It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
Jumping around the sports world...last week was one that gave proof to a lot of old adages.
The Best Laid Plans…
When Joe Lacob, Rick Welts and the rest of the Warriors' brass dreamed about the opening of Chase Center, I’m sure they envisioned hoisting a championship banner and dazzling a sellout crowd with their star-studded lineup.
But something happened on the way to that dream. Injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson derailed last year’s championship effort. And the departures of Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, coupled with Thompson’s ongoing rehab, have left coach Steve Kerr with a roster full of reclamation projects.
The opening game turned into a nightmare, blowout loss to the powerful LA Clippers—who were playing without Paul George. It was followed by another disaster on the road against a very mediocre Oklahoma City team.
It’s going to be a long season.
It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over
After the Washington Nationals won the first two World Series games on the road against the Houston Astros a good friend of mine, an ex-NFL player, flatly stated that “it’s over.”
Not so fast.
The Astros have the deepest lineup in the major leagues. They’re always one pitch away from a two-run homer. Yesterday, they got three of them—from Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa and George Springer. The day before it was light-hitting catcher Robinson Chironos, with MVP candidate Alex Bregman hitting a grand slam for good measure. And we haven’t even mentioned their best player, Jose Altuve.
Now it’s back to Houston, with the Astros ahead 3-2, after sweeping the Nats at home. But in this series, anything is possible. With Stephen Strasburg on the mound in game 6, Washington is still alive.
It's better to lose early.
If you want to go to the College Football Playoff with one loss, it's better to lose that game early in the season and work your way back up the rankings ladder. Most of the time, you’ll pass those who have the misfortune to lose late in the year.
This year, that's exactly what is taking place, and it's giving the much-maligned Pac-12 a chance to sneak a team into the playoff. Several things still have to fall in place, but there's a realistic chance that the winner of the projected Utah vs. Oregon matchup for the Pac-12 championship will get in.
In the last three weeks, top 6 teams Georgia (No. 4), Wisconsin (No. 6) and Oklahoma (No. 5) have all lost to unranked teams (South Carolina, Illinois and Kansas State), and No. 7 Notre Dame lost its second game to Michigan to fall out of consideration.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Ducks, who lost to Auburn in week one, blowing a late two-touchdown lead in the process, and the Utah Utes, who lost to USC in week four, have climbed to No. 7 and 9.
Both teams have work to do, with two tough road games this weekend—Oregon at USC and Utah at Washington.
The good news is that all but one of the teams ahead of Oregon and Utah play each other in the next few weeks—No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Penn State, and No. 6 Florida vs. No. 8 Georgia.
The only rankings that matter—those of the CFP selection committee, begin after next weekend's games. The first list will be released on Nov. 5. If Utah gets by Washington and Oregon beats USC, both teams will strengthen their positions and almost certainly run the table, leading to a Pac-12 championship game that will...finally...mean something.
What a Difference a QB Makes
After missing three games with a thumb injury, Stanford's KJ Costello returned to the lineup and led the Cardinal to an impressive 41-31 win over Arizona. Costello hit 30 of 43 passes for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns, with no interceptions. Coach David Shaw praised not only his brilliant passing display, but also his energy, passion and the "juice" he provided.
Stanford now has a bye, so Costello's thumb should be even better shape when the Cardinal returns to action at Colorado on Nov. 9. After Colorado, Stanford has WSU on the road and then finishes at home against Cal and Notre Dame.
Our original prediction of 6-6, which looked a little optimistic when the team was struggling early and fighting an incredible string of injuries to quarterbacks and offensive linemen, now appears more realistic if Costello stays healthy.
Don’t Throw Your Team Under the Bus
Speaking of Cal (and quarterbacks), the Bears have suffered mightily since Chase Garbers went down against Arizona State. No. 2 QB Devon Modster wasn't the answer, and his injury forced freshman Spencer Brasch into the breech.
Saturday night's 35-0 blowout loss to Utah was the low point, as the Bears gained only 83 yards total offense. That's not a typo. 83 yards.
After the game, Cal coach Justin Wilcox described his team’s performance thusly: “It makes you want to throw up.”
Wilcox went on to say, “We didn’t play well. We didn’t play the run well. We didn’t play the pass well. We didn’t tackle well. We didn’t do anything.”
The only thing he didn’t mention—which would’ve made the comments more palatable—was that “We didn’t coach well.”
No bromide here, but…
We rarely mention San Jose State in this space, but here's a shout out to coach Brent Brennan and his club for upsetting Army 34-29 at West Point. A year ago, the Black Knights annihilated the Spartans 52-3 in San Jose. Brennan's team (4-4) now has two high-profile road wins this year, having previously beaten Arkansas of the SEC.