Monday, September 26, 2022

College football returns in the best way (unless you’re an LSU fan), plus Judge, Pujols keep hitting home runs

Hi everyone! Happy Monday and happy Labor Day! Hope you’re enjoying a long weekend as we bring you a special holiday version of the CBS Sports HQ AM newsletter.

Let’s get right to it.

It’s not such good morning for…

THE LSU TIGERS

I know I’m supposed to write for a living, but I’m not sure I have the words to describe this one. Oh well. Here we go.

LSU fans, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. This loss is one for the ages.

  • With just over four minutes left, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels found Jaray Jenkins on a 22-yard pass, and the extra point cut Florida State‘s lead to 24-17.
  • LSU’s defense then forced a three-and-out, and Florida State punted. But Malik Nabers muffed the punt — his second of the night. FSU’s Brendan Gant recovered at the LSU 8-yard line with 2:15 left. Game over, right?
  • WRONG. On third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Seminoles running back Treshaun Ward fumbled a pitch, and LSU’s Mekhi Wingo recovered. Now you may be asking “Why did Florida State even risk pitching the ball?” You’d be right to ask that. It was not the best idea in the history of the world. Anyway…
  • Daniels then led LSU on a one-minute and twenty-second, 11-play, 99-yard drive culminating in a touchdown pass to Jenkins as time expired. Going to overtime, right?
  • WRONG. Shyheim Brown blocked the extra point, and Florida State held on for a 24-23 win.

I’m exhausted just from typing that.

This was college football at its peak. There were several times when fans on both sides had hands on their heads and jaws on the floor — while reacting to the exact same play. It was beautiful, and it was ugly, and it was stupefying, and it was ingenious. You couldn’t write a script with more twists and turns. Welcome back, college football.

Not so honorable mentions

And a good morning to everyone but especially to…

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THE NO. 3 GEORGIA BULLDOGS…

If you thought the Georgia Bulldogs were going anywhere after their national championship, think again. The Bulldogs opened their title defense with a 49-3 win over No. 11 Oregon.

  • It’s Georgia’s largest-ever win over an AP-ranked team. The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on each of their first seven drives.
  • Stetson Bennett went 25 for 31 passing for a career-high 368 passing yards with touchdown passes to Ladd McConkey and Adonai Mitchell.
  • Even after losing five players to the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Georgia’s defense was dominant. The Bulldogs picked off Bo Nix twice and allowed just 4.7 yards per attempt.

This was the third time since the start of last season that Georgia has held a ranked opponent to three points or fewer. All other teams combined have done it twice over that span. Offensively, things were just as good if not better, writes our college football reporter Barrett Sallee.

Our college football expert Shehan Jeyarajah, meanwhile, named Georgia his top “winner” in his winners and losers column from Week 1.

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE NO. 2 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

So far, so good for the Ohio State Buckeyes‘ defense under new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. With the high-powered Buckeye offense struggling, it was the defense that stepped up in a 21-10 win over No. 5 Notre Dame.

While it wasn’t the offensive explosion we’ve come to know from Ohio State recently, the Buckeyes still earned an A+ in Barrett’s Week 1 grades. Shehan, meanwhile, says the offense is a bit of a cause for concern.

  • Jeyarajah: “Ohio State needed a handful of miraculous plays from Stroud down the stretch to create any offense against Notre Dame. … They looked eminently mortal following the injury to Smith-Njigba. Notre Dame’s defense dictated the game for much of the night. … Any notion that Ohio State is a flawless title contender in the vein of Alabama or Georgia looks wishful so far.

Honorable mentions

Historic chases continue for Aaron Judge, Albert Pujols ⚾

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There’s no home run race this year — Aaron Judge has 17 more than anyone else — but there are a couple of chases for history, and the guys chasing them aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Judge cranked a 450-foot lead-off home run in a win over the Rays on Sunday to get to a career-high 53 on the season. He also hit one on Saturday, meaning he’s currently on pace for 64 this season. The AL home run record is 61 from Yankees slugger Roger Maris in 1961. Tthere are only eight 60-home run seasons in MLB history.

  • Barry Bonds, 2001 Giants: 73
  • Mark McGwire, 1998 Cardinals: 70
  • Sammy Sosa, 1998 Cubs: 66
  • Mark McGwire, 1999 Cardinals: 65
  • Sammy Sosa, 2001 Cubs: 64
  • Sammy Sosa, 1999 Cubs: 63
  • Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
  • Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60

Meanwhile, Albert Pujols hit a clutch home run of his own, a go-ahead two-run pinch-hit shot in the eighth inning to give the Cardinals a 2-0 win over the Cubs. It’s career home run number 695 for Pujols, one short of tying Alex Rodriguez for fourth all time. Here’s the list:

  • Barry Bonds: 762
  • Hank Aaron: 755
  • Babe Ruth: 714
  • Alex Rodriguez: 696
  • Albert Pujols: 695

Pujols has hit nine of his 16 home runs this season since August 1.

Aces, Sky both one win away from WNBA Finals trip 🏀

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The Las Vegas Aces and Chicago Sky both came away with key Game 3 victories and now, both leading their respective series 2-1, are one game away from meeting in the WNBA Finals.

Let’s start in Seattle, where the Aces won an overtime thriller, 110-98, vs. the Storm.

  • A’ja Wilson had a playoff career-high 34 points as well as 11 rebounds. She’s the third player in WNBA history with consecutive 30-point games in the playoffs, joining Breanna Stewart (2020) and Angel McCoughtry (2011).
  • Chelsea Gray had a playoff career-high 29 points, including eight in overtime.
  • The Aces scored four points in the final 2.9 seconds — sandwiched around a Sue Bird 3-pointer –to force OT. It was an all-time great finish, writes our WNBA expert Jack Maloney.

It wasn’t quite as high-scoring of an affair between the Sky and Sun76-72 — but Chicago is just fine with that.

Candace Parker had 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to lead the way. She also tied Tamika Catchings for most double-doubles in playoff history with 27. This performance was “a testament to her greatness,” Jack says.

Last-minute fantasy football prep 🏈

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If you still have a fantasy football draft on your radar before the season starts, make sure you’re ready with all of the terrific fantasy football content our experts have produced. You can see everything you need to know for your draft — including fantasy guru Chris Towers’ Top 200 — here.

Also, if you’re trying to identify some all-important sleepers, SportsLine has you covered using the same formula that nailed Damien Harris last season.

Let’s be honest: Having a bad fantasy football team stinks. So follow our advice, and don’t have a bad team.

What we’re watching Monday 📺

Monza vs. Atalanta, 12:15 p.m. on Paramount+

🏈 No. 4 Clemson vs. Georgia Tech, 8 p.m. on ESPN

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