8 killed in soccer stampede in Senegal

Published: Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 6:18 AM
Updated: Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 6:18 AM

Witnesses said at least eight people have died and more than 50 were injured after a stadium wall collapse and stampede at a soccer match in the Senegalese capital.

Those present said fighting broke out late Saturday between rival fans of US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour and the wall at the Demba Diop stadium in Dakar collapsed as police also fired tear gas.

Government spokesman Seydou Gueye on Sunday condemned the violence, adding that authorities moved the injured to hospitals around Dakar. He said an investigation will be opened into the incident.

The government also announced a ban on sports and cultural activities during the legislative campaign period leading to parliamentary elections on July 30.

___

This story has been corrected to state that the fighting between rival fans in Dakar took place on Saturday, not Friday.

College football rankings 2017: AP Poll Top 25 projections after Week 8

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 7:13 AM

AP Poll Top 25 projections for the college football rankings after Week 8 games will start with Alabama and Penn State at Nos. 1 and 2 after impressive wins. After a wild precious week, Week 8 was relatively quiet with upsets. But there will be some changes.

Before the new poll is out Sunday, Land of 10 predicts where teams will be ranked in the AP Poll Top 25 rankings for Week 9.

AP Poll: Projections for college football rankings after Week 8

Dropped out: No. 19 Michigan

25. Iowa State (5-2)

Previous: NR

24. Memphis (6-1)

Previous: 25

23. LSU (6-2)

Previous: 24

22. West Virginia (5-2)

Previous: 23

21. USC (6-2)

Previous: 11

20. Stanford (5-2)

Previous: 22

19. Auburn (6-2)

Previous: 21

18. Michigan State (6-1)

Previous: 18

17. UCF (6-0)

Previous: 20

16. NC State (6-1)

Previous: 16

15. South Florida (7-0)

Previous: 16

14. Washington State (6-1)

Previous: 15

13. Virginia Tech (6-1)

Previous: 14

12. Washington (6-1)

Previous: 12

11. Oklahoma State (6-1)

Previous: 10

10. Notre Dame (6-1)

Previous: 13

The Fighting Irish are looking like a College Football Playoff contender. The Irish ran all over the Trojans in a 49-14 rout. Josh Adams rushed for 191 yards and 3 touchdowns while Brandon Wimbush rushed for 106 yards and 2 scores. Notre Dame picked up 377 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground.

9. Oklahoma (6-1)

Previous: 9

The Sooners escaped Manhattan, Kan., with a 42-35 win. QB Baker Mayfield had a busy night with 410 passing yards, 2 passing scores and 69 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Oklahoma trailed 21-7 in the second quarter. But Rodney Anderson scored on a 22-yard touchdown with 7 seconds remaining to get the winning points.

8. Clemson (6-1)

Previous: 7

The Tigers had another week to think over their loss to Syracuse. Clemson next plays Georgia Tech at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 28.

7. Miami (6-0)

Previous: 8

The Hurricanes escaped again, this time edging Syracuse, 27-19. Miami got a big day from QB Malik Rosier, who passed for 344 yards and 2 interceptions. The Miami defense also stepped up. One week after QB Eric Dungey beat then-No. 2 Clemson, the Dungey struggled by going 13-for-41 passing for 137 yards and 4 interceptions.

6. Ohio State (6-1)

Previous: 6

The Buckeyes had off this week. That means Ohio State had an extra week to prepare for Penn State. The Nittany Lions come to Columbus, Ohio, for a huge game next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

5. Wisconsin (7-0)

Previous: 5

Freshman RB Jonathan Taylor had another big day, this time rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown in a 38-13 win against Maryland. Taylor is already at 1,000 yards this season and should continue to be a dark-horse candidate in the Heisman race. Taylor needed only seven games to reach 1,000 yards, which ties the FBS record for fastest freshman to reach the milestone.

4. TCU (7-0)

Previous: 4

The Horned Frogs pushed around Kansas, holding the Jayhawks to only 21 yards and 4 first downs in a 43-0 rout. TCU QB Kenny Hill had a big game, throwing for 278 yards and 5 touchdowns to keep his team perfect.

3. Georgia (7-0)

Previous: 3

The Bulldogs didn’t play this week, as they get an extra week to prepare for nemesis Florida. The Gators have struggled on offense all season long, so Georgia will be a strong favorite for next the game next Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.

2. Penn State (7-0)

Previous: 2

Penn State looked all the part of a College Football Playoff contender, routing Michigan 42-13. In the program’s first game at No. 2 since 1999, the Nittany Lions rolled up 506 yards of offense. Saquon Barkley rushed for 108 yards and had 53 receiving yards, scoring 3 total touchdowns. QB Trace McSorley also had a big game with 282 passing yards, 76 rushing yards and 4 total touchdowns.

1. Alabama (8-0)

Previous: 1

Make it another blowout win for the Crimson Tide. Alabama destroyed Tennessee, 45-7. Alabama rushed for 272 yards but also passed for 332 yards in the rout. Tennessee didn’t do much on offense, picking up 108 yards. The Volunteers only points came on a pick-6 in the third quarter. Alabama gets LSU next.

For reference, here was the AP Poll Top 25 rankings for Week 8:

AP Poll Top 25 college football rankings for Week 8

Rank Team Record Points Previous rank
1 Alabama (61) 7-0 1,525 1
2 Penn State 6-0 1,432 3
3 Georgia 7-0 1,417 4
4 TCU 6-0 1,322 6
5 Wisconsin 6-0 1,241 7
6 Ohio State 6-1 1,184 9
7 Clemson 6-1 1,117 2
8 Miami 5-0 1,109 11
9 Oklahoma 5-1 1,066 12
10 Oklahoma State 5-1 900 14
11 USC 6-1 886 13
12 Washington 6-1 811 5
13 Notre Dame 5-1 798 16
14 Virginia Tech 5-1 727 15
15 Washington State 6-1 578 8
16 South Florida 6-0 573 18
16 NC State 6-1 573 20
18 Michigan State 5-1 563 21
19 Michigan 5-1 558 17
20 UCF 5-0 387 22
21 Auburn 5-2 303 10
22 Stanford 5-2 274 23
23 West Virginia 4-2 157 NR
24 LSU 5-2 108 NR
25 Memphis 5-1 62 NR

Others receiving votes: San Diego State 56, Texas A&M 46, Iowa State 16, Virginia 10, Kentucky 8, Utah 4, Mississippi State 3, South Carolina 2, Iowa 2, Navy 2, Texas Tech 2, Georgia Tech 1, Marshall 1, Florida State 1.

AP Poll Top 25 college football scores, results for Week 8

  • No. 1 Alabama 45, Tennessee 7
  • No. 2 Penn State 42, Michigan 13
  • No. 4 TCU 43, Kansas 0
  • No. 5 Wisconsin 38, Maryland 13
  • No. 8 Miami 27, Syracuse 19
  • No. 9 Oklahoma 42, Kansas State 35
  • No. 10 Oklahoma State 13, Texas 10 (overtime)
  • No. 13 Notre Dame 49, No. 11 USC 14
  • No. 14 Virginia Tech 59, North Carolina 7
  • No. 15 Washington State 28, Colorado 0
  • No. 16 South Florida 34, Tulane 28
  • No. 18 Michigan State 17, Indiana 9
  • No. 20 UCF 31, Navy 21
  • No. 21 Auburn 52, Arkansas 20
  • No. 23 West Virginia 38, Baylor 36
  • No. 24 LSU 40, Ole Miss 24
  • No. 25 Memphis 42, Houston 38

Stats don’t indicate second-half resurgence for Florida Gators

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 7:08 AM

The Florida Gators headed into the bye this weekend at a disappointing 3-3, having lost its last two games at home by a combined 3 points.

After the two-point loss to Texas A&M — and with Georgia looming next — talk has shifted from winning the SEC East to becoming bowl eligible. Most articles I have read are focusing on the games against Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. But with the way the offense has played, there should be real concern for the other teams on the remaining schedule as well.

Famed sabermetrician Bill James invented a statistic called the Pythagorean Expectation. He proposed that a team’s win-loss record does not always tell the entire story. Instead, he insisted that a more accurate way of assessing performance was to look at the difference between points scored and points allowed.

Consider two teams, both with 1-1 records. Team 1 got blown out 33-17 in its first game and won the second, 26-20. Team 2 won its first game, 40-10, and lost its second, 14-13. Which team is better?

They both have the same win-loss record, but James’ metric indicates that the score differential of Team 1 predicts a squad that should only win 40 percent of its games, while Team 2 should win 83 percent of its games. This gets more accurate as teams play more games and strengths of schedule between teams start to even out.

Halfway through the season, it’s fair to start looking at this metric as a way of measuring team performance. Based on that, Florida is exactly where it deserves to be at 3-3, or is maybe even a little bit lucky.

Based on its point differential (all stats against FBS teams), Florida’s expected win percentage is 51 percent. However, remember that Florida has 3 interceptions returned for touchdowns added to its offensive ledger. If we remove those scores (along with all defensive and special teams scores of its opponents), the Gators expected win percentage drops to 43 percent.

Expected win percentages based on overall point totals and without defensive and special teams scores thus far in 2017. (Will Miles/SEC Country)

This is significant because it reveals some things about the Gators that most fans probably overlook in the win-loss record. First, the loss to Michigan was not a fluke. While the Wolverines have struggled some recently, Michigan is just a better team than Florida.

The Gators are 1-3 in games against teams with better scoring differentials. And the one win against Kentucky was pretty fluky considering Kentucky controlled the game until it decided to try and run out the clock on offense while neglecting to cover Florida’s wide receivers twice. Had kicker Austin MacGinnis had 5 more yards on his last-second kick — or had Kentucky not been called for holding (correctly) — the Gators would be 0-4 in these games.

The more disturbing takeaway using this metric for Florida fans is that the Gators have not shown the ability to put away inferior teams. The closest they came was the second half against Vanderbilt, but that game was 17-17 at the half. And while it was fantastic fun, the Feleipe Franks connection to Tyrie Cleveland against what is a really inferior Tennessee team should be concerning.

This is relevant for the rest of the season because if this trend holds, Florida is going to lose to Georgia and at South Carolina, win at Missouri, then have toss-up games against Alabama at Birmingham and Florida State. In fact, if the defensive and special teams scores are removed for all teams, UAB and FSU actually have slightly better scoring differentials than Florida.

And I’m not sure you can say Missouri is going to be a lock either. Missouri is going to be coming off a game against UConn, not exactly a juggernaut, while Florida is going to be coming off the game against Georgia.

Yes, it is true that Missouri has played really poorly. But the Tigers average 26.7 points per game, more than the Gators’ 23.7. The difference between the two teams is that Missouri’s defense is really terrible, both against the run and pass. But with all of its offensive struggles, I have significant doubts that the Gators will be able to take advantage.

One issue is that the Missouri game is going to be on the road, and freshman quarterbacks perform far worse on the road, including under coach Jim McElwain.

Florida QB performance splits home and away under Jim McElwain. (Will Miles/SEC Country)

Even Will Grier struggled away from home. You might remember his struggles at Kentucky and at Missouri that bookended the Tennessee miracle and Ole Miss destruction. But Grier isn’t alone.

All of McElwain’s quarterbacks have been significantly worse away from the Swamp compared to at home. They have been less accurate, thrown fewer touchdowns and had worse QB ratings. The only QB who has not done that yet is Franks, but his QB rating is based on a total of 21 throws against Michigan and Kentucky, and he was pulled from both games.

This doesn’t mean Missouri will win. But anyone counting on the Missouri game to be a win is fairly presumptuous, given the inability of Florida to put inferior teams away at home and the track record of Florida’s QBs on the road under McElwain. There’s a distinct possibility that Florida may be 3-5 heading into the game against South Carolina.

Even if we assume a win against Missouri, that still means that Florida will need to go 2-1 over the rest of the season to become bowl eligible. Based on the metric shown above, South Carolina should be heavy favorites and the games against UAB and FSU are toss-ups.

What these statistics really indicate is that when you look at how these teams have all performed thus far in 2017, Florida’s ceiling is probably six wins, 5-6 is the most likely scenario and a 4-7 finish not out of the question.

Florida’s offense is currently averaging 23.7 points against FBS opponents in 2017, right in line with its averages in 2015 (23.2) and 2016 (23.9). But consider that Luke Del Rio has presided over 28 points while starting only three quarters (9.3 points per quarter) while Franks has overseen 93 points while starting 20 quarters (4.7 points per quarter).

It’s quite possible that Florida’s offense is going to get worse than it has been through the first half of the season.

And if it does, a defense that has made gains the past couple of weeks is going to be exposed. There just isn’t enough depth on that side of the ball to hold up if the offense can’t stay on the field.

In Will Muschamp’s third season, Gators fans experienced the indignity of losing a game to FCS opponent Georgia Southern at home. That was the beginning of the end for Muschamp, the moment where he lost the fan base.

Hopefully, that moment doesn’t come for McElwain anytime soon. But based on the performance of Florida versus its opponents thus far, it’s a distinct possibility.

2017 World Series: 5 fun facts

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 6:56 AM

The Houston Astros reached the World Series for the first time since 2005 by winning Saturday night.
Elsa/Getty Images
The Houston Astros reached the World Series for the first time since 2005 by winning Saturday night.(Elsa/Getty Images)

The Houston Astros punched a ticket to the World Series on Saturday night with a 4-0 victory in Game 7 against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

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Game 1 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles, and already this will be a historic Fall Classic. Here’s how:

Astros complete unprecedented double

By winning Game 7, the Astros became the first major-league team to reach the World Series by winning pennants in both leagues.

In 2005, Houston defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in six games to win the National League pennant. The Astros entered the postseason as a wild-card team and defeated the Atlanta Braves in four games to reach the National League Championship Series.

That elusive win
The Astros' next win in the World Series will be their first. Houston was swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

The century club

The Dodgers won 104 games during the 2017 regular season, while the Astros captured 101 victories. It’s the first World Series showcasing a pair of 100-game winners since 1970 when the Baltimore Orioles (108-54) defeated the Cincinnati Reds (102-60) in five games.

Playoff history
The Dodgers and Astros have met in the playoffs before, but both as members of the National League.
In the 1981 season, a 50-day players strike erased nearly 40 percent of the schedule. Major League Baseball decided to split the season and declared that the champions of each half meet in a first-round of the playoffs. In a weird way, this postseason was the ancestor of the divisional series now employed by MLB.
In 1981, the Dodgers, who won the first half of the NL West Division, faced the Astros, who took the second half. The Dodgers qualified for the postseason with a 36-21 record in the first half of the season and went just 27-26 in the second half. Houston, meanwhile, went 28-29 in the first half but took the division title in the second half with a 33-20 mark.
The two teams met to determine the overall NL West champion, and the Dodgers prevailed in a five-game series.

Rookie influence

If the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger wins NL Rookie of the Year honors as expected, he will become the first award winner to play in the World Series as a rookie since San Francisco’s Buster Posey competed in 2010.

Michigan State freshman WR Cody White makes magic happen down the stretch against Indiana

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 6:33 AM

cody white michigan state wr indiana

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State wide receiver Cody White didn’t have to go far to find his father and embrace him after the No. 18 Spartans’ 17-9 win against Indiana at Spartan Stadium.

Sheldon White works as Michigan State’s executive director of player personnel and recruiting, so he’s always around. His job is largely to interact with young prospects, but even he couldn’t find words for his son’s performance on Saturday.

“He was speechless,” the younger White said. “Just a big hug.”

White, a true freshman, had caught 5 balls coming into the game. In the last two games, he hadn’t put up any yards. But against the Hoosiers, he looked like a seasoned veteran.

Spartans coach Mark Dantonio had seen him utilized all over the field in high school and deployed his versatility by having him return punts. He caught three of them cleanly in his first experience doing so at the college level.

But he shone brightest on offense, exploding for 6 catches and 99 yards, surpassing his previous totals for the entire season. He spoke about his success in modest fashion:

“I felt like I played a good game,” White said. “There’s still a few things that we can fix as a team, but just keep going, keep moving and that’s what it is. I feel like we’re doing a great job.”

Michigan State co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner didn’t hesitate for a moment to put White in crucial situations. He’d been out there all game, so why bench him now? And that decision proved to be a good one in a game where little went right on offense.

Pushed backward by a sack, Michigan State faced third-and-19 down 9-3 in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Brian Lewerke hit White for 16 yards, setting up the Spartans for a fourth-down conversion and eventual game-winning touchdown.

And as Michigan State looked to salt away the game on its next drive, White caught a pass right at the marker on third-and-9, then turned around and proceeded to make it a 34-yard gain.

“I just hooked up, caught the ball and started rolling,” White said. “It was kind of magic, actually.”

These moments don’t seem to overwhelm Michigan State’s young receivers. Part of that might have to do with how White and fellow freshman Hunter Rison’s fathers both played in the NFL. Rison’s father, Andre, also starred at Michigan State in the late 1980s.

“They played phenomenal and stepped up when they needed to,” Lewerke said of the young receivers. “Obviously, I don’t think my accuracy on the ball was the greatest, but I think that they did a great job of snagging the catches.”

When the clock struck zero, White had accounted for more than half of Michigan State’s passing offense. All but 15 of those yards came in the second half when the Spartans desperately needed to find some offense.

Michigan State didn’t flip a switch on those final drives. The Spartans gradually wore down Indiana, and when they finally broke through, it was White who did the bulk of the damage. The staff trusted him in those situations, and he came through.

“It meant a whole lot,” White said of being called upon down the stretch. “It means that he’s got trust in me and knowing that I can do what I can do, and it just meant a whole lot to me. It just lets me know that we’re building his trust and he can put his faith in any of the receivers in that room.”

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