NEWS ALERT ... Auburn beats Alabama
Nick Saban's poor decisions haunt top-ranked Crimson Tide and Tigers win 34-28 when Chris Davis returns a missed field goal 100-plus yards with no time remaining
A high-profile Boise State athletics program is basking in the glow of a perfect start.
Just not the one you typically expect to be thriving with an umblemished opening stretch.
The Boise State basketball program has never won a single NCAA tournament contest but defeated Utah 69-67 on Tuesday to start 7-0 for the first time in program history. (see the best story you’ll find on this game right here – http://collegebasketball.ap.org/article/boise-state-ekes-out-win-over-utah-69-67-0).
After the victory, I asked Broncos coach Leon Rice what kind of satisfaction the best start in school history is providing.
“That’s a great milestone — I like milestones,” Rice said. “For us, these have been great. And to have to win a game like this to get it, it’s much deserved.”
If you’re counting, the basketball season has been ongoing for nearly four weeks and those zero defeats are four fewer losses than what the school’s football program has already endured this season.
The impressive start is heady stuff for a program that was boring before Rice took over and barely drew 3,000 fans per game the first season in which I lived in the fine city of Boise.
The Broncos are on the verge of cracking the national rankings and just might be next Tuesday when they face a really hard challenge – playing powerful Kentucky on its home floor.
Now beating the Wildcats would really rank as an impressive milestone for Rice.
What do you know – Cable One helped itself to some of my money today due to the fact that it currently provides me with cable, phone and Internet usage.
Funny though, my bill was the same as any other month despite the company claiming refunds were in order for the fact that they were involved in a bitter dispute with Turner during the month of October. You know, the silly quarrel that prevented millions of customers in 19 different states from seeing the National League baseball playoffs.
Cable One used one of the bare Turner channels to make it clear how they weren’t at fault and how customers would be getting a credit once the dispute was over. Well, the dispute ended right before the NBA began season in late October and a month later, there still hasn’t been a refund.
Of course, if Cable One cares so little about customers that it can’t figure out a way to keep one of the most important sporting events from being blacked out, you know little people like you and I mean to them.
The only time any of us matter to Cable One or Turner or Major League Baseball is when they can get their greedy hands on our money.
Pretty much makes you want to laugh when you see the Cable One advertisement where the theme is “Common Sense.”
But in the social media age, normal people who were once powerless have a lot of pull. Cable One can blow you off on the phone all it wants or send stupid emails with links to MLB.com – yes, a PAY site – but it also can be exposed for its practices by any customer at any time.
Companies seem to forget consumers have choices. I’m hoping to buy property when my lease next runs out.
So what should we rate Cable One’s chances at keeping my business?
Hmmmm, they weren’t able to show me the baseball playoffs that I already paid to watch via the previous month’s bill?
They don’t have the NFL Red Zone channel like the more-popular and more-respected DirecTV does? Doesn’t offer the MLB package either?
Oh, they promised a refund for the failure to provide agreed-upon services and it still hasn’t come? Perhaps they are still figuring out a way to where I only have to pay half my bill next month, right?
We all know whatever refund eventually comes will be skimpy – because that what these greedy companies do.
So yeah, you can guess what my response will be sometime next year when a Cable One representative wants to know why they no longer have my business.
I will be telling them that they struck out.
You know, because it’s “Common Sense.”
Anyway, the month of October was a mighty fun time when snarky tweets about Cable One, Turner and MLB became the real national pastime.
You can re-live the fun below:
Looks like @CableOne is failing at “common sense.” My complaint email per baseball playoffs led to them sending link to their spin control.
It also says, you DO NOT need to call. Think that means @CableOne doesn’t want to have to hear from millions of baseball fans they shafted.
Something called the American Cable Association has sharply criticized @MLB_TBS for shutting out millions of fans from baseball postseason.
Baseball playoff games were easier to watch when I was a kid as they were only on major networks. Not on fifth-rate channels like @MLB_TBS
You can’t spell TBS without BS.
Hey @cableONE you suck! Give me back TBS!
Intended to watch my first MLB playoff game tonight until I remembered I have @cableONE where TBS stands for Too Bad Sucker!
This is a sick joke cable one. My TBS channel better not still be black in an hour or I’m going to start freakin out!! #CardinalNation
Seriously Kansas!? Cable one doesn’t carry tbs so no Cardinals game in the whole town. Grrr
@cableONE is less popular than Congress which has a 5% approval rating.
Thanks Cable One I can’t watch the Pirates!!!
Cable One is not doing it for me right now….. I JUST WANT TO WATCH THE CARDINALS GAME. #GetItTogether
I would watch the Tigers Game, But cable one got rid of Tbs, Rghhh
Sure am glad cable one got rid of TBS so I cant watch the tigers game…smh
This has been a very weird San Diego State football season.
Lots of missed field goals and extra points, lots of weird decisions by coach Rocky Long and lots of occasions to laugh at how baffling the Aztecs are.
A season with a blowout loss at the hands of FCS program Eastern Illinois. A late-game collapse that prevented a victory against Oregon State of the Pac-12. Not to forget the kicking buffoonery that cost the Aztecs an upset of Fresno State, the top program in the Mountain West this season.
But San Diego State made its season on Saturday night when it went to overtime for the fourth time this season and posted a 34-31 victory over Boise State. Suddenly, the Aztecs have won seven of eight games since an 0-3 start.
That’s also back-to-back win over the Broncos, who not all that long enough were one of the better college football programs in the country.
Doesn’t matter that Boise State has declined since losing a bevy of NFL-caliber players and is now a four-loss team in 2013. San Diego State typically doesn’t beat teams like the Broncos, particularly if the game is close.
So the program dubbed “Stinkin’ San Diego State” by California quarterback Dave Barr in the mid-1990s – and then lived up to the moniker for the next 15 years – is celebrating an epic victory over Boise State for the second straight year.
Quinn Kaehler’s 10-yard pass to Colin Lockett provided the winning points but what stood out most of the game was that San Diego State was physically tougher than Boise State. As wacky as Long is sometimes with his decisions, the lack of toughness under coaches like Tom Craft and Chuck Long were huge problems.
The Aztecs are 7-4 overall and 6-1 in Mountain West play and headed to a bowl game for a fourth straight season. If you don’t understand how different that is when it comes to San Diego State football, consider this:
I covered the Aztecs football program for seven seasons from 2000-06 – and I never once covered them in a bowl game.
And, um, they never once had a winning record – and lost to teams like Idaho and Cal Poly and, well, most everybody else.
So losing to San Diego State in back-to-back seasons won’t go over well in Boise. The spoiled folks in that fine city still haven’t accepted that the Boise State program has slipped a bit and being trounced by Washington and Brigham Young didn’t quite reduce the egos of their fans to the proper level.
Losing to San Diego State in consecutive years should speed that up.
In fact, you know how I know Boise State’s period of football dominance is over?
Because the Broncos lost to San Diego State in back-to-back years.
Broncos coach Chris Petersen has been exposed a few times this season. And losing to Rocky Long again – and being out-prepared as well – isn’t one of his finest moments.
But for San Diego State, this qualifies as a very fine moment. Because the Aztecs don’t get many of those.
So yeah, weird season indeed.
Rocky Long once had a female kicker on his team at New Mexico. It is time for him to try the girl kicker route at San Diego State.
The Aztecs’ kicking situation has been a mess – continuing the longstanding school tradition of wilting when staring at uprights – and it led to a 35-28 overtime loss to No. 15 Fresno State on Saturday.
Long once allowed Katie Hnida to be part of his Lobos’ squad. In 2003, she became the first female to score points in a major-college game.
Something tells me it is time for Long to spend time observing San Diego State women’s soccer practices. There has to be somebody on campus with a strong leg who doesn’t become fearful when the job calls for kicking a football.
The kicking game has been a constant problem during Long’s three seasons as coach – so much that his decision-making has often been affected by the issue. Shouldn’t be this hard to find one kid – repeat, ONE – who can kick at the major-college level.
Since it has been such a hard task for Long, I expect to hear of campus-wide open tryouts this week. Complete with ponytails hanging out the back of the helmets.
Let them wear skirts if they are uncomfortable wearing football gear. Who cares – just find one person who can kick the ball.
Guys like Andy Trakas, Peter Holt and Tommy Kirovski received some company in the San Diego State kicker Hall of Shame on Saturday when Seamus McMorrow had a 37-yard field-goal attempt blocked on the final play of regulation.
But this isn’t all on Saturday’s kicker. Long deserves part of the blame.
The Aztecs had plenty of time to score a touchdown and Fresno State’s defense looked gassed. Yet even though Long has little confidence in his kicking game, he and offensive coordinator Bob Toledo went conservative to set up for the kick.
The decision was made at a time where you could picture every San Diego State fan yelling the same thing: “Nooooo, try to score a touchdown.”
If there was ever a time for former cheerleader Chet Carney III – the chunky guy who wore the white hard hat – to yell “point to the end zone,” this was it.
McMorrow had never made a collegiate field goal – he badly missed a 40-yarder earlier in the game – so it really wasn’t much of a stunner when Fresno State’s Marcel Jensen blocked the last-second kick.
Remember, McMorrow only ascended to starting kicker because the previous guy (Wes Feer) had digressed so badly.
You may recall McMorrow drilling one of his own linemen in the helmet with an extra-point attempt in the previous game against Air Force. Doink!
So add this latest kicking fiasco to the San Diego State lore, a dubious list that includes Trakas’ game-winning attempt against USC that landed near Tierrasanta in 1992, Holt’s 35-yard shank that allowed 0-10 UNLV to stomp out San Diego State’s bowl hopes in 1996 and Kirovski’s chip-shot 31-yarder being blocked by Fresno State for a loss in Tom Craft’s first game as coach in 2002.
So a rare victory over a nationally ranked team was missed on Saturday because the Aztecs don’t possess a bona fide college kicker.
It’s time to try something different. Long needs to let history repeat itself.
Invite a female kicker to join the football team. The results can’t be any worse.
That was sure a much different San Diego victory than anyone predicted.
You’d figure Philip Rivers would have to outduel Andrew Luck in a shootout for the Chargers to beat the Indianapolis Colts. Instead, it was a punishing, physical effort in which the Chargers played keep-away in posting a 19-9 victory on the Monday Night Football stage.
San Diego controlled the ball for more than 38 1/2 minutes in a superbly coached game by coach Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator John Pagano. Ryan Mathews had his best outing of the campaign with 102 rushing yards and kicker Nick Novak booted four field goals.
The Chargers (3-3) didn’t commit a turnover – yes, Rivers really wasn’t picked off in a nationally televised game – and had twice as many first downs (24 to 12) as the Colts. The effort was nearly as attractive as the sweet power-blue uniforms.
It was a truly a complete performance for the Chargers, who now receive the opportunity to play the Jacksonville Jaguars next. (Also known as the game you BETTER NOT LOSE).
Monday’s ball-control plan saw San Diego run off 72 offensive plays – the Colts had just 48 – and it featured four consecutive long scoring drives to keep Luck and the Colts off the field.
Three of those long forays ended with Novak field goals, which helped Indianapolis stay in the game. But there wouldn’t be a third final-quarter meltdown this time around as San Diego remained sturdy down the stretch and sealed the victory on Novak’s 50-yard field goal with 1:55 to play.
Apparently, Rivers had a chip on his shoulder over the pregame buildup for Monday’s game. Most of the national focus was about the contest being Luck’s first time on Monday Night Football.
“I wasn’t sure who the Colts were playing this week – all the ads I saw,” Rivers said in a postgame interview on ESPN minutes after the contest.
There was a lot of attention to a faceoff between the Pagano brothers but younger bro John was the happier sibling after his stellar defensive game plan helped hold older brother Chuck’s squad to its lowest point total in Luck’s 22 games with the franchise.
Another bright spot for the Chargers was rookie receiver Keenan Allen, who had nine receptions for 107 yards for his second straight 100-yard outing. Allen also scored the lone touchdown when he maneuvered away from double coverage to haul in a 22-yard scoring catch.
It was a good effort for the Chargers. And one that was as well-timed as it was surprising.
“Nobody game us a chance,” said Rivers, “and I wouldn’t have either.”
The trick is now following it up with another strong one if the Chargers want to legitimately be part of the AFC wild-card race.
The Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers played in Boise on Friday night, marking the first time since 2003 that an NBA preseason contest was played in Idaho’s capital city.
Portland point guard Damian Lillard scored a game-high 23 points and two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 on 8-of-9 shooting as the Trail Blazers posted a 96-86 victory.
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 20 points in the contest played before a standing-room only crowd of 6,268.
It surely won’t take another 10 years for the NBA to return to Boise. The Idaho Stampede of the NBA D-League have a working affiliation with the Trail Blazers and the enthusiasm in cozy CenturyLink Arena left a good impression.
Stampede coach Michael Peck told me he believes Boise can land into a preseason rotation system of hosting a Trail Blazers’ game.
“Absolutely. I think that’s very realistic,” Peck said. “Every year, I don’t know – and to be honest with you, I’m not in that decision-making process. I think every other year is very feasible and realistic and I think it makes sense.”
Lillard, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, stood out in Friday’s game as he repeatedly schooled Utah point guard Trey Burke, the consensus college player of the year last season at Michigan. Burke had just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.
“Playing against him, I felt like I had to set the tone,” Lillard said afterwards. “He was the first point guard taken. He’s kind of in a similar situation as I was coming in. When I came in, there were guys who wanted to show me something and set the tone on me because it was my first year and I was summer league MVP and there was all this hype. Same goes for him.”
All in all, it was a fine night of basketball in Boise. And it definitely won’t take 10 years for there to be another such evening.
I covered a game in 2008 when the San Diego Chargers were blanked in the first half by the Oakland Raiders and later scored 25 fourth-quarter points to pull out an improbable victory.
But the Chargers had a secret weapon that sunny day in Oakland five years ago and it had nothing to do with LaDainian Tomlinson running wild in the second half.
Yep, Lane Kiffin was coaching the Raiders that day. It was his final game before being fired.
Kiffin wasn’t in the facility this time around as the Chargers committed five turnovers and put up a substandard performance while digging themselves a huge hole in a 27-17 loss to the Raiders late Sunday night.
The game ended at 11:40 Pacific time – 2:40 a.m. Monday morning in the East – due to the time being moved back because of the Oakland Athletics being involved in the major-league baseball playoffs.
And for two-thirds of the contest, it appeared that only the Raiders were interested in playing at the late hour.
Oakland was strong at the outset and quickly built a 17-point lead. The Chargers were so dreadful over the first 2 1/2 quarters that you would’ve thought Otis Sistrunk, Matt Millen and Lester Hayes were back on the Oakland defense.
Then Nick Novak had a field-goal attempt blocked with under six minutes left in the quarter. But instead of the Raiders taking over, backup tight end Ladarius Green scooped up the ball behind the line of scrimmage – making it eligible to be run with – and notched a first down.
The Chargers eventually got on the board a minute later on a Novak field goal and the late-night weirdness took another turn against San Diego when Danny Woodhead fumbled and Charles Woodson – yes that ancient defensive back who entered the NFL the same year (1998) the Chargers selected Ryan Leaf – scooped it up and ran 25 yards for his 13th career defensive touchdown to make it 24-3.
But signs of a comeback picked up when Philip Rivers threw touchdown passes to Woodhead and Keenan Allen in the first five minutes of the final quarter to make it a seven-point game.
Perhaps history would repeat itself but as quickly as Sebastian Janikowski could boot a 50-yard field goal from second base, the comeback was derailed.
Rivers was intercepted twice in the final two minutes – that made a season-high three for the game – and the Chargers now take a 2-3 record into a Monday night contest with the fearsome Indianapolis Colts.
“We had every opportunity at the end there and that says a lot about the character of the football team after being down 17-0,” coach Mike McCoy said in his postgame press conference.
Rivers finished with 411 yards for his third 400-yard outing in five games under McCoy’s tutelage but he was outplayed by Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor, who was 18-of-23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chargers also had no sign of a running game against the Raiders with just 32 yards on 19 rushing attempts. Ryan Mathews left early with a concussion and neither Woodhead or Ronnie Brown fared well.
Now San Diego needs to rebound against the Colts or risk being 2-4 six games into the season with two games each against undefeated AFC West rivals Denver and Kansas City still ahead.
We will learn a lot about this football team – and its rookie head coach – by the way the Chargers play against Andrew Luck and the Colts.
All it took for Philip Rivers to regain his form was for the San Diego Chargers to finally discard Norv Turner.
The 31-year-old quarterback has played terrific football through four games and he can aim for another huge performance on Sunday night against the Oakland Raiders when practically nobody in the country will be watching.
The Chargers and Raiders will kick off their latest grudge-match game at 8:35 p.m. Pacific time, which is 25 minutes before midnight on the East Coast.
Pretty silly to start an NFL game at that time but it does remind us all that being a sports fan out West is infinitely better than being one back East.
Meanwhile, Rivers has been reminding everyone that he hasn’t lost his skills despite back-to-back poor seasons. He has been refreshed under new coach Mike McCoy, new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and new quarterback coach Frank Reich.
The new approach has resulted in production similar to the old Rivers – when he was one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks from 2008-10 by passing for 82 touchdowns against 33 interceptions. In the last two seasons, the numbers regressed to 53 touchdowns and 47 turnovers (35 interceptions, 12 lost fumbles).
Rivers has completed 73.9 percent of his passes for 1,199 yards and 12 touchdowns over San Diego’s first four games. Just as impressive is he has thrown just two interceptions in 142 pass attempts and no longer resembles the turnover machine he was in Turner’s last two seasons.
As the talent of the offensive personnel digressed and Turner kept running the same plays in the same formations that defensive coordinators had repeatedly seen for years, Rivers’ production suffered. We learned that he was incapable of carrying a team and it seemed that Turner wasn’t getting the message – partly because of his lack of confidence in the running game behind underachieving Ryan Mathews.
But funny how McCoy and staff can come in with different philosophies and ideas and here we see Rivers flourishing again. He’s putting up the big numbers despite projected starting receivers Danario Alexander (knee) and Malcom Floyd (neck) done for the season.
Tight end Antonio Gates is playing well so far, Eddie Royal is bouncing back from a poor 2012 campaign and free-agent acquisition Danny Woodhead is supplying the backfield receiving threat that has been missing since Darren Sproles was allowed to leave.
Dang, just imagine if the Chargers hadn’t mistakenly let Vincent Jackson walk too.
We’ll see what happens with Rivers as the season progress. There is a lot of football to be played and the Chargers have yet to see either of their fast-charging AFC West rivals in the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.
But through four games, Rivers has been terrific. He’s been so good that he has single-handedly made the Chargers fun to watch again.
Well, at least for those who can stay up late and watch the contest.
If you saw the hit Malcom Floyd took during Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles and witnessed the length of time he lay motionless on the field, this bit of news might stun you.
The San Diego Chargers receiver avoided a major injury and even met with the media on Monday.
Floyd was taken to a Philadelphia-area hospital after being hit hard by Philadelphia defenders DeMeco Ryans and Nate Allen during San Diego’s 33-30 victory. Floyd was diagnosed with a neck sprain and is unlikely to play this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
When it comes down to it, who cares if Floyd misses a game or two? Think of that again – all he has is a sprained neck after a scary situation in which he was carted off the field on a stretcher.
The diagnosis could have been much, much worse.
“I could be in a wheelchair right now,” Floyd said Monday. “But I’m up and walking and ready to get better every day.”
Floyd was sporting a neck brace in his media session and will undergo further testing before he is cleared to return.
The 32-year-old described the feeling upon taking the fierce direct hit from a charging Ryans.
“As soon as I got hit, all of my limbs just went limp and there was a huge shock throughout my body,” Floyd said. “Once I came to, my neck was pretty sore. So (trainer) James Collins came on the field and just told me to stay down. They just wanted to make sure my neck was secure before I started moving around.”
Floyd had five receptions for 102 yards before getting injured to help Mike McCoy get his first win as Chargers’ coach. He caught a career-best 56 passes last season and has evolved into a reliable target for Philip Rivers after nearly being cut early in his career when he caught a grand total of 25 passes from 2004-07.
I was covering the Chargers when Floyd began to develop with a 27-catch season in 2008. And trust me when I tell you there is something else about him that is more impressive than his talent.
He is truly a superb person – very humble, extremely polite and easy to deal with.
Floyd certainly proved that again by meeting with reporters on Monday when the vast majority of NFL players would have used the injury as an excuse not to field questions.
He’s accountable, he’s personable, he’s talented and best of all – he’s not paralyzed.
The new Chargers’ era looked a lot like the previous one in Mike McCoy’s debut as San Diego head coach.
That’s right, the Chargers again blew a big lead – showing that it takes awhile to get rid of the “Norvocaine” once Norv Turner serves as coach of your team.
San Diego blew a 21-point, third-quarter lead this time around and fell 31-28 loss to the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Randy Bullock kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to cap off Houston’s run of 24 unanswered points. (see stellar game recap here – http://sltrib.sportsdirectinc.com/football/nfl-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NFL/results/2013-2014/recap37607.html).
You might recall last season’s Monday Night Football meltdown against the Denver Broncos when the Chargers let a 24-0 lead get away. It was one of five times that San Diego blew a halftime lead.
The first game of the McCoy era wasn’t as ugly as last season’s collapse against Denver but you could see it coming. One of those obvious things too – you know, like knowing Eddie Royal would drop a key third-down pass.
The Chargers led 28-7 when Texans receiver Andre Johnson got loose for a first down on third-and-18. Being the smart observer I am – or is the smart-ass I am? – I immediately predicted on Twitter that catch would mark the beginning of San Diego’s downfall.
And sure enough it was. Houston’s Matt Schaub finished that drive with a touchdown pass to Garrett Graham and the Texans got a huge break when trying to settle for a field goal on their next drive as San Diego’s Cam Thomas was called for a personal foul for unnecessary roughness on the snapper. Schaub hit Owen Daniels for a touchdown on the ensuing play and the Texans were quickly down by just seven points.
As any longtime Chargers’ fan knows, a collapse isn’t official until Philip Rivers does his part. The quarterback who threw four touchdown passes over the first three quarters made a poor throw that Houston linebacker Brian Cushing dove for and intercepted. Cushing got up and raced 18 yards for a tying score with 9:30 left.
By that point, the only suspense was figuring out exactly how the Texans would win the game. You knew it wouldn’t be the Chargers leaving the field victorious.
As Texans star J.J. Watt said after the contest — “in the second half, we just found a way.” You can say that about the Chargers too.
They found a way to lose.
Blowing a big lead against one of the AFC’s better teams is now magnified by the fact that the next two games are on the road against Philadelphia and Tennessee.
One collapse doesn’t make a season – but it also is a huge reminder of the killer instinct that the Chargers lacked under Turner.
All we know for now is they lacked it again in McCoy’s first game as head coach.