Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Monday, January 09, 2017
TAMPA, Fla. -- So many thought it would be different.
Alabama's defense was so much better and more suited to face Deshaun Watson, and Jalen Hurts didn't have enough to win a footrace with Clemson.
And for most of the game, all of that was coming to fruition.
Until the fourth quarter.
That, folks, is where championships are won and lost. And Monday night, that's where Clemson upended mighty Alabama with a 2-yard pass to Tide slayer himself Hunter Renfrow in the Tigers' 35-31 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T.
With how badly Clemson wanted this and with how much Alabama just had to win it because of how historically good it looked before Monday night, it had to end this way. And a wild fourth quarter was the only way to do it.
You had Clemson outscoring mighty Alabama -- the fourth-quarter king -- 21-7 in the final frame thanks to back-to-back go-ahead drives of 88 and 68 yards. Renfrow, who gutted Alabama's defense last year, was the hero with his 10 catches for 92 yards and two scores, but Deshaun Watson, who cemented his Clemson legacy, was the engineer.
Rocked time after time, he stood up each time and delivered when it mattered most. Watson's fourth quarter was one for the ages, as he only needed six plays for what we all thought was his game-winning drive to put the Tigers up 28-24 with 4:38 left.
Of course, a Tide offense that had failed to convert 11 straight third downs going into the ensuing drive, charged down the field for a 68-yard touchdown drive that should have won the game. It should have won the game because when the Tide needed a pass, wide receiver ArDarius Stewart hit tight end O.J. Howard for a 24-yard strike. And when Alabama needed another throw, Jalen Hurts broke through the pocket and slipped by Clemson defenders for a beautiful 30-yard touchdown run.
But when the game needed to be won, it was Deshaun Watson who promoted the orange-and-purple confetti celebration that left a couple of Clemson players somersaulting and back flipping their way onto the field.
This one needed nine excruciating and heart-pounding plays, like that 24-yard dart to Mike Williams early or the 17-yard beaut to tight end Jordan Leggett that put the ball at the Alabama 9-yard line with the time just rushing off the clock.
Then, like so many times before, it was Watson to Renfrow, who slipped past a pick to come free and wide open in the front corner of the end zone. He then calmly flipped his historic catch to the ref as teammates mauled him.
A fantastic end to a fantastic game has given the college football world a new true king. Mighty Alabama was dethroned by having its superb defense vanquished against the very team it sought to "dominate" as cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick proudly stated earlier this week.
But on Monday night -- really, early Sunday morning -- it was Clemson who did the late dominating. It was Clemson that came out on top.
It was Clemson that Clemsoned its way to its first national title since 1981, and sent Alabama's 2016 team in the depths of the what-could-have-beens.
Sunday, January 08, 2017
FRISCO, Texas (STATS) -- James Madison played all season as if it knew something the rest of the FCS didn't know, but on Saturday, there was no denying who's the best team in the nation.
Sorry, Fargo, it's all purple reign this season.
Bryan Schor threw for two touchdowns and Khalid Abdullah rushed for 101 yards and two scores as the CAA Football champion Dukes handled Youngstown State 28-14 to claim the program's second FCS national title before 14,423 at Toyota Stadium.
The Dukes' fans reveled throughout the one-sided game, and why not considering their team's accomplishments. Having already ended North Dakota State's five-year national championship run in the semifinals, the Dukes (14-1) beat their chest in the final -- and some Youngstown State ball carriers as well -- to complete coach Mike Houston's first season with a national title. They previously won in 2004.
"This team won (a JMU-record) 14 games this year," Houston said. "They went undefeated in CAA play. They beat North Dakota State at North Dakota State. They won a national championship on a big stage. I think they go as the best team in JMU history -- hands down."
"This," senior linebacker Gage Steele said, "is going to be a moment that we talk about for the rest of our lives."
Coming into the season, James Madison simply wanted to win one playoff game, let alone the four it took as the No. 4 seed. The Dukes underachieved in the last two postseasons, losing at home in their opening game. But after Houston arrived from The Citadel, he demanded more discipline and physical play out of the Dukes, and they eventually molded into the most complete team in the FCS.
Losing only to FBS team North Carolina in mid-September, the Dukes won their final 12 games behind a physical run game, an athletic, opportunistic defense and a deadly return game.
It was all on display against Youngstown State (12-4), which sought to add to its four national titles in the 1990s. James Madison controlled the surge at the line of scrimmage -- offensively and defensively -- which allowed Schor and Abdullah to feed off each other and Steele (two sacks) to swarm Youngstown State quarterback Hunter Wells.
The Dukes made big plays early to grab control of the game.
Justin Wellons' blocked punt to end Youngstown State's first drive set up the Dukes at the Penguins' 18-yard line. Two plays later, Schor threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jonathan Kloosterman (his fifth TD catch of the playoffs) at the 11:20 mark.
A poor YSU punt then gave the Dukes the ball at midfield. Abdullah cut back for a 30-yard run before Schor connected with Rashard Davis for an 18-yard touchdown pass, making it 14-0 with 9:37 left.
"Obviously, it didn't start the way we wanted," Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini said.
"This isn't a time to point fingers."
In the second quarter, Schor and his wide receivers picked apart the YSU secondary for four completions as part of an eight-play, 87-yard drive that was capped by Abdullah's 1-yard touchdown run, which extended the Dukes' lead to 21-0 with 8:17 remaining.
While Youngstown State closed within 21-7 before halftime on Wells' 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Shane Kuhn, the unseeded Penguins' hopes for a comeback ended early in the second half. On the third play, a Wells pass deflected high into the air and cornerback Curtis Oliver intercepted it at the Youngstown State 47. The Dukes then steamrolled downfield in six plays, with Abdullah scoring from two yards out for his 25th touchdown of the season, making it 28-7.
Abdullah, named the game's most outstanding player, finished the season with 1,809 rushing yards, a James Madison record.
"It means everything," Abdullah said. "It just means that all the dreams and goals we had team came to fruition."
Youngstown State, averaging 257.5 rushing yards, didn't solve the Dukes' defensive front, which turned the Penguins one-dimensional in the second half. Wells (28 of 47, 281 yards) threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Wells with 10 seconds left to tighten the final score at 28-14, but the game wasn't that close.
The Dukes were FCS royalty again.
Friday, January 06, 2017
I thought to myself as I continued my rise through the ranks: how lucky must I be to still be playing Pangya and enjoy the game for what it's worth? I am nearing completing three weeks playing the game and I am in the middle of the National Pro ranks, building up the stats of my players while taking advantage of two cards on the Celebrity server that increase my chances of a good Pangya shot: Cadie (SC) and Mingti (HS). These two cards, when used in combination, increase my chances of a good hit and a nice combo.
Thus far, I already have most of the collabs for Hello Kitty except for the ones for Cecilia. I will need to send out 10 dollars of cookies for that so I can purchase those outfits and be more inclined to play as Cecilia, although I am more likely to focus on crafting for some of the Animal Sets that are available. I estimate that by next week I will be a World Pro, given that I earn 1200 EXP per VS Match Stroke Play win. For example, if the next rank up required me to grind for at least 7000 EXP, all I need to do is seven VS stroke play matches in succession and win them all.
My vision is for one of my golfers (either Hana or Lucia) to have a normal drive of 300 yards. That's right, 300 yards. No cheating, no trainers, no hacking, none of that fancy stuff. Just natural, casual play, Angel Candy and Pang Mastery with no expiration, a steady dose of Cocoa, and so on and so forth. A lot of my pang is going to have to go towards improving my power. Right now, Hana's normal drive is 280 yards with my Bunny Pippin caddie, my normal caddie of choice. The GMs at this game are also developing the interface and giving the community a good look at how a community-run MMORPG does its business. It's cool stuff.
Already I am progressing faster on Celebrity than I ever did on Global for the first several months. With the real world stuff coming up, I may choose to steady my pace since I am in no real rush to make World Pro E right now. This is just my third week playing the game and I do want to enjoy the journey moving up. It's not the infamous FASTPASS that riled up the established gamers back on Global, but it's close and I think by the end of the month, I will be back to Top Master C, my original rank from Global before TwinsLight, Roro Cat and Melody announced the shutdown of the server on Nov. 1 2016.
As of this blog date, I am now a National Pro B. With continued play, I could be out of the National Pro ranks very soon. But it's not where I want to be just yet. Still, it's nice to know that the itch, the fire, the drive to play Pangya is back with a vengeance. It's a nice feeling and allows me to have a peace of mind. And my heart is beating like a hammer.
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Monday, January 02, 2017
NEW ORLEANS -- Baker Mayfield passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns, including one scoring pass to fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Dede Westbrook, and seventh-ranked Oklahoma ended its season on a 10-game winning streak, defeating No. 17 Auburn 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl on Monday night.
Sooners running back Joe Mixon heard repeated boos from Auburn fans who also shouted derisive comments regarding a recently publicized video of Mixon punching a woman in the face in 2014. Mixon, who has apologized for the assault, also drew cheers from crimson-clad Oklahoma fans with his play. His two short touchdown runs were among the highlights of a performance in which he gained 180 yards from scrimmage -- 91 rushing on 19 carries and 89 receiving on five catches.
Auburn (8-5), which wound up in the Sugar Bowl despite dropping its last two Southeastern Conference games to Georgia and Alabama, entered the game hopeful that it would be buoyed by the return of quarterback Sean White, who'd missed the Tigers' final two games with a throwing shoulder injury. White led Auburn to a touchdown on its first series -- Chandler Cox's 3-yard run on fourth down -- but the quarterback left the game for good in the first half with a right arm injury.
With John Franklin and Jeremy Johnson taking the remainder of the snaps, the Tigers' offense was less consistent, increasing pressure on Auburn's 20th-ranked defense to keep the Sooners' fast-paced, high-powered attack in check.
That was bound to be a struggle.
Mixon broke loose for a 35-yard run in the third quarter that set up his second TD, which he scored from 4 yards out by diving for the pylon. Early in the fourth quarter, Samaje Perine took a direct snap for a 2-yard TD that made it 35-13.
With the Sooners (11-2) pulling away for their second Sugar Bowl triumph in four years, Auburn fans started filing out.
With back-to-back fourth-quarter runs of 16 and 15 yards, Perine reached the 83-yard mark, giving him the Oklahoma record for career yards rushing with 4,119. He added 3 more yards afterward to reach 4,122. The previous record of 4,118 was set by Billy Sims back in 1979. When Perine set the mark, Mixon quickly trotted toward him for a congratulatory embrace on the field.
Auburn: The Tigers had the talent to beat some good teams, but a lack of depth hurt them against elite competition. Oklahoma, winner of the Big 12, was the third conference champ Auburn faced this season, along with Clemson of the ACC and Alabama of the SEC. The Tigers lost all three.
Oklahoma: The Sooners continued to make a case that they've been playing well enough at the end of the season to be worthy of a College Football Playoff bid, which only makes their early season stumbles, including a lopsided loss to Ohio State, seem all the more costly.
Auburn: The Tigers head into next season with some questions at quarterback. White hoped to solidify his position as starter, but his injury could affect his spring. Meanwhile, Jarrett Stidham, a transfer from Baylor, eagerly awaits his chance to compete for first-team snaps.
Oklahoma: Mayfield is coming back after throwing for 3,965 yards this season, but the Sooners will be looking for a new starter at receiver as Westbrook, a senior, departs. Oklahoma also could lose both Mixon, a red-shirt sophomore, and Perine, a junior, to the NFL draft.