The Clemson University football team was picked first in the NCAA Coaches Poll posted Thursday, August 6. (PHOTO COURTESY: BART BOATWRIGHT/FOR THE STATE)
By Matt Noonan
By no surprise, the Clemson Tigers remained the top team in the latest AP Top 25 Poll, which was released yesterday (Sunday, September 20, 2020).
Currently, the Tigers, who were the top team in the land last week, boast a 2-0 record and will look to continue their early-season momentum in a few weeks when they host Virginia, which is currently receiving votes.
Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida rounded out the top five spots, while LSU remained in the sixth position for the second-straight week.
Notre Dame, which checked-in seventh one week, improved to 2-0 last weekend when they beat Southern Florida by a score of 52-0.
Texas and Auburn secured a two-way tie for the eighth position while Texas A&M occupied the tenth position for the second consecutive week.
Miami was the biggest mover on this week’s poll as they slid up five spots to the 12th position after checking-in 17th one week ago.
Further down the poll, Marshall secured the final spot – that would be the 25th position – after picking-up their second-straight win this past weekend.
This week, we’ll see more teams in action, including a slew of the top teams with Alabama visiting Missouri and Arkansas hosting Georgia.
For a complete schedule of the fourth week, HOP HERE!
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.
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.
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.)
It’s been just four days since the New England Patriots season concluded, but the setback to the Tennesse Titans doesn’t seem to be on the mind of many these days.
Instead, the biggest issue surrounding our beloved football team is the future of quarterback Tom Brady – will he really leave Boston as a free agent and sign with the Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders or Los Angeles Chargers? Or will he stay in New England for one or two more seasons?
The speculation began quickly after the final whistle sounded last Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium as various reporters pressed the long-time signal-caller on his future with the team. Brady didn’t seem interested in discussing future plans. Instead, it appeared as if he wanted to go home and fall asleep. He also didn’t seem interested in reflecting on the entire 2019 season, too, which saw New England win eight-straight contests.
Will or will not, Tom Brady, return to New England will remain at the forefront of social media, blogs, websites, and media outlets going forward. But I have a hunch that Brady returns next season and concludes his career with the Patriots, not another team.
Watching Brady play for the Cowboys or Raiders would just seem strange in my opinion – I, along with other New England fans, would have a hard time seeing the six-time Super Bowl champion donning a different uniform.
I don’t know Brady – I have never covered any of his games, but have enjoyed watching him as both a fan and season ticket holder, and believe he will stick around the area and finish his impressive career as a Patriot, not a Cowboy or Charger. But for Brady to remain with the organization, New England is going to need to acquire some additional pieces on the offensive end so they can compete for a seventh championship next fall.
Brady, who just didn’t seem to have fun this season, needs help. And he certainly knows he can’t win games going forward with just Julian Edelman and James White. He needs receivers and tight ends that are accustomed to winning, but also those that are willing to commit to the process (also known as the ‘Patriot Way.’).
We’re still weeks (and months) away from finding out where Brady is headed, but again, I just have a feeling – yes, a feeling – that he returns for one or two more seasons and leads New England to their seventh (and maybe eighth) Super Bowl.
If Brady wins seven or eight Super Bowls then it will be really hard to say he is not the greatest ever to play football, right?
Noontime’s Quick Thoughts on some Boston sports news (and notes):
The Boston Celtics have been really impressive and fun to watch this season – I think this team is destined for a deep postseason run.
But after observing some of their previous starts against the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards, all I can say is the following: they need to play good basketball wire-to-wire, but also not allow mediocre teams dictate the pace of play following the opening tip.
The Green and White host San Antonio this evening – the Spurs are currently eighth in the Western Conference – and should certainly provide the Celtics with a good test. But a win over the Spurs this evening followed by a victory tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers is a must for a team that didn’t play their best basketball against the Hawks and Wizards. Sure, they beat Atlanta (and the Chicago Bulls one night later), but if I am Brad Stevens, my message would be the following: we dictate the pace of play, not our opponent.
Could Alex Cora get suspended for 81 games or the entire 2020 season due to the latest report of the Boston Red Sox stealing signs during their 2018 World Series run?
I think it is possible – do others?
This is a bad look for the local nine that did not qualify for the postseason last year and has seemed to take a backseat to bolstering their roster this offseason, so they can compete with some of the best in the American League this season, including the New York Yankees.
In case you missed it, the Boston College men’s basketball team scored an impressive (and exciting) win last night over 18th ranked Virginia – hope Bob Whitney enjoyed watching this particular game.
The win bumps the Eagles record to 9-6 overall and should provide the Maroon and Gold with momentum heading into upcoming contests against Georgia Tech and Syracuse University.
Duke University remains the top team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) while the Eagles sit two spots below the Blue Devils with a 3-1 league record.
Stay connected with our Noontime Nation Boston Sports coverage on Twitter by following @NS_Boston!
Some random thoughts after looking around at the local and national basketball landscape.
The Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC)/Big Ten Conference(B1G) Basketball Challenge is always at the top of my viewing list each year – I love channel surfing.
This year, the Big 10 Conference reigned supreme with some impressive showings by Maryland, Purdue, Ohio State, and Penn State.
Purdue absolutely dismantled Virginia and exposed the ‘Hoos offensive shortcomings while Ohio State throttled North Carolina. It’s early but Ohio State is looking like they have the horsepower to make a run to the Final Four next April.
Speaking of the ACC, Boston College is on a four-game losing spin and facing a rigorous conference road trip this Saturday at Norte Dame. A highly-touted freshman class must grow up in a hurry or the Eagles will once again reside in the ACC’s bottom quartile.
Save the date: current No. 1 Louisville will visit Conte Forum on Jan. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m.
Carl Pierre, who played high school basketball at Boston College High School, is having an excellent season at UMass. The 2017 Catholic Conference MVP and two-time conference all-star selection is currently averaging 12 points per game.
Pierre and the Minutemen will visit Harvard on Saturday, December 7th with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. UMass will attempt to snap a four-game skid, which began prior to Thanksgiving with a 58-46 setback to Virginia. Harvard enters the non-conference clash at 4-4 – the Crimson have lost two-straight since beating Texas A&M last Thursday.
Newton North’s Ethan Wright has seen an uptick in playing time this season with the Princeton Tigers. The second-year guard has logged 93 minutes in six contests this season – he even started a game last month against Indiana. Wright has scored 13 points on 5 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 14 from beyond the arc. He has pulled down 13 rebounds, including two offensive caroms to go along with five assists and two blocks.
Wright and the Tigers sit at 1-6 and are scheduled to compete next Tuesday, December 10th against Monmouth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Coach Trish Brown and the Stonehill College women’s basketball team are off to an impressive 6-2 start. Sure, their lone setbacks have come against Bentley and Molloy, but they have been fun to watch, especially in their last two contests against Assumption College and Franklin Pierce.
Emily Bramanti, who played locally for Westford Academy, credited all of her teammates in their most recent win against the Ravens for stepping-up and making plays when needed.
Bramanti concluded her team’s eighth contest with a team-high 16 points.
Stonehill hosts Saint Anselm College on Saturday before heading to Daytona Beach Florida two weeks later to compete in the Daytona Beach Shootout.
Finally, the Babson College men’s basketball team scored an exciting and impressive win last night over Amherst College. Frank Oftring, who grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts netted a career-high 30 points in the win to go along with 10 rebounds.
Babson’s Andrew Jaworski finished with 23 points with four of those points being recorded during the final 30 seconds of the second half.
Babson, which is 12-3 against the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) dating back to the 2016-17 season, will look to continue its early-season momentum this weekend when they compete in the New England Big 4 Challenge at Salem State University.
I’m getting ready to head back to warm and sunny Florida so I’ll be writing from the Sunshine State next week.
The March Madness field is set after the conclusion of last nights ‘first four’ contests.
In case you missed it Farleigh Dickinson, Belmont, Arizona State, and North DakotaState punched tickets to the big dance.
The tournament will start today with Louisville and Minnesota tipping-off in Des Moines, Iowa at 12:15 p.m.
Looking around New England there are three teams with high hopes to be one of the Cinderella teams. Here’s a close up look at the three teams and the first round matchups.
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale: Yale picked up the Ivy League’s automatic bid with a decisive 97-85 win over arch rival Harvard in the conference championship final last weekend.
The Bulldogs are the real deal and could cause problems for LSU with a veteran lineup and an explosive offense led by Ivy League Player of Year Miye Oni, who enters today’s contest averaging 17.6 points per game. Oni is projected by many to be a second-round NBA draft pick and if the dynamic point guard is allowed to control tempo this game could result in a win for the Blue and White.
LSU is one of the country’s most athletic and talented squads and most deserving of the third seed, as well. However, there are questions and controversy surrounding the Tigers because they had a first-round flameout in the SEC tournament and their head coach Will Wade is embroiled in an FBI recruiting investigation.
LSU and Yale will meet in Jacksonville, Florida this afternoon where the Bulldogs will attempt to improve to 2-0 in the Sunshine State after rallying to beat Miami last December at the Hoophall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena.
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont: Gotta love the Catamounts who play in basketball-crazy Burlington, Vermont.
UVM is led by junior Anthony Lamb, who averages 21.4 points per game – expect Lamb to be a factor in his team’s early afternoon clash, as well as the team’s lockdown defense which may give the ‘Noles trouble in the opening minutes.
Florida State is playing excellent basketball having defeated Virginia is the ACC tournament before losing to Duke in the title game.
Many feel Leonard Hamilton’s squad has the length, athleticism, and skill to go all the way but will patience or lack thereof cause them to stumble under tournament pressure? Either way, I like the ‘Noles to win this contest but it won’t be easy.
No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern:Bill Cohen‘s Huskies punched their ticket to the big dance with a solid 82-74 takedown over Hofstra in the CAA title game last week.
Northeastern’s explosive point guard Vasa Pusica led the way with 21 points on seven three-pointers. The Huskies are one of the country’s top three-point shooting teams and if they can adjust to the change in elevation in Salt Lake City then it may cause the Jayhawks some trouble.
This past season hasn’t been one of Bill Self’s better teams which saw its record of 14 Big 12 Conference regular-season titles come to an end. Injuries have plagued Kansas and as a result, Self has been forced to play a bunch of first-year players.
The Huskies with Pusica at the controls will make life difficult for one of college basketball’s elite programs but in the end, I like Kansas.
Stay connected with our Noontime Sports New England basketball coverage on Twitter @Noontime_Hoops