Question for the week: Do you prefer tight games or wide-open free-for-alls? Pitcher's duels or home-run barrages? Defensive struggles or NBA All-Star-style everybody-scores deluges? Here's hoping you don't care for one-score squeakers; this wasn't a weekend for you. Since you started this paragraph, West Virginia has already scored three times. Which is where we begin …
If teams kept their defenses completely off the field the entire game, you'd be hard pressed to see a scoring barrage quite like West Virginia-Baylor on Saturday. (Arkansas would still need three plays to score. Boom.) The Mountaineers won 70-63 in a game that came within three points of matching the FBS combined scoring record. The teams combined for 1,506 yards of total offense and 1,238 passing yards. This wasn't a game; this was a track meet with pigskin. And both schools' defensive coordinators would do well to leave their current occupations off their résumé.
Georgia's 51-44 shootout with Tennessee. Not often you can give up nearly 500 yards of offense and still win, but hey, whatever works. An hour down the road, Middle Tennessee State stunned Georgia Tech with 49 points in an upset victory. Soooo, directional schools actually exist when they're not a 10-seed in an NCAA bracket. Who knew?Also in contests that looked like video games with cheat codes enabled:
Oh, and our pick for bandwagon Boise State-esque team that we'll back until they break our hearts late in the season: Louisiana Tech, which has averaged 50 points a game in its four wins, including victories over Illinois and, this past weekend, Virginia. We salute you, Louisiana Tech! Go, uh … (quick search) … Bulldogs? Yeah, go Bulldogs!
It may seem incomprehensible to anyone born after, say, 1990, but there was a time when the Baltimore Orioles weren't the loss-happy pawns of a megalomaniac owner, the first in a long line of "why isn't my real-world fantasy team winning?" rich guys. No, back in the '70s and '80s, the Orioles were money, so much so that they could afford to build Camden Yards, the single most influential architectural development in sports since the creation of the dome.
Now, though, crack some crab legs and sprinkle your cereal with Old Bay seasoning, because at long last, the Orioles are back in the playoffs. To give you an idea of how long it's been: The last time Baltimore reached the playoffs, Roberto Alomar and Cal Ripken Jr. were in the starting lineup, nobody had a problem with Rafael Palmeiro and no one questioned that Brady Anderson had just hit 50 home runs in a season despite never before hitting more than 21. We were all so young then, weren't we?
Anyway, congrats to the Orioles on a hard-fought season and a return to October glory. For at least one game, anyway. And since 21st-century sportswriters are contractually obligated to mention "The Wire" whenever they mention Baltimore: All in the game, O's, all in the game. Or something like that.
Golf doesn't use defenders, unfortunately, but the USA could have used some this weekend. The Ryder Cup, the biennial or biannual or whatever once-every-two-years is golf competition between the United States and Europe, featured a dominant and fearsome squad with its vicious horde of beer-energized fans nearly overwhelming a bunch of plucky upstarts before those kids, inspired by their departed mentor, rallied back to win! Amazing that the Americans can keep winning these … oh, the Americans were the bad guys here? Europe won? Huh. That's not how the script is supposed to go.
Anyway, for those of you who think golf is boring, the Ryder Cup is your antidote. It's college football crossed with the Olympics, a drunken duel shot through with just a touch of xenophobia. The Americans took a 10-6 lead into Sunday's head-to-head singles matches, and proceeded to fumble that lead away in a way that would make the 2011 Braves and Red Sox shake their heads in sad solidarity.
You saw guys like Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson try, and fail, to close out their rivals. You saw guys like Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy take on the role of Duke point guards, those pesky punks you love to hate because they win so freaking much. And you saw multimillionaires stripped bare – emotionally, not literally, thankfully – as they tried, and failed, to make putt after crucial putt. When it was all over, the Europeans sloshed their way through a drunken press conference while the Americans had a "this is some bull[stuff]" look on their faces to rival McKayla Maroney.
Ah, well. When Hollywood makes the movie of this production, they'll make sure America wins in the end.
Great couple moments from two of the NFL's great quarterbacks on Sunday. En route to come-from-behind victories, both the Falcons' Matt Ryan and the Patriots' Tom Brady – two of the NFL's new breed of well-mannered QBs – unleashed some vintage, old-school profanity as they reveled in their wins. Sometimes, there's nothing like a good … well, let's say "firetruck" to express exactly what you mean.
The Pats, down 21-7 in the third to Buffalo, scored five straight touchdowns and probably would still be scoring if they didn't have to get on a plane back to Foxboro. In the midst of the rout, cameras captured Brady snarling, "[Firetruck] you, [witches]" at the Buffalo crowd, though he also didn't say "witches."
Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers took the James Bond villain approach to putting away the Falcons, leaving them for dead without actually finishing them off. Predictably, Ryan engineered a season-defining drive to win and, in the thrill of victory, was caught bellowing, "Get the [firetruck] off our field." While we're not sure if he was talking about the Panthers or some other interlopers, he definitely wasn't talking about emergency-response equipment.
What's the lesson here? Simple: F-bombs are sometimes not just acceptable, but necessary.
Look, we're all still having trouble wrapping our heads around the idea that the Washington Nationals are not, in fact, wrapping up another heroically crappy season, so this bizarre little scene from Busch Stadium this weekend is just icing on the cupcakes. Michael Morse hit a ball over the fence but the umps assumed it rebounded off the top of the fence, setting off one of those fire-drill basepath scenarios that left Morse tagged out. But then, instant replay showed that Morse in fact had gone yard. In order to get right with the baseball gods, everybody returned to their original bases, and Morse mock-swung as a mock-ball traveled over the real fence:
Replacement refs, man. They're gonna ruin the game.
Hey, you gotta read something when you're not reading Yahoo! Sports, right? Here, we'll throw some love to the best new and upcoming books. This week, track down The Good Son: The Life of Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini, by Mark Kriegel. It's a fascinating look at one of boxing's greats, a fighter defined by a single match, a fight that ended in the death of rival Duk Koo Kim. Here's an excerpt about that fight:
The longer it went, this stubborn accrual of brutalities, the more it thrilled – not just the millions watching at home – but his fellow celebrities at ringside. One could see Sinatra transfixed, his admiration palpable. Bill Cosby left his seat to volunteer advice in the champion's corner.
This was America's champion: symbolically potent, demographically perfect. And during this brief moment in American life the public observed little distinction between flesh and fable, between Boom Boom Mancini and Rocky Balboa.
Hey, people would ask, when you gonna kick that Mr. T's ass?
But against almost every expectation, this fight was even better than a movie. Each passing round became an homage to the champion's father, who had been a fighter himself. I never took a step back, he told his son.
The challenger, for his part, had no father to speak of, a source of great embarrassment back in his native Korea. But his manner of combat, the eagerness with which he endured abuse, seemed to gentle the condition of his birth, as if he'd descended from the Hwarang knights who famously admonished against retreat.
He was enchanted, said an old friend.
By now, both fighters were purplish and quilted with bruises.
And as the champion went wearily to his corner, he wondered what the [heck] Bill Cosby was doing there and why he was speaking in that Fat Albert voice. Was this a dream?
What's he got to do? wondered the champion's corner man. Kill this kid?
One of the television announcers had seen it before. And between rounds, he issued a muttering prophesy: Something bad's going to happen …
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