Saturday, October 21, 2006

Just one of those streaky days...

Michigan State took a 3-0 lead over Northwestern in their Big 10 football match-up, then fell behind 38-3 as the Wildcats scored 38 consecutive points. The Spartans then answered with 38 straight of their own, to win 41-38. In doing so, MSU set a new NCAA Division I-A record for size of deficit overcome to win (35 points).

If you look at the lists of the teams' drives (underneath the graphical diagram of scoring drives), you can see vividly what has to happen to produce a comeback like this -- one team gets amazingly hot and the other, similarly cold.

Prior to starting its comeback, Michigan State's last five possessions (excluding a brief one at the end of the first half) had consisted exclusively of punts and turnovers -- hardly a sign that the Spartans could put together four sustained touchdown drives (the other points came on a punt return TD and a field goal).

For Northwestern, the pattern was just the opposite. The Wildcats went from being able to move the ball up and down the field with apparent ease (at least that's what's implied by five touchdown drives) to their own stretch of entirely punts and turnovers -- including three straight "three and outs."


The Buffalo Sabres have opened up the National Hockey League season with a perfect 8-0 record, with tonight's win over the Boston Bruins. The Sabres are now two more wins away from tying the NHL record for most consecutive wins to start a season.


Finally, in tonight's World Series opener, won by St. Louis 7-2, Cardinal rookie Anthony Reyes retired 17 straight Tigers (i.e., nearly six straight innings of perfect baseball) after giving up a first-inning run. A graphic on the television broadcast noted that Reyes's streak was the best in World Series play since 1990, when Cincinnati's Jose Rijo put down 20 straight Oakland battersin the Reds' series-clinching Game 4 victory (see little game-by-game summaries on the right-hand side of the linked document).

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