Attention holiday shoppers: You missed a dandy Friday afternoon sale on touchdowns, madness, shattered records, upset football and onside kicks. That is, unless you happened to be here at Spartan Stadium.
Chandler Jones was. He was playing wide receiver for San Jose State against 16th-ranked Fresno State. And during the first half, as each team’s quarterback was throwing six touchdown passes (yes, six touchdown passes), Jones was doing his own personal play-by-play broadcast.
“I was walking around going, ‘This is a show right now, this is crazy!’ ” Jones said.
Crazy good for San Jose State, as it turned out. The Spartans took a 42-41 lead after that wild first half, then rode out some more nuttiness in the second half to finish off a 62-52 victory that should send them to their second consecutive bowl game.
“That was one of the big things for us — we wanted another 15 days of practice together,” said linebacker Keith Smith.
If their practices are as much fun as Friday’s contest, you can see why.
The Spartans are frequently an afterthought in Bay Area college football circles compared with Stanford and Cal, largely because over the past dozen years, San Jose State has had zero exciting home victories over top-tier opponents. That changed Friday. Fresno State was undefeated and bearing down on a bid to a prestigious BCS bowl, the college game’s version of reaching the “Dancing With the Stars” finals.
San Jose State stopped the BCS music for the Bulldogs. It was easily the Spartans’ biggest victory since a 27-24 upset of ninth-ranked TCU (and star running back LaDainian Tomlinson) during the 2000 season. Yet in terms of entertainment value, it would be difficult to top Friday.
–Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News
A week into the NBA season, the Warriors had their fans talking championship. The starting five clearly ranked with the best four or five in the league – some insiders called it the best – and anything seemed possible.
Nothing says the Warriors can’t pull off their greatest season since the mid-’70s, but a month’s worth of action brings it home: Once again – as always in the Western Conference – it will be a feat just to make the playoffs.
Oklahoma City and San Antonio appear to be unassailable title threats. Rest assured the Clippers and Houston will land in the postseason. Memphis launched an ill-advised, analytics-driven shift in tempo, but the Grizzlies look as tough as ever (Marc Gasol’s health willing) now that they’ve returned to a grind-it-out offense built around Zach Randolph.
The Warriors caught Monta Ellis on an off-night but still lost to a totally rejuvenated Dallas team, led by Ellis (in vintage form most nights), Dirk Nowitzki and a seasoned roster. Portland shocked the league with an 11-game winning streak and an explosive, cohesive roster – “nobody thought it would happen this quickly,” admitted Earl Watson – and beat the Warriors in Oakland despite losing Mo Williams and Wesley Matthews to second-half ejections. No mirage there; the Blazers definitely are for real.
–Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle
The 49ers predictably crushed another weak team Monday night and now it’s time to worry about the two playoff contenders in their own division, the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, with whom they’re currently tied for second place in the NFC West at 7-4, trailing the 10-1 Seahawks.
Both teams play the other two teams in the division, the 49ers facing the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Candlestick Park. The Cardinals have a slightly tougher schedule because they have to play one other playoff contender, the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Eagles are probably more pretender than contender.
All season, we’ve been looking at the Dec. 8 game at Candlestick against the Seahawks as the big one, but the way the season has gone, it seems likely that the Seahawks will beat the Niners and Cardinals.
So, the biggest game may be the season-ending game with the Cardinals in Arizona. The winner would likely be a wild-card team playing its first playoff game on the road, not a recipe for postseason success.
And frankly, if a playoff berth is at stake in that game, I’d expect the Cardinals to win it. They’ve been playing very well lately with Carson Palmer finally remembering it’s best to throw the ball to his receivers, not opposing defensive backs. And they play their best in home games.
It was not supposed to play out this way. Supposedly, the division would be a two-team battle with the Seahawks and, given their status as a Super Bowl team the previous season, it seemed the 49ers had the edge.
But there’s been a disturbing pattern to the 49ers’ season. They’ve looked very, very good against the patsies but not very good against playoff teams. That is not how a team striving for the Super Bowl should play.
Glenn Dickey, San Francisco Examiner