I've always thought that Thanksgiving should not be about football, and for most of us, it isn't. If catching part of the game while socializing and waiting for dinner is part of a family tradition, great. If dinner is always served after the Dallas game, okay. Obviously some families go to those games as part of their tradition. Nothing wrong with that, either. But if the games are going to be on, they might as well be good. Right?
I will say that I didn't see any of the Thursday NFL games. I listened to part of the Chicago-Detroit game on the radio while driving to my destination, and was still in the car when Buffalo-Dallas kicked off. Dallas was up when I turned the game off, and was happily surprised to hear that Buffalo had won. The night game featured New Orleans and Atlanta. The Saints won easily but it was well into the next day before I found that out.
Friday football is actually kind of a wasteland on the holiday weekend. We were actually looking for a game to put on the television in the early evening, and only found (I think it was) Central Florida vs. South Florida. The Laker game ended up on the TV instead.
Saturday and Sunday were an entirely different matter. Ohio State clobbered Michigan as expected, but the Wolverines put up 27 points in their 56-27 loss to the top ranked team in the country. I am not a Big 10 fan at all, but kind of jumped on the Minnesota bandwagon. With Ohio State bound for the college football playoff, a Golden Gopher win over arch rival Wisconsin would have put Minnesota in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin won, though, 38-17, but it was snowing, so that was fun.
For the first time in the brief history of the four-team college football playoff, Alabama won't be involved. The Crimson Tide lost to Auburn 48-45 on a missed field goal as time expired. You had to feel bad for the kicker, but not for the arrogant Alabama coach Nick Saban. His team has only lost twice this year, but that's enough to keep them out of a conference championship, and a chance for a national title. They'll be a good bowl matchup for someone, though (maybe Minnesota?).
Paying attention to all of those games tuckered me out to the point where I had little interest in the night games. Hapless UCLA was on against Cal, and of course they lost. What's so fabulous about this coach Chip Kelly anyway?
Turning to the NFL on Sunday, this probably has to be the first time that I would rather watch a Forty Niner game than the Rams, and I was in the right market to do it. The LA station got stuck with the Rams at Arizona, a game that LA needed to win and won easily. Most of the rest of the country got San Francisco at Baltimore—two of the best teams in the NFL, and playing in the rain. I wasn't rooting for the Niners, of course, and Baltimore won 20-17 in a great game, and it pains me to write this, but the Niners are pretty good.
The Raiders will be leaving for Las Vegas soon, but still have a shot at the playoffs. That shot is much longer now after their 40-9 loss at Kansas City. After the conclusion of that game, CBS switched to the conclusion of the Chargers-Broncos game, just in time for LA to come up with a new way to lose. A pass interference call set up the final score, and Denver won it 23-20. The Chargers are now 4-8, and all of their losses have been by seven points or fewer.
With other work and things to do, I skipped the New England-Houston Sunday Night game, only to learn this morning that the Patriots lost. That doesn't happen very often, but it's great when it does. Baltimore has the best record in the AFC now.
As for tonight's game, if Minnesota beat Seattle I would be this week's winner of the football pool ($15 and an extra entry into the drawing for the big jackpot at the end of the year). A Seattle win would actually help the Rams, because they would gain a game on the Vikings in the wild card standings. The Vikings led at the half, Seattle came back, Seattle pulled away, Minnesota came back to make it close, but Seattle won 37-30.
So to recap, spending time with the family on Thursday and Friday (with a Cowboys loss in there), Alabama getting beat by Auburn and some other classic rivalries on Saturday, the Rams winning and the Niners, Raiders, and Patriots all losing on Sunday, and an entertaining game Monday night. That's a pretty good weekend.
Now it's back to the grind, and no winning the football pool. Reality sets in.
Bruin blues: I hope I'm wrong about this, but it doesn't seem like the UCLA basketball team is going to be much fun to watch this year under new coach Mick Cronin. The Bruins went 1-2 in Maui, beating only the host school Chaminade, and losing to BYU and Michigan State. UCLA actually led Michigan State at the half, but in a low-scoring, slow-tempo game. Zzzzzz.
More Bruins: Their first game back from the islands was Sunday against San Jose State, and they took apart the Spartans (as they should) 93-64. With this game, I have invented the 20-point rule. When watching a game, if the margin is 20 points or more, you are allowed to fast forward the game until the first break where the lead is back to less than 20. If that doesn't happen, you still watch the final two minutes of the game, to see the coaches and players shake hands at the end.
Winter meetings: What better place to have Winter Meetings than in San Diego? That's where baseball will be next week. Activity was dull last year. Hopefully there will be some big trades and/or free agent signings this time. Wish I was going.
In case you haven't noticed this in past columns, I tend to write in italics at the bottom of the page when I include something that really has nothing to do with the topic above, or is personal, or both. This has to be the first Thanksgiving ever that I have not spent with my mother, and while it was very awkward and strange sometimes, I would like to thank my cousins for helping me through it. With the younger ones now having boyfriends, girlfriends, and even fiancées attending, there were 25 of us at my cousin Korey's in Atascadero on Thursday, and another dinner at my cousin Andy's in Pismo Beach on Friday. It was really great to see everyone. I know when I visit that I am not the main attraction. Both generations of my cousins are there to see each other, but it's also (usually) the only time all year that I get to see all of them. For that, and for allowing me that opportunity, I am truly thankful.