Wakeup Call: Fourth-and-29? Really?

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Wakeup Call: Fourth-and-29? Really?

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, November 26:

BASEBALL
The Phillies have made B.J. Upton their top offseason target, and he may decide who he'll sign with this week. (CSN Philly)

My question: What in the world are the other 13 percent thinking about? (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Too late now, Mayor Henderson. Too late now. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
It's bad enough to lose to unranked Cal Poly. But to blow an 18-point lead -- at home -- in the process? Tough night there, UCLA. (AP)

Louisville will be without senior center Gorgul Dieng for a while. (AP)

Colgate continued playing Wile E. Coyote to Syracuse's Roadrunner with its 47th straight loss to the Orange. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
It's been a long time since Notre Dame was on top of the world, and the Irish are enjoying the view. (AP)

Now it's just a matter of seeing if they'll play Alabama or Georgia for the national championship. (AP)

Frank Spaziani's wasn't the only head on the chopping block yesterday. Also out are Gene Chizik at Auburn, Tom O'Brien at North Carolina State and Danny Hope at Purdue. (AP)

But the most embarrassing firing may have come at Colorado, where, just two days ago, Jon Embree -- fresh off a 1-11 season, and a 4-17 mark in the last two years -- told one and all that athletic director Mike Bohn assured him he'd be returning in 2013. (NBC's College Football Talk)

HOCKEY
These are dark days indeed on the NHL labor front if the best hope for a breakthrough is for someone on the Board of Governors to stand up to Jeremy Jacobs and Gary Bettman. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Fans and media aren't the only people astounded by the JacobsBettman suicide pact. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Um, players? That decertification idea? Don't. (CSN Philly)

PRO BASKETBALL
Some of the Rockets tweet their support for Kevin McHale after the tragic death of his daughter. (CSN Houston)

Even the broadcasters are into "Not in my house!" blustering. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Now, the Knicks; they now how to protect this house! (AP)

Rashard Lewis has become a missing person in Miami, but it's not like he didn't know it might happen. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Remember how excited the Sixers were to get Andrew Bynum? Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Fourth-and-29? Fourth-and-29? (CSN Baltimore)

Alex Smith = Wally Pipp. (CSN Bay Area)

Remember all that talk out of Green Bay last year? About how the Giants didn't win their NFC semifinal matchup against the Packers as much as the Pack lost it? Looks kind of foolish now, don't you think? (AP)

Jay Cutler looked none the worse for wear in leading the Bears over Minnesota. (CSN Chicago)

Not for nothing, but it's easier to be urgent against the Vikings than it is against the 49ers and Texans. (CSN Chicago)

Matty Ice does it again, and now the Falcons are 10-1. (AP)

Peyton Manning does it again, and now the Broncos are 8-3. (AP)

Karma's a you-know-what, Carson. (CSN Bay Area)

You can't beat anyone when you turn the ball over eight times. Not even the Browns. (AP)

And now, with five weeks left, the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

It's not bad enough that the Seahawks lost to Miami; it looks like they're also going to lose their two starting cornerbacks for violation of the league's PED policy. (AP)

Oh, Reuben. You haven't been watching the Patriots much, have you? (CSN Philly)

BRITISH OPEN: Spieth, Kuchar, Koepka in lead with 65s after Round 1

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BRITISH OPEN: Spieth, Kuchar, Koepka in lead with 65s after Round 1

SOUTHPORT, England -The wind off the Irish Sea pushed away the rain clouds and bathed Royal Birkdale in sunshine, Stars and Stripes.

The British Open began Thursday with an All-American flavor.

Jordan Spieth, chomping away on gum as he watched one putt after another pour into the center of the cup, worked some bunker magic of his own late in the round to keep his card filled only with birdies and pars for a 5-under 65.

U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, with no competition and barely any practice since capturing his first major a month ago, ran off three straight birdies and holed a tough shot from a pot bunker for eagle on the par-5 17th hole for a 5-under 65.

Joining them was Matt Kuchar, who first endeared himself to these British fans as a 19-year-old amateur in 1998 at Royal Birkdale. Kuchar tied the course record with a 29 on the front nine, only to fall into a routine of pars the rest of the way. He still shot 65, his best score ever in a major.

They had a one-shot lead over Paul Casey and Charl Schwartzel on a day that started nasty and ended with 39 players breaking par. The biggest question after a long day on the links was what was in store for Friday, when high wind and occasional showers were in the forecast.

"I thought today's round was extremely important, as they all are," Spieth said, atop the leaderboard at a major for the first time since last year's Masters. "But given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today. You can certainly make up ground in a round tomorrow, and we'll see it happen. But being able to kind of play with shots, or play a little more conservative because you don't try to do too much on a day like tomorrow, that's nice and very helpful."

Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy fall into that category.

Johnson, the No. 1 player who hasn't played the weekend at a major since the British Open last year, managed only one birdie on a decent day for scoring and shot 71. McIlroy also shot 71 and was relieved. Coming off three missed cuts in his last four events, he was 5 over through six holes when his caddie gave him a pep talk. McIlroy closed with three birdies over the last four holes to stay in the game.

Phil Mickelson failed to make a birdie, the first time that has happened in a major in five years, and shot 73.

Kuchar was the only one at 65 who played in the afternoon. The wind remained strong, though the course was manageable for everyone who stayed out of bunkers and deep grass and who holed putts.

"I watched some of the golf this morning on TV. It looked awfully challenging," Kuchar said. "It looked like anything under par was going to be a good score. Seemed like the later your tee time, the better draw you got. ... For me, to start my British Open with a 29 on the front nine is a great way to start."

Charley Hoffman had the best start of all, holing out from the rough on the daunting opening hole for an eagle. He was poised to join the leaders when he reached 5 under with a birdie on the 15th, only to drop shots on the next two holes. Hoffman shot 69 and was in a group that included Ian Poulter and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson, who played with Spieth, had a 71. Stenson also played with Spieth the first two rounds of the 2015 Masters that the Texan won wire-to-wire and knew what to expect.

"He was rolling it superbly that week, and I don't think it was that far behind today," Stenson said.

But his best shot was with his feet in the sand. Spieth was in thick rough to the right of the 16th fairway when his shot crept into the back of a pot bunker. Not only was the ball on a slight slope, the rake marks left his ball between two ridges.

"This is dangerous," he said to his caddie.

He aimed to the right of the hole to avoid it going off the green on the other side and into another bunker, and it came off perfectly about 10 feet away.

"That was awesome," were his next words to his caddie.

He made the par putt - Spieth made a lot of putts on picked up a two-putt birdie on the 17th and narrowly missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the last. It was his best start in a major since he shot 66 at the Masters a year ago. Spieth rated it among the top five or six rounds he has ever played in a major, not bad for someone who came close to the Grand Slam two years ago.

"I couldn't have done much better today," he said.

Royal Birkdale was much more kind than it was nine years ago in raging wind and rain. The 146th Open began in cool temperatures, a light rain and a strong wind. Mark O'Meara, a winner at Royal Birkdale in 1998 who is playing in his last British Open, hit the opening tee shot.

And then he hit another one.

O'Meara's first shot was lost in the gorse, he made a quadruple-bogey 8 and was on his way to an 81. His threesome required 18 shots to play that hole. But the weather settled down a few hours later, and the scorecards filled up with plenty of birdies and eagles.

Just not for McIlroy until late in the round, or Johnson and Mickelson all day.

"With the weather we're expecting tomorrow, I still feel I'm in the golf tournament," McIlroy said. "If I can go out and play a good, quality round of golf in the morning and try to get in the clubhouse somewhere around even par, under par, I'll still be around for the weekend."