Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Browns trade Donovan Peoples-Jones to Lions

    The speculation on the activity at the trade deadline for the Cleveland Browns and Andrew Berry ranged from returning Jacoby Brissett from Washington to be the insurance policy for DeShaun Watson to adding a running back to add depth and perhaps even a wide receiver to add one more weapon for a passing game that could use one even with a healthy DeShaun Watson.

BUT on my weekly appearance to talk Browns with Ramon Malpica, (have I mentioned that yet?) last night, I stated that the Browns could stand pat because Andrew Berry's track record shows he usually loves the roster he has built and is willing to let the chips fall where they may.

Well, Andrew Berry did almost just that as the Browns didn't add a player at the deadline but they did move one as Cleveland traded wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones to the Detroit Lions for a sixth-round pick in the 2025 draft.

Yes, you read that correctly, in the supposed "All-In" season, a team that seemed a receiver short, traded one away for a low-round pick two years away.

Peoples-Jones caught eight passes for ninety-seven yards this season and was averaging six and a half yards on thirteen punt returns this season.

Now, before you think I'm being too harsh, I see the thinking on this from both sides.

Cleveland managed to receive three years and another half-year of use from Peoples-Jones, got back what they spent to draft him in 2020, a sixth-round pick, and Peoples-Jones was likely going to leave via free agency at the end of the season, so as little as the return was, it was still something.

On the other side, Peoples-Jones had played the highest percentage of snaps among the Browns wideouts this season, at eighty-two percent even more than Amari Cooper, and if Peoples-Jones's value is that low, why was he playing so often?

Peoples-Jones has taken thirteen of the Browns' nineteen punt returns this year and while he isn't an elite return man, he had served in that role several times in his Cleveland tenure.

I am interested to see who profits from the trade with increased playing time and I'd think it would be third-round draftee Cedric Tillman, who has caught one pass for five yards and has been inactive since the week four loss to Baltimore when he suffered a hip injury in garbage time.

Tillman has been a healthy inactive for the last two weeks, so it will be interesting to see what he does with the added snaps.

David Bell and Marquise Goodwin could also see a bump in their playing time as well.

I'd say I'm sorta "meh" on the deal.

Peoples-Jones may have been seeing lots of playing time but he wasn't doing much with it, although some of the blame should go to the chaos at the quarterback position as well.

The draft pick is something for a player who was likely to leave and while that is a tangible asset it's still not much to get excited for.

It will be interesting to see how Cedric Tillman and David Bell react with their increased role but if either was impressing the coaches in practice, shouldn't they have earned time over Peoples-Jones already since DPJ was expendable?

Of more interest to me than trading Peoples-Jones is the lack of interest by the Browns in doing anything to help a failing offense during a supposed "All-In" season.

Andrew Berry has traditionally been an executive that has been reluctant to make deals involving players that he drafted or acquired and he is staking the season on DeShaun Watson not only returning to the lineup but returning to his past level of play.

If Watson cannot do the former, Berry could be staking his job and that of Kevin Stefanski on either Dorian Thompson-Robinson or P.J. Walker guiding the Browns to success.

If Watson returns but doesn't perform well, Berry has a different problem because the Browns have no other option to replace him due to the cost of acquiring him and what seems now to be an incredibly bad decision to fully guarantee Watson's contract at sixty-three million dollars for each of the next three seasons.

Andrew Berry loves his roster and thinks it's good enough to make a long run without adding anyone to shore up the roster for the stretch run.

For his sake, I hope he made the right decision. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Browns lose late in Seattle 24-20

    The Cleveland Browns needed just one play with two minutes to play, to earn another surprising win under reserve quarterback P.J. Walker.

And then the Great Pumpkin woke up and once again for the Cleveland Browns, the sky darkened on that third down pass as Walker's pass bounced off the helmet of blitzing safety Jamal Adams, bounced high into the air before wobbling into the waiting Julian Love.

Instead of a first down that would put the Seahawks in the position of using timeouts or an incompletion that would have pinned Seattle deep in their territory to start their final drive, Seattle started on their own forty-three-yard line and six plays later won the game on a Geno Smith pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba to give Seattle a 24-20 win.

P.J. Walker threw a touchdown to David Njoku but threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, Kareem Hunt rushed for a touchdown and fifty-five yards, and Amari Cooper caught six passes for eighty-nine yards to lead Cleveland.

Cleveland drops to 4-3 and will host Arizona next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1) Seattle scored the first fourteen points and led seventeen to seven at the end of the first quarter.

The defense looked to be on its heels and it was fair to wonder if this was another chance to believe the defense was overrated.

2) Instead the defense dominated the remainder of the game until the final game-winning drive.

They may not be the "best in the world" but they are still pretty damn good.

3) This one may not be completely on P.J. Walker or Kevin Stefanski but both have a part of an avoidable loss.

The play call on third and three at the end of the game to throw rather than above with Walker is very questionable to me.

You have a quarterback with accuracy issues that didn't go through training camp and yet you decide to throw?

Literally, if you made a list of all the bad things that you could imagine, only a fumble was possible from any other call while throwing had the highest likelihood of something going wrong with the player most likely to make a mistake.

4) It's my biggest knock on Kevin Stefanski, the constant need to be the smartest man in the room.

In the clutch over the Stefanski era, this has happened far too often with play calls that leave Stefanski after the game talking about "plays that you want back".

5) The running game did work in this game with Kareem Hunt, Pierre Strong, and the unexpectedly available Jerome Ford combining to rush for one hundred thirty-three yards.

All three backs did well and I did like how the Browns rotated the three to have a fresh runner in the lineup for most of the game.

6) I did wonder why Kareem Hunt didn't play in the fourth quarter despite Hunt's ability as the strongest of the backs and the best at running between the tackles.

The Browns didn't have to run Hunt but it made sense at least late in the game to have their most physical back to play at least a little.

7) Amari Cooper had an excellent game and had P.J. Walker not overthrown him on one wide-open pass, Cooper's numbers would have been even better as the throw would have been a touchdown if it was on the numbers.

8) Turnovers make the difference and while that's not groundbreaking information, P.J. Walker didn't play poorly, he still turned the ball over three times and there's your difference.

Competent quarterback play and the Browns win this.

I know the issues and circumstances with the quarterback position but it doesn't change the loss and the reasons behind the loss.

9) I always love defensive lineman interceptions and Maurice Hurst grabbed the first of his career and it led to the Browns taking the lead at 20-17.

Defensive linemen are always celebrating like children on those rare occasions and you have to feel good when those times occur.

10) The draft hasn't been extremely helpful but we did see an appearance from fifth-round cornerback Cameron Mitchell, who just missed a pick-six interception in the second half.

The draft has given the Browns next to nothing this season except for Dawand Jones and getting anything from anyone else has been rare.

11) Cleveland pays a lot of money to Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio to be able to run between the tackles and win short-yardage situations.

Yet again, the Browns didn't do that with the game at stake.

It's fair to consider just how much confidence Kevin Stefanski has in a unit with so many resources invested.

12) Seattle used their classic uniforms and they (especially the jersey) are so much better than the various bags of yuck that they usually wear..

I'm not saying Seattle should wear the full uniforms all the time but the jerseys should be a part of the regular togs.

13)  This was a missed opportunity to win a game that no one expected the Browns to win on the road against a good team.

4-3 is far from a disaster but Cleveland was so close to stealing a third game in a row with P.J. Walker and then the clock struck midnight.

5-2 would have been tremendous but this isn't a game that crushes the season.

A loss against the Cardinals may.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Fury shades Ngannou, Foster rallies past Hernandez!

    The biggest event of the boxing weekend was the non-title heavyweight bout in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between WBC champion Tyson Fury and former UFC heavyweight kingpin Francis Ngannous but I didn't include it in the boxing challenge.

I thought the fight was a sideshow with the lineal heavyweight champion in a clear money grab against someone who had never boxed before before a difficult title unification against the man that holds the other three titles Oleksandr Usyk.

I could not have been more wrong and while there may be reasons for Ngannou doing better than expected, it would be unfair to avoid giving him credit for an incredible effort considering his lack of experience.

In all honesty, it was far from a titanic war with both men exchanging bombs through the non-title ten rounder but it had enough action to be entertaining and provided one memory that should stand the test of time in both boxing history and those who enjoy MMA- the third round knockdown of Fury with the above photo that immediately went viral.

The left hook that floored Fury didn't appear to seriously hurt him, and he was likely stung much worse against Deontay Wilder but that knockdown swung the eventual narrative that Ngannou was robbed.

I thought Fury controlled the middle rounds strongly and although Ngannou had his moments, I thought Fury did enough to edge the decision by 95-94 (6-4 in rounds minus the knockdown) on my card with the official scores reading 96-93 and 95-94 for Fury overruling the opposing judges 95-94 for Ngannou.

Ngannou's performance cannot be understated and while Fury looked a little out of shape and may not have taken him seriously enough to prepare well, Fury outlanded Ngannou and more often than not, handled him when the fight was at a distance.

I can understand those who don't know boxing going overboard for the underdog and thinking Ngannou won but the 95-94 card for him is about as far as you can go reasonably which would be 5-5 in rounds with the knockdown making the difference.

As for the legacy of Tyson Fury, I think this is a small stain to struggle to this degree with a basic novice, no different than it would be for Ngannou to be taken the distance by Fury in an MMA cage and win a close fight.

It's easy to say now but I've always found the talk of Tyson Fury as an all-time great to be premature and questionable to start with.

He did dominate Deontay Wilder with two wins and a draw that he deserved in their three-fight series but if you question Wilder as a great (certainly a champion and huge puncher but not great)  Fury's only win of note historically is his dull decision win over the great but past his prime Wladimir Klitschko.

Fury has only himself to blame for his lack of sharpness as it's been Fury who dropped out of fights and spent more time announcing demands from opponents than training.

Now no matter if he beats Oleksandr Usyk or not (and he better be in shape for that fight), Fury will be remembered by the casual sports fan for being knocked down by a novice than defeating an excellent champion such as Usyk.

And it's all his doing.

Meanwhile, in Cancun Mexico,  an excellent fight was waged as WBC junior lightweight champion O'Shaquie Foster charged from behind to salvage his title with a final-round stoppage over Rocky Hernandez.

Hernandez won most of the early rounds as he was too busy for Foster, who was successful boxing but wasn't throwing enough punches to win many of those rounds.

After ten rounds, Hernandez led on the scorecards, and with Foster's lack of power over his career, Hernandez looked to be six minutes away from a world title.

The stage was set for the round of the year with Foster seeking a knockout, Foster battered Hernandez around the ring for most of the round with the challenger appearing to be out on his feet and just as it seemed the fight needed to be stopped, Hernandez fired back and hurt Foster, driving him backward.

Both fighters exchanged blows late in the round but Hernandez appeared much worse for wear entering the final round.

Hernandez led on two of the three cards and if he could last the final round, he was likely to be crowned champion.

Foster had other ideas as he dropped Hernandez early in round twelve and again punished him badly with Hernandez refusing to grab and hold to kill the clock.

Hernandez hit the floor again and barely beat the count before being given one more chance to survive but was ripped with punches from Foster and the fight was ended with only twenty-two seconds remaining.

The stoppage was a good one and Hernandez was given every chance to try to make it to the final bell, so no complaints on that part.

One still has to feel bad for Hernandez to come so close to victory but admire Foster for the fortitude to win a fight he was losing in a way that was not his forte.

Foster appears likely to fight a unification match next as the Matchroom fighter will face the winner of next Saturday's IBF title fight pairing champion Joe Cordina and challenger Edward Vazquez, both of whom are signed with Matchroom.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 161 Pts (1)
Ramon Malpica: 148 Pts (1)
Vince Samano: 109 Pts (0) 

Ohio State defeats Wisconsin 24-10

    TreVeyon Henderson returned to the Ohio State lineup and rushed for 162 yards with a touchdown as the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 24-10 Saturday night at Camp Randal Stadium in Madison.

Kyle McCord threw two touchdowns to Marvin Harrison Jr but threw two interceptions as well in the victory.

Ohio State improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten and will visit New Jersey and former OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and his surprising Scarlet Knights next Saturday.

Olentangy Offerings

1) TreVeyon Henderson's return to the lineup was an outstanding one with one hundred sixty-two yards rushing.

I know Henderson has his flaws because he's not the type of back to grind you out four or five yards with every carry but he's a threat to drop a long touchdown run at any time and Henderson's explosiveness is something the other running backs simply don't have.

2) Henderson's game might have been his best at Ohio State and keeping him healthy at as close to 100 percent should become a priority in the next month.

With games against surprising Rutgers and followed by home games against weak sisters Minnesota and Michigan State, I'm hoping that there will be chances to allow Chip Trayanum, Miyan Williams, and maybe Dallan Hayden to play more in those games to save Henderson for the big one against Michigan.

3) Kyle McCord threw two interceptions and while the second of the two can be understood, the former is mind-boggling.

McCord tried to force a tight pass to Carnell Tate from the Wisconsin nine and was intercepted allowing Wisconsin to escape without a point lost from a red zone drive.

4) McCord's other interception to Ricardo Hallman wasn't quite as bad as he attempted to hit Marvin Harrison over the middle but still it could have cost Ohio State more than the three points that Wisconsin scored on the drive.

5) As for Marvin Harrison Jr. I don't think he'll win the Heisman and he might not even receive an invite to the ceremony but he's the best player in the country and his catch (Pictured above) for a touchdown shows why.

Harrison's toe touches the red turf, then turns to secure the ball and falls backward for the score.

And the coverage by the Badger defensive back was excellent!

It simply is what happens when mortals cover all-universe players.

6) The biggest play of the game came late in the first half as Wisconsin drove to the Ohio State one-yard line and appeared to have a great play call as Brandyn Locke threw to Skylar Bell for what appeared to be a touchdown but after a review, Bell's knee was on the turf when he made the catch.

Wisconsin then ran star back Braelon Allen twice at the Buckeye defense but was turned away both times and lost Allen for the remainder of the game after the second carry.

7) Wisconsin settled for three points rather than seven, the score was 10-3 OSU at the half rather than 10-7, and when Wisconsin scored their only touchdown on their first drive of the second half, the game was only tied rather than a Badger lead that could have resulted into the crowd really getting into the game and perhaps swinging an upset into play.

8) I've noticed that Kyle McCord commits the intentional grounding call quite often.

It seems like McCord does this at least once a game and I'm not sure why.

It's one thing to do the same thing in the first few weeks but at this stage, inexperience isn't an excuse.

9) A big worry for Ohio State was the loss of Lathan Ransom in the fourth quarter with a non-contact leg injury.

Ransom would be carted to the locker room but did return to the sideline later in the game.

A potential long-term loss of Ransom would be a massive loss for the defense.

10) Kyle McCord was noted by Eleven Warriors to have a severe limp walking to the team bus and showed a noticeable issue in the third and fourth quarters after taking a shot from the Badger pass rush.

It doesn't appear to be a significant injury but it does once again show just how foolhardy Ryan Day's "Devin Brown Package" could turn out to be with Brown injured.

Without Brown's availability, a McCord injury that hampers him or removes him from the field leaves only veteran transfer Tristan Gebbia and true freshman Lincoln Kienholz remaining to play 

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Boxing Challenge

 The boxing weekend is very light but two world titles will be at stake.

On Friday from Managua, Nicaragua, Jonathan Gonzalez defends his WBO junior flyweight title against Gerardo Zapata on ESPN+.

Gonzalez was forced to drop out of a unification fight with WBA and WBC champion Kenshiro Teraji earlier this year and is using this fight as both a homecoming and an opportunity to round in shape before the expected bout against Teraji.

Zapata is 14-1-1 and making his first chance at a world championship.

Editor's Note; Gonzalez has pulled out of this fight due to illness.

Saturday night on DAZN from Cancun, Mexico, O'Shaquie Foster will make the first defense of his WBC junior lightweight championship against Rocky Hernandez, his mandatory challenger.

Foster upset WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas by a unanimous decision in February for the title vacated by Shakur Stevenson and is known for a slick and defensive style.

Hernandez can crack with 31 knockouts in his 34 wins but his only loss was against the best fighter on his resume, former WBA champion Roger Gutierrez in 2019 via first-round knockout.

The interesting part of this fight is that Hernandez's top question mark, his chin, is countered by Foster's weak point- his lack of power.

WBC Junior Lightweight Title. 12 Rds 
O'Shaquie Foster vs Rocky Hernandez
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Foster Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Hernanandez Unanimous Decision


 Another football week and another week with the PPR.

Last Week: 9-3
Overall: 81-32

Ohio State over Wisconsin 27-14
Georgia Southern over Georgia State 27-24
Clemson over N.C. State 24-20
UTSA over East Carolina 30-21
Wyoming over Boise State 23-20
Oregon State over Arizona 36-29

Games of the Week
Oregon over Utah 35-28
Louisville over Duke 17-14

Seahawks over Browns 21-13
Chargers over Bears 32-17

Games of the Week
49ers over Bengals 24-21
Bills over Buccaneers 24-10

I Tell Ya' Herbie

 I Tell Ya' Herbie is our weekly take on topics from the world of college football.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            The Michigan sign-stealing scandal continues to gain steam and more details seem to emerge every day but so far the one smoking gun appears to be that Michigan's staff never expected to play TCU in last year's playoff.

Michigan apparently did their video work for most of the Big Ten teams and a few teams that they thought they could face in the playoff but not TCU, who dealt them a humiliating upset defeat in the playoffs 51-45 and was tipped off about the Wolverines scheme, dealing with it with dummy signals.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                             I'm not sure if Caleb Williams will be the top overall pick in next year's NFL Draft but someone needs to talk to Williams and his representatives and explain two things.

The first is demanding ownership in whatever team selects Williams is not only a bad look but it's also against NFL rules.

Patrick Mahomes attempted to do just that and was told it was against league rules.

The second is that it looks really bad to be dropping demands for the NFL before your college season ends-especially when you have lost your last two games.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            Another year North Carolina raises hopes that they are going to finally break through to the top of the sport and disappoint by losing to a team that they should defeat.

This year, the undefeated Tar Heels fell for the first time to a Virginia team that had won only one game entering the game and the game was in Chapel Hill!

North Carolina has traditionally lost when they appear to be past their reputation and oops, they did it again.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            Arkansas has changed from loving Sam Pittman two years ago to being ready to be rid of Pittman now with the Hogs at 2-6 overall, holding a current losing streak of six games, and lost to almost as woeful Mississippi State last week by the stimulating score of 7-3.

Pittman fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos after the game but with remaining conference games against Florida, Auburn, and Missouri, only a non-conference game against Florida International looks like a win in a season that could place Pittman firmly on the hot seat for 2024.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                             It's funny how the swagger of Dabo Swinney left as soon as Clemson started losing games inside the ACC.

The Tigers have already lost three games for a mediocre 4-3 record and could lose more with games against Notre Dame and North Carolina still to be played.

Swinney has been an advocate of not using the transfer portal to shore up weaknesses on his roster and though I might even agree with his stand on principle, programs will have to adapt to the times.

Still, it is somewhat fair to think of how Swinney was so full of himself when the times were good and lacked the same personality when they were not.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Cavaliers win opener in Brooklyn

    Donovan Mitchell nailed a three-point shot with thirteen seconds remaining to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 114-113 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn. 

Mitchell led Cleveland with 27 points and was aided by Max Strus, who also scored 27 to go with a surprising twelve rebounds.

Cleveland will play Friday night in their home opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.


1) What a debut from Max Strus in his first game with the Cavaliers with a double-double.

Strus hit seven three-pointers in the win from thirteen attempts and Strus was a surprising factor on the boards.

Strus was hoped to have been the key addition in bolstering the outside shooting for the team and he's off to a strong start.

2) Donovan Mitchell's game-winner was clutch as the final of his four three-pointers on the evening but he may have gotten one of those calls that star players get as when he received the pass, Mitchell pushed Cameron Johnson to the floor and allowed himself an uncontested shot.

Still, Johnson may have embellished the push a bit as well.

3) Cleveland also received a strong offensive night from Isaac Okoro, who finished with eighteen points, six rebounds, and four assists.

Okoro hit six of ten shots, two from three-point distance, and while it's asking a lot of Okoro to average that every night, this is a contract year for Okoro as he will be a restricted free agent after the season, so it will be interesting to see how Okoro's numbers play out.

4) It wasn't a great night for the other new acquisitions as Georges Niang missed all three of his shots (all from three) in his twenty minutes of play and Ty Jerome hit his only shot but played only six minutes.

5) Jarrett Allen missed the game with a bone bruise on his ankle.

I've heard some trade whispers about Allen and I wonder what the market is after his poor playoff series against the Knicks.

6) The win was the Cavalier's first in a road opener since 2000.

Twenty-three years and three years before they drafted LeBron James.

I would have thought they would have won one of these with James but apparently not.

7) Some credit to Brooklyn's Cameron Thomas, who came off the bench to light up Cleveland with 36 points in 25 minutes to lead all scorers.

Thomas set a record for points scored by a non-scorer in a season-opener.

Thomas was Brooklyn's first-rounder (27th overall) in 2021. hitting thirteen of twenty-one shots from the floor.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Santillan beats up Rocha

     The boxing weekend saw one title contender dominate a faded former champion and a mandatory challenger take a defeat and a beating along with their loss.

A mild surprise in the evening from the former Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California as Giovani Santillan "crossed the street" from Top Rank to face Golden Boy's Alexis Rocha on a GBP/DAZN card and viciously knocked Rocha out in six rounds. 

Rocha entered the fight as the number one WBO contender so had he won the fight, Rocha would have remained in a position for a chance at Terence Crawford or more likely fight for the title vacated by Crawford eventually.

I had trouble picking this fight but I picked Rocha mainly because he was the harder puncher while Santillan hadn't shown nearly as much power in his past performances, so the surprise wasn't that Santillan won, it was how he won by coming right at the fighter that was expected to be the stronger man and ran him over.

I thought Santillan's best chance was boxing from the outside, slowing down the fight, and winning a less-than-thrilling decision but he broke Rocha's nose in the first round, walked him down, and battered him throughout.

Rocha had his occasional moment but the fight was one-sided with Santillan knocking Rocha down twice in the fifth round before the final knockdown to finish the fight in round six.

Santillan is still promoted by Top Rank, so he'll return to them with the likely position that Rocha held with the WBO as one of the participants for the eventual vacant title.

As for Rocha, he will have to start over, and after a physical battering, it is fair to wonder about Rocha's future as a contender and he will at minimum have to work his way back up the ratings.

The earlier main event on DAZN wasn't nearly as interesting from Liverpool, England as junior welterweight Jack Catterall cruised past aging Jorge Linares via unanimous decision.

Catterall stunned Linares in round five but couldn't finish him and the remainder of the bout saw Catterall outbox Linares, who announced his retirement after the fight.

I scored Catterall the winner 119-109, which was a larger margin than the official scorecards of 117-111 and 116-112 times two.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 160 Pts (1)
Ramon Malpica: 147 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 109 Pts  (1) 

Browns nip Colts 39-38

Kareem Hunt scored the second of his two touchdowns with fifteen seconds remaining in the game on a fourth down run to give the Cleveland Browns a 39-38 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis.

The Browns received three touchdowns on the ground, two from Kareem Hunt and one from Jerome Ford, and Dustin Hopkins kicked four field goals, three of those from fifty-four yards or longer including a career-long from fifty-eight yards.

P.J. Walker relieved DeShaun Watson in the first quarter and helped the Browns move down the field on their final and game-winning drive.

Cleveland improves to 4-2 on the season and will travel to Seattle next week for a pairing against the also 4-2 Seahawks.

Brownie Bits

1)  Let's be fair- the Browns were aided by some tight calls for the second week in a row.

One call on the final drive really allowed the Browns to win as P.J. Walker coughed up the ball with Brentson Buckner recovering, which would have essentially ended the game.

However, the Colts were flagged for illegal contact against Amari Cooper and given an automatic first down. 

I thought that was fair because Darrell Baker did grab Cooper to impede his path to the ball.

2) The next play is the one that I think the Colts have a point as Walker threw to the corner of the end zone for Donovan Peoples-Jones and overthrew him but Darren Baker again was called for the penalty, this one for pass interference, moving the ball from the eight to the one.

I think Cleveland caught a break on this call as to me, the ball was well above Peoples-Jones and I don't think he had a chance at catching it, no matter the contact from Baker.

3) DeShaun Watson had already thrown one interception in the first quarter and on the play that caused him to leave the game, Watson threw what seemed to be a second interception but after a replay appeal, the call was changed.

4) The status of Watson for next week's game in Seattle is unknown but I do know this- the status quo of defensive stands and big plays combined with officiating breaks is an untenable one for the long part of this season.

5) Myles Garrett had one of those games that he seems to have two or three times a year where he is so dominant that he literally controls the game himself.

In the first half of the game, Garrett stripped the ball twice from Gardner Minshew on sacks, one of those in the end zone for a touchdown when Tony Fields recovered, and blocked a long field goal attempt by Indianapolis kicker Josh Gay.

Garrett finished the game with seven solo tackles, a pass knockdown, and numerous hurries of Minshew.

6) The defense made plenty of big plays in this game but there were also drives that they were on the heels against a Colts team not known for their offense.

The Colts finished with 456 yards of total offense and perhaps the hype for "greatest defense" etc may have been a bit premature.

I'm not saying that they are overrated or anything similar to that but it's a bit concerning with some of the problems today.

7) One problem from the past returned and almost cost them the game when Michael Pittman Jr. broke tackle attempts by Greg Newsome and Martin Emerson and raced seventy-five yards for a Colts touchdown with just under six minutes remaining.

The touchdown put the Colts up by five and it was a failure to wrap Pittman up by Newsome and Emerson appeared to be trying for a big hit rather than tackle Pittman.

It was sloppy play that hadn't been seen often from the defense this season and I hope it isn't habit-forming.

8) I still think Andrew Berry should consider a running back before the trade deadline and an injury to Jerome Ford only bolsters that argument.

Yes, Ford did have a sixty-nine-yard touchdown run before his injury but on his other ten carries in the game, Ford totaled five yards.

Combine that with his injury and Kareem Hunt playing through one currently and the Browns have a need to add another quality back.

9) It was pretty clear that DeShaun Watson wasn't physically ready to play today.

Watson's throws had no juice on them, he was one of five for five yards with an interception and as noted above, he narrowly missed a second on the play that ended the day for him, which saw him take a hit on the sore shoulder and smack his head on the Indianapolis turf.

Watson passed concussion protocol but Kevin Stefanski made the decision to not allow him to return.

If that was a decision that allows him to skip Seattle next week in order to truly heal his shoulder, I'm in agreement with Kevin Stefanski- but if Watson is given the nod and this is the Watson that plays, what was the point pulling him today?

10) P.J. Walker was uneven and while he has played admirably in pulling the wins over San Francisco and Indianapolis out of the fire under incredibly dire circumstances and he is a better choice than rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Walker will be unlikely to continue his fortunate run of luck for future starts

I'm not sure what an answer is but Jason Lloyd of The Athletic theorizes that trading for Jacoby Brissett to return from Washington might be an answer.

Brissett knows the offense, could walk in the door and start next week, and remains popular in the locker room.

This would all depend on price, if Washington was willing to send Brissett here for a fifth-rounder as Cleveland received for Joshua Dobbs, I'd consider it.

Should the WFT ask for more because they think the Browns are in panic mode, I'd say no as the Browns simply don't have the draft capital without a first-rounder again next year to afford a move of a pick higher than that.

11) Some question Kevin Stefanski's decision to go for a first down late in the third quarter on a fourth and two with a two-point lead.

I liked the decision to try but I wasn't thrilled with the play choice.

Not because it didn't work as P.J. Walker rolled out and botched a pitch to Jerome Ford for a big loss and turnover on downs.

The play looked to have been a big gainer in the making if the pitch was on target.

What I didn't like about the play was putting P.J. Walker at risk without a player ready to step in.

I thought it was an unneeded risk.

12)  The offensive line has yet to reach the level that the Browns have expected this season but with the game on the line- one play for one yard, the line managed to push enough for Kareem Hunt to squeeze his way into the end zone.

The pass protection could have resulted in a loss without the illegal contact call and I'm still disappointed compared to what I thought this line could become before the season but they came through when they needed to.

13) Finally, I'm not sure what this team is right now.

On one hand, the Browns have won two games in a row that the Browns usually find a way to lose and that makes me think that this could be a team that could contend as good teams find a way to win games that they shouldn't.

The other side of the issue could claim that they have won two games where officiating was very helpful and slipped by with P.J. Walker doing barely enough to get the Browns to the winner's circle.

How long can you win this way and is it viable to hope that you do so before the wheels fly off?

Can the Browns afford to stand pat with an XFL quarterback playing for an uncertain amount of time, a running back room that doesn't seem deep and now has wear and tear on Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt and a wide receiver group that hasn't thrived other than Amari Cooper?

I just don't know if this is a team of destiny or a team that needs fate and breaks to smile on them.

Seattle is a solid team and traveling to the West Coast is always a tough game to win but I'm not sure I'd place too much value on that result either way under the circumstances.

The game that might tell the most is the following game- the Arizona Cardinals at home.

Cleveland plays Baltimore and Pittsburgh after that game and the Cardinals aren't very good but the Browns have found a way in the past to lose games against inferior teams just when they can afford it least.

If things are truly different, the Browns will win that game. 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Buckeye defense stands tall in Penn State Win

       Kyle McCord threw for 280 yards and a touchdown to Marvin Harrison Jr., who finished with eleven catches for 162 yards to lead the offense as the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the unbeaten Penn State Nittany Lions 20-12 in Columbus.

However, the big stars were on defense as Ohio State didn't allow a touchdown until there were only twenty-nine seconds remaining in the game and sacked Penn State quarterback Drew Aller four times in the game.

Ohio State improves to 7-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Big Ten in the win.

The Buckeyes will travel on the next two Saturdays to Wisconsin and Rutgers.

Olentangy Offerings

1) This one was all about the defense even though they didn't force a turnover.

Four sacks and constant harassment of Drew Aller were the key to this victory as the pass rush never stopped breaking down the pocket and Aller never seemed to have the time to do anything against the supposed weakness of the OSU defense. the secondary.

2) Penn State was one of sixteen on third down and didn't convert their own success until their final drive with under a minute to play.

The Nittany Lions' inability to convert those chances kept the Buckeye defense fresh and didn't allow the physical Penn State offensive line to wear down the OSU defensive line.

3) J.T. Tuimoloau finished with one sack and tackle on the stat sheet but it seemed like in the second half that he was constantly around the ball.

I was surprised to see JTT with such low statistics.

4) The Ohio State offensive line has been maligned at times this season and while they allowed two sacks against Kyle McCord, they were outplayed in the first half against the Penn State defensive line, and on a key third-quarter drive, they were pushed back on a third down run by Miyan Williams.

5) That entire sequence of plays called by Ryan Day made little sense to me.

Second and goal from the Penn State six, here comes the Devin Brown package.

Now I'm not a fan of these running quarterbacks inside the red zone packages to begin with because almost always coaches call run plays for the newly entered quarterback, defenses know this and go all out for the run.

Brown gains five yards and lands inside the one but is forced to leave the game with a sprained ankle (more on that later) leading to a third and goal from the half-yard line.

Williams then loses yardage on the play mentioned earlier to set up a fourth and goal from the two.

6) I'm not going to gripe too much about going for it here, although I would have kicked the field goal to go up seven in a game where points are at a premium.

I won't even quibble with the play call, a short pass to Carnell Tate on the side of the field where Penn State had most of their defender, but what I will complain about is this- Ryan Day is this supposed wizard, so wouldn't have made more sense to catch the defense napping on third down when you have options available for another play?

Day has been criticized for calling third-down plays on fourth down and vice versa and on this occasion, it would be a fair one.

7) Fun fact: Entering the game Penn State averaged allowing 121 passing yards per game.

Marvin Harrison Jr. today- 162 yards.

He may not win the Heisman but Marvin Harrison Jr. is the best player in the country.

8) Back to the unsuccessful fourth try as we rejoin with Penn State punting from inside their end zone and on the punt, the bouncing ball brushes the leg of Julian Fleming as he is blocking.

Penn State recovers and you felt that this could be the break that Penn State needed.

The defense stops them on three plays and a punt.

9) And more on the Devin Brown package. 

Brown suffered a sprained ankle on the play and his status is unknown but now behind Kyle McCord is only true freshman Lincoln Kienholz and transfer Tristan Gebbia, neither of whom have taken a snap in Columbus.

Considering the state of the Buckeye offense with Kyle McCord, I'd hate to think about the offense without him.

10) I know Penn State fans may not believe this but I thought the call on the fumble return touchdown was a good one.

Penn State's Curtis Jacobs hit Kyle McCord, causing him to fumble the ball with Jacobs grabbing the bouncing ball and taking sixty yards for a score that would be overturned because a Penn State defense held Marvin Harrison Jr. on the play.

Replays showed Harrison was indeed grabbed on the play.

11) The win over Penn State is the Buckeye's second over a top-ten team and the second that the offense hasn't overwhelmed anyone.

I'm still not sure how good Michigan is because they haven't beaten anyone of note but they've looked the part doing it.

I don't think Ohio State can truly answer how good they really are until that upcoming November day in Ann Arbor.

Boxing Challenge

      The boxing weekend revolves around DAZN with the two main events from their day/night doubleheader as the entirety of the boxing challenge.

The first main event comes to us from Liverpool England with the uncrowned junior welterweight champion Jack Catterall continuing his comeback against former three-division champion Jorge Linares.

The slick-boxing Catterall is remembered for his controversial defeat to then-undisputed champion Josh Taylor and the multiple delays in their rematch that never happened and he has fought just once since the loss.

At one time, Jorge Linares was as good of an offensive force as boxing had seen, and only a less-than-strong chin cost Linares a Hall of Fame induction as Linares was stopped in six of his eight career losses.

However, this is a faded Linares, who has lost his last three fights and is well past his prime, so it's really a name to place on Catterall's resume' more than a victory over a once-tremendous fighter.

In the evening from the Forum in Inglewood, California, a showdown between contending welterweights Alexis Rocha and Giovanni Santillan could be a very important one as the four welterweight titles could soon be available to be grabbing and the victor would be in a position for a shot at one of them.

Rocha is the top contender in the WBO ratings and has won seven in a row since his only loss to Rashidi Ellis in 2020 while Santillan is fifth in those rankings, so it's highly probable that the winner of this fight would be one of the two fighting for the vacant WBO eventually.

Rocha is the more aggressive fighter, and Santillan is the better boxer, so this should be an interesting matchup.

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds 
Jack Catterall vs Jorge Linares
Ramon Malpica: Catterall Unanimous Decision
TRS: Catterall KO 6
Vince Samano: Catterall KO 10

Welterweights 12 Rds
Alexis Rocha vs Giovanni Santillan
R.L: Rocha Unanimous Decision
TRS: Rocha KO 11
V.S: Rocha KO 8 


 The PPM returns with a big football week headed by an Ohio State-Penn State clash!

Last Week: 9-7
Overall: 72-29

Ohio State over Penn State 20-17
Texas Tech over BYU 32-30
Bowling Green over Akron 24-10
UTSA over Florida Atlantic 28-24
Arkansas over Mississippi State 24-17
Liberty over Middle Tennessee State 38-28

Games of the Week
Alabama over Tennessee 24-21
Utah over USC 36-34

Browns over Colts 20-14
Chiefs over Chargers 35-32

Game of the Week
Lions over Ravens 27-24
Eagles over Dolphins 31-27

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Cleaning Out the Inbox: Passings

     It's time for some tributes to those who have recently left us as we honor their memory and deeds.

Goodbye to Tim Wakefield at the age of  57.

The knuckleballer first came to prominence with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992 when he came up from the minors in midseason.

Wakefield finished 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA in thirteen starts for the Pirates that season and won both of his starts in the NLCS, throwing complete games in both wins.

Wakefield was the Bucs Opening Day starter in 1993 but was in Triple-A by mid-season and was released by Pittsburgh in 1995, and signed by Boston.

Wakefield would win fourteen of his first fifteen decisions for Boston in 1995, finished 16-8, and finished third in the Cy Young balloting in the same season that he was released.

Wakefield would pitch seventeen seasons for Boston, winning 186 games, and would be part of the Boston World Championship teams in 2004 and 2007 before moving to the studio for NESN's broadcasts of Red Sox games.

Goodbye to Russ Francis at the age of 70.

The three-time All-Pro's most productive seasons by the numbers were with the New England Patriots, who drafted him in the first round of the 1975 draft but after the 1980 season, Francis announced his retirement due to the Patriots refusing to pay a contract bonus for making the Pro Bowl because Francis didn't actually play in the game due to injury.

Francis didn't play in 1981 but did return after New England traded him to San Francisco, where he would play six seasons and win his only Super Bowl ring in 1984.

Francis's father owned the Honolulu wrestling promotion and Francis would wrestle there in the off-season for his father's company but his most remembered wrestling moment was his appearance with other football players in the Wrestlemania 2 battle royal that was won by Andre The Giant.

Goodbye to Walt Garrison at the age of 79.

Legendary for his toughness as the Dallas Cowboys fullback from 1966-74, Garrison also found fame on the professional rodeo tour and fame as a commercial spokesman for the tobacco product Skoal.

Garrison's commercials for Skoal made the phrase "pinch a piece between your cheek and gum" a familiar one to every football fan but Garrison was rugged on the field as well, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 1972 and rushed for close to four thousand yards in his career with the Cowboys.

Goodbye to Wayne Comer at the age of  79.

Comer played parts of five seasons in the majors but would play only one full season- the 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots, the team and season written about by Jim Bouton in Ball Four.

Comer won a World Series with the Tigers in 1968, batting once as a pinch hitter and smacking a single in Game Three.

Comer hit .245 with 15 homers ( in the remainder of his career, Comer hit just one homer) and 18 steals for the Pilots in 1969 before the Brewers traded him to Washington after thirteen games in 1970

Comer was an interesting character in Ball Four as his mentions in the book are usually not friendly towards Bouton, often with salty language!

Comer was a decorated high school baseball coach in Shenandoah, Virginia after his retirement from pro baseball after the 1974 season that he spent in Triple-A and was still coaching as recently as the past high school season.

Goodbye to Jim Poole at the age of 57.

A reliable lefthanded specialist from the bullpen for eight teams between 1990-2000, Poole spent most of his time with the Baltimore Orioles (four seasons) and the Cleveland Indians (four seasons over three different stints), Poole has an interesting career note for each team.

For Baltimore, Poole was the winning pitcher for the final Oriole win (it was the next-to-last game) at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium in 1991, while in Cleveland, Poole allowed a solo home run to Atlanta's David Justice in the sixth inning for the only run of Game Six, which allowed Atlanta to win the game and the series in six games.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

I Tell Ya Herbie

   We return with I Tell Ya' Herbie, our weekly look at college football.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            The Washington win over Oregon was as good of a game as you'll see.

Wide open with big plays and yet it wasn't bad defense either.

A back-and-forth game with six lead changes and Washington's Michael Penix establishing himself as the leader in the Heisman race at this time makes this game of the year to date.

Looking forward to a possible rematch in Las Vegas in the final Pac-12 championship game.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            As for the other Pac-12 unbeaten, USC's offense finally couldn't make up for their porous defense as the Trojans were pounded at Notre Dame as Caleb Williams threw three interceptions in the loss.

The defense hasn't shown very much improvement over last year's defensive disaster and although USC is still unbeaten in the conference, four of their final five games are against ranked teams.

Three of those four are at home (Utah, Washington, and UCLA) with Oregon on the road so I find it hard to believe that the Trojans with their defensive problems win all of those games.

I Tell Ya' Herbie;

                            Mentions in the Herbie column for Mountain West teams seem to be jinxed as two weeks ago, we mentioned Fresno State, who then lost to Wyoming.

Then we mentioned the Cowboys, who then lost to Air Force, so mentioning the Falcons would seem to be bad luck for them this Saturday as the 6-0 Falcons travel east for a non-conference tilt with 3-5 Navy.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            Maybe Michigan is a step above Penn State and/or Ohio State but do we really do know when UNLV is the best win of the year to date?

Yes, they are big, physical, and talented but until they beat someone of note (and the same can be said of the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes) I couldn't put them above Washington in the national rankings yet.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            It's the final year of divisions in the Big Ten and the path is wide open for the perpetually offensively challenged Iowa Hawkeyes to walk through in the Big Ten West.

After their 15-6 win over Wisconsin, Iowa's stout defense and mediocre offense meet a limited remaining schedule with the next four games at Nile Kinnick Stadium against Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, and Rutgers before finishing at Nebraska.

Even if one of those teams trips up the Hawkeyes, the tiebreaker over Wisconsin due to their win last Saturday gives Iowa a mulligan and Wisconsin would need two of those teams to beat Iowa.

That game was crazy as Iowa completed six passes for thirty-seven yards and yet still won at Camp Randall.

Could Iowa defeat the survivor of the Eastern triad? 

I doubt it as Iowa's one shot at the three resulted in their only loss in a 31-0 whitewash at Penn State.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Browns upset 49ers 19-17!

      The Cleveland Browns appeared to be on the verge of doing what they traditionally have done since returning to the NFL in 1999- lose a game that they have no business losing and deserved to win.

After Dustin Hopkins kicked his fourth field goal of the day from twenty-nine yards with one minute and forty seconds remaining, all that a Cleveland defense that had dominated the game all day with the exception of the first drive of the game needed to do was make one more stop.

They couldn't and as rookie kicker Jake Moody lined up for a forty-one yard field goal attempt that would win the game, if successful, it felt like another devastating defeat for a team that needed a break was coming to Cleveland yet again.

But the kick drifted wide right and the Browns had upset the previously unbeaten 49ers 19-17 in Cleveland.

Jerome Ford rushed for 84 yards, Kareem Hunt added 47 yards and scored the only Cleveland touchdown with Amari Cooper leading the receivers with four catches for over one hundred yards.

The Browns improved to 3-2 with the win and will travel to Indianapolis next week to play the Colts.

Brownie Bits

1) This win was almost all about the defense as other than the first drive of the game with the Niners scoring a touchdown and the final one that led to the missed field goals, the Browns defense dominated a team that has a claim to best in the game right now.

2) The Browns finished with three sacks of Brock Purdy, none of them by Myles Garrett, and just missed on several others.

Jim Schwartz's defense harrassed Purdy all day and may have given teams a blueprint for defeating the second year quarterback that had not lost a regular season start until this game.

3) The Browns lost a touchdown early in the game when a thirty-two yard P.J. Walker to David Njoku touchdown pass was taken off the board due to a holding call on Wyatt Teller.

The Browns would get no points from the drive when Dustin Hopkins missed the field goal attempt from 47 yards.

4) That miss from Dustin Hopkins was his only miss of the day and his four field goals led the Cleveland offense and his clutch boot of the eventual game-winner continued to make the Browns faith in trading for him and releasing Cade York justified.

5) P.J. Walker threw for 192 yards with two interceptions and missed many open receivers but other than the fourth quarter interception that led to the short field touchdown that gave San Francisco the lead, Walker did enough to keep the Browns in the game.

6) All of the above said, Walke threw a ball on the game-winning drive that could have been intercepted in the end zone.

Walker should have either thrown the ball away or even ran for the end zone, and the Browns just missed another crushing defeat.

7) San Francisco finished with 215 yards of total offense and while the Jim Schwartz led defense played a huge part in that number, let's not forget that Deebo Samuel left the game in the first quarter and Christian McCaffrey missed most of the second half.

Brock Purdy likely would have been far more effective with two of his major weapons.

8) What you can give complete credit to the defense for doing is erasing 49ers standout tight end George Kittle.

Kittle was thrown to only twice and caught only one of those targets for a whopping one yard.

9) The biggest play in the game might not have been any scoring plays, it may have been a play from a seldom-used player.

On the final Cleveland drive on a fourth and five, P.J. Walker hit David Bell for a six yard gain to keep the drive alive.

David Bell is a player that I had hoped would develop into the Browns version of Cooper Kupp, a player that plays in the slot and catches everything thrown to him.

It hasn't worked that way thus far but when the game was on the line, Kevin Stefanski had confidence in the catching ability of Bell to throw the ball to him.

Perhaps there is still hope.

10)  Amari Cooper's fifty-eight yard reception was the Browns largest gain of the day and the veteran receiver continues as the Browns go-to and most dependable pass catcher.

Cooper caught four of his eight targets but two of the missed four were plays that Cooper was open and P.J. Walker just missed him.

11) Same thing for Elijah Moore, who was wide open for big gains on the final drive and both times P.J. Walker's throws were errant.

The second of the two could be excused as Walker was on the move but the first has to be all on Walker.

12) The wide receivers other than Cooper have disappointed thus far and I'd love to see the Browns try to get someone before the trading deadline.

I'm not sure if Elijah Moore isn't being used properly or he's not playing well but he hasn't made the impact expected and Donovan Peoples-Jones has taken a step back (one target vs the 49ers) in production and playing time.

I'm finding it hard to see how the Browns, who were so happy with their receiving group, can be happy right now and if the team doesn't make a move, either they are stubbornly sticking to their talent assessment or the prices were too high to pay.

13) Cleveland played four of their first five at home and finished 3-2, which I think was the record that they had to have after five games to be in contention.

They managed to achieve that but will now play on the road in three of their next four and five of their next seven.

The next games in Indianapolis and in Seattle are winnable but neither guaranteed.

The Colts are playing backup quarterback Gardner Minshew but the same Minshew defeated the Ravens in Baltimore and shouldn't be considered an easy mark, particularly if the Browns are starting P.J. Walker again.

The Browns need at least a split of those two games to feel decent about where they will be.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Tszyu storms past Mendoza

 Tim Tsyzu retained his WBO junior middleweight title for the first time with a unanimous decision over a gutsy Brian Mendoza in Queensland. Australia.

The fight was close through six rounds with both fighters landing their share of strong punches but Tsyzu took over in the seventh round and wouldn't lose another one on my card.

Tsyzu wasn't able to knock the iron-chinned Mendoza down but he badly hurt Mendoza twice in the later rounds with only the courage of the challenger keeping him from falling to the mat.

Tsyzu won by scores of 116-111, 117-111, and 116-112 with my scorecard of 117-111 for Tszyu.

Tszyu called for WBA/WBC/IBF champion Jermell Charlo after the fight, who pulled out of a scheduled fight with Tszyu due to a hand injury and chose a larger payday against Canelo Alvarez rather than defend against Tsyzu, causing the WBO to strip Charlo and award their title to Tszyu.

Assuming that Charlo-Tsyzu isn't next, the field is wide open for the Australian's next fight, although Tszyu did say that his next fight would be in the United States.

Mendoza was the number two contender in the WBO before the fight and should Tszyu choose to fight the first or then-third contender in his next fight, Great Britain's Josh Kelly is rated first with Puerto Rico's talented prospect Xander Zayas at the third spot.

Zayas could be a future star and he looks to be very talented but his rating at third is laughable considering that he has fought just one scheduled ten-rounder thus far in his career.

Zayas is in no way ready for a Tszyu fight right now and Top Rank isn't going to risk a future headliner this soon against a fighter that would likely defeat him easily.

Kelly is a former Olympian and has notched some solid wins in his last few fights but was knocked out in his only loss by welterweight David Avanesyan in 2021, and I'm not sure if Tszyu wants to fight in the UK or if Kelly wants a shot at Tszyu quite yet.

Meanwhile, in Rosenberg, Texas, a suburb of Houston, arguably the least glamorous title unification ever was held with Janibek Alimkhanuly retaining his WBO middleweight title and taking away the IBF title from Vincent Gualtieri with a sixth-round knockout.

The less said about this the better as Alimkhanuly was stronger, faster, and better against the overwhelmed Gualtieri, who couldn't have any success against Alimkhanuly at all.

Alimkhanuly won the first five rounds with ease and when he hurt Gualtieri in the sixth, driving him into the ropes and firing punches that stung the German, referee David Fields ended the fight.

Could Gualtieri have continued? Perhaps but there was no point other than giving Gualtieri more punishment.

Alimkhanuly asked for fights against the remaining two champions, the WBA's Erislandy Lara and the WBC's Jermall Charlo but fights are unlikely against the chronically inactive pair as they fight for PBC and a fight against Alimkhanuly would be high-risk low reward with little financial gain, especially for Lara.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 159 Pts (3)
Ramon Malpica: 145 Pts (3)
Vince Samano: 108 Pts (0) 

Ohio State bops Boilermakers 41-7

   Kyle McCord threw three touchdown passes, two to Cade Stover and Marvin Harrison finished with 105 yards receiving as Ohio State stomped Purdue 41-7 at West Lafayette, Indiana.

With the victory, Ohio State improved to 6-0 and 3-0 in the Big Ten and became bowl-eligible.

The Buckeyes return home next Saturday to the Horseshoe and a showdown against fellow unbeaten Penn State.

Olentangy Offerings

1) The Ohio State rushing attack was questioned after last week's win over Maryland and it looked worse when TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams were deemed unavailable before the game.

And it did get worse when Chip Trayanum left the game in the first quarter after six carries.

2) And as in a similar situation as last season, it was Dallan Hayden to the rescue.

Hayden, who Ryan Day had announced earlier in the week as a likely redshirt, scored a touchdown and finished with seventy-six yards on eleven carries

3) Marvin Harrison Jr. had his typically dynamic game and as always made a highlight catch.

Harrison made a catch in the first quarter off a Purdue defender's back while falling down, somehow holding onto the ball.

4) Ohio State installed a red-zone package for backup quarterback Devin Brown, who ran for a score and fumbled just before the goal line on another possession.

I understand giving Penn State something else to look at but I wonder sometimes of the value of these things when they are so often one-dimensional.

5) Brown would later throw a fifty-eight-yard touchdown to freshman Brandon Inniss during garbage time but it was nice seeing Brown throw.

All too often, Brown resembled Urban Meyer-type quarterbacks rather than true passers.

6) Purdue missed three field goals in the game but even giving them those points, this game wasn't close.

Ohio State missed an extra point, so it was a difficult day to kick in the rain.

7)  Cade Stover grabbed two touchdown passes and the former linebacker continues to build his NFL draft stock.

Stover is still gaining experience at tight end but yet he won't be a total project for NFL teams that could pick him in the draft.

8) Entering the games against Penn State, I am a bit worried about the injuries that are piling up.

The first three running backs, Emeka Egbuka (against Maryland), and a third-quarter injury to starting cornerback Denzel Burke are in question for the visit of the Nittany Lions.

9) The offensive line improved from its poor effort vs Maryland and looked good but a caveat- it was still Purdue.

Penn State will be a massive test for the running game especially the push from the offensive line.

10) I'm not sure what to think about Ohio State next week.

They haven't dazzled and other than their win over Notre Dame (a win that looks much better after the Irish knocked around Heisman winner Caleb Williams and USC yesterday) haven't played tough competition.

Penn State has yet to play even one good team and while Michigan has looked more impressive and is being given national kudos for that, their best win might be against UNLV.

I'm not saying  Ohio State is better than both or either, I'm just saying we don't know.

We take a big step in finding out next Saturday at noon.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing weekend will showcase two world title fights, one with a new world champion making his world championship debut, and the other that is most likely the most non-descript world title unification bout ever in boxing.

Showtime, which is reportedly ending its boxing program at the end of the year, travels to Australia for the first title defense for WBO junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu against Brian Mendoza.

Tsyzu was promoted as the full WBO champion when Jermell Charlo was stripped of the title when he chose the more lucrative purse to challenge Canelo Alvarez rather than Tsyzu, the mandatory challenger and whom Charlo had dropped out of a scheduled fight with a hand injury.

Tszyu has kept busy rather than wait for Charlo and has fought twice this year with a ninth-round knockout of former WBC champion Tony Harrison and a first-round blitz of Carlos Ocampo to his credit.

Mendoza appeared to be only a fringe contender until last November when he knocked former WBA and IBF champion Jeison Rosario in five rounds but Rosario has never been known for his chin and retired after the fight.

The Rosario win was enough to earn Mendoza a chance against unbeaten and popular Sebastian Fundora, who was the WBC's top contender and assuming Fundora continued to win, would have been a future mandatory for Jermell Charlo.

For six rounds of their April fight, Fundora dominated Mendoza and then in round seven, Mendoza countered a lazy uppercut from Fundora with a left hook and right hand that dropped Fundora for the count to give Mendoza the minor WBC title that Fundora held but more importantly the eventual chance against Charlo.

However, rather than wait for the chronically inactive Charlo's future plans, Mendoza decided to accept a world title fight against Tszyu, and while Mendoza is a deserved big underdog, his recent history has shown that Mendoza will have a puncher's chance.

ESPN and Top Rank will be in Rosenberg, Texas for what might be the most anonymous title unification match that I can ever remember as WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly tackles newly crowned IBF boss Vincent Gualtieri.

Gualtieri had never fought anyone near title caliber but between the weak middleweight division, an unbeaten record, and a lack of interest by others, was installed into one of the spots for the IBF title vacated by Gennady Golovkin against Esquiva Falcao in Germany in July.

Falcao was better known and the favorite but Gualtieri used a combination of low blows, a knockdown, a called knockdown that shouldn't have been called, and borderline tactics to win the title via unanimous decision.

Alimkhanuly has been compared to Gennady Golovkin as similar to Golovkin's early HBO days as in far too dangerous to fight for the low money that top fighters would earn for fighting him.
Alimkhanuly didn't look dynamite in his first defense last November in a decision win over Denzel Bentley but looked much better in May when he stopped veteran Steven Butler in two rounds.

As far as unification fights go, this one is pretty uninspiring but give Top Rank credit for getting their fighter, who doesn't have many in-division options currently, an opportunity to become a unified champion to help build a brand and Gualtieri who has even fewer options than Alimkhanuly deserves a kudo as well for taking a bigger payday than he would receive at home and the chance to become a unified champion as well.

I would have bet money after seeing Gualtieri wiggle past Falcao that Gualtieri would follow a familiar path traveled by European champions of defenses against limited fighters in front of what I'll call "friendly" judges.

Give Gualtieri credit for not doing that and taking his best shot.

WBO Junior Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Tim Tszyu vs Brian Mendoza
Ramon Malpica; Tszyu KO 9
TRS: Tszyu KO 6
Vince Samano: Mendoza KO 8

Unification IBF-WBO Middleweight Titles. 12 Rds
Vincent Gualtieri vs Janibek Alimkhanuly
R.L: Alimkhanuly KO 5
TRS: Alimkhanuly KO 8
V.S:  Alimkhanuly Unanimous Decision

Coyotes Howl in Devils Defeat

  The New Jersey Devils wasted a three-point night from Jesper Bratt and were once bitten by their old nemesis- the shootout as the Devils lost 4-3 to the visiting Arizona Coyotes.

Jesper Bratt scored his first two goals of the season, one of those on the power play. and assisted on the other Devils goal, Dougie Hamilton's second-period power-play goal.

Jack Hughes assisted on all three New Jersey goals with Akira Schmid finishing the game with thirty saves in the defeat.

New Jersey takes the weekend off and will conclude their three-game homestand on Monday against Florida.

Hell Raisers

1) The Shootout continues to be an Achilles Heel for the Devils as they missed all of their attempts in the session and it has traditionally been a problem for the team.

2) Aside from the shootout, I thought the Devils received another strong game from Akira Schmid.

Schmid made some strong saves among his thirty and the defensive sloppiness didn't help Schmid very much.

Schmid will need to continue growth as the season progresses but I like Schmid's chances of earning more and more time as the season moves on.

3) The Jack Hughes/Tyler Toffoli/Jesper Bratt line continued its dominance for the second night in a row with involvement of some type on all three Devils goals, with goals on four and four and two power plays.

4) The Timo Meier/Nico Hischier/Dawson Mercer line cannot say the same, finishing without a point, and struggling with the Coyote's top line of Schmaltz/Hayden/Keller.

I still think that for all of the talents of Timo Meier, he needs linemates that have that intangible that numbers don't really identify and I'm still wondering if there needs to be tinkering over the first month or two to find out just how fits best with him/

Sorry, so short but I'm literally leaving for work in 10 minutes!

Friday, October 13, 2023


   The PPM is back with more gridiron action from the college and pro football worlds.

Last Week: 10-3 
Overall: 63-22

Ohio State over Purdue 34-17
Texas Tech over Kansas State 38-35
Boise State over Colorado State 37-29
Louisiana Tech over Middle Tennessee State 34-24
James Madison over Georgia Southern 27-25
Alabama over Arkansas 27-14
Bowling Green over Buffalo 24-21
N.C. State over Duke 23-20
Oregon State over UCLA 30-21
UTSA over UAB 28-24

Games of the Week
Washington over Oregon 42-40
USC over Notre Dame 28-17

49ers over Browns 24-10
Chargers over Cowboys 31-28

Games of the Week
Seahawks over Bengals 27-24
Lions over Buccaneers 24-20

Hughes starts fast in Devils opener

    Jack Hughes scored twice in the second period and Dougie Hamilton broke a two-all tie with under five minutes to give the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings in the Devils home opener at the Rock in Newark.

Erik Haula added an empty net goal with ninety seconds left in the game to complete the scoring for New Jersey before Detroit's Robby Fabbri cut the lead back to one goal with thirty seconds remaining.

Vitek Vanecek made thirty-two saves in net for the Devils, who will host the Arizona Coyotes this evening at the Rock.

Hell Raisers

1) I ran out of time before I could do my planned Devils preview, and maybe I'll have time next week to do a slightly delayed version but I'll try to mix a few items in over the next few wrapups just in case I don't get to that.

2) I like this team and its setup.

Tyler Toffoli was a steal in the off-season and only losing Tomas Tatar and Miles Wood is a pretty good trade-off, although I'll miss the wild dashes of Wood up and down the ice.

I think the Devils have even more potential as a free-wheeling skating team and in an evolving game, the Devils' ability to continue to play a fast-paced style will be a benefit against most teams.

3)  The largest concern that I would have stated, had I had time for a preview, would have been goaltending.

 I don't think Vitek Vanecek is an elite goalie but he's far from a sieve, and I'm hopeful for the potential of Akira Schmid long-term.

4) Vanecek was excellent tonight and it was due to him that the Devils left the first period in a scoreless knot.

It's always easier to relax when you feel that you have a true number-one netminder and while I'm not sure that you win Stanley Cups (although you can go a long way with a hot goalie) with goalies of Vanecek's level, they won't hold you back very much either.

5) Considering that Jack Hughes finished last season with ninety-nine points, it would be a "duh" prediction to give him one hundred this season but I'll go one better- I like Hughes to reach one hundred and twenty points, assuming he's healthy.

Hughes will have a full season of Timo Meier (although Meier was on the Nico Hischier line in this one) and perhaps even his brother Luke as improved finishers and I think Hughes may be on the verge of contention for the Hart Trophy this season.

6) Luke Hughes is the type of defenseman that this franchise has lacked since Scott Niedermayer and he's only going to get better.

Solid at both ends of the ice and it's just a matter of time before he gets more comfortable on the offensive end and when that happens- Look out!

I'll wager very soon if not already that teams wonder just why Seattle, Buffalo, and Anaheim passed on Luke Hughes.

7) Dougie Hamilton's blast in the third period broke the tie and the veteran's booming shot will be counted on this season.

All About The Jersey wrote about the eventual Hughes/Hughes/Hamilton triad on the power play and the havoc that the varied skills of the three players could wreak on opposing teams.

It makes sense with Hamilton's big shot, the passing abilities of the Hughes brothers, and their various offensive weapons.

I started this last night and barely finished before the puck drop vs Arizona.

I hope to have time for a recap but if not I'll be around after Monday's game vs Florida and perhaps blend the two games with more thoughts on the season.