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CBS HQ AM template: For October 30

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 10/30/2020 Pete Blackburn

It's Friday! That's no trick and all treat, so happy Halloween weekend to you, my friend.

I know Halloween is more-or-less "cancelled" this year thanks to the pandemic but there's no canceling the Halloween spirit, so I demand that you envision me wearing an astronaut onesies (with a cheap plastic helmet) while I deliver you your sports news this morning.

The good news is that you should be able to enjoy wire-to-wire football this weekend without any little interruptions knocking at your door begging for handouts. And you get to eat all the candy yourself. Sounds like a pretty good weekend to me. 

Before we get there, though, we've got news to get to. Time for liftoff.

📰 What you need to know

1. Trevor Lawrence tests positive for COVID-19 🏈

Well, the hits keep on coming for college football this week. After Wisconsin's COVID-19 outbreak somewhat spoiled the Big Ten's triumphant return, we now have another bit of unfortunate news for the sport -- and this time it involves college football's biggest star.

  • Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence announced Thursday that he has tested positive for coronavirus
  • Under ACC guidelines, Lawrence will have to isolate for at least 10 days, meaning he'll miss this weekend's game against Boston College and possibly next weekend's game against No. 4 Notre Dame
  • Until Lawrence returns, the Tigers will likely turn to true freshman DJ Uiagalelei, a five-star prospect from the 2020 recruiting class
  • Lawrence, via written statement: "My symptoms have been relatively mild while I'm following the protocol from Clemson and the ACC. The only thing that hurts is missing an opportunity to be with my teammates this weekend and play the game I love. I hate that I can't be there, but I'll be watching from isolation and pulling for our guys while I wait for the opportunity to rejoin the team."    

College football has had some issues with COVID already but Lawrence is by far the most high-profile case outside of Nick Saban, and his positive test could potentially have a huge impact on this season...and perhaps beyond. Notonly will next weekend's game between No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Notre Dame likely have major playoff implications, but Lawrence is also projected to be next year's top overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Not to get too ahead of ourselves here, but is there a chance that Lawrence's draft status changes if the remainder of this bizarre season doesn't play out as he envisioned? Will Clemson still look as dominant in his absence with a true freshman at the helm? 

We don't have those answers, but things are about to get quite interesting. One thing is for sure, though: College football is worse off with no Trevor Lawrence, so hopefully he makes a full and speedy recovery.

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2. Thursday Night Football 🏈

Don't look now but the Atlanta Falcons have actually won two of their last three games after a pathetic 0-5 run to start the season. The Falcons came out on top in last night's Thursday Night Football matchup against the Panthers in Carolina, winning 25-17 in a game that was pretty sloppy...and not just because of the rain.

Let's get some quick takeaways from our NFL crew:

  • Why the Falcons won: Atlanta's offense was carried by vintage performances from Matt Ryan (21 of 30 for 281 yards) and Julio Jones (seven catches for 137 yards) while getting solid contributions on the ground as well. The defense also came up with timely stops and allowed a season-low 17 points
  • Why the Panthers lost: They had success on the ground but they only ran the ball 22 times. They also went 2-of-10 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down. They couldn't sustain possession and had the ball for less than 24 minutes total

It wasn't all rainbows and lollipops for Atlanta, though. Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridleyleft the game with an ankle injury in the first half and didn't return. That could be a massive loss for the team-- and for all football fans -- because Ridley has been incredibly fun to watch. (He's third in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this season.)

It's too bad for the Falcons that they don't play in the NFC East because they could be in REAL business at 2-6 with some momentum behind them right now. Alas, it appears they play in a real division and are still in real trouble.

3. White Sox hire Tony La Russa as next manager ⚾

When the Chicago White Sox take the field next year, they'll have a new face in the dugout managing that very fun, exciting roster. A new face, yet also a very old face. 

Yesterday the White Sox introduced Tony La Russa as their next manager. La Russa will take over for Rick Renteria, who was let go by the team earlier this offseason. Some things to know about La Russa:

  •  At 76 years old, he becomes the oldest manager in baseball
  • He hasn't managed since 2011, when he won the World Series as skipper of the St. Louis Cardinals
  • This is his second stint with the White Sox, as he began his managerial career by coaching the ChiSox from 1979-1986
  • La Russa is the third-winningest manager in baseball history, a three-time World Series champion and a four-time winner of the Manager of the Year Award. He's also a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee
  • He most recently worked in the Red Sox front office

La Russa's resume speaks for itself and his prior relationship with the White Sox (and owner Jerry Reinsdorf) probably helped convince him to return to the dugout, but the hiring is a bit surprising in that it bucks the recent trend of many teams hiring young managers that aren't too far removed from their playing days. Chicago appeared to be heading in that direction when GM Rick Hahn said he wanted a candidate who had "experience with a championship organization in recent years."

Well, La Russa was in the front office for Boston's 2018 title...so I guess that works? But, man, what a bit of misdirection!

Chicago has a really young, promising roster so it feels like this thing could go one of two ways: 1) La Russa brings a ton of experience, commands the team's respect and gets the most out of a group entering its prime, or 2) he has trouble re-adjusting to the managerial experience and adapting to an evolving game after nearly a decade away from the bench. All I hope is that he doesn't try to sap the fun out of one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in baseball. 

In other managerial news, it sounds like former Astros manager AJ Hinch is closing in on a deal to become the next manager of the Tigers.

4. Will the Dodgers repeat in 2021? ⚾

Winning a World Series is hard...the Los Angeles Dodgers can certainly attest to that. But repeating as World Series champions? As it turns out, that's even more difficult!

The last MLB team to go back-to-back was the Yankees, who pulled off the three-peat from 1998-2000. It's been 20 years, so how do we like the Dodgers' chances of making it happen in 2021? Our MLB crew discussed that very question this week in a roundtable, and here are some snippets of that discussion:

  • Dayn Perry: "I'd pick the Dodgers to have the best overall record in 2021, pending offseason player movement, but I'm not going to predict they run the playoff gauntlet again"  
  • R.J. Anderson: "I suspect the Dodgers will have the best or second-best chance among teams to win the World Series entering next spring. That doesn't mean their probability of winning the World Series next year exceeds that of any other team claiming the title"  
  • Katherine Acquavella: "The Dodgers aren't just in a great position for a possible repeat in 2021, they're also in a great position to begin a dynasty. The depth of this club is unmatched to any other in baseball right now"  
  • Mike Axisa: "My natural inclination is to say no because I'll almost always take the field over one single team, but this is not one of those times...Los Angeles has been a juggernaut the last half-decade. I don't see that ending anytime soon"  
  • Matt Snyder: "They are the obvious favorite and if you made me pick one team right now, I'd take the Dodgers without even a second thought. Regardless of how the offseason goes, they'll enter the season with both elite-level talent and top-shelf depth at pretty much every position."

You can find their full arguments right here but, considering the champagne probably isn't even dry yet, we're gonna have to wait a while to find out who's right. 

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📝 Odds & Ends

📺 What to watch this weekend

Friday

Uhhh...Netflix?

Saturday

🏈 LSU vs. Auburn, 3:30 p.m. | AUB +2.5 | TV: CBS

🏈 Texas vs. No. 6 Oklahoma State, 4:00 p.m. | OKST -3.5 | TV: FOX 

🏈 No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 18 Penn State, 7:30 p.m. | PSU +12 | TV: ABC 

Sunday

🏈 Patriots vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m. | BUF -4 | TV: CBS

🏈 Steelers vs. Ravens, 1:00 p.m. | BAL -4 | TV: CBS

🏈 49ers vs. Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. | SEA -3 | TV: FOX 

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📝 Top scores from last night

🏈Falcons 25, Panthers 17

 Matt Ryan threw for 281 yards and added 27 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

💵 Winning wagers: ATL +100, Under (52

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