1st Down: Serena Williams is out of the US Open for what appears to be the final time, losing on Friday night to Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round despite a valiant effort in the first two sets. While much of the talk and love is being given to Serena, it’s very unfair to overlook the play of the Australian. She went toe-to-toe with Williams on hostile ground, and she came out the victor in a long, long match. The first set went the Aussie’s way 7-5 before she lost a tiebreaker in the second to Williams that sent it to the third. Even with that victory in the set, however, Williams’ gas tank had been depleted, and she was waylayed by Tomljanovic in the third 6-1 as she went out in front of the faithful at Arthur Ashe. It was a remarkable showing by both, and it just goes to show that father time comes for us all.
2nd Down: The College Football Playoff was always destined to be larger than just four teams, wasn’t it? From the very first day of the new format, there have been rumors that it would expand. Friday was the day the decision was officially made, as the CFP board voted unanimously to expand to 12 teams- from four- for the 2026 edition. However, they are ‘encouraging’ the commissioners of the sport of college football to adopt the expanded format as early as 2024, meaning we could have even more playoff madness sooner than later. Logistic concerns are one of the main reasons for the possible delay to 2026. As for the format, it looks as if the top four conference champs would receive byes to the quarterfinal round while the other eight will have to fight to get there. This idea was floated out in 2021, but was shot down at the time due to politics between the conferences. Now, it seems everyone is on board.
3rd Down: The Chicago Bulls got a little bit of bad news on Friday with news emerging that point guard Lonzo Ball is unlikely to make it back in time to play for them to begin the 2022-23 season. The guard went under the knife for surgery back on January 28th to repair his knee, and the team are stating that he will miss training camp and is a serious doubt to be ready for the actual start of the regular season. Ball is 25 and the Bulls were well over .500 (27-13) with him on the floor last season prior to the injury. He averaged 13 points and 5 assists per game.
4th Down: College football’s opening couple of weekends continued on Friday night with a few games on the gridiron. One ranked team was in action, with #15 Michigan State taking down Western Michigan 35-13 in East Lansing. Payton Thorne threw four TD passes in a game that was much tighter than the score line would make it seem. Elsewhere, Indiana rallied past Illinois to win 23-20, Duke beat Temple 30-0, and TCU got off to a winning start by defeating Colorado 38-13 on the road.