I polished off my Christmas shopping on Saturday. A little early, I know. But it was worth getting out there and wearing a garbage bag to repel the rain. I am done — kind of like the Bengals’ punter. And shopping was almost as painful as that hit Kevin Huber took against the Steelers.
Bowl season is one of the best times of the year. I filled out my confidence sheet (pick winners, rate them 1 to 35) and identified five locks: Texas A&M, Alabama, Stanford, Arizona State and Baylor. I’m determined the break through and win my first family bowl trophy.
I have the Big Ten going 4-3, which I’ll probably regret early in 2014. I’m picking Ohio State to slip past Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Urban Meyer will be amped because he’ll want to showcase his program to coveted south Florida recruits.
Congrats to former UD volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield for getting surprising Wisconsin to the NCAA championship match in his first season in Madison. The Badgers had five straight losing years in the Big Ten, going 31-69 before Sheffield took over. Another local connection in Saturday night’s finale: Alter grad Megan Courtney, a standout for Penn State.
The Miami Heat are still kings of the NBA. They toyed with the Pacers for three quarters Wednesday in Miami before prevailing. I hope the Pacers get past the Heat this season, but I’m skeptical. Indiana’s weakness is the lack of a Tony Parker-type guard who can make things happen against a tough defense. And the Heat play defense.
What is with Notre Dame? The Fighting Irish won’t play a single Big Ten football team in 2015. ND would’ve been a perfect fit for the Big Ten, but joined the Atlantic Coast Conference because South Bend is so close to the … Atlantic Ocean? You say they aren’t in the ACC? I say they’re playing five ACC games, so they’re more than an honorary member.
Trending up: Jerran Young, Justin Tucker, Fargodome. Young provided a memorable highlight in Wright State’s route of Eastern Illinois last week. He took a well-timed inbound lob pass from Reggie Arceneaux and violently slammed home the basketball with one hand. Dominique Wilkins would’ve been proud.
Trending down: Kobe Bryant, Phil Robertson, Aaron Rodgers. Kobe is out for six weeks with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau. (It’s a bone in his left knee.) Two key numbers: 35 and 48.5. Kobe is 35 years old and is working under a two-year, $48.5 million contract. Not a great investment by the Lakers.
Knucklehead of the Week
Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner has been suspended by the NFL each of the past two seasons for violating two different policies. Last week it was the league’s substance abuse policy. Last year it was performance-enhancing substances. I’m not sure how many policies the NFL has, but Browner can go for a new one next year to complete his trifecta. The 2011 Pro Bowl selection said in a statement that “I accept responsibility for all of my actions.” Now he’s threatening a lawsuit.