Former MLB shortstop Julio Lugo has died, his family has told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. The cause of death is believed to be a heart attack. Lugo, who was 45, was set to turn 46 on Tuesday.
Lugo spent parts of 12 seasons (2000-2011) in Major League Baseball and ended up being a bit of a journeyman. He played for the Astros for parts of four seasons then the Rays for parts of four seasons. He later spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox and had one-year-or-fewer stints with the Dodgers, Braves, Orioles and Cardinals.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Lugo went to high school in Brooklyn and then played for Connors State College in Warner, Oklahoma. He was drafted in the 43rd round in 1994. Starting in Low-A ball in 1995, Lugo advanced slowly but steadily through the minors and debuted in the majors in 2000 at age 24.
In his 12 years, Lugo hit .269/.333/.384 (87 OPS+) with 1,279 hits, 238 doubles, 34 triples, 80 home runs, 475 RBI, 688 runs, 198 stolen bases and 13.5 WAR. He was the Red Sox’s everyday shortstop in 2007 when they won the World Series. During that four-game Fall Classic sweep of the Rockies, Lugo was 5 for 13 (.385) with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
After his final MLB game, Lugo kept playing, taking part in the Dominican Winter League, the Caribbean Series and then independent ball in 2013.
The calendar will flip from September to October as the Week 5 college football action takes center stage on Saturday, which means that SEC division title races are starting take shape. No. 2 Alabama will head to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to take on No. 20 Arkansas in a battle between SEC foes. It was anticipated this could be a battle of undefeated title contenders, but the Razorbacks’ loss to Texas A&M last week erased that possibility. No. 7 Kentucky will travel to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on No. 14 Ole Miss in a clash of cross-division, undefeated teams that are looking to break through on the national stage.
There are intriguing games for other reasons, too. Auburn will take on LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a game that could determine the future of Tigers coach Bryan Harsin. The second-year coach was rumored to be on the brink of receiving a pink slip had the Tigers lost to Missouri last week, but they escaped in overtime in one of the sloppiest games of the year.
What else is going on around the conference in Week 5? Let’s take a spin around the league and make some picks in this week’s edition of SEC Smothered and Covered.
Hurricane Ian hitting the East Coast has forced changes to SEC games in Week 5. Keep up to date with all of the movement at this link here.
Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders has established himself as one of the best players in the conference regardless of position. The former five-star prospect out of Denton, Texas, has 31 tackles on the season and is tied for third in the SEC in tackles for loss per game (1.63). He’s also a former member of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Could he be a secret agent? Well, not officially, but Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman knows that his star transfer isn’t going to be surprised by anything he sees.
“I would assume, for him, there would be some familiarity with what Bama is doing,” Pittman said. “We’ll try to downplay that as much as possible, because it is about shedding blocks and tackling and doing his assignment.”
This was shaping up to be a battle of undefeated teams prior to last weekend, but a reeling Texas A&M squad and a Hogs’ field goal attempt off the top of the goal post put an end to that plan. It didn’t erase the interest level in this game, though. Pittman’s squad absolutely has to win Saturday’s game vs. the Crimson Tide, otherwise its hopes of winning the West will disappear like a rack of ribs at a tailgate party.
Main course: Chris Rodriguez’s impact
Kentucky is typically a juggernaut at developing stud offensive linemen who are effective as run and pass blockers. This year … not so much. The Wildcats have given up more sacks than any other team in the SEC (16) and allowed Northern Illinois to sack quarterback Will Levis five times last weekend. Nothing against the Huskies, but that shouldn’t happen.
They will get running back Chris Rodriguez back from his early-season suspension this week, though, and he should at least provide more of a threat in the running game to help Levis work off play-action. The preseason All-SEC selection rushed for 1,379 yards and nine touchdowns last season while adding three touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Monday that Rodriguez has prepared to make an impact over the last couple of weeks.
“For Chris, it was just a matter of managing him while he was out. Just getting him the reps that we needed to. The last week or two, as I mentioned last week, he was getting reps with the first and second team — mainly the second team or different quarterbacks just to make sure he wasn’t totally removed from practicing our plays, along with staying in shape, being on the scout team, doing whatever was necessary for staying in good shape.”
Dessert: Do or die for Bryan Harsin
Reports surfaced last week that Harsin could be fired as early as the day after the Missouri game if his team lost to the visiting Tigers. That didn’t happen; Auburn used a Missouri missed field goal at the end of regulation and a walk-off touchback in overtime to escape with a win. Or a “non-loss,” considering how sloppy the game was.
In essence, it was the worst possible scenario for all parties. Harsin’s incredibly ugly win against Missouri the week after getting blown out by Penn State made it impossible for the powers-that-be to get rid of him last Sunday, which also gave him another week to “coach back into” his job if he can figure things out. Could that start this week against LSU? Harsin’s Tigers are nearly double-digit underdogs, which suggests that there isn’t much faith in him surviving beyond this weekend. Even if he does, Georgia looms next weekend prior to the bye week.
Simply put, Harsin needs to dominate LSU and upset Georgia to stay employed. Otherwise, those who staged the attempted coup in February will likely get their way and move into a new era of Auburn football.
Straight up: 38-8 | Against the spread: 19-21-1 *Previous picks were made on Instagram since SEC Smothered & Covered starts in Week 3
No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss
Featured Game| Ole Miss Rebels vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The Rebels have settled on Jaxson Dart as their No. 1 quarterback, and he will provide a nice complement through the air and on the ground to a rushing attack that is second-to-none in the conference (280.75 YPG). That will wear down a Kentucky defense that isn’t as deep or consistent as it has been in previous years. The Rebels defense, which is third in the SEC in tackles for loss per game (7.0), will keep Levis in third-and-long situations — leading to an Ole Miss cover. Pick: Ole Miss (-6.5)
No. 2 Alabama at No. 20 Arkansas
Featured Game| Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
The 17.5-point spread is interesting, due in large part to the hook. If a 17-point Bama win cashes an Arkansas ticket, I’m all in for the Hogs. Alabama has played one-score games in four of its last five true road tilts, and the combination of Hogs quarterback KJ Jefferson and running back Raheim Sanders will bust enough big plays to at least keep this game close into the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide will win it by two touchdowns when all is said and done but won’t get the cover. Pick: Arkansas (+17.5)
Featured Game| Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Texas A&M Aggies
The Bulldogs are home favorites over a ranked Aggies team for good reason. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 44.4% of their passes on third downs (17th nationally), which sets up well against an Aggies team that will be without star wide receiver Ainias Smith. Texas A&M topped Arkansas essentially because of a fumbled punt return and a freak fumble recovery/scoop-and-score, but even those won’t save them in the land of the cowbells. Pick: Mississippi State (-3.5)
LSU at Auburn
Featured Game| Auburn Tigers vs. LSU Tigers
Auburn’s offensive line has been a disaster this year, and now its quarterback position is an unmitigated disaster. Meanwhile, LSU’s defense has given up just 39 plays of 10 or more yards this season (tied with Georgia for third in the SEC). It’s going to make Auburn put together multiple sustained drives, and that’s unlikely considering Harsin forgot that running back Tank Bigsby exists during the majority of the Missouri game. The visiting Tigers will win by double-digits. Pick: LSU (-9)
No. 1 Georgia at Missouri
Featured Game| Missouri Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have to be embarrassed after Kent State stayed within 10 points into the fourth quarter last week, and they’ll take it out on Missouri on Saturday night in Columbia. The Tigers average a league-worst 5.62 yards per play, and the way to hang with the Bulldogs is to capitalize on shot plays. Coach Kirby Smart’s crew will take out its frustration on Missouri and win by at least 30 points. Pick: Georgia (-28)
Canada will try to win its first medal since capturing bronze in 1986. That result matched its previous best of third in 1979.
Kia Nurse led Canada with 17 points, one of five players to score in double figures for her team. Bridget Carleton had 15, while Laeticia Amihere and Natalie Achonwa had 12 apiece. Kayla Alexander had 13 rebounds for Canada.
Canada jumped out to a 26-11 lead after the first quarter and never was threatened.
China faces France and Belgium meets Australia in the other quarterfinals.
Kentucky and Kansas are often known for their basketball prowess, but the Wildcats and Jayhawks both enter the Week 5 college football schedule undefeated. The Wildcats survived an upset bid from Northern Illinois last week and will now go on the road to face the Ole Miss Rebels in an SEC showdown. Kansas, meanwhile, notched its fourth win of the season after beating Duke 35-27 and will battle Iowa State at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Before this season, the Jayhawks recorded three wins or fewer in each of the past 12 years.
The Week 5 college football odds from Caesars Sportsbook list the Jayhawks as 3.5-point underdogs against the Cyclones. The Wildcats are 6.5-point underdogs against the Rebels in an 12 p.m. ET kickoff in Oxford. Should your Week 5 college football picks include backing Kansas or Kentucky as underdogs, or should you look elsewhere on the CFB odds board for value? Before locking in any Week 5 college football picks on those games or others, be sure to see the latest college football predictions from SportsLine’s advanced computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past six-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of more than $3,100 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.
One of the college picks the model is high on in Week 5: No. 18 Oklahoma (-5) goes on the road and covers against TCU at noon ET on Saturday. The Sooners were upset by Kansas State, a team that has been very tough on the Sooners recently, in Week 4. But the Sooners have a much better track record against the Horned Frogs. Oklahoma has won eight straight against TCU, and all but two of those wins have come by more than five points. The last two wins in the series have come by an average of 20 points.
The model sees this as a great bounce-back spot for Oklahoma as it is favored by less than a touchdown against a relatively unproven TCU squad. Dillon Gabriel throws for 300 yards in the simulations, with Marvin Mims leading the way with more than 60 receiving yards for OU. The Sooners win more than 60% of the time, making them one of the teams to include in your Week 5 college football best bets.
Another one of the model’s top college football picks: No. 13 Oregon (-16) has no trouble with the double-digit spread against Stanford in Saturday’s 11 p.m. ET kickoff in Eugene. The Ducks are coming off a thrilling 44-41 come-from-behind victory over Washington State last week. Quarterback Bo Nix was the star of the show, throwing for 428 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Nix has now accounted for at least three touchdowns in each of his last three games. For the season, Nix has thrown for 1,100 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, while also averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
Oregon is averaging 198.2 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks 29th in the nation. Stanford, meanwhile, is giving up 30.33 points per game this season. The Cardinal have also allowed 40 or more points in back-to-back Pac-12 games. SportsLine’s model is projecting the Ducks to rush for over 200 yards against Stanford on Saturday. That helps Oregon control possession and post 41 points in this one as they cover in almost 60% of simulations. See which other teams the model likes here.