🎉 Yahoo!! Labor Day Weekend has arrived, and so has college football. We'll see you back here on Tuesday to recap all the action.
🎓 Breaking news: The ACC has voted to invite Stanford, Cal and SMU to join the conference in all sports starting in 2024-25, Yahoo's Ross Dellenger reports.
⚾️ Historic feat: Ronald Acuña Jr. got married on Thursday. Then he mashed a grand slam to become the first player in MLB history with 30 home runs and 60 stolen bases in a season. Decent day, I guess.
🎾 Farewell, John: John Isner's 17-year singles career ended Thursday after his loss to fellow American Michael Mmoh. He holds the ATP record for career aces (14,470).
⚽️ UCL draw: The Champions League group stage draw was completed on Thursday, and Group F looks brutal: PSG, Dortmund, AC Milan and Newcastle.
INTERVIEW: TAYLOR FRITZ
I chatted with world No. 9 Taylor Fritz on Thursday ahead of his third-round match tonight against Jakub Mensík. Fritz, 25, was made available on behalf of Maestro Dobel Tequila, the official tequila of the US Open.
KB: So Taylor, I’m guessing you're not drinking tequila today. What are you doing? Take us inside what a rest day at the US Open looks like.
TF: All the work that needed to be done has been done before the tournament, so it's super light, ya know? I'm just trying to get a ton of sleep, do my normal warmups, work on the body, practice maybe 45 minutes to an hour, kind of just brush up on everything, nothing too specific. It's more almost an extended warmup basically. And then I'll shut it down, get a couple good meals in to get me ready for potentially playing a crazy five-setter.
KB: Is there a specific thing you always eat or drink on days between matches?
TF: I have different rituals for different tournaments. If I'm in a certain place where I've done well eating a certain meal in the past, I'll eat that meal for that week. But normally I just like to have, like, steak and mashed potatoes. Or chicken and pasta. Some sort of meat and carbs.
KB: Do you have a US Open meal?
TF: I change it up. I've been eating a Chipotle bowl for lunch and then I've just been getting steak and pasta for dinner.
KB: You're facing 17-year-old Jakub Menšík, who's competing in his first major as a pro. How do you prepare for an opponent you've never played before? Not much tape on him, either.
TF: Not having much match tape doesn't really change anything for me. I've got qualifying matches and the two main draw matches he's played here — like, that's plenty. When I review somebody, I focus on the most recent stuff anyways because patterns change just based off the week.
KB: How much time are you spending on film study? We hear so much about that when it comes to sports like football, not so much about how tennis players like yourself utilize it.
TF: Everyone's different. There are companies that players hire to give them the craziest, most in-depth stats. To be honest, for me, that's too much. I stick to things like… on a big point, what shot does this player trust the most? What shot is most likely to break down? Where's he the most uncomfortable? I want to see their favorite locations on serves. Nothing too crazy. Just something that I can bank on for a general game plan and in a big moment. I want them to have to beat me with what they're uncomfortable with.
KB: You've been hearing about the 20-year drought for American male US Open champions all week — and frankly, your entire career. Does that motivate you? Is it annoying at this point?
TF: Look, I think we're closer to it happening than ever before. If you look at the draw right now, I actually would find it very odd if Frances [Tiafoe] or Tommy [Paul] isn't in the semifinal on one side playing potentially whoever comes out of my section — Novak [Djokovic], me, a couple other people. We all want to be the one to [end the drought], so it's super motivating. My dream is to be the one to end it.
Tune in tonight to see Taylor try to make the US Open Round of 16 for the first time. He has an 82% chance to win, per IBM's prediction engine.
STADIUM SPOTLIGHT: "THE KENNY"
West Ham plays home games in a 66,000-seat London behemoth befitting the world's richest soccer league. But later today, they'll travel 30 miles north to Kenilworth Road, which at 10,356 seats is the smallest in Premier League history, Jeff writes.
Welcome to the big leagues: "The Kenny" is home to Luton Town, a 138-year-old club making its long-awaited Premier League debut. After two away matches to start the season, today is their first home match.
The tiny, 118-year-old venue was so small and outdated that it required a $13 million renovation just to get up to code for Premier League play.
The stadium's most iconic feature is the visitors’ entrance on Oak Road, which sees fans pass through a small gate nestled between a row of homes before ascending a metal staircase that passes through residential backyards.
Imagine living here...
How they got here: Perhaps the coolest thing about European soccer is the ability to simply play your way into a better competition. Still, it's hard to imagine the architects of the English football pyramid envisioned a rise as rapid as Luton Town's.
After being relegated out of the top flight in 1992 — three months before it was rebranded as the Premier League — the Hatters bounced around lower divisions until bottoming out in 2009 and falling into the fifth tier.
They turned things around in 2014 when they earned their first of three promotions in a six-year span, finally reaching the promised land in May of this year after a thrilling playoff final.
Fun fact… Luton Town midfielder Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu has been with the team since 2013, making him the first player in history to feature for the same club in each of England's top five divisions. And get this: before joining Luton Town, Mpanzu played for... West Ham.
ONE WEEKEND, 76 GAMES
Seventy. Six. Games. Week 1 of the college football season has arrived in all its glory, with a packed holiday weekend. Find a couch, order some food, and plan accordingly, Jeff writes.
The best games: Yahoo's Sam Cooper highlights the weekend's top matchups:
Colorado (+20.5) at No. 17 TCU (Saturday 12 p.m. ET, Fox): Deion Sanders makes his FBS coaching debut against last year's National Championship runner-up.
No. 21 UNC (-2.5) vs. South Carolina (Saturday 7:30 p.m., ABC): The battle of the Carolinas will be played at Bank of America Stadium, home of the NFL's Panthers.
No. 9 Clemson (-13) at Duke (Monday 8 p.m., ESPN): The Tigers will be tested out of the gates by the Blue Devils, who are coming off an impressive 9-4 campaign under first-year coach Mike Elko.
Full schedule: Check out the rest of the Week 1 slate here.
Odds via BetMGM
DISNEY PULLS ESPN FROM SPECTRUM
Millions of college football fans tuned into ESPN on Thursday to watch the first big game of the season: Florida vs. Utah. Unfortunately, some didn't get what they were looking for, Yahoo’s Jack Baer writes.
Instead of the game, Spectrum's 14.7 million customers were treated to statements explaining that contentious carriage fee negotiations had led to Disney pulling its channels.
Viewers were also blacked out from watching Carlos Alcaraz's US Open match on ESPN2.
Well said, Will: Sportswriter Will Leitch summed up the situation perfectly…
"No better representation of what it feels like to be a sports fan right now than the fact that I pay ESPN and Charter an absurd amount of money specifically to watch sports, but because they can't agree how much of my money they should give to EACH OTHER, I can't watch sports."
If this isn't resolved in time for "College GameDay" and the rest of the Saturday college football slate, all hell will break loose.
MLB SNAPSHOT: ONE MONTH LEFT
Today marks exactly one month until the end of the MLB regular season (Oct. 1). Bring on the stretch run!
White Sox: 21-3
Blue Jays: 15-13
Red Sox: 10-18
Five teams (Mets, Padres, Cardinals, Royals, A's) can't finish with FanGraphs’ projected record because they’ve lost too many games.
And then there's the Orioles, who have already won more games (83) than they were projected to win (80). 100+ wins is well within reach for Baltimore.
ACC NICKNAMES, RANKED
To celebrate college football's return, we're ranking the nicknames of each team by Power Five conference. Today, we conclude with the ACC.
ACC nicknames, ranked:
Demon Deacons (Wake Forest)
Tar Heels (UNC)
Hokies (Virginia Tech)
Wolfpack (NC State)
Yellow Jackets (Georgia Tech)
Blue Devils (Duke)
Eagles (Boston College)
We hope you enjoyed the inaugural week of "Daily Ranking." We'll be back with more on Tuesday.
SEPT. 1, 2007: THE UPSET
16 years ago today, Appalachian State brought down the Big House with a season-opening upset of No. 5 Michigan, stunning the Wolverines with a blocked field goal as time expired to win 34-32, Jeff writes.
A historic defeat: This was the first time an FCS program* ever beat a ranked FBS team (it's happened four times since) and the first time a defeat dropped a top-five team out of the AP poll entirely. It also led to a new rule allowing AP voters to rank FCS teams.
⚾️ 1964: Giants LHP Masanori Murakami became the first Japanese player in MLB history. There wouldn’t be another until Hideo Nomo in 1995.
♟️ 1972: Bobby Fischer defeated Russia's Boris Spassky to become the first and only American-born world chess champion.
*FCS to FBS: The Mountaineers won their third consecutive FCS title that year before jumping to FBS in 2014. They've played in the Sun Belt ever since, and cracked the top 25 in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL TRIVIA
Georgia, Alabama and Clemson have won seven of the nine national championships in the College Football Playoff era.
Question: Who won the other two?
Hint: 2019 and 2014.
Answer at the bottom.
DRAFT YOUR SQUAD
Fantasy Football is nearly upon us. Time to fire up your Yahoo league, or create/join a new league today.
Final words of draft advice (Podcast)
Trivia answer: LSU (2019) and Ohio State (2014)