Good morning and happy Tuesday everyone. I, Zach Pereles, am pumped, because this Tuesday is unlike any other. It signals the start of the most wonderful time of the year (no, I don't mean Christmas. It's Nov. 9th. Take those lights down.)
It's college basketball season! There are OUTSTANDING games up and down the docket tonight to open what promises to be an intriguing season, and we'll get into that in a moment. But first...
Good morning to everyone but especially to...
Wait, what? How can the Steelers and Justin Fields, the QB they faced, be getting a "good morning" message?
Well let's start with how this game went down.
- The Steelers won, 29-27, after a game-winning kick from Chris Boswell with 26 seconds left. And that was after he had already made 52- and 54-yarders earlier in the fourth quarter. He also recovered a fumble. What a game!
- Ben Roethlisberger was up-and-down but made some key throws on what proved to be the game-winning drive. He finished with 205 passing yards, a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions.
- The Steelers have won 19 straight Monday Night Football games, the longest streak in MNF history. And Mike Tomlin reached 150 career wins in the process.
Make no mistake: Even though the scoreboard showed 29 points for the Steelers, this was ugly offensively. Pittsburgh gained just 280 yards on 66 plays, a putrid 4.2 yards per play. That's been how the Steelers win this year, though. They're now 5-3 despite ranking 25th in yards per play and 23rd in points per game.
Still, that offensive output wasn't nearly as ugly as the officiating. There were several confounding calls or no-calls that hurt the Bears, including a crucial taunting on Chicago linebacker Cassius Marsh. It came after Marsh sacked Big Ben and basically forced a turnover on downs. He then walked towards the Steelers sideline and stared. From NFL expert Cody Benjamin:
- Benjamin: "The free 15 yards gifted Pittsburgh a first down and helped set up a field goal to put the Steelers ahead 26-20 with 2:52 remaining ... replay showed Corrente seemingly leaning into Marsh, who was then jogging back to his sideline, before throwing the flag, as if to initiate contact from the player. Asked about the incident after the game, Marsh told reporters he was 'hip-checked' by the referee, saying it was 'incredibly inappropriate.'"
This is a tough one for the Bears to swallow, but the bright spot -- and honestly the thing that matters most for the team this season -- was Fields playing at a high level. Late in the game, every tool in Fields' toolbox was on display: the big arm, the athleticism, the pocket poise and the downfield accuracy chief among them. From Benjamin:
- Benjamin: "Fields was the most electric player of the entire night"
- In case you forgot, Stephen Curry is really good. The Warriors star had 50 points and 10 assists in a win over the Hawks.
- Alex Ovechkin scored career goal number 741, tying Brett Hull for fourth on the NHL's all-time list, as the Capitals beat the Sabres 5-3. Ovi has 11 goals this season, the most in the NHL. He is awesome.
Welcome back, college basketball! 🏀
Happy opening night, college hoops fans! If the season snuck up on you thanks to the crazy last month of sports we've had, I have just the thing for you: a boatload of preview content from CBS Sports' excellent college basketball team:
- Matt Norlander's United States of College Basketball, where Matt ranks every men's Division I team, state-by-state. His top teams in New York and New Jersey may surprise you.
- Jerry Palm's Bracketology, which is one of the best ways to get the preseason hype rolling.
- The Top 100 And 1 players in D-I men's hoops, with a guy whose game is almost as good as his mustache at number one.
- Top 10 impact freshmen and tiers of title contenders from Kyle Boone.
- And finally, predictions for the 2022 Final Four and NCAA champion.
This list could go on and on, and the women's slate is outstanding as well. I'm hyped to see Year 2 of Paige Bueckers, the unanimous preseason All-American, at UConn. Just how good is Bueckers? Last year she won every major Player of the Year Award as a freshman -- the first ever to do so. She and the rest of the Huskies open their season Sunday.
Now, let me yell it from the rooftops: College basketball is awesome. The AP No. 1 team, Gonzaga, brought back an All-American and added a 7-foot freshmen with the rim protection of a center, the shooting of a wing and the handles to cross up Stephen Curry. He's fifth on our preseason player rankings.
Oh, and if you haven't heard, it's Mike Krzyzewski's last year in charge of No. 9 Duke ... and just a few miles away, it's Hubert Davis's first year in charge at No. 19 UNC after Roy Williams's retirement.
What does this year's opening night have in store for us? How about No. 3 Kansas vs Michigan State and No. 10 Kentucky vs No. 9 Duke at Madison Square Garden as part of the Champions Classic? And on the women's side, we have an absolute blockbuster with No. 1 South Carolina at No. 5 NC State.
It's going to be one heck of a Tuesday to get things going, and I can't wait. Neither can our college basketball insider Gary Parrish:
- Parrish: "Duke vs. Kentucky is big anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances, because it's always a showdown between two of the four winningest programs in NCAA history -- and arguably its two biggest brands. But what's on deck is undeniably bigger than usual and a reminder that Krzyzewski announcing his retirement in advance of his final season was actually a cool thing even if it's been oddly criticized by some."
Qualifying offers went out to 14 MLB players. Who's going to stay put? ⚾
While the NFL dominated the Sunday/Monday news cycle, important moves were made on the MLB front. Sunday represented the deadline for qualifying offers, and 14 players received them, including stars Freddie Freeman and Carlos Correa, who just faced off in the World Series.
Now, if you're wondering what a qualifying offer is, it's pretty straightforward: Players have until Nov. 17 to accept a one-year, $18.4-million deal or reject it and head into free agency with their next team giving up a future draft pick as compensation. MLB expert R.J. Anderson ranked the three players most likely to take the offer, led by a former All-Star pitcher:
- Anderson: "(Noah) Syndergaard is, by far, the most logical candidate to accept the tender. He's appeared in just two big-league games since the end of the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery and various setbacks. In those appearances, he showed diminished fastball velocity and he did not throw a single breaking ball. Syndergaard's track record and upside would make him an appealing pillow-contract candidate for any number of teams, but it seems unlikely they would offer him more than $18.4 million."
Elsewhere in offseason baseball news, it's award season. Gold Glove winners were announced Sunday (the Cardinals had an MLB-record five!), and MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year finalists were announced Monday. Here's the list for those first two awards for both leagues:
- NL MVP: Bryce Harper (Phillies), Juan Soto (Nationals), Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres)
- AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays), Shohei Ohtani (Angels), Marcus Semien (Blue Jays)
- NL Cy Young: Corbin Burnes (Brewers), Max Scherzer (Dodgers), Zack Wheeler (Phillies)
- AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole (Yankees), Lance Lynn (White Sox), Robbie Ray (Blue Jays)
Winners will be announced next week.
(P.S. If it's anyone other than Ohtani for AL MVP, I'll need a long, long explanation from the voters, delivered to my doorstep ASAP.)
Raiders' tumultuous season takes yet another turn for the worse 🏈
On Monday, the Raiders released cornerback Damon Arnette after a video emerged showing him brandishing guns and threatening to kill someone. The video and subsequent release from the Raiders come just days after Arnette became the subject of a lawsuit alleging he "left the scene of an accident after colliding with another car" back in 2020.
It's the latest chapter in what has been a turbulent month or so for the organization:
- Oct. 10: Then-head coach Jon Gruden becomes subject to an investigation after the Wall Street Journal shines light on a 2011 email in which Gruden used a racist remark to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith
- Oct. 12: Gruden resigns after the New York Times uncovers more emails with misogynistic and homophobic language
- Nov. 2: The Raiders release WR Henry Ruggs III after he was arrested and charged with DUI resulting in death and reckless driving resulting in death or seriously bodily harm stemming from a fatal car accident. Ruggs faces a maximum prison sentence of 46 years.
- Nov. 8: The Raiders release Arnette.
It is obviously a trying time off the field for the Raiders, and the on-field product has slipped as well. After a loss Sunday to the Giants, Las Vegas now sits at 5-3 on the season after starting 3-0.