👋 Happy Wednesday! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,635 words (6 minutes)
The College Football Playoff committee released its first of five official rankings last night, with Ohio State taking the top spot and Penn State somewhat surprisingly coming in at No. 4, one spot ahead of Clemson.
Why it matters: In every year of the playoff except for the first one, a team in the CFP committee's initial top four rankings won the national championship.
Go deeper: What the playoff and New Year's Six bowl games would be today (ESPN)
DUKE 68, KANSAS 66 — Tre Jones (left) scored 15 points and freshman Cassius Stanley (right) added 13 to help the fourth-ranked Blue Devils top the third-ranked Jayhawks at Madison Square Garden. Kansas had 28(!) turnovers.
KENTUCKY 69, MICHIGAN ST. 62 — In the nightcap, freshman star Tyrese Maxey scored 26 points as the second-ranked Wildcats took down Cassius Winston (21 points) and the top-ranked Spartans.
Elsewhere: Jordan Ford scored 26 points as No. 20 Saint Mary's hung on to beat Wisconsin, 65-63 (OT), in South Dakota.
The first half of the Champions League's fourth matchday took place yesterday, with teams from Groups E, F, G and H going head-to-head across Europe.
Coming up: Groups A, B, C and D play today. We'll be back tomorrow with another recap.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
An automated strike zone will be used in some minor league ballparks next season, according to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred — the latest development in baseball's slow embrace of "robot umpires."
Why it matters: In a world of instant replays and booth reviews, and on the heels of a World Series in which an inconsistent strike zone took center stage, it's becoming harder and harder to imagine MLB not eventually going this route.
"I think it's incumbent upon us to see if we can get the system to the point we're comfortable it can work. I only would go to an automated strike zone when we were sure that it was absolutely the best it can be. Getting out there too early with it and not having it work well, that'd be a big mistake."— MLB commissioner Rob Manfred
Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images
The Panthers placed Cam Newton (left foot) on injured reserve yesterday, a move that effectively ends his season and could also spell the end of his tenure in Carolina.
Looking ahead: Newton has one more year left on the extension he signed after being named MVP in 2015, but the Panthers could save $19 million by cutting or trading the injury-prone star this offseason, per OverTheCap.
The bottom line: While it seems unlikely that the Panthers will cut Newton, they could seek a trade partner — especially if his replacement, Kyle Allen, keeps on winning (5-1 in Newton's absence).
150 years ago today, Rutgers beat the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), 6-4, in the first college football game ever played.
Yes, but: The game was played based on the London Football Association's 1863 rules, in which two teams of 25 players attempted to score by kicking the ball into the opposing team's goal. First team to 10 wins (hence the 6-4 score).
Six years later ... On June 4, 1875, Tufts and Harvard played the first college football game that actually looked like football (11 players per team, the ball was advanced by picking it up and running, play was stopped by tackling the ball carrier, etc).
Go deeper: 150 years of college football (Axios)
Over the coming weeks, we'll be featuring stories submitted by members of our "Overtime" community (refer 3 friends below to join!). Today's comes from Eliza Garry, a Boston-based writer/publicist and former college sailor.
The Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association hosted the 2019 Match Racing National Championship this past weekend in Marblehead, Mass., Eliza writes.
How it works: In match racing, two teams race around a short 10-minute course, as each boat tries to outmaneuver and slow down its competitor.
The results: The 10-team event began with a full round robin, followed by the semifinals and a finals, as well as matchups in the bottom half.
Final standings: 1. Stanford, 2. Georgetown, 3. Jacksonville, 4. Fordham, 5. Tufts, 6. Tulane, 7. Wisconsin, 8. Eckerd, 9. Bowdoin, 10. Washington
P.S. ... Some context: Ex-Stanford sailing coach avoids prison in U.S. college admissions scandal (Reuters)
James Harden posted his 80th career 40-point game on Monday, passing Allen Iverson for sole possession of 5th place in NBA history.
Answer at the bottom.
In his first game back after nearly two years of leukemia treatment, Texas redshirt sophomore Andrew Jones scored a career-high 20 points in the Longhorns' 69-45 win over Northern Colorado last night.
“I can't even explain the feeling. Coach gave me a pep talk before the game even started, reminding me about the 23 months since I last played and just how much work I put in. … I just had to trust everything I've been putting in to just come out here and play."— Jones, per Longhorn Network (video)
Reminder: Jones was Texas' leading scorer when he was diagnosed in January of 2018 and looked like a legit NBA prospect. Hope he balls out this year.
I was curious about the crossover appeal between UFC and boxing, so I asked you on Monday to select which of the following best describes you.
Kendall "Congrats to Tufts University for the double mention today!" Baker
Trivia answer: Kobe Bryant (117) and Elgin Baylor (88)