January 5, Week in Sports
:: NFL POST-SEASON BEGINS (Pro. Football)
:: USC TROUNCES PENN STATE IN ROSE BOWL (College Football)
:: RED WINGS TOP BLACKHAWKS IN WINTER CLASSIC (Pro. Hockey)
AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT…
This weekend marked the beginning of the NFL playoffs. There were four games, which means that four teams advanced on the post-season path toward the Super Bowl: the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles.
The most surprising moment so far in the post-season came during the game between the Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts. The Chargers won the game in overtime–a surprising outcome, given the fact that the Chargers had a shaky season and the Colts were universally regarded as one of the strongest teams in the playoffs. In any case, the season is now over for Indianapolis and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who was recently named the league MVP by the Associated Press.
Other major NFL news came earlier in the week, when a series of coach firings were announced. The fired coaches included Romeo Crennel (Cleveland Browns), Eric Mangini (N.Y. Jets), and Mike Shanahan (Denver Broncos). None of the members of that group were too surprising, except for Shanahan, who led the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in the late 90s.
Quote of the Week: ”For the sixth time in nine playoff appearances, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts have been bounced from the playoffs in the first round.” — Dashiell Bennett, Deadspin
Further Reading: ”An early ending for the Colts, again” — Paul Kuharsky, ESPN
COMING UP ROSES
The USC Trojans defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions to win the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game in the country, and one of the most famous.
This is the third year in a row that the Trojans have won the Rose Bowl. While many teams in the country would look at a Rose Bowl victory as a huge accomplishment, in many ways, it is a consolation prize for USC. Every year, the Trojans are projected to be one of the best teams in the nation, and even though they generally live up to expectations, they have not made the national championship game since 2005, when they lost to Texas.
The loss in the Rose Bowl came as a big disappointment to Penn State, who had an outstanding season and finished the season ranked sixth in the nation. Penn State belongs to the Big Ten conference, and under the current Bowl Game system, the Rose Bowl is played between teams from the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences. However, the Big Ten has had no success at the Rose Bowl under the current system, and the last time it came home from Pasadena victorious was in 2000, when Wisconsin beat Stanford.
Quote of the Week: “It would take a heck of a football team to beat Southern Cal the way they played today.” — Joe Paterno, Penn State’s Head Coach
Further Reading: “Trojans are in full flower in Rose Bowl victory” — Gary Klein, LA Times
The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in the Winter Classic, an outdoor hockey game played on New Year’s Day. The Winter Classic is one of the most widely watched hockey events of the year, and this year’s game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field between the rival Red Wings and Blackhawks was very highly anticipated.
The Detroit Red Wings won the championship last year, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. They are also traditionally one of the strongest teams in the league. The Chicago Blackhawks, though one of the original teams in the league, have gone years without making the playoffs, and the Chicago fan base has been largely indifferent to the team as a result. In the past two years, though, that has changed dramatically. After the owner of the Blackhawks died, his son completely overhauled the team’s image, and so far this year the Blackhawks have the best attendance in the league, as well as a very good record. For that reason, and because of the fact that the game was taking place at historic Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, the Winter Classic was a hugely successful event.
A big part of the Blackhawks’ revival has been the play of young superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Both players are 20 years old, and they were recently selected to this year’s All-Star team.
Quote of the Week: “If this was the day they re-established themselves as meaningful in this town, it was also a day on which they realized, again, how far they have to go to get to the level of the defending champion Red Wings.” — Rick Morrissey, Chicago Tribune
Further Reading: “Winter Classic a perfect day” — Rick Morrissey, Chicago Tribune
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: COLLEGE FOOTBALL: On Thursday night, Oklahoma and Florida will face off in the BCS national championship game. This game is the most important event of the college football season, and is widely watched around the country.
:: PRO. FOOTBALL: The playoffs continue next weekend. For the full schedule, check your local paper or www.nfl.com.
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 season is currently underway. It runs from late October to April of 2009, when the playoffs commence. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): The college basketball season is currently underway and runs through “the Tournament,” which takes place in March. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): The playoffs continue this week and culminate in the Super Bowl, which takes place later in January. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The regular season is over and the bowl games are almost over. Florida and Oklahoma will play each other in the national championship game on Thursday. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. Now that the PGA Championship is over, mainstream golf news will most likely revolve around Tiger Woods’ return from injury and preparation for next year’s Majors. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season runs through April of 2009. By the new year, the league power rankings should be pretty well set. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in this year’s World Series. During the off-season, baseball news will focus on major trades and player signings. [Official MLB Website]