It’s time for the Weekend Roundup, and we’re here to catch you up on all of the latest happenings in the sports world. Chelsea moves past the Mourinho era, the madness has already begun, and were the Panthers able to stave off the Giants to get to 14-0?
Panthers hold off the Giants to reach 14-0: The Carolina Panthers are now only two wins away from achieving a feat that only four other teams in NFL history have been able to accomplish since 1934. An undefeated regular season is within reach, but getting to this point wasn’t as easy as it probably should have been on Sunday. Cam Newton and the Panthers were on fire early and jumped out to a 35-7 lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. It appeared that they were going to waltz their way to 14-0, but the Giants had other ideas. New York rallied for 21 fourth quarter points to tie the Panthers with less than two minutes to go. Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in the game-tying 14 yard touchdown catch to cap off the comeback. Beckham Jr. and Panther’s defensive back Josh Norman went at each other’s throats the entire game. Egos were certainly on the line, and it was obvious that Beckham Jr.’s feathers were ruffled early by Norman’s stout defensive play. Beckham Jr. lost his cool several times throughout the day, most notably on a play where he intentionally speared Norman with helmet to helmet contact. That dirty play will likely lead to a hefty fine and possible suspension for the NFL’s most prolific wide receiver. After Odell Beckham Jr’s game-tying touchdown, Cam Newton showed why he is this year’s most valuable player. He guided the Panther’s down the field to set up a game-winning 43 yard field goal by Graham Gano as time expired. Barring any type of self destruction in the next two weeks against lesser foes, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, the Panthers are going to be the first team since the 2007 New England Patriots to finish the regular season undefeated.
Chelsea tops Sutherland in first post-Mourinho match: Earlier in the week, Chelsea fired manager Jose Mourninho after a year of many trials and tribulations. Life after Mourinho began with a 3-1 victory over Sutherland at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. While Chelsea came away with a much needed 3 points from the win, it was made obvious by the fans that they were not one bit happy about their former manager’s dismissal. Many of Chelsea’s faithful held banners or signs in support of Mourinho. Despite the dreadful atmosphere and unrest due to the dismissal, there was a match to be played. Newly appointed manager Guus Hiddink scored his first victory at the helm and will lead the Blues for the remainder of the year. Just five minutes into the match, Branislav Ivanovic headed home his first goal of the season and gave Chelsea the early advantage. Shortly thereafter, it was Pedro who was able to poach in a goal of his own to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead. Oscar then sealed the win with a penalty kick early in the second half after Willian was brought down in the box. Chelsea then coasted the rest of the way and finished with a 3-1 win over struggling Sutherland. After several days of major changes and unrest, Saturday’s win allows for Chelsea and its fans to move on and turn the page on a season filled with disappointment.
December Madness? The calendar says it’s December, but after Saturday’s round of upsets, it certainly feels like we’re in the midst of March. #7 Duke fell to Utah at the Garden, #4 Kentucky stumbled at the hands of Ohio State in Brooklyn, and #5 Iowa State was stunned by the pesky Panthers of Northern Iowa. Each game had the feeling of an NCAA Tournament matchup, and each will certainly impact the postseason in some way or another.
Utah was able to avenge last season’s Sweet Sixteen loss to the Blue Devils. Utah big man Jakob Poeltl showed off his vastly improved skills at the historic Madison Square Garden in front of many NBA scouts and coaches. Poeltl poured in 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Duke was able to rally late after Luke Kennard made a near impossible four-point play to bring the Blue Devils within 2. Utah then turned the ball over to give Duke one last chance to send the game to overtime. Freshman standout Brandon Ingram had a good look at the basket but saw his attempt roll off the rim to give the Utes a 77-75 upset win.
After a rocky start to the season, Ohio State was able to stave off a late comeback attempt to top the #4 Kentucky Wildcats, 74-67. The Buckeyes led by 16 points with less than 12 minutes to play in the second half, but Big Blue Nation refused to go down without a fight. The Wildcats clawed to within 3 after forward Alex Poythress nailed a 3 with four minutes remaining, but Ohio State was solid enough from the free-throw line down the stretch to earn the upset over the #4 ranked team in the nation. The game serves as an opportunity for the Buckeyes to put their early season struggles in the past, and focus on their Big 10 schedule and building their tournament resume.
Northern Iowa is making things difficult for top 5 teams this season. Iowa State was their latest victim after an 81-79 triumph over the Cyclones on the road. Earlier in the season, the Panthers upset the previously #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, and now, their beginning to build a reputation for downing the best of the best. Wes Washpun and Paul Jesperson each tallied career highs of 28 and 21 points respectively to lead the way for the Panthers. Coach Ben Jacobsen complimented his team on their performance, “That’s something I really like about our guys: They have the ability to rise to the occasion.” Whoever your favorite team is, you better hope Northern Iowa doesn’t end up in their bracket on Selection Sunday because this team is for real.
Check back with us every Monday for a recap of the weekend’s biggest action in sports.
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