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Mike Gundy says the 2015 season’s Ole Miss-Oklahoma State Sugar Bowl wasn’t a ‘level playing field’

Posted by    |    February 26th, 2017 at 10:13 am

OSU lost by so much that it’s hard to imagine anything would’ve been different, but the coach is free to wonder.

The 2015 season’s Sugar Bowl was a romp. Ole Miss and Oklahoma State met in New Orleans, and the Rebels put an utter demolition on the Cowboys. The final score was 48-20, and it was only that close because the Pokes managed a few touchdowns in garbage time. They were down 41-6 at one point.

But now Ole Miss is in a great deal of NCAA trouble, facing 21 compliance allegations, including more than a dozen at the most serious level. An NCAA doomsday could be coming. Ole Miss isn’t contesting several of the allegations.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has seized the moment to wonder about what could’ve been 14 months ago.

“We’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field,” Gundy now says, according to the Tulsa World’s Bill Haisten. “That is the truth. I’m not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we’ll never know.”

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Apparently, Gundy added, “we didn’t all play by the same rules. If everybody is playing by the rules and you get your butt kicked, that’s OK. I can live with that. But when it’s an uneven playing field, that’s not fair.”

Cheating isn’t fair. No one is arguing that it is. And at least Gundy is candid that he’s “not sure” his team would’ve won under different circumstances.

But there’s not that much to wonder about here.

That’s because the Ole Miss-Oklahoma State Sugar Bowl really, really was not close. The Pokes were outgained by a margin of 554-366. The first five touchdowns were all Ole Miss’, and the player scoring one of them was an offensive lineman:


The NCAA could choose to come down on Ole Miss like a ton of bricks. The Rebels self-imposed a bowl ban for 2017, but the NCAA’s toolbox of potential sanctions also includes nullifying wins. (The player scoring the above touchdown, Laremy Tunsil, has been a central figure in the NCAA’s investigation.) It’s possible that Ole Miss’ win that night doesn’t last forever, at least not in the NCAA’s books.

But Ole Miss obliterated Oklahoma State in this game. To imagine the Cowboys winning requires an elaborate and winding mental gymnastics routine, even if a big handful of Ole Miss’ contributors are ultimately proven to have broken the rules.

Gundy’s wondering is understandable. Losses hurt. But so much would’ve had to be different for his team to have been competitive that night in New Orleans.

Matt Elam arrested on drug charges in Miami

Posted by    |    February 26th, 2017 at 9:08 am

Elam is set to become a free agent in March.

Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam was arrested early Sunday morning by Miami-Dade police on multiple drug charges. The charges include possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of cannabis with the intent to sell or deliver, and possession of a controlled substance.

The arrest report indicates that police initially pulled Elam over for reckless driving. They found 126 grams of marijuana — over a third of a pound — in his vehicle, according to Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith. Elam also had three grams of oxycodone in his possession, which explains the possession of a controlled substance charge.

According to the arrest report, Elam’s bond on each of the drug-related charges is currently set at $5,000. His bond for the reckless driving charge is an additional $500. Those amounts are subject to change.

After spending the first several weeks of the season recovering from knee surgery, Elam was designated for return from injured reserve by the Ravens. He played in the final nine games of the season, posting four tackles.

Elam was selected by the Ravens with the 32nd pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and the Ravens declined to pick up his option prior to the 2016 season. He is set to enter free agency in March. This arrest may make free agency a challenge for Elam.

NHL scores 2017: Penguins prove that outdoor games are still kind of fun

Posted by    |    February 26th, 2017 at 8:00 am

The Flyers were there, too.

We’ve learned three things from the NHL’s outdoor games this year:

  • Outdoor games are better at night.
  • Color vs. color jersey combinations are so, so good.
  • Outdoor games are still kind of fun?

Even the Blackhawks can’t wear off the novelty of the event, it seems. At least in our opinion. And instead of the over-saturation many feared when the Stadium Series games became a thing last year, it’s actually the opposite. Little “event” breaks here and there to add some flavor to the grinding NHL stretch run.

Look, every once and awhile fans need a weeknight to collectively make fun of the bands the NHL hires. Or see teams enter the field with flamethrowers firing off behind them.

Or LIVE ANIMALS.


These things are still good. Not as new, or whatever, but still fun.


Scores

Kings 4, Ducks 1

Blue Jackets 7, Islanders 0

Rangers 4, Devils 3 (OT)

Predators 5, Capitals 2

Penguins 4, Flyers 2

Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2 (OT)

Sharks 4, Canucks 1

Avalanche 5, Sabres 3


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Three Things We Learned

1. Toronto still cures all Montreal ills

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Adding Claude Julien hasn’t stopped the Canadiens’ slide into mediocrity and out of the playoff race yet. So it’s a good thing they played the Leafs this weekend! Andrew Shaw’s overtime winner (thanks to a bizarre play by Frederik Andersen) gave the Habs 14 straight wins over their Canadian rivals.

#Habs have been 1st place in the Atlantic Division for 129 days.

— Eyes on the Prize (@HabsEOTP) February 26, 2017

2. L.A. is happy Jonathan Quick is back

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Seriously. Look at how playful Darryl Sutter was during his presser.

Quick returned from a four-month injury absence on Saturday with a 32-save win over Anaheim, a rival ready to run after a trade for Patrick Eaves on Friday.

L.A. is coming for the Flames and the wild card.

3. Filip Forsberg is still on fire

NHL: Washington Capitals at Nashville Predators
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

He didn’t get his third straight hat trick, but the Predators winger did get three points and another goal. Forsberg is the first player with seven goals in three games since Michael Grabner in 2011.

And you had to know he was extra-motivated on Saturday: a chance to take down the Capitals even years after they traded him away for pennies? Of course he kept his hot streak up.


Impact Moment

Uh, how about REAL PENGUINS?



Stat of the Night

As per @SNstats Laine and Matthews are first two teenagers with 30 goals in a season since 1988-89 (Linden/Turgeon)

— David Amber (@DavidAmber) February 26, 2017

Post to Post

Penguins 4, Flyers 2: This team’s problems are the same in a football stadium, too https://t.co/EflyizgxDU

— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 26, 2017

LA Kings vs Anaheim Ducks Game 61 Recap: Quick comes back, defeats the Quacks https://t.co/cvyoBwpBfK pic.twitter.com/ffY4EGLjf1

— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) February 26, 2017

Nashville Predators 5, Washington Capitals 2 : That Was Fun https://t.co/r0YDoyS0AX

— On The Forecheck (@OnTheForecheck) February 26, 2017

Quick Takes: Jackets crush Islanders #CBJ https://t.co/6rQC5bOUxl pic.twitter.com/coMknECcA6

— CBJ Machine Gun (@cbjcannon) February 26, 2017

Capitals vs. Predators Recap: Nashville Rides Three-Goal Second To Win https://t.co/pV9fpPxn71 pic.twitter.com/6AZVrkxp7m

— Japers’ Rink (@JapersRink) February 26, 2017

Blue Jackets 7, Islanders 0: Welp https://t.co/c5ROIgFgy9 pic.twitter.com/q1crIRFXEk

— Dominik & LHHFriends (@LHHockey) February 26, 2017

Southampton vs. Manchester United 2017 live stream: Time, TV schedule, and how to watch EFL Cup final online

Posted by    |    February 26th, 2017 at 7:02 am

Southampton are hoping that history is on their side as they play the underdog against Manchester United in a second League Cup final.

The EFL Cup is coming to a close, and on Sunday the attention of England will turn to Wembley Stadium as Manchester United and Southampton square off to see who will win the 2017 League Cup.

These two teams met once before in the League Cup final, 41 years ago in 1976. That match ended as a shocking upset, with then-second division side Southampton beating first division winners Manchester United 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Saints club hero Bobby Stokes — in what would turn out to be one of the final goals he would score with Southampton.

If Southampton are going to have a repeat performance of such an upset on Sunday, they’re going to need to step up in a big, big way. Since winning their place in the final a month ago, the Saints have lost three of their last four matches, with their only win coming over relegation-bound Sunderland. Claude Puel does have a few hot hands in his squad, though, and he’s had two weeks to prepare for this game — he’s not going to make this easy on Jose Mourinho.

Speaking of Mourinho, his Manchester United side have to be the prohibitive favorites coming into this match, standing in the midst of a five-match winning streak in all competitions and finally having some of his best players healthy and in-form. They’re going to do their best to simply bully Southampton out of existence in this match and lift the League Cup high above their heads for the first time since 2010.

To watch this match online in the United States, you can stream it on beIN Sports Connect. In England, it will be shown on Sky Go, and for online listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.

TV: beIN Sports (U.S. – English), beIN Sports en Español (U.S. – Spanish), Sky Sports 1/HD (U.K.)

Match Date/Time: Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, 4:30 p.m. local

Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England

Daytona 500 lineup 2017: Starting grid, drivers, preview and more

Posted by    |    February 26th, 2017 at 6:00 am

The Daytona 500 is shaping up to be battle between Team Penske’s “island hopping” strategy and Toyota’s all-for-one approach.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — By all appearances another Speedweeks romp was on, with Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Daniel Suarez again putting their own self-interests aside for the greater good of the organization in last week’s exhibition The Clash. Just as what occurred a year ago in the Daytona 500 when Toyota-backed drivers worked together and led 156 of 200 laps to ensure the manufacturer won for the first time in NASCAR’s biggest race.

For an extended period of time during the Clash, Hamlin, Busch, Kenseth and Suarez held the top four positions. Such was their stranglehold up front, it appeared to be a foregone conclusion the teammates dictate the outcome amongst themselves.

But as the Toyota quartet ran nose-to-tail, Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finally linked up their Fords and went to work on escaping the middle of the pack where they were currently mired. With Keselowski leading and Logano pushing, the two incrementally picked off one position at a time executing a well-crafted strategy to counteract the Toyotas teamwork.

The Penske plan, if you will, fit the strong suits for each driver.

A thinker, who’s good at anticipating what’s going to happen in advance, Keselowski is tasked with taking the point. That way he can determine where to run on the track, to find and exploit the holes in the aerodynamic draft and how to best breakup drafting partners like the pack Hamlin, Busch, Kenseth and Suarez formed. Keselowski refers to this as “island hopping,” a term the military history buff incorporated from how Allied forces defeated Japan in World War II’s Pacific Theater.

Logano’s role is follow Keselowski and bump and push his teammate as they move forward. The efforts by Logano provide the needed momentum to build enough of a run where they can maneuver around other cars as Keselowski sees fit.

“Brad is probably the best at doing that leapfrog,” Logano said. “He’s really good at that, probably better than anybody at it. I feel like my strength is being a very aggressive, strong pusher and able to use runs quick.”

The tenets of restrictor-plate racing have long been that success at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway largely centered on luck. To finish well or win, drivers needed fortuitous circumstances to avoid the multi-car wrecks that frequently occur.

Tired of feeling as if they were at the mercy of forces outside their control, the Penske camp developed a game plan placing an emphasis on skill. From that came the “island hopping” strategy that’s become the backbone of Keselowski and Logano combining to win six of the past nine restrictor-plate races.

“You have to take one island at a time, destroy it, move to the next one until you get to the main prize, which is first,” Keselowski said. “And that takes a very specific set of tactics. You have to do everything just right. You have to have a good horse underneath you. You have to have good people working with you.”

Penske’s synchronization and Toyota’s unselfishness is expected to be prevalent throughout the Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox). Together Keselowski and Logano form the best restrictor-plate tag since the heyday of Dale Earnhardt Inc., while the Toyota drivers understand their best chance is by tightly lining up and feverishly blocking any charge Keselowski and Logano mount.

And according to Hamlin, Toyota is also devising a secondary plan than what was used in last year’s Daytona 500, which saw Hamlin beat manufacturer-teammate Martin Truex Jr. by .010 seconds — the closest finish ever in the 58-year history of The Great American Race.

“We have an alternate plan,” Hamlin. “The same ideas are not going to continue to work over and over. You have to come up with something new, something to keep them off guard.

“Not just Penske, but there are going to be many other contenders in the mix of it that are not just going to allow us to go out there and lead all the laps. We got to be ready for it. We got to come up with a new plan. That’s what our job is to do.”

Of course, plans can and often do change in the Daytona 500, a race frequently won not by outright speed but by those who can best adapt.

In Thursday’s Can-Am Duels, Hamlin was pushed to the win not by a fellow Toyota, but by Austin Dillon’s Chevrolet. And in the second qualifying race, among the drivers Chevrolet’s Chase Elliott surprisingly held off was Keselowski.

No Longer is restrictor-plate racing about outright speed, it’s now a game of chess at 200 mph.

“The game has changed a lot,” Logano said. And, to be honest, I think the Gibbs cars have changed the game more than anything. … The only way you pass them is you’ve got to have a team that’s stronger that’s able to pick them apart one at a time and that’s what we were able to do.”

Daytona 500 starting lineup