The Sports Report: USC remains behind two-loss LSU in the CFP rankings

USC quarterback Caleb Williams passes to wide receiver Jordan Addison against UCLA last week.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From J. Brady McCollough: USC may need some help to make the College Football Playoff after all.

Despite the Trojans’ national statement victory Saturday night over rival UCLA in the Rose Bowl, the CFP committee kept them behind two-loss Louisiana State in Tuesday’s top 25 rankings.

LSU, 9-2, is No. 5, while USC, 10-1, is No. 6.

If the Tigers win out, a scenario which includes a win over No. 1 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta Dec. 3, it sure seems like they would get preference over USC, even if it beats No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 9 Oregon the next two weeks.

CFP committee chair Boo Corrigan, the athletic director at North Carolina State, spoke with ESPN about the decision to rank LSU ahead of USC.


“Clearly that was a dominant conversation for the last couple days,” Corrigan said. “It was over and over and over again to make sure we’re looking at this the right way. There were reasons for USC to be at five, there are reasons for LSU to be at five. [LSU’s] wins over Alabama and Mississippi carried the day over [USC’s] wins over UCLA and Oregon State. As you alluded to, the win [over UCLA] was 48-45. Some of the members of the committee want to see a little bit more from their defense, as well as the overall strength of schedule for LSU really drove the day.”


For USC, the path to a CFP berth is clear, if focus can shift quickly from UCLA to Notre Dame

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From Ben Bolch: The College Football Playoff dream died with the stumble against Arizona. Returning to the Rose Bowl game for the first time since 1999 was out after the heartbreaker against USC.

Back-to-back losses have left UCLA to ponder something a lot less fun than a path to the Pac-12 championship game.

Now it’s all about which mid-tier bowl game the Bruins might find themselves in next month.

First, a quick primer on Pac-12 bowl selections. If the Pac-12 champion makes the CFP, the Rose Bowl picks a replacement team (presumably the one with the next-best CFP ranking). The Alamo Bowl gets the next pick, followed by the Holiday Bowl and the Las Vegas Bowl. Those bowls can choose based on their own preference so long as there isn’t more than a one-game difference in conference record between their selection and teams remaining on the board.

Starting with the Sun Bowl, which picks next, the selections are based strictly on conference record. The Jimmy Kimmel Bowl goes next and the Pac-12 also will fill one slot from either the Armed Forces Bowl, First Responder Bowl or Gasparilla Bowl.


From Steve Henson: A jury ruled Tuesday that the NCAA is not to blame for the death of former USC linebacker Matthew Gee, a decision that could have broad implications in numerous other cases lined up against the governing body of college athletics.


Gee’s attorneys failed to convince the jury in Los Angeles Superior Court that the NCAA failed to protect him from repetitive head trauma that led to his death, which was ruled by the coroner to be caused by cardiac arrest and that acute alcohol and cocaine toxicity were contributing factors. Jurors, who deliberated only one day before rendering their verdict, weren’t convinced that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) led to Gee’s death or that the NCAA was negligent in failing to inform Gee of the risks of repetitive head trauma.

Gee died in his sleep at age 49 at his Simi Valley home Dec. 31, 2018. Alana Gee, his widow, sought $54.8 million in damages for wrongful death and loss of her husband’s companionship based on her husband’s life expectancy.


From Dan Woike: There’s the promise – Anthony Davis swishing top-of-the-key jumpers, corralling every rebound and disrupting opposing offenses in every possible way.

But there’s also problem – Davis awkwardly getting his left arm tangled around Devin Booker’s head and hitting the court, needing an entire timeout to make his way back to his feet and to the Lakers’ bench.

Tuesday night in Phoenix, Davis was able to stay in the game, grabbing at his left elbow and repeatedly trying to squeeze feeling into his left hand.

In a single night it was a reminder of the gamble the Lakers took more than three years ago when they dealt the future for Davis – a bet that’s paid off with an NBA championship and with too many moments like the one in the first half Tuesday against the Suns.


Davis alone wasn’t enough in a 115-105 loss to the Suns in Phoenix, the Lakers ice cold from three and again playing without LeBron James. But he still was plenty – 37 points, 21 rebounds, 5 blocks and 5 steals – continuing a run of maybe his best play since the Lakers dealt for him.

Tuesday, Davis became the second player in NBA history to score at least 30 points, grab 20 rebounds, have five blocks and five steals, joining Bob McAdoo.


From Sarah Valenzuela: Perry Minasian has been making good on his promise to acquire proven major league talent to improve the Angels’ roster.

On Tuesday night, the Angels general manager traded for Milwaukee outfielder Hunter Renfroe and sent pitchers Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero, along with minor league pitcher Adam Seminaris, to the Brewers.

The move adds much-needed depth to an Angels outfield that includes Mike Trout, Taylor Ward, Jo Adell and Mickey Moniak. Trout is a mainstay as is Ward. And Renfroe, who has been a major leaguer since 2016, is no bench player, though he and Ward primarily played right field last season. Expect the decision on who starts in right and who starts in left to be made in spring training.


Chris Kreider scored twice in the third period and the New York Rangers overcame a two-goal deficit for the first time this season in a 5-3 win over the Kings on Tuesday night.


Braden Schneider, Vincent Trocheck and Kaapo Kakko all had goals in the second period for the Rangers, who have won three of four. Igor Shesterkin made 35 saves.

Kevin Fiala had a goal and two assists, and Gabe Vilardi set a career high with his 11th goal, but the Kings had their five-game winning streak on home ice snapped. Cal Petersen allowed four goals on 24 shots.


From Kevin Baxter in Qatar: When Robert Lewandowski retires, he’ll be remembered as one of the greatest players of his generation, a seven-time Bundesliga scoring champion and two-time FIFA world player of the year.

He’ll also be remembered for Tuesday.

If Memo Ochoa ever retires, which is by no means certain, he’ll be remembered as a steady club player who won a league championship in his first season as a starter and hasn’t done it again.

He’ll also be remembered for Tuesday.

With a World Cup game hanging in the balance, Ochoa rose to the occasion and Lewandowski did not, the Mexican goalkeeper making a spectacular save on the Polish captain’s penalty shot to preserve a 0-0 draw before a festive and overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd of 39,369 at Doha’s Stadium 974.


Complete World Cup coverage


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Canada is back in the World Cup, and has big plans for future

World Cup host Qatar leaves pearl diving past far behind

Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United ‘by mutual agreement,’ the club says


From Gary Klein: The Rams, nearing the brink of elimination from playoff contention, waived running back Darrell Henderson and outside linebacker Justin Hollins, the team announced Tuesday.


They were the latest moves by a team that is 3-7 and has lost four in a row going into a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

With star receiver Cooper Kupp sidelined after having ankle surgery, the offensive line ravaged by injuries and quarterback Matthew Stafford’s status for the game and beyond in doubt because of a possible concussion, the Rams appear to be preparing for 2023.


Hernández: Rams need to get with reality and shut down Matthew Stafford for season


From Bill Plaschke: He stood at midfield in the Rose Bowl, a triumphant figure poised at the center of the national prep football universe, basking on the precipice of retirement from a long and illustrious career.

Then why doesn’t Bruce Rollinson want to talk about it?

He appeared at one of the final stops on his victory tour Monday, one last chance to expound on his 34 years of glory, the esteemed Mater Dei coach attending a press luncheon in advance of Friday’s Southern Section Division I championship game at the Rose Bowl against St. John Bosco.

So why wouldn’t Bruce Rollinson answer the most obvious of questions?

This columnist showed up to ask him about the strange circumstances surrounding his sudden retirement announcement earlier this month. It is a question that is being asked throughout the Southern California prep sports world and beyond. It has been the subject of rampant speculation and incessant rumor.


Rollinson could have followed his own teachings of accountability by simply providing an explanation. He refused.


1947 — Sammy Baugh throws six touchdown passes as the Washington Redskins beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 45-21.

1958 — Bobby Mitchell of the Cleveland Browns returns a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in a 28-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

1968 — Houston scores 49 points in the fourth quarter to complete the rout an injury-riddled, flu-stricken Tulsa, 100-6.

1975 — Minnesota’s Fran Tarkenton becomes the all-time completions leader in the NFL. Tarkenton completes his 2,840th pass in the Vikings’ 28-13 win over the San Diego Chargers.

1984 — Doug Flutie passes for 472 yards and leads Boston College to a 47-45 upset victory over Miami with a last second touchdown throw to Gerard Phelan.


1991 — Tony Sands smashes NCAA records with 396 yards and 58 carries and scores four touchdowns as Kansas trounces Missouri 53-29. Sands broke the NCAA one-game rushing record of 386 yards set this season by Marshall Faulk of San Diego State.

1991 — Desmond Howard returns a punt against rival No. 18 Ohio State for a touchdown, celebrating with his “Heisman Pose” en route to No. 3 Michigan’s biggest win over the Buckeyes in almost 50 years. The Wolverines win 31-3.

1991 — Evander Holyfield comes back from a third-round knockdown to batter and bloody Bert Cooper before stopping him in the seventh round of a IBF and WBA heavyweight title fight.

1996 — Iowa State’s Troy Davis becomes the first Division I-A player to rush for 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons, gaining 225 yards in a 35-20 loss to Kansas State. Davis, who had 2,010 yards in 1995, finishes with 2,185 yards.

2001 — Middleweight boxer James Butler punches his opponent Richard Grant long after the final bell at Madison Square Garden in New York. Grant, winner of a 10-round decision, is dropped by Butler who connects with a short hook with gloves off. Butler, facing second-degree assault charges, is suspended indefinitely by the New York State Athletic Commission.

2002 — Penn State’s Larry Johnson becomes the ninth running back in NCAA Division I-A history to run for 2,000 yards in a season when he gained 279 yards and scored four TDs in a 61-7 win against Michigan State.


2007 — In a rare instance of double triple-doubles, Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors get the better of Caron Butler and the Washington Wizards. Davis finishes with 33 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds and Golden State beat Washington 123-115. Butler ends with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

2012 — The San Diego Sockers set a U.S. pro team sports record with their 41st consecutive victory, 14-4 against the Toros de Mexico in the Professional Arena Soccer League. The Sockers had been tied with the Sioux Falls Storm of United Indoor Football, who set the old record of 40 from 2005-08.

2014 — New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko ends a big year on the LPGA Tour with the largest payoff in women’s golf. Ko wins the $1 million bonus from the “Race to CME Globe” even before she begins a three-way playoff in the CME Group Tour Championship. The 17-year-old adds $500,000 when she defeats Carlota Ciganda of Spain on the fourth extra hole at Tiburon Golf Club.

2016 — Kevin Love scores 40 points, including an NBA-record 34 in the first quarter, LeBron James records his 44th career triple-double, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 137-125.

2018 — Phil Mickelson needs 22 holes to beat Tiger Woods in their head-to-head golf matchup. Mickelson wins the $9 million purse and a championship belt crafted with 18-karat gold and two karats worth of diamonds. The four extra holes force the match to finish under the lights at Shadow Creek Golf Course in North Las Vegas. B/R Live, the sports streaming platform for Turner Sports, makes the match available for free to anyone after technical difficulties prevent those who paid $19.99 to see the live stream.

Compiled by the Associated Press


And finally

Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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