sports

  1. Pitt Football team accepts bid to Pinstripe Bowl vs. Northwestern. I’m glad about that, because it’s a Tier 1 Bowl and it’s in New York in Legendary Yankee Stadium. Now who wouldn’t have an issue with that? If I’m correct, it’s the first time the Panthers have ever played a bowl game in a cold weather city, and we know on December 28th, it’s going to be cold and maybe snowy.
  2. Another thing about that bowl game is that it’s a no-brainier that ESPN will put the focus on Pitt RB James Conner as this may be his final bowl game because he might declare for the NFL Draft. They’re probably treat him like how Jerome Bettis was treated when the Steelers were in Super Bowl 40, which would be cool.
  3. As for the rest of the football team, the individual awards keep coming as DE Ejuan Price was named a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive Player of the Year award. His 12 sacks are the most by a Pitt DE in over 25 years.
  4. 2 Pitt players were also named All-Americans. KR Quadree Henderson and OL Dorian Johnson received those honors by The Sporting News. Congrats to them both because their 2016 standout seasons.
  5. And 9 Pitt players were named to the Coaches ALL-ACC team. five players earn first-team All-ACC honors: junior running back James Conner, sophomore return specialist Quadree Henderson, senior offensive guard Dorian Johnson, senior offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty and senior defensive end Ejuan Price.
  6. Sophomore offensive tackle Brian O’Neill and sophomore safety Jordan Whitehead also earned second team All-ACC from the coaches’ votes, with O’Neill improving on his third-team selection from the league’s media. And two more Panthers, senior placekicker Chris Blewitt and sophomore offensive guard Alex Bookser received enough votes to be named as Honorable Mention selections. Henderson also received an Honorable Mention nod as a wide receiver.
  7. It’s cool to see the Pitt players get these honors, it really goes to show just how good of a team they really were this season. Sure, their defense had their issues, but you don’t finish 8-4 in a season by accident. Not to mention upsetting nationally-ranked Clemson as well. They had a good year.
  8. As for the rest of college football, the Playoff Final Four was announced and to no surprise Alabama is the #1 seed, followed by Clemson, and then Ohio State and Washington. Of course, the controversy was over how the Buckeyes could get the spot, and they didn’t even win the Big Ten Conference Championship, which went to Penn State.
  9. I side with the Playoff Committee on this one. Ohio State has been a Top 5 team all season, even at #2, who why all the griping? It’s more than just winning your conference, just like the Wild Card Game in professional sports. Ohio State belonged in the Playoff and folks know it.
  10. Speaking of that Big Ten Championship Game, that was honestly one of the best title games that I’ve seen in a minute. I just knew Wisconsin was going to win it with a 28-7 lead, and then Penn State came back. I was rooting for former Pitt HC Paul Chryst, but I’m happy for Penn State HC Kevin Franklin who folks need to admit is a good coach.
  11. As for Pitt basketball, they play Penn State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic Saturday at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. The event, also featuring a matchup between Notre Dame and Villanova, is partnered with the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which helps support the education of children of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  12. To be honest, I had never heard of such a tournament, but it’s truly an honorable one and I’m sure that Pitt is honored to play in it. As for the basketball team, they face a Penn State team (6-4) that’s probably better than Duquesne and better than Buffalo, the team Pitt beat last night. So, here’s hoping that Pitt brings their ‘A’ game Saturday.
  13. Speaking of Duquesne, they played their second version of the City Game vs. struggling Robert Morris and Robert Morris beat them 64-60. It just goes to show once again, that on any given day, a team can rise to the occasion, no matter what their record is.
  14. As for the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to make strides as they have now won 3 in a row and are 7-5 and tied with the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the AFC North Division. This week, the Steelers may have a chance to be all alone in first place as they take on the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
  15. Now I’m not saying that the Bills are a pushover, because we know HC Rex Ryan will have their defense ready as he always does. It’s a surprise that the team is only 6-6, but that’s the kind of team that the Steelers know to watch out for. But if they keep playing like they have been the past few weeks, no team can beat them.
  16. The other part of that scenario is the fact that the Ravens will play the New England Patriots on Sunday and even without TE Rob Gronkowski, who injured QB Tom Brady and company shouldn’t have a reason to fail against Joe Flacco and Co. We shall see.
  17. As for the rest of the NFL, the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys are the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot and could clinch Home field advantage in the NFC with a win Sunday. As for the AFC’s top spot, it’s a toss-up between the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders who both have 10-2 records.
  18. I must admit, the 2016 Raiders are a shock, they’re used to being a joke in the NFL, but HC Jack Del Rio has turned them around and it’s impressive. QB Derek Carr deserves the MVP, hands down.
  19. Now onto the NBA, where OKC Thunder G Russell Westbrook is truly a Triple-Double ready to happen. He’s averaging 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists per game and has 6 straight triple-doubles. The Thunder is truly feeding off it with a 14-8 record, but they’re only good for 6th in the Eastern Conference.
  20. That’s because the usual suspects, the Golden State Warriors are at the top at 19-3, followed by the 18-4 San Antonio Spurs, the 16-7 LA Clippers and the 15-8 Memphis Grizzlies. But the Thunder is in their which folks thought they wouldn’t be following the departure of F Kevin Durant.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

 

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