Late wreck knocks Dale Jr. out of Chase advancement

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s dream of his first Sprint Cup championship this season ended in a nightmare two laps from the end of Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

As Greg Biffle moved up the track, he made contact with Earnhardt’s car and several drivers were collected in the process, including David Gilliland,Paul Menard and Michael Annett.

“It’s just Talladega,” team owner Rick Hendrick told ESPN. “You just can’t avoid that when you’re running that close together. … It’s not easy.”

Earnhardt tried to make quick repairs under caution in hopes of climbing back upward in the pack, but barring yet another caution in the second attempt at a green-white-checker, his title hopes are over.

Cowboys stick to plan for sixth straight victory

The Cowboys have found their winning blueprint and they executed it nearly flawlessly again this Sunday.

DeMarco Murray ran the ball all day behind a quality offensive line, Dez Bryant used his athleticism to break play after play in the second half and their rising defense kept the Giants offense from consistently finding a rhythm. The result was a 31-21 Cowboys win that makes them winners of six straight and leaves the Giants well behind in the NFC East as they head to their bye week.

Murray’s up to 913 yards on the season after posting 128 on Sunday. It’s now seven straight games with 100 or more rushing yards for Murray, who added a touchdown in the fourth quarter that helped put things out of reach. That score came after the first Giants turnover of the game, a fumble by tight end Larry Donnell that the Cowboys recovered in Giants territory, and an acrobatic 25-yard catch by Bryant that was incorrectly ruled a touchdown before a look at replay.

Bryant had nine catches for 151 yards overall with seven of the grabs coming in the second half as Tony Romo completed all nine passes he attempted. It was pretty close to perfect balance on offense for a team that’s showing no signs of deviating from the successful course they’ve charted since early this season.

The Giants now find themselves at 3-4 and well behind the Cowboys and idle Eagles with the tiebreaker pointing in the other direction with both teams. There’s ample time to change things around, but the last two weeks have found the Giants lacking against their two NFC East rivals. They were better this week than they were against the Eagles, but the Cowboys were just a bit better when the big moments came up in the game and the Giants don’t have answers for players like Bryant and Murray right now.

They’ll try to come up with them before Dallas comes to Jersey in a month, not that it will matter if the Cowboys keep executing at this level between now and then.

TCU becomes Big 12 favorite after 42-9 victory over Oklahoma State

With the No. 4 Baylor Bears falling to the West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday, the Big 12 Conference became a wide open race. The No. 9 TCU Horned Frogs made a case they are the league’s best team with a dominant 42-9 victory over the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

While Gary Patterson‘s teams have been known for their stout defenses, the Horned Frogs showed how explosive they can be on offense against the Cowboys.

TCU accumulated 675 total yards of offense. Trevone Boykin became the fourth quarterback in TCU history with 400 or more passing yards. He finished with 410 passing yards. Junior Josh Doctson exploded onto the scene with a seven-catch, 225-yard effort. And running back B.J. Catalon racked up 102 rushing yards on only 10 carries.

Oklahoma State simply didn’t have an answer for TCU’s offense.


The two biggest differences in the Horned Frogs’ offense was Boykin’s precision and Doctson’s big-play ability. The quarterback correctly identified the open man on nearly every occassion, while Doctson scored two touchdowns that were 77 yards or longer. With the impressive win, TCU can establish itself as the top contender on the Big 12.  

The Horned Frogs and the Baylor Bears were as evenly matched as they come, and it required a strong fourth-quarter effort from Art Briles‘ squad to escape with the victory.

The difference between these two teams is who they face in the coming weeks.

TCU will play the Texas Tech Red Raiders and West Virginia Mountaineers before facing its toughest test in the second half of their schedule, the No. 14 Kansas State Wildcats. Baylor, who lost to West Virginia 41-27 Saturday, still has to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats.

With the Horned Frogs’ newfound explosive offense, everything is setting up in their favor to claim the school’s first Big 12 Championship and possibly sneak into the inaugural College Football Playoff.

All is not right with Texas A&M after No. 21 Aggies lose to No. 7 Alabama 59-0

Where have you gone Johnny Manziel?

The answer is Cleveland, and the Texas A&M Aggies obviously miss their former quarterback’s presence.

The No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide annihilated the No. 21 Aggies 59-0 Saturday. Nick Saban‘s squad dominated every level of the game.  The Crimson Tide racked up 602 total yards. Meanwhile, the Aggies’ explosive offense was held to only 172 total yards.

While Alabama earned an opportunity to move up the national rankings, Texas A&M is going in the opposite direction after its third-straight loss.

Over the past two weeks, the Aggies have been outscored 66-0 during the first half against the Ole Miss Rebels and the Crimson Tide.


After the past three seasons, Sumlin’s squad lost multiple top talents. Manziel, wide receiver Mike Evans and offensive tackles Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckelwere first-round draft picks. Players such as running back Christine Michael, defensive end Damontre Moore, linebacker Sean Porter and wide receiver Ryan Swope were also drafted. As well as Sumlin has recruited for the Aggies, it’s still a young team at key positions and lacks talent in others.

The Crimson Tide easily exploited Texas A&M’s problem areas. It starts up front with an undermanned defensive line. Alabama’s offensive line mauled its way to 298 rushing yards. Texas A&M couldn’t counter.

The Aggies’ normally explosive offense couldn’t stretch the field. Quarterback Kenny Hill was under pressure throughout the contest and forced off his spot. Alabama played sound football by keeping everything in front of them and not allowing yards after the catch.

These problems became a recipe for disaster.

Fans of Texas A&M should expect plenty of changes after this week. Sumlin already stated at halftime of the game some players would be replaced.

No one should be safe after Texas A&M laid another egg, including Hill after throwing six interceptions the past three games.

Rangers to further embrace analytics under new manager Jeff Banister

The Rangers introduced Jeff Banister as their new manager yesterday, and earlier today it was announced that he had been signed to a three-year deal. The former catcher, who had one major league plate appearance and singled, got one more year than even Ron Washington got at any point in his tenure with the Rangers between 2007-14.

Banister had been the Pirates’ bench coach for four years. At the same time, the Pirates were heavily embracing the use of analytics, becoming one of the more famous teams around baseball for doing so. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes, Banister considers himself “bilingual” in the sense that he speaks the language of the players having been one himself, but also the language of analytics after working with some of the bright minds in the Pirates’ front office.

The Rangers are not exactly strangers to the use of analytics, as Jon Daniels has degrees in applied economics and management and has spoken at SABR. However, as Grant reports, Daniels found out that the Rangers rank in the bottom-third in terms of resources dedicated to analytics. Daniels said that the organization is likely to dedicate more resources in that area, and the hiring of Banister certainly bolsters that claim.