The long-awaited return of the Daily Six Pack is today, so sports fans and bettors can rejoice. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, six of the top stories from around the sports world are analyzed with some betting thoughts when necessary. There’s a lot to cover from this past weekend, as there always is with weekends that are jam-packed with football and the playoffs in other sports. Let’s see what happened over the weekend.
US-See You Later
Steve Sarkisian has been asked to take an indefinite leave of absence to deal with some substance abuse issues. The USC head coach, handpicked by athletic director Pat Haden after Lane Kiffin was fired, came under scrutiny in August for being highly intoxicated during an address to boosters and other athletic department personnel. Rumors have also surfaced that he coached drunk during the team’s game against Arizona State. Players also shared photos of the coach passed out after drinking on the team’s plane ride back from Washington State last season.
His loss to Washington, where he used to coach, over the weekend was the final straw. Sarkisian was “in no shape” to go to practice on Sunday and the situation seems to have taken a turn for the worse. Sarkisian clearly has some personal issues, including a divorce, to address and offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be taking over as the interim head coach.
The fact that Helton stayed on the coaching staff when Sarkisian was hired was a bit surprising, but the team is fortunate to have him at this point. The USC program has wasted so much talent over the last few seasons and one would think that they have to be in better shape with Helton at the helm over Sarkisian. It won’t be an easy road for Helton, as the Trojans play Notre Dame, Utah, and Cal over the next three weeks. Expect the team to rally with some big efforts and they might be a worthwhile look if catching points in those games.
The Chubb and Charles Variety Hour
What a brutal weekend in the football world for two of the best backs in their respective leagues. First, Nick Chubb suffered a torn PCL and other ligaments in Georgia’s disappointing loss to Tennessee. The Bulldogs go three or four deep at running back, but Chubb is clearly the most talented of the bunch. The sophomore was hurt on the first play of the game and that seemed to set the tone for the afternoon, as Georgia’s defense suffered and the offense looked a bit disjointed at times.
Sony Michel is a quality replacement and a fellow sophomore. He had 145 yards on 22 carries and should be just fine as the feature back, but Georgia could take a step back in terms of explosiveness on offense without Chubb. Greyson Lambert, who shined early and has really struggled over the last few weeks, may be asked to do a bit more at quarterback. Georgia has now lost back-to-back games, but they still have a chance in the SEC East if they can knock off Florida and get some help.
On the professional side, Jamaal Charles suffered a non-contact torn ACL injury in Kansas City’s loss to the Chicago Bears. The Chiefs’ top offensive weapon was hurt when the Chiefs were holding a 17-3 lead. They lost 18-17. Kansas City couldn’t put the game away, due in part to the loss of Charles, but also because they are a team that has been in a major funk and seeing Charles go down felt like the latest blow in a season that is spiraling downward.
Expect a big reaction in the betting market this week. The Chiefs are already a 3.5-point underdog at Minnesota and that number could grow as the public realizes what’s going on with Charles and the Chiefs.
Chase Utley was suspended for his takeout slide that left Ruben Tejada with a fractured fibula in Game 2 on Saturday night in the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. Utley’s slide, which I discussed on the Sunday night edition of The Bettor’s Box, was definitely late, though it did seem to be within the grey area allowed by Major League Baseball.
Utley was given a two-game suspension, which he has appealed. MLB wants to handle the hearing before Monday’s Game 3. The MLBPA has backed Utley and wants him to play while both sides gather information for the appeal process. It seems that MLB will win out and that the Dodgers expect a resolution on Monday. The league is probably going to uphold the suspension, though it’s unclear if Utley actually did anything wrong by the rules of the league.
Utley’s presence isn’t going to make a big difference for the Dodgers one way or another. He’s a veteran, so maybe that helps, but there are other veterans on the team. It shouldn’t have a big impact in the series, but hopefully the discussion increases about plays at second base.
Too High or Tulo?
The Blue Jays needed Troy Tulowitzki to step up. After a 0-for-6 performance in the team’s 14-inning loss in Game 2, Tulowitzki drove in four runs as the Blue Jays staved off elimination in Game 3. The Blue Jays got 6.1 strong innings from Marco Estrada as well.
The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead at Rogers Centre and then failed to close out the series in Game 3. They’ll have another chance on Monday with Derek Holland on the mound against RA Dickey. The Rangers got a win in the game pitched by Cole Hamels, but lost the game pitched by Martin Perez. Holland, like those other two, is left-handed, and the Blue Jays were historically good against left-handed pitching this season. They led to MLB in several offensive categories, including batting average, wOBA, and runs scored.
Some speculated that the Blue Jays would use Dickey in Game 2 so that they could have the roof closed and give him an opportunity to start in a controlled environment. The knuckleball is an erratic pitch by nature and taking out as many variables as possible is a good way to get an edge. Dickey will have a small margin for error in Monday’s matchup, though the Blue Jays have said that both Marcus Stroman and David Price are available if need be.
BOFA Deez Drivers
Joey Logano’s win in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was enough to propel him into the third round with a shot at the Sprint Cup. This was the first race of the Contender Round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, as 12 drivers started their engines with a chance to advance. The field will be cut to eight after these next two races.
Kevin Harvick finished second, which should be good enough to push him into the third round. It was the 11th time this season that Harvick has been the “Maid of Honor” and not the “Bride”. He’s finished second to Logano on three different occasions. Barring back-to-back disastrous finishes in the next two races, Harvick should be one of the few to move on.
The race was pushed back to Sunday afternoon as rain and stormy conditions delayed Saturday’s start long enough to force fans to return the next day. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth have a lot on the line the next two weeks. Kenseth had car troubles that forced him in a 42nd-place finish. Busch finished 20th after nearly getting eliminated during the Challenger Round. Jimmie Johnson, who was eliminated, finished 39th.
The racers will be at Kansas Speedway for a matinee race next Sunday.
Come To Papa!
The United States won its sixth straight Presidents Cup over the weekend at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea. Bill Haas, whose father, Jay, was a non-playing captain, won the deciding match for the U.S. team and they are now 10-1-1 in Presidents Cup play. This biannual event pits the best in the U.S. against the best from around the World based on the Official World Golf Ranking and a couple of captains’ picks.
The event, which raises money for charities around the world, is mostly for bragging rights among the golfers. Haas managed to beat Bae Sang-Moon in the deciding match. Sang-Moon, a captains’ pick, was participating in his last event before starting his mandatory military service. Emotions ran high on both sides and it was great capper to the 2014-15 golf season.
One other golf item to keep an eye on. Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is just 21 years old, won the British Masters during his first season on the European Tour. He was the U.S. Amateur Champion in 2013. He’s definitely a name to watch entering next season.
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