The Sports Section – Dec. 3, 2015

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NCAA Football

   This season’s big matchup between two of the big three Florida schools, the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles, went all the visiting team’s way. On Saturday the Seminoles won their third straight meeting against their in-state rivals in Gainesville. The loss ended any chance of Florida making the College Football Playoffs. The Gators were ranked 12th when they entered the game with FSU, who were ranked 13th. Even with the victory, Florida State doesn’t have a shot at the playoffs either. The dominant victory of the Seminoles was basically in the role of spoiler.

   Although Florida State put 29 points on the board, only 27 were against Florida. Florida avoided its first shutout at Florida Field since 1988 when FSU quarterback Sean Maguire had to fall on a fumble in the end zone. With 8:58 remaining in the contest the Gators got their only points on a safety. Florida reached the red zone twice Saturday, but failed to convert a fourth-and-2 play and had a 37-yard field goal blocked. It didn’t help that leading receiver Demarcus Robinson was suspended for the fourth time in three seasons.

   Things don’t get any easier for Florida. Although the Gators did earn a spot in the SEC Conference championship game in Atlanta, they will face one of the best teams in the country in #2 Alabama. They could be the biggest spoilers of the season if they could pull off the epic upset.   

   As for Florida State, they didn’t make it to the ACC Conference title game, as #1 Clemson holds the top spot. So even though FSU has moved up to #9, every team above them would have to lose before they would even be considered to be a playoff team. They will await their bowl assignment, but it seems that the victory over Florida has earned them a trip to Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Conference Championship Games

SEC (18) Florida vs. (2) Alabama at 4pm

ACC (1) Clemson vs. (8) North Carolina at 8pm

BIG TEN (4) Iowa vs. (5) Michigan State at 8pm

College Football Playoffs

   Clemson still holds the top spot ahead of #2 Alabama. A strong late season surge by Oklahoma earned them a #3 ranking after their victory over in-state rival Oklahoma State. Unless there are some major upsets, those three teams should be in the playoffs. #4 Iowa goes into the conference championship undefeated, yet a loss against #5 Michigan State would most likely knock them from the playoffs, with MSU taking their place: Then it gets confusing. Ohio State is ranked #6, but it appears that no matter what happens they can’t make the playoffs. #7 Stanford appears to have the best chance to move up if there is an upset in the top 3 after their win over #8 Notre Dame on a game-winning field goal. Then there is #10 North Carolina who, in my opinion, like Florida State has no chance to make the playoffs no matter what happens in the conference championship games.

NFL

    The Carolina Panthers remain the only undefeated team in the NFL after the New England Patriots lost in overtime to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. In a showdown that many anticipated earlier in the season as “Brady vs. Manning,” Brock Osweiler was under center for Denver, filling in for an injured Peyton Manning. Although Osweiler made some nice throws, in the end it was two big running plays that won the game for the Broncos. The Patriots aren’t actually the same team that they were at the start of the season. A rash of injuries has left their receiving corps depleted. The loss to Denver wasn’t as bad as the loss of their star tight end, Rob Gronkowski. Although an MRI was negative for ligament damage, the team’s most important player (not named Tom Brady) is week-to-week with a bone bruise and a sprained knee.

    The ’72 Dolphins will have to hold off on popping the champagne corks to celebrate as the only undefeated team in history for at least one more week. With the remaining schedule for the Panthers, the wait may be a lot longer than the old “throwback” Phins would like. It wouldn’t shock anyone if Carolina were to beat New Orleans(4-7), Atlanta(6-5), New York Giants(5-6) and Tampa Bay(5-6) to finish their season.

NBA: Setting Records

   It was a record-setting week in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers tied the dubious record of losses to start a season. On a night when Kobe Bryant was honored in his return to the city he grew up in on Tuesday, Philadelphia gave Bryant a hero’s welcome. Kobe Bryant announced his retirement earlier in the week, but his visit to Philly wasn’t the story on that night. On Tuesday night the attention was on the 76ers 28-game losing streak and their record-tying 18-0 to start the season. Unfortunately for Bryant, the 76ers were able to break the record skid with a 91-103 victory over the Lakers.

   On Monday night the Golden State Warriors went to 19-0 (NBA record) to start the season with a 106-103 win over the Jazz. The Warriors have won 23 straight regular-season games dating back to last season. Of course the team says they are “playing one game at a time,” but their opponents are surely looking to be the team that breaks the winning streak.

Mike Yost