Syracuse Football...Big Time Game


Syracuse University is a 10 point underdog Saturday, 2:30 p.m., against Notre Dame at Yankees Stadium. The Irish will wear Yankees-themed uniforms with pinstripes. SU will be wearing Orange.

The super popular ESPN Game Day won’t be there. ESPN opted for Cincinnati at Central Florida (8 p.m., game time on ESPN) instead.

ESPN explained that the Game Day host site is determined by “best storyline,” and not necessarily by biggest game. Central Florida has won 22 straight games, claimed last season’s “national championship”  and has the nation’s largest college enrollment (66,183). Cincinnati is 9-1 and a 7-point underdog. Also, NBC has the rights to carry Notre Dame games.

Notre Dame needs a victory to remain among the top four teams for the national college football playoffs. It will be the best national TV exposure for Syracuse in decades.

I think the exciting SU offense of coach Dino Babers can score at least 20 points against Notre Dame. The Orange also have excellent special teams, including the best place kicker/punter 1-2 punch in the nation.

But SU’s defense is a notch or two below the team’s offense. I can’t see the Orange holding Norre Dame under 30 points.

My hope-I’m-wrong prediction: Notre Dame 35, Syracuse 20.

+++Entering Friday night, the top of the 31-team American Hockey League standings are looking pretty good:

1-Charlotte Checkers: 15 games played; 11-3-1-0 record; 23 of 30 possible points; 56GF/40GA (+16)

2-Rochester Americans: 14 games played: 10-3-1-0; 21 of 28 points; 53 GF/39 GA (+14)

3-Milwaukee Admirals: 17 games played; 9-5-3-0; 21 of 34 points; 54 GF/46 GA (+8).

+++Syracuse U. basketball fans who might not have fully appreciated injured point guard Frank Howard in the past might have a different opinion after Thursday night’s 83-76 upset loss to Connecticut at Madison Square Garden. He’ll be back soon.

Poor outside shooting plagued SU in last year’s Sweet 16 season and was supposed to be better this season. So far it hasn’t been. Last season’s SU team shot .322 from 3-point range (316th of 357 Division I teams). Through three games this season, SU is .322 (12-of-55) from 3-point range (344th out of 352).

 +++I think Carmelo Anthony can still help an NBA team by joining a non-contending team as a drawing card for fans in that city who want to see a future Basketball Hall of Famer representing their city.

+++The baseball writers who participated in Most Valuable Player voting announced Thursday night who decided to be different and give a fourth-place vote to Mookie Betts in the American League and a fifth-place vote to Christian Yelich in the National League should retire from future voting. They weren’t watching the games the rest of us saw this season.

+++A baseball writer this week described free agent Manny Machado as “the perfect fit for the New York Yankees.” In many ways I agree, but Manny would be a true perfect fit of he didn’t jog to first base after hitting ground balls to the infield or if he didn’t go out of his way to injure opposing players.

+++Thumbs up to Heinz “57 varieties” ketchup for tweeting a promise to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes that he’ll get free ketchup for life if he sees an NFL season record with 57 TD passes this year. In the current issue of ESPN The Magazine, Mahomes told interviewer Seth Wickersham that he loves to pour ketchup on thick steaks. He has 31 TD passes through 10 games this season.

+++The closer we get to next Friday’s Tiger Woods versus Phil Mickelson winner-take-all showdown, the less I’m caring about it and the more I’m hoping for a few good college football TV games.

+++I’m pretty sure Miami Marlins fans aren’t real happy that Derek Jeter let 2017 star outfielders Giancarlo Stanton (2017 National League MVP) and Christian Yelich (2018 National League MVP).

+++Los Angeles Kings President Luc Robitaille says that if legal betting on NHL games takes off, ticket prices could be lowered. I’ll believe that when I see it

+++I believe Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is an underrated great quarterback and is a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. I’m sure many of you disagree.

+++No Major League Baseball rule changes yet to speed up games, but the big news out of the winter meetings Thursday was that players now can wear baseball shoes with black, white, any colors on their team uniform and additional colors approved by their team.

+++I’m not buying whispers that the NBA Eastern Conference is closing the talent gap on the Western Conference. Entering Thursday night, in head-to-head competition, the West was leading the East 48-28 this season.

+++The Los Angeles Chargers are the really good NFL team that seems to be relatively underrated and overlooked. A league-low average home attendance of 25,370 might be a reason. The Chargers might be getting even better soon. Star pass rusher Joey Bosa, sidelined all season with a foot injury, is practicing again and almost ready to play.

+++Legendary country western singer Roy Clark died this week. Fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle was a huge fan. They became close friends and The Mick asked Clark to sing his biggest hit – Yesterday, When I Was Young – at his funeral, because he thought the lyrics summed up his life very well. Years later, August 15, 1995, Clark sang the song at Mantle’s funeral. There probably wasn’t a dry eye in the place.


Both teams are 6-3 surprises and thinking playoffs. The Houston Texans are 6-0 since their 0-3 start, coming off their bye and as healthy as they’ve been all season.

The Redskins are an opportunistic team but don’t have much offense. Their last four wins were by 6, 3, 7 and 13 points.

Bob’s “Best Bet”: Houston 27, WASHINGTON (+3) 13.

Sunday’s other games

(home teams in caps)

BALTIMORE (-4) 23, CINCINNATI 14 – The Ravens desperately need a win in this spot and I think they can do it with Joe Flacco and or rookie Lamar Jackson at quarterback.

ATLANTA (-3) 30, Dallas 24 – The Cowboys probably aren’t as good as they looked in last week’s win in Philadelphia and the Falcons aren’t as bad as they looked in last week’s 28-16 loss at Cleveland. I also like the Falcons with a firepower advantage at home.

Carolina 35, DETROIT (+4) 23 – The Panthers figure to be ready to play coming off an embarrassing 52-21 loss in Pittsburgh. The Lions have been outscored 86-45 in three straight losses.

Tennessee 24, INDIANAPOLIS (-2) 20 – The Titans are underrated defensively and 5-2 straight up and 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games as road underdogs. The key is Marcus Mariota protecting the football.

Tampa Bay 35, NEW YORK GIANTS (-1) 15 – The Buccaneers have too much airpower for the Giants to keep up with.

Pittsburgh 28, JACKSONVILLE (+5 ½) 17 – The Steelers are the NFL’s only team ranked in the top 10 in both total offense and total defensive. The Jaguars have been outscored 143-72 during their five-game losing streak.

ARIZONA (-5) 24, Oakland 15 – How can the 2-7 Cardinals be favored by 5 points? Because they have RB David Johnson and DE Chandler Jones, and most of Oakland’s playmakers are retired, injured or have been traded.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-7) 27, Denver 13 – Why don’t the Chargers get more respect? Their only losses were to Kansas City and the LS Rams.

NEW ORLEANS (-8 ½) 30, Philadelphia 27 – The Saints probably will win but the 8 ½-point spot appears overly generous to the defending Super Bowl champions.

CHICAGO 21 (-2 ½), Minnesota 20 – This should be a hard-fought low-scoring game between NFC North rivals. When in doubt, I sometimes take the points (not often enough).

Monday night’s game

Kansas City 45, LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3 ½) 38 – The Rams would’ve had more supporters in Mexico City than in LA and will miss reliable injured WR Cooper Kupp. The explosive Chiefs are 8-23 against the point spread and the Rams are 4-5-1.


Brighton product David Sarachan’s stint as interim manager of the U.S. men’s national soccer team likely will end Tuesday against Italy in Genk, Belgium. Sarachan, who took over November 14, 2017, has a 3 wins, 3 draws, 4 losses record after a 3-0 loss Thursday to England before 68,155 fans at Wembley Stadium. The average age of the U.S. team was under 25.

The U.S. national women’s team finished the 2018 season with a 1-0 victory Tuesday night in Paisley, Scotland before 3,790 fans. Former Western New York Flash star Alex Morgan scored her 18th goal of the season in the 39th minute. The U.S. finished the season 18-0-2. The U.S. women are 25-0-3 in their last 28 matches and outscoring opponents 93-17. They’ll begin the 2019 season vs. World Cup host France January 19 in Le Havre, France.


Former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Don Beebe is the new football coach at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois. He coach Aurora Chrstian to two high school champions between 2004 and 2013.

 The Rochester Red Wings will unveil a new seating venue for 2019. It will be situated just over the left-field fence between the foul pole and the visitor’s bullpen. There will be bar stool-style chairs and phone charging outlets. Four-person table for $80. 40-person venue for $700.

ESPN Senior Writer Heather Dinich projects No. 12 Syracuse versus No. 9 West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Saturday, December 29 (based on fan interest, geography and matchup). Subject to change, of course.

The Name Game:  The San Diego Padres new affiliate in the Double-A Texas League is the Amarillo Sod Poodles. They are the relocated San Antonio Missions. In fan balloting, the Sod Poodles (a prarie dog) outpolled the Bronc Busters, Jerky and Long Haulers.

The sad list of former Rochester Red Wings players and managers who died in 2018: Wally Moon, Sammy Stewart, Ray “Buddy” Barker, Red Schoendienst, Dean Stone, Doc Edwards and Wayne Krenchicki.


Friday, November 16

Bol Bol 18...C.J. Beathard 25...Denzel Valentine 25...Da’Norris Searcey 30...Kari Lehoten 35...Amar’e Stoudemire 36...Oksana Baiul 41...Alexander Popov 47...Mike Devlin 49...Lawrence Dawsey 51...Terry Labonte 52...Dwight Gooden 54...Zina Garrison 55...Chuck Finley 56...Frank Bruno 57...Corey Pavin 59...Pierre Larouche 63...Harvey Martin 68. Amerk Hall of Famer Dick Gamble was born on this date 90 years ago (1928) and died in 2018 at age 89...Jo Jo White was born on this date 72 years ago (1946) and died in 2018 at age 71.

Saturday, November 17

Dragan Bender 21...Steh Lugo 29...Nick Markakis 35...Ryan Braiun 35...Reggie Wayne 40...Kile Vanden Bosch 40...Darnell McDonald 40...Sean Miller 50...Jeff Nelson 52...Paul Sorrento 53...Elvin Hayes 73..Tom Seaver 74....Orlando Pena 85.  Danny DeVito 74 and Martin Scorsese 76 are invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, November 18

Allyson Felix 33...David Ortiz 43...Jadon Williams 43...Sam Cassell 49...Raghib “Rocket” Ismail 49...Clay Bellinger 50...Gary Sheffield 50...Tom Gordon 51..Jocelyn Lemieux 51....Darren Flutie 52....Jocelyn Lemieux 51...Seth Joyner 54...Todd Bowles 55...Dante Bichette 55...Jamie Moyer 56...Bill Hajt 67...Ted Sator 69. Megyn Kelly 48 and Owen Wilson are invited to the birthday party. Len Bias was born on this date 55 years ago (1963) and died in 1986 at age 22.


November 16

92 years ago (1926), the New York Rangers played their first NHL game, beating the Montreal Maroons 1-0...61 years ago (1957), Boston’s Bill Russell set an NBA record with 49 rebounds in a 111-89 victory over Philadelphia...Oklahoma’s 47-game football winning streak ende3d with a 7-0 loss to Notre Dame...52 years ago (1966), Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente was named National League MVP...30 years ago (1988), Oakland’s Jose Canseco was unanimously elected American League MVP...Robin Givens sued Mike Tyson $125 million for libel...21 years ago (1997), Jeff Gordon won the 47th NASCAR Sprint Cup...15 years ago (2003), Lionel Messi made his official debut for FC Barcelona...10 years ago (2008), Jimmie Johnson won the 60th NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Bob Matthews' Column

Bob Matthews' Column

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