Good morning, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies. Today’s two big stories are Kentucky’s game tonight against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, and the Alabama Crimson Tide holding on to defeat the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff championship game.
First, a few words about the football game — I hope you didn’t miss it, because it was absolutely captivating. It had everything you could ever want in a college game, and all at various times — great offense, great defense, big plays, special teams shockers — the works.
Nick Saban has now won four “national championships” (scare quotes in deference to the detractors of the various formats in which they have been decided over the years) at Alabama and one at LSU, making him among the most successful college football coaches in history and arguably in the top two or three. There will be endless debate about the impact of the format changes over time on the difficulty of accomplishing this feat, but for my money, he is right up there with the greatest and still has what looks like a lot of years left to add to that legacy.
Honestly, I thought Clemson played a great game, and they were just one big play away from upsetting the modestly-favored Tide. For a team that gets less big-time talent than the Alabama juggernaut, the Tigers had the best offense and, for much of the game, the better defense. Unfortunately, red-zone scoring gave them just enough trouble, along with an untimely turnover that led to an Alabama touchdown.
I’ve always liked Dabo Swinney, and his Clemson team played well enough to win. Yes, Saban and the Tide pulled out a totally unexpected and magical onside kick, possibly the best execution of that play I’ve ever witnessed at any level, and you can easily argue that special teams cost Clemson the game. But despite giving up that play and a returned kickoff for touchdown, the Tigers were likely only one possession away from victory. This has to be one of the top two or three top-stakes football games I’ve ever seen.
Great game. Too bad one of those fine teams had to lose.
As for tonight’s game against Mississippi State, Ken Pomeroy likes Kentucky to the tune of 81-67, and based on the fact that MSU has yet to defeat a team inside the top 100 in college basketball, I think that’s a fair prognostication for the outcome facing a top 15 team on the road.
But Kentucky’s problem is and has been inconsistency. When they all come to play, nobody is really better save perhaps Kansas and Oklahoma. But when they just show up, the Wildcats are an inferior, guard-oriented team who struggles to take care of the ball, lays more bricks than an entire mason's union local, can’t rebound well defensively, and executes the offense at random. Hopefully, they’ll do more than just show up tonight.
Tweet of the Morning
UK commitment Kash Daniel rejects an offer from Michigan on the eve of his arrival at UK. Man, that’s really cold there, Jim Harbaugh. I hate to be gauche, but “suck it”, Wolverines.
In case you missed it, former UK quarterback Reese Phillips is headed to Montana to play. Cold place. Good luck.
Coach Cal likes the cut of Ben Simmons’ jib, and while he’s at it, he insisted he wasn’t interested in taking over the Brooklyn Nets’ job.
Former Wildcats recruit Malik Newman having a “good year” for Mississippi State. I’d say that’s a fair statement. Unfortunately, he isn’t getting a whole lot of help.
I’d forgotten just how freakishly athletic Dirk Minnefield was. Here’s a memory-refresher:
Did you know that tonight’s game against MSU is “under the radar?”
Tuesday's under-the-radar games: Mississippi State at Kentucky, Davidson at Dayton, Maryland at Michigan, New Mexico at UNLV.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 12, 2016
I didn’t. I thought it was completely off the radar, and quite possibly visible only on sonar.
Dominique Hawkins is still out, and won’t play tonight. He appears to have the dreaded high ankle sprain, and if so, don’t look for him to play for the rest of the month at least.
Rumors had John Calipari asking for $12 million a year to coach the Brooklyn Nets. Coach Cal says that’s nonsense.
The bad side of having Drake as a UK fan. Well, there are always negatives having celebrities around a program, and this is just one of them.
Other Kentucky sports
After an awesome 2015, Kentucky Track & Field will kick off 2016 as hosts of the Kentucky Invitational on January 15-16. The UK women’s team enters the season as #8 in the nation.
The UK women’s team goes down to Georgia and wins convincingly. Hoops is now 13-1, and ranked #10, but things only get tougher as the South Carolina gamecocks come to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday.
Remember how we all used to mock Lane Kiffin?
That was Lane Kiffin's best play call at Alabama, period. Not an exaggeration.— Roll Bama Roll (@rollbamaroll) January 12, 2016
Alabama’s O.J. Howard, the tight end who hadn’t scored a touchdown since 2013, scored two and had a huge play last night to lead the Crimson Tide in receiving. There is no doubt at all he was the offensive Player of the Game.
You might beat Clemson in football, but you can’t beat their cuteness:
I think UK fans can feel this when it comes to Louisville:
We think Clemson should pull for our Men's and Women's basketball team now, since, you know, it's good for our state..#NeverPullForYourRival— Gamecocks Glory Road (@USC_gloryroad) January 12, 2016
Other sports news
British Athletics calls for all track and field world records to be deleted, dumped in the dust bin, and to start off with a clean slate.
Good luck with that, chaps.
Cop: I'm going to give you a sobriety test. Me: okay Cop: let's get Taco Bell Me: no thanks Cop: text your ex Me: no way Cop: ok you're good— Swedish Canary (@SwedishCanary) January 12, 2016
Of course you are aware that David Bowie has died, because how could you not be? Petra and I were just talking about his music on the way back from dinner the other night, just as “China Girl” came on the radio. Man, I always liked Bowie, from Ziggy Stardust on. Rest in peace.
The sorry legacy of Internet Explorer. Sorry, indeed.