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Illinois Missed Three Non-Conference Games of 2020 After Big Win at Nebraska

After blowing the doors of the Cornhuskers in Nebraska last Saturday, it is pretty obvious Illinois could've used the three tune-up games of 2020 to enter Big Ten play.

 

Illini beat writer Bob Asmussen says the slate of Bowling Green, Illinois State and UConn would've been great opportunities for the Illini to clean things up ahead of a favorable Big Ten opener against Rutgers in the original 2020 schedule. As it stands, Illinois took a tough draw opening with ranked Wisconsin and Minnestoa plus Purdue to start the 2020 football season.


 

Bowl games in 2020 will be very limited and the College Football Playoff only offers an opportunity to four teams with zero-margin for error, Illinois has stayed the course nicely winning their last two contests. Asmussen says Illinois can look at its circumstances and believe it wasn't entirely their fault given COVID hit the team in week 2.

 

 

Looking to the future, 2020 is not counting against anyone's eligibility this year. With very few players likely eyeing a move to the NFL next, Asmussen says you could see nearly the entire team back next year.

 

 

With 2020 not counting against the eligibility of this year's team, Asmussen believes that puts less pressure on recruiting for next year and should allow the coaching staff to focus in on the best players they can find.

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Dosunmu, Curbelo lead No. 8 Illinois past Chicago State

Ayo Dosunmu scored 22 points, freshman Andres Curbelo added 18 and No. 8 Illinois beat Chicago State 97-38 on Thursday.

 

The Illini (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) never trailed in the game, scoring the first nine points and leading 47-17 at halftime. Big man Kofi Cockburn had 13 points and 5 rebounds at the break.

 

Adam Miller scored 15 points and Cockburn finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was Cockburn’s 14th double-double in 34 career games and his second consecutive one. He had one more rebound than the entire Chicago State team did.

 

Illinois shot 36 of 60 (60%) from the field and 7 of 18 (39%) from 3-point range.

 

Xavier Johnson led Chicago State (0-2, 0-0 Western Athletic Conference) with 10 points and Jordan Polynice had nine.

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Braves Fall to Xavier on Last-Second Shot

In a back-and-forth game, the Bradley men's basketball team lost on the road to Xavier, 51-50, thanks to a last-second field by the Musketeers. Bradley is now 1-1 after two games at the Xavier Invitational, while the hosts improve to 2-0.
 
Senior Elijah Childs led the Braves with 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals against the Big East foe. Sophomore Ville Tahvanainen also added 11 points for BU, making 3-of-5 from 3-point range in the contest.
 
The schools traded runs to begin before settling in for a tight contest the remainder of the game. Xavier opened a 12-4 lead just more than six minutes in before Bradley responded with a 10-0 run for its first lead of the game, 14-12. The lead would change three additional times in the opening 20 minutes of action before the Musketeers headed into the locker room with a two-point edge, 22-20.
 
Xavier quickly stretched its lead to eight points early in the second half, 31-23, but the Braves were unfazed and immediately answered with a 7-0 spurt for to pull back within one, 31-30. BU then grabbed its first advantage of the period when Childs connected on a jumper for a 34-33 edge with 12:57 remaining in the game.
 
The teams would trade the advantage a total of 10 times in the final 13 minutes of action in a tight contest throughout. Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the game and the Braves found themselves ahead by one, 45-44, with 3:33 left in the game after Tahvanainen was fouled while shooting a jumper. Xavier, however, answered with a 3-pointer on the other end before Bradley connected on two free throws for a 47-47 deadlock with 2:34 left.
 
The Musketeers went back ahead, 49-47, with 1:59 remaining, taking advantage of a couple of offensive rebounds. The Bradley defense then kept the team in the game by forcing three-straight misses by Xavier to give Bradley the ball down two with under 30 seconds remaining. For the second-straight day, Terry Nolan Jr. connected on a go-ahead shot with less than 20 seconds remaining, burying a contested 3-pointer from the corner for a 50-49 lead with just 12.5 ticks remaining. On this day, however, Xavier answered with a layup with 3.8 seconds left for a one-point edge and Bradley missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 0.4 seconds remaining as Xavier secured its second-straight victory to open the season.
 
Both defenses played a strong game on the day as Bradley shot 33.3 percent and held the Musketeers to 33.9 percent shooting. The Braves converted 6-of-16 from 3-point range, however, while holding the Musketeers to 5-of-20 but Xavier held a 47-40 edge on the glass.

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Dosunmu, Miller lead No. 8 Illinois past NC A&T 122-60

 Ayo Dosunmu scored a career-high 28 points, freshman Adam Miller also scored 28 and No. 8 Illinois beat North Carolina A&T 122-60 on Wednesday in the season opener for both teams.

 

Kofi Cockburn added 18 points and 10 rebounds for his 13th double-double in 32 games. Dosunmu had 10 rebounds for his second career double-double.

 

Miller shot 10 of 12 from the field, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range, as Illinois fell five points short of its record scoring total. Illinois hit 17 of 32 3-pointers, a program record.

 

Blake Harris scored 12 points to lead the Aggies.

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No. 23 Ohio State routs Illinois State in season opener

Justice Sueing scored 19 points and No. 23 Ohio State scored the first 22 points en route to a 94-67 win over Illinois State on Wednesday in the season opener for both teams.

 

The Buckeyes created their own energy as Sueing, making his Ohio State debut after transferring and sitting out a year, had seven points in the team’s opening surge. He was 8 of 9 from the floor in his first game since leaving California, where he averaged 14 points and six rebounds as a sophomore in 2018-19.

 

E.J. Liddell had 16 points while Duane Washington and freshman Zed Key each scored 12 for the Buckeyes. Key also had five rebounds. C.J. Walker chipped in 10 points and six assists.

 

Antonio Reeves led Illinois State with 17 points and Howard Fleming Jr. added 15 points.

 

The Buckeyes led by as many as 24 points in the first half before settling for a 42-25 halftime lead. The lead went as high as 37 points with just over six minutes left.

 

Liddell moved into a starting spot at power forward for Ohio State after serving as a backup last year. He opened the game with a jam and then completed a three-point play, scoring both off passes from his teammates. Liddell fed Sueing for back-to-back jams midway through the second half as the Buckeyes pulled away.

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Last-Second Basket Leads Bradley Past Toledo in Season Opener

Terry Nolan Jr. hit a game-winning shot with less than one second remaining to lead the Bradley men's basketball team to a 61-59 victory over Toledo in its season opener at the Xavier Invitational.
 
The Rockets tied the game at 59 with 38.5 seconds remaining. After a Bradley timeout, Nolan had a chance to put the Braves ahead with less than 20 seconds left but missed a tough inside shot as the game remained tied. The junior, however, collected the rebound and threw it out of bounds off a Toledo player, giving BU one final chance with 13.5 ticks left in regulation. Nolan would take advantage this time and his driving layup with 0.8 seconds remaining hit off the backboard and through the hoop to put Bradley in front, 61-59. Toledo's heave down the court was knocked away, preserving the opening-day victory for BU.
 
Senior Elijah Childs led four Braves in double figures, scoring 14 points to go with six boards and four blocks. Junior Ari Boya added 11 points, while Nolan and junior Ja'Shon Henry each chipped in 10 points.
 
Sophomore Sean East II also had an impressive debut for the Braves, scoring eight points to go with eight assists and six rebounds.

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Highly Ranked Illini Open 2020-2021 Season This Afternoon

Images of 2005-2006 are being rehashed for Illinois fans as the State Farm Center will feature one of the best groups to don the orange and blue in over a decade.

 

Ranked inside the top-10 to start the season, the Illinois men's basketball team features skill, size, potential, and depth. Illini beat writer Bob Asmussen says the expectations are sky-high for this year's team.

 

 

Trent Frazier enters his senior season off two down years from his Big Ten Freshman of the Year campaign. Asmussen says he and junior Giorgi Bezhanashvili, who had a terrific freshman campaign followed by a down sophomore season, need to step up for Illinois to be successful but notes the pressure on them will not be as great as it was in prior years.

 

 

Asmussen calls senior Da'Monte Williams the glue-guy for this team. He says Williams brings an unselfish style of play and the defensive leader of the team.

 

 

Illinois touts highly rated freshman Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo. Miller has received most of the attention due to his success at Chicago Morgan Park High School but Asmussen says to look for Curbelo to carve out a role with this team over the course of the season.

 

 

Illinois hosts NC A&T in each team’s 2020-21 season opener this afternoon (Wednesday) at 1 pm from the State Farm Center as a part of the Illinois multi-team tournament to kick off a COVID altered season. Wright State was set to be among the three other teams in Champaign this weekend, however, COVID has altered their plans and Chicago State takes their place. Illinois battles the Cougars on Thanksgiving Day at 11 am then concludes the tournament with Ohio on Friday at noon.

 

Illinois takes on second-ranked Baylor on Wednesday, December 2, ninth-ranked Duke on Tuesday, December 8 for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and this year's Braggin' Rights game shifts to Columbia, Missouri on Saturday, December 12 before Big Ten action kicks off on Tuesday, December 15. 

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Wrigley Field Granted Historic Landmark Status

Wrigley Field, the 106-year-old baseball shrine that’s the Chicago Cubs’ home, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

 

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced the designation Thursday, saying the ballpark has played a significant role in Chicago’s history and the history of professional sports.

 

“The historical significance of Wrigley Field is interwoven into our nation’s story and a key part of what has become America’s beloved pastime for over a century,” he said in a statement.

 

The historic landmark status will give the Ricketts family, who own the Cubs and spent about $1 billion renovating the ballpark, access to federal income tax credits on the “1060 Project” that started at the end of the 2014 season.

 

National Historic Landmarks are buildings, sites, districts, structures and objects that have been determined by the secretary of the interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture, federal officials said.

 

Wrigley Field now joins other renowned historic places, including Fenway Park in Boston, among some 2,600 other landmarks across the country.

 

Built in 1914, Wrigley Field has been the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. The ballpark is two years younger than Fenway Park, is the second-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, and is also the National League’s oldest ballpark.

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Cubs' Hoyer Wants to Retool and Remain Competitive

While the window is just opening on Jed Hoyer’s time as the Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations, it’s closing on the Cubs’ championship-winning core.

 

The Cubs gave Hoyer a five-year contract on Monday that runs through the 2025 season, one week after his friend and mentor Theo Epstein stepped down as team president. The 46-year-old Hoyer was promoted from general manager to replace Epstein, who oversaw drought-busting championships with both Boston and Chicago.

 

Hoyer takes over a team in the middle of expensive multiyear deals with outfielder Jason Heyward and starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. And four players who were essential contributors to Chicago’s 2016 World Series title — Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber — all are eligible to become free agents after next season.

 

Hoyer said Monday, quote - “You always have one eye on the present and one eye on the future. Given the service-time realities we mentioned, that eye may be more focused on the future than usual. But that doesn’t take away from the goal, and the goal is always to make the playoffs and give this organization an opportunity to go deep into October.”

 

The Cubs won the NL Central in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season but got swept by Miami in the first round of the playoffs, totaling one run in the two games. Chicago has not won a playoff series since 2017.

 

Third baseman Bryant has the highest salary among the Cubs’ potential free agents and is the most frequent subject of trade rumors. Hoyer declined to predict whether Bryant, coming off a down year, would be on the roster on opening day. But some changes are inevitable, he said.

 

Hoyer said he will search outside the organization for a new GM. And he said he believes he can retool the roster while keeping the team consistently competitive.

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Mets Alderson To Serve as GM, Abandoning Search for GM

The New York Mets have abandoned their search for a president of baseball operations and will instead focus on hiring a general manager who will report to team president Sandy Alderson.

 

In the meantime, Alderson told Luis Rojas on Monday he will return for a second season as manager.

 

Alderson returned to the team Nov. 6 when Steven Cohen completed his $2.42 billion purchase from the Wilpon and Katz families and that day fired general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

 

Alderson said then he wanted to hire a president of baseball operations but said Monday he had been thwarted in attempts to gain permission to speak with officials on other teams for lateral moves, and another possible candidate had a family issue that prevented a move.

 

He did not contact Theo Epstein, who quit Friday as the Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations after leading the Cubs to the 2016 World Series title, their first in 108 years.

 

Alderson, who turned 72 on Sunday, said Monday he will have a greater role in baseball operations than originally planned. Alderson initially said he planned to have a seat at the table but not at the head.

 

Alderson said he had interviewed six GM candidates and will decide whether second and third interviews are needed before presenting one or two candidates to Cohen. He hopes the new GM could grow into a president of baseball operations role.

 

John Ricco, who shifted from assistant general manager to a senior vice president when Van Wagenen was hired, will be Alderson’s “right-hand person” interfacing for Alderson with both the baseball and business departments. He is not a GM candidate.

 

Alderson was the Mets’ general manager from October 2010 until he left in July 2018 following a recurrence of cancer that no longer is a problem.

 

He said the team had much work ahead after a fourth-place finish at 26-34.

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White Sox, Yankees Field of Dreams Game Rescheduled

On Monday, Major League Baseball announced the Field of Dreams Game, featuring the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees, is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 12, 2021, at the Dyersville, Iowa, site that hosted the film of the same name. The Field of Dreams game was originally scheduled for this past season, but was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Despite the pandemic, MLB constructed the temporary 8,000-seat ballpark adjacent to the property used in the film this summer, so the facility is ready to go. Here's a time lapse video of the ballpark construction:

 

The Yankees and White Sox were also scheduled to play in the original Fields of Dream Game. The White Sox are prominently featured in the film and the Yankees are the Yankees, and MLB wanted them in a nationally televised event. The Cardinals were slated to replace the Yankees under regional play before the game was canceled.

 

Under commissioner Rob Manfred, MLB made an effort to grow the sport by playing games in new places. The Little League Classic has been played annually in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, every year since 2017, and the Marlins and Braves played a game at Fort Bragg in 2016. MLB has also played games in London, Japan, Australia, and Mexico in recent years.

 

The Field of Dreams Game will be the first Major League Baseball game ever played in Iowa. Iowa is home to many minor-league teams, including the Triple-A affiliate of the Cubs, but it has never hosted a big-league game.

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Monticello Football Coach Talks Evolution of Offensive Playbook

Central Illinois football fans know there aren't many coaches with as diversified an offensive playbook as Monticello football coach Cully Welter.

 

The Hall of Fame coach indicates even in the offseason, he's still looking for something to add to his team's playbook or a new wrinkle.

 

 

The Baltimore Ravens this year has implemented an RPO (run-pass option) with a bubble screen dump-off on the quarterback run. Coach Welter's offense began doing that a few seasons ago and he indicates that is starting to become more popular at all levels of football.

 

 

Coach Welter has taken time this fall to check out football games in other parts of the midwest and indicates as we shift into the offseason, he is going to take some time away from football and be with his family.

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Colts Walk-Off Packers in Overtime

After allowing three touchdown passes and 28 first-half points, the Indianapolis Colts held one of the NFL's highest-scoring teams to three second-half points, forced a key fumble less than a minute into overtime and set up Rodrigo Blankship's decisive 39-yard field goal for a 34-31 over the Green Bay Packers.

 

Defensive leader Darius Leonard and his teammates certainly lived up to their No. 1 defensive ranking over the final 33 minutes. They forced three fumbles and an interception. They held Aaron Jones to 41 yards rushing on 10 carries. And they limited Green Bay (7-3) to 18 offensive snaps over the final two-plus quarters.

 

Indy (7-3) did it with an old-school combination: An offense that played keep-away while the defense came up with two three-and-outs in the third quarter and a fourth down stop late in the fourth.

 

Five holding penalties allowed Rodgers to get one more shot in regulation, starting at the 6-yard line with 85 seconds left. Then on third-and-10 he hooked up with Marquez Valdes-Scantling for 47 yards. Six plays later, Mason Crosby hit a 26-yard field goal to tie the score with 3 seconds left.

 

So when the Packers won the coin toss and took the ball, it seemed they had all the momentum.

The opportunity came on the Packers second play in OT when rookie safety Julian Blackmon split two blockers stripped the ball from Valdes Scantling.

 

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner recovered and Blankenship won it moments later.

 

Rodgers was 27 of 38 with 311 yards, three TD passes and one interception. Davante Adams had seven catches for 106 yards and one score while Jones rushed for another score.

 

Philip Rivers led the Colts back from a 14-point halftime deficit by going 24 of 35 with 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, Former Wisconsin star Jonathan Taylor had 22 carries for 90 yards.

 

The Packers hope to rebound next Sunday night when they host the longtime rival Bears.

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Alabama No. 1 in Latest College Football Polls

Alabama is now a unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll, and Northwestern moved up to No. 11 on Sunday for its best ranking in 24 years.

 

For the second straight week, the top eight teams in the poll held their spots. The Crimson Tide received all 62 first-place votes after beating Kentucky 63-3, making Alabama the first unanimous No. 1 this season and the first team to do it in the regular season since 2018.

 

Notre Dame was No. 2, followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Texas A&M. Florida was No. 6, and No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 8 BYU also held their spots.

 

The rest of the top 10 was No. 9 Oregon and Miami.

 

Northwestern moved up eight spots after beating Wisconsin 17-7 to improve to 5-0. The Badgers slipped eight spots to 18th.

 

No. 12 Indiana dropped three spots after putting a scare into Ohio State in the Big Ten’s other top-25 matchup Saturday. The Buckeyes beat the Hoosiers 42-35 after leading 35-7.

 

 

 

If Georgia's Week 12 could be summed up in a text message, it would be, "new quarterback, who dis?" The Bulldogs have reentered the top 10 of the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll following their narrow 31-24 win over a short-handed Mississippi State team. The change to quarterback JT Daniels proved to be the difference as the former USC QB tossed for 401 yards and four touchdowns in his debut. 

 

It wasn't a conventional Georgia win, but it did beg the question of what the Bulldogs might have looked like if Daniels had been healthy enough to be inserted into the first-team offense earlier in the season. In any case, Georgia looks set at quarterback for the future. 

 

The Bulldogs also received help getting into the top 10 due to Indiana falling two spots after losing 42-35 to Ohio State. There's an argument that the Hoosiers deserved to stay right where they were -- or even move up -- given the way they played, but conventional tendencies within the Coaches Poll prevailed. 

 

There was little movement overall in the top 10, but Northwestern jumped seven spots up to No. 13 after defeating Wisconsin 17-7. The Badgers fell eight spots to No. 20 as a result. The only team to drop out of the rankings was Liberty after its loss to NC State on a blocked field goal. 

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Illini win 2nd in row 41-23 over turnover-plagued Huskers

Brandon Peters threw for one touchdown and ran for another in his first game in nearly a month, Illinois had two rushers go over 100 yards, and the Illini beat the turnover-plagued Huskers for their second straight win.

 

Luke McCaffrey, making his second start at quarterback, committed the first of his four turnovers on the first play from scrimmage. Wan’Dale Robinson fumbled as the Huskers (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten) tried to come back in the second half.

 

Illinois (2-3, 2-3) led 28-10 after two quarters, their most first-half points against a conference opponent in 10 years, and won its second road game in as many weeks.

 

Peters, who had been out since Oct. 24 because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the team, showed no rust in leading a balanced Illini offense that had 285 yards rushing and 205 passing.

 

Nebraska entered the game as a 16-point favorite and ran into trouble immediately.

 

McCaffrey ran 4 yards on the first snap and flung the ball into the turf — what was ruled a lateral instead of an illegal forward pass — and Illini linebacker Jake Hansen recovered at the 21.

 

Chase Brown, who ran for 110 yards on 26 carries, scored the first of his two touchdowns three plays later.

 

Peters threw to Josh Imatorbhebhe for a 28-yard touchdown for a 21-7 lead after Tarique Barnes intercepted a scrambling McCaffrey’s desperation throw along the sideline.

 

Illinois added to the lead on Mike Epstein’s 1-yard run two plays after he broke a 58-yarder down the sideline. Epstein finished with 113 yards on 13 carries.

 

McCaffrey ran 26 times for 122 yards, both career highs, and threw for two touchdowns. But he couldn’t overcome all those turnovers.

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IHSA To Revisit Winter Sports in 2 Weeks

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for a special virtual meeting yesterday afternoon and provided additional guidance on winter sports.

 

The IHSA Board issued guidance to pause all IHSA winter sports and activities to maintain compliance with the most recent mitigations issued by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. The Board will revisit the status of winter sports at their update discussion on Wednesday, December 2nd, and again at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, December 14th if necessary.

 

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson released the following statement, “All IHSA sports and activities will cease by November 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause. Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible.,, The Board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state.”

 

The IHSA Board also announced that conditioning and weight training before and after school are paused, open gyms are paused, and practices and competitions may only be conducted virtually. Outdoor workouts may be conducted in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing. 

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Illinois Getting Players Back, Looking to Build on Season's First Win

A couple teams trying to establish some mojo meet when Nebraska hosts Illinois on Saturday.

Both programs are in building mode, and both are coming off their first wins.

 

Illinois (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten) has played consecutive road games 10 of the last 12 seasons and hasn’t won both since knocking off Minnesota and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks in 2007.

 

Fifth-year Illini coach Lovie Smith, coming off a win at Rutgers last week, said he wants to see if his team can take the next step. Illinois has 25 seniors this season, more than the combined 21 on the rosters for the last two seasons.

 

The Cornhuskers (1-2, 1-2) beat Penn State at home last week and are expected to start redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey at quarterback again.

 

Illinois’ quarterback situation has been jumbled because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

 

Senior Brandon Peters, who started the opener against Wisconsin, is available after sitting out three weeks because of the virus. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Williams started against Rutgers and ran 31 times for a school quarterback-record 195 yards and a touchdown.

 

Nebraska had to rally from 14 points down in the third quarter against a bruising Illini defense to win 42-38 in Champaign, Illinois, last year. The Huskers had 674 yards, their highest output ever in a Big Ten game.

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Packers Visit Indianapolis Sunday

On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts face a third consecutive challenge - slowing down two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers' potent offense.

 

Ace this one, and Indy will be well on its way to claiming the title of NFL's stingiest defense.

First, they tried to contain reigning MVP Lamar Jackson. Then they contended with 2019 rushing champion Derrick Henry. 

 

At the moment, the Colts (6-3) sit at the top of the class.

 

They're No. 1 in overall defense, No. 2 against the pass, No. 3 against the run, No. 4 in scoring defense and No. 6 in turnover differential. They're tied for second in interceptions with 11, have scored three touchdowns and had two safeties. And for the first time in years, it's the defense that has helped Indy grab a share of the AFC South lead.

 

While Rodgers remains the leader of the Packers (7-2), Coach Matt LaFleur has tried to alleviate some of the burden on his quarterback. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have emerged as a dynamic duo out of the backfield, and Davante Adams is one of the league's top receivers.

 

Together, they have pushed Green Bay to the top of the NFC North and the Packers are the first team in NFL history to average 30 or more points per game while committing five or fewer turnovers through nine games.

 

The question is whether the Packers run defense will improve after allowing 337 yards rushing and two 100-yard runners over the past three games.

 

Green Bay and Indy both have strong offensive lines and it's reflected in the numbers. Indy has allowed a league-low nine sacks this season. The Packers have allowed 11, tied for the third-lowest total. And with Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari returning from a broken rib last week, both lines should be at full strength Sunday.

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Clinton Schools Superintendent Calls for Transparency in Sports Discussions

Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles was among roughly 200 school leaders around the state to sign a letter asking for cooperation between several entities in Illinois making decisions about sports.

 

The Illinois Department of Public and the IHSA seem to have been on different pages during the last several months as efforts to make sports happen in Illinois seem to hit a snag at every meaningful milestone. Nettles wants to see everyone get on the same page and sit down talk face-to-face.

 

 

There is much about this situation frustrating to Nettles. From State leadership being unwilling to answer simple questions about why the decisions are being made to continued lost opportunities for kids, he just wants to see some transparency.

 

 

According to Nettles, as all these sports continue to get pushed to later in the winter, to the spring and even the summer, there are going to be scenarios where kids are going to have to decide on one sport or another, and that to him is unfortunate.

 

 

All winter sports are now on hold until at least the first of the year. In good news for high school sports and even schools, Pfizer announced earlier in the week their vaccine has a 95-percent efficacy and anticipates being able to mass produce their vaccine for distribution in the days ahead, giving hope for a return to normal soon.

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Mets 2B Cano Suspended For Season

New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended for 162 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the second time in his decorated career.

 

The 38-year-old Canó will miss the entire 2021 season and lose $24 million in salary. The eight-time All-Star hit a robust .316 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in this year’s pandemic-shortened season.

 

Minus Canó, the Mets could give offensive sparkplug Jeff McNeil a regular spot at second base — probably his most natural position. The suspension also might prompt them to pursue free agent infielder DJ LeMahieu, an AL MVP contender the past two years with the crosstown Yankees.

 

The penalty came less than two weeks after Steve Cohen bought the Mets for $2.4 billion, a move that created an avalanche of positivity for a team that has reached the playoffs just three times in the last 20 years.

 

The commissioner’s office said Canó tested positive for Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. He was penalized 80 games in May 2018 while with Seattle after a positive test for Furosemide, a diuretic that some athletes have used to mask other substances.

 

In a move that polarized Mets fans, the high-priced Canó and big league saves leader Edwin Díaz were acquired in a deal that sent top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic and young pitching to the Mariners.

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Georgia Star No. 1 Pick; Bulls Take Florida State Wing

Georgia star Anthony Edwards was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 1 pick in an NBA draft delayed multiple times because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Tears flowed freely for Edwards and many more players Wednesday night when their long-awaited, months-delayed NBA dreams were finally realized.

 

Commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The draft was originally scheduled for June 25 before multiple delays caused by the virus pushed it back and out of its usual home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Boxes of hats were shipped to the top prospects to put on the one they needed after their name was called.

 

Obi Toppin, the national player of the year last season at Dayton, struggled to speak after New York took him at No. 8, bringing the Brooklyn-born forward to his hometown.

 

The Golden State Warriors, stung by the news that Klay Thompson sustained another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Memphis center James Wiseman with the second pick. They stumbled to the bottom of the league while Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

 

The severity of his injury had not been revealed as the draft began but it didn’t persuade the Warriors to take another guard. Instead they went with the 7-foot-1 center who arrived as the No. 1 recruit out of high school and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games before he was suspended for eligibility reasons and eventually left the program to prepare for the draft.

 

LaMelo Ball then went to the Charlotte Hornets, the next stop on a lengthy basketball journey that sent the guard from high school in California to stops as a professional in Lithuania and Australia. He joined brother Lonzo, taken No. 2 by the Lakers and now in New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers taken in the top three picks.

 

The Chicago Bulls took Patrick Williams of Florida State, the ACC sixth man of the year as a freshman, at No. 4. Cleveland followed with Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, another freshman, to round out the top five.

 

The latter half of the top 10 featured a couple of highly regarded international players in France’s Killian Hayes, taken by Detroit at No. 7, and Deni Avdija, the highest player to come from Israel when Washington picked him at No. 9.

 

The San Antonio Spurs picked in the lottery for the first time since 1997, when they drafted Tim Duncan No. 1. The Spurs picked Devin Vassell at No. 11, giving Florida State two first-round selections for just the second time in school history.

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Clinton Golf Coach Recaps 2020, Excited About the Future

A golf season that had a lot of limitations also had many positives for the Clinton High School squad.

 

Coach Clint Lichtenwalter explains they were limited in where they could play due to COVID and was very encouraged by the continued improvement of their team.

 

 

Coach Lichtenwalter indicates one of the bright spots of their team this year was a trio of freshmen that led the team in scoring. While the young players started strong, he was pleased with the overall improvement of the team as a whole throughout the season. 

 

 

The golf squad received strong senior leadership from his lone returning senior. Coach Lichtewnwalter calls Trenton Sanders a great person to be around and was very engaging with the younger players. 

 

 

Coach Lichtenwalter indicates it has been a struggle to get kids out for golf in recent years, something that is not unusual to just golf. He says interest in youth sports seems to have precipitously declined over the last several years. 

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Theo Epstein Steps Down From Cubs Front Office

Theo Epstein, who transformed the long-suffering Cubs and helped bring home a drought-busting championship in 2016, is stepping down after nine seasons as the club’s president of baseball operations, the team announced Tuesday. General manager Jed Hoyer is being promoted to take Epstein’s place.

 

Listening in on fans’ conversations during his walks home from Wrigley Field, Theo Epstein could sense their excitement as the Chicago Cubs set themselves up to capture that long-awaited World Series championship.

 

It was as if they were all in it together.

 

Epstein said after the season he anticipated remaining on the job for at least one more year, with his contract set to expire in 2021. But he said Tuesday it became apparent this past summer “for a number of reasons” it was time to move on.

 

Chairman Tom Ricketts said it was a “sad day for me personally” and called Epstein a “great partner and truly a great friend.”

 

Though the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked financial havoc on baseball, Ricketts said money “had nothing to do” with Epstein’s decision. Epstein, who won’t be paid for 2021 by the Cubs, said Ricketts did not bring up his salary when they discussed his future. He also said he was not asked to resign.

 

The 46-year-old Epstein, who grew up near Boston and helped the Red Sox break an 86-year drought with World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, is one of five executives to win titles with multiple organizations. He, Pat Gillick, John Schuerholz and Dave Dombrowski are the only ones to do so with teams in each league.

 

Epstein hopes to stay involved with baseball while he plots his next move. He plans to run a team again, though probably not next season. He would like to be part of an ownership group at some point.

 

For now, Epstein will remain in Chicago with his wife and two sons. He said he would likely become a season-ticket holder, maybe even a bleacher bum. And he vowed to buy beers for any Cubs fan he sees in a bar following the coronavirus pandemic, until the team wins a World Series under Hoyer.

 

Epstein oversaw a massive rebuild when he came to Chicago following the 2011 season. He overhauled the farm system as well as the scouting and analytics operations, helping to produce one of the most successful stretches in the franchise’s history with a big assist from Hoyer.

 

With homegrown stars Kris Bryant and Javier Báez, shrewd trades for players such as Anthony Rizzo and Jake Arrieta, the signing of Jon Lester and the hiring of former manager Joe Maddon, the Cubs transformed into perennial contenders. They reached the NL championship series three times in Epstein’s nine seasons.

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Bears QB Foles Could be Available for Green Bay Game After Bye Week

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy on Tuesday indicated a desire to keep his offense’s play-calling in the hands of coordinator Bill Lazor even after their lowest yardage output in almost three years during a 19-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

 

Now he just needs to determine who can actually execute those plays on the field.

 

A hip and glute injury to Bears quarterback Nick Foles doesn’t seem as serious as it appeared when he was taken from the field Monday night on a cart, and it’s possible one of the Bears' two injured quarterbacks could be available in two weeks when they come off a bye weekend to face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

 

Foles completed 15 of 26 passes for only 106 yards and was sacked twice Monday night as the Bears lost for the fourth straight time after they started with a 5-1 record. The Vikings had 11 hits on quarterbacks in the game.

 

Mitchell Trubisky had been benched during the third Bears game in favor of Foles, then two weeks ago suffered a right shoulder injury running the ball on his only play since the injury. On Monday night, Nagy expressed only uncertainty over Trubisky’s availability if Foles can’t play.

 

The Bears have the bye week to wait for the quarterbacks’ health situation to improve and Nagy is willing to give Lazor a second shot at calling plays even after the offense failed Monday to score a touchdown for the second time in their past four games.

 

The Bears are off until Nov. 29 when they travel to face Green Bay (7-2) in a Sunday night game.

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Bears Activate WR Lazard from IR

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard has been activated from injured reserve after missing six games.

 

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst announced the move Tuesday.

 

Lazard had the best game of his pro career Sept. 27 when he caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in a 37-30 victory at New Orleans, but he suffered a core injury in that game and hasn’t played since.

 

The 2018 undrafted free agent from Iowa State has 13 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns in just three games this season. Lazard had 35 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns last year.

 

The Packers (7-2) play at Indianapolis (6-3) on Sunday.

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