their jobs.

Looks like he’s accomplished his goal; he’s turned front offices against the manager’s job and turned it into a middle-manager, button-pusher type that they think almost anyone can do.

Bronx Bombers named Aaron Boone manager, someone who has never managed in the major leagues before. You really think managing a baseball team in New York City is an entry-level job? The amount of media scrutiny that goes on? A first-timer is a good choice?

I could care less if the Bronx Bombers ever win another game; just seems to me that firing Joe Girardi for someone who is a rookie manager is an incredibly bad idea.

1) Derek Jeter is doing a hell of a job as Marlins’ owner; his latest fiasco (from CBS Sports):

“Miami Marlins fired a veteran scout a few days after he underwent colon cancer surgery. What’s worse, the scout received the phone call to learn of his dismissal while laying in the hospital waiting on a kidney transplant.”

Classy, great people skills; how much money could the scout possibly be making?

Trading Giancarlo Stanton in a salary dump will be Jeter’s next move; because they’re dumping salary, the Marlins will trade a guy who hit 59 homers and get very little back, in way of players.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing he is still in the major leagues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College sports is big business, for sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is a modern NBA record.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Archie Manning”

Sister Catherine was not amused; my classmates were.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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