We may have been witnesses to the end of a brief, but glorious, era in college football last night. Also some basketball happened too. Here’s what you missed…
Oregon wins Fiesta Bowl, might lose coach.
If the Chip Kelly era at Oregon ended last night, it ended fittingly – with a Ducks win. Oregon’s won 46 of its 53 games under Kelly, including three straight 12-win seasons from 2010-2012, two BCS bowl victories and three Pac-10/12 championships (33-3 overall in conference play). Kelly’s teams didn’t lose often, is what we’re saying, and last night’s 35-17 Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State was no exception. The Wildcats fought to make it interesting, and did a better job containing the Ducks’ warp-speed offensive attack than most teams, but Oregon was better.
It was a showcase for Oregon’s many playmakers. Quarterback Marcus Mariota completed just 12 of 24 passes, but included in those 12 completions were two touchdowns, he didn’t turn the ball over, and he ran for 62 yards and a score of his own. Kenjon Barner ran for 143 yards on 31 carries and caught a scoring pass. And De’Anthony Thomas. Oh, De’Anthony Thomas. Oregon’s most explosive talent rushed twice for 15 yards, caught four passe for 60 yards and a score… and also took the game’s opening kickoff back 94 yards for a score. But the Ducks’ oft-overlooked defense might have had the performance of the night, holding Kansas State to 283 total yards and intercepting Collin Klein twice.
Good players all over the field – it’s why Oregon will likely be fine even if Kelly does what most expect him to do and jumps to the NFL, after nearly doing so last offseason. He’ll interview with the Browns, Eagles and Bills (though if I were Kelly, I’d be awfully tempted to see if that Carolina Panthers job opens up – the prospect of Kelly coaching Cam Newton is terrifying in the best way possible). He’ll probably take one of those jobs, because he’s as curious to see how his system, or whatever variation on it he winds up adopting, will work in the pros.
But Oregon will march on – well, as long as the NCAA doesn’t come down too hard on the program for recruiting violations. If Kelly leaves, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will be his successor, and continuity will most likely be achieved – David Shaw sure made that strategy work for Stanford. Still, Kelly took Oregon’s program, already excellent, to new heights, and made every Ducks game appointment viewing. Even with a member of his own staff, he’d be tough to replace.
The Knicks still have the Spurs’ number.
Good as the Knicks have been overall this season, they really haven’t been anything special over the last couple weeks. Heading into last night’s game against the Spurs, the Knicks were just 3-5 over their last eight, including losses in their last two games to teams (the Kings and Trail Blazers) with significantly worse records. And last night, the Knicks were up against a 26-8 Spurs team that was not resting all its best players, like it’s been known to do on Thursday nights sometimes. So what did the Raymond-Felton-less Knicks do?
Well, whip the Spurs by 17, of course. They held San Antonio to 36.4 percent shooting in a 100-83 victory, their second over the Spurs this season. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith combined for 43 points, while Steve Novak drained five threes. The Knicks shot 12-for-27 from long range overall, while the Spurs managed just 9-for-34 shooting behind the arc, and they outrebounded San Antonio 48-35. The Knicks were simply a far better team last night, and we can’t wait to see what David Stern will try to fine the Spurs for this time.
In last night’s other NBA action, the T-Wolves defeated the Nuggets 101-97, which was impressive since the game was in Denver, where the Nuggets have been nearly unbeatable. Six Minnesota players scored in double figures as the T-Wolves moved above .500 on the season, but what really sticks out to us about this game: Andre Iguodala’s free throw shooting. He had a miserable night at the line, going 1-for-7 – and what’s more, this was his third bad free throw shooting game in a row. He’s 3-for-16 from the line over that stretch, which is especially strange since over his career, he’s a 73 percent free throw shooter. Last year, though, his percentage dipped to just under 62 percent, and now he seems to have the yips again. Free throws are weird.
College basketball almost-upset controversy!
Colorado blew a 17-point lead (16 midway through the second half) and eventually lost to still-unbeaten, No. 3 Arizona 92-83 in overtime. However, it arguably never should have gotten to overtime in the first place: Colorado hit a shot at the end of regulation that would have won it, but the shot was waved off after replay review, even though the review didn’t appear to be conclusive. Colorado coach Tad Boyle’s naturally well-thought-out and rational response: abolish replay. His stance would surely not change were Colorado helped by a controversial replay, we trust.
And as a Friday present, the universe has given you Johnny Football in the Cotton Bowl. Nice of you, universe. (8 p.m. on Fox.)
Photos via Getty