Will Justin Fields come back to haunt the University of Georgia?
The folks at ESPN seem to think so.
With everyone going through NCAA Tournament withdrawal, the network’s college football writers decided to combine the best of both worlds and set up a 64-team bracket based on ESPN’s current football power index for 2020.
The top four seeds were Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Alabama. The next four included Penn State, Texas, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. Georgia came in as a No. 3 seed.
Only Wisconsin was knocked out before the Elite Eight, replaced by Georgia, which has not won a national championship since Herschel Walker led the Bulldogs to the title in 1980.
Georgia arrived in the national quarterfinals by knocking off Washington State 41-10 in the first round and Pittsburgh 24-6 in the second round. Behind new quarterback Jamie Newman, the Bulldogs continued to roll toward a national championship with a Sweet 16 romp — 28-14 over Miami — and a 33-20 win over Southern Cal in the Elite Eight.
Georgia completed the run to the title game with a 27-20 victory over Penn State in the Final Four.
Fields, the former Harrison High School standout who transferred from the Bulldogs to the Buckeyes before the 2019 season, picked up where he left off in 2019.
The Heisman Trophy front-runner led Ohio State through the bracket with wins over ACC teams in the first two rounds — Duke (42-21) and Louisville (42-14). In the Sweet 16, the Buckeyes did something they do not do very often — beat an SEC squad in Auburn (31-27) — and followed with an 34-28 Elite Eight victory over Florida.
In the Final Four, Ohio State got another shot at Clemson. After the Buckeyes let last year’s semifinal get away, ESPN said they put this one away early, beating the Tigers 35-24 and advancing to the championship game to take on Georgia.
As for the title game, ESPN said Georgia’s defense wreaked havoc and pounded on Fields early, but he kept getting up and brushing himself off. In the end, Fields led Ohio State on a game-winning drive to cement his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in Buckeyes history with a 35-31 victory.
The fact that Georgia made it to the title game in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season is impressive, but the Bulldogs have managed to make it this far before.
Unfortunately, a fictional national championship is still out of Georgia’s reach.
CHANGE IN PLANS
The United States Golf Association canceled local U.S. Open qualifying in its current form Tuesday.
What does that mean? No one, including the USGA, knows.
The association also is unsure about how long it will accept applications to play in the qualifiers for the main tournament, which is scheduled to be played June 18-21 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.
What is for sure is Marietta Country Club will not hold a round of local qualifying, as it was scheduled to May 6. When I reached out to the USGA to find out if local qualifying — in whatever form — would return to MCC this year, Beth Major, senior director of championship communications, said she did not know.
“Both topics are being discussed, but we have not reached any conclusions,” she said. “We are looking at all possible qualifying scenarios and will be sure to keep you updated as our plans develop.”
The USGA made its announcement on the same day the PGA of America postponed the PGA Championship. Like the Masters last week, the PGA is hoping to be rescheduled at a later date, but it is becoming more difficult to see either tournament being rescheduled.
The PGA Tour has a complete schedule through the FedEx Cup Playoffs at East Lake Golf Club, and that ends in August. The schedule takes a couple weeks off before the 2020-21 wrap-around season begins.
Now, officials have to find a spot for two majors. In addition, the Ryder Cup is scheduled for late September.
GOING TO BE EXPENSIVE
While it is going to be difficult to reschedule the Masters, that is not keeping people from making plans to be in Augusta for a possible fall tournament.
Augusta National Golf Club traditionally is closed from May to October because of the Georgia heat, so golf fans have started reserving all the hotel rooms for the month leading up to Halloween.
According to Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson, nearly all of the Hilton properties are sold out for October. On the Marriott website, one week of the month had a room at the Fairfield Inn going for $883 a night.
READY FOR SOME BASEBALL?
While the start of the Major League Baseball season is being delayed because of the coronavirus, that doesn’t mean you can’t watch Ronald Acuña Jr. hit home runs at Truist Park.
RBI Baseball 20 is now available on Xbox One, PS4, the Nintendo Switch and Steam. The game will be available soon on iOS- and Android-enabled smartphones.
The seventh version of the game allows players to play in franchise mode, which allows the player to assume the role of general manager to make trades, bring players up from the minors and build a team over multiple seasons. Exhibition mode allows for quick games, and the Home Run Derby can pit any player throughout history against one another.