College Football by Regis Woodstock
The college football season reached a pivotal tenth week this Saturday, with crucial games for four of the top five ranked schools in the nation.
Before we reached the ranked match ups later in the day however, Army took on Air Force in an historic rivalry matchup. After Air Force defeated rivals Navy by the score of 30-21 earlier in the season, the Falcons came into West Point, New York looking to sweep their season series against the two other forces. Army, on the other hand, has for the most part struggled over the course of the season, beating only Buffalo and Ball State in seven games heading into the game against Air Force. The first half was largely uneventful, with Army jumping to a slim 3-0 lead in the first, only to see Air Force respond with two field goals in the second, and at the end of the half, the Air Force Falcons held a 6-3 lead. Air Force scored the first touchdown of the game in the third, and tacked on another in the fourth, making the final score 23-6 for the high flying Falcons, who improved to 6-2 on the season, and beat both Army and Navy in the course of a season.
Later in the day, the tenth ranked, 6-1 Texas Christian Horned Frogs took on some stiff competition in the form of the twentieth ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. The Mountaineers struck early in their home stadium, taking a 13-7 first quarter lead before a scoreless second. At halftime, West Virginia held a slim six point lead in a game most knew would prove to be pivotal to for the rest of their season. The teams both came out with scoring power in the third, with both teams trading two touchdowns each, to make the score 27-21 heading into the fourth quarter. After West Virginia scored a field goal to make it 30-21, Texas Christian responded with a clutch fourth quarter major to make the score a tantalizingly close 30-28. On the final drive of the game, the Horned Frogs drove down to the twenty yard line, and kicker Jaden Oberkrom lined up a 37 yard field goal on the last play of the game. The kick split the uprights, and Texas Christian found a way to win a hard fought battle. Coming off an 82 point output against Texas Tech, and a close victory over a talented West Virginia team, Texas Christian is expected to make a significant jump in the college football polls this week.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, sixth ranked and 6-1, played their first game since a heartbreaking loss against the undefeated Florida State Seminoles, took on the huge underdog 4-4 Navy Midshipmen in a must win game on Saturday evening. But despite the expectations, Navy put up a valiant effort, scoring two touchdowns in the first half, and down only eleven points when we went into halftime with the score 28-17 Notre Dame. Many counted the Midshipmen out at halftime, but Navy came back with unexpected strength in the third quarter, shockingly outscoring the Fighting Irish 14-0 and taking a 31-28 lead going into a crucial fourth quarter for Notre Dame. But the Irish, as they have done so many times this season, came back with dramatic strength in the fourth, going for three touchdowns and eventually defeating Navy 49-39. Despite the victory though, both fans and critics of the storied Notre Dame football program would agree that the victory was too close for comfort.
The No. 5, 7-1 Oregon Ducks took on a 5-3 Stanford Cardinal team which many believed would give the Pac-12 favourite Ducks a run for their money. But Oregon was up for the challenge, taking a 24-13 halftime lead, and not stopping there, scoring seven in the third and fourteen in the fourth to finish a decisive victory 45-16 and cement their position as a favourite for the Pac-12 title.
The top ranked, undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs took on an underdog Arkansas Razorbacks in a game many believed could be considered a trap game for the top team in the nation. Arkansas looked to overpower the Bulldogs defence with the power run game, and in the first half they succeeded, taking a 10-7 halftime lead over the nation’s top football program. But Mississippi State came back in the third, tying the game at ten with a field goal, and then taking a touchdown lead in the fourth to make the score 17-10. But the Razorbacks weren’t going to go down without a fight, as they drove down the field late in the fourth, and had an opportunity to send the game to overtime on final play of the fourth quarter. The ball was thrown to the corner of the end zone, but knocked down by a Bulldog defender in perfect coverage to secure Mississippi State’s eighth consecutive win, remaining undefeated and first in the country.
Finally, the evening was capped off with a marquee matchup between two southeastern heavyweights, the No. 4 Ole Miss Rebels and No. 3 Auburn Tigers. With both teams already suffering one loss earlier in the season, a victory was crucial if either team wanted to stay in consideration for the College Football Playoff. The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, and a close second put Ole Miss in the lead at halftime by the score of 17-14. Ole Miss put another touchdown up on the board to start the second half to take a ten point lead, but Auburn responded with two quick touchdowns to take a 28-24 lead going into the fourth. Ole Miss, however, scored an early fourth quarter touchdown to once again change the lead, making the score 31-28. But nobody counted out last year’s SEC champions. Nick Marshall through a prayer into the air, which was caught around midfield, and the Tigers capitalized, taking a 35-31 lead with ten minutes to go. Ole Miss had a chance in the red zone, but quarterback Bo Wallace fumbled, and it was recovered by the Auburn defence. But the Rebels from Mississippi got another chance late in the game from around the Auburn ten yard line. Ole Miss handed the ball off to their star running back, Laquon Treadwell, who looked to be running into the end zone for the win when he lost the football on the goal line and broke his leg in the process. The Tigers recovered the fumble in their own end zone, and triumphed over Ole Miss by the score of 35-31, in a game many will consider the best of the college football season.
National Basketball Association by Regis Woodstock
The National Basketball Association week kicked off this week when Lebron James returned to Cleveland, Ohio, as the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the New York Knicks on Thursday night. There were high expectations for the former League Champion and MVP, who moved over from Miami in a dramatic offseason for Cleveland. Despite the hype, Lebron started the game poorly, shooting only 1/9 for a mere four points in the first half. Despite the poor first half performance from James, Cleveland still held a slim 44-42 lead over New York heading into halftime. Lebron started to show some of what we’ve been used to seeing from him when he picked up the pace in the third quarter, thanks partly to his partner in crime Kevin Love, but it wasn’t enough, as the Cavs let the lead slip in the third and suffered a disappointing 95-90 loss at home. Kevin Love lead Cleveland in scoring with 19 points, while James scored 17. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was the game’s top performer with 25 points, 6 assists and 2 rebounds.
After a disappointing first game, many were wondering if Lebron and Cleveland could go into Chicago and pull out a victory against a tough Chicago Bulls team. With the return of star point guard Derek Rose, the expectations for the Bulls climbed even higher. We were treated to a phenomenal first half, as Lebron James lead Cleveland to thirty point second quarter, as the halftime score was 58-52 Cavillers. Cleveland tacked on another twenty in third, as Cleveland held a nine point lead heading into the fourth. The Bulls, however, forced overtime after a 29-20 fourth quarter. In overtime, Cleveland scored 16 while holding the Bulls to ten, as a revamped Cleveland team picked up their first victory of the season. Lebron James finished a monstrous game with 36 points, 4 assists and 8 rebounds. Derek Rose lead his team with twenty points in a mediocre return. Despite the dramatic victory, the Cavs lost 101-82 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday to drop to 1-2 on the season.
The Los Angeles Lakers lost a 118-111 thriller to crosstown rivals Los Angeles Clippers despite strong second and third quarters and overall a good offensive performance. The main problem for the Lakers was a disastrous defensive performance, as the Lakers gave up an inexcusable 39 points to Clippers’ star forward Blake Griffin. The Lakers defence once again struggled on Saturday as they gave up 127 points to the Golden State Warriors to drop to 0-4. The Lakers lost their fifth straight on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns, once again allowing over 100 points.
The Toronto Raptors improved to 2-0 when they defeated the Orlando Magic 108-95 on Saturday. The dominant Toronto backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan led the way, with Lowry scoring 21 and DeRozan scoring a team high 26. Lowry also picked up five key assists. The Raptors lost their first game of the season on Sunday, when the Miami Heat improved to 3-0 on a 107-102 win. Former Raptor Chris Bosh lead the way for Miami with 21 points, while Dwayne Wade picked up 19 in the Heat victory. Despite the loss, the Raptor backcourt continued their excellent start to the season, with Kyle Lowry picking up 21 points and DeMar DeRozan leading the game in scoring with 30. The Raptors returned to their winning ways on Tuesday when they defeated Oklahoma City 100-81 with a great effort from their bench, who combined for 46 points.
The Raptors met the Boston Celtics on Wednesday in a crucial eastern conference matchup. The Celtics got run out of the court on Saturday when the Houston Rockets defeated them 104-90. Nobody scored over twenty points for Boston in a dismal offensive performance. The Celtics narrowly lost to Dallas on Monday despite monster games from Jeff Green, who scored 35 points, and Avery Bradley, who finished with 32. A great all round offensive performance from the Mavericks helped Dallas pull out the victory.
When the Raptors travelled to Boston to face the Celtics on Wednesday night, there was no denying that we were in for a treat. The Celtics started off the game hot, making virtually all of their shots. They held a 35-23 lead over Toronto heading into the second. The Raptors responded with 31 points of their own in the second, as we went into halftime with Boston holding a narrow 57-54 lead. The Raptors took a two point lead heading into the fourth. Late in the game, the Raptors offence stepped up, as Toronto held onto a thrilling 110-107 victory over an Atlantic rival. Kyle Lowry finished the game with 35 points, as Toronto improved to 4-1 and dropped the Celtics to 1-3.
The English Premier League continued this weekend when a flurry of matches took place on Saturday morning. First off, Liverpool faced Newcastle United. The Reds suffered from slow starts to the season, with Liverpool coming off a disappointing 0-0 draw against minnow Hull City last week. Despite a slow start of their own, Newcastle had picked it up in recent weeks, winning two games in a row against Leicester City and Tottenham. The first goal of the game came in the 73rd minute from Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez, as Newcastle claimed their fourth straight victory in all competitions and put them within a point of Liverpool in the Premier League table.
Southampton continued their excellent season with a 1-0 win over Hull City to remain in second place in the Premiers League, while Stoke City drew 2-2 with West Hampshire and Everton and Swansea finished in a scoreless draw.
Top placed Chelsea faced Queen’s Park Rangers while heavily favoured Arsenal played major underdog Burnley. Chelsea and QPR were tied at one until the 75th minute when Eduardo Vargas fouled Chelsea forward Eden Hazard in the penalty area. Only seconds later, Hazard put the penalty in the bottom corner of the net to rocket Chelsea to yet another victory.
Favourites Arsenal were held off by a strong Burnley defence in the first half, as many wondered if the recently promoted Burnley side could salvage a draw from a seemingly impossible challenge. However, in the second half, Arsenal scored three quick goals, and the game finished 3-0 for the Gunners. On Sunday, we were treated with the match everybody in England was waiting for, the Manchester Derby, between crosstown rivals Manchester City and Manchester United. Our first piece of action came in the 39th minute of the game when United player Chris Smalling received his second yellow card of the game and was sent off, leaving United with only ten men on the field. The Red Devils, however, held the defending champions off until the end of the half, and we went into halftime with a scoreless draw. The second half proved to be more eventful, as twice City players were tripped up in the penalty area, yet were denied what should have been penalties and possibly additional men sent off because of questionable calls from referee Michael Oliver. However, City proved their superiority when Sergio Aguero finally netted one home for the deserving side 62 minutes in. City held on, and won yet another Derby match over United.
Also on Sunday, Aston Villa played against Tottenham in a game destined for excitement from the start. Fifteen minutes in, it was Villa who struck first, as the home side put the ball in the bottom right corner to take an early lead. 64 minutes in, it looked as if the lead would hold up, until striker Christian Benteke was shown a red for Villa, as the home side were depleted to ten men. Tottenham jumped to the attack, and it was Nacer Chadli on an assist from Eric Lamela who tied the game at one. It looked as if we would finish in a draw until hometown hero Harry Kane put home a beautiful free kick to take a 2-1 lead in the 89th minute. The Spurs took the game, rebounding from last week’s loss against Newcastle. On Monday, Sunderland defeated Crystal Palace 3-1.
UEFA Champions League
The European Champions League group stage continued this week on Tuesday and Wednesday across the continent. In a game that was crucial for both teams, English side Liverpool went up against Spanish side and defending European champions Real Madrid. The game was crucial for Liverpool, as after their first three games they sat at a dismal three points, needing a win to keep pace with Swiss side FC Basel, sitting in front of Liverpool at second in Group B. The game was also a big one for Christiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid, as the Spanish side looked to clinch first place in Group B, while star forward Ronaldo looked to set a Champions League record for Champions League goals. Madrid scored the only goal of the game, taking the game by a score of 1-0 and clinching a spot in the round of 16. Despite the win, Ronaldo was not able to set the historic mark as the Reds’ defence stuck to him all game.
When english powerhouse Arsenal took on Belgian underdogs Anderlecht on Tuesday afternoon, many expected a cake walk from the English Gunners. When Arsenal struck for two in the first half and added another in the 58th minute to make the score 3-0, it looked as if this expectation would come true. However, Anderlecht came back, scoring two goals on penalties only twelve minutes apart, and then landing a final blow in the 90th minute to tie the game at three all in the last minutes of the match. Anderlecht shocked Arsenal with the draw, as the Belgian side stayed alive, sitting five points behind the Gunners for second place in group D.
Swiss side Basel continued their excellent Champions League run with a decisive 4-0 victory over Bulgarian side Ludogorets, while German side Dortmund defeated Turkish Galatasaray 4-1 and Spanish favourites Athletico Madrid defeated Finnish side Malmo in a 2-0 shutout. Drama continued on Tuesday as Portuguese club Benfica squeaked by French side Monaco 1-0 on a late goal from Souza Conceição in the 82nd minute and Italian club Juventus barely defeated a giant slayer in Greek side Olympiakos by the score of 3-2, thanks in part to an Olympiakos own goal in the 65th minute.
On Wednesday Portuguese side Porto defeated Spanish Athletic Bilbao, while another Portuguese team, CP Sporting Lisbon defeated German side Schalke 04 by the score of 4-2 and Paris Saint Germain narrowly defeated Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia 1-0. Also on Wednesday, Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk pummelled Belarusian club BATE 5-0.
Finally, two major upsets took place on Wednesday as CSKA Moscow took down English heavyweights Manchester City and Slovenian minnows Maribor drew with the best team in the English Premier League, Chelsea. Moscow scored a quick goal only two minutes in, but Manchester City’s Yaya Toure answered quickly only six minutes later. However, City lost their discipline in the second half, having both Fernandinho and Toure sent off, giving Manchester only nine men for the remainder of the game. Although the referee missed one or two penalties in the box, Man City still deserved the bitter loss because of their utter lack of discipline. As former Manchester City player Danny Mills said, “The referee wasn’t brilliant, but City were worse.” They’ll have to get a lot better for their next game, as City face a serious danger of being eliminated, currently sitting in last place in group E with only two games to go in the group stage.
After being thumped 6-0 in England in their last game against Chelsea, Slovenian Maribor came back to force the English powerhouses to settle for a draw, as the two teams finished deadlocked at one a piece. Maribor scored first, fifty minutes in, but Matic responded for Chelsea with an equalizer in 73rd minute. Very late in the game, Chelsea star Eden Hazard, who won the Premier League game against Queen’s Park Rangers on a late penalty goal last Saturday, had the opportunity to do the same to Maribor. However, Hazard shockingly missed the late game penalty, and the Blues had to settle for a draw.
Also on Wednesday, German side Bayern Munich defeated Italian side Roma 2-0, after they beat them 7-1 earlier this year. Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made a few spectacular saves to secure the win for the German champions.
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League continued this week with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and Montreal Canadiens all in significant action.
The week kicked off Thursday when the Vancouver Canucks faced the Montreal Canadiens in a battle of two red hot teams. The first period was the Carey Price show, as the Montreal goaltender stood on his head to keep the game scoreless after one. First blood was shed when Canuck Nick Bonino scored his fourth goal of the season in the second period off a give and go from Derek Dorsett, and the Canucks went into the third up by a score of 1-0. In the third Vancouver tacked on another goal, this one coming from Brad Richardson. Montreal however, didn’t back down, as first Alex Galchenyuk scored for the Habs and then Max Pacioretty tied it up with only two and a half minutes remaining. The game went to overtime, where Montreal was assessed an early interference penalty. On the power play the twins worked their magic, as Henrik Sedin fed a beautiful pass to his brother Daniel, who went top shelf on Carey Price to claim an overtime victory for Vancouver. Despite the loss, Montreal still salvaged a point out of the game, seeing as how it had gone to overtime.
Montreal’s next challenge came when they faced Calgary in Montreal on prime time television. The Canadiens came looking to bounce back from their loss to Vancouver, but instead Calgary’s dynamic offence came shot out of a cannon, taking a 3-0 and dominating the entire game. The final score was 6-2. Montreal’s struggles continued when they faced Chicago on Tuesday, as the Blackhawks lit up the Bell Centre with five spectacular goals, winning the game 5-0.
Montreal finally broke their losing streak Wednesday night when they played the hapless Buffalo Sabres. The game was close all the way through, and not even an overtime period was enough to settle a 1-1 deadlock, so the teams went to a shootout. The Canadiens won, as they headed into next week on a more positive note.
The Vancouver Canucks played a thriller against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night in Edmonton, with the teams going goal for goal in the first two periods, making the score 2-2 going into the final frame. Derek Dorsett, however, took the lead for Vancouver on a shorthanded goal in four minutes into the third period. The Canucks held on and Vancouver won the game 3-2. The Canucks however, would go on to lose to a tough Nashville Predators team on Sunday night, before defeating Colorado 5-2 on Tuesday.
The Toronto Maple Leafs came into the week on a high note after shutting out the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 last Tuesday, and continued that trend with a 4-1 victory over Columbus on Friday night. The Leafs faced a tougher challenge on Saturday night when they faced the Chicago Blackhawks at the Air Canada Centre on Hockey Night in Canada. The Leafs opened the scoring, but the Hawks responded, tying the game at one and then adding another in the second to take a 2-1 lead. James Van Riemsdyk scored for the Leafs to tie the game at two before Leo Komarov took out a Chicago defenceman with a huge hit behind the net. The Russian speedster then passed the luck off to Peter Holland, who picked up his first goal of the season to give Toronto a 3-2 lead late in the game. With a one goal lead, Toronto handed the game over to goaltender James Reimer, who made a few spectacular saves to close the game out for Toronto, 3-2 the final score. Unfortunately, the Leafs winning streak came to a close Tuesday when they gave up three early goals to the Arizona Coyotes and a late game surge wasn’t enough to salvage a win. They lost 3-2.