Sunday, October 31, 2021

Buckeyes rumble by Penn State 33-24

     C.J. Stroud threw for 305 yards and a touchdown and TreVeyon Henderson ran for 165 yards and a score as the Ohio State Buckeyes pulled away late to defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions 33-24 at the Big Horseshoe in Columbus.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson each finished with over ninety yards to pace the Buckeyes pass catchers and the biggest play of the game was a fifty-seven-yard fumble return for a touchdown by defensive tackle Jerron Cage after Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford was hit by Tyreke Smith and Zach Harrison and coughed up the football.

Ohio State improved to 7-1 with the triumph (5-0 Big Ten) and will travel to Lincoln to visit the Cornhuskers next week.

Coverage of that game may be limited as I will miss most of the game as I have to attend a wedding of someone I've met less than five times in my life.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Ohio State wore their latest from their gimmick uniform collection which is usually worn against Penn State or Michigan, depending on which team is traveling to Columbus that season.

This season saw scarlet pants used with the normal scarlet home jerseys and while I kinda liked it, I could understand if someone believed the all-red was overkill.

2) One bad part of the red uniforms weren't a problem on the field, it was for the person watching the game on television.

In the second quarter, when Chris Olave hovered under a C.J.Stroud pass that would result in a thirty-eight-yard touchdown, it was difficult to find Olave.

Why?  Because in the frame was the all-red Buekeye end zone and Olave's uniform blended into the picture.

3) Penn State did have what seemed to be success controlling TreVeyon Henderson, yet at the end of the game, Henderson had 165 yards.

Yes, sixty-eight of those would come on one carry, but Penn State found out what so many teams found out about Saquon Barkley during his time at State College- you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him,

4) Ohio State also profited from the accuracy of Noah Ruggles, who connected on all four of his field-goal attempts.

The kicker is another of those positions that aren't truly appreciated until you have a kicker that is inconsistent.

The graduate transfer from North Carolina has yet to miss a kick this season.

5) Steele Chambers continues to impress with his speed and aggression as he adjusts to linebacker but Chambers will learn about the worst rule in college football as he was ejected and will miss the first half next week against Nebraska.

I thought there was contact with the crown of the helmet but it was slight but all fans hate the rule because of the inconsistency of the calls between referee crews.

I still say unless it is egregious that the call should be roughness and a fifteen-yard penalty with ejection for a second violation.

6) Give veteran corner Cameron Brown credit for great timing for his first career interception in the fourth quarter with he grabbed a Sean Clifford pass intended for their best Jahon Dotson.

Brown returned the ball deep into Penn State territory (to the Penn State 28) and set a drive that would result in a Noah Ruggles field goal.

7) You had to feel good for Jerron Cage on the scoop and score for two reasons.

The first is that defensive linemen rarely score touchdowns, let alone on a long jaunt such as Cage's, and anytime a big man can score, it's a good memory.

The second is Jerron Cage himself, who rarely played for three seasons before entering the interior line rotation last season.

The fifth-year senior is a long shot to make an NFL roster next season, so that play in a big game will be the highlight of his career.

8) How about the Ohio State offensive line that kept C.J. Stroud's jersey clean and didn't allow the Nittany Lions to sack Stroud one time?

Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere could be late first-rounders in the next draft and the offensive line has come a long way since the Oregon game.

9) C.J. Stroud's 300 yards didn't seem dazzling but what was more impressive than his numbers was his poise in the pocket and the freshman is starting to realize when to throw the ball away and when to force a throw.


10) As for Penn State, with all the rumors that have James Franklin as a major candidate for USC and to a lesser degree LSU,  with the Lions at 5-3 and still with games remaining against Michigan and Michigan State, have either school thought about what a hard sell Franklin could be after a 7-5 season?

And should they be upset by Rutgers or Maryland, both of which target the Nittany Lions as "rivals", Is it possible that a 6-6 team could not only see a loss of interest in Franklin by others but also a lack of interest in Penn State retaining him at all??? 

Saturday, October 30, 2021


 The PPM closes out Augusr with some very interesting and important contests, especially in college football.

Last Week: 10-3
Overall: 67-44

Ohio State over Penn State 35-21
Oklahoma over Texas Tech 57-36
Boise State over Colorado State 34-24
Houston over SMU 39-37
Buffalo over Bowling Green 26-17
Middle Tennessee State over Southern Mississippi 34-21
Georgia Southern over Georgia State 26-24
N.C State over Louisville 30-26
Stanford over Washington 23-20

Games of the Week
Michigan State over Michigan 17-13
Iowa over Wisconsin 14-12

Browns over Steelers 20-17
Buccaneers over Saints 35-20

Game of the Week
Titans over Colts 28-21

Boxing Challenge

 The boxing challenge will feature three fights from two networks on Saturday night with two fights to clear up some of the middle of the top ten in the welterweight division and the other featuring a top-rated junior welterweight in action.

Showtime's card main event will clean one of the WBA welterweight mess a bit as Jamal James faces Radzhab Butaev with the winner to match against WBA champion Yordenia Ugas, the recent conqueror of Manny Pacquiao.

James, who suffered his only loss against Ugas, has beaten a few fighters of the top twenty ilk such as Thomas Dulorme in his last fight, Diego Chavez, former lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco, and Abel Ramos but lacks wins against a top ten welterweight.

The undefeated Butaev was a decorated amateur but of his thirteen wins none are against even fringe contenders and in his only fight against a solid fighter, Butaev lost a close unanimous decision to Alexander Besputin in a fight that would be changed to a no-contest when Besputin failed the post-fight drug test.

Judging on the styles of the two fighters, I would lean towards James, who is the more versatile of the pair to win the fight to outbox the attacking Butaev and earn the title fight against Ugas but neither are really deserving of a mandatory opportunity.

The welterweight that does continues to be avoided as Jaron "Boots" Ennis faces Thomas Dulorme,  who as mentioned above lost a decision to Jamal James in his most recent fight.

It would be another good, not great win for Ennis after knocking out former IBF junior welterweight champion Sergei Lipinets last time in the ring but Dulorme is a division gatekeeper and a win is unlikely to do too much to help him gain a championship attempt.

Dulorme is good enough to make anyone work for a win and other than in his knockout loss to Terence Crawford, hasn't been outclassed but his resume' states a clear fact- you have to be a top ten caliber boxer to defeat him.

ESPN Plus and Top Rank are live from New York with their main event in the junior welterweight division with highly ranked Jose Zepeda defending his high ranking against Josue Vargas.

Zepeda is remembered for his 2020 fight of the year win over Ivan Baranchyk and his narrow loss to then-WBC champion Jose Ramirez but has been known to fight down to his competition in two recent efforts against Hank Lundy and Kendo Castaneda in winning but lackluster outings.

Josue Vargas was a highly thought prospect that has stalled a bit despite having only one loss, a goofy DQ loss when he was fighting four-rounders.

Vargas isn't a huge puncher and this is a step up as his best win was over Kenda Castaneda and his win was more impressive than Zepeda's win over the same Castaneda.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 142-123.

Welterweights. 12 Rds
Jamal James vs Radzhab Butaev
TRS: James Unanimous Decision

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jaron Ennis vs Thomas Dulormer
TRS: Ennis KO 6

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jose Zepeda vs Josue Vargas
TRS: Zepeda Unanimous Decision

Friday, October 29, 2021

Cavaliers win over Clippers 92-79

  When the NBA schedule was released, most observers of the Cleveland Cavaliers figured that a slow start for the Cavaliers was inevitable when the Cavaliers were sent to the West Coast for four games and a trip to Charlotte to conclude a road swing that was likely to place Cleveland in a jam early in the season as far as the standings go.

Instead, the Cavaliers grabbed wins in their first games of the trip with wins in Denver and then Wednesday night in Los Angeles over the Clippers 92-79.

Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 26 points while the point guard position added 31 between starter Darius Garland's 16 and Ricky Rubio's 15 off the bench.

The Cavaliers will again play in the Staples Center tonight as they will challenge LeBron James and the Laker All-Stars.


1)  Grabbing these two wins may very well loom very large if the Cavaliers have any hopes of playoff contention.

When you consider the possibilities of dropping all five games against playoff teams, the Cavaliers could have given away a chunk of ground two weeks into the season.

Now even if they lose the final three games, 2-3 will not be a season-breaker.

2) Evan Mobley finished with a double-double against the Clippers with an eleven and ten line and continues to give me hope that the Cavaliers have finally drafted a legitimate foundational piece. 

3) Mobley has been compared by almost anyone that watches him play to Chris Bosh.

I remember watching Bosh at Georgia Tech when I still watched a ton of college basketball and I think Mobley may be a little more advanced than Bosh defensively at his age but Bosh had a small edge in his offensive game.

Either way, the comparisons are reasonable and not hyperbole.

4) Kevin Love has been coming off the bench and limiting his minutes seems to be a positive thus far for the highly-priced veteran.

Love is averaging close to eleven points and over seven rebounds a game in close to twenty-two minutes in the first five games.

Love put a double-double against the Clippers (10 and 10), scored twenty-two in the win over the Nuggets and this may be the best to showcase Love for a possible trade if not this year, next year.

5) So far, Ricky Rubio has been exactly what they have hoped for with five strong games as the backup to Darius Garland at the point.

Rubio seemed to be all over the floor against the Clippers finishing with fifteen points and Rubio is averaging fourteen points and almost eight assists a game in the first five games.

If Rubio can continue to play at this level, the Cavaliers will have a top-of-the-lineup at the point position for the first team in what seems like going back to Mark Price and Terrell Brandon thirty years ago!

6) Cleveland has been moving against the NBA trend early by using a three-big man lineup and it's been surprisingly strong with Lauri Markkanen at "Small" forward, Evan Mobley at the four, and Jarrett Allen in the pivot.

Cleveland outrebounded both the Nuggets and the Clippers using the big lineup and it will be an interesting challenge against the Lakers tonight. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Texas Tech Fires Matt Wells

  The Texas Tech Red Raider football program has struggled since the firing of Mike Leach late in the 2009 season and with six losing seasons out of the last seven, head coach Matt Wells was rumored to be a coach that needed a winning season at minimum to return in 2022.

Despite a 5-3 record, Texas Tech saw the writing on the wall after blowing a fourteen-point in the second half to lose by a point to visiting Kansas State, and with their final four games against ranked opponents, Texas Tech seemed ready for yet another season that sees a fast start and a slow finish that just misses a bowl for another season.

Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt decided not to prolong speculation by releasing Matt Wells after the loss to Kansas State, which felt like a gut punch for the Red Raiders bowl chances considering that winning any of the four remaining games would be a major upset and Texas Tech needing one more win to be bowl eligible.

Matt Wells was somewhat of a surprise choice when Wells was hired to replace Kliff Kingsbury after the 2018 season from Utah State without any Texas connections.

Wells's Aggies had finished 10-2 in 2018 but had posted losing seasons in each of the previous three seasons and the hire had the feel to it of Wells knowing the iron was hot after a season that he was unable to sustain in the future.

Wells finished his two-plus years in Lubbock with a losing record of 13-17 overall and an awful 7-16 in Big 12 play.

Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie will serve as the interim coach for the final four games and the former Tech quarterback is expected to be one of the favorites to be the head coach for 2022.

Finding a way to win one of the four games and allow Texas Tech to go to a minor bowl would go a long way towards Cumbie being given the full-time position.

Two other names that are considered to be strong possibilities are SMU head coach Sonny Dykes, the son of former Tech head coach Spike Dykes, and UTSA headman Jeff Traylor, both of who have their group of five teams in the top 25 and undefeated.

Dykes served as a Tech assistant under his dad and would likely be given a longer leash considering the popularity of his late father at Tech.

Traylor has plenty of Texas connections, if not Tech, and would be a popular choice.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is reported that there are several influential boosters pushing for Art Briles, the disgraced former Baylor head coach that took the Bears from the worst program in the league to 65 wins in eight years before being fired for a lack of control of the program off the field with various scandals.

I would think that Texas Tech would take a brief P.R. hit from a Briles hire but I have little doubt that should Tech take the chance to hire Briles, who spent three seasons as a Red Raider assistant from 2000-02 that Briles would give Tech the best chance to improve the fastest.

I'm not proposing that Briles be the choice by Texas Tech but he would be the pick if the fastest improvement was the highest priority.

Under Matt Wells, Texas Tech football has lacked an identity.

They weren't really an Air Raid team or a physical team and certainly couldn't establish themselves as the defensive-oriented standout in the league.

I'm not like many that think that Texas Tech is a tough place to win.

You can win there and while maybe Tech isn't a perennial title contender in a league with Texas and Oklahoma (and formerly Texas A&M) their history and background indicate that the right coach can be good enough to be very competitive in the new Big 12.

There is no reason that Texas Tech cannot be just as good if not better than Baylor, Houston, TCU, or any of the other schools currently in the conference.

Tech's someone remote location in West Texas makes hiring the right coach imperative as recruiting Texas is a must and someone that has relationships with Texas high school coaches is a major league plus.

Still, West Texas produces plenty of good players and many might be willing to stay home- if Tech gave them a reason to stay and began to give itself an identity as a program again.

If your expectations are ten and eleven wins a season then that is unrealistic for Texas Tech but it isn't ridiculous to expect seven or eight wins a year with an occasional special season every decade or so.

Texas Tech football has been down for over a decade now, one more bad hire, and Tech may find themselves in a hole that they may not be able to dig out of...

Monday, October 25, 2021

Buckeyes crush Indiana 54-7

    Through a driving rainstorm in Bloomington, Indiana, the Ohio State Buckeyes pounded the Indiana Hoosiers 54-7 and reasserted themselves in the eyes of the Hoosiers after giving OSU a semi-close run in the year of the Covid.

Ohio State led 44-7 at the half and eased in the second half or this could have gotten extremely ugly for Indiana.

C.J. Stroud threw four touchdown passes and completed 21 of 28 to lead Ohio State while TreVeyon Henderson scored on two of his nine carries.

Jeremy Ruckert caught two touchdown passes while Jaxon Smith-Nijba caught six passes for ninety-nine yards to lead the receivers.

Ohio State improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big 10 and will host Penn State in Columbus next Saturday night in a game that would have been much bigger had the Nittany Lions not lost to lowly Illinois at home Saturday.

Olentangy Offerings

1)  Being honest, I didn't watch much of the second half of this game as it was against the beginning of the Jamel Herring-Shakur Stevenson fight, but C.J. Stroud continues to grow by the game and looks more and more poised in the pocket.

2) Stroud is also learning when to run and when not to run.

Stroud ran only three times, which may have more to do with Indiana's pass rush, which sacked Stroud once, but he is learning when to move when to throw the ball away, and when to tuck the ball down and get whatever yardage he can.

In other words, learning the game.

3) Ohio State only had to use TreVeyon Henderson on nine carries with two of those runs going for touchdowns.

The advantage to having huge first-half performances is that it allows Ryan Day to reduce the number of hits on Henderson or any other running back, give other backs chances to see the field, and limit the odds of Henderson taking an awkward hit and injuring arguably the most important player.

4) Indiana wasn't the team they expected to be before the season and playing without Michael Penix hasn't helped them either but the Indiana offense was especially inept against the often-criticized OSU defense.

5) As humorous as I found Penn State's home loss to Illinois, there is no question that it has taken the shine off the Nittany Lions prime time visit to Columbus.

Had Penn State pulled that game out, the Buckeyes could have boosted their resume' quite a bit with a win over a top ten team.

I'm cutting this review a bit short since it's two days old but I did want to have the game on the site for posterity.

If I have time, I'm hoping to watch and review the first game for the Cavaliers trip as they visit the Denver Nuggets.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Boxing Challenge; Stevenson Batters Herring

    The anticipated battle for the WBO junior lightweight title between veteran champion Jamel Herring and undefeated former WBO featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson turned out to be a lopsided bout and the signature win in a career that could be filled with signature triumphs.

Shakur Stevenson's tenth round stoppage to take the title away from Jamel Herring may have been stopped a little early considering Herring's condition at the time but no one was complaining as Herring was taking a pounding and didn't even seem to have a puncher's chance of pulling a miracle victory out of the fire.

Herring may have been the champion but Stevenson was the solid favorite and Stevenson was too much for the aging champion from the opening bell and won all nine completed rounds on my scorecard.

Give Herring credit for trying to win as he tried to box Stevenson from the outside early in the bout after that didn't work, Herring attempted to rough the younger fighter up with borderline tactics on the inside that included some low blows to little success in shaking the confidence of Stevenson.

Stevenson's consistently landing of the right hand caused Herring's left eye to almost completely swell shut by the late rounds and when Herring was cut along the right eye in the ninth round, the doctor checked Herring's condition and reluctantly allowed the fight to continue before the fight was ended halfway through the tenth.

Herring hinted at retirement after the bout and for a fighter that turned his career around in his thirties by winning a title and making a few defenses, it may be time for a classy veteran to step aside, although it may have been that it was Stevenson that made Herring look old and slow.

As for Stevenson after the biggest win of his career, both Stevenson and promoter Top Rank both were calling for an early 2022 fight against WBC champion Oscar Valdez for two of the four belts at 130 pounds.

Stevenson vs Valdez is the best fight that can be made in the division and hopefully Top Rank will go straight to that fight rather than stuff an optional defense before the two can fight.

Shakur Stevenson has been compared to Floyd Mayweather in style from his opening professional fight and this fight also resembled early "Pretty Boy Floyd".

Stevenson was unafraid to sit down on his punches (People forget that 130 and 135 pound Floyd was an entertaining fighter) but yet use his speed on the offense rather than moving on defense and should he use that style again in a fight against Oscar Valdez, I'd bet on another superlative performance.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each added one point for the Stevenson win to move the total to 142-123.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Boxing Challenge: New Bridgerweight Champion!

  I didn't have time to write the boxing challenge before an unusual Friday fight but I can write a review now before the only challenge fight for the weekend.

Friday night on ESPN+ all the makings for a good laugh were available from Montreal, Canada.

An unneeded division would have its first needed champion, one of the two fighters could be described with the term "Untested" as quite the weak word and with the fight being held in what appeared to be in your local movie theatre with tables for dinner, everything was available for a chuckle at the expense once again of Mauricio Suliaman and his WBC.

However, as boxing often does, it delivered a very fun fight as Oscar Rivas won the initial Bridgerweight title with a close unanimous decision over a literal unknown in Ryan Rozicki.

The Bridgerweight division is the latest goofy idea from the WBC, the people that give you open scoring, twelve round title fights, and franchise champions, and has been created for fighters from 200 to 224 pounds in an attempt to give smaller heavyweights a level playing field (from the WBC) and add cash to the coffers of the WBC (From TRS) from more sanctioning fees.

While boxing needs more titles and divisions like Hawaii needs sunshine and of course just like in the cruiserweight division, Rivas immediately said that he was open for business for a heavyweight fight should one arise, which defeats the purpose of a division for smaller heavyweights.

And when you look at the ratings of non-entities and journeymen in the top 15, other than former title challenger Bryant Jennings, who was scheduled to fight Rivas but could not get into Canada after he refused a Covid-19 vaccine, aging cruiserweight champion Marco Huck, and perhaps entertaining prospect Alen Babic, you wonder how anyone will mildly care about this decision.

After Jennings pulled out, the WBC desperate to have the title filled so it can start sucking money from it, allowed an undefeated and unqualified Rozicki to fight Rivas, who has lost only once in his career to Dillian Whyte in a fight that Rivas drop Whyte in round nine, with Rozicki's main qualification being that he lives in Canada and would be the easiest fighter to replace Jennings.

This absolutely meant that Rozicki would fight very well to the surprise of Rivas and give an entertaining fight to the fans and the viewers around the world before losing the decision of 115-113 (our scorecard) and two scores of 116-112.

The decision, you may ask?

Well with two minutes to go in a very good fight, ESPN+ lost its feed and gave everyone minutes of a soccer ball being inflated (really) on screen and we never did actually hear the decision.

A much better fight than expected and I don't know where the fighters go next, although the next highest faux contender is Evgeny Romanov and Bryant Jennings might be able to get the next fight due to the circumstances.

Everything about this pointed to being a clown show and being boxing, the fight itself was the best part of the evening.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica earned two points to my for the Rivas win to move the total to 141-122.

Ramon chose Rivas via unanimous decision, while I picked Rivas via eighth-round KO.

I hope to have time for a preview of tonight's Jamel Herring-Shakur Stevenson fight later today, 


 The PPM is back as my picks are off to a rough start and what is my worst season in years thus far!

Let's see if this week turns things around!

Last Week: 5-6 
Overall: 57-41

Ohio State over Indiana 45-24
Middle Tennessee State over Connecticut 40-10
Washington over Arizona 23-13
Kansas State over Texas Tech 33-28
Houston over East Carolina 38-21
Eastern Michigan over Bowling Green 29-21
Ole Miss over LSU 43-35
N.C. State over Miami 28-25

Game of the Week
Wisconsin over Purdue 23-17
Oklahoma State over Iowa State 42-37

Browns over Broncos 21-17
Saints over Seahawks 30-21

Game of the Week
Ravens over Bengals 35-27

Basic Browns bump Broncos 17-14

   The battered Cleveland Browns may not have said their Thursday night game at home against the Denver Broncos was a must-win game but it really was.

Without severe key players including quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns came up with a gritty team effort based around the ground game and won a hard-fought 17-14 decision in Cleveland.

Backup quarterback Case Keenum completed twenty-one of thirty-three passes for 199 yards and a touchdown and third-string running back D'Ernest Johnson stepped through the curtain in his opportunity to be the backfield workhorse with 146 yards and a touchdown.

Cleveland improves to 4-3 with the victory and will receive a badly needed ten days off before a Halloween Sunday battle against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home by Lake Erie.

Brownie Bits

1) Case Keenum did exactly what he was signed to back up Baker Mayfield before the 2020 season- win winnable games in the event that Baker Mayfield would be unable to play.

Keenum did what was advertised= don't dazzle, use the running game, and don't make the type of mistake that can cost you a game.

It's simple and it's basic and it doesn't always work against better teams but on this night and against this team (Denver) it was enough to notch a W.

2) The knock on Case Keenum is his arm strength and it's a fair one- Keenum's arm is average at best but honestly I didn't see a lot of difference between Keenum's arm and Baler Mayfield's arm strength.

Now being fair that may be because of Mayfield's injury this season but in his other three seasons, Mayfield was never a mad bomber.

And Keenum did throw the ball to his receivers in stride or where it needed to be, which Mayfield often has been unable to perform.

3) The Browns returned Jarvis Landry to the lineup but Landry left the game with another injury late in the game.

Landry caught five passes for thirty-seven yards in giving Case Keenum a checkdown option and no word on his status for Pittsburgh of this writing.

4) Cleveland played with Donovan Peoples-Jones after the second-year receiver suffered a groin pull in pre-game warmups.

Peoples-Jones had led the Browns receivers in the loss to Arizona and is undergoing an MRI on the injury today.

5) The star of the day was D'Ernest Johnson with 146 rushing yards and a touchdown on twenty-two carries.

Johnson took advantage of the injuries to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt for his career day and showed better speed than you would expect from a third-string back.

Johnson showed that on a team with fewer outstanding backs that he could be a viable option.

6) Johnson avoided one thing that backup running backs are often tripped up by- too many moves and jukes looking for a bug run rather than putting his head down and running in a straight line.

Johnson was content to move forward and take what he was given instead of showing shiftiness for a breakaway run that never arrived.

7) Big play of the game- In the third quarter with the Browns looking at a fourth and three from the Denver four, Case Keenum scrambled for the three yards and the first down.

Keenum would then hit Johnny Stanton with a one-yard pass for what would prove to be the winning score.

8) While I understand the Browns wanted Jedrick Wills back in the lineup so badly, it might have been a better idea to allow Wills to sit for one more game (after missing the Arizona loss) and hopefully be close to 100 percent against Pittsburgh.

It seemed like Jonathan Cooper and Shelby Harris were having their name called a lot after going up against a weakened Wills and their name won't remind anyone of great Bronco pass rushers like Rich "Tombstone" Jackson or Lyle Alzado.

9) Anthony Walker returned to the lineup and seemed to be all over the field finishing with seven solo tackles and several assisted tackles.

I'm looking forward to a lineup with both Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah playing together to see just how much ground the pair can cover to allow Joe Woods to more of his five defensive backs on the field at all times for more effectiveness.

10)  John Johnson has been a disappointment after signing a contract in the off-season but Johnson made a key play late in the first half when Johnson intercepted a Teddy Bridgewater pass in the end zone.

Hopefully, it is the start of a Johnson that is beginning to make an impact.

11) The difference between 4-3 and 3-4 may not seem like much but considering Baltimore has won five of their first six and the Bengals are four and two, winning a home game against a bad team was a must.

Now with Pittsburgh at 3-3 and off a bye week on Halloween night, a 3-4 record and a loss to the Steelers could mean the season. 

Instead, a win over the Steelers would move the Browns to 5-3 and the ship is sailing well on the playoff seas.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Cavaliers drop opener to Memphis

   The Cleveland Cavaliers rallied in the fourth quarter to draw as close as one point in the final minutes of their opener against the Memphis Grizzlies but were unable to get past the home team and lost 132-121 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

Jarrett Allen led Cleveland with 25 points with Collin Sexton and Evan Mobley in his pro debut each finished with 17 points.

Cleveland will return home for games on Friday and Saturday against Charlotte and Atlanta before starting a five-game road swing that will see games against Denver, both Los Angeles teams, and Phoenix before an odd end to the road trip in Charlotte.


1) I was very impressed by the pro debut of Evan Mobley and it does appear that he has the abilities that he was advertised to possess.

Mobley started at power forward but did roam around the frontcourt as a five and three on occasion, and it was the rookie that played the most minutes for the Cavaliers in the game with thirty-eight.

2) More Evan Mobley.

Mobley's 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists with a steal, and a block was accomplished for only the second time for a player in their NBA debut according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Phoenix center DeAndre Ayton accomplished the feat first in 2018.

3) Jarrett Allen is trying to prove his off-season contract was a bargain with his twenty-five points.

Allen grabbed only four rebounds and I expect more than that on a normal night but Allen was perfect from the floor hitting all eleven of his attempts.

Now that I will take every night!

4) Darius Garland finished with thirteen points on five for fifteen shooting but he did finish with twelve assists and it was Garland that was the largest factor in Cleveland's late-game run.

I will admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of Garland entering last season but his play won me over

Garland will need to improve his shooting a bit if Cleveland has any type of shot at making the play-in series and if you wanted me to name the player that may have the most to do with a Cavalier postseason trip, I would select Darius Garland.

5) Lauri Markkanen's Cavalier debut didn't go nearly as well as Evan Mobley's as Markkanen scored ten points on four for fourteen shooting (two of seven from three-point range).

Markkanen did finish with nine rebounds so it wasn't all a lost evening but I really wonder if the Cavaliers may not have overpaid a bit by bidding against themselves for Markkanen's services.

6) Before the start of the season, the Cavaliers and Collin Sexton were unable to agree on a contract extension.

That means that Sexton will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

My take on Sexton's extension is that the Cavaliers made the right call.

Sexton has rolled up good scoring numbers on a bad team and plays hard every night but is a defensive liability, doesn't always have the best shot selection, and most people (including me) still wonder if a Sexton-Darius Garland backcourt is viable.

Garland's extension is available before next season and if I have to pick one or the other, it's Garland.

7) Memphis wore their powder blue uniforms which I like much better than their usual navy blue.

8) Since I didn't do a Cavaliers preview, here's my guess at their record 32-50 and miss the playoffs.

There will be progress but perhaps not enough to save JB Bickerstaff and Koby Altman's jobs.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Devils Krak Seattle 4-2

    Former first-rounder Dawson Mercer scored his first NHL goal as the New Jersey Devils won their home opener 4-2 over the expansion Seattle Kraken at the Rock in Newark.

The Devils received the first goals of the season from all four of their goal scorers in Mercer, Damon Severson, Jimmy Vesey, and an empty-net goal by Pavel Zacha.

The Devils will host Washington on Thursday and Buffalo on Saturday before finishing their five-game season starting homestand next Tuesday against Calgary.

Look at the bottom of the post for some words on this year's Devils coverage.

Hell Raisers

1) The biggest news of this game?

It has to be the injury suffered by Jack Hughes in the first period on a hit by Seattle's Jeremy Lauzon.

Hughes fell hard on his shoulder and didn't return to the game.

Hughes will be evaluated later today and he is listed as day-to-day.

2) The Dawson Mercer goal was a very pretty goal off a two on one break with Mercer taking a saucer pass from Tomas Tatar.

It's the type of goal that you like to see from young players because all too often, the younger players struggle in finishing the play.

Mercer was the second of two Devils first-rounders in 2020 and looks the part of a power forward.

3) Video replay giveth and taketh away for New Jersey in the win as the Devils lost a goal on a review but won an appeal to remove a Seattle goal.

Nico Hischier's short-range tip from a Jesper Bratt pass just missed clearing the goal line at the end of the first period but the Devils appealed a Seattle goal for missing the Kraken being offside on the play.

4) It was a rougher, more physical game than I expected for the second game of the season but in hindsight, I shouldn't have been surprised.

Expansion teams of today, like Seattle and recently Las Vegas, may be more prepared to win immediately than their past compatriots in expansion but they still have players with plenty of proving to do if they want to continue to play hockey in the league, so that leads to some scrappy play that can eventually get to...

5) Let's call them disagreements.

Mason Geertsen took on Jeremy Lauzon early in the second period after Lauzon's hit on Jack Hughes, Michael McLeod fought Chris Tanev in the first, and Jonas Siegenthaler battled Ryan Donato in the second.

Add to that, plenty of pushing and shoving between the teams, and there was plenty of chippy play in this game.

6) Seattle cut the game to one goal at three to two when Jared McCann scored on a five-on-three power play with just over five minutes to play.

Pavel Zacha was called for a slash and seconds later Damon Severson was called for a trip.

The Severson penalty wasn't smart hockey as well as being ill-timed.

7) The Devils power play was zero for three and didn't really have great chances with the advantage.

Some of that was likely struggles with the unexpected loss of Jack Hughes, so one can give them a pass for one night.

8) I thought Jonathan Bernier was good, not great in goal but more than good enough to earn the victory with his performance.

With Mackenzie Blackwood's status in flux, the play of Bernier is very key in the Devils using their five home games to start the season quickly.

9) I kept having a hard time watching the broadcast from a higher angle and not thinking that Seattle was San Jose.

The uniforms didn't look like the Sharks up close but the road whites reminded me of them a great deal from afar.

If you have been reading other than for the Devils posts, you may have seen a reduction in posts over the last few months and my occasional struggles.

My intent is to do as much Devils and Cavaliers coverage as I can and hopefully do a decent enough job with them.

I didn't do season previews for either team (or Ohio State or Browns for that matter) because I didn't want to put out a half-assed effort that isn't something I would be pleased with.

I will likely be covering the Devils next on Tuesday as their game vs Washington is against the Browns and their Saturday game against Buffalo ( as the Cavaliers game against Atlanta) is at the same time as Ohio State after a time change this week.

Hopefully, I'll get enough Devils coverage to make those of you that come for that alone to be pleased with what I write...

Monday, October 18, 2021

Cardinals beat up Browns 37-14

   The suddenly injury-hampered and offensively challenged Cleveland Browns may be facing a crossroads after being slapped around by the visiting Arizona Cardinals 37-14 in Cleveland.

The Browns allowed four touchdown passes to Arizona's Kyler Murray, who dominated the heralded battle of Oklahoma Heisman-winning passers as Baker Mayfield was intercepted once and lost two fumbles to more than offset his two touchdown passes and 234 passing years.

Donovan Peoples-Jones caught both of the Browns touchdown passes and finished with 101 receiving yards to lead Cleveland.

Cleveland drops to 3-3 and will host the Denver Broncos on Thursday night in Cleveland.

Brownie Bits

1) Baker Mayfield was awful.
Just awful and while I can admit he was limited due to his injured shoulder, after a while how long can injury be an excuse for poor play?

If the shoulder is so badly injured that it is affecting his play that much, Why is he playing?

2) Mayfield doesn't seem capable of throwing longer than 15 yards more than two or three times a game and please don't point to the Hail Mary as proof of arm strength.

3) Watch the Hail Mary score to Donovan Peoples-Jones at the end of the first half as the rush comes in.

For a split second, Mayfield ducks away from the rush and appears to consider just running rather than launch the pass.

Mayfield's waning arm strength made the play a success as the ball barely made it over the goal line and with Peoples-Jones blocking out Cardinal defensive backs like a basketball player looking for a rebound, the fluttering ball was grabbed for the score. 

4) I will give Mayfield credit for toughness and will as after his second fumble of the game and appearing to severely aggravate his shoulder injury, Mayfield raged like a tiger on the sideline and finished the game.

I can criticize many things about Baker Mayfield- his will and competitive fire will never be questioned.

5) The Browns played this game without Nick Chubb and while Kareem Hunt finished with 66 yards on 14 carries for a solid 4.7 average, Hunt was taken out of the game after the Cardinals jumped to the early lead.

And to make things worse, Hunt suffered a calf injury late in the game on a meaningless drive that will cost the Browns his services for the next month, if not longer.

6) I am a big fan of Nick Chubb and he is slightly superior to Kareem Hunt but I have to admit that I love the way that Hunt runs.

Hunt runs angry and I told Cherie during the loss to the Chargers that if I had the editing skills (and I certainly do not) I would love to make a video of a pissed-off Kareem Hunt stomping on defenders to the tune of Angry Fred Flintstone from the Flintstones.

7) The Browns defense hasn't played well in the last two weeks and for the second game in a row, the opposing team's top pass catcher, in this case, Demetrius Hopkins grabbed a wide-open touchdown pass without a Brown even on the television screen.

Whether it is a player making a big play or a blown coverage but good defenses don't allow those types of plays in back-to-back games.

8) The Browns defense was expected to take a step forward after spending big money on safety John Johnson and medium cash on slot corner Troy Hill from the Rams but both have struggled especially Johnson.

Johnson has been a big disappointment after arriving as the best safety available in the free-agent market and while adjustment periods are understandable, Johnson is reaching the point of exceeding that period very soon/

9) The Browns lost Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to a high ankle sprain just as the second-round draft pick has started to become a force.

JOK finished the game with five solo tackles, three assisted, and a pass defended and his loss weakens the linebackers just as Anthony Walker returned to the lineup against the Cardinals.

10) Kevin Stefanski decided to go for it again on the second Browns drive on a fourth down on the Arizona 13.

Baker Mayfield would be sacked for a loss of nine yards and the Browns would never be closer than seven points again when the Cardinals would drive down the field for a 14-0 lead.

11) I know the analytics aspect of these things is sweeping the league currently and I like a riverboat gambler as much as the next guy but sometimes you need to walk away with something rather than nothing.

I like Kevin Stefanski but some of his decisions over the last three games have made me wonder about the analytics aspect.

There is room for numbers and facts in any game and it is an interesting thing to watch the game change, but I still think that there are times that you take the points and do the safe thing.

12) Yes, Odell Beckham dropped a key fourth-down pass for the second week in a row but he appeared to be seriously injured and yet came back and finished the game through the pain.
Beckham caught five of eight passes thrown to him for 79 yards and if we are going to applaud Baler Mayfield for his toughness in finishing the game and deservedly so, Odell Beckham deserves the same kudos.

13) With the Browns not playing well and facing the prospect of an early Thursday game against Denver without their starting quarterback, two running backs, and both starting tackles and the chance of falling to 3-4 with a loss, the game could be a crossroads point for the Browns.

More than just one game could be on the line Thursday night, it could be the path that the Browns roll on for the remainder of the season.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Upset of the Millenium?

  Larry Merchant used to call boxing "The Theatre of the Absurd" when crazy things would happen on HBO's broadcasts and what he meant was anything can happen in our nutty sport.

Saturday night in Fresno, California, some may have recalled Merchant's phrase and yet others may have preferred the phrase from childhood "Whatever comes around goes around" when you saw someone get their comeuppance.

By all accounts, Mikey Garcia had a great career in winning titles in three divisions but he often was his own worst enemy outside the ring in refusing to budge in order to make career-defining fights, several long layoffs between fights, promotional disputes, and a refusal to see that one doesn't become an A-side until you compromise a little to defeat an A-side fighter or two.

Add to that what seemed to be an almost disdain for the sport and one could easily see Mikey Garcia being upset by a lesser fighter sooner or later.

What no one saw as Spaniard Sandor Martin, who had lost to the only name fighter on his record in former title challenger Anthony Yigit, and was a more than prohibitive underdog to be overwhelmed by Garcia in yet another Garcia "need to get the rust off" after a self-enforced inactive period, take advantage of an unprepared and unmotivated Garcia to win a shocking majority decision in arguably the biggest upset in years.

The fight was slow and lacked a lot of action, so Martin did the one thing that he could do to win, even against a dull Garcia- stick, move, and pray for help on the scorecards.

Martin controlled through his boxing from outside with Garcia throwing just one punch at a time and the big question was this- Would the unknown fighter get the close decision that he deserved against the hometown big name?

To my surprise, he did with two scores of 96-94 (same as mine) and a third of a 98-92 for a majority decision that was as big of a surprise as any fight in recent years.

Matchroom CEO Eddie Hearn stated that there was not a rematch clause for the two but really a rematch will be the largest financial option for Martin and for Garcia, he almost will have to defeat Martin in order to return to contender status.

Mikey Garcia always talked about how much he never liked boxing and with his behavior towards the business of boxing Garcia showed that out.

However, it is not unfair to consider that Mikey Garcia may have already given boxing the best that the sport will see and what boxing historians and fans could eventually decide about Mikey Garcia for all of his accomplishments that boxing never saw the best that he could have offered.

In the co-feature, mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez spoiled the plans for a light flyweight unification fight as Gonzalez won the WBO title via split decision over Elwin Soto.

In many ways, Gonzalez's win was very much like the victory that would follow later in the evening by Sandor Martin- Gonzalez used the stick and move method and held off the weak aggression of Soto that probably deserved a unanimous decision rather than a split nod.

Gonzalez winning two cards (and mine) at 116-112 with a pretty bad 116-112 card for Soto in opposition was the fair result and ruined a unification fight with Soto and WBA champion Hiroto Kyoguchi that was planned for next year.

The best fighter of the weekend won his showcase bout in his home country as Mairis Bredis kept his IBF cruiserweight belt with a third-round knockout of Germany's Artur Mann in Riga, Latvia.

Breidis knocked Mann down in the second round before adding two more in the third to finish the outmatched Mann.

Breidis did announce his intention to face the second-best fighter in the division, England's Lawrence Okolie, and unify the IBF and WBO titles before both fighters would move to the heavyweight division.

It's the best fight that can be made with the cruiserweight and hopefully can be signed for the first half of 2021.

In Newcastle, England, Hughie Fury defeated Christian Hammer vis TKO when Hammer was unable to continue after the fifth round.

I thought Fury won all five rounds but the fifth round did see several exchanges between the two and the injury to Hammer's bicep that forced the ending in the corner was ill-timed as it occurred just as the fight was starting to open up.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored three points to move the total to 140-120.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

I Tell Ya' Herbie-

    Back for another quick edition of I tell ya' Herbie which deals with various topics in college football that I happen to consider while sitting around.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:  The American Athletic Conference took a body blow when all four Mountain West schools turned down invitations to move from the Mountain West to the AAC.

Boise State and San Diego State decided to stay put in hopes of an invite to join the Big 12 should they decide to add more schools (currently at 12 with rumors of moving to 14 or even 16) with Air Force and Colorado State staying in the league due to travel reasons, and rumored dissent over mutual rival Wyoming not receiving a golden ticket up the Group of Five ladder.

The AAC may be looking at either picking up some Sun Belt or CUSA schools to fill their slots and those possibilities lack the cache' of popular Boise State, a major city market without NFL football in San Diego State or the national cache' of a military school in Air Force.

The AAC choices may come down to do they prefer larger markets such as Charlotte, San Antonio (UTSA), Birmingham (UAB), and suburban Dallas (North Texas) or schools that on the football field could be ready to take the next step up the ladder such as Marshall, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, Louisiana, or Liberty.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:  The Big 12 is not ruling out further expansion to 14 or even 16 teams.

Many are rumored for these spots with the two leaders for a fourteen teams setup being Memphis and Boise State, while if the league would decide to move to sixteen it could be a stampede for the final two chairs in a Power Five game of musical chairs.

No one will want to be the one left standing and several teams could make sense.

San Diego State would be the only team left in a football market and going into the Big 12 could make the Aztec program the biggest non-baseball team in the city.

Air Force brings a national fan base and Colorado State would help to add the Denver market.

South Florida would give Central Florida a rival and make the non-revenue sports lives a bit easier with two Florida teams instead of one.

SMU has begun to establish itself as a top G-5 program and would satisfy fans of the old SWC with their rivalry with TCU.

SMU would be hurt though by the Texas schools that gave ground to bring in Houston and may not want another player in recruiting the state.

Two remote long shots to consider could be UNLV and Georgia State.

UNLV is still the hometown team in Las Vegas, despite the arrival of pro sports in the city, and would bring excellent facilities to play in for both football and basketball.

Georgia State is located in Atlanta, has been pouring money into their facilities such as buying Turner Field and converting it to their football home, and while they may start as the weak sister of the league, they may not be that way for very long.

I Tell Ya' Herbie: What coach is on the hottest seat of all coaches currently?

It could be Manny Diaz at the University of Miami.

Diaz's Hurricanes are 2-3, losing supports from former players and boosters, and if not for a sizable buyout might be a guaranteed goner.

Miami suffers from a non-campus stadium,. a fan base that is getting finding it harder each year to remember their days as a national power, and with the fan base that does remember those days having unrealistic expectations for a small private school playing in a major conference.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:  The most underrated coach in the country?

My vote goes to Dave Clawson of Wake Forest and not just because Wake Forest is the only remaining undefeated ACC squad.

When you look at Clawson's record you will see that the Demon Deacons have posted winning records in five of the last six seasons (Assuming Wake doesn't lose out) with the aberration being a 4-5 record in the 2020 pandemic season.

In my opinion, Wake Forest is one of the three most difficult jobs in the Power Five leagues ( along with Vanderbilt and Kansas) and if you can win there, well you can win anywhere.

Why someone hasn't scooped Clawson for a bigger school is beyond me.

TRS Top Ten

1: Georgia
2: Iowa
3: Cincinnati
4: Oklahoma
5; Alabama
6: Oklahoma State
7: Ohio State
8: Penn State
9: Michigan
10: Oregon

TRS Group of Five Top Ten
1: Cincinnati
2: SMU
3: San Diego State
4: Coastal Carolina
6: Houston
7: Louisiana
8: Air Force
9: Nevada
10: UTEP

Boxing Challenge: Navarrete outpoints Gonzalez

      In what was a rousing affair, Emanuel Navarrete retained his WBO featherweight title with an exciting unanimous decision victory over a dead-game Joet Gonzalez in San Diego.

Both fighters landed their fair share of punches but no one yet has been able to match Navarrete's vast punch output and that made the difference in a fight without a knockdown.

The fight had its share of gritty moments, mostly due to several low blows landed by Gonzalez, none of which caused a point deduction from the referee for some reason.

Navarrete's punches cut Gonzalez under both eyes with the worse cut alongside his right eye which caused severe swelling as well.

I would not be surprised a bit if Gonzalez did not suffer some damage or even a break of his cheekbone or orbital socket.

For Gonzalez, who suffered his second loss, it was a fine performance that established himself as a legitimate contender in the division, which was fair to question after being dominated by Shakur Stevenson two years ago.

As for Navarrete, who doesn't really have anyone in the division that would be easy to face with the other three champions (WBA Leo Santa Cruz and WBC Gary Russell are with PBC while IBF champion Kid Galahad is promoted by Matchroom), he called out a surprising name that would not only be easy to make but one that would be another strong action fight to boot.

WBC junior lightweight champion Oscar Valdez was thought to be preparing to face the winner of next weekend's WBO title match between champion Jamel Herring and challenger Shakur Stevenson but not only would a Valdez-Navarrette fight threaten to be a fight of the year candidate but also allow for the Herring-Stevenson winner (Stevenson is a solid favorite) perhaps look for unification against the winner of the vacant IBF title bout (Shavkat Rakhimov vs Azinga Fuzile) or should Roger Gutierrez emerge with the full WBA title after his bout with Chris Colbert (Colbert is with PBC, so I don't like the chances there) a Gutierrez fight could happen.

I'd really like to see a Valdez-Navarrete battle as its almost a guaranteed war and while I'd eventually like to see Shakur Stevenson and Valdez duke it out (or Navarrete should he win), I don't think seeing it early in 2022 compared to late 2022 is a big deal if that's what it takes for Valdez-Navarrete to be signed.

In the boxing challenge, I scored two points to Ramon Malpica's one to change the scoreboard to 137-117.


     The PPM doesn't stop just because Ohio State has an off week, it just keeps rolling forward!

Last Week: 6-7 
Overall: 52-35

Texas Tech over Kansas 48-30
Boise State over Air Force 35-22
Northern Illinois over Bowling Green 41-28
Boston College over N.C. State 26-24
UCLA over Washington 35-30
Florida over LSU 32-21
South Alabama over Georgia Southern 38-21

Games of the Week
Texas over Oklahoma State 51-47
Georgia over Kentucky 20-7

Browns over Cardinals 31-24

Game of the Week
Chargers over Ravens 42-41

Friday, October 15, 2021

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing challenge has a few interesting fights but the best fighter of all may not be seen live on American television.

Mairis Breidis will defend his IBF cruiserweight championship against Germany's Artur Mann in Breidis's native Latvia.

Breidis is coming off his majority decision win over Yuniel Dorticos to win Dorticos's title and the World Boxing Super Series and is also the man that in the first cruiserweight WBSS, took Oleksandr Usyk to the edge of defeat in losing a majority decision in a fight that I scored a draw.

I had proposed, immediately following Usyk's title win over Anthony Joshua, that should Joshua decline the rematch clause, that a second fight against Briedis, who had announced that he may test the heavyweight division after his win over Yuniel Dorticos, would make sense as a title defense.

Mann isn't a big puncher (nine KO's) and other than a nice 2018 in Chicago over then-promising Alexei Zubov, lacks wins over quality cruiserweights and was knocked out in his only loss to Kevin Lerena in 2019.

ESPN Plus looks to have the best fight of the weekend as Emanuel Navarrete defends his WBO featherweight championship against Joet Gonzalez Friday night in San Diego.

The match should feature lots of punches thrown with the always active Navarrete leading the way in every fight that he is in.

Navarrete will be making the second defense of his title that he won over Ruben Villa last October in taking the title vacated by Shakur Stevenson.

Gonzalez lost a lopsided decision for the same title that was vacated in 2019 to Stevenson and won a decision over veteran Miguel Marriaga in his only fight since his loss to Stevenson.

The question for me is this- Is Gonzalez a solid fighter or of title timber?

Gonzalez will need to be the latter in order to fend the whirlwind-like Navarrete.

DAZN will be back on Saturday with the sphinx-like Mikey Garcia's return to the ring from Fresno, California.

Garcia has been inactive since decisioning Jessie Vargas twenty months ago just before the beginning of the pandemic and in a typical Garcia march to his own tune, he'll be returning in a fight that next to no one cares about against veteran vagabond Sandor Martin.

Martin is established as a European-level fighter at best and is badly overmatched in this fight but Mikey Garcia wants a tune-up and since he isn't signed with a promoter, Garcia will get what he wants.

I don't have a problem with showcase fights within reason but this one isn't even mildly compelling.

The only question in this fight is will Garcia stop Martin, who went the distance in his only two losses?

The co-feature is interesting as Elwin Soto defends his WBO light flyweight title against his mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is a solid veteran but since he was stopped in seven by Kosei Tanaka in an attempt at Tanaka's WBO flyweight title, Gonzalez has notched two wins against fighters with records of 25-10 and 26-18.

Could it be that Gonzalez is from Puerto Rico where the WBO is based? Nahhh.

Most Soto fights are action scraps though and Gonzalez is decent enough to make this one entertaining but as a mandatory challenger, I do wonder.

In an untelevised bout in the United States pairing from Newcastle, England, veteran heavyweights Hughie Fury faces Christian Hammer in a fight that will likely see the winner move up a bit and receive a title eliminator somewhere (and another paycheck) and the loser continues to slide down to journeyman status.

Fury fits best in the eleven through twenty rang in the heavyweight rankings with all three of his losses in attempts to defeat the next level of contenders (Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Kubrat Pulev) but Hammer is a boxer on the level of fighter that Fury is a step above.

Hammer is pretty durable and that's his best attribute and combined with Fury's sometimes less than aggressive manner makes this one a good bet to go the full ten rounds.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 135-116.

IBF Cruiserweight Title. 12 Rds 
Mairis Bredis vs Artur Mann
R.L: Breidis KO 7
TRS: Breidis KO 9

WBO Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Emanuel Navarrete vs Joet Gonzalez
R.L: Navarrete KO 6
TRS: Navarrete Unanimous Decision

Welterweights. 12 Rds
Mikey Garcia vs Sandor Martin
R.L: Garcia KO 8
TRS: Garcia KO 4

WBO Light Flyweight Title 12 Rds
Elwin Soto vs Jonathan Gonzalez
Both: Soto Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights.10 Rds
Hughie Fury vs Christian Hammer
Both:Fury Unanimous Decision

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Fury finishes off Wilder.

    The undercard for the third and likely final fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder may have disappointed but the main event certainly did not as Fury and Wilder slugged it out into the eleventh round before Fury conclusively finished Wilder with a crunching overhand right that left no doubt on who the better heavyweight is and retain his WBC heavyweight title.

Fury knocked Wilder down in the third and tenth, while Wilder sent Fury to the floor twice in the fourth round and just missed pulling off an amazing upset.

Fury generally controlled most of the action as he did in the first two fights, but Wilder had a few more moments in the third fight and his fourth-round knockdowns had Fury in more trouble than after either of the two knockdowns in the first fight.

My scorecard entering the final round had Fury ahead 94-91.

For Fury, the bigger man did what he did in the second fight, using his size and footwork to wear down Wilder on the inside and in clinches and at the same time move well enough to frustrate the often wild swipes from Wilder.

Wilder was effective in the early rounds when he scored with combinations and was able to stun Fury enough to keep the larger man off balance but by the sixth round, his legs were essentially gone and left Wilder resigned to basically winging the right hand and hoping to clip Fury with a miracle bomb.

Fury appears to be destined next to face Dillian Whyte, the longtime top WBC mandatory contender in what would be a huge fight in England, should Whyte defeat Otto Wallin in their October 30th fight and that's not a guarantee when you consider Wallin's close loss to Fury.

Should Fury defeat Whyte as he will be favored to do (or Wallin should he defeated Whyte), I would imagine he would next face the winner of the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua rematch sometime next summer to unify Fury's WBC belt with the other three organizations titles held by the winner of the rematch.

As for Wilder, I'm not convinced that at 36 years of age that he might be better suited to consider retirement.

Wilder would have to be rebuilt in order to qualify for a future title shot that would be at least 18 months away at the earliest and while there would be interest in a Wilder-Joshua or even a Wilder-Usyk bout, even after all these years, I think few would be interested in a fourth Wilder-Fury fight.

And with PBC having nothing to with Usyk, Fury, or Joshua, Wilder's best bets could be against former champion Andy Ruiz, Robert Helenius, or Frank Sanchez, both of whom won on the undercard.

Still, Wilder may have proved more with his strong effort and willingness to go out on his shield than in any of his title defenses against mostly soft touches.

I thought the fight was very good at a high level but I didn't think it was the greatest heavyweight title fight of all time as some claimed after the fight.

I would say it's in the middle to back half of the top ten heavyweight title fights in history.

The undercard was thought to be paired with two fights that could be action slugfests and both came up short.

Robert Helenius left no doubt about his second win over Adam Kownacki with a sixth-round battering that left Kownacki with a broken orbital bone.

Kownacki stumbled around and was repeatedly smashed by the taller and longer Helenius before the fight was stopped in the sixth.

I had given Helenius all five rounds before the stoppage.

In a very droll fight between two undefeated heavyweights, PBC's Frank Sanchez won a unanimous decision over Top Rank's Efe Ajagba in a fight that really deserved to be skipped.

Sanchez knocked Ajaaba to one knee in the eighth round for the fight's only highlight.

I had Sanchez a 98-91 winner and looks to be placed against a PBC veteran that has a name or high ranking in the near future.

Part of the reason that this was posted so late as I was waiting to have time to watch "The Battle of Liverpool" that pitted former WBO champion Liam Smith against rising prospect Anthony Fowler in junior middleweight slugfest on a DAZN/Matchroom card.

Smith finished Fowler in the eighth round with a left hook that Fowler got up from but was unable to continue with the referee stopping the bout.

Fowler started fast, winning the first three rounds on my cards and cutting Smith above the left eye in the first round.

Smith began to turn the tide in fourth when he returned the favor to Fowler and scored a knockdown in the fifth and had taken the lead on my card after seven rounds, 67-65.

Smith will stay on the scene with the likelihood of meeting someone in a title eliminator for one of the sanctioning bodies soon while Fowler seems to be more of a European title level veteran rather than a top fifteen style contender.

In the boxing challenge, I scored five points to Ramon Malpica's two to move my lead to 135-116.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Browns one bullet short in 47-42 Chargers shootout

     The Cleveland Browns looked dead into the eye of the Los Angeles Chargers and matched them blow for blow until the final minute and a half.

Then the Browns discovered the difference between a howitzer and a pistol as with ninety seconds to go, Baker Mayfield was unable to move the ball downfield and the Browns fell short in Los Angeles 47-42 at the upside-down frying pan in Los Angeles.

Baker Mayfield threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns with Nick Chubb rushing for 161 yards and a touchdown with help from Kareem Hunt with 61 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

The Browns fall to 3-2 with the defeat and return to the banks of Lake Erie next Sunday to meet the only remaining undefeated team in the league in the Arizona Cardinals. 

Brownie Bits

1)  Yes, Baker Mayfield did step up his game with a good effort, and with the announcement earlier in the week of a partially torn labrum in his shoulder, it's understandable that Mayfield is going to have problems throwing the ball more than ten yards downfield.

2) Mayfield's numbers were and are good for the game but all of his big plays were catch and runs.

I know that shouldn't matter when you are scoring points but when you need to drive the field with 90 seconds and no timeouts, you need to get yardage in large sizes.

Mayfield cannot seem to do that and hence why the Browns have such a rotten record in these situations.

3) The defense that had looked so stout in Minnesota was not so in Los Angeles as Justin Herbert, a quarterback that can throw deep and accurately threw four touchdowns and just under 400 yards against a Browns defense is becoming very shorthanded at the cornerback position.

4) Considering the importance of cornerback depth, I was surprised that Cleveland didn't get involved in trading for Pro Bowl corner Stephon Gilmore from New England.

Gilmore does carry a high price tag and is a free agent at the end of the year but he only cost the team that traded for him (Carolina) a sixth-round pick.

I'd think for that, the Browns should have made a run at Gilmore.

5) David Njoku hasn't always been what the Browns had hoped for when they used a first-round pick on him five years ago but his seven-catch, 149 yards, and a 71-yard score on a catch and run showed how tantalizing his potential can be.

Njoku's physical tools allow him to run over or away from defenders and should Njoku play at the level that he did against the Chargers, he will make a lot of money in the off-season either from the Browns or someone else in free agency.

6) Now about the ill-fated third and lone draw play to Kareem Hunt on the next to last drive that forced a Browns punt and resulted in the game-winning touchdown drive by the Chargers.

It didn't make a lot of sense to me and Kevin Stefanski admitted so after the game.

If you get the first down on this play, the game is likely over and if you are stopped the Chargers will stop the clock anyway, so such a conservative call for the normally aggressive Stefanski is once again surprisingly close to the vest.

7) The Browns did get hosed on a late pass interference call when Mike Willians grabbed A.J.Green on a fourth-down pass play that somehow was called on Green.

The ball should have been turned over to Cleveland rather than the Chargers continuing to drive.

A truly awful call.

8) Nick Chubb was his typical hard running self as he slashed through the Chargers for 161 yards including a 52 yarder for a touchdown.

9) Give both teams credit for smart play near the end of the game.

The Chargers Austin Ekeler slid down deep in Cleveland territory rather than score to give the Browns more time to win in the waning seconds of the game.

And then the Browns defense took Ekeler on a running play that was designed not to score then threw him into the end zone for a touchdown.

That play gave the Browns a chance to win rather than the Chargers running the clock down for a walk-off field goal attempt.

10) Jamie Gillan has taken a large step backward as the Browns punter and he had two awful punts in the loss.

Gillan is 28th in the league in punting and has at least one really bad punt in each of the first five games.

11) The Browns fall to 3-2, splitting their two road games and the Cardinals next in Cleveland.

The secondary is losing depth with Greg Newsome already out and Denzel Ward getting injured against the Chargers and the Cardinals will throw the ball around as the Chargers did.

It will be outside rather than the dome that Arizona usually plays in and grass always slows speed.

But the beaten-up Browns secondary will have many Cardinals receivers to cover and I expect another high-scoring game.

This time, I think the Browns have enough to win a close game.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Ohio State Stomps Maryland 66-17

   The Ohio State Buckeyes continued their resurgence with a 66-17 crushing of the Maryland Terrapins in Columbus.

C.J Stroud threw five touchdown passes and for 406 yards, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson each caught two touchdowns, Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba each finished with over 100 yards receiving and TreVeyon Henderson scored twice and rushed for 102 yards.

Ohio State improved to 5-1 overall (3-0 Big Ten) and will have next Saturday off before traveling to Bloomington to play the Indiana Hoosiers.

Olentangy Offerings

1)  Could C.J. Stroud's shoulder problem and resulting game of rest really have been all that the Buckeyes needed?

Stroud has looked like a different passer since his return and the Buckeye offense is starting to get on one of those"uh oh" rolls that cause other Big Ten contenders to utter an "Oh Sh.." just as they think that they may have a shot at upending the Buckeyes for the East title.

2)  Watching Jameson Williams just rip through SEC secondaries with Alabama makes me remember that Williams would have been the Buckeye's fourth wide receiver had he stayed in Columbus.

3) Here is what teams are going to have to do against Ohio State and unless they can hang 45 -50 points up, opponents have a no-win situation.

Either take away TreVeyon Henderson and allow the pass catchers to run without coverage or cover and give Henderson carte blanche.

4) Henderson was held to a little over 100 yards and I laugh think it's funny to use the word "held" but Maryland put eight men in the box to slow Henderson and that allowed Olave, Wilson, and Smith-Njigba the openings for their large chunks of yardage.

5) The leading tackler with seven and a sack was Steele Chambers at linebacker.

Chambers is the player that was recruited as a tailback but the Buckeyes have wanted to move him to linebacker for quite a while.

Chambers insisted on competing at tailback even in this year's camp before finally agreeing to the move.

It just might earn him a job in the pros down the line.

6) Five more sacks for the Ohio State defense that could have finished with more than that against a less mobile quarterback than Maryland's Taulia Tagovailoa.

The pass rush was expected to be a plus this season and perhaps it is rounding into form.

7) Craig Young's pick-six gave the Buckeyes interception returns for each of the last four games.

8) Talented freshman wideout Emeka Egbuka may have to wait a year before making an impact at receiver but he is doing so in the return game.

Eguka returned only four kickoffs but his 166 yards were good for second in Ohio State history.

9) The off week comes at a good time for Haskell Garrett, who was already dinged up entering the game and left with an injury in the third quarter.

It's unknown if Garrett will be ready for Indiana but Ryan Day seemed optimistic it seemed after the game.

10)  Suddenly, Ohio State has things in order, and with Penn State possibly losing quarterback Sean Clifford, the Buckeyes may have a much easier time with the next few games than I might have thought a month ago. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing world has slowed a bit over the last few weeks but there is no better way to charge into fall than with a heavyweight title fight.

The third fight for the WBC heavyweight title between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder has taken many twists and turns to finally arrive and conclude the trilogy but hopefully, there will be a conclusive ending that satisfies everyone.

Unless Wilder wins by close decision, this should be the final meeting between two ( Should Wilder win a decision, I can definitely see a fourth fight eventually)

Both men weighed in at all-time highs for the bout (Fury at 277, Wilder 238) and while I can see Wilder trying to bulk up to combat the inside tactics of Fury, it may be a negative as Wilder should use his legs more to avoid the wrestling with Fury and the extra weight could slow him down.

Here is the issue entering this fight- Tyson Fury has fought his best either as the underdog  (as against Wladimir Klitschko and Wilder I) or as the aggrieved party ( Wilder II, after receiving a draw in their first fight).

Fury hasn't always fought his best when a heavy favorite such as being dropped by former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham and escaping with a terrible cut against Otto Wallin, and the added weight and disappointment at the lost payday from Anthony Joshua's loss to Oleksandr Usyk could result in a Fury that may not be as prepared as he should be against a puncher of Wilder's caliber.

Wilder has shown he can hurt Fury but he's lost (on my card) 14 of 18 rounds against Fury, we don't know how much the second fight took out of Wilder, and Wilder has tended to fight almost meekly against fighters he respects (unless he shows he can hurt them badly).

You have to consider Fury the likely winner.

He's more versatile and the naturally bigger man but the intrigue comes with Wilder and can he land the most powerful right in the heavyweight division.

The undercard features two heavyweight fights that are very interesting to consider and both are 50/50 fights.

Adam Kownacki receives his rematch with Robert Helenius after Helenius stunned PBC with a fourth-round knockout of Kownacki in March 2020.

Had Kownacki won that fight, he would have been in position for a mandatory contender slot in the WBA ratings and he seemed to be wearing Helenius down after three exciting rounds of action before Helenius ended the fight in the fourth.

The same high rating in the WBA is on the line in the rematch and the winner should either be in line for an eventual title shot against the Fury-Wilder winner and could even fight Andy Ruiz if Fury wins and promotional issues force the winner to wait.

If Wilder wins, I could see the winner fighting Wilder in his first fight following tonight's fight, so there is a lot of on the line in what should be a rock-em-sock-em robots type affair.

The other heavyweight fight is an oddity with two undefeated heavyweights on the verge of top ten contention face off in what could see the winner take a big jump in the ratings.

Both Efe Ajagba and Frank Sanchez have shown the ability to make exciting fights and both have been in bouts that stunk the joint out but this one is an intriguing match between the big punching Ajagba and Sanchez who is more of a boxer/puncher.

The winner will likely move into some ratings with the loser starting over.

Ajagba has shown some chin vulnerability and Sanchez is the more versatile fighter, so I lean Sanchez in a difficult fight to pick.

In the afternoon from Liverpool England, former WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith faces Anthony Fowler in a match between two hometown fighters.

Smith is best known for his loss to Canelo Alvarez but as a former champion is trying to re-establish himself after a road decision loss to Magomed Kurbanov in Russia,

Fowler, a former Olympian, is facing his biggest test as he tries to get above the European title level.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 130-114.

WBC Heavyweight Title. 12 Rds 
Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder
R.L: Wilder KO 3
TRS: Fury KO 8

Heavyweights. 12 Rds
Robert Helenius vs Adam Kownacki
R.L: Helenius Unanimous Decision
TRS: Kownacki KO 6

Heavyweights.10 Rds
Efe Ajagba vs Frank Sanchez
R.L; Ajagba KO 5
TRS: Sanchez Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights.12 Rds
Liam Smith vs Anthony Fowler
Both: Smith Unanimous Decision