NCAA Talk

The number-cruncher behind the Alabama of college e-sports

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Student analyst Mykolas Saulis works on a spreadsheet for Robert Morris University’s “League of Legends” team. (Yifan Wu/MEDILL)

The number-cruncher behind the Alabama of college e-sports

Yifan Wu

Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

In a season-opener against an unranked and little-known opponent, a college powerhouse fell behind by one point for less than two minutes. However, the head coach, who just came off a brief stint in the pros, buried his face in his hands and sighed in disbelief before rifling through the team analyst's notepads.

No, it was not Alabama football but rather Robert Morris' varsity team playing "League of Legends," a free-to-play computer game, against Missouri Baptist. Like the Crimson Tide, who list six analysts on its staff directory, RMU e-sports leads the collegiate scene in support staff, starting with Mykolas "MykieMause" Saulis, a full-time analyst.

Up to six hours a day, five days a week, Saulis hovers behind the varsity team's gaming chairs during practice, taking notes and making observations. Sometimes, the computer network major joins the post-game huddle to discuss his findings. Often, Saulis finds a working station at the arena's corner and records his notes into a Google Docs spreadsheet.

"As of right now, the notes are very broad," Saulis said. "The spreadsheet has specific points we want to see the team work on, like specific timing to be aggressive. We try to get some sort of quantified result, and then you can track their progress."

When Drake Porter came to RMU as the head coach last October, he suggested the addition of a student-analyst, citing his experience working at Frank Gang Gaming, a professional team.

"Most of the pro teams have someone breaking down gameplays for them, and now the college scene is catching up," Porter said. "They can put it in numbers and let us know how the opponents play under different circumstances."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

Notre Dame among the four teams chosen for College Football Playoff

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USA Today

Notre Dame among the four teams chosen for College Football Playoff

Notre Dame's going to get their chance, after all. 

The final College Football Playoff rankings were released this morning, and there weren't too many surprises. 

Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are your Top-4, in that order. Georgia just missed out at #5, and Ohio State came in behind them at #6. 

For the semifinals, Alabama and Okalahoma will square off in the Orange Bowl, while Clemson and ND will square off in the Cotton Bowl. 

And now, we wait a month. 

Northwestern comes up short in bid for Big Ten title, falls to Ohio State 45-24

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USA TODAY

Northwestern comes up short in bid for Big Ten title, falls to Ohio State 45-24

Northwestern undoubtedly has a good football team this season. Unfortunately for them, they ran into an even better team on Saturday.

The Wildcats hung close against No. 6 Ohio State in Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game before ultimately failling to the Buckeyes 45-24. However, Chicago's Big Ten Team deserves credit for not going down quietly.

Trailing Ohio State 24-7 at halftime, Northwestern came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter. Quarterback Clayton Thorson led the Wildcats to two quick touchdown drives in less than seven minutes, cutting Ohio State's lead to 24-21. 

Northwestern never took the lead away from Ohio State, though. After the Buckeyes' lead was cut to three points, Dwayne Haskins went on to throw three more touchdown passes, single-handedly burying Northwestern.

Haskins, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, finished the night 34-of-41 with 499 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Haskins earned the game's MVP award for his efforts. Thorson finished the night 26-of-43 with 265 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. 

Ohio State likely is headed to the Rose Bowl; as good as their performance was, it is unlikely they will leap No. 5 Oklahoma (winners of Saturday's Big 12 Championship Game).

No. 1 Alabama beat No. 4 Georgia in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, so Ohio State likely will rise to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Northwestern finishes the 2018 season 8-5 (8-1 in conference play). Despite the loss, they certainly will be awarded with a top bowl game as winners of the Big Ten West Division.