BOZICH | Monday Muse: Bridgewater & Unitas; More Lamar Jackson hype; here comes Tubby
Teddy Bridgewater will lead Minnesota against Seattle in the NFL playoffs Monday. Who was the last U of L quarterback to start a post-season game? Time for the Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The schedule is crystal clear – No. 1 vs. No. 2 in college basketball Monday night followed by No. 1 vs. No. 2 in college football on Jan. 11.
It’s Oklahoma vs. Kansas in basketball, Alabama vs. Clemson in football next week.
That means we still have a split decision in the Monday Muse – some college hoops, some college football, some NFL and (of course) some baseball sprinkled in.
Welcome to the first 2016 edition of the Monday Muse.
1. TEDDY, TEDDY, TEDDY
Teddy Bridgewater was not spectacular Sunday night while leading the Minnesota Vikings past the Green Bay Packers to the NFC North title. Vikings’ fans are already wondering if Bridgewater is up to the mammoth challenge of taking down the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, even in the Twin Cities. Seattle has that playoff pedigree.
But that’s not why Bridgewater has earned the coveted opening real estate in The Muse.
When the Seahawks and Vikings meet Sunday in Minneapolis, Bridgewater will become the first former University of Louisville quarterback to start a playoff game since …
Are you ready for this?
According to data at Pro-Football-Reference.com, Bridgewater will become the first former Cardinal to start at quarterback in an NFL post-season game since Johnny Unitas in 1971.
I checked the resumes of all 10 former U of L guys who have played quarterback in the league. I thought Chris Redman was the last quarterback to do it.
Nope. Redman played in a post-game season game for Baltimore in 2001, but he did not start. In fact, Redman was credited with two rushing attempts, but no passing attempts as the Ravens beat the Dolphins in their opening playoff game.
No extra pressure, Teddy. None at all.
2. LAMAR JACKSON HEISMAN HYPE, PART 2
I wrote about Lamar Jackson’s early push into the 2016 Heisman Trophy hype after he ran through the Music City Bowl like he was wearing one of those yellow DO NOT TACKLE ME jerseys against Texas A&M last Wednesday.
Here’s another line to add to Jackson’s resume: His 227 rushing yards were the second-highest rushing total by any player during the entire bowl season.
The only guy to run for more yards was Johnny Jefferson of Baylor who rambled 23 times for 299 yards against North Carolina.
And, unlike, Jackson, Jefferson did not complete a dozen passes for another 226 yards.
Yes, Lamar Jackson in on the radar. Prepare to see him on a magazine cover near you in June.
3. DON’T FORGET DEVINE
But make a note of this: Jackson was not the only guy to roll for 227. With Jordan Howard on the sidelines (and now on his way to the NFL), Indiana sophomore Devine Redding also made himself a name to remember against Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Like Jackson, Redding rolled to 227 yards, although he needed 35 carries to get there.
Redding should have had even more yards. That field goal was good. The teams should have played at least another overtime. And Redding should have been at 230 or more.
Redding appears primed to follow Howard, who followed Tevin Coleman in Bloomington
4. HERE COMES TUBBY
Hard to believe this is Tubby Smith’s ninth season away from the University of Kentucky. But Mr. Smith has a solid chance to add to what should be a Hall of Fame resume this season.
In case you missed it, Texas Tech moved to 11-1 by defeating Texas Saturday. The Red Raiders have advanced to 39th in Ken Pomeroy’s computer formula. They’re likely a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament, but considering the way Tubby teaches defense, dismiss Texas Tech at your own risk.
But know this: If Smith coaches Texas Tech into the tournament it will be the fifth program he’ll take to the party. He went with Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky and Minnesota.
Only one coach has delivered at five programs – Lon Kruger, who made the tournament at Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma.
Keep an eye on Tubby. His team visits Iowa State Wednesday. If Texas Tech wins that one, look out.
5. PLANTING A SEED
If the NCAA Tournament were seeded today, what would the outlook be for Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana?
Depends upon where you look for your information.
In his latest Bracketology, Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com has Kentucky seeded second in the West, Louisville fourth in the Midwest and Indiana ninth in the West.
Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com has a slightly different view. He seeded Louisville fourth in the East and Kentucky third in the East. Indiana failed to make Palm's 68-team field. The Hoosiers are the first team out, likely a victim of their two stumbles in Mau.
6. A LOSS IS MORE THAN A LOSS
Here is a statistic that I cannot explain from Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com:
All eight teams that lost their conference championship football games also lost their bowl games – by an average of 21 points. That’s not losing. That’s not showing up.
He’s talking about you Iowa, North Carolina, Florida and USC.
7. SOMEBODY WATCHED ALL 40 BOWL GAMES
You’ve heard the complaining. Too many college football bowl games. No reason for the playoff people to schedule the semifinal games on New Year’s Eve, where the ratings took a major tumble this year.
There was at least one brave soul who watched all 40 games.
Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com ranked all 40 games – and Louisville, Western Kentucky and Indiana all were part of performances that landed in his Top 15.
8. HOPE FOR CINCINNATI REDS’ FANS?
I promised that I would provide some baseball. The 2016 pre-season magazines should start arriving this month.
Here is the safest prediction: The Reds will be picked to finish last in the National League Central, behind the Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates and Brewers.
No Todd Frazier. No Mike Leake. No Johnny Cueto. No Aroldis Chapman. Heck, no George Foster or Cesar Geronimo.
How are they going to sell tickets at the Great American Ballpark this season?
Any Reds fans searching for a reason to be optimistic should read this piece by Cy Schourek at SBNation. He outlines a plan for how the Reds will improve quicker than most people think.
9. MY BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT
My baseball Hall of Fame ballot?
I don’t have a vote for Cooperstown. But I watch as much baseball as anybody, and I know which guys that I’d invite to the 2016 class, which will be announced Wednesday.
Ken Griffey Jr., despite the weaker numbers on the back nine of his career.
Mike Piazza, but he’s a reminder of how difficult it is to sort through the PED questions.
Lee Smith, an old school closer who was ready to get you four, five or six outs.
No Barry Bonds. No Roger Clemens. No Mark McGwire. No. Sammy Sosa.
10. POLL RESULTS
Where will the University of Louisville men’s basketball team finish in the ACC standings this season?
Third – 32 percent
First – 22 percent
Fourth or Fifth – 21 percent
Second – 19 percent
Sixth or Seventh – 4 percent
Eighth or lower – 2 percent
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