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Welcome to this edition of

First Downs and Second Guesses

Blog #165 - January 2019

Here we are in 2019.  Whoa, where did 2018 go?  I guess I'm getting older.  Time is flying by quickly.

   We have a national champion in college football.  Even though their uniforms look a little funky with an orange and purple combination, there was nothing funky about Clemson's manhandling of Alabama.  The Tigers looked absolutely awesome last week.  And their freshman quarterback looked nothing like a freshman that night.  Trevor Lawrence looked cool and calm the entire night, withstanding Alabama's pass rush and throwing darts to his receivers, who seemed to be open in the secondary all night long.

    It was Clemson's second national championship in three years, with Alabama again the rival.  Head Coach Dabo Swinney seems to have things going smoothly for his Clemson program.  They had disposed of Notre Dame with relative ease the week before during the semifinals of the College Football Playoff.  The Tigers kept that momentum and confidence from that victory over the Fighting Irish and unleashed it full throttle against Alabama.

      Clemson is the clear favorite to repeat as national champions in the early polls for 2019.  Alabama is right there, as is Notre Dame.  But there are some programs out there that could surprise.  One of them is Nebraska, which finished 4-8 under first-year coach Scott Frost.  But the Huskers have signed a quality list of players and could be a factor in the West division of the Big 10 Conference in 2019.


The first female to work full-time as an NFL official broke another barrier during last week's playoff games.  Sarah Thomas, hired in 2015, was the down judge during Sunday's game between the Patriots and the Chargers.  Another female, Terri Valenti, was the replay official in Saturday's playoff game between the Chiefs and Colts.

It's always encouraging to see qualified individuals, male or female, officiating in the top games in the NFL.  It may have just been a public relations experiment to bring on Thomas in 2015.  But she has proven her mettle in the league.  Valenti has also taken the step to join the NFL in her position as replay official.  If the NFL has faith in these individuals, then there should be no uncertainty from the fans in the NFL.


College basketball is now a couple months into the season.  Has any team put themselves into a front-runner position yet?  Duke has their usual assembly of McDonald's All-Americans and have occupied the top of the rankings most often.  But they lost to Syracuse at Cameron Indoor recently, which will drop them from the top spot.

Michigan has established themselves, as has Michigan State and Virginia.  But there's a lot of basketball to be played.  Whoever is playing best at the end of February will make their case to be included in the NCAA tournament.  And then anything can happen in the first weekend of action.  We'll keep a sharp eye for the remainder of the season.

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