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  1. The Pitt Panthers are now ranked #24 in the Associated Press (AP) Top 25. Congrats to them, because they’ve certainly earned it after winning their final 3 games to finish 8-4 (5-3 ACC). Of course, one of their final 3 wins’ game against #3 (then #2) Clemson. What a season for Pitt and kudos to head coach Pat Narduzzi who’s led Pitt to back to back 8-4 seasons and Top 25 rankings.
  2. Pitt also received more individual honors: RB James Conner is the winner of the ACC’s annual Brian Piccolo award, named for the ‘most courageous football player in the ACC’ of course named after the courageous football player who played for Wake Forest and later the NFL’s Chicago Bears before his career was cut short when he was stricken with cancer.
  3. Pitt offensive lineman Brian O’Neill was selected as a Piesman finalist, given to the college football linemen who do decidedly un-linemen things on the field, such as running with, catching or throwing the ball. After that 24-yard TD run vs. Ga. Tech, O’Neill should run away with this award. What a weird name, though.
  4. And then there are the Broyles Awards, given to college football’s top assistant coach and Pitt Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada is a finalist on that list. Congrats to him. He truly was an offensive genius as he found creative ways for Pitt’s offense to beat the opponents. I hope he wins it.
  5. Of course, the Panthers regular season is over, but that final game is still in my head. I can’t believe that they needed 76 points to beat an opponent, because they gave up 61 points to their opponent, which was Syracuse?? that’s insane.
  6. I give credit to the offense for continuing to score, but the entire defense needs to ‘sit in the corner’ for their performance. I honestly think they got complacent and lazy after being up by 20 points early in the 3rd And Syracuse deserves credit for not giving up either as they kept scoring, when other teams would’ve given up. But the important thing is the fact that Pitt won the game.
  7. So now the focus is which Bowl will the Panthers get invited to. Many media outlets have them playing in the Sun Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl. Any one of those bowls will do (especially the Athletic Bowl vs. West Virginia) but I honestly like the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium on a cold December day. It’s a prestigious bowl in a legendary baseball stadium. We shall see.
  8. It will also be Championship Saturday as college football will have the respective Championship games. The one that stands out for the local area is the Big Ten Championship as Penn State will take on Wisconsin. Former Pitt HC Paul Chryst will lead his Badgers vs. the local Nittany Lions. Kudos to both teams for their 2016 seasons. That should be fun.
  9. Of course, the ACC Title Game will have Clemson facing Virginia Tech. It makes you wonder if Pitt could’ve gotten wins vs. North Carolina, and Virginia Tech whether they could’ve gotten to this game? Well, something to shoot for in 2017.
  10. As for the College Football Playoff standings, it goes like this: 1. Alabama 2. Ohio State 3. Clemson 4. Washington. It makes you wonder if Washington loses their Pac 12 title game and Wisconsin wins their title game, would that mean the Badgers get that 4th spot?? That would be exciting.
  11. As for the ACC’s postseason awards, DE Ejuan Price got robbed out of the Defensive Player of the Year award, instead he was runner-up to Florida State’s Demarcus Walker. But to be fair, Walker was tied the College Football lead with 15 sacks while Price had 12. But Price had more forced fumbles. Oh well. At least Price, Conner and Specialist Quadree Henderson received 1st-team ACC honors.
  12. As for the NFL, the 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers hope to continue their revival as they have a huge game this Sunday vs. the 8-3 NY Giants at Heinz Field. The Steelers know that their chances at a Wild Card Game is out, and if they want to make the playoffs for a 3rd straight season, it will mean winning the AFC North Division.
  13. I think the Steelers can do it, if they keep playing focused ball. The offense can’t play sloppy and the defense can’t play horrible. In fact, the defense has played much better since they’ve realized that they can blitz. Kudos to defensive coordinator Keith Butler for letting his defenders loose. They will certainly have to do so against QB Eli Manning and the G-Men.
  14. I like the play of new TE LaDarius Green, who caught 2 huge passes against the Indianapolis Colts Thanksgiving night. He’s truly a much-needed weapon for the offense, especially since several of their receivers are out with injuries or suspended.
  15. Getting back to the Steelers division title chances, it’s going to take them beating the Baltimore Ravens, who currently share the division lead with a 6-5 record. Their next game is Christmas Day. But they also must beat a tough Buffalo Bills team before they face them. These next few weeks will truly be a question of how bad the Steelers want it.
  16. As for the rest of the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are the league’s best at 10-1, while the Cleveland Browns are an NFL’s worst at 0-12. I know the Browns have been bad, but I have never seen them this bad.
  17. As for Pirates news, of course it focuses on the eventual trade of OF Andrew McCutchen, who looks like he’ll end up with the Washington Nationals for top prospects. I don’t like it and I never will. This is a salary dump because the Pirates are still a bunch of cheapskates. Plus, McCutchen is a cornerstone player. This isn’t what contenders do.
  18. The Pirates have also watched Super Utility man Sean Rodriguez and backup OF Matt Joyce leave via Free Agency. After McCutchen, it makes you wonder who’s next? And what reclamation projects will they sigh? I can only shake my head at it all.
  19. The other Pirates news centers around 3B Jung Ho Kang who is charged in Seoul, Korea for leaving the scene of a DUI accident. You would think that he learned from his 2016 issues.
  20. Congrats to Cleveland Cavaliers F LeBron James for being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. A tremendous honor for a tremendous basketball player and person who also won it in 2012 while with the Miami Heat.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

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