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2018 Sports Year in Review

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2018 Sports Year in Review

2018 was a great year for football, basketball, golf, and soccer.

2018 was a great year for football, basketball, golf, and soccer.

Illustration by Jonathan Callison

2018 was a great year for football, basketball, golf, and soccer.

Illustration by Jonathan Callison

Illustration by Jonathan Callison

2018 was a great year for football, basketball, golf, and soccer.

Noah Housler, News Editor

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   In the world of sports, 2018 was a memorable year for fans of the established best teams in sports, but underdogs had some fun too.

   In January, college football fans saw Georgia take down Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, leading Oklahoma 52-48 in double overtime in the Rose Bowl to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff title game. On the other side of the playoff bracket, the number four Alabama obliterated number 1 Clemson, 24-6. When Alabama met Georgia in the title game, they struggled through much of the game before bringing in true freshman Tua Tagovailoa for the second half. Winning the national championship as a true freshman was the beginning of Tua’s rise to a second place finish in the Heisman race.

   February brought sports viewers the 52nd edition of the Super Bowl. The longstanding dynasty of the New England Patriots took on the underdog Philadelphia Eagles led by backup quarterback Nick Foles. The Eagles held off the Patriots’ attempt at a signature New England comeback and won the city of Philadelphia their first ever Super Bowl championship.

   Madness was the perfect description for the 2018 edition of March Madness, the widely adopted nickname for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The University of Maryland Baltimore County pulled off an incredible first time feat by taking down number one overall seed Virginia in the first round as a 16 seed. In the second round, freshman Jordan Poole saved Michigan’s season with a three point buzzer beater against Houston. Loyola-Chicago continued their impressive run with another down to the wire win over Nevada in the Sweet 16. In the final four and the final game in the month of March, Michigan took on Cinderella story 11 seed Loyola-Chicago and came out victorious after pulling away in the second half. On the other side of the bracket, Villanova wiped the floor with Kansas in one of the most dominant offensive performances in recent memory.

   On April 2, Villanova and Michigan took the court for the National Championship. Villanova put together another lights out shooting game led by Donte DiVincenzo, who scored 31 points coming off the bench. Propelled by DiVincenzo’s performance, Villanova dominated Michigan from start to finish. Villanova secured their second national title in three seasons, a definitive mark of a program that will go down in history as one of the best. The following weekend, the 82nd edition of the Masters was played at arguably the most iconic course in golf, Augusta, located in Augusta, Georgia. Tiger Woods played in his first Masters in three years. Woods finished +1 for the tournament with only one round played under par. This was definitely not the performance golf fans were expecting, but other fan favorites such as Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth were in heavy contention until the end. However, on Sunday, it was Patrick Reed putting on the prestigious green jacket as a Masters champion.

   The month of May was pretty light on sports but the NBA playoffs were played, narrowing it all down to Lebron vs the Warriors. In a slightly more competitive sport, the UEFA Champions League final was played on May 26 in Kiev. Mo Salah led Liverpool took on back to back UCL champions Real Madrid in Cristiano Ronaldo’s final game for the club. Real Madrid won the game in dominant fashion 3-1, Gareth Bale scored one of the greatest goals of all time, and Mo Salah dislocated his shoulder on what many believe to be a dirty play by Sergio Ramos. After adding in a completely abysmal goalkeeping performance by Liverpool’s Karius, this would be an easy day to forget for Liverpool fans.

   June was a forgettable month for just about anyone who does not support the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors won their second title in a row after sweeping Lebron and an otherwise forgettable Cavaliers squad. This Cavaliers roster included JR Smith who at one point did not realize his team was losing the game and dribbled the clock out when he had a chance to score. The FIFA World Cup in Russia began on June 14 with two weeks of group stage play for spots in the knockout stage. After the group stage finished, 16 teams were left, Russia and Japan being the two biggest surprises.

   In July, the World Cup knockout stage was played with quite a few very memorable games notably in the round of 16 when France defeated Argentina 4-3. This 4-3 win for France included two goals in four minutes from 19 year old phenom Kylian Mbappe. Portugal was also beaten in the round of 16 by Uruguay 2-1, both Uruguay goals being scored by Paris Saint-Germain stand out Edinson Cavani. With Argentina and Portugal both out in the round of 16, the endless Messi vs. Ronaldo debate was calmed for the remainder of the tournament. The semi-finals pitted France vs. Belgium and Croatia vs. England, both games were decided by a single goal difference and France was set to take on Croatia at the final in Moscow. France dominated the entirety of the championship game and won 4-2 with goals from three of their own players along with Croatian standout Mario Mandzukic putting in an own goal. The third place game between Belgium and England finished in a 2-0 victory for Belgium.

   August was a very empty month for sports like most years. However, European club soccer and college football kicked off the 2018-19 season in August.

   September featured quite a few marquee college football matchups for teams that are open to playing good teams early in the season. On September 1, Auburn played Washington in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz stadium, a neutral site game in which Auburn still had a home field advantage. Auburn utilized this advantage and secured a 21-16 win. Shortly after the game in Atlanta concluded, old rivals Michigan and Notre Dame were set to square off in South Bend for the first time since 2014, the end of the Brady Hoke era. The Fighting Irish were up 21-0 in the blink of an eye after another typical Michigan big game on the road start. At the time this game was played, Michigan had not beaten a ranked team on the road since Notre Dame in 2006. That streak would continue after this game as Notre Dame secured a 24-17 victory with a suffocating defensive effort. After week one there were still quite a few notable games in September. Clemson played at Texas A&M in Jimbo Fisher’s opening season with the Aggies, but the Clemson Tigers survived the scare 28-26. Another early season surprise was Michigan State’s trip into the desert to play Herm Edwards and his Arizona State Sun Devils. The Spartans returning 19 starters had high expectations for this season but were stunned early by the Sun Devils 16-13, after a perfectly coached final stretch of the game by Herm Edwards.On the final weekend of September, James Franklin executed his signature move perfectly, mismanaging a big game his team is in a position to win. This time against Ohio State, after calling a draw play out of the shotgun formation on 4th and 5 on the final drive of the game.

   With October comes rivalry week, and the agenda pushing and mental gymnastics that come with it. When the big day came on October 20, both teams were on different trajectories despite the Spartans victory in Happy Valley the week before, as Michigan came into the game 7-1 and Michigan State 4-3. Before the game, there was a dispute between Michigan players warming up on the field and Michigan State players doing their traditional pregame march across the field. The Michigan players refused to get out of the way resulting in a small scuffle in which players were clotheslined and had headphones ripped off, ending in Wolverine standout Devin Bush defacing the Spartan logo with his cleats. Spartan fans hoped this would revive the chip on the shoulder, us against the world mentality that Mark Dantonio has built a program out of; however that is not how the game went. Michigan’s defense held the Spartans to 94 total yards of offense but still struggled to break the game open on the other side of the ball. The Wolverines ended up taking Paul Bunyan back to Ann Arbor with a 21-7 victory and a Chase Winovich “little brother” comment on national television. Prior to the in-state rivalry game, those in the Grand Ledge area have invested themselves in so heavily, Oklahoma and Texas squared off in the Red River rivalry game in Norman. Texas won this game 48-45 sparking the debate about if the Longhorns really were “back.”

   November began with Alabama demolishing LSU in Death Valley and Michigan avenging the 2017 disaster in Happy Valley with a 42-7 win at the Big House. Michigan State hoped to turn their season around in a home game against an Ohio State team that seemed to have weaknesses. The Spartan defense tried to do so.  However, Brian Lewerke, his 39% completion rate, along with Dave Warner, had other plans. Ohio State took home a 26-6 win, with a defensive touchdown and a safety. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, a dreaded day for almost all Wolverine fans, came with a different attitude. This was the year it was supposed to be different, just like many other years, and as many feared, it was not. Six touchdowns for Dwayne Haskins later, the Buckeyes embarrassed Michigan and their “revenge tour” 62-39 in Urban Meyer’s alleged final game at Ohio Stadium. College basketball also tipped off in November, most notably No. 6 Michigan State vs. No. 7 Kansas at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Kansas won the game 92-87 after a poor first half from the Spartans. Michigan avenged the National Championship loss with a 73-46 win, and also beat North Carolina in a similar fashion just 2 weeks after. Super team Duke also suffered their first defeat at the hands of Gonzaga.

   The college football postseason is almost entirely a December affair for most programs. Relevant bowl season began on December 28, with No. 13 Washington State and No. 24  Iowa State in the Alamo Ball in San Antonio. Fan favorite quarterback Gardner Minshew and the Cougars won in a close game 28-26. On the same night, No. 20 Syracuse defeated West Virginia, without Will Grier, 34-18. The next day Michigan came to Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl to play Florida for the third time in the Harbaugh era. Michigan brought the same losing energy from Columbus and lost another game in a blowout 41-15. Later in the day, Clemson obliterated Notre Dame 30-3 in the opening playoff game, the Cotton Bowl in Arlington. The second playoff game was a much more competitive game. Alabama defeated Oklahoma 45-34 to advance to back to back National Championships. In the NFL, the Lions failed to tank for a draft pick properly when they beat the Packers soundly 31-0. Back in college football, Michigan State took on Justin Herbert and the Oregon Ducks in the Redbox Bowl on New Years Eve. In the undisputed ugliest bowl game of the season, Oregon came out victorious 7-6 after Brian Lewerke and his coordinator Dave Warner failed to score a touchdown with a month to prepare. This left both major in-state programs with sour endings to the football season but basketball teams on a roll to end 2018.

   2018 had quite a few memorable events in the sports world and although many established dynasties kept winning, many teams enter 2019 closer to their own dynasty, memories, and big moments.

 

About the Writer
Noah Housler, News Editor

Contact Me: [email protected]

Noah Housler is a Senior at Grand Ledge high school. This is his 2nd year on the Comets Tale staff. Noah is the news...

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2018 Sports Year in Review