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The Football Five 🏈

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


Legends born. Legacies cemented. The Houston Astros have done it, and they've done it with a team-wide dominance befitting of a champion. The Astros beat the Phillies, 4-1, in Game 6 on Saturday night to win their second World Series in franchise history -- and second in the last six years.

Let's start with the pitching, which was truly outstanding.

When we talk about legacies cemented, Verlander's Game 5 did just that. When we talk about legends born, Valdez's incredible postseason did just that. Same for rookie Jeremy Peña, who won both ALCS MVP and World Series MVP. As for someone already well on his way to building a legacy, Yordan Alvarez did just that with a go-ahead three-run home run in the sixth inning.

Finally, when we talk about cementing legacies, how can we not talk Dusty Baker? One of baseball's truly lovable characters finally has a well-deserved ring as a manager, writes MLB expert Matt Snyder

  • Snyder: "Baker is now one of nine managers to win a pennant from both leagues. No other manager has ever won a division with five different teams. His 2,093 regular-season wins ranks ninth in history (the most ever for a Black manager). Of the top 11, he's the only one not yet in the Hall of Fame. ... More than anything, Baker's enduring legacy should be that he's one of the greatest human beings baseball has had."

For more on the series:

Oh, and since our excellent team of baseball writers never stops, R.J. Anderson has already ranked the top 50 free agents this offseason.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...



Pick a stat! Any stat!

  • Three interceptions, most since 2017
  • Two red zone interceptions for the first time ever
  • Zero touchdowns on four red zone drives, tied for worst in career
  • Fifth straight loss, tied for longest of career
  • 3-6, worst start to a season of his career

It's all bad for Aaron Rodgers. 

As a result, it's all bad for the Green Bay Packers, who hit a new low in a 15-9 loss to the Lions. Even in what's been a nightmarish season for Rogers, this was truly shocking. Consider what you read in the second bullet point -- two red zone interceptions -- and then consider this: He threw just two red zone interceptions in 2020 and 2021 combined.

Rodgers is far from the only problem. The wide receiver issues have been well-documented, and they got worse when Romeo Doubs was carted off after the first offensive play. But Rodgers was awful in a game the Packers needed to have. Heck, even Lil Wayne declared "RIP to the season."

Not so honorable mentions

  • South Florida fired Jeff Scott.

Georgia dominates Tennessee, LSU tops Alabama in thriller, Clemson goes down in crazy weekend 🏈

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From Rocky Top to rocky return to Earth. After earning the top spot in the season's first College Football Playoff Rankings, Tennessee and its explosive offense came crashing down in a 27-13 loss to Georgia in Athens. Volunteers star Hendon Hooker was sacked six times while Georgia quarterback, Stetson Bennett accounted for three touchdowns in a game that was never close.

For all the dramatics that game lacked, Alabama-LSU more than made up for it. In a game that featured eight lead changes, the final one was the biggest statement: After Alabama scored a touchdown and extra point on the first possession of overtime, Jayden Daniels rushed in for a touchdown, and Brian Kelly elected to go for two and the win. It worked, with Daniels finding Mason Taylor, in a 32-31 victory that had the Tiger Stadium crowd storming the field (and, surprise, getting fined).

With the combination of results, Georgia emphatically claimed its spot as the SEC's best program, writes college football scribe Dennis Dodd.

  • Dodd: "The Dawgs were too good -- for the Vols, probably for the SEC, and perhaps for the entire country. More to the point, whether Smart will admit it, this looks like the beginning of what Saban built 270 miles down the road in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That is a dynasty that competes for championships every year. It might be too early to make such assertions at Georgia, but it sure looks to be headed in that direction."

Wrapping up a wild Saturday, Clemson got absolutely hammered, 35-14, at Notre Dame in a game that not only gives the Tigers an F on Barrett Sallee's report card but also signals there could be plenty of new faces in the College Football Playoff. Our projections expert Jerry Palm now has Alabama, Ohio State, TCU and Tennessee -- in that order -- as his projected CFP field.

Here are the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. The CFP rankings will come out tomorrow night.

College basketball is back, and we have everything you need to know 🏀

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Welcome back, college basketball! The road to March Madness begins tonight, and we're here to get you ready for everything that lies ahead.

We'll start with our expert predictions, because who doesn't love some predictions? No one picked preseason No. 1 North Carolina to win it all, but two -- including insider Matt Norlander -- did pick...

  • Norlander: "Kentucky Wildcats -- Having Oscar Tshiebwe back is going to be paramount to getting this done. I'm trusting that his recent knee scope was simple and won't impact his NPOY candidacy. ... This roster doesn't look top-five in terms of overall talent at UK since John Calipari got there, but I like the pieces and their potential to fit. Elite defensive outfit that will have enough ways to shoot and score to play with, and defeat, any team. And after losing to Saint Peter's, the motivation quotient is overwhelming."

We also have predictions for individual awards and, of course, our Top 100 And 1 players. Here's the top five:

  • 1. Drew Timme, Gonzaga
  • 2. Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky
  • 3. Armando Bacot, North Carolina
  • 4. Marcus Sasser, Houston
  • 5. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana

Hey, those were the five players selected to the AP preseason All-America team! And four of those five made our first team as well! One other name to watch? I love Terrence Shannon Jr. -- 27th in the Top 100 And 1 -- as a key piece for what should be a good Illinois team.

On the women's side of things, our expert Isabel Gonzalez has made her bold predictions, and she thinks preseason No. 1 (and reigning champion) South Carolina could be even better this year. I could go on and on about how excited I am for college basketball, but, sadly, this newsletter can't go on forever, so I'll direct you to our men's college basketball season preview hub and our women's college basketball page. Enjoy!

Joey Logano wins second career Cup Series championship 🏁

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Joey Logano is a champion again. Logano dominated from start to finish, leading 188 of 312 laps -- including the final 29 -- to win his second career Cup Series championship, along with 2018.

  • Logano is the 17th multi-time Cup champion and first for Ford since David Pearson (1968-69).
  • As for the other Championship 4 drivers, Ross Chastain finished third, Christopher Bell was 10th and Chase Elliott finished 28th after a mid-race crash.
  • Austin Cindric won Rookie of the Year.

What we're watching Monday 📺

🏀 Jacksonville at No. 7 Duke, 7 p.m. on ACC Network
🏀 Suns at 76ers, 8 p.m. on NBA TV
🏈 Ravens at Saints, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 East Tennessee State at No. 1 South Carolina, 8:30 p.m. on SEC Network
🏀 UNC Wilmington at No. 1 North Carolina, 9 p.m. on ACC Network
🏀 Cavaliers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV

Astros World Series gear now available

The Houston Astros have won their second World Series title. Now, you can celebrate with Astros 2022 World Series championship hats, shirts, hoodies, and more. See the entire collection here.

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