I hope everyone enjoyed their long Thanksgiving weekend! There were so many great college games and sports headlines that took place. Just like many of you, I can’t watch every game and often times find myself split screening multiple games on my computer or catching the highlights while ending my night at the gym. For some of the events that I did get to catch, I give you my final thoughts on a long holiday weekend.
NCAA Football: Rivalry Week is always a week I circle on my college football calendar not only because it’s fun to watch rival schools clash against one another, but it’s also the last ditch effort for some teams to make a push to get into their conference playoffs. Speaking of playoffs, the Top 4 teams look to stay the same come Tuesday in the 2nd to last rankings. #1 Clemson held off South Carolina, #2 Alabama had a field goal battle with Auburn before pulling away in the Iron Bowl, #3 Oklahoma won the Big 12 Title beating Oklahoma State in convincing fashion, and #4 Iowa is ready to battle #5 Michigan in the Big Ten Championship after defeating Nebraska on the road. Another game that had significance was #9 Stanford defeating #6 Notre Dame 38-36 with a late FG that stunned the Irish after they scored a TD with 30 seconds left to put them up 36-35.
In other NCAA football news, Georgia announced Mark Richt is out as head coach following their bowl game. Richt ranks 2nd on Georgia’s all time win list, going 145-51 during his 15 seasons as head coach. He took his team to the SEC Championship game 5 times, winning in 2002 and 2005. It’s amazing the amount of pressure these coaches have to endure to not just recruit and win, but to take their schools to the highest level every year. If Georgia wins their bowl game, Richt would secure his 10th double digit winning season. Congrats to him on a long successful tenure coaching in arguably the highest college football Conference there is.
NCAA Basketball: As I was saying above about college football, I enjoy this time of year for the intense rivalry games. As far as college basketball, although it’s still early in the season, the Thanksgiving holiday week provided awesome tournaments, great match-ups, and upsets.. lots of upsets. Some notable ones were Syracuse topping both #18 UConn and #25 Texas A&M to win the Battle 4 Atlantis and now stand at 6-0. Syracuse will look to continue their hot start by hosting Wisconsin this week before traveling to Georgetown. Another team that played spoiler was Northeastern hitting this buzzer beater on the road against #15 Miami to stun the Hurricanes 78-77 on Friday:
My upset team of the week was Monmouth University who participated in the Advocare Invitational down in Orlando, FL. Not only did Monmouth upset #17 Notre Dame 70-68 on Thanksgiving Day, but they also defeated USC 83-73 on Sunday in convincing fashion. Keep in mind, Monmouth also stunned UCLA in overtime to start the season at Pauley’s Pavilion at UCLA. Monmouth, now 4-2, will be a tough team in the MAAC. They still have non-conference games ahead to continue to add to their resume as they go on the road against Georgetown, Rutgers, and Cornell, all in an 8 day span, starting December 15th.
My Conference “Award of the Week” goes out to the Big East. A handful of Big East teams participated in holiday tournaments this week. Villanova defeated Georgia Teach 69-52 to win the NIT Season Tip-Off, Marquette won at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn with impressive (and exciting) wins over #22 LSU & Arizona State (in OT). Xavier took home 1st place in this year’s AdvoCare Invitational in Florida, steamrolling through their field with wins over Alabama, USC, and capping off with an impressive 90-61 win over Dayton. Finally, Providence competed in the high profiled Wooden Legacy Classic, defeating Arizona on Friday and eventually losing to #3 Michigan State in Anaheim on Sunday night, in a game that was much closer than the final score of 77-64 indicates. All these accomplishments, plus Seton Hall going on to defeat two SEC teams in Ole Miss and Georgia, capped a successful week for a surging Big East Conference.
Lastly- congratulations to both Tom Izzo (Michigan State) & Bob McKillpop (Davidson) for notching their 500th wins with their respective schools. They become the 18th & 19th coaches to do so with their first school, an impressive feat in both coaching success and longevity!
Final Sports Thought of the Week: There was so much that took place this past week at both the college & pro level especially- Kobe Bryant’s announcement of retirement, the red hot Golden State Warriors starting 18-0, Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks setting the record with at least a point in 19 consecutive games, and of course all the football action: Bears upsetting the Packers on Thanksgiving, Tony Romo/Rob Grownkowski, Jimmy Graham’s injuries, and the Broncos (with Brock Osweiler) stunning the Patriots on a snowy Sunday night. As we look ahead to another week, let’s be reminded of how exciting a time this is with so many sports overlapping at once this time of year. Enjoy your week ahead and be on the lookout for our Weekly NFL Picks! Hopefully I left you feeling more knowledgeable about this past college sports’ week and definitely more excited than my puppy was today while I was writing this blog post!