🏈 Jimbo gets the boot: Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher on Sunday and will now pay him roughly $77 million to go away (yes you read that correctly). The Aggies went 45-25 under Fisher and have lost 10 of their last 15 games against Power 5 teams.
⚽️ The final eight: The MLS Conference Semifinals are set, with No. 1 Cincinnati, No. 2 Orlando City, No. 3 Columbus and No. 4 Philadelphia in the East and No. 2 Seattle, No. 3 LAFC, No. 4 Houston and No. 8 Kansas City in the West.
🏈 22 straight weeks: Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for the 22nd consecutive week, breaking a tie with Miami (2001-02) for the second-longest streak ever behind USC (33 straight weeks from 2003-05).
🏒 Edmonton makes a change: The Oilers, off to an abysmal 3-9-1 start, fired coach Jay Woodcroft on Sunday and replaced him with Kris Knoblauch of the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack, who has a history with Connor McDavid.
🏈 C.J. STROUD FOR MVP?
The only rookie to win NFL MVP was Jim Brown in 1957. Could the Browns legend finally get some company 66 years later?
Houston, we have a superstar: Texans rookie C.J. Stroud delivered another impressive performance on Sunday, leading Houston on a game-winning drive for the second straight week to beat the surging Bengals, 30-27.
By the numbers: Stroud's 2,626 passing yards rank second in the NFL and are the third-most through a rookie's first nine starts, trailing only Justin Herbert in 2020 (2,699) and Andrew Luck in 2012 (2,631).
He's thrown 15 TDs (four off the NFL lead) against just two picks, giving him the league's best TD/INT ratio. He also has the most passing yards (470) and TDs (5) in a game this season.
Most importantly, Stroud has the Texans — expected to be among the NFL's worst teams — sitting at 5-4, just one game behind the division-leading Jaguars, who they already beat.
The MVP race: Stroud's MVP case is aided by the lack of elite candidates. Patrick Mahomes is the betting favorite, but as Yahoo Sports' Frank Schwab writes, "that seems based way more on reputation and projection for what's to come than Mahomes' production."
Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson are firmly in the mix, with Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow lurking. Non-QBs like A.J. Brown, Tyreek Hill and Christian McCaffrey also deserve MVP consideration (though let's be honest: this is a QB award).
The last MVP from a non-playoff team was O.J. Simpson in 1973, so history suggest the Texans need to make the postseason for Stroud to pull this off. Their current chances of doing so, per ESPN's projections: 52.3%.
Five game-winners… The Texans were one of five teams that kicked game-winners at the buzzer on Sunday, the most game-winning scores with no time left in regulation ever in a single week.
Texans 30, Bengals 27: Matt Ammendola from 38 yards
Browns 33, Ravens 31: Dustin Hopkins from 40 yards
Lions 41, Chargers 38: Riley Patterson from 41 yards
Cardinals 25, Falcons 23: Matt Prater from 23 yards
Seahawks 29, Commanders 26: Jason Myers from 43 yards
Sunday recap: Winners and losers
🇺🇸 2023 REPORT: YOUTH SPORTS IN AMERICA
The pandemic brought youth sports in America to an abrupt halt. Years later, most team sports are still struggling to regain their footing.
State of play: Soccer is the only team sport that saw a significant participation increase from 2019 to 2022, according to Aspen Institute's annual State of Play report, published this morning.
By the numbers: Soccer participation among American youth ages 6-12 was up 4% in 2022 compared to 2019. The only other team sport that saw an uptick was flag football (+0.3%).
All the others saw participation declines, with swimming (-26.9%), lacrosse (-26.2%), baseball (-20.1%), ice hockey (-17.5%) and tackle football (-13.2%) among the steepest.
Basketball, which had the most participants ages 6-12 of any sport (3.9 million in 2022), saw participation rates stay relatively flat.
Individual sports on the rise: Tennis (+51.2%) and golf (+32.6%) saw substantial spikes in participation. Both sports experienced COVID booms and appear to have sustained some of that momentum.
Girls up, boys down: Boys (40%) still regularly played sports at a higher rate than girls (35%) in 2022, but they're trending in opposite directions.
Top states: Massachusetts and Minnesota reached the federal government's goal of 63% sports participation in both 2020 and 2021. North Dakota, Vermont, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and New Hampshire came close.
Knee injuries on the rise: In high school sports, ACL tears increased 12% between 2007-08 and 2021-22. Girls soccer had the highest rates, followed by tackle football, girls basketball and girls lacrosse.
⚽️ GOTHAM REIGNS SUPREME
What a turnaround: Five years ago, the New Jersey-based club (then called Sky Blue FC) trained at facilities that lacked running water and working toilets. Last year, they finished in last place. Now, they're champions.
Three stars: Midge Purce won MVP after assisting on both goals, Lynn Williams opened the scoring en route to winning her fourth NWSL title, and Esther González — a recently crowned World Cup champion with Spain — scored the winner.
Record crowd: The NWSL set an attendance record this season by averaging 10,432 fans per match, a 32.2% increase from last year. That trend continued on Saturday, with 25,011 fans (championship game record) on hand at Snapdragon Stadium.
Fond farewell: This was the final professional game for USWNT legends Ali Krieger and Megan Rapinoe. Krieger goes out a champion, while Rapinoe — in a cruel twist of fate — appeared to tear her Achilles just six minutes into the game.
The big picture: Saturday's finale was a full circle moment for the NWSL. Gotham, once in the league's basement, is now on its mountaintop. Rapinoe and Krieger, who helped usher in a new era of women's soccer, rode off into the sunset. Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly, the women at the center of the NWSL's 2021 abuse scandal, are now champions.
ICYMI… On Thursday, the NWSL announced a new set of media deals with ESPN, CBS Sports, Prime Video and Scripps Sports worth $240 million over four years. That's $60 million annually — a 40x increase over the current $1.5 million deal.
🇺🇸 PHOTOS ACROSS AMERICA
University Park, Pennsylvania — Michigan beat Penn State, 24-15, on Saturday without Jim Harbaugh (suspended) by doing what they do best: running the football. The Wolverines didn't have a single attempted pass in the second half, ending the game with 32 straight run plays.
Los Angeles — The Clippers lost to the Grizzlies on Sunday to fall to 0-4 since adding James "I am the system" Harden. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Harden's former team improved to 8-1 behind Tyrese Maxey's career-high 50 points.
Oakland, Maine — Two weeks after their city was the site of a tragic mass shooting, the boys' high school soccer team in Lewiston, Maine, won the state championship.
🌎 PHOTOS AROUND THE WORLD
Turin, Italy — The eight highest-ranked men's singles players are in Northern Italy for the ATP Finals. The action began Sunday, with Novak Djokovic holding off Holger Rune to secure the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record-extending eighth time.
Sun City, South Africa — The greens keepers at Gary Player Country Club hoisted Max Homa on their shoulders after the American won the Nedbank Golf Challenge, his first victory abroad.
Levi, Finland — There was no shortage of snow at this weekend's Alpine Ski Women's World Cup event, where Mikaela Shiffrin notched her record-extending 89th World Cup win in slalom.
📆 NOV. 13, 1979: CO-MVP'S
44 years ago today, Cardinals 1B Keith Hernandez and Pirates OF Willie Stargell were named co-NL MVPs. It's the only time in MLB history that two players shared the MVP award.
A bizarre ballot: Eight players received a first-place vote. Stargell led the way with 10 but was omitted entirely from four ballots. Hernandez was listed by all 24 voters but received just four first-place votes. When it all shook out, they came out even at 216 points.
Hernandez led the NL in BA (.344), runs (116) and doubles (48), was a close second in hits (210) and OBP (.417), and won his second Gold Glove for the third-place Cards.
Stargell smacked 32 HRs for the world champion Pirates and became the only player in MLB history to win the NL MVP, NLCS MVP and World Series MVP in one season.
🏈 1875: Harvard and Yale played their first football game, kicking off a rivalry series* known simply as "The Game." It was also the first college football game to feature team uniforms.
🏀 1964: St. Louis Hawks star Bob Petit became the first NBA player to score 20,000 points. 42 players have since passed Petit on the all-time scoring list.
*A storied rivalry: Harvard-Yale is the third most-played rivalry game in college football history (137 games), trailing only Princeton-Yale (143) and Lafayette-Lehigh (157).
📺 WATCHLIST: BILLS VS. BRONCOS
The Bills host the Broncos tonight (8:15pm, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2) in a game that features two teams going in opposite directions.
Head-to-head: The 5-4 Bills have more punts (14) than TDs (13) in their past five games, three of them losses. The 3-4 Broncos have won two straight, including an impressive 24-9 win over the Chiefs that changed the tenor of their season.
More to watch:
🏀 NBA: Knicks at Celtics (7:30pm ET, NBA); Cavaliers at Kings (10pm, NBA)
🏀 NCAAM: Michigan vs. St. John's (6:30pm, FS1); Xavier vs. Purdue (8:30pm, FS1) … Gavitt Tipoff Games* at Madison Square Garden.
🎾 Tennis: ATP Finals (8:30am, Tennis) … No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 7 Alexander Zverev followed by No. 3 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 5 Andrey Rublev.
⛳️ NCAA Golf: Southwest Airlines Showcase (2:30pm, Golf) … A first-of-its-kind event at Cedar Crest Golf Course (Texas) featuring the top 21 male and female Black college golfers.
*Gavitt Tipoff Games: This annual Big East-Big Ten showdown is named in honor of the late Dave Gavitt, the driving force behind the founding of the original Big East (and its first commissioner).
🏈 COLLEGE FOOTBALL TRIVIA
LSU's Jayden Daniels, who added to his Heisman campaign with a historic performance on Saturday, is the second player in FBS history to reach 10,000 career passing yards and 3,000 career rushing yards.
Question: Who does he join?
Answer at the bottom.
🍿 BAKER'S DOZEN: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEKEND
⚽️ From way out
Watch all 13 (on X)
Trivia answer: Colin Kaepernick