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Oklahoma is in: Sooners snag 4th spot in playoff semifinals

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Oklahoma is in Sooners snag 4th spot in playoff semifinals

Faced with a tricky choice, the College Football Playoff selection committee played it safe and fell back on some simple criteria: One loss is better than two. Winning a conference championship is better than not. Go with the team that avoided getting blown out.

Oklahoma is in the playoff over Georgia and Ohio State, moving into the fourth and final spot Sunday after the Sooners avenged their only loss by winning the Big 12 championship against Texas.

“I feel like we have a team worthy of it, a team that can go make a run,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said on ESPN.

The Sooners (12-1) will face No. 1 Alabama (13-0) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 in a matchup of Heisman Trophy front-runner quarterbacks — Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and the Tide’s Tua Tagovailoa, who sprained his ankle in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday and is expected to be laid up for two weeks.

No. 2 Clemson (13-0) plays No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) in the Cotton Bowl on the same day. The winners meet in the championship game on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California.

The rest of the New Year’s Six bowl matchups are UCF vs. LSU in the Fiesta Bowl; Florida vs. Michigan in the Peach Bowl; Ohio State vs. Washington in the Rose Bowl; and Texas vs. Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Georgia (11-2) dropped a spot to fifth and Ohio State (12-1) remained sixth in the selection committee’s final top 25. The Bulldogs lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game Saturday and the Buckeyes won the Big Ten against Northwestern. The Sooners paid back a three-point loss to Texas in a Red River Rivalry rematch.

The 13-member selection committee, given the intentionally vague task of picking the four best teams in college football, was watching games and deliberating at a hotel in Grapevine, Texas, until 1:30 a.m. CT Sunday, committee chairman Rob Mullens said. The committee finished its top four at 10:30 a.m. CT.

Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame separated from the pack by going undefeated.

The tough call was at No. 4. Mullens said the committee determined none of Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State was unequivocally best and that brought the selection protocol into play. The protocol says conference championships, head-to-head results, strength of schedule and comparative outcomes are used as virtual tiebreakers when teams are close. No factor is weighted more than another.

“This is an art, not a science,” said Mullens, who is the athletic director at Oregon.

Oklahoma’s conference championship gave it the edge over Georgia. The Bulldogs’ strength of schedule, with losses to ranked teams, gave Georgia the edge over Ohio State, Mullens said.

Oklahoma is making its third appearance in the five-year-old playoff. Defending national champion Alabama has played in them all. Clemson is making its fourth straight appearance. Notre Dame is in the playoff for the first time, making it 10 teams in five seasons to participate in the playoff. Unbeaten UCF finished eighth in the final rankings, nowhere to be found in the committee’s playoff discussion. The Knights will put their 25-game winning streak on the line against another SEC team after beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl last season.

The debate leading up to championship Saturday was whether Oklahoma or Ohio State would take the fourth spot if Alabama beat Georgia.

The wild card was Georgia beating the mighty Tide, which could have meant two SEC teams for the second straight season. Instead, the Bulldogs lost but played well enough to allow coach Kirby Smart to make that case that Georgia should remain in the top four. Smart told reporters after the SEC title game to ask Alabama coach Nick Saban which team he would like to avoid in the playoff? Saban, of course, endorsed his former defensive coordinator and conference-mate.

The committee didn’t buy it and stayed with the one consistent data point throughout the five years of playoff selections: No team with more than one loss has ever made the playoff.

Also, Mullens noted, only two of 20 playoff teams have not won a conference title.

For the second straight season, two Power Five conferences were left out of the playoff. Again it was the Big Ten and Pac-12.

“The CFP committee does its best and I appreciate their commitment to college football,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the AP in a text message. “Not frustrated at all because I know we have three teams capable of winning it all, but only have four playoff slots.”

Ohio State was the first team out last season and again was squeezed because of a lopsided loss to an unranked team. The Buckeyes were blown out by Purdue in October, similar to the way they lost at Iowa in 2017.

“A three-point loss to a ranked team on a neutral field is different than the only loss amongst that peer group to an unranked team, and obviously we did take note that Georgia’s two losses were against the No. 1 team in our rankings and what ultimately ended up being the No. 11 team (LSU),” Mullens said. ” Sure, that was part of the discussion, but it was just one part of it.”

Georgia has been rolling since losing by 20 at LSU in October and had Alabama on the ropes before the Tide erased a 14-point deficit. The Bulldogs proved they could hang against the best, but it was not enough to sway the committee into making an unprecedented playoff pick.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast

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More AP college football.

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Why Game of Thrones felt rushed

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Why Game of Thrones felt rushed

One of the biggest criticisms the eighth season of Game of Thrones received was that the final season was rushed. However, the given the numerous deviations from the source material, not only did DB Weiss and David Benioff not rush the show, they dragged out the plot. For those who noted that the eighth season of Game of Thrones needed to be longer, they would have to answer the question of what fills the four additional episodes. In my opinion there really is nothing. Episode 2 was a filler episode before the Battle of Winterfell. Under the guise of “character development” prepubescent Arya had sex with bastard Gendry. This move then had to be undone in episode four, as a clear indicator that the moment was a pathetic instance of fan service, along with Jaime and Brienne, which the show also undid. D&D didn’t put much thought into building a plot, but they didn’t really have to. Their job was to adapt the novels into film, a challenging task. People tend to forget that the first four seasons were based on the first three books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Season five was based on half of book five, A Dance With Dragons. Book four was, with exception to Arya, passed over until season six, where D&D doubled back into A Feast For Crows in a rushed attempt to… I don’t know… fill the time and bring back old characters. D&D essentially followed books 1-3, skipped book four, went to book five, inserted non-existent and forgettable plots(Dorne), then went beyond canon, then rushed through book four, then went back beyond. If Game of Thrones only now feels rushed to you, you have not been paying attention. So what am I saying? Two arguments. One Game of Thrones cut out and deviated so much from the books that they did not have enough plot points to build to a longer series. Second, D&D, instead of writing substitute plot points, they chose to drag out a plot remaining plot but instead of building up to it with actual plot points, the filled the time in-between with fast travel, fan service in the form of plot armor and nostalgia, and contradictory story elements. So, in order to build a non rushed series, we truly have to go back and redo season five onward.

Season Five

However, in correcting a major mistake in the Tyrion arc, in season four, Jaime will confess to Tyrion that his first wife Tysha was as she seemed and not a whore. However in keeping Episode 4.10 the same, we can have Lord Varys deliver the news to Tyrion. Tyrion will begin season five wondering “wherever whores go.” Sansa will not be married to Ramsay Snow/Bolton. She will end the season witnessing the genius of Petyr Baelish as he takes over the Vale as its de facto lord. Instead, the show will proceed with Fake Arya. Jon Snow still becomes Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and makes a pact with the alive Mance Rayder and chooses to spare his son over Craster’s. The viewer will actually get to see Cersei suck at ruling as Queen Regent and burn the tower of the hand. The viewer will also get to see Daenerys suck at ruling Mereen. Ser Barristan will not be killed. The Ironborn plot will be introduced here. Euron Greyjoy will be more than just bumfinger. The Dornish plot will feature Arianne and Quentyn Martell. Jaime goes to the Riverlands, with Bronn(a deviation from the books I can support). Most importantly, Young Griff will be featured.

The hardest part of the new season five would be coming up with a sufficient “episode nine” which has a massive reputation to live up to. The Dornish plot is one instance where this could climax. The viewer could get to watch Ser Areys Oakheart die. Daenerys flying off on Drogon in the fighting pits is another good move.

Season Six

Now season six would be like season four was to season three, just nonstop excitement as the viewer reaches the climaxes of the fourth and fifth books. The Siege of Mereen would persist and Ser Barristan Selmy muscles his way to clean the mess created by Daenerys. Tyrion becomes a more malicious schemer. Cersei walk of shame. Mance Rayder killed by Ramsay Bolton. Theon rescues Fake Arya. Prince Doran drops a big reveal. Baelish announces his northern ambitions to Sansa. Stannis is defeated, and not killed by Brienne. We get the Pink Letter! Jon Snow is killed.

Season Seven

The Siege of Mereen is lifted. Tyrion rises to power. Davos retrieves Rickon Stark (speculation). Jon becomes King in the North after the Battle of the Bastards where either the Knights of the Vale arrive before the battle begins or Sansa and Jon are not in communication so the Vale surprises in the end, much like Stannis and the Night’s Watch. Daenerys gets a Dothraki army. Cersei defeats her enemies via wildfire. Young Griff and the Dornish form an alliance (speculation). Young Griff arrives in the Stormlands makes an alliance with the Dornish.

Season Eight

Daenerys arrives to Westeros. Battle of Winterfell, with actual military tactics applied. Jon Snow and Daenerys love story. One of the major claimants falls.

Season Nine

Jon Snow vs Daenerys vs Cersei vs Young Griff (speculation) vs Euron (less one of these.) Daenerys sours and is betrayed for love.

Game of Thrones Rushed or Gutted?

I could go further into detail, but I know not the bullet points D&D were given. Which surely would have had more than the less than two hundred words of plot above that go beyond the books. All of the sudden, if the show follows the books the series doesn’t seem rushed or dragged out. Imagine a pyramid. Each story arc is a corner on the base that all comes together at the end. What D&D did is not reset the pyramid like George RR Martin does in the books. So, the plot comes together much sooner than it would have if they had followed the books. Therefore seasons seven and eight had so much nostalgia and filler. The source material and reasonable speculation paved the path to writing a much better series that what fans saw on the back half of Game of Thrones. It’s pressingly clear, D&D never read the books or in their hubris thought they knew how to honor the source material better than the author or its more devoted fans. Game of Thrones was not so much rushed, as it was gutted, for the fans only saw the skeleton of the real story.

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Twitter suspends Houston Rockets’ account

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Twitter suspends Houston Rockets account

What happened to the Houston Rockets’ Twitter account? Did they Tweet something conservative or Christian? Did they misgender someone? Is this retribution for falling to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs four out of five of years? Whatever they did, Twitter decided to suspend them, leaving their 2.8 million followers in the dark.

All jesting aside, there are three likely scenarios. They could be the victims of a mass reporting attack in which multiple Twitter accounts report a user in a short period of time, prompting an algorithmic suspension. Or, if they’d been hacked, Twitter may have detected it and shut them down until the real users can regain control and change passwords.

But the most likely culprit is a DMCA takedown complaint that triggers instant temporary suspension. Chances are, they posted a video that included music they didn’t have permission to use. It happens.

The Rockets have not responded to our request for comment.

If you or someone you know gets suspended on social media, take solace in knowing even big organizations like the Houston Rockets can fall victim to the ban-hammer (though I doubt they’ll get the same scorn from Twitter as James Woods).

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Game of Thrones Series Finale: Review and Analysis

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Game of Thrones Series Finale Review and Analysis

The ending finally arrive. It was a tumultuous controversial season. The Game of Thrones series finale had to deal with a malcontentious internet fanbase that saw bad writing, but mostly in the wrong places. Indeed the Daenerys fans were unduly upset by her demise, and the Arya and Sansa fans consistently had bad takes. This ending was hardly for these people who wanted happy, predictable, endings that reinforced your “fandom.” Still this episode is where the good writing for the last three or four seasons went to. It was not the dreaded ending of a Republic, which given Tyrion’s voyage to Volantis, was conceivable. The idea was address and ridiculed. Instead it was two kingdoms at peace, at last. The Game of Thrones series finale was well shot, well performed, and strangely well-written(thanks to the cliff-notes of George RR Martin.) The ending was somber. On a scale of Dexter to Breaking Bad, the Game of Thrones series finale lands in the middle, being held back by D&D’s poor ability to get to the final two episodes.

Overall: The episode was a solid ending, given the poor last few seasons.

A Critique of Stalinism

In her speech, Daenerys Targaryen champions how she destroyed the system that oppressed people and made a bold goal to conquer the rest of the known world minus the far east of the continent south of Essos. There’s a lot to tackle from her speech. First, she seems to have a Rashida Tlaib recollection of history. Yes, she freed the Astapori slaves, but it ends horribly for the slaves in her new world. She left Astapor without a garrison, so a butcher took over, being the only one able to wield a blade semi-competently. She then abandons Astapor and the Yunkish coalition destroy the city and the newly freed slaves. who knows what happened to the Mereenese slaves she misruled, but with her dead, it’s a safe assumption they will be vanquished, probably by Volantis. So Daenerys is already rewriting her history, but other than freeing slaves in a world away, she has done nothing to systematically change the way of life for Westeros. She has only deposed Cersei Lannister, which is nothing new for a kingdom that saw Roberts Rebellion. So after giving a fictional account of history she vows to conquer the world, with her brand of liberation. It sounds exactly like Communism. Part of the end goal for communism, as the Soviets saw it was to make every country around them communist, which is what Stalin did during and after World War 2. The idea that a communist government can dissolve and the “people” own everything must come after private ownership everywhere is eliminated, in theory. Of course communism always failed, as does Daenerys. In her final words to Jon, Daenerys talks of removing people who stand in her way and declares herself the supreme authority of what is good. You can almost here the words: “in order to make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs.” This classic defense of genocide is uttered, in sentiment, by Daenerys in her final words. In the Game of Thrones world, Daenerys was Josef Stalin. Off to the gulag with Tyrion and the other undesirables.

Drogon

Either Jon is good at playing innocent or Drogon knew the Iron Throne was what really killed Daenerys Targaryen. Either way, such moral accountability from a dragon knowing better than his mother. His subsequent escape is one unclosed detail that works really well.

Jon Snow King-Beyond-the-Wall

Jon Snow was sentenced to the Night’s Watch begging the question: why is the order still a thing? Still, Jon Snow is depicted leading the wildlings to the “true North” and the gate behind him is shut. Jon Snow was never cut out for the Night’s Watch, as shown in season one, and he’s killed for disregarding his vows in the books. The implication of Jon being King is made readily apparent.

Bran as King

The leaks told it true. I was extremely weary of this especially since I had Tyrion in mind for the Kingship or I thought the Seven Kingdoms would split. After all, Robert’s strength held them together, and he died in season one. But the Lords were too weak to seize their own kingship. But minus the cringy Edmere Tully return, Tyrion sold it, in large part because of the acting of Peter Dinklage. It was better written than one would have thought. The idea is growing on me personally and contains a lack of predictability Game of Thrones is known for. It also tied up succession nicely while providing a stable outcome a Targaryen dynastic return would not have brought.

Small Council

My biggest point of displeasure from this episode was the small council. Bronn receiving Highgarden and the Lord Paramount title was a sickening end to his character. He should have been killed off years ago. Sam becoming the Grand Maester was a bit of a stretch. Davos as Master of Ships was fitting and Brienne as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard wasn’t too shabby. The scene where she writes down Jaime’s legacy was excellent.

MVP Tyrion

Peter Dinklage gave an award winning performance this episode. I was getting critical of his poor portrayal of the Tyrion character, in large part because of the writing. But in the final two episodes, Peter Dinklage hit a grand slam on his performance. All of the actors did a superb job, but his was by far the best his episode.

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