Somehow it's only Thursday? Huh, well that's not ideal. The lack of Super Bowl week excitement this year, while understandable, has only made the wait for the game feel even longer. Can we just have a Super Bowl Saturday this year instead?
While I'm struggling over here, I'll continue to do my best to help you pass the time until Sunday's kickoff. Yesterday was National Signing Day for college football, so we'll talk about some of the big winners off the top here this morning. Then we've got plenty more after that as well, including some Super Bowl memories, a surprising college basketball development and some concerning NHL news.
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Let's get you the stuff you need to know this morning.
📰 What you need to know
1. Alabama leads the way for winners on National Signing Day 🏈
Stripped of a lot of the usual fanfare due to the pandemic, National Signing Day was still an important day for a lot of college football programs around the country yesterday. There may not have been as many fancy announcements or hat selections as we've come to expect, but the day still served its purpose: For young football stars of tomorrow to reveal where they'll be playing next.
As always, there seemed to be some clear winners, so let Bud Elliott tell you who had the strongest Wednesday:
- Alabama secured the highest-rated recruiting class OF ALL TIME, beating out the Florida Gators' Class of 2010. The Crimson Tide's class has 16 of the top 91 players in the country, including seven five-star prospects
- Alabama now has had the top-ranked recruiting class in nine of the past 11 years
- Texas A&M was another big winner, as they held off my Texas Longhorns for the commitment of four-star running back LJ Johnson. The Aggies' class ranks No. 4 in the SEC (one five-star and 16 four-stars) and they may land No. 1 junior college offensive tackle Jordan Moko tomorrow
- Michigan managed to flip defensive tackle Rayshaun Benny from rival Michigan State. The Wolverines have the No. 2 class in the Big Ten and the No. 10 class overall
If you're more of a pessimist, you can read all about the big losers right here. (Spoiler alert: If your team has a new coaching staff, like mine, then you're probably not going to be thrilled with how they did.)
Shoutout to Nick Saban, the only guy in the world who apparently does his job better over Zoom than in-person.
2. Ranking all 54 Super Bowls 🏈
We've got the big game to look forward to this weekend and I think I speak for all of us when I say here's to hoping it's a BIG big game, if you know what I mean. All the big games are big, but not all big games are created equal. With that in mind, our big football expert Will Brinson has ranked the biggest of the big games.
(That is my extremely stupid way of saying "hey, check out these rankings of all 54 Super Bowls.")
- No. 19: Chiefs 31, 49ers 21 (Super Bowl LIV) -- Last year's Super Bowl slots into the Top 20, but not by much. It had a great finish (a 21-point fourth quarter comeback from Patrick Mahomes and KC) but Brinson says the game was largely disappointing
- No. 4: Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (Super Bowl LI) -- Yeah, you know the one. While this was the greatest comeback and arguably one of the most exciting finishes in Super Bowl history, it's tough to consider it the best game because the first half was a blowout. Then again, in order to erase a 28-3 lead, you first have to go down 28-3. The end justifies the means, I suppose
- No. 2: Giants 17, Patriots 14 (Super Bowl XLII) -- In what might be my least favorite Super Bowl ever, the Giants pulled off the stunning upset of the undefeated (and massively favored) Patriots. David Tyree's miracle "Helmet Catch" didn't make sense then and it still doesn't make sense now, but the iconic grab is one of the best single plays in the history of the Super Bowl
You can check out the full rankings here.
As a Patriots fan, I feel extremely blessed that 1) my favorite team has made and won a bunch of Super Bowls in my lifetime already, but also 2) most of those big games have been ridiculously entertaining. Four of Brinson's top five Super Bowls have been title games featuring New England, and nine of the top 22 are Pats games. That's insane.
I would say that it's almost impossible for Tom Brady to play in a boring Super Bowl, but that would be Super Bowl LIII erasure. Even as a Pats guy, I can admit that one was awful. Still, I think there's a lot of reason to believe that this year's matchup could be one heck of a game ... perhaps one of the best ever? Who knows. Never hurts to dream big when it comes to the big game.
3. Michigan State continues to slide as tourney approaches 🏀
Death, taxes and Michigan State making the NCAA Tournament under Tom Izzo. Three certainties, right? Well, uh, not so fast.
As we inch closer to an NCAA Tournament that is guaranteed to be inherently strange and unique in its execution, it also may be unfamiliar in its exclusion of Michigan State. The Spartans continue to slide and now they're in real danger of missing the tournament, which would be an incredibly disappointing development for one of the most proud and consistent programs in the sport.
- Michigan State has made 22 straight tournament appearances under Tom Izzo -- the third-longest active streak in Division I
- The Spartans have lost four straight games for the first time since 2006-07
- At 8-7 overall (2-7 in league play), this is MSU's worst 14-game start since 2003-04
- They haven't missed the tournament since 1996-97 (Izzo's second season on the bench)
On top of all that, the ol' rival Wolverines are sitting pretty atop the Big Ten standings right now. Salt in the wound.
And while Jerry Palm's latest edition of Bracketology has Sparty on the outside looking in, the good news is they've still got eight games left on the schedule to turn things around and keep the streak alive. It's unfamiliar territory and adversity for Izzo, but it's a good opportunity for him to remind us all that he's Tom Izzo for a reason.
4. Sabres blame Devils for NHL's latest COVID-19 outbreak 🏒
By now, you probably know how much I love hockey and obsess over it on a nightly basis, so it brings me no pleasure to bring you this news: The NHL has a serious COVID-19 problem.
We're only about three weeks into the new season, but the virus is hitting the league pretty hard already and forcing several teams to shut down operations due to positive tests and exposure concerns. The hurdles are starting to stack this week.
- The Devils and Wild both announced they're suspending their seasons yesterday. Four total teams are currently in shut down due to the virus (the Golden Knights and Sabres are the others)
- The Sabres believe that their players were exposed to the virus while playing the Devils and have spoken to the league about concerns regarding on-ice transmission
- Around 90 total players have landed on the COVID list since the season began
- A total of 22 games have been postponed already (16 of the league's 24 United States teams have been affected)
As much as it would be terrible see the entire league go into a full shutdown (even temporarily), we might be approaching that point if things keep trending in this direction -- especially if there's legitimate concern that it's spreading during play. How many teams need to press pause and how many games need to be postponed before it doesn't make sense to keep trying to push through? That's the unfortunate question that the league has to be asking right now.
📝 Odds & Ends
- St. John's pulled off a massive 70-59 upset over No.3 Villanova last night -- the Red Storm's highest ranked win on campus since 1966
- Lamar Odom and Aaron Carter are scheduled to fight one another in a celebrity boxing match this summer
- Our 'Madden 21' Super Bowl simulation predicted that Tom Brady will win his 7th ring this Sunday (all thanks to a horrible play by Patrick Mahomes in the final moments)
- Former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles
📺 What to watch tonight
🏒 Capitals vs. Rangers, 7 p.m. | NYR -110 | TV: NHL Network
🏀 Warriors vs. Mavericks, 7:30 p.m. | DAL -4 | TV: TNT
🏀 Nuggets vs. Lakers, 10 p.m. | LAL -5 | TV: TNT
🥇 The best thing I saw yesterday
Deshaun Watson's agent, David Mulugheta, completely iced Brett Favre after Favre gave a hypocritical take on Watson's trade demand.