Could it be? No, it couldn’t … right? Is Texas … dare I say …back?
OK probably not … we’ve all been here before. That being said, the Longhorns did put on one heck of a show in last night’s Alamo Bowl, even after losing Sam Ehlinger to injury (we’ll talk more about that here in second) and the future looks bright. But we also had the Cheez-It Bowl last night, which featured Oklahoma State sneaking by Miami in an exciting game.
I know the Cheez-It Bowl isn’t the most illustrious college bowl game, but considering it’s the only one in which an entire jug of Cheez-Its is dumped on the victors, it’s probably the one bowl game I’d most personally want to win. If they’re Extra Toasty or White Cheddar Cheez-Its … even better. That’s like winning the Super Bowl at the college level.
I may have woken up a little hungry this morning, if you couldn’t tell. I’ll get some breakfast going while you cruise through the sports info you need to know.
📰 What you need to know
1. Will Sam Ehlinger be back for Texas? 🏈
To say that Sam Ehlinger’s senior season at Texas didnt go the way he had hoped would be quite the understatement. He entered the year with some Heisman buzz but that quickly fell apart, as did Texas’ lofty postseason dreams. The Longhorns went 2-2 out of the gate. Ultimately, they missed out on a Big 12 title bid and had to settle for a second straight year at the Alamo Bowl.
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And although Texas once again got the job done at the Alamo on Monday night (they beat Colorado 55-23), it was far from a storybook ending for Ehlinger.
- After throwing for 160 yards and a touchdown during the first half, Ehlinger missed the entire second half with a shoulder injury
- The QB was seen in street clothes with his right (throwing) arm in a sling after halftime
- Redshirt sophomore Casey Thompson took over for Ehlinger and was incredible, going 8-of-10 for 170 yards and four touchdowns (tying an Alamo Bowl record)
Heading into last night’s game, it was pretty much assumed that it would be Ehlinger’s last one with the Longhorns. That could still be the case — he may declare for the NFL Draft — but the shoulder injury and its severity now seemingly opens up the possibility of Ehlinger returning to Austin in 2021.
With the NCAA granting all fall sport athletes an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19, Ehlinger could play another season. Doing so probably wouldn’t help his draft stock all that much, but if the shoulder injury prevents him from going through the NFL Draft process, it might be worth considering. It’s also worth considering that Ehlinger — a lifelong Longhorns fan — would likely break the school’s career passing and touchdown records if he returned in 2021.
As a Horns fan myself, I’ve gotta say … I’ve got some conflicting feelings about the whole thing. I’m a big Sam guy and I would love to see him close out his UT career in a more satisfying fashion — especially since being QB1 for the Longhorns was literally his lifelong dream. But I also got a glimpse of the future with Thompson last night, and that future looked ELECTRIC. With the performances of Thompson and Bijan Robinson (10 carries, 183 yards and three touchdowns), there’s a lot of reason to feel good about the direction Texas is heading in. But that direction doesn’t really seem to include Ehlinger.
Ehlinger wasn’t the only senior QB to go down with an injury on Tuesday night, either. Miami’s D’Eriq King suffered a right leg injury during the Hurricanes’ Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State and he didn’t return in the second half. King already announced that he’ll be returning to Miami next season, though.
2. Why the Padres’ aggression is especially notable this offseason ⚾
There hasn’t been a lot going on this MLB offseason. Things have been moving at a numbingly slow pace. The San Diego Padres have done their best to provide some excitement this week, though. In two separate blockbuster trades, the Padres acquired Blake Snell and Yu Darvish in the span of 24 hours, while also signing Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim in that window.
At this point, the Padres are essentially unchallenged as “winners of the offseason.” They’re getting aggressive and bold as they attempt to capitalize on the momentum they established last year and challenge the Dodgers in the NL West. Their level of aggression would be notable in any year, but it’s particularly interesting this year, according to our Dayn Perry:
- Swimming against the tide: With MLB teams taking a financial hit in 2020, most clubs are looking for any excuse to cut costs and keep spending to a minimum. Meanwhile, the Padres have taken the opposite approach — they’re taking on money, but the current market has allowed them to get make strong deals for players who were deemed too expensive for their club previously
- They’ve already invested a great deal: The Padres have been aggressively building a core group in San Diego for a while, so this isn’t completely out of no where. They’ve invested quite a bit of money in that core as well — including $300 million to Manny Machado, $144 million to Eric Hosmer and $83 million to Wil Meyers. Then they went out and got Mike Clevinger, Snell, Darvish and Kim — adding more than $45 million to their payroll in 2021 alone
- They’re still underdogs in the NL West: Despite their success and the strides they’ve made this offseason, the Padres are still not favored in their own division. San Diego finished six games behind the Dodgers in the NL West (which roughly translates to finishing 16 games out of first in a normal 162-game season) and Los Angeles will likely be favored to win the division in 2021
It feels like all baseball fans should be obligated to be Padres fans right now, because they’re essentially the only team putting in any effort to make this offseason interesting. Plus, spending your available money to field the best team possible? What a concept!
3. How Cowboys, Giants or Washington will make history in Week 17 🏈
While we’ve enjoyed many jokes at the NFC East’s expense this year, it’s time to put the jokes aside and address a truth: It is certainly the worst division in football, but it also might be the most entertaining — even if for the wrong reasons.
We’re heading into Week 17 with the Washington Football Team, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants all still vying for that division title. We don’t really have any idea who might come away with it because, honestly, it feels like all of those teams have been trying their best to NOT win the division all year long.
But regardless of who wins the NFC East next Sunday, history will be made. Let us explain:
- The three teams still alive in the NFC East race all started the season 2-7
- No team in the Super Bowl era (1966-present) has ever started a season 2-7 and gone on to make the playoffs
- Prior to this season, a total of 258 teams have started a season at 2-7, meaning the league has an 0-for-258 streak going
- A total of five teams started this season 2-7, meaning that record will improve to 1-for-263 on Sunday
It’d be one thing if a team started 2-7 and then bounced back to run the table and qualify for the postseason at 9-7, but that’s not what’s happening here. This is simply a case of the streak coming to an end because all the teams in that division are so damn bad. We’re going to have a 7-9 or 6-10 team celebrating a playoff berth on Sunday, and that’s hilariously stupid. Historic, but also hilariously stupid.
4. Bucks set new NBA record by hitting 29 three-pointers 🏀
We had a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals last night and, boy, it was not the competitive game that many expected. The Bucks absolutely demolished the Heat with a 144-97 win, and they set a pretty impressive NBA record in the process.
- The Bucks went 29-for-51 from 3-point range, eclipsing the Houston Rockets’ previous record (27) for most 3-pointers made by a team in a single game
- Milwaukee also set a record by having 12 different players make a 3-pointer in the same game
- The only player on the Bucks’ roster without a 3-pointer was reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (he went 0-for-2)
I think it’s probably safe to say that Milwaukee had this one circled on the calendar after losing to Miami in the ECF last season, and I suppose this historic rainmaking might’ve been worth the wait. I will say, though, considering the Bucks’ last 3-point attempt came with 3:30 left to go in the fourth quarter, I’m disappointed that the Bucks didn’t try harder to hit the 30-mark.
Lucky for the Heat, they won’t have to wait long to get a little revenge of their own — these two teams will play once again tonight.
📝 Odds & Ends
📺 What to watch today
🏀 Bucks vs. Heat, 7:30 p.m. | MIA +6 | TV: NBATV
🏈 Cotton Bowl: No. 7 Florida vs. No. 6 Oklahoma, 8 p.m. | OU -5.5 | TV: ESPN
🏀 Trail Blazers vs. Clippers, 10 p.m. | LAC -3.5 | TV: NBATV
📝 Top scores from last night
🏈 Cheez-It Bowl: No. 21 Oklahoma State 37, No. 18 Miami 34
Spencer Sanders threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Oklahoma State held on after storming out to a 21-0 lead.
💵 Winning wagers: OKST -1, Over (63)
🏈 Alamo Bowl: No. 20 Texas 55, Colorado 23
Freshman running back Bijan Robinson won MVP honors with 183 yards on 10 carries and three total touchdowns.
💵 Winning wagers: TEX -8.5, Over (65.5)
🏀 Celtics 116, Pacers 111
Jayson Tatum had 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Celtics handed Indiana its first loss of the season.
💵 Winning wagers: BOS +105, Under (218.5)
🏀 Tulsa 65, No. 5 Houston 64
Brandon Rachal was fouled with one tenth of a second remaining and made both free throws to clinch the win. It’s Tulsa’s first victory over a top-5 team since 1996.
💵 Winning wagers: TULSA +374, Over (126)
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