Golf

Kay leads Cincinnati over Duke 48-34 in Belk Bowl

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Kay leads Cincinnati over Duke 48-34 in Belk Bowl

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) All Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Brendon Kay wanted was one more chance.

He got it thanks to Cincinnati's defense.

The Bearcats forced Josh Snead's fumble at the Cincinnati 5 with 1:20 left and Kay threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce with 44 seconds to go, lifting Cincinnati and interim coach Steve Stripling to an improbable 48-34 win over the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday night.

``We were figuring we might get one more shot as an offense and when we got the fumble we looked at each other and said we've worked way too hard to quit now,'' Kay said.

Kay, who set a Belk Bowl record with four touchdown passes and was named the game's MVP, called it a ``huge win'' given the adversity the Bearcats faced after losing coach Butch Jones and their two coordinators three weeks ago.

``It's really been chaos for the last month ... pure chaos,'' Kay said. ``We've played it off as it hasn't been, but it was pure chaos from the time we found out (Jones) he was leaving.''

Almost as chaotic as their latest win.

It looked as though the Bearcats were about done when Duke was deep in their territory and looking for the go-ahead score with 1:20 left in the game.

But Snead fumbled and Kay capitalized with his go-ahead pass to Kelce. Nick Temple capped the wild finish with a 55-yard interception return with 14 seconds left.

Kay quickly took advantage of the change in momentum after the Snead fumble, finding Kelce down the middle on a seam route. Kelce got behind the Duke defense and caught the ball in stride, racing the final 60 yards to the end zone as Blue Devils fans looked on in stunned silence.

It was a play called Left Texas 60, Y Go Burst, with three receivers running seam routes.

``I threw the ball and I was just hoping he would turn and look,'' Kay said. ``He wasn't looking until the last second and it worked out great.''

Kay also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Ralph David Abernathy, and 25-yard scoring strikes to Anthony McClung and Chris Moore. George Winn also ran for a 46-yard touchdown for Cincinnati.

``I felt like a point guard dishing out the ball,'' Kay said. ``The guys were making plays.''

Cincinnati (10-3) finished with its fifth 10-win season in six years.

``That was one of our goals,'' Stripling said.

Duke quarterback Sean Renfree threw for 358 yards - another Belk Bowl record - for the Blue Devils (6-7), who were seeking their first bowl win since 1961. Conner Vernon, the ACC's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, had 10 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in his final game for the Blue Devils.

But the big play for Duke was Snead's fumble.

``It's heartbreaking because we wanted to win this game for our seniors,'' Snead said. ``But as a team, we're going to learn from this and build off the momentum from this. I've got great teammates. They encouraged me to keep my head up. If you have a little adversity, you've got to face it.''

Duke coach David Cutcliffe said the loss was tough to swallow.

``This feeling in our guts is not very good right now,'' he said. ``But we're going to move forward with this. The biggest insult we can give our seniors is to not move forward from this and we will do this.''

Duke, which came in having allowed 51 points and an average of 294.5 yards rushing over its previous four games, struggled to stop Cincinnati after the first quarter.

The Bearcats piled up 554 total yards of offense, including 130 yards on the ground by Winn. Duke wasn't too shabby on offense, either, combining with the Bearcats for a Belk Bowl-record 1,114 yards.

Cincinnati trailed 16-0 before rattling off 27 straight points to seemingly take control, and the big turning point came courtesy of linebacker Greg Blair.

With Duke leading 16-3 and looking for more, Renfree fired a pass over the middle for running back Jela Duncan, who lunged for the goal line but was hit by Blair and fumbled. Blair recovered and suddenly the Bearcats had a shot.

``That seemed to fire us up on the sidelines,'' Blair said. ``It gave us some life.''

A short time later, Kay connected with McClung to cut the Duke lead to 16-10. Kay's second scoring pass to Abernathy capped a 98-yard drive in the final two minutes of the first half and gave the Bearcats their first lead.

NOTES: Duke punter Will Monday set a Belk Bowl record with a 79-yard punt. ... The two teams set a combined record for most first downs in the Belk Bowl.

2018 Open Championship Preview: Predictions, picks, fades, fantasy golf

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 Open Championship Preview: Predictions, picks, fades, fantasy golf

Golf's oldest major, the Open Championship, returns to Carnoustie in Scotland for the 147th edition of the prestigious links golf tournament.

As the best golfers in the world head to the United Kingdom for what is likely to be a challenging weekend of golf, there is no clear-cut favorite. But with Tiger Woods back in the fold, and Rory McIlroy still the face of European golf, the picks and predictions vary from popular superstar to unheralded golfers. 

The panel of golf experts offering their predictions, picks and analysis are:

Chris Garosi, The Fantasy Fix
Geoff Feinberg, Fantasy Golf Expert
Garrett Johnston, NBC Sports Washington
Kenny Kim, Fantasy Golf Degenerates Podcast
Doug McKinney, NBC Sports Washington/Sports Junkies
Matt "Valdez" Myers, 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies

2018 Open Championship Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Rickie Fowler
Picking Rickie is either met with one of two responses. The first being "ugh, you're crazy he has no business being included in this part of the odds board, he can't event win normal tour events anymore" Or like-minded people who believe his time is NOW. He checks two very important boxes for me that once again have me all-in, current form and scrambling. 

Chris Garosi: Tyrell Hatton
I wouldn’t blame you if you pick favorite Dustin Johnson. He checks all of the boxes. However, I’m going with Tyrell Hatton based on his work on at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (which includes Carnoustie as one of the courses) where he’s won twice. His Open Championship record is abysmal with just one made cut (a T5 in 2016) in six starts which may speak to the poor fit his temperament has when paired with a course which requires patience and an even-keeled nature. He’s comes in with three straight top 10 finishes including a T9 at last week’s Scottish Open.

Garrett Johnston: Justin Rose
He nearly won the US Open and his distance with driver and accuracy with the irons make his second major win a formality.

Plus, look at the age of winners here in 99 (Paul Lawrie) and 07 (Padraig Harrington), this course is for no spring chickens. Rose is a vet like they were.

Kenny Kim: Tiger Woods
If Tiger is going to win a Major this year, this week looks like his best chance. His iron game and scrambling have been near the best on Tour for the last couple of months. His big weakness this year has been off the tee but that should be muted this week with less than a driver in his hands off most tee boxes at Carnoustie. The last time we’ve seen an Open Championship this baked out and dry was at Royal Liverpool in 2006. The winner, Tiger Woods.

Doug McKinney: Marc Leishman
I spent more time trying to filter through who I liked for this week's Open than actual work this week. 

Dustin Johnson. Rickie Fowler. Paul Casey. Brooks Koepka. It's ThunderDome just trying to pick one. 

So I'm going to stick with my gun - Marc Leishman - who was my call to win this event at the start of the season.  I can bore you with the stats, course/tourney history, and recent form...but I do enough of that in the rest of my picks.  Cliff notes version: his stats are sexy, he has plenty of Top 10's in this major and he's playing solid golf.  His game fits The Open and as I've mentioned countless times when talking about the Virginia Beach resident; he is one of the best wind players in golf.  So bring on the gusts and let's go Team Leishman. I'm also one day older than he is, so there's that.

Matt Valdez: Brooks Koepka
Has the length to hit iron off the tee since fairways are so baked.  Two-time U.S. Open winner actually made his chops on the European Tour.  Sneaky familiar with links style golf and always plays well at majors.

 

2018 Open Championship Sleeper Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Patrick Reed, Tyrell Hatton 
I might be overstepping my bounds on what constitutes a sleeper but in these stacked fields of 2018 it seems like anyone who isn't publicly considered a 'super elite' and with that, I present our 2018 Masters champion who also managed to finish with a big performance at the US Open Patrick Reed. Reed is quickly becoming one of the top "big game hunters" on tour and his current odds of 40/1 is flat out disrespectful. As much as I am the guy banging the drum for Fowler I can admit his betting number is way too low but this Reed # is equally egregious to be this high. 

Ty Hatton at 50/1 is also someone I expect to represent well this week, he's a two time Alfred Dunhill Links champion and is also flashing some very good current form. 

Chris Garosi: Zach Johnson
It seems odd to make Zach Johnson a sleeper, but his odds are far too long for a golfer with an Open Championship record like his. Carnoustie was the site of ZJ’s first cut made at the Open in 2007 and he’s made every cut since. Johnson has three straight top 15s at the Open and five of his last six starts at this major have put him in the top 15 including a win in 2015. 

Garrett Johnston: Tony Finau
Top 30s in both his Open appearances. Says he absolutely loves Links golf and he believes his game is built to WIN major championships.

Kenny Kim: Jason Day
It’s not often we can call Day a sleeper but it seems like no one is mentioning him this week. This could be due to his less than stellar finishes at The Open over the years but being the best in the field in scrambling and putting can go a long way this week especially if the weather turns bad. His last Top 10 at The Open came in 2015 when he was playing lights out all season. He’s been playing exceptionally well this year and it could lead to a surprisingly high finish at Carnoustie.

Doug McKinney: Francesco Molinari
It depends on how you define a sleeper pick, because Molinari is inside the Top 15 in world rankings and it'd be a shame if the golf world would sleep on a Top 15 player.  For the point of this exercise, we will allow it because it seems that our dear Italian friend is not getting the pub and love he deserves...even if he is one of the hottest golfers in this solar system.  His last 5 appearances read: 1-2-t25-1-t2.  Sweet Christmas.  Really the only thing he has going against him is that Kenny Kim picked to fade him this week (I don't usually like going against KK's advice).

Matt Valdez: Russell Knox
Knox was in top form and won two weeks ago the Irish Open.  He's a hometown favorite, but I'm a bit skeptical since he's playing with Tiger Thursday and Friday.

 

2018 Open Championship Longshot Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Emiliano Grillo
The books don't seem to afraid of anyone pushing triple digits this week and its hard to blame them when considering recent major history  (minus my friend Willet of course) so this has led to some incredible drift up the odds boards for some guys that I couldn't resist laying it on but my favorite of the bunch is my Grillo 250/1 ticket. 

*Keep an eye on the status of Bryson if we get positive health reports that 100-125/1 must get tickled. 

Chris Garosi: Danny Willett
2016 Masters winner Danny Willett seemed to fall off the face of the Earth soon after his first major win. Some of that could be attributed to a hangover (both from winning and celebrating that victory). However, Willett struggled with injuries in 2017 and could never get untracked. Is he back (see what I did there)? He’s made back to back cuts for the first time since late 2017 (and those were T68 and T57). He has two top 10s in his last five tourneys and was T19 at the Scottish Open last week. He has two top 15s in his six Open starts.

Garrett Johnston: Bernhard Langer
The course will be playing fast. Remember when Turnberry played fast on 2009? 59 year old Tom Watson had a putt to win on the 72nd that week, Langer is older and has the patience for The Open’s hardest course.

Kenny Kim: Matthew Southgate
Southgate might not be too well known on this side of the pond but he is an extremely talented links player. He finished 6th and 12th at The Open the last two years, came in 2nd last year at the Irish Open, and has a TP Tour win at Royal St. Georges a few years back. He was at or near the top of the leaderboard after round 1 the last two weeks at the Irish and Scottish Opens and is ranked 15th in greens in regulation on the Euro Tour this season.

Doug McKinney: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood
I know it's been 26 years since the last time an Englishman has won this event, so that's why the aforementioned are paired in the "Longshot picks" category.  With that said, I expect both to place in the Top 25 this weekend.  Fitzpatrick, isn't a long striker, but he should be in good position often with the fast fairways in play.  Including The Masters, Fitzy has placed inside the Top 40 in 7 of 8 cuts where he saw the weekend (including a t38 @ Masters, t8 @ BMW PGA Championship and t12 @ U.S. Open) in his last overall 9 events.  His track record is okay at Open Championship, but I'm expecting the good form to continue.  As for Westy, Americans haven't heard much from the well-traveled vet this past year, as he has opted to play on the European Tour.  Westwood will be teeing it up in his 80th major of all-time, with 0 wins to show for...but plenty of near-misses.  He has a remarkable 18 Top 10 finishes in Majors, including 5 at this tournament.  The 45-year old has a decent course history here, has been playing pretty solid golf as of late and should be motivated to remind people of just who he is.

Matt Valdez: Haotong Li
Li plays mostly on the European Tour and has 6 wins at 22.  Outdueled Rory at the Dubai Desert Classic this year.  Finished 3rd at The Open last year.  T32 and T16 in the Masters and US Open this year.  

 

2018 Open Championship Fade Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Jordan Spieth 
Seems like the easy call for some nowadays but lets not forget who was banging that drum very early so I cant not stay on brand, dont worry if he wins ill be wearing egg on my face to go w my empty pockets. 

Chris Garosi: Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson looks like a new man with three wins this calendar year. Perhaps he’s worth a look based on his rejuvenated form. However, he’s never enjoyed the Open Championship irrespective of where it’s held. His best finish in nine starts is a T23 back in 2012 and is his only top 25 in nine starts.  

Garrett Johnston: Dustin Johnson
He’s the fade specialist in recent majors. Led by 4 at US Open through 36 and faded and also faded after leading through 36 in this championship in 2015.

Kenny Kim: Francesco Molinari
This is a tough one for me because I have made a bunch of money rostering Molinari the last month or so but I won’t be rostering him this week. First off I expect his ownership to be very high on DraftKings which automatically makes him less appealing. Secondly, his great performances the last month and a half have come on easier courses with a high birdie rate. I think the difficulty of this course and lack of true birdie-able holes will hurt him.

Doug McKinney: Henrik Stenson
Health and that's really the only factor.  He missed the cut here back in 2007, but I really wouldn't take that much into consideration seeing his good form as of late.  There are safer options out there to pick with the 2016 Champion Golfer of the year not 100% right now.  (Also tip of the cap to yours truly: last time I faded Stenson was in 2017 U.S. Open, where he missed the cut)

Matt Valdez: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson
Bubba HATES links golf.  It's hard to shape and curve a shot with lots of wind.  He's never finished better than 23rd at an Open Championship.  

Phil is in a weird place. He peaked with his win in Mexico and so lost, he violates a rule every other week.

 

2018 Open Championship DraftKings "Price is Right" Bargain Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Dylan Frittelli ($6,800), Emiliano Grillo ($6,800) 

Chris Garosi: Matthew Southgate ($6,900), Eddie Pepperell ($7,000), Stewart Cink ($6,600), George Coetzee ($6,700)
I imagine everyone is going to be on Matthew Southgate as the bargain or sleeper pick of the week. But, if you want to win, you can’t go with the crowd. If it’s a links course I’m always on Eddie Pepperell and I’m usually on an island by myself with him.

He’s a late entrant to the DK game as he got into the Open Championship after finishing second at the Scottish Open (a links course). Oh, he also won the Doha Qatar Masters earlier this year (certainly a links-style course if only based on the past winners and certainly because of the exposed nature of the course).  Throw in a T7 at the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2017 (in which Carnoustie is one of the courses in the rotation) and I’m all over Eddie.

Stewart Cink looks like the free space of the week. He won at Turnberry in 2009, finished T6 at Carnoustie in 2007. He’s in excellent form with two top-five finishes in his last three events on Tour. 

South African George Coetzee is another interesting, inexpensive option for GPPs based on his work in Doha (four top 15s in six starts).

Kenny Kim: Zach Johnson ($7,200)
Zach Johnson at $7,200 seems very cheap to me. You’re looking at a guy whose game fits a links style golf course. He’s accurate off the tee, good with his irons, has a tremendous short game, and is an above average putter. His track record at Open Championships speaks for itself with six Top 16s in the last seven years including a win in 2015.

Doug McKinney: Paul Casey ($8,700), Patrick Reed ($8,400), Matthew Fitzpatrick ($7,600), Lee Westwood ($7,200)
I already talked about Fitzpatrick and Westwood.  My money is on Casey to finish inside Top 10, so the fact he is available for under 9 grand is a steal.  Patrick Reed, for whatever reason, is going to continue to be severely under-owned...and I love that trend.  

Matt Valdez: Emiliano Grillo
Not long off the tee, but won't matter with fairways like glass.  Didn't play well at majors last year but had a lingering injury.  Didn't play well at Shinnecock but no one did.  Just think the course sets up well for Grillo.  Fairways and Greens should keep him on the leaderboard.

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Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup wasn’t even nominated for an ESPY

Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup wasn’t even nominated for an ESPY

On Wednesday night ESPN hosts their yearly sports award show, the ESPYs, to celebrate the best of the last 365 days in sport. 

One thing they will not be celebrating, or did not even consider celebrating, was Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final

This year there were 16 plays nominated to be the “Best Play” and were seeded into a bracket. For the past month fans have been voting in each head-to-head matchup culminating in four pretty outstanding plays:

All of those plays can be viewed here

Three of those four were in a championship game, the other was a just a once in a lifetime play from a teenager. 

But the ESPYs are saying that there are 16 plays from this past year that were better than Holtby’s save… Can we really believe that? Everyone loves buzzer beaters, but they accounted for six of the 16 plays. One of them could have easily gotten bumped. 

And aside from the three listed above there were only two that were in the championship event for each sport. Holtby could have rounded it out for six.

We’re not saying that Holtby’s play was the best in the past year, or even in the top four. Heck, there should be no one that tops Ogunbowale’s incredible heroics. But arguably the best play in D.C. sports history not making the top-16 for best plays in a 365 day period? 

It must have been one heck of a sports year.  

For those that are nominated, Alex Ovechkin is a finalist for Best Male Athlete and Best NHL Player. The Capitals are in the running for Best Team.

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