Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts (Jan. 3, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

Happy New Year, everyone!

Yes, I know I am not the first to wish you, as well as your family and friends, a very happy and healthy new year, but hopefully this post – the first of many, of course! – will fill you with some much-needed joy and happiness on a rather gray and overcast day here in Boston, Massachusetts.

As promised in my year-end video, I am eager to produce some new (and old) content, including my first-ever ‘Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts’ column, which will be a mix of thoughts, ideas, and links from the sports world, along with some other topics, too.

I am excited for this column and hope you are, as well – I am sure it will look different each week, but that is the beauty of trying new things, right?

So, without further ado, here comes my first post of 2021 – I am excited and optimistic for a much better year for everyone!


Thought No. 1: 2021 will be much better than 2020: Yes, this is an understatement, but I believe better days are ahead – I am an optimist.

However, I don’t expect an immediate bounce back now that it is January 3, 2021. We still need to wear our masks, social distance, and wash our hands. And we need to “hold the line,” so we can finish strong.

We can do this – I believe in my fans and friends!

As we get closer to the spring and summer, I expect some sense of normalcy will return, but that feeling of gathering or watching a game safely won’t truly happen until late September or early October. Maybe early November?

This is an educated guess – I am not a scientist, so I could be wrong (fingers crossed!) – but once we are able to assemble safely at a future sporting event, I will breathe a sense of relief. I know that day will come and it will be an exciting occasion for everyone.

Thought No. 2: The NFL’s 2020 Season: To be honest, I did not expect the National Football League (NFL) would be able to play a full 17-week season during a pandemic. But somehow, they persevered.

Yep, I was wrong – sorry, everyone!

I was shocked that the league was able to play three weeks without an outbreak, but somehow, they overcame a hurdle of obstacles from the Tennessee Titans to Cam Newton to moving the Pittsburgh SteelersBaltimore Ravens game from Thursday to Sunday to Monday to Tuesday.

The NFL seemed unprepared for its 2020 season after successfully conducting their collegiate draft in April via Zoom, but somehow they proved me wrong, so let’s enjoy the final day of the regular season because who knows what happens next week once the postseason begins.

Thought No. 3: The 2020 College Football Season: I am not the biggest college football fan, but I did watch a few games this past fall, including a pair of must-see Boston College contests against Clemson University and Notre Dame.

But what I witnessed outside of the Boston College matchups I watched was poor play by numerous teams, including various student-athletes, as well as coaches acting as if they were invisible to the coronavirus – did anyone actually wear a mask on the sidelines this year? I give my buddy Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle credit for the mask comment.

In addition to the playing field being mediocre, I have also found some of these bowl games rather boring – to be honest, I would rather watch bull-riding than some of these games, but again, what do I know?

The 2020 season was a wild ride for the college sports world – remember, not many of us knew if and when games would begin last fall – but similar to the NFL, the college football world deserves some credit for finding a way to play games safely. Hopefully the championship game between Alabama and Ohio State will be a good finale for the 2020 season.

Thought No. 4: Podcasts will continue to grow in 2021: If there is one thing 2020 taught us, it is that podcasts will continue to be a go-to medium for many of us working from home until at least the summertime, maybe the fall?

And while podcasts under big-time brands like Barstool Sports and The Ringer will continue to flourish, I do expect some smaller to medium size shows to gain more listeners (and yes, followers, too).

Our podcast – the Noontime Sports Podcast – has grown immensely, thanks to our fans and friends, but also because of the amazing guests that have joined me over these past few months (thank you to everyone that has joined me – can’t wait to have you all back again soon!).

I am excited to produce more shows this month while continuing to listen to new shows (and podcasts) I discovered last year.

Here are a few shows I would recommend listening to (and yes, hitting the subscribe button, too!):

I’ll definitely be highlighting podcasts more in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned for future posts!

Final Thought: Could we see some new hyper-local blogs, websites or podcasts emerge this year, especially in New England?

My answer: Yes.

As many know, 2020 was not a good year for media, especially newspapers, that have shuttered or reduced their newsroom. There were also some big-time outlets that let-go of some well-established (and up-and-coming) writers, producers and on-air hosts, which leads me to think that many would be willing to take their following from social media to their own respective website, blog or podcast.

Here in Massachusetts, we have seen some smaller digital outlets grow over the past few weeks and months, including the New England Football Journal, which has done a good job with online shows to complements their high school and college football coverage. John Sarianides has hosted some video shows, including coaches chats that I have enjoyed and know my fans would, as well.

Pending high school football occurs (and is played) next month, the NEFJ will be a site to follow for coverage – make sure to follow the site’s co-owner Kevin Stone, who is very passionate about hyper-local sports coverage.

Speaking of college and high school football, make sure to follow Adam Kurkjian‘s coverage through MassVarsity – similar to John and Kevin, Adam has done a good job with providing Massachusetts football fans with content to consume with very few games being played – while Ryan Lanigan and Josh Perry have done a phenomenal job with their coverage through HockomockSports.com.

These are just three sites – yes, I know there are more – but these outlets have provided future content producers, writers, and editors with a blueprint of what they could create in certain pockets of the state of Massachusetts, along with the region for areas that have lost or need additional college and high school sports coverage.


Alright, that will do it for my first-ever ‘Noontime Sunday Thoughts’ column – hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any thoughts or ideas for next week’s post, please let me know. Send me a tweet message to @NoontimeSports or an email to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.

No. 2 Notre Dame Remains Perfect, Tops BC, 45-31

Ian Book and the Notre Dame football team beat Boston College to improve to 8-0 overall. (PHOTO COURTESY: WNDU)

By NoontimeSports.com

Brian Kelly was worried about a potential letdown following his team’s thrilling win last week against fourth-ranked Clemson University. But instead, the Everett, Massachusetts native watched his second-ranked Notre Dame football team pick-up its eighth win of the season as the Fighting Irish beat Boston College, 45-31, in Chestnut Hill.

With the win, Notre Dame improves to 8-0, including 7-0 against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) foes while Boston College dips to 5-4.

Notre Dame’s Ian Book completed 20 of 27 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a game-high 85 yards on 10 carries and one score. All three of Book’s touchdown passes landed in the hands of Ben Skowronek, who caught fives passes for 63 yards. Boston College’s Jaelen Gill led all receivers with 105 receiving yards.

Despite a slow start, Notre Dame truly gained momentum, as well as the lead, in the second quarter by scoring three touchdowns to secure a 31-16 lead at the break.

The Fighting Irish’s lead would continue to grow as the second half progressed, but the Eagles were able to reduce the deficit with touchdowns by David Bailey and Hunter Long.

Notre Dame retained possession following Boston College’s final score and drained the clock with five rushing plays, along with a pair of kneel-downs following an unsportsmanlike penalty against Maximilian Roberts.

As a team, Notre Dame recorded 29 first downs while converting two fourth down attempts. They also produced 557 yards of total offense while Boston College finished the game with 357 total yards.

Tonight’s win was Brian Kelly’s 100th victory with the Fighting Irish. He joins Lou Holtz and Knute Rockne, who have also recorded 100 wins or more as the head coach of the Notre Dame football team.

Both teams are off next weekend, but will return to the gridiron on Friday, November 27. Boston College will host Louisville at 12 p.m. while Notre Dame will visit North Carolina for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

BC Football Is Headed In The Right Direction

By Matt Noonan

Let me begin by saying I tuned into yesterday’s Boston CollegeClemson University football game in the third quarter – yes, I know I missed an amazing first half by the Eagles. But the fact that BC, which is led by first-year coach Jeff Hafley, was able to dictate a majority of their conference clash with the top team in the land was impressive.

First-year coach Jeff Hafley and the Boston College football program are trending in the right direction. (PHOTO COURTESY: Boston Globe/NIC ANTAYA FOR THE GLOBE)

Yesterday’s outing was a moral victory. It was a step in the right direction. And it certainly was a contest that attracted more eyeballs than anticipated, especially when it appeared as if Boston College was going to shock the college football universe with a 28-13 lead at the break.

And oh, by the way, the Tigers were playing without their star-studded quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who missed the game due to testing positive for the coronavirus last Thursday.

Unfortunately, momentum would shift to the Tigers, who clawed their way back to beat the Eagles, 34-28.

With the win, Clemson improved to 7-0 while Boston College dipped to 4-3.

The six-point setback still hurts somewhat this morning. But this feeling will pass – I believe it.

Sure, it would have been amazing to see hour hometown Boston College Eagles celebrate a win in “Death Valley” on Halloween 2020, but that day will come eventually. And so will more victories, too, along with conference titles and bowl championships.

Hafley said he was “proud of our guys” shortly after his team’s seventh contest of the 2020 season. He also told members of the media during his post-game Zoom session that these Eagles entered Saturday’s tilt with some confidence – “they came out believing in each other (and) they came out believing in their coaching staff.”

Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec believes in the Eagles, too. In fact, he told the media that he his and teammates “already knew that” they could hang with the top teams in the land. And that statement was echoed by his teammate, CJ Lewis, who claims he and his teammates “always play with a chip on our shoulder.”

“We wanted to come out and show the world that we can play with the top dogs,” said Lewis during yesterday’s postgame session.

Lewis and the Eagles did prove to the world – well, more the college football universe, to be exact – that Boston College can compete with the nation’s top teams. And hopefully, yesterday’s defeat will prove that these Eagles should not be taken lightly over the next few weeks.

Boston College is scheduled to compete four more times this fall with a big matchup looming in the near future against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. A win over Notre Dame would certainly turn some heads, as well as provide the program with some momentum heading into their final two contests.

No matter what happens over the next few weeks, yesterday’s contest against top-ranked Clemson proved Boston College is on the rise and heading in the right direction. And these coaches and student-athletes should be proud about what they’re building in Chestnut Hill.

NCAA Lacrosse Championships To Return To Gillette Stadium

Gillette Stadium will be the site for four NCAA Championships in 2025 and 2026. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

The NCAA unveiled future sites for future championships over the next few years earlier today, including lacrosse, which is scheduled to return to Gillette Stadium in 2025 and 2026. 

All three men’s championships – D-I, D-II, and D-III – will take place both years at the home of the New England Patriots while the D-I women’s title games will occur each year, as well. 

Gillette Stadium has been the host site for all three men’s lacrosse championships five times, including in 2018 when Yale University captured its first-ever national title by defeating Duke University by a score of 13-11. 

One year earlier – 2017, to be exact! – Maryland defeated Boston College in Foxborough, Massachusetts in the first championship game held in Foxborough, Massachusetts by a score of 16-13. 

College Football Notebook: Welcome To Week One

CFBNOTEBOOK2020

By Matt Noonan 

The first official Saturday of the 2020 college football season is less than 24 hours away – crazy, right?

For the past few days, weeks, and months, both I and others, have debated if and how a season could be played, especially during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. But somehow, some teams have found a way to keep everyone safe, including coaches, too.

And we already have a few games in the books, including a Week 0 affair between the Austin Peay State University and the University of Central Arkansas, which saw the Bears win by a score of 24-17.

Last night – Thursday, September 3, to be exact – the Bears suffered their first setback of the season, falling to the University of Alabama at Birmingham by a score of 45-35. 

UAB jumped out to a 28-21 advantage by the break while holding the Bears to just two touchdowns in the second half.

According to UCA coach Nathan Brown, UAB may be the “the best team we play all year.”

Next week the Bears will be idle before returning to the gridiron on Saturday, September 19 for a 6 p.m. kickoff against Arkansas State.

South Alabama was also victorious last night as the Jaguars topped the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi by a score of 32-21.

Southern Alabama’s Desmond Trotter and Chance Lovertich combined for three touchdown passes and 363 yards of total offense while Carlos Davis rushed for a game-high 85 yards on 15 carries.


Clemson secures top spot in ACC Preseason Poll: By no surprise, the Tigers of Clemson secured the top spot in this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) media poll while Notre Dame and North Carolina checked-in second and third, respectively.

Louisville and Virginia rounded out the top five, securing the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, while Boston College – yes, our local connection to the ACC – secured the 13th spot out of 15 teams.

Syracuse and Georgia Tech rounded out the final two spots in the 15 team poll, checking-in 14th, and 15th, respectively.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was picked to win the ACC Player of the Year award.


Noontime’s Game of the Week: Army over Middle Tennessee State University: The Black Knights have enjoyed a great deal of success over the past few years in their home stadium – in fact, they’re 17-2 in West Point, New York, according to Saturday’s preview, dating back to the 2016 season.

Army ended its 2019 campaign with back-to-back losses, including a 31-7 setback to Navy, along with just five wins, but for the Black Knights to be successful, both tomorrow and this fall, they will need their quarterbacks – Jabari Laws and Christian Anderson – to play their best football.

While I know Middle Tennessee may be the favorite in this game, I’m going with an early-season upset alert with the Army edging the Blue Raiders on the final drive.

Noontime’s Game of the Week Prediction: Army 24, Middle Tennessee 22 


Noontime’s Week One Predictions 

  • Marshall over Eastern Kentucky 
  • Army over Middle Tennessee 
  • Southern Methodist University (SMU) over Texas State 
  • North Texas over Houston Baptist 
  • Memphis over Arkansas State 
  • Stephen F. Austin over the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)
  • Navy over Brigham Young University (BYU) (the game will be played on Monday, September 7 at 8 p.m.)