1–I hate—hate—cleaning the kitchen. Which is why I am especially glad I skipped it Saturday or I would have missed what is being hailed as one of the greatest college games played in recent memory. Fourth-ranked Auburn topped undefeated and top-ranked Alabama in a closely contested “Iron Bowl,” 34-28 Saturday, locking Auburn into the SEC championship next week over the current national champion Crimson Tide.
The game also saw:
–Alabama’s longest-ever receiving touchdown (T.J. McCarron to Amari Cooper for 99 yards)
–An emergency sewing machine brought out in the fourth quarter to repair Auburn defensive end LaDarius Owens’ ripped jersey (normally there would be backups, but maybe an equipment manager stayed a little too late at the Sigma Chi house Friday?)
–A missed but valiant 57-yard field goal attempt by Bama redshirt freshman kicker Adam Griffith, which was…
–Returned 109 yards by Auburn’s Chris Davis for the winning touchdown
–And an “I’m sorry” kiss to McCarron from his girlfriend and former Miss Alabama, Katherine Webb—an Auburn grad.
Ecstatic Auburn students flooded the Jordan-Hare Stadium field so densely the team could barely move, and the Tiger mascot enjoyed crowd surfing as stunned Alabama fans could only wait it out. The famous rivalry began being played primarily in Birmingham, and dubbed the Iron Bowl as a nod to Birmingham’s role in the steel industry. (As for my kitchen, well I can eat off paper plates for a few days.)
2–Normally I eschew movie blockbusters, but I freaking loved “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” A flailing dystopian society. Liam Hemsworth. My girl crush Jennifer Lawrence at her REAL WOMAN, kickass bodily best. My admittedly-weird guy crush Woody Harrelson. (Did I mention Liam Hemsworth?) The best part is how the movies have caused a wild increase in archery nationwide—especially for young girls hoping to emulate hunting heroine Katniss Everdeen. Apparently the franchise has caused a huge burst in the sport’s popularity—so much that equipment makers can’t keep up, and USA Archery, the sport’s Olympic governing body, can’t train instructors fast enough. May the odds be ever in their favor—because there are still two movies to come.
3–A horse is a horse, of course, of course—unless he is a former racetrack champion who now paints pictures raising money–not just for treatment of his own life-threatening knee condition, but to save the lives of other racetrack rejects. Meet Metro Meteor, a retired Maryland thoroughbred whose adoptive owners taught him to use his bobbing head motion to paint and raise awareness of injured and unwanted former racehorses (he’s raised more than $45,000!). The story from legendary sportswriter Frank Deford (who reminds me a little of Grandpa from “The Munsters”) played as part of a Thanksgiving series on NPR.
4—The NFL regular season is nearing its end, so every game now—at least for some teams (not my 3-9 Redskins, sadly)—really counts. Tonight, 9-2 New Orleans meets the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks for an NFC Monday Night Football battle. In another highly-anticipated matchup Sunday, the AFC West’s Denver defeated Kansas City 35-28. Yet even teams like Philadelphia and Detroit, both 7-5, and Green Bay (5-6-1) have a little life left depending on their division’s “wild card” scenario. Regardless, if you don’t watch the NFL, now is certainly a fun time to start.
5–And finally, from a kid with maybe the best holiday name ever, Huntington (Ind.) University senior Shane Merryman stunned a crowd possibly bigger than his school’s 1,000-student enrollment with this three-quarter court buzzer beater against Marian, winning with one second left, 61-59.