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Baseball Short Story
Jackie's Rookie Season
Claire Smith, Memories and Dreams: The Official Magazine of the Hall of Fame, Winter 1019
Alfred Surratt would never tell where, along the way, he was dubbed "Slick." It was a Kansas City Monarchs thing, a Negro Leagues thing, a baseball thing. Brothers to the core, the men of the Monarchs kept one another's confidences, watched one another's backs, mourned team­mates' losses and failed dreams, and cheered on their brothers' achievements.
Never were the cheers louder, said Slick Surratt, than on April 11, 1947, the day Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, a one-time Monarch, to a major league contract. ...
The joy within the black baseball community was palpable. The destruction of segregation within Major League Baseball was at hand. Four days later, on April 15, 1947, Robinson would debut with the Dodgers, his first step onto Ebbets Field in Brooklyn tromping out the National Past­time's odious color barrier forever.
As we all now know, it wasn't just singing on to be a baseball player. Those opposed to integra­tion would push back, virulently, viciously, unrelentingly. Robinson, a former Army officer and one of the greatest ahtletes to come out of UCLA, was about to meet his great opponent: Jim Crow. And he would be asked to do so pretty much on his own. One black man against a nation in which large swaths were steeped in segregationist policies.
Raised in California, Robinson and his bride would be asked to step into hostile territory where racism ws not only codified by gentlemen's agreements, but mandated by law. The ugly cultural divide they were about to experience was not only enforced by men wearing badges, but also by nightriders hidden beneath hoods and wearing sheets.
The Dodgers and Robinson, daring to change in 1947 what legislatures, Congress and presi­dents had failed to do ..., knew both the risks and the responsibilities. Yet the man who carried the hopes of so many Slick Surratts, Hank Aarons, and Willie Mayses, never shirked. Incredibly, Robinson not only authored one of the most impressive inaugural seasons the game had ever seen, he also gave lessons in heroism each and every day he stepped onto a major league field.
For the record, the first time Robinson stepped on such a field was on that April 15 in 1947; the 28-year-old debuted against the Boston Braves before more than 25,000 fans at Ebbets Field. He played first base and went 0-for-3 at the plate. 155 games later, Robinson had authored the first chapter of what was destined to be a Hall of Fame career.
Likely no other player ever traveled quite so treacherous a path to the Hall as did Robinson. In an article printed in The New York Times on May 10, 1947, it was revealed that Robinson had received "threatening letters of anonymous origin" from the day he'd broken into the big leagues that spring. ... "This disclosure followed on the heels of a report that a strike of opposing players against the Negro players had been spiked."
"Harassment of Robinson ... by unidentified persons was confirmed in Philadelphia last night by Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Baseball Club. 'At least two letters of a nature that I felt called for investigation were received by Robinson,' Rickey said.
"Robinson himself admitted receiving several such letters. ... A high police official here disclosed that a letter warning Robinson to 'get out of baseball' had been turned over to the police department by the baseball club for investigation."

L-R: Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson and Ben Chapman
The article went on to describe a short-lived attempt by St. Louis Cardinals players to engineer a strike in protest against Robinson's playing that was put down by team president Sam Breadon.
The indignities heaped on Robinson by others in baseball uniforms included spikes-high slides and head-high knockdown pitches. Racist epithets were the rule of the day. What historians came to understand was that Robinson would not, could not, lash out, because he, too, had made a gentleman's agreement with Rickey.
In his words, ... Robinson said, "I remember Mr. Rickey saying to me that I couldn't fight back, and I wondered whether or not I was going to be able to do this."
Nowhere was his resolve to honor his agreement with Rickey tested more than in Robinson's first games played against the Phillies in late April at Ebbets Field. The Phillies, led by manager Ben Chapman, infamously rained an unending torrent of racist slurs on Robinson, taunting the infielder about his physical features, telling him to go back to the cotton fields and calling him the "N" word. The onslaught was so relentless and debilitating that Robinson later said it pushed him closer to breaking than any other humiliation suffered that season.
"For one wild and rage-crazed minute, I thought, 'To hell with Mr. Rickey's noble experiment,'" Robinson once recalled.
He was physically and verbally abused, particularly when he was on the road, in certain cities," said Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife, in ... 1998. "The taunts angered him, sometimes frightened him, but he turned away from them."
Said Robinson's teammate, CF Duke Snider: "He knew he had to do well. He knew that the future of blacks in baseball depended on it. The pressure was enormous, overwhelming and unbearable at times. I don't know how he held up. I know I never could have."
Author Jonathan Eig wrote of Robinson's brutal season in his book Opening Day. In a 2016 interview ..., Eig said the incidents with Chapman brought into focus what Robinson was being made to endure.
"It was so offensive that, for a lot of Americans, it was a wake-up call," said Eig. "It made people, white people in particular, realize for the first time just what burden Robinson was shouldering." As sportswriter Jimmy Cannon wrote: "Jackie Robinson is the loneliest man I have ever seen in sports."
Chapman would later try to explain away his actions by saying that he was bench-jockeying, and, in an effort to say he wasn't being racist, described how he also hurled ethnic slurs at Italian-American players such as Joe DiMaggio and Jewish players like Hank Greenberg. Chapman told writer Allen Barra he was doing no less with Robinson, looking for a way to rattle a rookie. ...
What Chapman could not envision was that his action eventually won Robinson sympathetic - and vocal - allies. As Eig wrote in Opening Day, in the second game of the initial Phillies-Dodgers series, the Dodgers' Eddie Stanky, a veteran infielder and native Philadelphian, called out Chapman and the Phillies, deeming them cowards for railing against a man who could not fight back.
"It was the first time a lot of white people and white reporters in particular noticed the abuse Robinson was taking," Eig said, adding, "I interviewed a fan who had been a teenager who went to one of those games, heard the heckling, and was shocked."
By the time the Dodgers visited Philadelphia in May, Chapman, prodded by baseball, asked to have his picture taken with Robinson. The Dodgers rookie would not shake his hand, so the two men grasped opposite ends of a baseball bat as photographers snapped away.
Off the field, many municipalities remained stubbornly unwelcoming. Even after Chapman's attempted truce, the Dodgers were not allowed to register at their chosen hotel in Philadelphis until other accommodations were made for Robinson. Sadly, this was nothing Robinson and the Dodgers had not experienced before.
Save for the Spring Trainings spent with the Dodgers in the Caribbean rather than segregated Florida and a minor league season spent in a welcoming Montreal, Robinson felt the hot breath of hate at every step even as he broke color barriers one ballpark, one town, one city at a time - with "Colored Only/White only" signs on water fountains and public bathrooms throughout the south and meals delivered through restaurants' back doors and eaten in solitude on the back of buses.
"He faced it in Spring Training, in every town in Florida that he visited. He faced it in Pittsburgh and St. Louis and Cincinnati," Eig said. "I doubt that he would've singled out Philadelphia as the worst place in the world."
Larry Doby, who became the second black major leaguer in the modern era when he joined the Cleveland Indians midseason in 1947, was often asked by youngsters of later generations why Robinson, he and others didn't just refuse to leave balking hotels, movie theaters and restaurants.
"Because we didn't want to die," Doby told one such inquisitor ...
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told Don Newcombe, Robinson's Dodgers teammate ... "You'll never know how easy you and Jackie and Doby and Campy (Roy Campanella) made it for me to do my job by what you did on the baseball field."
Thus, 72 years after 1947, we still marvel at a rookie who - by any measure - refused to fail.
Robinson, buffeted by societal ills, but steeled by the challenge to change a nation, hit .297 in 151 games that season. He stole 29 bases, more than anyone else in the National League, scored 125 runs and ... helped Brooklyn win a National League pennant for only the second time since 1920. It would be the first of six league championships won by a Brooklyn team that featured a player Dr. King called "one of the truly great men of our nation."
For his efforts, as well as for the example he set, Robinson received the first-ever Rookie of the Year Award by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, an award that now bears his name. In the words of Yogi Berra, some might say that Jackie Robinson made that award necessary.
Did You Notice? NFL Week 14
  • This Week's Crazy Stats Game
    First downs: Bengals 27 Browns 17
    Total plays: Bengals 72 Browns 53
    Total yards: Bengals 451 Browns 333
    Yards per play: Bengals 6.3 Browns 6.4
    Possession: Bengals 34:31 Browns 25:29
    Turnovers: Bengals 1 Browns 2
    Score: Browns 27 Bengals 19
  • Ravens-Bills Marquee Game
    Raise your hand if, before the season started, you pegged the Week 14 game between the Ravens and the Bills as one of the most crucial in the AFC. No hands? I thought so. 9-3 Buffalo vs 10-2 Ravens had big playoff implications. Baltimore clinched its second consecutive playoff berth by winning 24-17 at Rich Stadium. The Bills are still the first wild card team (#5 seed) for the AFC playoffs. Buffalo coach Sean McDermott is a leading candidate for Coach of the Year.
  • NFC Least
    By beating the Giants in OT Monday night, the Eagles pulled into a first-place tie with the Cowboys atop the NFC East with 6-7 records. The two teams meet in Philly in two weeks. Dallas plays the Rams this week before closing with the Redskins. The Eagles have the easier schedule: Redskins this week and Giants the last game. So chances are Philly will have a .500 record even if they lose to Dallas. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles and get the inside track to the division title, they should end with an 8-8 record even if they lose to the Rams. Bottom line: The NFC East champion will probably NOT enter the playoffs with a losing record. (Remember the 2010 season when the 11-5 Saints, a wild card team because the Falcons finished 13-3, had to play at 7-9 Seattle because the division winners get the top four seeds regardless of records and the wild cards are #5-6?)
  • Have Broncos Found Their QB?
    Denver has struggled since Peyton Manning retired following the victory in Super Bowl L following the 2015 season. Since then, the Broncos have run through a series of QBs: Trevor Siemian (2016-17), Brock Osweiler (2017), and Case Keenum (2018). The situation is particularly frustrating for GM John Elway, a Hall of Fame QB. So you can't blame Denver fans for being excited with their two-game winning streak with rookie Drew Lock from Missouri as QB. Here's his stats for the last two games:
    23-20 victory over Chargers: 18-of-28, 134y, 2 TDs, 1 INT
    38-24 victory over Houston: 22-of-27, 309y, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • Jaguars Have Lost Their Bite
    Jacksonville lost their fifth consecutive game, 45-10 to the Chargers. An SI.com contributor wrote: "Doug Marrone Shouldn't Coach Another Game: Get him out of the building like you should have done this time last year. The Jaguars have been a tire fire for the past 14 months, and at the moment no one seems interested in playing for Marrone." ESPN.com said this loss was much worse than blowouts in previous years: "Those Jaguars teams didn't have much talent. But there are three Pro Bowlers on this defense. Leonard Fournette entered the game third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. DJ Chark is one of the best young receivers in the league. There has been a lot of money spent on free agents and extensions, including a big-money deal to land now-backup quarterback Nick Foles. Yet this team is 4-9 and hasn't been competitive since October. It's hard to imagine owner Shad Khan holding off until the season ends to fire coach Doug Marrone. There's one more home game (Dec. 29), and Khan surely doesn't want to watch his franchise get even lower." 
  • Officials Do in Patriots
    With their checkered past with regards to rules violations, New England won't get any sympathy around the league. But they were rooked out of two TDs by the officials in the 23-16 loss to the Chiefs Sunday night. First, the refs made the same mistake that hurt the Saints in Week 2 against the Rams. KC TE Travis Kelce fumbled, and CB Stephon Gilmore scooped up the ball and headed for the EZ. However, an official blew his whistle and stopped the play. On the ensuing drive, Pats WR N'Keal Harry caught a pass and headed for the pylon. He reached the ball across but the side judge ruled that he had stepped out on the 3. However, replay showed his foot was not out of bounds. Watch the video of the play. The Patriots couldn't get the TD and had to settle for a FG.
  • Question of the week: Which coach said after his team's victory Sunday, "It's a damn good thing I'm a young cub. Coaching the nicest team in the league is tough. We just love spotting 17 points to the other team, then come back and winning." Answer below.
Intriguing Numbers - NFL Week 14
8 Times the Ravens have made the playoffs in the 12 seasons John Harbaugh has coached the team.
1999 Last time the Bills won 10 or more games in a season (11-5 under Wade Phillips)
10-1 Giants' record in their last 11 OT games before Monday night's loss to the Eagles
8-1 Eli Manning's record in OT before Monday night
0-3 Eagles' QB Carson Wentz's record in OT before Monday night
0 Times that Eli Manning had been on a Giants team that lost nine straight games before Monday night's loss
9 Consecutive wins by the Ravens
401 Average yards gained by the Bills in the three games before meeting the Ravens
209 Offensive yards by the Bills vs the Ravens
456 Passing yards by Jameis Winston - a career high - in the Bucs' 38-35 victory over Indianapolis
2 Consecutive games in which the Colts gave up the final 17 points
6 Consecutive losses by the Lions
Answer to this week's question: Tampa Bay's Bruce Arians
Golden NFL Rankings after 14 Weeks - Saints Stay #4
# Team Avg. Total Win Loss Opp.
Wins
Opp.
Losses
Margin
Value
Last
Week
1 San Francisco 19.17 249.20 11 2 64 5 9.70 1
2 Baltimore 18.52 240.75 11 2 73 11 10.99 3
3 Seattle 18.37 238.86 10 3 62.5 10 2.11 2
4 New Orleans 17.91 232.89 10 3 60 16 2.14 4
5 New England 17.73 230.50 10 3 53 11 8.46 5
6 Kansas City 17.52 227.75 9 4 60 20 5.58 8
7 Green Bay 17.37 225.78 10 3 56 17 2.48 7
8 Los Angeles Rams 17.36 225.72 8 5 47 19 4.47 10
9 Minnesota 17.00 220.97 9 4 39 16 3.82 6
10 Pittsburgh 16.75 217.75 8 5 34 17 0.11 12
"Opp. wins" means the total number of wins by the teams the ranked team defeated.
"Opp. losses" means the total number of losses by the teams that defeated the ranked team.

Team that jumped highest amount from last week: Chicago (+6)
Team that dropped the furthest: Dallas (-4)

Complete Golden NFL rankings


Division Rankings
Rank Division Average Last Week
1 NFC West 17.297 1
2 AFC North 16.212 2
3 NFC North 16.109 3
4 AFC South 15.808 4
5 AFC East 15.779 5
6 NFC South 15.859 6
7 AFC West 15.962 7
8 NFC East 14.536 8

Overall: NFC 15.950, AFC 15.940
Saints-49ers Comments

MEMO TO COACH PAYTON:
Haven't you heard of the rule, "Don't go for two until the fourth quarter"? If you'd kicked the point after Jared Cook's second TD in the first quarter, then you'd have been only two behind when you scored with 0:53 left and could kick again to go three up instead of having to go for two and failing again. (Speaking of Cook, his loss with a concussion suffered on that TD hurt the Saints' offense.)

By my reckoning, the Saints are now the #3 seed in the NFC. They have the same 10-3 record as the Packers, but one of Green Bay's losses is to the Chargers. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, which doesn't apply. The second tie-breaker is wins within the conference. If the Pack and Saints win out, Green Bay will own that tiebreaker since they'll have one more NFC win than NO.

The Saints are effectively two games behind the Niners since SF owns the head-to-head tie-breaker. So NO needs to get the #2 seed by winning out and hoping the Packers lose one of their final three games against the Bears, @Minnesota, and @Detroit. The visit to Minneapolis will be the toughest of those three.

If the Saints end as the #3 seed, they don't get a first round bye. They would host the #6 team, which right now would be the Vikings. The other first round game would likely be Dallas hosting the #5 Seahawks. Assuming Seattle wins, the second round would consist of #5 Seattle @ #1 San Francisco and #3 Saints @ #2 Packers - not a pleasant task in early January. However, if the Seahawks were to upset the 49ers, the Saints would host the NFC title game if they beat the Packers.

Golden College Rankings - Final Regular Season
Team Avg. Points Win Loss Opp
Wins
Opp
Losses
Score
Value
Opp
Opps
Road
Win
Home
Loss
Last
Week
CFP
Rank
1 Ohio State 18.66 242.6 13 0 91 0 21.38 383 0.5 0.0 1 2
2 LSU 17.72 230.4 13 0 83 0 12.62 325 1.5 0.0 2 1
3 Clemson 17.15 223.0 13 0 72 0 18.74 293 0.5 0.0 3 3
4 Boise State 16.22 210.9 12 1 71 5 8.48 234 0.5 0.0 8 18
5 Oklahoma 16.19 210.5 12 1 69 4 7.62 236 2.0 0.0 9 4
6 Georgia 16.17 210.2 11 2 69 8 10.95 305 1.5 1.0 4 5
7 Notre Dame 16.11 193.4 10 2 61 5 9.41 246 0.5 0.0 7 14
8 Wisconsin 16.10 209.3 10 3 64 6 13.22 313 1.0 0.0 5 11
9 Memphis 16.02 208.2 12 1 64 6 13.22 313 1.0 0.0 11 15
10 Oregon 15.93 207.1 11 2 64 8 9.19 204 1.0 0.0 16 7
  • "Opps. wins" is the number of victories by the teams the ranked team defeated.
  • "Opps. losses" is the number of losses by the teams that defeated the ranked team.
  • "Opp. opps". is the number of victories by the teams the defeated teams beat.
  • "Score value" is a measure of the margin of victory in relation to the defeated team's number of wins coupled with the margin of defeat in relation to the victorious team's number of losses.
  • "Road win" and "Home Loss" haven't kicked in yet because opponents have to win at least six games to earn a bonus for beating them on the road and opponents have to have six losses before you lose points when they defeat you at home.

Toughest schedule: South Carolina
Easiest schedule: Temple
Largest jump from last week: Miami (OH) (12 spots)
Largest drop from last week: Central Michigan (10 spots)

Conference Rankings
  Conference Avg. Last
Week
1 Big 10 13.181 1
2 SEC 13.142 2
3 Big 12 12.795 3
4 America Ath. Conf. 12.543 4
5 ACC 12.476 6
6 PAC 12 12.460 5
7 Mountain West 11.841 7
8 Sun Belt 11.591 8
9 CUSA 11.077 9
10 MAC 10.532 10

Avg. means the average score of the teams in the conference (with 12 being the starting point for each game and going up/down depending on whether the team wins/loses).

Baseball Short Story
Sale of the Century
Bill Francis, Memories and Dreams: Official Publication of the Baseball Hall of Fame (Winter 2019)
100 years later, Yankees' purchase of Babe Ruth's contract is still being felt throughout the baseball world.
For fans of the Boston Red Sox, the unthinkable, unimaginable, unfathomable happen­ed 100 years ago with the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Ruth, all of 24 years old, had made the transition from str southpaw pitcher to the pre­mier slugger in the game by 1919. Now patrolling LF for Boston, and thanks to his powerful left-handed stroke, he clubbed 29 HRs that set a new single-season big league record. But then the news broke. Ruth would soon be playing 77 games each season at the Polo Grounds - his new home ballpark until Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 - with its short RF fence.
It was announced on Jan. 5, 1920 - though the transaction had been consummated a week earlier - that Ruth was now a member of a rival American League franchise.
Newspapers across the country shared the news with provocative headlines: "Red Sox Sell Ruth for $100,000 Cash" read The Boston Globe; "Ruth Bought by New York Americans for $125,000, Highest Price in Baseball Annals" blared The New York Times; "New York Yankees Buy Babe Ruth from Boston Red Sox" stated the Chicago Tribune.
"Like all things Ruthian, everything about Ruth's sale from the Red Sox to the Yankees was outsized," said Tom Shieber of the National Baseball Hall of Fame staff. "The price tag was unparalleled in sports history, the story was obsessively covered in the press and every last detail was voraciously consumed by baseball fans nationwide. With the possible exception of the Louisiana Purchase, what other acquisition has reached the same level of long-term recognition in the American public's conscience?"
So how did it come to this, that Ruth, a legend in his own time, was shipped out of Boston just as his offensive prowess was emerging? Coming off a 1919 season in which he led the Junior Circuit not only in homers but also with his 113 RBI and 103 runs scored, the Colossus of Clout wanted a new contract that would pay him $20,000 per season. Prior to the 1919 season, Ruth had signed a three-year deal with the Red Sox that would pay him $10,000 annually.
"You can say for me," said Ruth to The Boston Globe on Oct. 24, 1919 ... "that I will not play with the Red Sox unless I get $20,000. You may think that sounds like a pipe­dream, but it is the truth. I feel that I made a bad move last year when I signed a three-year contract to play for $30,000. The Boston club realized much on my value, and I think that I am entitled to twice as much as my contract calls for."
L-R: Babe Ruth, Harry Frazee, Jacob Ruppert, Miller Huggins
By December 1919, the war of words had escalated, and Red Sox president and owner Harry Frazee hinted he might sell Ruth, stating: "I'm willing to trade any man on my team, excepting only Harry Hooper." Those Boston baseball fans whose ears were close to the ground were thus prepared to eventually hear Ruth had been sold to another club.
"The price was something enormous, but I do not care to name the figures. It was an amount the club could not afford to refuse," said Frazee ... I should have preferred to have taken players in exchange for Ruth, but no club could have given me the equiva­lent in men without wrecking itself, and so the deal had to be made on a cash basis. No other club could afford to give the amount the Yankees have paid for him, and I do not mind saying I think they are taking a gamble. With the money, the Boston club can now go into the market and buy other players and have a stronger and better team in all respects than we would have had if Ruth had remained with us.
"I do not wish to detract one iota from Ruth's ability as a ballplayer nor from his value as an attraction, but there is no getting away from the fact that despite his 29 HRs, the Red Sox finished sixth in the race last season," Frazee added. ...
"I am not at liberty to tell the price we paid," smiled Yankees co-owner Jacob Ruppert ... "I can say positively, however, that it is by far the biggest price ever paid for a ball­player. Ruth was considered a champion of all champions, and, as such, deserving of an opportunity to shine before the sport lovers of the greatest metropolis in the world."
Then, in a bit of foreshadowing, Ruppert added, "It is not only our intention, but a strong life purpose, moreover, to give the loyal American League fans of greater New York an opportunity to root for our team in a world's series. We are going to give them a pennant winner, no matter what the cost. ... Yet the fans can rest assured we by no means intend to stop there. Eventually we are going to have the bes team that has ever been seen anywhere."
Ruth, contacted in Los Angeles - where Yankees manager Miller Huggins helped secure a contract that would pay the HR king $20,000 per season in 1920 and '21 - claimed not to be surprised by his sale to New York, noting: "When I made my demand on the Red Sox for $20,000 a year, I had an idea they would choose to sell me rather than pay the increase, and I knew the Yankees were the most probable purchasers in that event." ...
While the official sale price of Ruth was not made public at the time of the transaction, numbers were speculated about. According to modern research compiled by Michael Haupert, professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the actual purchase price was $100,000, payable in four annual installments of $25,000 at 6% interest, with New York making the first payment on Dec. 19, 1919. ...
My Week 15 Picks: 4-4
I'm in a Yahoo Pick'em group that does Top 25 plus additional SEC games each week. Home team in CAPS.
  • #1 LSU over #4 Georgia +7.5
    Tiger O scores more than Tiger D gives up.
  • #2 Ohio State over #10 Wisconsin +16 X
    Buckeyes juggernaut stays #1 in CFP.
  • Virginia +28 over #3 Clemson X
    Tigers win but don't cover.
  • #5 Utah over #13 Oregon +6.5 X
    Utes want that CFP spot.
  • #6 Oklahoma over #8 Baylor +8.5 X
    Sooners want that #4 spot if Utah and Georgia lose.
  • #21 Cincinnati +9.5 over #17 MEMPHIS
    Hard to beat a team in back-to-back weeks by double digits
  • #19 BOISE STATE over Hawai'i +13.5
    Broncos prevail at home.
  • #20 APPALACHIAN STATE over LA Lafayette +6.5
    Mountaineers too strong at home.

Record after 14 weeks: 186-125-6

Interesting Numbers
2011
Last time LSU won the SEC
5 Oklahoma's rank in scoring offense
13
Baylor's rank in scoring defense
4
Consecutive ACC titles by Clemson
38-7 Score by which Ohio State defeated Wisconsin earlier this season
52 Yards rushing by Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor on 29 carries against Ohio State
5
Sacks of Ohio State QB Justin Fields by Wisconsin
2010
Last time Alabama finished with multiple losses in the regular season
1 Times Boise State has gone undefeated in the Mountain West after doing so this year
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 14
  • Undefeated Teams
    The regular season ended with just three: Clemson 12-0, Ohio State 12-0, SEC: LSU 12-0
    Winless Teams: Just one - Akron 0-12
  • End of 1st Half: Bama-Auburn Paralleled LSU-Troy
    Trailing 31-24 with less than a minute to play in the first half, Auburn desperately tried to get into FG range. Starting from their 35 after a short kickoff, Bo Nix completed a second-down pass to the 49. After two other incompletions, the clock showed 0:09. Nix then connected with JaTarvious Whitlow for 17y for a first down at the Alabama 34. But the clock now showed 0:00. The replay official ruled that Whitlow's knee touched the ground with one second left. So the two teams had to return to the field. Auburn, of course, sent in its field goal unit. The instant the referee started the clock, the snap came and Anders Carlson kicked a 52y FG. Nick Saban was furious. If the clock had originally stopped at one second because the play netted a first down, Auburn would have had to rush the FG team onto the field as the chain was moved into position. At best, the Tigers would have had to rush the FG team onto the field and hope they could get set in position and snap the ball before the referee restarted the clock. With the replay, the FG team was waiting at the line of scrimmage. The three points ended up as the final margin in Auburn's victory.
    I immediately thought of the LSU-Troy game in 2017 when the exact same scenario enabled Troy to kick a 37y FG with one second on the clock after time had run out only to see replay put a second back on. Like Auburn, Troy would never have gotten its FG team on the field ready to snap the ball were it not for the replay review. Final score: Troy 24 LSU 21
  • New Meaning to a Player "Dogging It"
    Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore caught a 2y TD pass with 0:04 left to pull the Rebels within 21-20 of Mississippi State. But he started crawling on the turf on all fours like a bulldog and then made the fatal mistake of lifting a leg. That brought a flag and a 15y penalty that State accepted for the extra point. The first result of the penalty was to eliminate any thoughts Ole Miss had to going for two. It also made the PAT kick harder. Sure enough, Luke Logan missed the 35yarder. Whether the outcome had anything to do with it, Ole Miss fired Coach Matt Luke four days later.
  • Big Winner of the Week
    Utah clobbered Colorado 45-15 to complete an 11-1 season and secure the Pac-12 spot in the conference championship game. They took the #5 spot in the latest CFP rankings. If the Utes defeat Oregon, they could be in line for the #4 seed in the CFP should Georgia lose to LSU. If Oklahoma defeats Baylor for the Big 12 title, the Sooners could get the committee's nod. After Utah's lone stumble this season - 1 30-23 loss at USC in September - QB Tyler Huntley called a players-only meeting. He told his teammates that they were still a team of destiny and the loss would not define their season. "I told them we had it in us to accomplish what we wanted. And now here we are."
  • Joyless Undefeated Season
    After easily disposing of in-state rival South Carolina 38-3, all Clemson coach Dabo Swinney did was bitch about his team's #3 ranking in the CFP standings. He still seemed fixated on the September game against North Carolina when the Tigers had to stop a late two-point conversion try to prevail 21-20. That close shave continues to be the main reason, in Dabo's view, why Clemson is only #3. He also looked ahead to this Saturday's ACC championship game against Virginia. "Obviously if we lose this game, they're gonna kick us out. They don't want us in there anyway. ... If Georgia loses to this very same team and the very next day, it's how do we keep Georgia in it? We win to the team that beat South Carolina and it's how do we get Clemson out? It's the dadgumest thing. So it's big because they can't vote us out. We've got to go 30-0. We ain't got no choice."
Interesting Numbers from Week 14
15-1 Ohio State's record against Michigan the last 16 years
5-1 Tulane's record in its first six games of the season
1-5 Tulane's record in the last six games of the season
4,366 Joe Burrow's yards passing this season - an SEC record
15
Tackles for loss by Memphis in their 34-24 win over Cincinnati
1969
Last year Memphis won a conference title outright
25-25 Record of Missouri's fired head coach Barry Odom
7 Consecutive victories by Washington over Washington State
700 Total yards by Auburn and Alabama
93 Total points in this year's Iron Bowl, the most in series history.
13 Alabama penalties in Iron Bowl, their most ever in a game under Nick Saban
47-17 Jim Harbaugh's five-season record at Michigan
46-42 Michigan's record in the seven seasons before Harbaugh's arrival
305-76 Points by which Utah has outscored its opponents since losing to USC
23 Combined wins by the six FBS teams that Texas A&M beat this year
Football Short Story
The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness Drives Joe Burrow
Cody Worsham, LSU-Texas A&M Gameday Program
At the heart of everything Joe Burrow does - the eye-popping statistics, the awe-inspiring toughness, the game-changing leadership - is an undeniable will to win.
If you're looking for the foundation for Burrow's 2019 run at the Heisman Trophy and national championships, the platform upon which he's mounted a campaign as one of the best QBs to every play in the SEC, it's a competitive drive he was seemingly born with.
Ever since he first picked up a ball, Burrow had to be the best, and he's spent every day since collecting characteristics - grit, accuracy, poise, and everything else he's displayed all season - geared to making him unbeatable.
"He's always wanted to be the person with the ball in his hand and be the person scoring points," his mother, Robin says, "whether it was soccer or basketball or baseball or football. It's just in his DNA, I guess."
"He's the most competitive dude on the planet," says Sam Vander Ven, Burrow's childhood friend and high school teammate. "Without a doubt. Whether it's a video game or anything outside of sports, he's a ruthless dude."
The first time his parents saw that ruthlessness on display was after a fourth grade baseball tournament. Burrow never paid attention to trophies, his parents say. They were trivial consequences from the thing he was really after - scratching that unending competitive itch. The only time he ever noticed one was when that itch went unscratched.
"The only trophy that he evr paid attention to was when he got second in a baseball tournament, and one of his best friends had thrown the second place trophy in the garbage can," says Jimmy, his father. "So we're driving home and we're just horrified that that happened. Joe gets home, and we go up to his room and about an hour afterwards, and he had dismantled the second place trophy." That provided an opportunity to teach Burrow a lesson in humility and losing with grace. Even as he absorbed that lesson, it didn't make the losing less intolerable to his disposition. As much as he loves winning, Burrow may hate losing even more.
There's plenty of evidence to support that claim. Like his senior season basketball pictures, taken just three days after Burrow lost the state championship game in football. The hurt in his eyes is evident even today, five years removed from the defeat. "He carried that loss with him quite a long time," Jimmy says.

L-R: Joe Burrow runs against Bama, Carried off at Tuscaloosa
Burrow never forgets a loss - there aren't many to remember to be fair - whether it's collective or personal. Tom Vander Ven, Sam's father, remembers a high school game in which a rival intercepted a Burrow pass early in the first quarter. "The most potential you'd see in Joe was after he threw an interception," Tom says, "which was not very often in high school. Whenever somebody picked him off, he would make them pay."
After that interception, Burrow changed the game plan. He started targeting the defensive back who'd intercepted him in the first quarter as often as he could. Three quarters, 300y, five TDs, and a 55-9 win later, Burrow made good on the debt. "Joe definitely made him pay," Tom says.
It's something his teammates at LSU notice. Sometimes, the worst thing you can do in practice is intercept a Burrow throw. You'll spend he rest of the practice in the center of his target, which is a dangerous place to live.
"I see it in practice all the time, in 7-on-7s," says LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg. "Guys that pick the ball off, he's infuriated. He's like, 'Give me the ball. Let's do this again.' It's a switch that gets flipped that turns him into that massive competitor."
Perhaps the only thing that gets Burrow going better than a pick is getting hit. That's something his high school offensive coordinator, Nathan White, realized as early as Burrow's sophomore season, when the offense got off to a sluggish start against an inferior opponent. Man, White thought. I'm just going to run Joe until he gets into this thing. He got into that thing, alright. Burrow would finish the game with 161y on 23 carries, and for the rest of his prep career, Burrow ran the ball on the second or third play of every single game. To this day, White ... runs his QBs early in games to get them going.
"He started rolling, got a few hits," White says. "He was like a different man after that."
"I enjoy getting hit sometimes," Burrow says. "It makes me feel like a real football player instead of a QB. People can look down on QBs sometimes if they're not taking hits. I like mixing it up in there."
Perhaps no hit hurt Burrow last year quite like LSU's seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M. He took plenty of hits in that game, throwing for 270y and three TDs while adding 131 rushing yards ... and three TDs on the ground. It was, by all means, a heroic effort, and it was, perhaps, the catalyst to his 2019 run as college football's best QB. But it took a toll, physically and emotionally. After 39 passes, 23 carries, six sacks, and seven overtimes, Burrow passed out in the locker room and needed an IV bag, cookies, and apple sauce to recover.
"That was the second dagger," Robin says, comparing the A&M defeat to the state championship game loss his senior season at Athens.
Like a hit or a pick, though, Burrow has always had an ability to catalyze defeat, to harness heartbreak and transform it into motivation and clarity of thought. He takes them hard, but they don't hold him back. In fact, they have the inverse effect.
"He can channel that frustration into positive energy," Robin says. "I think he definitely internalizes things a little bit, but uses it in a positive way."
That's why Jimmy says Burrow entered 2019 with three games circled on the calendar.
First was Florida, who handed him his first loss as LSU's starter in 2018 and clinched the win with a pick-six. One year later, Burrow completed 21-of-24 passes for 293y and three TDs in a 42-28 win over the Gators.
Then came Alabama, who shut Burrow and LSU out in 2018, 29-0, in a game he played with an injured shoulder. One year later, Burrow went into Tuscaloosa and hung 393y on the Tide, leading LSU to a 46-41 victory,
Next us is A&M, and be assured that Burrow remembers that dagger. "I know he looks forward to three games this year ...," Jimmy says. ... "In his mind, those were failures. In games like that, he tries to focus on not letting things like that happen again."
That's the will to win that Burrow's tapped into all year, his entire career. It's the force behind everything he's done on his way to the brink of everything he's ever dreamed of. It's what makes him special, and it's what should keep opponents up at night.
Joe Burrow's comin'. And he ain't backing down.
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