It's another wonderful Wednesday and, as a quick reminder, you should probably get that Christmas shopping done ASAP. These last couple of weeks before the holiday tend to FLY by, so you better make sure that you're able to get me a PS5 or else you're dead to me.
Also, Barack Obama said this week that he does his best writing between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., to which I say ... those are amateur hours. Call me when you're cranking out top-notch daily newsletters at 4 a.m., Obama.
Anyway, we've got plenty of rich, juicy sports stories to get to today so you're gonna want to make sure your coffee is on the stronger side this morning. Oh, and we've got a mailbag to boot! Thanks to everyone who sent in submissions yesterday ... I appreciate you.
Let's get going here, shall we?
📰 What you need to know
1. Big Ten ADs will meet today to discuss title game eligibility 🏈
There's no question that Ohio State is one of the best college football teams in the country. They've proven as much whenever they've gotten the opportunity to take the field. Still, they may not get to play in the Big Ten title game because they haven't taken the field enough times.
Yesterday's cancellation of this weekend's Ohio State-Michigan rivalry game means the Buckeyes and Wolverines won't be meeting for the first time in a season since World War I. More importantly, though, it means that OSU (5-0) will likely fall beneath the six-game threshold the Big Ten decided was needed to qualify for its Dec. 19 championship game.
- Conference ADs, presidents and coaches unanimously agreed upon that six-game minimum in September
- Big Ten athletic directors will meet Wednesday and discuss whether they want to change that requirement
- Any vote to change that number would have to be ratified by conference presidents
- There's also the possibility that the conference could reshuffle the schedule and give Ohio State a new opponent this weekend
If Ohio State isn't able to play this weekend or in the conference title game, the next logical question becomes whether they should get a spot in the College Football Playoff. They currently sit at No. 4 in the CFP rankings and will likely play a sixth game regardless of what happens this weekend (even if they don't play in the Big Ten title game, all 12 teams not in the championship will play in the final week).
Our Dennis Dodd says that the Big Ten is going to have to choose between integrity and commerce.
- Dodd: "Now the athletic directors face the prospect of contemplating whether to rescind that requirement in the name of ... what, exactly? Money, for sure. Ohio State would have a smoother path to the playoff and a payday for the Big Ten by winning the conference title ... So does the Big Ten cut its own (financial) throat or change its rules? Hey, the ACC already did it, giving Notre Dame and Clemson a week off before the ACC Championship Game. The SEC refused to do the same for Alabama and Florida."
I'm honestly not sure what's going to happen with this whole debacle but there are two things that I do know: 1) Michigan and Jim Harbaugh are pretty lucky that they can save themselves the embarrassment of getting wrecked by OSU and 2) the Big Ten absolutely screwed the Buckeyes here. They panicked and cancelled the season in the fall, then reversed that decision before trying to squeeze an eight-game season into an eight-week window. They've got nobody to blame but themselves.
2. Ravens look impressive in dominant win over Cowboys 🏈
I spent most of yesterday having pretty much no idea what day of the week it was, and that certainly wasn't helped by the fact that we had a primetime football game. That being said, it was pretty nice to finish a Tuesday with some NFL on my TV -- especially since it diluted "The Bachelorette" spamming on my Twitter timeline.
However, it wasn't the greatest game of all time. The Ravens ran all over the Cowboys (literally) and came away with a pretty easy 34-17 win in Baltimore. With Lamar Jackson back at the helm, the Ravens looked impressive and got back on track after a pretty tumultuous past few weeks. Let's get into takeaways:
- Why the Ravens won: Baltimore crushed Dallas in the trenches. They relentlessly punched a bad/hurt Cowboys defense in the mouth with a rushing attack that accounted for nearly 300 yards -- 94 coming from Jackson. The Ravens racked up over 400 yards of total offense while controlling the football
- Why the Cowboys lost: Well, giving 294 rushing yards is certainly not going to help you win football games. The defense was brutal and the offense, while pretty solid, failed to make the most of their opportunities. It definitely didn't help that Greg Zuerlein missed three field goal tries and Dallas yielded 20 straight points after taking an early 10-7 lead
As an interesting side story to this game, Ravens receiver Dez Bryant, who was set to go up against his former team, was pulled off the field during warmups due to "an illness" about 30 minutes before kickoff. Bryant tweeted that he tested positive for COVID-19 and later posted that he was going to "call it a quit [sic] for the rest of the season... I can't deal with this" before backtracking.
Considering the fact that the Ravens have been crushed by coronavirus in recent weeks and still have a half-dozen players on the COVID-19 list, it'll be interesting to see if this Bryant story becomes anything more in the coming days.
3. What's next for Carson Wentz? 🏈
It feels like this news is a little overdue at this point, but Carson Wentz is no longer the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. In the midst of a pretty brutal season, the team has made the decision to hand the reins over to rookie QB Jalen Hurts.
Of course, we don't really know what Hurts is capable of at the NFL level just yet. He could struggle and the job could end up going back to Wentz at some point soon. But we also have to face the reality that this could also be the beginning of the end for Wentz in Philadelphia -- especially considering the fact that he has a a four-year, $128 million extension that doesn't even kick in until next year.
So, where does Wentz go from here? Our Cody Benjamin pulled off an excellent deep dive into the situation and all the ways in which it could play out. -- from keeping Wentz (either as starter or backup), cutting him or trying to trade him (and which teams might be interested.) Benjamin makes the case for and against keeping Wentz, but ultimately it sounds like the clock might be ticking.
- Benjamin: "Asked this week what Philly will do after the season, one NFL source told CBS Sports it's more likely than not the Eagles will try to trade Wentz. The source, who is familiar with Eagles management, added that it's 'possible but not likely' the team will view Wentz as salvageable, and that Wentz's 'lack of consistency and injury history make him expendable.'"
The trajectory of Wentz's career has been rather absurd to this point, huh? He was an FCS product who turned into a rising NFL star and ascended to the level of an MVP-caliber player before getting hurt and watching his backup win a Super Bowl. But he's been getting worse and worse since then and now regularly looks like one of the worst starters in the league. He's still just shy of turning 28, but it's wild that the fall has been so steep in such a short amount of time.
4. UCL Matchday 6 marked by controversy ⚽
Yesterday kicked off the final Matchday of the Champions League group stage but, even though there were a number of notable matches that had serious implications, the biggest story of the day was an ugly one. Early in Paris Saint-Germain's Group H clash with Istanbul Basaksehir, an alleged racial incident occurred that resulted in both teams walking off the pitch in protest.
- In the 13th minute, a Basaksehir assistant, Pierre Webo, was given a red card and an altercation took place
- Webo, who is Cameroonian, alleged that the official was racist toward him
- After lengthy discussions, Istanbul Basaksehir chose to leave the pitch in protest and PSG followed suit in solidarity
- UEFA said in a statement it will be "conducting a thorough investigation on the matter" and that "racism, and discrimination in all its forms, has no place within football"
- The match will resume today (12:55 p.m.) with a new official
It's also worth noting that a number of star players -- including Neymar and Mbappe -- took to Twitter to address the incident. It absolutely sucks that this was the story that dominated the soccer news cycle, but good on the two teams for taking a stand and making a powerful statement.
For the day's scores and storylines, you can head here. And don't forget that we've got another huge slate in store today as the group stage will come to a close and the Round of 16 will be finalized. It's also important to remember that Zinedine Zidane may be coaching for his job today in Real Madrid's final match of the round.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Former Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman, who left the broadcast booth after using a homophobic slur last season, will call winter ball games in Puerto Rico
- Giants players have been huge fans of a rule change from Joe Judge that has allowed them to get more sleep
- Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye is facing a suspension for PEDs
📺 What to watch today
⚽ Ajax vs. Atalanta, 12:55 p.m. | TV: CBS All-Access
⚽ Real Madrid vs. Monchengladblach, 3 p.m. | TV: CBS All-Access
🏀 No.4 Michigan State vs. No.18 Virginia, 9:15 p.m. | VIR -1.5 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
After 15 days off, Lamar Jackson threw for 107 yards and ran for 94 while picking up three touchdowns.
💵 Winning wagers: BAL -8.5, Over (45.5)
Ayo Dosunmu had 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds while the Illini shot 58% from the field.
💵 Winning wagers: ILL +133, Over (146.5)
Jalen Wilson hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds to seal the win.
💵 Winning wagers: KAN -173
I am wondering where you think Minnesota ranks among other states/cities in terms of the most unclutch and terrible sports teams? - Sam
Listen, I'd love to sit here and run through all the sad and depressing ways that Minnesota sports teams have let their fans down, but it doesn't seem necessary. One of my favorite things about Minnesota (besides the fact that it's just a great state) is that the people seem to be nice and incredibly self-aware. They know that their teams are brutal ... and yet they still love them anyway. I'd also put Buffalo in that category as well, but maybe this could be the Bills' year?! (Probably not.)
Also, Minnesota deserves so much better than the Wild -- one of the most thoroughly uninteresting franchises in all of sports.
What is your favorite seasonal libation? Your favorite holiday cookie? Your favorite holiday song? Your favorite holiday movie? -Michelle
Woah, settle down. One at a time. Let's run through these real quick:
Libation: Winter is one of the best beer seasons and I love me a nice seasonal amber lager in the winter. But I can also very much get down with some eggnog or a hot toddy.
Cookie: All of them. Just give me all of them.
Song: "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" or "Last Christmas"
Movie: "Home Alone"
When you hunker down to binge watch TV, what food or foods do you want on hand to supplement your fluid intake? -David
I'm a big chips and salsa guy when it comes to long couch sessions, mainly because you can just mindlessly munch for hours without feeling too sick or disgusting afterward. Also, if we're looking for a healthier option ... baby carrots and celery with ranch dressing hits the spot too.
You going to get "Cyberpunk 2077" and, if so, how do you plan on writing your newsletter/doing anything other than playing? Asking because I'm sincerely concerned I might forget I have a job when it comes out. -Jake
I am! I'm doing my best to limit my expectations and not let all the hype get to me, but I'm excited to play today. As for how I plan on writing the newsletter over the next few days ... are you available to fill in so I can grind these hours?
What were some of your favorite ideas for a team name for The Washington Football Team? -Yitz
The Washington Breadsticks. Sounds somewhat similar to the last name they used, except it's way less problematic. And who doesn't love breadsticks??? (I stole this joke from "Master of None," a very good show that I miss very much.)