Friday, December 6, 2013

Sports Chowdah Update- Rolled Tide, Auburn Stuns #1 Bama As Time Expires; Patriots Stage Texas-Sized Rally in 2nd half Against Struggling Houston;

Todd Van Emst Photo
NCAA FOOTBALL- War damn Eagle indeed.

Wow- I know I'm several days behind on this unless you've been hidden away in a Tibetan monastery for the last several weeks, but allow me to set the table anyway.

Coming into Saturday's game, the annual Auburn-Alabama Iron Bowl had implications beyond an in-house SEC rivalry. The undefeated Crimson Tide came in ranked #1 while a resurgent Auburn was ranked #4- which had all the ingredients of a compelling contest and lots of buzz about the BCS title game implications.

Fast forward to the 4th quarter- with just under a minute to go, the Auburn Tigers managed to tie the contest up at 28-28 thanks to a pass from QB Nick Marshall to receiver Sammie Coates. On their next possession, Alabama managed to get as far as the Tigers 38 yard line with just 1 second left on the clock. In an attempt to avoid OT [which they successfully managed, just not in the way the Tide envisioned- NANESB!, Alabama sent kicker Adam Griffith onto the field to try and boot a 57 yard FG. Realistically, the worst that could happen would be that Griffith would miss and the game would head to overtime.....or so Alabama head coach Nick Saban though.

Griffith's FG came up short, but Auburn CB Chris Davis was in the end zone and cleanly fielded the missed FG attempt. Words defy what happened next- so let's try some video:

It has to chafe Alabama fans knowing that if just one Tide player could've tackled Davis or nudged him out of bounds at any point during his 109-yard return, the outcome of Saturday's Iron Bowl- not to mention the SEC title game and most likely the FBS Chapmionship- could've been dramatically different.

While not exactly a stunning upset on the scale of Appalachian State-Michigan circa 2007, Auburn moves up to #3 in both the AP and USA Today rankings while Alabama slips down to #4. The Tigers win also sets up an SEC title game with......the Tigers. Auburn will take on the #5 ranked Missouri Tigers at the Georgia Dome for the 2013 SEC Championship. Missouri and Auburn both come in sporting identical 11-1 records- all the more impressive considering both teams had a lackluster 2012 season and that this is only Missouri's second season playing SEC football after jumping ship from the Big 12 after the 2011 season.

ACC FOOTBALL- A state attorney for Florida announced on Thursday that they will not be pressing charges against Florida State Seminoles QB and Heisman candidate Jameis Winston. A female FSU student accused Winston of sexually assaulting her in an off-campus apartment in Tallahassee, FL in December 2012. State prosecutors reportedly determined there was insufficient evidence against Winston to press charges.

The decision clears the way for Winston to travel with the team to Charlotte, NC to take on the #20-ranked Duke Blue Devils in the ACC title game on Saturday night. The last time the two teams played head to head was in Tallahassee during the 2012 season- the Seminoles thumped the Blue Devils by a 48-7 final. Should #1 Florida State beat Duke [and let me say how odd it is to be talking about Duke and title games outside the context of basketball- NANESB!], that pretty much punches FSU's ticket to the BCS Championship game. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET and the game will be televised on ABC.

ELSEWHERE IN THE ACC- Boston College wrapped up their regular season with a loss in the Carrier Dome to they Syracuse Orangemen- the first matchup between the former Big East rivals since Syracuse moved to that Atlantic Coast Conference. The Eagles had a 31-27 lead in the 4th quarter before Syracuse drove the ball 75 yards in just under 2 minutes for the go ahead TD to make it 34-31 Syracuse with 17 seconds left in the ballgame.

Syracuse would go on to win by a final of 34-31 and are now eligible for a bowl game in their first year of playing ACC football. As a matter of fact- in addition to Boston College, Florida State, Duke and Syracuse- seven other teams in the ACC are now bowl-eligible. It would actually be shorter to mention the list of teams NOT going to any kind of bowl [at least based on their record- NANESB!]: North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Virginia.

BIG TEN- Were it not for the wild finish in the Iron Bowl, perhaps The Game between Michigan and undefeated Ohio State would've been first and foremost in college football-centric headlines

With archrival Michigan sporting a lackluster 7-5 record, Saturday's game against undefeated Ohio State was pretty close. After Ohio State took a 42-35 lead with just over 3 minutes remaining in the Big House, the Wolverines capped a drive of just under 2 minutes with a short TD pass from QB Devin Gardner to TE Devin Funchess to make it a one point game. However, instead of opting for a game tying point after kick, the Wolverines opted to go for the potential go-ahead 2 point conversion. But the 2 point conversion failed and Ohio State managed to survive the late Michigan threat, escaping with a 42-41 win and briefly facing all sorts of questions about their worthiness as a BCS team before the Iron Bowl later that day.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL- Alabama wasn't the only undefeated team to fall over the Thanksgiving weekend. The last remaining obstacle for Fresno State out in the Mountain West and a possible BCS Bowl berth was the San Jose State Spartans on Black Friday. In a game that saw San Jose State score a late TD in the first half to cut the Bulldogs lead to 42-41....yes- you read that right. Both teams had combined for more than 80 points before the first half had concluded. However, in the second half San Jose State took the lead for good and would go on to win by the final of 62-52. So not only is Fresno State's perfect record now blemished [it should involve an asterisk, however, since their September 14th game against Colorado was cancelled due to flooding in the Boulder area- NANESB!] but so is any shot at going to a BCS Bowl game.

The Bulldogs will still face the Utah State Aggies on Saturday in the Mountain West championship game, which Fresno State will host. Kickoff is scheduled for 10:00 ET and the Aggies sport an 8-4 record heading into Saturday's contest.

Richard Wolowicz- Getty
NHL- Surprisingly, despite being two months into the season the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens had yet to meet this season heading into Thursday night's game at the Bell Centre.

Gregory Campbell got the B's on the board early to bring Boston out to an early 1-0 lead, but play was stopped after the Habs' Max Pacioretty checked Johnny Boychuk into the end boards and Boychuck was unable to get back onto his feet and had trouble breathing, prompting the medical staff to examine him before he was wheeled out of the arena.

The Habs would then score two unanswered goals in the second period, including one by Pacioretty to make it a 2-1 game- Montreal would go on to win by a 2-1 final after a scoreless 3rd period. Boychuk underwent examination at a Montreal hospital but was reportedly back with the team after the game and cleared to travel with the team back to Boston.

No word on whether or not Boychuk is cleared to play in Saturday night's home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

David J. Phillip- AP
NFL- Once again, the New England Patriots found themselves down at halftime by a significant margin and once again they were able to rally.

Granted many observers said they shouldn't have trailed the struggling Houston Texans by a 17-7 margin to begin with but in the 3rd quarter, New England scored back to back TDs to take a 21-17 lead before the Texans re-took the lead when QB Case Keenum scrambled for a 5 yard TD run to go up 24-21.

New England re-took the lead early in the 4th quarter thanks to a 7 yard TD run from LeGarrette Blount. On the next drive, Houston RB Ben Tate got his 3rd TD of the year to put the Texans back on top 31-28. However, the game would come down to not one, but two Gostkowski FG's from the 53 yard line- including what would turn out to be the game winner with 3:12 remaining.

The Patriots go on to win by a 34-31 final at Reliant stadium while the struggling Texans lose their 10th in a row. For this upcoming weekend, the Patriots will host the Cleveland Browns- the franchise that Bill Belichick got his start with in the NFL.

MLB- The Jacoby Ellsbury era in Boston has come to an end as the free-agent outfielder agreed to a 7 year, $153 million contract with the New York Yankees. The massive signing of the former Boston outfielder seemingly triggered a wave of departures of free agents from the Bronx- outfielder Curtis Granderson agreed to a 4 year, $60 million deal while free agent 2B Robinson Cano signed on to a $240 million 10 year contract with the Seattle Mariners.

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