Welcome to the 79th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where tonight officially starts one of the best times on the sports calendar with the MLB Postseason, college football and the NFL all going strong. Let’s get into it…
“This is what I came here to do.” – Jim McElwain
Colorado State had no business beating Boston College as our Saturday mornings transitioned into Saturday afternoons. Not after CSU traveled farther east than the program had since 1959. Not after kicking off at 10:30 a.m. local time (an underrated factor in this game). Not after their senior quarterback threw two first-quarter interceptions. Not after falling behind 14-0 late in the second quarter. Not against an ACC team that beat the #9 team in the country on this field two weeks ago. Not with CSU’s senior quarterback beat up and grabbing his shoulder in pain after just about every play. Not when they were down three points facing a fourth-and-eleven with 1:05 left.
But then Garrett Grayson saw Charles Lovett just hanging out by himself in the back corner of the end zone. He threw him a football and Colorado State did beat Boston College on Saturday afternoon. College football is fun when you win! (Video of the winning TD can be seen here. It’s worth watching again.)
My biggest takeaway from this game is the resiliency the Rams showed once again. We saw it in the New Mexico Bowl vs. Washington State. We saw it in the Rocky Mountain Showdown vs. Colorado And to a lesser extent, we even saw it in the vain comeback attempt vs. Boise State, This team doesn’t quit when they fall behind. Even on the road. Even against good teams. That’s an encouraging characteristic as we move into the meat of the schedule.
I think that starts with Grayson. The quarterback threw two bad interceptions in a horrible first quarter, but he kept his head and stayed poised. (Not to mention played through an apparent injury.) Next thing you know, he’s making one of the country’s most dramatic plays from Saturday.
Much of the credit for this win needs to go to the CSU linebacking corps, which was just able to contain Boston College’s vaunted rushing attack. Max Morgan was all over the field. Morgan, Corey James and Aaron Davis appear to be one of the best groups of ‘backers in the country.
Running back Dee Hart was a game-changer again. His versatility is starting to pay huge dividends for CSU, with McElwain using him on kickoff returns, punt returns, catching passes out of the backfield, and handing him the ball. His 43-yard kickoff return in the 2nd quarter went for naught, but his 43-yard run on the final drive set up that dramatic game-winning touchdown. Hart had 207 all-purpose yards.
And I told y’all that Rashard Higgins is a damn star. He had nine catches for 98 yards and a TD.
So now CSU has won three straight over “Power 5” teams, coming from behind in each one. That’s the kind of stat you used to hear back in the Sonny glory days. They’ve also won seven of their last nine games overall and nine of their last twelve. The Colorado State Rams are straight rollin’ right now.
Listen, Boston College isn’t a college football power. They’re not ranked. But they are a pretty good team and there’s no doubt this represented one of the toughest games on the Rams’ schedule. With that in mind, and with the direction the Colorado State program seems to be heading, this was the biggest regular season win for the Rams in many, many years.
Take a minute and think about how this game would have gone four or five years ago. Those teams would have had about a 50 percent chance of keeping the game competitive and a zero percent chance of coming away with a victory.
The times they are a-changin’.
So where does this team go from here? Hopefully upward.
This sounds a little crazy, but with the CSU’s soft schedule, it’s not completely unreasonable to at least think about seeing them win out. The game at Nevada in two weeks looks like a tough one. Utah State for Homecoming no longer looks like a huge challenge. (They’ve struggled on the road and Chuckie Keeton hasn’t been able to stay healthy.) And there is always the strong possibility of CSU laying an egg and losing a game they shouldn’t lose.
So yeah, I realize saying the Rams could win the remainder of their games and go 11-1 sounds pretty silly. And I’m not necessarily predicting that. I’m just saying it doesn’t look impossible.
On a much more important and slightly more serious note, the Rams’ chances of winning the Mountain Division increased dramatically Saturday night. About eight hours after the Rams won, Boise State lost to Air Force. I didn’t think the Broncos would lose a conference game after dominating CSU in Boise in week two. Then they went to Colorado Springs and fell behind a bad Air Force team 28-0. Uhh, what?
So now Boise and CSU both already have one conference loss (though BSU will have the tiebreaker over CSU because of the head-to-head victory). Utah State has to travel to Fort Collins and Boise. I’m still not sold on Wyoming or Air Force as contenders. A whole bunch of football still needs to be played (obviously), but at this point it appears that the Rams are in the hunt for their first conference title since Bradlee Van Pelt’s 2002 team.
So that’s pretty cool.
The MLB Postseason begins tonight, which is just wonderful news. There’s no better dramatic theater in sports than the baseball tournament that begins in a few hours. The Athletics and Royals are in the AL play-in game tonight in Kansas City. The Giants and Pirates are in the NL play-in game tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.
The best first-round series figures to be Dodgers vs. Cardinals, a rematch of last year’s NLCS that will feature two separate matchups of Clayton Kershaw vs. Adam Wainwright– two of the heaviest heavyweights in baseball. Like most fans without a horse in the race, I’ll be pulling for the Pirates and Royals. Could you imagine that World Series?
That said, I like the Nationals to beat the Tigers in the Fall Classic. While I’m not overly confident in that prediction, my confidence in the Postseason being awesome is very, very high.
Off to the weekly departments…
Vine(s) of the week:
Speaking of the Nationals, Jordan Zimmerman threw a no-hitter on the last day of the regular season on Sunday. The final out was pretty remarkable, especially when you have this vantage point:
I also like Zimmerman’s reaction:
Stud(s) of the week:
Lots of options this week, but I want to give some love to Paul Konerko. The longtime White Sox first baseman played his last game on Friday. Konerko has had a remarkably underrated career and the game will miss him, his quiet and workmanlike approach, and his 439 homers and 1,412 RBI.
I also like this Jose Altuve story. Altuve, who is awesome and only like four feet tall, was leading the American League in hitting heading into the final game. The Astros tried to bench him to make sure Altuve would win the batting title. (He was leading Victor Martinez by three points heading into Sunday.) Altuve refused, played, and got two hits to raise his average and take the AL crown. Pretty legit.
The Rockies went the opposite route and benched Justin Morneau for the last two games to ensure him of leading the NL in hitting. LAME.
And on a somewhat related note, look at this swing from Altuve from few days back:
Douche of the week:
Hey look Michael Phelps got his 2nd DUI today. All the money in the world and a very public reputation on line… I just don’t get it man.
But also… No Broncos were arrested on the bye week. Sweet!
Picture(s) of the week:
Some Ohio State bro did that neat thing where you run out onto the field during a game. Ohio State assistant strength coach Anthony Schlagel took care of that.
The picture is better, but here’s a Vine of the incident:
Wait we have one more picture! My favorite mugshot ever:
Unbelievable! The weird thing about this is if you actually visit that link, that mug is nowhere to be found. So I’m not entirely sure if this guy is the suspected bank robber or if CBS 4 Denver just has an awesome stock photo to run when bad guys get caught. Either way, I’m glad I saw it.
Tweet of the week:
Some really solid analysis from Broadway Joe on Sunday:
Offense of line.
Some other stuff the internet had to offer from the past week:
The Pirates were excited to make the playoffs. This is how you videobomb a newscast!
Mike Trout is inventing the “no-look diving catch”.
I don’t even understand that.
Hey here’s a GIF that made me laugh:
I have no idea why I found this 30-yard stumble to be so damn funny:
Steve Smith has no interest in handing the ball to the ref. I really respect this move:
Arizona State lost to UCLA 62-27 Thursday night, but the final score wasn’t the most embarrassing part of their evening. This was:
A couple links worth sharing from the past week:
- There’s no way for me to embed this video (apparently), but you absolutely have to watch Vin Scully tell this story about Gladys, the drunk organ player at the Dodgers’ last game at Ebbets field. Absolutely hysterical. Vin can do no wrong, man.
- The responses to Stevie Johnson’s “work fantasy team” tweets were pretty awesome.
- Jeff Passan’s 25 things you didn’t know about baseball is always an enjoyable read.
- Saturday Night Live’s season opener made fun of the NFL.
And finally, I don’t have much time to get into the incredible overkill of Derek Jeter’s final games. But gosh, Keith Olbermann does makes some interesting points about Jeter’s career:
On the other side of the spectrum, his nephew’s little hat tip was pretty darn cute:
Happy Tuesday everybody. GO WATCH SOME BASEBALL. Thanks for reading. See y’all next week.
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