Sports Roundtable: Issue 3


Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack crosses the goal line for a touchdown after intercepting a pass by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton during second quarter action on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 at the Oakland-Almeda Country Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. Credit: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS

By Luke Casola ’20, Gideon Hyman ’20, Will Mallory ’20, Neema Mansouri ’20 and Gautam Natarajan ’20

College Bowl Games – Will Mallory
Every year, the college football season ends with bowl games. In previous years, the two best teams would square off in the BCS Championship game, and the winner would be presented with a glass trophy. In 2014, a new committee was formed, called the College Football Playoff Committee. Every year, the committee selects four teams to compete for the title of National Champion. However, over the past few years, people have come to believe that four teams is not enough and that the playoff needs to expand to be expanded eight teams.
In my opinion, the College Football Playoff should not expand to eight teams, nor should it stay at four. The best solution to this problem is to expand it to a six team playoff. This is because of the controversy that has been occurring for the past few years, as well as the time allotted and player’s health. In 2014, the Committee was reprimanded for leaving Baylor and Texas Christian University out, two of the strongest teams of that year, but they had no other choice. The team behind Baylor and TCU was Mississippi State, and the decision to leave them out was not nearly as controversial as the other two. This year, the decision to leave Michigan and Penn State out was controversial, but the decision to leave Oklahoma, one seed behind Penn State, was not. This suggests that the top six teams are usually the strongest and have the most talent. The committee should suggest a system that includes six teams, where the first and second ranked teams would have a bye, and the other four would compete to determine who played the top seeds, similar to the format of the NFL playoffs. This way, there are not too many games, like there would be with an eight team playoff, and more teams can get a shot at the National Championship.
Lions at Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezkiel Elliott (21) runs for a first quarter touchdown run as Dak Prescott looks on as the Cowboys take on the Detroit Lions Monday, Dec. 26,2016 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Credit: Richard W. Rodriguez/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Rookie Duo: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel ElliotCasola
One word: “rookies.”  The Dallas Cowboys drafted Elliot fourth overall and Prescott as the 135th pick.  Many did not believe that the Cowboys would be as good as they are without quarterback Tony Romo, but they proved those people wrong.  Elliott and Prescott have been in talks to win the MVP and ROY awards in their first seasons, which has only been done once before in NFL history.  In the first half of the NFL season, Zeke put up historic rushing numbers, sitting at the top with Viking’s running back Adrian Peterson and former Ram’s running back Eric Dickerson.  Dak has shown that he can be dual threat, throwing and running the ball.  Nobody knows what we will see from this duo in the future, but if they continue to play at a legendary level, then both of them can have great careers.  Zeke and Dak led the Cowboys to a NFC East title and a record of 13-3.  Who knows if the rookie duo can keep up their play next season?  We’ll see.
NHL Expansion – Hyman
On June 22, the NHL approved its first expansion since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the League in the 2000-01 season. There have been many announcements and details made regarding the newly added team. However, the most important announcement was recently made providing the team’s new name and logo. The team will be called the Las Vegas Golden Knights, a name inspired by the military base nearby but that has been recently criticized by the army. The Golden Knights have been the name of a military parachute team based in Fort Bragg since the 1960s. Team owner Bill Foley originally wanted to call the team the Black Knights but refrained after military officials expressed concern. I think that the team should change their name to something different if it upsets the military. A hockey team can change their name if they really want to, but the military is not just going to rename a famed parachute team. Something more affiliated with Las Vegas might make more sense, like the “High Rollers” or the “Gamblers.” Regardless of the name, a Las Vegas hockey team will debut in the 2017-2018 season.
Phoenix Suns vs. Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) gestures to the crowd while playing the Phoenix Suns during the fourth quarter on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland Calif. The Warriors defeated the Suns 133-120. Credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group/TNS

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – Natarajan
The Warriors and Cavaliers, a rematch of the 2016 finals on Christmas day in Cleveland, was a must watch. The Cavs rallied through the Warriors defense and overturned a 14-point deficit. The Cavaliers win shows that the Warriors still have their problems and the Cavs can overcome them. By playoff time, point guard Steph Curry and small forward Kevin Durant will figure out a way to work together and contribute as best as they can without hindering the other’s game. If they can figure this out, the Warriors will be flying and the championship should be theirs. So far, Curry hasn’t really showed us his true potential like his level of performance last season. The Cavaliers play in the less challenging eastern conference and don’t have to really go “all out” and can save energy for the finals. On the other hand, the Warriors have to battle the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who can put up a fight in a seven-game series. My overall prediction is that the Warriors come out on top as the champs and bring the title back to the Bay Area.
Carolina Panthers vs. Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack crosses the goal line for a touchdown after intercepting a pass by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton during second quarter action on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 at the Oakland-Almeda Country Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. Credit: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS

Raiders Fail to Rise to the Occasion – Mansouri
The Raiders finished the regular season 12-4 behind the spectacular seasons of Quarterback Derek Carr and Linebacker Khalil Mack. The Raiders have been regarded as one of the best, if not the best, team in the NFL all season. They can owe their success to their 1-2 punch of Carr and Mack. Carr is still in the MVP race, but a season-ending injury to his fibula held his team short of advancing in the playoffs. He was able to lead his team to 12 wins, and he has single-handedly won them multiple games in the fourth quarter alone. Carr has had four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter this season, bailing his team out of difficult situations. In addition, Mack has shown that he can be the best at the linebacker position, tallying 11 sacks in the season.  Unfortunately, Carr’s injury caused a huge problem within Oakland’s offense. After backup quarterback Matt McGloin suffered a shoulder injury in week 16, the Raiders turned to their only option left, rookie quarterback Connor Cook. Mack’s leadership on defense was not enough to help out the rookie quarterback or the rest of the offense. The Raiders lost to the Houston Texans 14-27 with Cook at quarterback, ending their season on a sour note. Many speculated that with the star quarterback active, a Super Bowl appearance would be likely, but without Carr in the lineup, their season came to a bitter end.