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LSU, USC climb closer to College Football Playoff, plus has Ronaldo ruined his Manchester United legacy?

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE LSU TIGERS AND THE USC TROJANS

The latest College Football Playoff Rankings have arrived, and LSU is knocking on the door of a top-four seed after Tennessee‘s loss. Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU remained the top four in that order. Then comes LSU at five and USC at six.

Despite having two losses, the Tigers will be right in the thick of things (as long as they take care of lowly Texas A&M this weekend) heading into a massive SEC Championship against Georgia. However, USC might be able to jump LSU as early as this week, writes bowl expert Jerry Palm.

  • Palm: “USC is likely jump LSU next week if the Trojans beat No. 15 Notre Dame, while the Tigers tame unranked Texas A&M. A quality ranked win may be enough for the CFP Selection Committee to make the switch. The Trojans also an easier path to the playoff given they don’t have to go through the top-ranked Bulldogs.”

At this point in the year, if you’re not undefeated, all you can ask for is a chance. Both LSU and USC have one. Here are Barrett Sallee’s overrated and underrated teams as well.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…


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CRISTIANO RONALDO

Two days before his fifth World Cup for Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo terminated his contract with his club team, Manchester United, via a mutual agreement. It comes just over a week after Ronaldo’s now-infamous interview with Piers Morgan in which he said he said he didn’t respect manager Erik ten Hag, took shots at former teammate Wayne Rooney and questioned the club’s infrastructure.

Thus, Ronaldo’s second stint with United ends in a legacy-ruining manner, writes our soccer expert James Benge.

  • Benge: “It says for everything about the damage Ronaldo has done to his legacy at Old Trafford — where he emerged as one of the brightest stars of the global game in the late 2000s before joining Real Madrid — that his departure will bring with it a sigh of relief for Ten Hag and club supporters. Though he was United’s top scorer last season, he did not prove to be the missing piece in a side that had finished second in the Premier League before he arrived. Instead, the goals dried up for his team mates, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked, Ralf Rangnick almost immediately undermined and United had to scrabble to qualify for the Europa League.”

Not so honorable mentions

  • The Rams waived Darrell Henderson.
  • The Cardinals fired offensive line coach/running game coordinator Sean Kugler after an incident in Mexico City.

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Nets lose to 76ers, plus why Kyrie Irving’s return is bad for Brooklyn 🏀

The Nets finally have all three members of their Big Three back together, and yet they still couldn’t beat a team without any members of their own. The 76ers — sans Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxeybeat Brooklyn 115-106.

  • Tobias Harris led the way with 24 points. De’Anthony Melton had 22.
  • For Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving had 23 points in his second game back from a team-issued suspension and Kevin Durant had 20.
  • Ben Simmons, playing his first game back in Philadelphia since being traded to Brooklyn, continued his strong play of late with 11 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks. As expected, he was booed heavily.

Brooklyn is 8-10 this season and, as efforts like Tuesday night’s show, Irving’s return won’t be a magic fix-all, writes NBA columnist Bill Reiter.

  • Reiter: “History, common sense and a slew of NBA leagues sources say what’s more common is more of the same: Drama, the contender okey-dokey, and an inevitable grotesque meltdown that reminds us who they were all along. … In the three of the last four seasons, Kyrie’s presence on the floor turned his team into a sub-.500 squad.”

World Cup: France opens title defense with rout of Australia ⚽


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While Tuesday’s World Cup action began with a shocker, France made sure it ended in predictable fashion. The reigning champions allowed an early goal but rallied and eventually dominated Australia in a 4-1 win. Olivier Giroud scored twice, and Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe also found the back of the net for Les Bleus after Craig Goodwin had given the Socceroos the lead.

With Karim Benzema out for the World Cup, Giroud has to step up in a big way, and he’s off to a strong and historic start, notes soccer expert Jonathan Johnson.

  • Johnson: “Two goals for the AC Milan man who is now level with Thierry Henry as France’s leading scorer on 51 goals. One was the easiest of finishes after Rabiot set him up and the other was a much more impressive header from Mbappe’s ball in. Another page in history with Les Bleus for Giroud and signs that Didier Deschamps‘ attacking setup could still bear fruit.”

France’s awful injury luck continued, though, with Lucas Hernandez tearing his ACL, leaving the team with just one healthy natural left back on the roster: Lucas’ brother Theo. In the other Group D match, Denmark and Tunisia drew 0-0.

In Group C, we already covered Argentina‘s historic loss to Saudi Arabia in Tuesday’s newsletter, but Argentina’s day got a bit better after Mexico and Poland drew 0-0, meaning Lionel Messi and Co. are just one point out of second. Still, Roger Gonzalez says it’s panic time.

Early this morning, Morocco and Croatia played to a draw in the first action from Group F. Be sure to sign up for our Golazo Starting XI newsletter to keep up with the latest from Qatar.

NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs reign supreme, Lions move up 🏈

The Chiefs are on top of Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings once again, and it doesn’t seem like that will change any time soon. After an impressive win over the Chargers, Patrick Mahomes is only getting better, Pete writes.

  • Prisco: “Since becoming the Chiefs full-time starter in 2018, Mahomes has shown how great he can be at throwing the football. But he’s grown by a ton as a passer. Early in his career, he was the fun, gunslinging passer who would hit the big shots and sometimes could be frustrated by off-coverage because of a lack of patience. Now he’s grown into a patient passer who can still hit the big shots down the field.”

Here’s the top 10:

Meanwhile, the Lions — recently in the cellar of these rankings — continued their climb, up from 26th to 20th. It’s the largest jump of any team. After beating the Giants, Detroit is on a three-game winning streak (its longest since 2017) and are somehow on the fringes of playoff contention.

Speaking of the Giants, our NFL expert Tyler Sullivan wonders if the clock has struck midnight on their Cinderella start to the season.

  • Sullivan: “The Lions ranked 31st in the NFL this season in rushing yards per game, giving up an average of 160.9 through the first 10 weeks. On Sunday, Saquon Barkley could only manage 22 yards on 15 carries. … Meanwhile, one of the bright spots of the season for the Giants had been Daniel Jones‘ ability to not turn the ball over. Before Sunday, Jones’ 1.3% turnovers per dropback ranked fourth-lowest in the NFL. However, he just rolled out his first multi-interception game against Detroit and showed some pretty poor field vision on both.”

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

We’re watching the World Cup. Here’s the schedule.
🏀 NC State vs. No. 3 Kansas, Noon on ESPN
🏀 Mavericks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Butler vs. No. 22 Tennessee, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Clippers at Warriors, 10 p.m. on ESPN



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