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Champaign Central Chronicle

This Month in Sportzboll: Open Up

This Month in Sportzboll: Open Up

The month of September is chaotic. Seasons are changing, Major League Baseball (MLB) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams are pushing for playoff spots or preparing for the next year, National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) teams are making their last preparations before their seasons begin, tennis players being crowned as champions and the fans are filling these stadiums with excitement. This article will list off the most fun, interesting and important games and matches of the month of September.




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(9/2/23) Toledo Rockets @ Illinois Fighting Illini

Going into the game, Illinois was favored by 9 points and were expected to dominate against Toledo. Their opening offensive drive would support this, as the Illini drove down the field with no resistance and ended with an Illinois touchdown. 


After that opening drive, the Illini offense would be non-existent, scoring no points in the 2nd quarter and Toledo took this and went up 19-7. The offensive struggles for Illinois would continue with a Luke Altmeyer interception thrown into triple coverage. 


Thankfully for Illinois, Toledo’s quarterback, Dequann Finn would throw a pick 6 and Illinois’ defense would stop Toledo and the offense quickly came back and scored on back-to-back drives to take the lead 27-19. 


Toledo wouldn’t give up though and with 3 minutes left in the game would take back the lead 28-27. On the final drive of the game Illinois would be faced with a 4th & 4-which they converted and would continue to drive down the field to finally kick the game-winning field goal to win 30-28.


(9/2/23) Colorado Buffaloes @ TCU Horned frogs

This game was highly contested from the start with both teams trading touchdowns in the first half, with the end of the first half ending with Colorado in the lead 17-14 thanks to a last-second field goal. Colorado would continue their momentum by scoring a touchdown in the first minute of the second half. 

TCU would soon retaliate though and make the game 24-21 and would get the ball back very quickly. TCU would end up 4 yards away from scoring until cornerback/wide receiver Travis Hunter intercepted the ball. A lot of hype has been around Hunter being a two-way player, which is very rare. David Hasenstab said “Travis Hunter is pretty good, because it’s hard to play both sides of the ball and have that much success”.

 Colorado couldn’t capitalize off this interception though and TCU made it a 28-24 game, but that lead wouldn’t last long as running back Dylan Edwards got the ball and scored to end the third quarter and make it 31-28. 

To start off the fourth quarter though, TCU scored pretty easily, making it a 35-31 game, and on the next drive for Colorado, they would face a third and 16 which would be converted by a catch made by Hunter and they would eventually score on that drive. Colorado’s defense still wasn’t making this game easy as TCU would score, making it 42-38, but Colorado would score back thanks to a huge run and catch from Dylan Edwards. Finally, Colorado’s defense would hold on and they would win 45-42, in a large part thanks to Travis Hunter’s efforts on both sides of the ball with 119 receiving yards and 1 interception. 


(9/2/23) Texas State Bobcats @ Baylor Bears

Texas State would go into this game being heavy underdogs as they had never beaten Baylor and they were being coached by newly hired head coach G.J. Kinne. Texas State would quickly put Baylor on upset alert though with 2 huge offensive touchdowns in the first quarter to make it 14-6. 

They would continue this momentum into the second quarter, scoring another touchdown, and would end the second quarter with another touchdown, ending the half up 28-13. Baylor would try to get back into this game, but Texas State’s offense proved to be too much for Baylor as they would win 42-31.


(9/2/23) Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Wyoming Cowboys

Texas Tech would get hot quickly both offensively and defensively, going up 17-0 in the first quarter in a large part thanks to quarterback Tyler Slough throwing two great touchdown passes and the defense picking up two huge fumbles. Wyoming wouldn’t stop fighting though, as they opened up with a field goal in the second quarter and, just 4 minutes later, would score their first touchdown, making the game 17-10 and, due to Texas Tech’s offensive production coming to a halt, that’s what the score would be at the end of the first half. 

Wyoming would strike first in the second half, tying the game up 17-17 and in the fourth quarter they would kick a field goal, going up 20-17. Texas Tech’s offense would finally put it together and score the game tying field goal to send the game into overtime. 

They would be tied at the end of the first overtime and Texas Tech would go up 33-27 in the second overtime and with Wyoming on 4th and 7, Texas Tech would send a blitz to sack the quarterback, which they almost did, but Wyoming quarterback, Andrew Peasley would throw the ball at the last second before getting sacked to not only gain the first down, but also score a touchdown to tie the game. Then Wyoming successfully converted the 2 point conversion to win this highly contested game.


(9/7/23) Lions @ Chiefs

Finally, the NFL is back and it’s kicking off with two fan favorite teams in the Lions and the Super Bowl winners, the Chiefs. Going into the game the Chiefs were heavily favored, but they had two major and key losses in their star defensive tackle, Chris Jones due to Jones and the Chiefs not able to come to a contract agreement. The other star is their tight end Travis Kelce who injured his knee in practice on the 5th. 

The game would start with both teams’ offenses not able to do much and the Lions were looking at the second 3 and out of the game on their second drive until they were backed up inside their own 20 and decided to do a fake punt and gain the first down. They would use this momentum to score the first touchdown of the year. The Chiefs wouldn’t let this lead last long though and would score on their next drive. 

The Lions offense was still hot though and would march down the field with little resistance until they would fumble the ball and the Chiefs would recover, but they wouldn’t be able to capitalize on this mistake. But after a drive from the Lions that resulted in nothing, the Chiefs would score once more before halftime to make it a 14-7 game. 

Then to start the second half Chiefs wide receiver, Kadarius Toney would have one of his many drops in this game that the Lions intercepted and scored on tying the game up. Both offenses went quiet after this and with 7 minutes left of the 4th quarter the Lions would take the lead 21-20. The Lions defense would hold this lead for the remaining game upsetting the Chiefs in the first game of the season.


(9/10/23) Packers @ Bears

Before this historical rivalry game started it was advertised as two young quarterbacks who have a lot of potential in Bears QB, Justin Fields and Packers new QB, Jordan Love, who is taking over superstar Aaron Rodgers. 

Love impressed on his first drive connecting with Romeo Doubs for a touchdown. Both offenses didn’t do much for the first half ending the half with the Packers up 10-6. After halftime though, the Packers offense came alive scoring 2 touchdowns in the third quarter which towards the end the Bears offense started to click, but it was too little too late as the Packers ran away with the game to win 38-20. 


(9/10/23) Miami Dolphins @ LA Chargers

Both teams would start off hot with a touchdown scored for each team in the first quarter, which could’ve been 2 for the Dolphins, but they fumbled the ball in the red zone which the Chargers recovered on their first drive.

 This constant offense would continue into the second quarter with the Chargers with their final offensive drive of the half ending with a field goal to tie the game 17-17 leaving the Dolphins with only 11 seconds left. But thanks to a pass interference call on the Chargers, Miami was able to set up a field goal to make it 20-17.

The second half would be no different and with the Chargers up 34-30 with 4 minutes left the Dolphins had some work to do. And work they did as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connected with superstar receiver Tyreek Hill on a 3rd down conversion. And once again on 3rd and goal the pair would connect again with the go-ahead touchdown making it a 37-34 game. The Chargers had a minute and a half to go down and score, but the Dolphins defense came out strong, not letting LA do much of anything to win the game.




(9/2/23) Rays @ Guardians


Before this game started, the odds were in the Rays’ favor as they are one of the best teams in the MLB and have hopes for a world series appearance, and these odds would be skewed even more in their favor with a Yandy Diaz leadoff home run. 

Even though they were stacked against the odds, the Guardians didn’t give up and scored 4 runs in the next 4 innings, which wouldn’t last long thanks to a Christian Bethancourt 3 run home run to tie it up in the next inning and then in the next inning, Rays’ Jose Siri would take the lead. 

The Rays would hold onto this lead until the bottom of the 9th when Steven Kwan, on the Guardians’ last out, ripped a ball to left center field to score the game-tying run, sending the game to extras. 

The game would remain tied until the Rays scored the go ahead run in the top of the 11th, but then José Siri would tie the game up and Kwan would score the game winning run, finishing the game 7-6.


(9/4/23) Phillies @ Padres

In this rematch of the NLCS of last year, the Phillies got off to an early lead, going up 9-1 at the end of the 3rd inning thanks to big hits from Alec Bohm, Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and Edmundo Sosa. 

This didn’t stop the Padres though, as they kept on fighting and made it a 9-7 game at the end of the 7th inning. In the 8th and 9th innings, the Phillies pitching struggled, but they managed to hang on to that 9-7 lead for the win.


(9/5/23) Orioles @ Angels

Orioles catcher, Adley Rutschman, would get off to a nice start by getting an RBI single in the top of the 3rd and then would score thanks to an error from Angels left fielder, Randal Grichuk. 

Not much offense would happen after thanks to the pitchers on both sides having amazing outings, but then, in the 7th the Angels would finally score. This was thanks to a Brandon Drury RBI double and MIke Moustakas would get the game tying run in just a couple at bats after that. 

The Angels looked like they were about to take the lead as a ball was hit down the third baseline, but Orioles third baseman, Gunnar Henderson, would make an amazing play fielding the ball and throwing to first to get the final out. But with 2 strikes and 2 outs to Trey Cabbage, he would hit a ball that would make it through the infield to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 8th. 

Then, with the game on the line, both Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan Mountcastle would hit huge RBI singles to take the lead. Angel’s Mickey Moniak would then hit the game-tying RBI in the bottom of the 9th to send the game to extra innings, but the Orioles would get an RBI from Jordan Westburg to win the game in extras, 5-4. 




(9/8/23) Ebden & Bopanna vs Ram & Salisbury

    This match opened up with the underdogs, Edben & Bopanna absolutely dominating the 3rd ranked Ram & Salisbury winning the first set 6-2. The second set was a lot different with both pairs trading games until eventually Ram & Salisbury won 6-3. The 3rd set would be very close, going to 10 games with Ebden & Bopanna taking an early lead, but Ram & Salisbury would not be finished. Ram & Salisbury would come back and make it a 5-4 set and on set point Edben would make a huge mistake receiving the serve straight into the net, making Ram & Salisbury the US Open Men’s Doubles Champions.


(9/9/23) Gauff vs Sabalenka

    Coco Gauff is one of the rising stars of the tennis world, but this match did not open up well for her as the pressure seemed to get to her as, even though she was trying her hardest, she lost the first set 6-2. Gauff got a much needed break in the second set as she cruised to a 6-3 set victory. Finally, in the 3rd set Gauff showed the world how she was dominating her opponent and winning the set 6-2 to become the women’s singles champion. 


(9/9/23) Krajicek & Pegula vs Danilina & Heliövaara

    The mixed doubles championship opened up very interestingly with Danilina & Heliövaara dominating the first set for a bit and eventually taking it 6-3. This was interesting because Krajicek & Pegula came into the match as the 1st ranked mixed doubles pair in the tournament, while Danilina & Heliövaara weren’t even in the top 30. The second set was much closer as it went to 10 games, but Danilina scored the final point with a slam, making Danilina & Heliövaara mixed doubles champions and a great underdog story. 


(9/10/23) Medvedev vs Djokovic

    The first set of this championship match opened up with both players playing very safe and rallying back and forth with Djokovic eventually winning the first set 6-3. The second set was even closer with both trading games that eventually took the set to tiebreakers where they would play 12 extra points for Djokovic to win the second set. The third set would be a lot shorter with Djokovic carrying on his momentum to win the final set 6-3, becoming the men’s singles champion.


(9/10/23) Routliffe & Dabrowski vs Siegemund & Zvonareva

    The first set of this match would be very competitive going into tiebreakers where these players would play an extra 20 points which Routliffe & Dabrowski would eventually win. The second set would play out very differently as Siegemund & Zvonareva could not catch up to Routliffe & Dabrowski’s pressure for a few games. But they were not done as they climbed back up to make it a 5-3 set where they tried to stay in the game, but a mistake made by Zvonareva would lose them the match, crowning Routliffe & Dabrowski as women’s doubles champions. 




(9/3/23) Gane vs Spivak

    The headliner for the UFC card in Paris was between local superstar heavyweight, Cyril Gane and prospect Segey Spivak. Going into the fight, many Gane and UFC fans expected Gane to dominate through the fight, with one being Jonah Konstanty saying, “I expected him to go all out, he was in his own arena and the whole stadium cheering him on and the energy was crazy”.

And dominate he did as he got a huge round 2 TKO to win the fight. When asked if he was surprised about the outcome, Konstanty said, “not at all”. 


(9/9/23) Tafa vs Lane

    Tafa vs Lane was a fight that first happened in late June of this year, but an eye poke by Austen Lane, in his first ever UFC fight, caused Justin Tafa to be unable to continue the fight. These guys wanted to run it back though and the UFC allowed it. This time in the first minute of the fight, Lane eye poked Tafa again. This time though, Tafa could still fight and he took the fight to Lane as he knocked him out with a right hand. 

    This was a shock to many UFC fans, with one fan, Johann Opgenhaffen, saying that he thought Lane was gonna win because “Auesten is more athletic and also, in my mind, Tafa was mid”.


(9/9/23) Kape vs Dos Santos

    This fight was supposed to be between Manel Kape and an Oceania native, Kai Kara-France, but while training Kara-France sustained a concussion, so he was forced to pull out. Kape was very upset about this and called out Kara-France for being a coward. 

    In stepped Felipe dos Santos, who was very quiet as Kape called out Kara-France for the entirety of fight week. This silence wouldn’t last long though, for as soon as the both of them entered the octagon, dos Santos showed why he was chosen to step in. 

    Although every judge had Kape winning the first round, dos Santos fought hard and showed to Kape that he was not to be ignored. It was a very intense back and forth striking match with Kape being able to pull out the decision win and, of course, calling out Kara-France after the fight. 


(9/9/23) Adesanya vs Strickland

    This fight was the main event of UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia which middleweight champion Israel Adesanya calls home. Adesanya has been a very dominant champion for years and was able to even win back his title from former champion Alex Pereira, who beat him back in November of last year. 

    In comes the challenger, Sean Strickland, who is a very controversial fighter with both his fighting style and his personality. Strickland went into the fight knowing Adesanya is one of the best counter strikers and kickboxers in the organization, and it showed. Strickland used that knowledge to his advantage when he backed Adesanya to a corner in the first round and dodged the incoming counter hook and hit him with a jab-straight combo, knocking him down.

    Adesanya was able to survive this onslaught of punches, but Strickland was just able to beat him at his own game, going onto win a 49-46 decision to become the 7th new champion of this year. 


(9/16/23) Grasso vs Shevchenko

    This fight would be a rematch of both fighters’ last fights, as in the first fight, Alexa Grasso would upset Valentina Shevchenko to claim the flyweight title earlier this year. The stadium for the rematch was packed for Alexa Grasso as it was on Mexican Independence Day and Alexa Grasso is the only Mexican champion on the UFC roster. 

    This fight would start with the first round being a very technical one with both fighters finding their range with Shevchenko able to squeeze out the first round. The second round would play out differently with Grasso able to score her first knock down, winning her second round.

    The third round was almost the last round as Shevchenko took her down and locked in a deep guillotine choke in almost making Grasso tap out. But Grasso got out of the choke and lived to see another round, but Shevchenko was up 2-1. The next round was very close with many fans scoring it both ways, which led to a very exciting final fifth round. In the fifth round, Grasso understood that she might be down two rounds, but she wasn’t able to do much with Shevchenko’s deadly jab, keeping her at a distance. That was until Shevchenko closed the distance to try and get a take down, but Grasso ended up on top. Grasso landed huge ground and pounds and controlled her for the rest of the round.

    But who won the fight? Well, judge Sal D’Amato scored it 48-47, Shevchenko, then judge Junichiro Kamijo scored it 48-47 Grasso, which meant it all came down to judge Mike Bell’s scorecard in which he had it as a draw. This was a very controversial decision, with many fans disagreeing with Mike Bell’s scorecard. Opgenhaffen said that he thought Grasso won the fight in the second, fourth and fifth rounds. “She won two and four and, personally, I thought her getting Valentina’s back for the last minute and a half stole the fifth round”, Opgenhaffen said. When asked about Mike Bell’s controversial scorecard, Opgenhaffen also said “I thought Grasso won the fifth round, but not 10-8, Mike Bell wildin”.

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