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Bob’s Monday Thoughts...and More!

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From the NFL playoffs to conference play starting up in NCAA basketball there is plenty to discuss this week.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

First off, I’d like to wish all our readers a happy new year. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday. Hopefully 2017 will bring a little more success to the Irish than 2016 did. Let’s dive into this week’s version of Monday thoughts.

Matt Farrell is Notre Dame’s best player.

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I said it during the game on Saturday when Farrell kept Notre Dame in the game in the first half, but I’m saying it again. Matt Farrell is the best player on this Notre Dame team. He presents the full package at the Irish’s point guard position. While Demetrius Jackson probably had more pure talent than Farrell, it can be argued that Farrell does an even better job of making the players around him better.

Steve Vasturia may have sank the game winner on Saturday against Pitt, but it was Farrell who set it all up for him. As he drove through the lane, he lost his balance but still some how was able to get the pass off to find a wide open Vasturia for the win.

You always want the ball in the hands of your best player at the end of games. Thus far, Farrell has been that guy for the Irish. He hit the game winner against Northwestern in November. Then against Purdue it was Farrell keeping the Irish in it.

Farrell has had quite the transformation from just a year ago. He’s playing as well as any point guard in the ACC right now and I will not be surprised if he makes first or second team all conference this year.

Tough start for ACC powerhouses

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Three of the ACC’s top programs all lost to open up ACC play on Saturday. A Grayson Allen-less Duke team got whacked by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg 89-75. No.9 North Carolina had an even more shocking loss as they lost at Georgia Tech 75-63. Many have Georgia Tech finish at or near the bottom of the ACC this season. Then No.12 Virginia was defeated by No.20 Florida State 60-58 in John Paul Jones Arena, a place where the Cavaliers don’t lose too often.

While some will say it was a bad day for the ACC, it really speaks to the depth of this year’s conference. Last week I wrote that Boston College and Georgia Tech would probably be the only push overs this year in the ACC, but both teams grabbed victories over the weekend.

It’s going to be a gauntlet for sure. ACC teams that manage to make the NCAA Tournament will either be well prepared for the challenge or just beat up and worn out from a challenging conference season.

CFP Championship is set

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Alabama vs Washington John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The CFP semifinals were on Saturday and the first game went as expected. No.1 Alabama dominated No.4 Washington 24-7. The Huskies marched right down the field on the opening drive for a touchdown, but Alabama would get their act together quickly. Washington finished the game with just 194 yards of offense.

The nightcap was a little bit of a shocker as No.2 Clemson throttled No.3 Ohio State 31-0. Going into the matchup it was a bit of a tossup and most probably saw this game being decided in the second half. The Tigers had different plans though as they dominated from start to finish. Clemson held the Buckeyes to just 215 yards of offense, while their offense was able to rack up 470 yards on Ohio State’s vaunted defense.

So now we’ll have a rematch of last year’s title game. These two teams are without a doubt the two best in the country. If both teams play as well as they did in the semifinals, we’ll be in for one heckuva championship game.

Who is your NFL MVP?

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s MVP race is a tight one. There can be a case made for Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott or Le’Veon Bell. The race is wide open in my opinion. My vote would go to Carr because not only did he have a great year statistically speaking, but also for the turnaround he’s led in Oakland. The Raiders are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. My guess is that he won’t win it though as guys like Brady and Rodgers get much more press than Carr does. Who do you guys got winning it?

NHL Winter Classic

NHL: Winter Classic-Practice Day Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues square off in the annual Winter Classic game at Busch Stadium this afternoon. To me, this is one of the coolest events of the year. There is just something about hockey being played outdoors. The weather could be a little iffy though, as the forecast calls for temperatures in the high 40s and rain.

The Blackhawks and Blues are two Stanley Cup hopefuls. The two teams met in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs last year in a series where the Blues came away victorious. This season the ‘Hawks are the best team in the Western Conference as they lead with 51 points. The Blues are right in the mix as well as they have 43 points. It’s always a good one when these two rivals get together.

That’s it for this week’s edition of Monday thoughts. It’s a big week ahead for the Irish basketball team as they take on No.6 Louisville and a very good Clemson team. Make sure to keep up with us here at OFD for basketball coverage, as well as any football and recruiting news that comes up. Have a great week and Go Irish!