Big Ten. So, we all are fully aware of the biggest loser of the weekend, and we assuredly will get to that in a moment. But, the Big Ten survived a couple of super scares to get to the final weekend of the regular season with the best chance to get two teams into the playoff. A tight one between Michigan and THE Ohio State and both could stake a claim. (Side note: Here’s hoping that Michigan running back Blake Corum, who hurt his knee Saturday, is full-go against THE Buckeyes. Here’s a video of Courm using his NIL money to buy and donate Thanksgiving turkeys for the needy. Good on you, Blake.)
Everyone who stayed up and watched the UCLA-USC game. Wow, what a football game on a Saturday filled with heart-stoppers and head-scratchers. USC has a resumé that the committee must consider if the Trojans win out. And wowser, those classic uniforms look like college football when Bruins and Trojans go at it.
Baylor. No, not the ones that lost to TCU — or gave one away against TCU — the private school on the river off Signal Mountain Road. Wow, what a finish and wow what a game from Red Raiders QB Whit Muschamp — yes, Will’s boy — who threw for more than four bills and five TDs in a 44-39 win in a game with a beyond-crazy finish. And kudos to Stephen Hargis for being right there on the spot with video of the oh-so-close finish.
Dallas Cowboys. Lots of folks said the Minnesota Vikings were among the most complete teams — especially on offense — in the league. The Cowboys blistered Minnesota on Sunday and looked like world-beaters in the process.
Patrick Mahomes. How much fun is it to watch that guy with the ball in his hands, down four with 90 seconds left? In all seriousness, he does not have the anticipation in his throws that Peyton did. He’s not the statuesque pocket presence that Brady is. He’s got some of Aaron Rodgers’ incredible in-game presence, but in truth, he really feels like the best parts of Joe Montana and Brett Favre (minus the private photos and the welfare embezzlement stuff) mixed together. He’s a joy to watch.
FIFA. Has there been a good story coming from the World Cup yet? Asking for a few billion friends.
The SEC. Barring Vader’s LSU crew taking down Georgia in the title game — LSU opened as more than a two-touchdown underdog — what looked like a sure thing of two SEC teams in the final four has become almost an impossibility.
UTC. The Mocs lost their final two games and are sitting outside the FCS playoffs for the sixth straight year. Debate the merits or fairness of the SoCon becoming a middle-of-the-pack league these days. Debate whether UTC gets in with wins in either of its last two games. Debate UTC’s resumé against other teams in the draw. But it’s hard to refute this simple statement: UTC has way, way, WAY too much talent on that roster and in the program to be on the outside of the playoffs. Again.
My picks. Ouch-standing. A bagel-and-4 mark in the Fab 4 with two multiple-TD favorites losing outright. Our bad was this weekend? My saving grace was backing the Washington Commanders. When you need anything associated with Daniel Snyder to bail you out, well, that’s a rough weekend.
John Calipari. Last week we mused that Gonzaga is perennially overrated. Well, what to make of Coach Cal at this moment considering this is a deep and experienced team that has been outplayed in big moments by rosters that are not as deep or as star-studded. I have been higher on Cal than most through the years, but the questions circling him at this moment about his elite roster + good-to-very-good results (but not great) = an all-time great recruiting who is not coaching or developing those great recruits.
Jets offense. Which stat is more painful: The Jets had more punts than completions in a 10-3 loss Sunday or the Jets having two yards of offense in the final two quarters? Discuss.
A painful night in Columbia
The weekend — not unlike the Monday after the Vols ended the Alabama streak — was dominated by UT football.
This time, though, it was way more, “What was that” as opposed to “Did you see that?” as South Carolina manhandled the Vols defense to the tune of 63 points. There were so many wide open, streaking Gamecocks, Purdue dispatched an entire chicken plant toward Columbia Sunday morning.
It was inexplicable in so many ways. And in the end, it was just part of the nightmare.
Because as Tennessee’s playoff hopes were thoroughly being plucked, its star QB Hendon Hooker has his career ended with a knee injury.
Here’s more from Paschall on Hooker’s ACL tear, which ends an incredible 24-game stretch in orange for he fifth-year senior. Hooker’s numbers in Knoxville: 435-of-632 (68.8%), 6,080 yards, 58 TDs and five interceptions through the air and 1,046 yards and 10 scores rushing.
In addition to ending his Heisman hopes and putting Joe Milton on the spot for UT’s trip to now spry Vandy, there’s a heavy cost for Hooker personally with the injury. His torn ACL will keep him from a large part of the draft evaluation process, and considering the questions about whether he’s a system QB or not, the lost position on a lot of draft boards is not without a considerable amount of lost potential coin, too.
It was, in a lot of ways considering the injury and the stakes for a UT team that was two wins against heavy underdogs away from a playoff trip, the worst Saturday for the Vols and their fans in close to two decades.
And considering the last two decades, that’s saying something.
This and that
— Do we really need an Indiana Jones 5 with an 803-year-old Indiana Jones? Well, need or not, it’s coming. I hope for the best.
— "Yellowstone" discussion tomorrow. Deal? Deal.
— Interesting story here about concession prices at NFL games, and visor tip to Arthur Blank and the Falcons for having some of the most affordable prices across the board at Mercedes Benz.
— Here’s Paschall’s SEC wrap column. As always, it’s a treat.
— Speaking of a treat, here’s Hargis’ story on the changing demographics at Howard School and how it has affected the sports programs.
— We could have listed Jimbo Fisher on the losers list; it’s been that kind of year. That felt a bit unfair since Fisher’s Texas A&M Aggies ended a six-game skid with a 20-3 win over 1-9 UMass. But, and yes, wind and rain played a part, the truly telling scene was the stands in the second half. Check out this picture. Wow.
Weekend winners and losers (other than UT, and my picks, of course). Go.
As for multiple choice Monday, what’s the best Thanksgiving side?
I am not putting options because the best side at your house may not be the best side at Spy’s house and vice versa.
Just an open-ended question for you to share what you are most looking forward to see on the spread Thursday.
As for today, Nov. 21, let’s review.
On this day in 1976, “Rocky" debuted. Stan Musial would have been 102 today. His numbers point out that Stan the Man has been continually underrated in the conversations of top 10 hitters of all-time. Musial was a three-time MVP, a 24-time all-star in a 22-year career (he missed 1945 at the age of 24 for military service), his WAR north of 128 is 11th all-time and ahead of Ted Williams, A-Rod, Gehrig and Mantle. His WAR as a hitter was 6th all-time and he ranks in the top 10 in MLB history in games played (10th), hits (4th with 3,630), runs (10th, 1,949), total bases (3rd, 6,134) and RBIs (8th, 1,951).
Plus, Stan the Man has to be up there with Clyde the Glide on the rhyming nickname Hall of Fame, right?
Bill Bixby died on this day in 1993.
Rushmore of TV actors who played super heroes, and do we consider Bixby or Lou Ferrigno to be the Incredible Hulk.
Go, and happy Thanksgiving week, friends.