Greetings sports fans, it's Chris Bengel back with you once again. It's crazy to think that this is the final day of the month of August. What it means is that there's so many things to be excited for in the sports world.
First and foremost, the NFL preseason wrapped up on Sunday and now the focus shifts to the regular season, which gets underway on Sept. 9. In addition, the college football season officially begins this coming weekend with the majority of the nation's ranked teams being in action. We've got matchups like Alabama-Miami, Clemson-Georgia and Wisconsin-Penn State that should be a ton of fun to watch.
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Whether you're a diehard fan or a football bettor or maybe both (I'm guilty), you're ready for the pigskin to dominate your weekends once again.
Enough talk, let's dive into the news!
📰 What you need to know
1. College Football Playoff picks and national championship predictions 🏈
The college football season sort of got underway this past weekend, but the real opening act takes place this weekend when the majority of the sport's elite teams are in action. At the end of last season, Alabama found themselves on top of the college football world after an absolute dismantling of Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Will they repeat?
The preseason top 25 poll tabbed the Crimson Tide as the top team in all of the land, so that's the first step. Behind Alabama is Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State, and Georgia atop the first poll of the year. Many of the nation's top teams underwent significant changes in the offseason, including having a new quarterback under center. Bryce Young (Alabama), D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson) and C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) will be the new signal callers for some of college football's biggest contenders.
With a new season set to get underway, CBS Sports' college football scribes named their most overrated teams, underrated teams and national title winner for the upcoming campaign. Below, we'll focus on the four different teams that were picked to win it all:
- Ohio State: The Buckeyes have the best wide receiving core in the nation. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are hands down the best one-two punch in the sport, but players like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Julian Fleming and even true freshmen Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. -- both early enrollees who flashed in spring ball -- would be top-three level starters on most Power Five teams. And this impressive core comes after Ohio State already made the national title game last season -- Picked by Chip Patterson, Tom Fornelli, Ben Kercheval
- Alabama: What is there to really say here? Alabama won as usual last year and comes back in 2021 by having maybe their best defense in 10 years. Yes, Bill O'Brien is in the fold, but he will likely succeed just like every other Alabama offensive coordinator under Saban has. Oh, and Bryce Young may be an improvement over Mac Jones, even if he doesn't have as talented of receivers -- Picked by Dennis Dodd, Jerry Palm
- Georgia -- JT Daniels returning under center is a big plus here. The Bulldogs have a loaded backfield, an ultra-talented offensive line and a full year to actually install Todd Monken's offense. We know they'll be stout on defense based on their track record. We'll know early if they are the real deal, since they get a test against Clemson in their opener in North Carolina. According to our Barrett Sallee, the joke around the country is "1980" -- the last year that the Bulldogs won the national title. That joke will be outdated on Jan. 10, 2022 -- Picked by Barrett Sallee
- Oklahoma -- Yes, this sounds like a broken record, but the last two national champions have proven that quarterbacks and receivers are more important than ever in the college game. That's great news for Oklahoma. With a budding star at quarterback in Spencer Rattler, a receiver room that's among the deepest in the country and a manageable schedule, the Sooners are destined to make the College Football Playoff. How they fare upon arrival may depend on their defense -- Picked by David Cobb
2. The best fantasy football sleepers you should be drafting 🏈
Like I said at the top, the NFL preseason is officially in the books. That means we're really getting into draft season for fantasy football leagues. I've recently seen a ton of tweets from fantasy players expressing their displeasure with the likes of Travis Etienne and J.K. Dobbins having suffered season-ending injuries.
One of my biggest fantasy practices is that I refuse to join a league that holds its draft before Labor Day. The preseason needs to be over for you to conduct your drafts. That way you have the freshest information possible and you're making the best decisions.
While I'm of the firm belief that you never win your league at the draft, those middle-to-late round picks can really determine whether your squad is a championship contender or not. With that in mind, CBS Sports fantasy scribe Heath Cummings took a deep dive into some players that are drafted in the double-digit rounds that can help your team. Here are a few of the names that Cummings believes you should be targeting late in your fantasy drafts.
- Laviska Shenault Jr.: "I struggled with this one because in industry drafts, Shenault goes three rounds earlier. But I'm not writing this list for people drafting in industry drafts. The loss of Travis Etienne and Jacksonville's offensive line struggles have really opened my mind to the idea of Shenault leading the team in targets in a higher volume version of what Deebo Samuel does. Shenault should get plenty of work around the line of scrimmage and he has the skillset to thrive in that role."
- Justin Fields: "Fields is a rare combination of extreme accuracy and athletic ability. He's one of the fastest quarterback prospects in recent years and he completed nearly 70% of his passes in his final two years at Ohio State. And unlike some college quarterbacks, that's not because Fields threw everything within five yards of the line of scrimmage. He won't score 14 rushing touchdowns, but everything else about Cam Newton's rookie season is available to Fields once the team sees what it needs to from Andy Dalton."
- Jakobi Meyers: "Slowly but surely Jakobi Meyers' ADP is creeping up, but he's still in Round 12 so it appears you guys just aren't going to buy into him. I know that's at least partially because of the zero career touchdowns. And Cam Newton's 2020 inaccuracy probably doesn't help. But either Newton is going to bounce back or the team is getting turned over to Mac Jones, who would be a perfect fit for a slot receiver like Meyers. So 2020 is probably below the reasonable floor for Meyers, and he was on a 1,000-yard pace without Julian Edelman."
I'd be happy to snag any one of those players late in my drafts, but Shenault might be my favorite. He may not have put up insane numbers as a rookie, but the Travis Etienne injury is a big deal. Shenault is a Swiss-army knife of sorts that can line up as a wideout and also in the backfield.
Let's just say I'm going to try to land him in all of my leagues and I already have him in one of my dynasty leagues.
3. Steve Cohen reacts to Mets players calling out their fans ⚾
Entering the 2021 regular season, the New York Mets were one of the most talked-about teams in Major League Baseball and for good reason. The franchise went out and acquired star shortstop Francisco Lindor from the Cleveland Indians. Combine that with a stellar pitching staff that included the likes of Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, and the sky was the limit for this ball club.
Now, following a strong first half, the Mets are one of the most-talked about teams for a bad reason. The Mets currently are 7.5 games out of first place in the NL East and sit in third place. And as if the team's struggles weren't polarizing enough, some Mets players decided to stir the pot with the fanbase over the weekend. During Sunday's game, Javier Báez decided to give Mets fans a thumbs down after fans had previously been booing the Mets in light of their struggles. Baez said that he wants the fans to "know how it feels."
Mets owner Steve Cohen is never shy about expressing his opinions on his Twitter account and this all didn't sit well with him. He weighed in on some of his players going to war with the fans and called the behavior "unacceptable."
- Cohen: "They hit the third rail by messing with fans and it is unacceptable"
Listen, it's never a good idea for a team's roster to start commenting on the criticism that they receive from the fans. At the end of the day, those fans are paying their hard-earned money to come to the ballpark and watch their team on the field. To sit there and mock them amidst struggles seems like a terrible idea.
4. Is Bishop Sycamore a legitimate high school football team? 🏈
Being a sports writer, I've covered some doozies over the course of my career. However, this one has me at an absolute loss.
Over the weekend, IMG Academy defeated Bishop Sycamore in a nationally-televised high school football game, 58-0. But the action on the field wasn't the whole story when it came to Bishop Sycamore. Upon further research by several media outlets, it was determined that the Ohio-based Bishop Sycamore may not exactly be a powerhouse program like many assumed.
- Location: Bishop Sycamore allegedly claims to make its home in Columbus, Ohio. But schools that boast the name "Bishop" usually are associated with the catholic church and are named in honor of local bishops or historic bishops. However, the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, doesn't have any Bishop Sycamores throughout its history
- Lack of history: According to the school's official website, there are five total blog posts regarding the football team dating to April 2021, but there hasn't been one since May 21. If the school is about to begin the football season, you'd think that there would be some kind of season preview content. In addition, if you click on the "About Us," and "Staff" sections of the school's website, the sections are absolutely blank. The "Schedule" tab just says that the 2021 schedule is "coming soon"
- Team's roster: Bishop Sycamore's roster is also extremely questionable. For example, quarterback Jailen Knight got the start against IMG Academy and his Twitter account states that he is a three-star prospect in the 2023 class. However, Knight's Hudl page says that he plays for Perry Hall High School in Baltimore. Knight also has a 247Sports recruiting profile that lists him as an unrecruited quarterback who graduated in 2021. Meanwhile, quarterback Trillian Harris is listed on Hudl as a senior quarterback from Bishop Sycamore. However, Harris' 247Sports profile lists him as a California quarterback in the 2021 class who wasn't recruited
This is certainly one of the most insane stories that I've ever had the privilege of writing. It's crazy to think that Bishop Sycamore finessed its way into a nationally-televised game with questionable credentials -- to say the least. Needless to say, this will be a story that we will be following in the days and weeks to come
📝 Odds & Ends
- Los Angeles Angels pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani will miss Tuesday's start against the New York Yankees due to a sore wrist. However, Ohtani will still serve as the team's designated hitter in the series. He did last night in the Angels' 8-7 win over the Yankees and hit his 42nd home run of the season
- The Philadelphia 76ers aren't close to trading All-Star forward Ben Simmons. However, it still appears that Simmons' days with the franchise are numbered.
- The Indianapolis Colts placed quarterback Carson Wentz, center Ryan Kelly, and wide receiver Zach Pascal on the COVID-19 list after coming into close contact with a staff member who tested positive. Wentz had just recently returned to practice after being out due to foot surgery.
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Cardinals at Reds, 6:40 p.m. | CIN -153 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. | TB -135 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Braves at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. | LA -180 | TV: MLB.TV
Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅
The hockey world came together on Monday to mourn the loss of former NHL player Jimmy Hayes. NHL stars like Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes and veteran defenseman P.K. Subban were in attendance to honor the former NHL forward. The most uplifting part of the day had to be what happened outside of the church. Dorchester Youth Hockey players and fans alike turned out to tap their sticks on the street in remembrance of Hayes. It was truly a heartwarming moment for the entire hockey community.