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The Oregon Ducks won the Holiday Bowl at Petco Park after defeating North Carolina 28-27 in a thrilling comeback win. Photo via Twitter/Petco Park
The Oregon Ducks won the Holiday Bowl at Petco Park after defeating North Carolina 28-27 in a thrilling comeback win. Photo via Twitter/Petco Park
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Craziest year in sports continues: NFL Wild Card race, bowl season

Another 12 months of baseball, football, basketball, golf, NASCAR, Formula One, tennis, Olympics, soccer, horse racing and more have entered the books. If you’re like me, you’re probably already buckled in and ready for more.

Let’s start with the Los Angeles Rams winning the Super Bowl LVI in front of a home crowd at SoFi Stadium in February. Then, after another whirlwind March Madness, the Kansas Jayhawks won the NCAA men’s basketball championship. The Golden State Warriors won another NBA Championship three months later — their fourth title in eight years.

More from the craziest year in sports:

— Sonny Leon riding Rich Strike, was a 75-to-1 long shot at winning the Kentucky Derby. Leon’s colt made it into the race after another horse couldn’t participate and went on to win the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May.

— San Diego Padres: What a year of memories for the Friar faithful. The Padres beating the 110-win Los Angeles Dodgers, arguably one of the better baseball teams in MLB history, was the ultimate high for San Diego sports fans in 2022.

— The World Cup Qatar 2022 took center stage and brought the world together to collectively witness one of the best tournaments ever played in soccer. Soccer legend Lionel Messi led Argentina to defeat France 4-2 in penalty kicks after the game was tied at 3-3. In what is considered likely his final World Cup appearance, Messi finally earned the coveted prize.

— College Football: The bowl season and the road to the 2023 College Football Playoff was wild.

In San Diego, the No. 15 Oregon Ducks and the North Carolina Tar Heels faced off in the Holiday Bowl, which was hosted at Petco Park for the first time in the baseball stadium’s history. The Ducks, trailing 27-21 in the game’s final minutes, drove down the field and scored the game-tying touchdown before banking the PAT off the left upright to seal the win over UNC, 28-27. The entire country watched this magical and thrilling matchup. Congratulations, America’s Finest City.

— The same night, the Arkansas Razorbacks watched their big lead over the Kansas Jayhawks disappear in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Trailing 31-7, the Jayhawks mounted a huge — and highly improbable comeback — but fell short in triple overtime, 55-53.

Saturday

Two NCAA semifinal matchups — Michigan and TCU kicked off the day with the first game in the Fiesta Bowl. This game had all the drama and close calls of any memorable game. When a team had the edge, the other scored quickly on the next possession. The Horned Frogs jumped to a quick start, scoring soon after the opening kickoff and keeping their foot on the pedal.

Michigan had some bad luck — a touchdown reversed, fumbling on the one-yard line and a blown targeting call to end the game. TCU is the first Big 12 team to make the championship game since the playoff began. The Horned Frogs were tabbed underdogs at a touchdown and a hook (+7 1/2) but kept their championship hopes alive in a 51-45 win to hand the Wolverines their only loss of the season.

The second game held in Atlanta featured undefeated Georgia and Ohio State. This game, just like the earlier game, was an instant classic. By the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes seemed to have taken control of the game, leading the Bulldogs 28-14.

But Georgia launched a gallant comeback, surviving after the Buckeyes missed a last-second field goal to win, 42-41. The Bulldogs earned their second-straight national championship game appearance on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles.

This college football season has been tremendous. Many college bowl games are candidates for the best of all time. While the opt-outs and transfer portal had some limited liabilities, overall, the college football season was poetry in motion.

Sunday

— The NFL’s Week 17 had significant ramifications heading into the day, with several teams vying for an opportunity to play in the postseason. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers all won to improve their playoff hopes. The Washington Commanders, however, did not and were eliminated after losing to the Cleveland Browns. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) won the NFC South.

The final week pits the Lions and Packers to fight for a Wild Card slot. Other teams still alive: New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks.

There is one more college football game of major significance: TCU and Georgia in the College Football Playoff championship game. Plus, another week of the NFL’s topsy-turvy regular season.

As we have seen in the past, nothing should be taken as a safe path. The road has proven to be rugged the entire way. And yet, the beat goes on!

Join us on the radio for Race and Sports Radio at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings at The Mightier 1090 AM ESPN Radio! 

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