Notre Dame came into the season as a favorite for the college football playoff. Or at least, a contender. Experts said it was Brian Kelly's most talented team. In the first game, they lost their number one tailback, Taream Folston, for the season. In the second game, they lost Malik Zaire, their number one quarterback.
But after their win against USC on Saturday night, the Irish sit at six and one, and still in contention for a playoff spot. How? Well, Deshone Kizer has been excellent. A true freshman, he has played much better than anyone expected. And C.J. Prosise has been a revelation at running back, making the switch from receiver and recording five, one hundred yard games already. The offensive line is filled with studs (left tackle Stanley is projected to go in the top three in the NFL draft) and they have a deep group of receivers.
The defense has struggled at times, particularly with their tackling, but they still boast a ton of playmakers (Sheldon Day and Jalen Smith) who are getting it done.
Beating USC always feels good. It's one of the oldest rivalries in college football, and so for at least one more week, Notre Dame remains in contention.
14 - 2. Cliff Pennington, a reserve shortstop pitched the ninth. Dickey never got out of the second. We ended up with four hits. So, yes, the Blue Jays are down 3 - 1 in the LCS to the Kansas City Royals who look like a machine right now, don't they? In Game Three, the Blue Jays finally got their offense on track but still ended up conceding eight runs, despite winning the game.
Facts are facts. Their pitching has been terrible. When we look back at this series, we'll probably look at a couple of things. David Price dominating until he didn't, and gave up that lead in the fateful seventh inning. The bullpen being stretched too hard because the starters weren't good enough. The bullpen, particularly the back end, with Hawkins and Tepera, just not being good enough against an awesome Kansas City bullpen. The Jays' bats going stagnant in the repugnant Kaufman field, built more like a cemetery than a baseball park designed to watch hitters slash opposite field singles and run a lot. (Boring.)
It's an old cliche, but for your team to win a championship, your stars have to be stars. Price has been a playoff bust. No, he wasn't hit that hard, but he gave up a three run lead. Donaldson has been okay, and so has Tulo, but the others?
Still, I put this on the pitching staff. They've been bad. What worries Jays' fans is that we only get two or three of our starters back next year. (Dickey has a club option.) The problem isn't the lineup. The problem is elsewhere.
Kudos for the defense, though. Aside from that Goins/Bautista miscue, they've been good. Let's get some damn outs, starters.
Troy Tulowitzki's home run to put the Jays up 6 - 2. For a brief, shining moment, he gave us life. And then today happened. Sigh.
1. There's some concern around the Raptors about Demar's slow start. There should be. I like what I'm seeing in the pre-season. Lowry looks like an MVP candidate, and both Carroll and Joseph seem to be everything we were promised they would be. But DD is a usage-heavy shooting guard who slows everything down. If he could hit the three, like he did at times last season, it would mitigate some of those issues. But every time he touches it, the pace slows down, and he takes them out of their offense.
2. JV signed a huge contract in the offseason, but we still don't know what we're going to get from him. He's still slow on his defensive rotations, and every time he makes that pump fake, the apocalypse happens, we all go for dinner, and he still hasn't decided what to do with the ball. He needs to be good for them this year for the Raptors to contend for the division. We'll see.
3. The Bills get embarrassed again. Honestly, I don't know what to think. I hate their offensive line, other than Incognito and Wood, and if you want to take a page from the college ranks, look at Notre Dame. (Or the Cowboys last year) Their line is so good, they can lose their top RB and top QB and keep going because they get protection. Manuel was better then he'd been in the past, but he simply isn't good enough to be a starter in the NFL. He misses too many throws.
4. And the defense. Truly, the Bills defense played better, especially in the first half, then the final score suggests. Too many dumb penalties. Too much taunting. Too much idiocy. Darcy looks like a great pick, and Gilmore has played well. So, um, how about some pressure on the quarterback oh vaunted defensive line? The whole team screams mediocrity.
5. Do the Leafs look like a different team or what? Yes, they lost against Pittsburgh on Saturday, but it was really a hell of a game. The results aren't there yet, and they may not come this season thanks to a lack of talent, but I honestly thought I'd be skipping their games. They play a terrific, disciplined attacking style of hockey and hold on to the puck more than they did the last two seasons combined, when they all treated the puck like it was a live hand grenade. Kudos, Mr. Babcock, good job so far.
6. In 2012, everyone thought the Giants were done, trailing 3 -1 against the Cardinals. They came back to win the series and the World Series. Here's hoping lightning strikes twice. Go Jays!
(Author's note. I've been caught up in editing my latest novel this week, which, along with the election and a few other things has diverted my attention from the national sports scene. Next week, we'll have the regular spot for what else is going on in the world of sports. Cheers!)