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. The final four are set, the Timbers hoist their first cup, and have the Seahawks found their rhythm at just the right time?
Championship Saturday sets the stage for the College Football Playoff: Since the first College Football Playoff rankings were released six weeks ago, we have done nothing but bicker and argue over which four teams should be in the playoff. Well now, we finally know. The Clemson Tigers will enter the postseason as the number one team in the nation, followed by Alabama, Michigan State, and Oklahoma.
Clemson was able to stave off a furious comeback by the North Carolina Tar Heels to win the ACC Championship, 45-37. However, their win wasn’t without controversy. Late in the game, after a North Carolina touchdown cut the lead to 8, the Tar Heels lined up for an onside kick. Clemson muffed the kick, and North Carolina’s, Hunter Crafford, was able to recover it to give the Tar Heels one last chance to tie the Tigers. But, that was all negated due to a phantom offside call by one of the officials. Replays showed that no one on North Carolina’s kicking team was offside, but the play was deemed “unreviewable” due to the penalty. Clemson was able to recover the Tar Heels’ second attempt and seal the victory. North Carolina head coach, Larry Fedora, gave his thoughts on the controversial call, “They were wrong. That’s all I’m going to say about it. They were wrong.”
In the SEC Championship game, Alabama faced an offensively challenged Florida Gators squad and rolled to their second consecutive SEC Championship, 29-15. Heisman front-runner, Derrick Henry, continued to pad his resume with another outstanding performance on the ground for the Tide. He ran for 189 yards and touchdown which was enough for him to earn MVP honors.
The Big 10 Championship game was everything it was billed to be. The Iowa Hawkeyes squared off against the Michigan State Spartans in what was labeled as an elimination game. Late in the fourth quarter, Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard threw an 85 yard touchdown pass to Tevaun Smith to put the Hawkeyes in front, 13-9. Quarterback Connor Cook then led the Spartans on an unbelievable 22-play drive that set up Smith’s game-winning 1 yard touchdown run on third down. The Spartans won the game 16-13 and punched their ticket to the playoff.
The semifinals will be played on New Year’s Eve. Clemson will take on Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the Capital One Orange Bowl, and Alabama will face Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. The winners of those games will then play for the national championship on January 11th in Glendale, Arizona.
Portland Timbers win their first MLS Cup: It only took 27 seconds for the Timbers to get on the scoreboard, and they refused to relinquish the lead for the rest of the night. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark made an inexcusable mistake with a lazy pass in the back. Timbers’ Diego Valeri pounced on Clark’s pass and put it in the back of the net to put Portland on top early in the match. The Timbers’ second goal should have never had a chance due to a missed call by the lines judge. Portland clearly passed the ball out of play, but the referee failed to recognize it. Many Columbus players paused expecting a whistle, but none was given. Portland stole the ball, and Rodney Wallace headed in a beautiful cross to put the Timbers up 2-0 in the 7th minute of the match. Columbus was able to pull one back with a goal of their own in the 18th, but that was as close as they would get. It was Portland’s first MLS Cup in their history, and the city’s first professional title since the Trail Blazers won the NBA Championship in 1977.
Are the Seattle Seahawks back to Super Bowl form? The Seahawks got off to a bumpy start this season. After week 6, they were 2-4 and likely to miss the playoffs after playing in the Super Bowl the previous year. Fast-forward to now and you’ll find a completely different football team. They walked into Minneapolis and absolutely dominated the Vikings, 38-7, to win their third straight and climb back into the playoff race. Quarterback Russell Wilson led the charge for the Seahawks by tossing 3 touchdown passes and running for another. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin was the recipient of two of Wilson’s touchdown passes. When asked about his quarterback, Baldwin said, “It’s hard to even explain how he’s playing. It’s just phenomenal. He’s trusting the line, staying in the pocket, making his reads. He’s delivering the ball with stupid accuracy, and it’s unbelievable to watch.” During the three-game win streak, Wilson has passed for 11 touchdowns without recording an interception. Seattle’s star-laden defense was also outstanding on Sunday by limiting the Vikings to just 125 yards of total offense, which was the lowest total of any NFL team this season. It looks like Wilson and the Seahawks have found their rhythm at just the right time.
Check back with us every Monday for a recap of the weekend’s biggest action in sports.
Photo Credit: Mykal McEldowney/The Star – Connor Cook, AP Photo/Gerry Broome– Deshaun Thomas, AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki – Baker Mayfield, Gator Country photo by David Bowie– Derrick Henry