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College Football Power Rankings: Alabama back in top three as Oklahoma, Texas A&M fall sharply




There is one undefeated Power Five program left. Tennessee tested the Dawgs in the first half, but UGA rolled to finish out its SEC schedule. It can now tune up against Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech before the SEC Championship Game. Of course, Kirby Smart has probably been working on Alabama stuff since spring practice. — 10-0

Oklahoma’s loss helped, a lot. With only three undefeateds left, Cincinnati has to be seriously considered for the CFP now. Unless the SEC and Big Ten both get two in, how are you going to keep the Bearcats out if they keep winning? Might be a decision between a one-loss Oregon and undefeated Cincinnati. Who ya got? 1 10-0

That moan (or cheer) you heard was a continent of bettors reacting to the Tide covering the 51.5-point spread with 10 fourth-quarter points against New Mexico State. After a glorified, full-priced (for the fans) scrimmage, it’s back to the real world this week against Arkansas. 1 9-1

Body of work counts at this stage. Oregon’s body of work includes a two-month-old win over Ohio State that has stood the test of time. That’s enough to keep the Ducks in the top four. Joe Moorhead deserves the Broyles Award for maneuvering Anthony Brown through this season. And how about 635 combined rushing yards the last two weeks? 1 9-1

Ohio State
Outside the playoff at this point, for sure. The Buckeyes are clearly the best team in the Big Ten, but they still have to prove it and finish. C.J. Stroud is probably the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, but he still must prove it, too. 1 9-1

Oklahoma State
The new frontrunner in the Big 12? The Cowboys have everything in front of them after stifling TCU. OSU can get into the Big 12 Championship Game by winning out against Texas Tech and Oklahoma. At that point, we must talk about playoff contention. 1 9-1

Clutch, thy name is Wolverine. Budding star Erick All caught the winning touchdown pass at Penn State with less than 3 minutes left. All went into the Michigan State game with 16 catches on the season. In the last two games, he has 14. Michigan remains my sleeper pick for the CFP. 3 9-1

Michigan State
The Spartans arrive in Columbus, Ohio, this week with the Big Ten East on the line. The loser is eliminated from the CFP. The winner still has a significant hurdle left. MSU’s key is controlling the clock in The Shoe with Kenneth Walker III. The Buckeyes have won the last four meetings by a combined 129 points. 1 9-1

Lincoln Riley and OU still have everything out in front of them. They can win out and grab the Big 12 for the seventh straight year. The challenge will be convincing the CFP Selection Committee to somehow forget the job Baylor did on them. The last time OU was this inefficient (six points in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl), offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was fired and Bob Stoops hired Riley. 7 9-1

Notre Dame
No Brennan Armstrong, big problem for Virginia. Without one of the nation’s best passers, the Cavaliers had no answer for the methodical Fighting Irish. Cincinnati’s best friend in the CFP race is now 9-1. The Irish have to beat a pair of 3-7 teams, Georgia Tech and Stanford, to get to at least 11 wins for the third time in the last four years. That last happened in 1993. 2 9-1

Among Dave Aranda’s many accomplishments Saturday was shutting down Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims. In two career games against Baylor, Mims has three catches for 16 yards. The Bears find themselves in the running for a second Big 12 Championship Game berth in three years … with two different coaches! Something special is happening in Central Texas. 3 8-2

Ole Miss
Hear me out: Lane Kiffin for SEC Coach of the Year. It could happen. Ol’ Kiff has developed into a program guy, not just an offensive genius who says quirky things. That was a methodical takedown of Texas A&M that puts the Rebels in position for a New Year’s Six bowl. 1 8-2

Wake Forest
Wake has taken this basketball-on-grass thing a bit too far. Its games have averaged a combined 88 total points the last six contests. It has been involved in four games this season decided by three points, winning three of them. Another day, another shootout, 45-42 over NC State. 2 9-1

The most eye-popping stat of the week is Kirk Ferentz getting a $500,000 bonus for winning his eighth game over Minnesota. Quite a haul for essentially going 8-4. Nick Saban got $25,000 for his ninth victory. Tells you something about the expectations at both places. 1 8-2

Kenny Pickett became the program’s all-time passing leader with 346 yards to beat North Carolina in overtime. More than 30 NFL executives came to Pickett and North Carolina’s Sam Howell. A Wake-Pittsburgh ACC Championship Game is becoming a reality. 1 8-2

Bye. Utah is likely playing for the Pac-12 title. BYU has beaten four Pac-12 teams (including Utah). That incongruous possibility will be solved when the Cougars join the Big 12. The Cougars finish the season by playing Clay Helton’s current team (Georgia Southern) and his former team (USC). 2 8-2

The Roadrunners pulled away from Southern Miss in the final minutes to stay one of three undefeated in FBS. That means something if, say, Cincinnati happens to lose. It’s a longshot, but do you realize UTSA could be playing in a New Year’s Six bowl? 5 10-0

It’s possible Houston is the most anonymous 9-1 team in the nation. The Cougars clinched a spot in the AAC Championship Game by routing Temple. Cincinnati, tied for the nation’s second-longest winning streak (10), actually is further away, having to still win one game to get there against the Cougars, tied for the third-longest winning streak (nine). 1 9-1

Texas A&M
The Aggies still have the receipts from that Alabama win. At this point, that’s the only thing keeping them in the Power Rankings following a disappointing loss at Ole Miss. They went from highest-ranked two-loss team to highest-ranked three-loss team. Molotov, Jimbo. 7 7-3

So, they do grow tailbacks on trees in Madison! The latest, 17-year-old Braelon Allen, ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns against Northwestern. Wisco has won six in a row since stinking it up earlier. NR 7-3

Sam Pittman led the Razorbacks to their seventh win in an overtime victory over LSU. That’s the most wins for Arkansas since 2015. If Pittman beats Alabama this week, they’ll build a statue. 2 7-3

With Florida perhaps coming open, Billy Napier may have options. A ninth consecutive win kept momentum going for the Ragin’ Cajuns fourth straight appearance in the Sun Belt Championship Game. They have home-field advantage for the first time. 3 9-1

San Diego State
The Aztecs seized control of the Mountain West — I love writing that — in beating Nevada. It was another opportunity to watch SDSU’s most valuable player, kicker/punter Matt Araiza. He has two 80 yard punts this year and more than 15 greater than 60 yards. Araiza’s nation-leading 52.2-yard average would the longest in the game in at least 13 years. NR 9-1

NC State
Devin Leary threw for 408 yards and four touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Wake Forest. Time to recalculate goals now that the Wolf Pack are all but eliminated from the ACC Atlantic race. Dave Doeren already has won at least seven for the seventh time in eight seasons. 3 7-3

Game of the year for both teams with Oregon coming to town this week. Oregon can clinch the Pac-12 North with one more win or an Oregon State loss. A Utah win would knock the Pac-12 out of the CFP. Does it care? No. The Utes can clinch the South with one more win or an Arizona State loss. NR 7-3

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Dan Orlovsky Makes All-Time Claim About 1 AFC Duo



(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)


When it comes to top players in the NFL, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs are two of the all-time best at their respective positions.

Mahomes and Kelce are coming off a Week 3 game in which they helped the Chiefs defeat a miserable Chicago Bears team by 31 points.


ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky came away from the latest performance of this duo thoroughly impressed, but it probably isn’t for a reason that most noticed while watching the game live this past Sunday.

Orlovsky couldn’t contain his excitement when discussing a play he shared on Wednesday from a Kansas City offensive drive in Week 3.

In his post, the ESPN analyst did his best to share with the world how much Mahomes and Kelce are on the same exact page when they’re out on the field together each week.

In the play he shared, Orlovsky points out how Kelce likely cut off his planned route to the corner of the left side of the field in order to avoid a defender, and instead of throwing the ball to the original planned spot, Mahomes noticed the same thing the tight end saw, and he put the football right in Kelce’s bread basket.


It’s this kind of excellence that has resulted in the Chiefs being able to appear in three of the last four Super Bowls and win two of them.

Mahomes and Kelce already possess enough physical tools to excel at their craft in the NFL, but it’s the mental skills of this duo that have allowed them to separate from their peers in terms of greatness.

The post Dan Orlovsky Makes All-Time Claim About 1 AFC Duo appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Flames moving in right direction again by putting faith in Backlund



CALGARY — Standing patiently outside the Calgary Flames dressing room, like the thousands of kids he’s signed for over the years, Mikael Backlund waited for the inscription.

He’d purchased an autographed Lanny McDonald jersey at the Flames’ charity golf tourney, and this was his chance to have the legend personalize it.

With Sharpie in hand, McDonald disappeared into the coach’s office to pen something meaningful.


The list of autographed jerseys Backlund has collected over the course of his 14-year career can be counted on one glove, as the polite Swede has only dared to ask a few Flames legends, like Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr.

He’ll get Miikka Kiprusoff’s when the fantastic Finn returns for his jersey retirement in March.

Moments and players like these matter to Backlund, as he understands and respects the history of the franchise he’s poured his professional life into.  

Soon he’ll be one of them.

Any day now, the 34-year-old Swede will sign an extension with the Flames.


What will follow, quite possibly that same day, is his unveiling as captain.

It’ll be a moment few thought we’d see five months ago when the frustrated centre left town with a frank, honest declaration that he’d need to see what direction the organization went in before he’d even consider extending his stay.

Sometime between the firing of Darryl Sutter and his arrival in town earlier this month, he had a change of heart.


Not that he ever lost his love for the city, the organization or his teammates.

He simply needed tangible proof the direction of the organization would veer from the high-tension, drama-filled environment he grew tired of last season under Sutter.

It has.


New life has been injected into the organization with the additions of head coach Ryan Huska and GM Craig Conroy, who both spent the summer reminding Backlund how important he is as a player and a leader.


Backlund hadn’t even made it to the baggage carousel earlier this month when fans approached him, telling him they hope he stays.

That means something to Backlund, as it should.

Here, he matters.

As does the captaincy, which the organization has said it will award before the season opener.

Although he suggested he wanted to take his time to decide his future, doing so would have cost him the captaincy he so richly deserves.


Passing that up would be regrettable.  

He is the Flames’ leader and has been throughout camp already.

His relationship with Huska goes back to their WHL days in Kelowna, where Huska coached the Vasteras native to the Memorial Cup tourney.

He is the last active player to have played alongside Conroy, making the relationship with the GM and coach rock-solid. 

“I think everybody would say (the captain) should be Mikael,” Jonathan Huberdeau said last week, echoing the sentiments of Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Andersson. 


“He’s been here 14 years. 

“He deserves to be. 

“He’s a leader — he’s the guy who gets everybody together. 

“In my opinion, it should be him, but obviously his contract stuff … but hopefully he’s still with us and is our captain.”

Count on it, as they’ve counted on him the last two seasons to be the de facto captain.


Soon it will be made official. 

And as the Flames look to continue trying to rebound from last season’s nightmare, it’s just another momentum builder.

Another page-turner.

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In a city that embraced him shortly after he was drafted as a shy first-rounder in 2007, he has responded in kind with a dedication to the local community that earned him the NHL’s coveted King Clancy Award last season as the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. 

Those who were there speak of the powerful emotion Backlund demonstrated the day he was shown a video from the charities he’s repped, thanking him.


He understands the value and power of deciding to let that relationship continue to grow.

Here he is beloved by the fans, management and teammates.

Elsewhere, it’s unclear whether he’d be recognized as anything other than a diligent depth forward with perfect hair and a swell personality.

He’s thought of how much it would mean to play his 1,000th game in red and gold where it would truly mean something.

He’s openly admitted that earning a silver stick in Calgary is on his mind (he’s 92 games away) as is the possibility of going down in club lore as Forever a Flame.


Not bad for a third-line centre.

When he stood in front of reporters last spring and admitted he wasn’t sure about his future in Calgary, management and ownership heard him loud and clear.

That, and the groundswell of players who urged ownership for a coaching/culture change, had a profound effect on the decision to buy Sutter out at $8 million.

The right move was made, paving the way for Backlund’s change of heart.

It’s starting to feel like things are moving in the right direction again in Calgary, and inking Backlund to be the captain is a big part of that.


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The Mariners Avoided Disaster Tuesday Night Via A Fan



(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)


Seattle Mariners star pitcher George Kirby delivered a gem in his team’s most important game of the season so far.

Facing the prospect of being left 2.5 games behind the Houston Astros for the last Wild Card spot, Kirby tossed six scoreless innings in front of his fans, with just one walk and four strikeouts.


The performance paved the way for the Mariners’ victory, and they are now just 0.5 games back for a spot in the postseason.

The night, however, almost ended in disaster for the young Mariners righty.

“It was literally a Mariners fan. Threw the ball back on field and hit George Kirby. Never seen that at a baseball game,” Mariners podcaster Sami On Tap tweeted, with a video of the incident.

Kirby was facing Kyle Tucker.

When he was getting ready to pitch, a fan threw a ball back to the diamond and hit Kirby in the chest area.

It was a scary moment that thankfully didn’t involve any regretful injuries.

It’s unclear if the fan threw the ball there with the purpose of hitting Kirby, but he did and he could have caused a severe injury had the impact been on his elbow, shoulder, or head.


The Mariners can’t afford to lose Kirby to injury.

He made his last start of the regular season but will be a key component of the M’s rotation if the team advances.

He has had a phenomenal season, with a 3.46 ERA in 30 starts and 184.2 innings.

With just 19 walks and 165 strikeouts, he is one of the league leaders in SO/BB (strikeouts per walk).

Seattle needs him to succeed, now and in the future.


The post The Mariners Avoided Disaster Tuesday Night Via A Fan appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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