Michigan State and Kansas win key matchups, NFL News and Notes, Ball State/Northern Illinois preview, RIP Todd Christiansen, Sabres coaching change, Messi out up to eight weeks + Tuesday Recap: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Michigan State and Kansas win early hoop showdowns

College basketball’s top freshman and the likely top three picks in next year’s NBA draft were on display last night in Chicago. No.2 Michigan State knocked off No.1 Kentucky 78-74 in the opening game of the Champions Classic. keith Appling led the Spartans with 22-8-8 while Wildcat super frosh Julius Randle had 27 points and 13 boards for UK. In the nightcap, No.5 Kansas beat No.4 Duke 94-83 behind 22 and 8 from Andrew Wiggins who was in foul trouble throughout. Jabari Parker led Duke with 27 points and 9 rebounds. The play in both games was superior and if this in any indication, it’s going to be an amazing year in college hoops.

NFL News and Notes

Peyton Manning did not practice on Wednesday but will 100% play in Sunday’s showdown with the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs. Manning suffered an ankle injury in last Sunday’s 28-20 win over San Diego. An MRI on the ankle came back clean.

Texan head coach Gary Kubiak has returned to the team 10 days after suffering a minor stroke 10 days ago at halftime of Houston’s game with the Colts. In other Texan news, the team cut free agent safety Ed Reed after the ex-Raven was critical of the coaching staff after last week’s 27-24 loss at Arizona.

Ball State and Northern Illinois play for MAC West

Ball State travels to DeKalb, Illinois to face 9-0 Northern Illinois in what figure to be the MAC West championship game and also carries BCS implications. Ball State is 9-1 and held an 11-point lead in their loss at North Texas. Norther Illinois owns wins over Iowa and Purdue but could only manage a 27-20 win over Akron, a 45-35 win over Idaho and a 43-39 win over Eastern Illinois. The Huskies are -7 point favorites with the total set at 72. It will be cold and windy at game time with the temperature with windchill expected to be 19 at game time.

Ex-Raider/BYU TE Todd Christiansen dead at 57

Five-time Pro Bowl TE Todd Christiansen has dies from complications of liver surgery. Christiansen starred at BYU as a running back and was drafted by the Cowboys before moving on to Oakland where his career really took off. In 1983, his best season in the pros, Christensen caught 92 passes for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 349 catches from 1983-86 set at NFL record.

Sabres fire coach

The Buffalo Sabres have done a major front office shakeup by firing head coach Ron Ralston and GM Darcy Regier. Ralston was replaced by Ted Nolan on an interim basis and former Islander great Pat LaFontaine has taken over as President of Team Operations. The Sabres are an abysmal 4-15-1 after 20 games and last in the Atlantic Division.

Lionel Messi likely out the rest of 2013 with hamstring problems

The world’s top soccer player, Lionel Messi, will likely miss the rest of 2013 with hamstring problems. It is his fifth hamstring problem since April so Barcelona has shut his down long term so as to completely heal the injury. Barcelona is already through to the Round of 16 in Champions League and currently sits a top La Liga in Spain.

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