Tales from a Black Friday spent on the couch … watching sports

Friday, many people, millions probably, took advantage of the sales stores began offering Thanksgiving night.

I’ll be honest, I was one of them — at least on Thursday night. I hate myself a little for it, but I needed a new pair of pajama pants.

Also, I do enjoy being out in the mass of humanity. I don’t really know why. I’m an introvert, for crying out loud, but there’s just something about it.

Plus — and don’t judge me — I do like to shop.

But after waking up at 2:15 p.m. Friday (I was working on my blog until about 8:30 a.m.), I got up to watch my alma mater University of Iowa play the No. 16 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Hawkeye’s final regular season game.

Not only that, I was bracing myself for two more games at least, all of which would overlap in a sports smorgasbord of goodness.

The Iowa game started about 2:30 p.m., but then, the Chicago Blackhawks hockey game started about 3 p.m. That meant flipping between the two.

The Iowa basketball team started their game about 6 p.m. By then, the Blackhawks game was over, and the football game was just finishing up.

It was wonderful. The only thing missing was the Chicago Bulls basketball game that started at 6:30 p.m., but I refuse to pay the extra $100 for NBA League Pass, when I get most of the games on Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. I can live with missing a few games here and there.

Because I rarely get to sit down and watch three full games in one day, I recorded some observations while I enjoyed Black Friday — from my couch.

College football: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

logos-hawkeyes-footballFirst, a little context. My hatred for the University of Nebraska runs deep. And I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s because of a woman who broke my heart years ago. Yes, I’ve moved on. Yes, I’m happily married. But we all have those things that just get to us.

And what made this year’s edition of the rivalry game even more juicy was Nebraska was playing for a spot in the Big 10 championship game. And Iowa could spoil it while staking a claim itself for an even better bowl game come late December or early January.

Friday’s game didn’t start well for the Huskers.

In the first half alone, the Hawkeyes put up three big plays, all of which resulted in scores. Running back Akrum Wadley busted a 75-yard touchdown run. Quarterback C.J. Beathard hit WR Riley McCarron, a fellow senior, on a crossing route for a 77-yard score. Then, senior running back LeShun Daniels Jr., the thunder to Wadley’s lightning, busted a 50-plus-yard run and eventually finished off the drive.

I took oh-so-much pleasure in watching Iowa smoke Nebraska up and down the field. So much so that I was neglecting the Blackhawks game, which by now had started.

I was switching back and forth, but the Iowa game was my primary concern at that point.

At the half, the Hawkeyes were up comfortably, 20-3.

NHL hockey: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks

Bless you, halftime. Now, I could devote a solid 20 minutes to my beloved Blackhawks.logos-blackhawks

By this time, Chicago was up 2-0 midway through the second period.

Chicago was playing without its unquestioned leader in Jonathan Toews, but seemed to be fine.

Honestly, with the skill players and solid goal-tending the Blackhawks bring to the table, they weren’t going to miss a beat — in the short term.

The consensus seemed to be that No. 19 was day-to-day, and it wasn’t anything serious.

So far, so good.

With about 4:20 left in the second, the Blackhawks’ Ryan Hartman connected on a goal, making it 3-0.

Ten seconds later, though, the Ducks would get one of their own on what appeared to be a weak goal given up by Corey Crawford. No one’s perfect. Not even a two-time Stanley Cup champion.

The score didn’t change for the rest of the period, making the it 3-1 Blackhawks heading into the second intermission.

Back to football

logos-hawkeyes-footballThe third quarter was getting underway as soon as I turned back.

Great timing.

After forcing a Nebraska punt on their initial possession of the second half, Iowa’s Desmond King, who could’ve been a first-round pick in last year’s NFL draft, returned it 40 plus yards. Then, a late-hit penalty extended the run even farther.

The Hawkeyes would score on a touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle but would fail on the extra point attempt, making the score 26-3.

Then, Nebraska clawed back with a scoring drive of their own when they converted on a fourth-and-10 from inside the red zone.

Uh-oh. That had the feel of a turning point.

Back to hockey

logos-blackhawksI quickly switched back to the hockey game in time to see the Ducks score, but the goal was immediately disallowed and held up with video evidence as the goal was tipped in with the gloved hand of an Anaheim player.

A definite no-no.

Still 3-1 Blackhawks.

Back to football

logos-hawkeyes-footballI turned back to the Iowa game, and I wasn’t feeling great about the Hawkeyes’ chances as Nebraska forced a punt on Iowa’s next possession.

Uh-oh, again.


I switched back to the Blackhawks game only to find they were in commercial, too.

Come on, people. Let’s coordinate these things.

Back to football

logos-hawkeyes-footballI turned back to the Iowa game and started to feel a little better as the Hawkeye defense returned the Nebraska favor and stopped the Cornhuskers’ offense.

OK. We’re good now. Momentum quashed.

Back to hockey

logos-blackhawksReturning to the Blackhawks game, with 11:09 left in the third and final period, the Ducks scored, trimming the Blackhawks’ lead to one.


Back to football

logos-hawkeyes-footballA look back to the Iowa game found the Hawkeyes driving near the start of the fourth quarter.

Now we’re cooking.

Back to hockey

logos-blackhawksReturning to the Blackhawks game, Chicago was holding on to its slim margin with just 2 minutes left.

I was hoping for a regulation win.

After all, according to my Fitbit, I had just 5 hours of sleep, and I was getting exhausted trying to keep up with these two action-packed games.

Plus, the Iowa baskeball game was starting soon, and the juggling act would become that much more complicated.

Thankfully, the Blackhawks would hold on, and for the time being, I could focus on football.

Back to football

logos-hawkeyes-footballIowa added to their lead with a field goal, making it 29-10, but wait, Nebraska was penalized for running into the kicker.

This allowed Kittle to haul in his second touchdown pass of the evening, extending the Hawkeyes lead, 33-10.

Iowa added another score late in the fourth quarter, cashing in on two fourth-down conversions.

40-10, Hawkeyes.

And that’s the way it would end. The Heroes Trophy is ours. Still.

College basketball: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Virginia Cavaliers

logos-iowa-basketballFeeling like a proud alumnus, I switched to the Iowa basketball game, but I honestly wasn’t expecting much.

ACC powerhouse No. 7 Virginia awaited in a Thanksgiving holiday tournament from Destin, Fla.

And, sadly, I wasn’t disappointed as the Cavaliers dominated from the get-go.

I, of course, decided to take the high road and took to Twitter to ridicule Virginia guard Kyle Guy’s man bun.

Nope, not a good look.

Seriously, it’s not a good look for any guy. Just stop it.

In my defense, even TV analyst Doug Gottlieb decided to take a swipe.

“You’ve gotta be good with hair that bad,” he said.

So it wasn’t just me.

Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes were blown out by 33, 74-41.

Just brutal.

But this was a game that’s sure to give Iowa some necessary experience, which will come in handy with upcoming games against Notre Dame and the always tough in-state battles with Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa.

It’ll likely be Iowa’s toughest regular season game. At least I hope.

Friday takeaways

After watching games for those glorious five hours, I have some observations.

One, I think I’m back into the swing of things with fall and winter sports.

For a while, I’ve been basking in the Cubs World Series championship, and even before that, I was so into their playoff run that I paid little attention to football, basketball or even hockey.

After immersing myself Friday, I think I’m good now.

Sadly, the college football season is pretty well over, sans conference championship and bowl games. But college and pro basketball have a ways to go, as do the NFL and NHL.

Two, man buns need to be banished. Forever.

It’s not a good look, guys. It just isn’t. Stop it. Seriously. Even you.

Finally, three — and this is the most important — I have the most understanding wife ever.

My wife deserves an immense amount of credit for putting up with my year-round sports obsessions.

It goes like this. Football begins, for real, in September, followed by hockey and basketball in October. Football ends in early February, but hockey and basketball continue into June. Baseball, however, has already begun in April and continues into late October/early November. By then, however, football has already kicked off. Thus, the year-round obsession with sports, much like the circle of life, continues.

Listen, the patience she displayed Friday, much like the rest of the year, makes her worthy of — well, a patience award.

Now, I made it up to her a little bit. After the games, we watched “A Madea Christmas” and the last hour of “Mean Girls.”

I’m not a monster, after all.

Sports crazy? Absolutely.

But I can’t help it. It is the most wonderful time of the year.


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