While the Baltimore Ravens are finishing up their shellacking of the Rams on Monday Night Football (leading 45-6 in the fourth quarter), it's time to realize none of LA's pigskin teams are worth a darn in 2019. Neither the Rams nor Chargers are going to make the playoffs, UCLA got clobbered by USC and have a has-been as a coach, and the Trojans? Well, who cares about them anyway?
Just nine months ago, the Rams were in the Super Bowl. Some (many) don't believe they should have been there after a pass interference call (likely) cost the New Orleans Saints a win over LA in the NFC Championship game, but the Rams were there. Today, they have a winning record (6-5 when they get done losing to Baltimore), but are in third place in their division, and figure to miss the playoffs. Jared Goff, the team's (star?) quarterback, has not thrown three touchdown passes in a game this year, He has ten interceptions in 11 games, and only 11 touchdowns. He did have a 500-yard game against Tampa Bay, but only has two other 300-yard games all year. Wait: Goff was just intercepted again in the final two minutes. Yes Baltimore's defense is great, but the Rams season is bad. The Rams just lost (45-6) and we're being told it's their worst loss at the LA Coliseum all time. Where's Vince Ferragamo and Cuck Knox when you need them?
The best thing about the Los Angeles Chargers right now is that they didn't play this week. Coming off that lackluster 24-17 loss to the Chiefs in Mexico City last Monday night, the team that re-located from San Diego is 4-7. They are in third place in their division, and won't be headed to the post-season after a nice showing in the playoffs a year ago. Philip Rivers (age 37) seems to be getting old before our eyes—getting picked off four times last week, and seven times in his last two games. He does have more touchdowns than interceptions (15 to 14), and one three-TD game this season (opening game against Indianapolis). It was easy to think that Rivers just had a bad game two weeks ago, but then followed it up with another one in Mexico. It's probably not fair to say that's he done (like many are suggesting), but the Chargers season is. Remember, both LA teams are moving into that new stadium in Inglewood next season. Not exactly going in on a high note, are they?
Now to college and the UCLA Bruins. It's funny (to me) that all the talk Saturday was that USC was playing for coach Clay Helton's job, when Chip Kelly (in his second year), has led the Bruins to a 4-7 record with a game remaining Saturday against Cal. The wonder-coach, savior of the program, and all that other stuff, has failed to get the Bruins to a bowl game, when all that is required these days is to win as many as you lose. The Bruins lost to USC 52-35 in a game that was fairly entertaining even though it wasn't that close. We expected the Bruins to lose to the likes of Cincinnati (24-14), Oklahoma (48-14), and Utah (49-3), but they lost to San Diego State (23-14) for the first time in their history, and could have beaten Arizona (20-17). There was the amazing, unbelievable (pick your favorite superlative) come-from-behind (67-63) win at Washington State (they trailed 35-17 at halftime and outscored the Cougars 29-14 in the fourth quarter), but one could argue the Bruins shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. Kelly celebrates his 56th birthday today, but has a 6-14 record as UCLA's head man.
And while it's true we don't care about USC, the Trojans are bowl eligible, and can even go to the Pac-12 Championship Game if Colorado defeats Utah on Saturday. That's unlikely, and what is likely is that the Trojans will be playing in one of those 'who cares' bowls in Las Vegas, Fresno, or El Paso, but they will at last be playing for something. As mentioned above, it was a common feeling that if USC had not beaten UCLA this weekend, the head coach would have been fired. Helton's team did not beat UCLA last year and did not go to a bowl game. A loss would have meant a 7-5 overall record instead of 8-4, elimination in the Pac-12 South, and a lower rung on the bowl ladder. If we cared about 'SC, we'd call that criticism unfair, but it doesn't matter now anyway.
It is interesting that the UCLA-USC game was this past weekend, instead of Thanksgiving weekend like it normally is. The Trojans also played Notre Dame way back on October 12 (Notre Dame won 30-27), which just mean these teams don't (deserve) get much national attention these days.
'Rules' expert: Are we getting tired of each network that carries NFL games (and it's happening in college games too) that there is a former referee, either in the booth or the studio, to give his view on whether that should have been a penalty or not, or whether a call should be overturned? It's was kind of a novel idea when Fox first tried it a couple of years ago, but these people aren't really explaining the rules anymore, they are just giving an opinion. “What did you see, Bob?” “Well, Joe, I think it was a catch.” Enough already.
Maui Wowie: After early season and non-exciting victories over Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, UNLV, and Southern Utah, and a fairly entertaining but embarrassing loss to Hofstra at home, the UCLA men's basketball team is in Hawai'i this week for one of the best early-season tournaments in the sport—the Maui Classic. The Bruins are playing BYU right now, and would likely face Kansas if they win tonight. Georgia, Dayton, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, and host school Chaminade make up the rest of the field.
Up north: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 on Sunday in the 107th edition of the Grey Cup, which determines the champion of the Canadian Football League. The game was played in Calgary. Keith Urban performed at halftime.