Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sports Chowdah Update- Colts Out of Luck in Foxborough; Oregon, Kansas State Losses Leave Fighting Irish Sole Undefeated FBS Team; Got Melk? Toronto Does

AP Photo/Steven Senne

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- This weekend's matchup between the Colts and the Patriots marked the first time that the Indianapolis had played New England without starting QB Peyton Manning on the Colts roster since 1998. While Manning was recovering from spinal fusion surgery this time last year, the Colts struggled mightily under QB Kerry Collins and the final weeks of the Colts' season were referred to as the 'Andrew Luck Sweepstakes' as the bottom NFL teams were vying for the Stanford starting QB Andrew Luck.

Prior to the game, one of the broadcasters observed that as Tom Brady (not to mention current Colts teammate Adam Vinatieri) made his first Super Bowl appearence in February 2002, Andrew Luck was in the 6th grade. And despite getting out to the quick start in the first quarter, with the Colts getting out to an early 14-7 lead. The Pats would end up tying the game at 14-14 on a Julian Edelman punt return early in the second quarter. New England would take the lead for good when Pats cornerback Aquib Talib picked off Andrew Luck two plays into the Colts' next drive, returning it 59 yards for a pick-six.

The Pats and Colts would then trade field goals, giving New England a 17-24 lead at halftime. However, the seconds half was pretty much all New England as Brady connected with Julian Edelman and then Rob Gronkowski to make it 38-17 at the end of the 3rd and CB Alfonzo Denard intercepted an Andrew Luck pass and returned it 87 yards for paydirt. Although this was followed up by a 43 yard TD pass from Luck to Colts WR TY Hilton, the Patriots would get rushing TDs from Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to tie a franchise scoring record with 59 points [I'm wondering the the guys dressed up as minutemen who fire off a volley from their muskets brought enough powder Sunday- NANESB!].

New England wins this one going away by a 59-24 final on Sunday. Tom Brady went 25-35 with 3 TDs and 331 yards while the rookie Luck went 27 for 50 with 334 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions (two of them run back for TDs).

However, the victory came at a cost as TE Rob Gronkowski suffered a broken forearm with less than 4 minutes to go in Sunday's contest. Gronkowski reportedly had surgery on his forearm on Monday and is expected to miss anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.

The Patriots only have a couple of days off as their next game will be on Thanksgiving against the Jets at the Meadowlands. New England has won 15 out of the last 19 regular season contests against their AFC East rival, although the Patriots needed overtime to get past the Jets at Gilette Stadium earlier this season. The prime-time matchup is set to kick off at 8:20 ET and will be televised on NBC.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL- A couple of rather noteworthy developments from week 10 that I failed to mention.

- Somewhere in Miami, there's champagne corks popping as the Atlanta Falcons, the NFL's last undefeated team, suffered their first loss of the season at the Louisiana Superdome to Drew Brees and the resurgent New Orleans Saints by a 31-27 final. This Sunday, the Falcons managed to squeak past the Arizona Cardinals by a 23-19 final despite QB Matt Ryan throwing 5 picks.

- The NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers and the St Louis Rams had the NFL's first tie under the league's revised overtime rules after the teams headed into OT knotted at 24-24 and swapped missed FG attempts.

- Week 10 saw at least four teams lose their starting QBs- three of them due to concussions. Colin Kaepernick came in for San Francisco's Alex Smith in their game against St Louis while Nick Foles had to come in for Michael Vick in Philadelphia's loss to the Cowboys. In prime time games from Week 10, Bears QB was knocked out of Sunday night's game against the Houston Texans while Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger left Monday night's contest with Kansas City.

- Week 11 saw three overtime games (none of them ending in a tie) with the Cowboys needing OT to get past the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay getting past Carolina 27-21 in the extra quarter and the Houston Texans rallying past the Jacksonville Jaguars by a 43-37 final in OT.

AP Photo/Dan Ryan
NCAA FOOTBALL- Almost concurrently, two of the top-ranked teams in the polls were dealt their first losses of the season Saturday night.

Baylor jumped out to a 28-17 lead over #1 Kansas State in the First half and opened it up from there, upending the Wildcats hopes for a shot at the BCS title game after the Bears dealt them a 52-24 loss.

While that was going on, #2 Oregon and #13 Stanford were locked in a tight, low-scoring game with the Ducks up 14-7 late in the 4th when Stanford managed to tie it up on a 9 yard TD pass from Kevin Hogan to Zach Ertz with 2:17 to go and forcing OT, where Stanford's Jordan Williamson clinched the game with a 37 yard FG.

The Ducks loss could set up a scenario where they may not even be playing in the Pac 12 title game. Should Stanford beat #17 UCLA, then both the Cardinals and Bruins will meet in a rematch the following week in the Pac 12 chamionship game. Oregon has one remaining regular season game- their intrastate rivals, #15 Oregon State. If the Bruins and Ducks win their respective games this weekend, they'll meet in the December 1st Pac 12 title game.

The loss comes as good news for Notre Dame, who after shutting out Wake Forest 38-0, will travel to Los Angeles to take on the USC Trojans for their regular season finale. USC is coming off of a 10-point loss to crosstown rivals UCLA.

Meanwhile, Kansas State's remaining game is against the Texas Longhorns on December 1st. Should Notre Dame lose and Kansas State, Oregon and Alabama win out, that will once again murky up the FBS championship picture as there would be a number one-loss teams vying for a spot in the National Championship- the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators have entered some chamionship conversations as well pending the outcome of their 'rivalry weekend' games; Alabama has Auburn to cap off the regular season while Georgia has the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets and Florida has the 10th ranked Florida State Seminoles.

BOSTON COLLEGE- While it's been an off year for Virginia Tech, it's been even more of an off year for the BC Eagles. Although the Eagles got off to a 13-3 lead at halftime, the Hokies clawed back and the second half was a back and forth affair that saw Boston College take a 23-20 over the Hokies with 5 minutes to go in regulation before Virginia Tech tied it up with a late FG with 1:10 remaining.

The Hokies got the ball first in the OT and scored a TD on their opening posession, meaning that BC needed a touchdown of their own just to extend the overtime. However, the game ended when Chase Rettig's completion to RB David Dudeck was only good for 8 yards on 4th and 12 from the Hokies 27 yard line. Eagles lose by a final of 30-23 in OT at Chestnut Hill.

The Eagles will wrap up their disappointing football season with an away game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Raliegh on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 ET.

ELSEWHERE IN THE ACC- The University of Maryland Board of Regents has accepted an invitation from the Big 10 conference and will start playing there starting with the 2014-2015 academic season. Maryland was a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference during its 1953 founding.

This followed reports over the weekend that Rutgers was set to join the Big 10, exiting the Big East conference. Maryland will become the furthest south member of the Big 10 conference as well.

The move has also sparked speculation on whether or not there would be any movement from either UConn or UMass to fill the vacancies left in eithethe Big East and ACC left by Rutgers and Maryland's respective departure [Although the ACC announced last year they would be adding the Pitt Panthers and Syracuse Orangemen beginning with the 2013 season- NANESB!].

UMASS- Despite shutting out Buffalo 13-0 in the first half, the Bulls came roaring back in the second half and capitalized on some UMass special teams errors to get on the board and take the lead.

Buffalo got on the board with a blocked punt attempt returned for a touchdown, slicing the UMass lead in half. The Minutemen then took a 19-7 lead on a 3 yard rushing TD from RB Micheal Cox. However, the two point attempt failed and the Bulls would go on to score three unanswered TDs to go on and win by a 29-19 final.

UMass wraps up their MAC debut season with one final home game this Saturday at 3:00 PM against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Gilette Stadium.

UCONN- Interestingly, after already having one in late October, this is another bye week for the Huskies. Their most recent game was a 24-17 home win over the Pitt Panthers at East Hartford and on Saturday, they'll travel to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville to take on the 9-1 Louisville Cardinals at Noon eastern before wrapping up the regular season at home against the Cincinnati Bearcats at home on Dec 1st.

Although this has been a disappointing year for UConn Football, the 4-6 Huskies still have an outside shot at a bowl game if they somehow manage to win their final two games of the season.

NEW HAMPSHIRE- Even though they were blown out by the Towson Tigers by a 64-35 final on Saturday (including Towson running the score by a 34-7 margin in the second half), the 8-3 UNH Wildcats have made the NCAA FCS bracket.

The Wildcats- who finished 3rd in the Colonial conference- will face off against the Wofford Terriers at Spartanburg, SC on December 1st. The game will kick off at 2:00 ET and will be streaming on ESPN3.

Villanova and Old Dominion have also made the tournament.

MLB- The Toronto Blue Jays have followed up their acquisition of Jose Reyes, Mark Buerligh and Josh Johnson from the Florida Marlins by signing free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to a 2 year, $16 million deal this week.

After playing the first half of the 2012 season with the San Frnacisco Giants, Cabrera recieved a 50 game suspension earlier this season for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs after the All Star Game. Although he was eligible for the postseason roster, the Giants declined to bring Cabrera back after serving his suspension.

The Blue Jays also announced the return of Josh Gibbons as the team's manager after John Farrell left for Boston last month.

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