2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Think Will Happen

What do we think will happen in 2011? Ha! We’re glad you asked. As part of our 2010 Year End Sports Review, we see good things ahead for Duke, the Celtics and the Saints. We see cursed days ahead for the Phillies and Giants, and one Florida Gator-sized reunion in Denver. We also like Carmelo to play for the…hey, why are we telling you all this? Read for yourself below, lazy. (And have an open mind – we had some fun with this section.)

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

You think he’s gone? He’s not gone. He’s never gone!

Brett Favre has duped us before with his retirement talk, so why should we buy what he’s selling now? Lord Favre says 2010 will be his final season, but after spending a couple of months on his ranch next summer, he’ll get the itch to return. And some team will welcome him back. And the media will torture us with their 24-hour Favre watch. And the dreaded cycle of death will continue. So which lucky team will have No. 4 in uniform next season? While we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Favre returning to the Vikings for one more year now that Brad Childress is gone, that’s not a very fun projection. Thus, what about Da Raaaaaaaiders? Huh? Can you see it now? Lord Favre and Al Davis at the podium holding up their pointer fingers and saying, “Just win baby.” No? Ah, you’re no fun.

Carmelo will be a Knickerbocker next year.

Book ‘em, Danno. The writing is on the wall. He hasn’t signed the three-year extension that the Nuggets offered last summer and has reportedly decided that the only team he’ll agree to be traded to is the New York Knicks. This means that if the Nuggets are hoping to get something substantial for him, they’ll have to move him before the February trade deadline. Since there appears to be only one team in the running, the deal isn’t going to be very good. We wouldn’t want to be Nugget fans right now — the rebuilding process is about to begin.
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UConn stuns Notre Dame in double overtime, 33-30

Dixon

Huskies running back Andre Dixon scored a four-yard touchdown in double overtime to hand Notre Dame their second straight defeat. I think Charlie Weiss has already fled the country.

The Huskies (5-5) had lost three straight painfully close games since Howard was killed. This time they made the plays at the end to win in dramatic fashion.

Jordan Todman ran for 130 yards on 26 carries, including a 43-yard TD run for UConn. He also added a 96-yard kickoff return for a TD. Dixon rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries.

Notre Dame was upset last season by Syracuse in its final home game of the season.

Jimmy Clausen was 30 of 45 passing for 329 yards for Notre Dame. Golden Tate had nine catches for 123 yards and Michael Floyd had eight catches for 104 yards.

This victory is especially meaningful for the Huskies considering their teammate Jasper Howard was slain last month.

Weis, Notre Dame fortunate to escape with win over MSU

Michigan State sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins played as fine a game as a coach could ask for on Saturday. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 302 yards and thanks to his 17-yard touchdown pass to Blair White with nine and a half minutes remaining in the game, he gave the Spartans an opportunity to once again beat Notre Dame in South Bend for the seventh consecutive time.

But in the span of two plays, Cousins went from potential hero to unfortunate goat. With his team trailing 33-30 with less than two minutes remaining, Cousins and the MSU offense faced a 1st and 10 at Notre Dame’s 18-yard line. On first down, freshman running back Larry Caper got free in the Irish secondary and was alone (seriously, there wasn’t an Irish defender within seven area codes of him) in the end zone, but Cousins lofted the ball too far and it fell incomplete.

On second down, Cousins was flushed from the pocket and he threw a desperation pass over the middle that was intercepted by Kyle McCarthy at the ND 4-yard line. All Sparty needed was a field goal to tie the game but the Irish snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat, hanging on to a 33-30 win.

Not to take anything away from Notre Dame, because Charlie Weis’s offense was great again on Saturday. But if Cousins doesn’t airmail the pass to Caper and the Irish wound up losing, I don’t see how Weis retains his job at the end of the year. I know that MSU has given ND fits at South Bend for over a decade, but this was the same Spartans team that was defeated last week on their home turf by Central Michigan. It would have been hard for Weis to justify losing to Michigan and Michigan State in back to back weeks.

But nevertheless, Weis and the Irish live to see another day. Notre Dame has to do something about its defense though, because Jimmy Clausen (22 of 31, 300 yards, 2 TDs), Golden Tate (7 rec., 127 yards, 1 TD, 1 airborne dive into the MSU band) and the rest of the Irish offense is too good to waste on poor defensive efforts.

Tribune writer rips Charlie Weis

Charlie WeisMike Downey of the Chicago Tribune ripped Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis in one of his recent articles.

In 2007 and 2008 alone, here is what the Frightening Irish of Charlie Weis have done:

•Lost 13 of their last 21games. •Been shut out three times.

•Took the worst beating in a season opener in 120 years of Notre Dame football.

•Had a nine-loss season for the first time.

•Were defeated by Navy, which it had sunk 43 times in a row.

Accordingly, there are some who believe that Saturday’s game in Baltimore against the Midshipmen could be sink-or-swim time for ND’s coach. One more unfathomable defeat could turn out to be the last straw—No More Mr. Weis Guy.

How desperate is this situation? SOS. Weis is dropping hints that he will become more actively involved in the Irish’s X’s and O’s, particularly in the wake of a pathetic play-calling effort at Boston College that resulted in another big fat “0” on the scoreboard.

Pick your poison:

Of his five successes this season, four have come against San Diego State (1-9), Washington (0-9), Michigan (3-7) and Purdue (3-7). The only three opponents Weis defeated last season were lowly Duke, four-win Stanford and a UCLA team that was missing its two top quarterbacks.

The Irish are just 1-16 against ranked opponents under Weis. That’s brutal. And I know Weis and ND used the win over Michigan this year as a stepping stone for good things to come, but with how bad the Wolverines are this season, that win looks more trivial by the week.

Is Notre Dame football back?

Jimmy ClausenA storyline is brewing in college football right now that makes some want to shout it from the rooftops. (While others want to jump off those very same rooftops at the thought of it.)

That storyline is none other than Notre Dame football.

A year ago, Charlie Weis’s program stumbled to a 3-9 record, which included six losses to unranked opponents and back-to-back defeats at the hands of Navy and Air Force. But the Irish are off to their best start in three years and are starting to get people excited about the program again.

After a sloppy win in their opener against San Diego State (a game in which one ignorant writer had the audacity to suggest Notre Dame hadn’t improved at all following last year’s debacle of a season), the Irish crushed longtime rivals Michigan, 35-17, before suffering their first defeat of the season – a 35-17 road loss to Michigan State. But ND has since won back-to-back games against Purdue and Stanford in rather convincing fashion, leading some to believe that Weis and sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen have the team back on the right track.

So are the Irish back? It’s hard to say. Clausen has developed nicely in his second season and in turn, the offense looks like a completely different unit than the one that took the field on most Saturdays last year. In his last two games, Clausen has throw for 622 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. His two main receivers, Golden Tate and Michael Floyd have also been fantastic, averaging over 15 yards a catch. The defense has improved as well, allowing just 19 points per game (17 PPG over the last six games dating back to last season), as opposed to the nearly 30 PPG they allowed a year ago.

But the Irish have benefited from playing four of their first five games at home this year and their only loss was on the road. They have also yet to play a ranked opponent, which changes this week when they travel to No. 22 North Carolina, another improving program out to prove they’re legit as well. And despite Clausen’s solid play, the Irish haven’t been able to run the ball outside of the Purdue game and prior to last week, only had one sack. (Of course, they had five sacks against Stanford last week, so getting to the quarterback might not be a problem in the long run.)

We should find out a lot about Clausen and Notre Dame this week. The Tar Heels have amassed 11 interceptions in their last four games and sophomore Shaun Draughn is emerging as a solid back to complement UNC’s already top-notch wide receiver corps. The ‘Heels also blocked three punts last week in their win over previously ranked Connecticut and if the Irish can’t run the ball to help take the pressure of Clausen, UNC’s ball hawking secondary could ruin the young quarterback’s afternoon.

Is Notre Dame football back? Stay tuned.

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