▪ The best outcome for college football’s weekend would be for Clemson to beat North Carolina, Iowa to beat Michigan State and Alabama to beat Florida. I’m nearly 100 percent sure Alabama will take care of its business. I think Clemson will do the same. But I’m not sure about Iowa. And a Michigan State win wouldn’t be bad, either, because I think the Spartans are better than undefeated Iowa.
▪ What do I base that belief on? It’s sketchy evidence, to be sure. But Michigan State did beat defending national champion Ohio State, handing the Buckeyes their only loss. Iowa’s 12-0 record looks better than it is because the Hawkeyes have had a soft schedule. Soft, at least, compared to some of the other College Football Playoff contenders.
▪ It’s possible one of the national semifinals will pit unbeaten Clemson against unbeaten Iowa. It’s also possible, probably even likely, that such a game would not get the prime-time treatment on ESPN, which undoubtedly would go to Oklahoma-Alabama. It’s been a strange college football season.
▪ We love a football Hail Mary and few have been better-orchestrated than the 61-yarder the Green Bay Packers pulled off to beat the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers (no relation) for the win. What a sports moment and you have to give Green Bay a lot of credit for pulling it off. But what about Detroit? The Lions had won three straight, had a chance to sweep the season series with Green Bay for the first time in a million years and lost on a Hail Mary? The ineptitude is staggering.
▪ The Lions had five defensive backs in the end zone for Green Bay’s Hail Mary play. And not one of them got in front of Richard Rodgers, who made a relatively easy catch because his vision of the football was not obscured by a Lions defender. Don’t forget, too, that the Hail Mary play happened only because Detroit defensive end Devin Taylor was called for a face mask penalty against Aaron Rodgers on the previous play. That penalty prolonged the game and gave the Packers one last chance.
▪ What an incredibly painful way to lose a football game. Only the Lions.
▪ UCLA didn’t mess around with Kentucky in college hoops Thursday night, huh?
▪ I’m a big fan of The Leftovers on HBO but more and more I’m watching episodes in a daze, not sure what they mean as they plod along. I feel inferior when I watch this show, as if there’s something I’m not getting. But I trust Damon Lindelof, the series’ co-creator and executive producer, from his days with Lost. In fact, I just read an interview Lindelof did with the Chicago Tribune and feel a little more in-the-know now. But just a little. You have to really pay attention to The Leftovers because it’s complex. And that’s an understatement.
▪ Staying with television, is there a better show than Fargo? I was talking to a friend yesterday and we agreed that Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, Jeffrey Donovan, Bokeem Woodbine, Ted Danson and Nick Offerman should all be in the running to win Emmys. And we probably left out a few other actors. Zahn McClarnon, for one. He should get an Emmy nomination, too. Heck, throw Patrick Wilson into the mix, too. What a show and what a cast.
▪ Wichita State is in a precarious and uncomfortable position with senior point guard Fred VanVleet as to whether to put him on the floor Saturday night at Saint Louis or continue to rest him for two big games next week against UNLV and Utah. I think I’d continue to rest him and trust that the rest of the Shockers can get it done against a better-than-last-season Billikens team. Tough, though, especially for VanVleet, who went into the season with a chip on his shoulder after being a late cut on the United States’ Pan-American Games team during the summer.
▪ I returned to radio this week with a new show — The Drive with Bob and Jeff — on KFH, 1240-AM, 98.7-FM. I love the medium of radio and am enjoying doing a show with my son, who brings a “younger perspective” to the airwaves. It’s a perfect complement to the writing I do and have done for The Wichita Eagle for so many years. I’m fortunate to be doing what I love doing so deep into my career and hope I can do it for a little while longer.
▪ Radio feeds my desire for spontaneity. Newspapers feed my desire to research, investigate and write. I’m living in the best of both worlds.
▪ I’m looking forward to the start of the high school basketball season tonight across the state and especially here closer to home. I know football is a big deal and why it warrants so much coverage. For me, though, Kansas is a basketball state and high school basketball has a special place in this state’s sports lore.
▪ It’s going to be fascinating to see how KU football coach David Beaty digs out from an 0-12 season, his first in Lawrence. It’s literally true for the Jayhawks that there is nowhere to go but up. But it’s not going to be easy to start to ascend. Beaty has to recruit and this upcoming class for Kansas will be vital to the Jayhawks’ future.
▪ During this time of the year, I wake up every morning wondering what moves are going to be made around Major League Baseball. And hoping the St. Louis Cardinals make good ones. Meanwhile, the vibe I’m picking up around Kansas City is that the Royals probably aren’t in the mix for Ben Zobrist and might not be going after free-agent outfielder Alex Gordon, either. Interesting.
▪ Royals outfield prospect Bubba Starling, from Gardner-Edgerton, continues to trudge along in prospect status. He finished the Arizona Fall League with a .274 average and .770 OPS for Surprise, with four home runs and 10 RBI in 91 plate appearances. Starling is 23 and is likely to start the 2016 season at Triple-A Omaha. It’ll be a huge year for him.
▪ Thanks, as always, for reading. Enjoy the weekend with a lot of important football, including the Chiefs at the Raiders on Sunday. That’s always fun.