Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points


Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points

Friday's Cal-Oregon game took four hours, 18 minutes to play. It had 203 offensive plays. It saw 101 points scored (no big deal) and covered a 90-point over (very big deal). In other words, it was not much enjoyed except by the noted torturer Sonny Dykes, whose team is winning by an average score of 44-41.

Or, for context, roughly three quarters of Oklahoma-Texas Tech.

Fortunately, the Pacific 12 Conference is running a stealth league this year, and Cal will play this coming Thursday night at USC, which means that while they may not beat the 90, they have an excellent chance to beat the 4:18 and both irk and exhaust the fan base one more time.

And now, the things that matter.

1. COLORADO (6-2, 8-0, 3-5): Stanford scored five points. Five. Half of ten. One fist. FIVE, FOR GOD’S SAKE! Oh, and missing the total (50) by five touchdowns is forgivable in this case, because anyone who thought this game was hitting 50 is too unstable to have money.

2. CHICAGO CUBS (playing through the acrid fumes of a town set ablaze by happy drunks): Win a World Series before you pop off, you maniacs.

3. CLEVELAND INDIANS (playing in a town spoiled by championships): The over/under on relievers used per game in the World Series has been set at 9½.

4. TEMPLE (5-3, 7-1, 5-3): A much different team than the one that lost on opening day to Army (which had seven turnovers Saturday), which lost to North Texas, which lost to SMU, which lost to TCU, which never covers.

5. EASTERN MICHIGAN (5-3, 7-1, 3-5): Lost to Western Michigan (8-0, 6-2, 4-4), but had the good sense to ignore the meaningless scoreboard in Kalamazoo for the far more important one in Las Vegas. In other words, simultaneously losing by 14 and winning by 12½ is a good thing.

6. AUBURN (5-2, 6-1, 3-4): Trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

7. ALABAMA (8-0, 6-2, 4-4): Like we said, trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

8. PATRICK MAHOMES III (52-for-88, 734, 5 TD, 1 INT, 145.6 rating): The Texas Tech (3-4, 5-2, 4-3) quarterback who killed all the video games in the world, broke the Russian hacker network, and still lost by a touchdown. On the other hand, Tech did cover the 16½, and if you had bet the over of 124, you still won.

9. WISCONSIN (5-2, 6-1, 2-5): Cal and Oregon had to cover a 90 total and took all night to do it. The Badgers and Iowa didn’t come close to hitting the lowest total of the day (a pathetic 42½) in a 17-9 win in good weather. Look, fellas, trying doesn’t just mean beating the line.

10. BOWLING GREEN (1-7, 2-6, 4-4): Couldn’t cover against Miami of Ohio. Couldn’t beat Miami of Ohio. Can’t be helped. Can’t be saved.

11. COLORADO STATE (4-4, 6-2, 3-5): Very stealthy cover machine. I say that without knowing a single member of the university – that’s how stealthy the Rams (yeah, that’s it, Rams) truly are.

12. FINLANDIA (1-6): Our favorite vodka-inspired university beat Maranatha Baptist, 27-22, for the Fightin’ Screwdrivers’ first win of the year. Sadly, that is not their real nickname.

13. LOS ANGELES SPARKS (32-11, 21-22, 23-20): Won the WNBA title on a questionable call, which is fine as far as that goes as it didn’t affect the line. But as you can see, not a good team against the number, and barely adequate against the total. If Nneka Ogwumike wants to be remembered as more than a great player and future entrepreneur, those last two numbers must improve next year, She will discover that ABC (Always Be Covering) is not just a slogan, it’s a way of life.

14. NEVADA (3-5, 1-7, 1-7): If you can’t ABC, there’s nothing all that wrong with NBC (Never Be Covering, not our corporate overlords).

15. OREGON (2-5, 0-6-1, 5-2): Another fine example of this phenomenon, until Phil Knight screws up and hires someone who prioritizing the art of covering every once in a while and makes our work more difficult.

16. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-2, 4-2-1, 4-3): Boxed Missouri, 51-45, which merits a vote even with the barely adequate record against the line.

17. QI (unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in 13 years): Back on the tube for a new season with new host Sandi Toksvig. And no, I could not be less interested in your quizzical confused-puppy-in-a-rainstorm look. Do your own Top 25 if you don’t like it.

18. NEW MEXICO (4-3, 3-4, 7-0): Bob Davie is rumored to be in on the Notre Dame job, even though he has already been fired by Notre Dame. “Touchdown Jesus bets overs too,” said university president John Jenkins.

19. MONTREAL CANADIENS (4-0-0-1, 5-0, 3-2): All covering matters, even with subpar currency.

20. JACKSONVILLE (3-3): Beat Morehead State, 61-49, and sent its offensive videos to Cal and Oregon, just to show them how it’s done.

21. THE HERITAGE CLASSIC (Calgary at Winnipeg, combined records 3-5-0-1, 2-7, 7-2): It’s going to be 48 degrees by game time Sunday, so what exactly is the point of playing outside if outside isn’t going to make an effort?

22. OKLAHOMA (5-2, 2-5, 5-2): So you gained 854 yards, committed no turnovers and still couldn’t cover 16½? Your conference shouldn’t expand, it should relegate.

23. BOISE STATE (7-0, 2-5, 2-5): As the Buddhist scholar and lecturer Vernon Wormer once said, “Winning and never covering is no way to go through life, son.” This sort of stuff never happened when Chris Petersen was alive.

24. SAN JOSE SHARKS (3-3-0-0, 1-5, 1-5): The crap record against the line and total belie the fact that in the entirely mythical ESPN Ultimate Standings, L’Ailette jumped 58 places from the year before, when they dropped 57 places. I’d like a job like that, where you just make up standings and rankings while drinking out of a janitor’s pail. Uh-oh, wait. I think I have one.

25. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-5, 1-5, 4-2): Speaking of the Ultimate Standings, the data here, being ranked dead last overall, in fan relations, and in the bottom 10 in five of the other nine categories reminds one of the actual line from Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar speech: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” Only Jed York’s phone autocorrects it from “like” to “hate with a near-solar intensity.”  

But hey, Sunday’s another day, for all the good that’ll get you. Just remember, there are 17 days until the election, and six years, eight months and 23 days before the last of the post-election lawsuits are dismissed as being frivolous, or all the lawyers die. Either way, keep a good thought, and go away.

WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault


WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault

BERKELEY — Former California women’s basketball player and current WNBA All-Star guard Layshia Clarendon has filed a lawsuit against Cal claiming she was sexually assaulted by a longtime member of the athletic department.

The school acknowledged the lawsuit Wednesday night and said the staff member, Mohamed Muqtar, had recently been placed on paid leave. The assistant director of student services, Muqtar has been working for the university for just more than 25 years, the school said. An e-mail to Muqtar’s Cal email account was not immediately returned.

Cal said in a statement “the University is aware of the complaint, but has not received a copy of the lawsuit nor had the benefit of reviewing the allegations.”

Clarendon, who plays for the Atlanta Dream and was at Cal from 2009-13, posted on Twitter her thoughts about the lawsuit.

She said in three separate tweets:

— “Regarding the news today: I want the shame to not be my own anymore, because it’s not my shame to carry, but it’s something that I’ve had to carry. It’s a horrible thing to live in silence, to carry that pain and that weight and the guilt.”

— “My biggest hope is that he never does this to anyone else. That no one else has to suffer under his hand, or him violating their bodies again. That this would be the end of him assaulting people. #TimesUp.”

— “It feels there is a big level of responsibility there for me, to make sure this doesn’t continue. And he doesn’t continue to harm other people.”

Cal explained in its statement that this case goes beyond the athletic department for investigation.

The statement reads: “Our department policy states that once anyone in Cal Athletics is made aware of any instance or allegation of a violation of University policy involving a coach, staff member or student-athlete, those matters are referred to the appropriate departments on campus responsible for investigating them. Athletics does not have its own specific conduct process nor does it investigate allegations or cases on its own, but follows the University’s policy and works in concert with campus professionals who are responsible for those areas. All university staff are also required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training, and those programs have increased in recent years. Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. We encourage anyone who is feeling distressed or troubled to contact the PATH to Care Center and other campus resources.

“Layshia holds a special place in our history for her contributions to Cal women’s basketball both on and off the court and we are saddened to hear of the allegations that are coming to light today.”

Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


ATLANTA -- To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.

The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

"He just stepped in and did his thing," Hurts said. "He's built for stuff like this. I'm so happy for him." The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead of it but first Alabama will celebrate another national title.

For the third straight season, Alabama played in a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on touchdown with a second left.

What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?

"I could not believe it," he said. "There's lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, `Don't waste the feeling.' They sure didn't, the way they played tonight."

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbably victory of his unmatched career.

After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.

Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama's first play of overtime, losing 16 yards. On the next play he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.

Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from the pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing the poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.

"After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play," Tagovailoa said. "I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open." Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense: Najee Harris at running back, Henry Ruggs III at receiver, Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It's a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.

But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.

"I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did," Saban said. "He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I'm so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable."

Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama's last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.

This was nothing like the others.

With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.

"I don't know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama," Tagovailoa said. "Thank God he found me and we're here right now."

The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia's freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.

Fromm threw for 232 yards for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star for the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

"I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they'll tell you because that's a really good defense he just went against," Smart said.

A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Saban's top lieutenant, Kirby Smart, to coach the Bulldogs and bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama's Process.

Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban - eight as his defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa - quickly built `Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its own division.

With the title game being held 70 miles from Georgia's campus in Athens, Dawg fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama and now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.

But not without angst.

Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a field goal that would end the game and win it for the Tide. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as `Bama burned the clock. With the ball centered in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.

For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble - second-and-26.

Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.