Well, folks, here we go again. For the 15th time in the last 16 years, college football’s national champion will come from the Deep South. It’ll be Alabama or Georgia and, either way, that means 12 titles in 16 years for the real driver of the sport, the Southeastern Conference. Non-SEC schools Florida State and Clemson (twice) also have won it all.
The lone exception: Ohio State in the 2014 season, which happened to be the first year of the playoff. In hindsight, the Buckeyes’ semifinal comeback from 21-6 down to knock off No. 1 Alabama looks pretty amazing. Most outsiders get down big and then get buried, as the Buckeyes did in last season’s title game against the Crimson Tide and as Michigan did against Georgia on Friday night.
Since the 2002 Buckeyes won it all with a colossal upset of No. 1 Miami, the Big Ten has just the one championship. Maybe it’s time to admit it: The Big Ten is a basketball league.
Oops — we can’t do that, either. The Big Ten hasn’t won it all in hoops since Michigan State pulled it off in 2000.
Maybe it’s a volleyball league?
Ah, well. No more Big Ten football games until late summer, but the hoops schedule goes full blast (inevitable COVID-19 disruptions notwithstanding) beginning on Sunday at 1 p.m. as Michigan State at Northwestern tips off a trio of games on BTN. From there, everybody is locked into league play until the NCAA Tournament — and you know how that always ends.
Yep, with a team from another conference cutting down the nets.
Here’s what’s happening:
Giants at Bears (noon, Ch. 2)
G-Men coach Joe Judge says both Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm will play, which is another way of saying, “You’re darn right we’d trade the pair of ’em for Justin Fields, Andy Dalton or Nick Foles.”
Cardinals at Cowboys (3:25 p.m., Fox-32)
Arizona is up against it with COVID-19 absences and — no coincidence — slumping. An upset, though, would line these teams up to meet again in the wild-card round.
Flames at Blackhawks (6 p.m., NBCSCH)
The Hawks have righted the ship — for the most part — after a horrible start, but it’s still a long way from where they are to wherever actual relevance might be. Hot, though, the Flames are not; they’ve dropped four of five heading in.
Vikings at Packers (7:20 p.m., Ch. 5, Peacock)
The 7-8 Vikes need this one to have any shot at the playoffs. Unvaccinated QB Kirk Cousins, out with COVID-19, gets to pitch in by watching on TV as his team is eliminated.
Magic at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)
Some of us are old enough to remember a time when the Bulls winning at home against an opponent this godawful was far from a sure thing. (Programming note: If the Bulls lose, we will deny having called this a sure thing.)
Browns at Steelers (7:15 p.m., ESPN)
Playoff implications? Sure, barely. But — like him or not — Ben Roethlisberger taking the field in Pittsburgh for the last time is a moment to be recognized.
CBB: Illinois at Minnesota (6 p.m., FS1)
The Gophers have been better than anyone expected, and a win here would stamp them as legit. The Illini aren’t about to let that happen on their watch, are they?
CBB: Oklahoma at Baylor (6 p.m., ESPN2)
Coach Porter Moser has the Sooners rambling in the right direction in Year 1 on the job. He gets all he signed up for and then some with a visit to the No. 1-ranked Bears.
Texas Bowl: LSU vs. Kansas State (8 p.m., ESPN)
It’s the next-to-last college football game of the season, strongly — but wrongly — suggesting it’s a big one. But, hey, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, place your wagers.
CBB: DePaul at St. John’s (5:30 p.m., FS1)
Once upon a time, a matchup like this was about Chicago vs. New York bragging rights. Now it’s about two Big East also-rans trying to get back on the map. Baby steps, hoops fans, baby steps.
CBB: Loyola at Illinois State (8 p.m., CBSSN)
Moser’s former team is the clear favorite in the Missouri Valley, but don’t sleep on the Redbirds. Ask Wisconsin, which got all it could handle from them last week in an 89-85 nail-biter.
CBB: Penn State at Northwestern (8 p.m., BTN)
Quietly — but truly — the Wildcats have played some terrific basketball. Look, check ’em out for yourselves if you don’t believe it.
CBB: Maryland at Illinois (6 p.m., ESPN2)
It’s still strange not to see Mark Turgeon in front of the Terps’ bench. As for their interim coach, Danny Manning, what would he possibly know about winning in college basketball?
Blackhawks at Coyotes (8 p.m., NBCSCH)
These teams used to collaborate on a lot of trades. See how much good it did them? Mercy, the Coyotes are bad.
Wizards at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)
Rinse, repeat — another game the Bulls should get. Wait a minute, are we starting to get too cocky around here?
CBB: Michigan State at Michigan (1:30 p.m., Fox-32)
The Wolverines have been — hands down — the most disappointing team in the country. And by “disappointing” we mean the rest of the Big Ten is completely loving it.
Blackhawks at Golden Knights (9 p.m., NBCSCH)
No big deal — all Hawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury did for the Knights last season was win the Vezina Trophy. The least they could do is mark his return with a tear-jerking video tribute, just saying.