Le’Veon Bell injury stops Steelers
If you read the Pittsburgh papers, there are plenty of reasons why this Steelers team couldn’t get past Baltimore in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. But most of that talk is just filler for sports columnists. It all starts with the loss of Le’Veon Bell who emerged as one of the top running backs in football this season. Ben Roethlisberger is still an elite quarterback, but take away his running game and you remove any room for error. And while Roethlisberger is the king of the big play, he makes those plays by taking chances, and forcing him into difficult circumstances can lead to turnovers. The Ravens were able to unleash some blitzes and the result was another road playoff win for Joe Flacco and his gang. Now the Patriots face the prospect of another Ravens team coming to town and possibly spoiling the party.
R.I.P. Stuart Scott
There’s sad news today as ESPN anchor Stuart Scott has passed away following a battle with cancer at the age of 49. Scott was talented and entertaining, and he was always a class act. I saw him in person several years ago at the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards where he was the MC as you can see in the photo above.
Our thoughts go out to Scott’s family and everyone at ESPN.
What happened to RGIII?
Several years ago I attended the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards and RGIII was there as one of the presenters. He was riding high as a high draft pick after the Redskins had mortgaged their future by trading a boatload of draft picks. Meanwhile, as a Browns fan, I had to hear about how the Browns blew it by not offering even more for the right to draft him.
Several years later things have changed quite a bit. The Redskins are a mess and RGIII has been benched by Jay Gruden. Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan is the offensive coordinator for the Browns who are 7-4 with Brian Hoyer as the starter.
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Big College Football Saturday
After another wild day of college football, here are some observations:
- Barring a slew of wild upsets that let a 2-loss team into the mix, the real contenders for the final four spots is now down to nine teams – Mississippi State and Alabama from the SEC, Florida State from the ACC, Oregon and Arizona State from the Pac 12, TCU and Baylor from the Big 12 and Ohio State and Nebraska from the Big Ten.
- Ohio State made a huge statement with its road demolition of Michigan State as they posted 49 points on Sparty’s vaunted defense. Suddenly the Buckeyes are in the mix though they probably need some help.
- I don’t have much sympathy for Auburn despite their two late fumbles (other than feeling bad for the individual players who messed up). Auburn rode good fortune to get to the BCS championship game last year, so they really can’t gripe about some bad luck this year. Also, their defense blows.
- Alabama pulled out a huge win against LSU, but they’re getting a ton of love based on reputation. This isn’t the same dominating Alabama team.
- The TCU/Baylor debate will become heated as it’s hard to figure out who should be ranked higher. Also, with Ohio State playing at Minnesota this week, the Buckeyes and TCU will have a common opponent for sake of comparison. TCU beat the Gophers at home 30-7, so Ohio State needs to beat Minnesota handily, and they can also help themselves if they thump Minnesota on the road.
- Arizona State got a huge win against Notre Dame, though they benefited from a slew of turnovers. The Ohio State win over Michigan State was probably more impressive as it was on the road and they overcame two of their own turnovers and got none from Sparty. If you take into account the eye test, you’ll see the Buckeyes are as talented as any other team. They’re just young and you’ll need to overlook a bad, early-season loss against Virginia tech after they lost Braxton Miller and had inexperienced freshman TJ Barrett starting in his place. Now we see just how good Barrett can be.
That said, it looks like the SEC, ACC and Pac 12 teams control their own fate. How it plays out for the others is anyone’s guess.