Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week 5

Justin Fields Ohio State

After the highly anticipated Week 4, I’d say most fans including myself were satisfied with the slate of games last weekend. Wisconsin destroyed Michigan, Auburn held on against A&M, and Notre Dame/Georgia was close the entire night. All in all, it was a solid day. Week 5 is all about conference play as a few matchups will have a significant impact on the standings. Going into Week 5, my College Football Playoff includes:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. LSU
  4. Georgia

The only change this week involves inserting Georgia to the fourth spot instead of Oklahoma because of their win over Notre Dame. Three SEC teams in the playoff? As much as the majority of the country fears this possibility, this scenario could happen. It’s still early so don’t tar and feather me just yet. Here are the Top 5 CFP storylines heading into Week 5.

Will The Scoreboard Break When Penn State Plays Maryland?

Through two weeks of the season, Penn State and Maryland had two of the highest-scoring offenses in the country. Through 4 games, both teams combined for an average of 66.5 points per game. Then, Week 3 happened where both teams scored 17 points each. Penn State narrowly escaped against Pittsburgh while Maryland suffered a setback in the loss to Temple. I’m expecting both offenses to get back on track Friday night in College Park. If Josh Jackson and the Maryland rushing attack to get going early, the over will hit easily.

California, Here We Come

To be honest, I’ll use any excuse to play the theme song to The O.C. That being said, California sits atop the Pac-12 as the only remaining unbeaten in the conference. It hasn’t been pretty, to say the least, but teams that find a way to win close games especially when two of those games were at Washington and at Ole Miss. Linebacker Evan Weaver leads the nation in tackles and quarterback Chase Garbers is coming off of a 4 TD performance. Now, Cal hosts Arizona State in what many will call a trap game because next week, Cal travels to Eugene to play Oregon. Survive this week and Cal may move into the Top 10.

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Wisconsin Is A Legitimate Playoff Contender

Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

After two weeks, Wisconsin outscored their two inferior opponents, 110-0. How did Wisconsin fare when playing Michigan at home? The Badgers bullied Michigan the entire game as they won 35-14. It’s time to start mentioning running back Jonathan Taylor in the Heisman race after his 203 yards and 2 TD performance against the Michigan defense. Wisconsin should beat Northwestern on Saturday and if all goes well the next few weeks, the Badgers could be 7-0 before their trip to Ohio State with huge College Football Playoff implications on the line.

Can Notre Dame Rebound After A Tough Loss To Georgia?

Some say there’s no such thing as a moral victory, but I say they’re wrong. For a team that allegedly can’t compete with the “big boys,” Notre Dame proved that they belonged against Georgia. Had Notre Dame been able to establish a running game (14 runs to 47 runs) and eliminate some of their 12 penalties on the night, the Irish might have escaped Georgia with a win. However, there’s no time to dwell on the loss and Notre Dame welcomes the No. 18 Virginia Cavaliers to South Bend. Notre Dame’s chances to make the playoff decreased, but if the Irish win out, they’ll be in the conversation.

Will Ohio State Survive?

The Big Ten West has been a thorn in Ohio State’s side the past two seasons. In 2017, Ohio State went on the road to Iowa and lost to the Hawkeyes 31 points. In 2018, Ohio State went on the road to Purdue and lost to the Boilermakers by 29. These two games cost the Buckeyes a chance at the playoff. Now, Ohio State travels to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers in Lincoln on Saturday night. For Ryan Day and Justin Fields, it’s time to earn their stripes. Survive Saturday night and the College Football Playoff is insight.

What are your top College Football Playoff storylines for Week 5? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week 3

Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week 3

It turns out that not everyone supports the troops. I’m looking at you, Michigan. For the second year in a row, Army took a Top 10 team with playoff aspirations to overtime only to fall short once again. Week 2 also confirmed that LSU is for real and should join Alabama and Georgia on the list of SEC schools who can make the College Football Playoff. Going into Week 3, my College Football Playoff is as follows:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. LSU
  4. Oklahoma

Week 3 does not have any ranked vs. ranked matchups, but there are a few intriguing matchups that catch my eye. Look at Week 3 as a layover from last week and transitional period into next week’s huge slate of games highlighted by Notre Dame vs. Georiga. Here are the Top 5 CFP storylines heading into Week 3.

The “Jalen Hurts Show” Hits The Road For The First Time This Year

To say Jalen Hurts has been spectacular in his two games for Oklahoma would be an understatement. Through two games, Hurts is 34/41, 591 yards, 6 TDs, and 0 INTs to go along with 223 rushing yards and 3 TDs. This week will be Hurts’ first road game at OU as the Sooners head to the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA for a Saturday night showdown. A win on the road against UCLA is a lot better than a win against the Little Sisters of the Poor. Style points against Power 5 schools are important so if Hurts balls out once again, Oklahoma is in the driver’s seat for the College Football Playoff heading into conference play.

Alabama Heads To South Carolina For Its First Road Test

Ok, I’m using the word, “test,” very liberally. This is not a test for Alabama. Alabama has given up a combined 13 points in two games while South Carolina lost to North Carolina in Week 1. Plus, South Carolina is starting freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski because the Gamecocks lost senior starter Jake Bentley in Week 1. To set the scene, South Carolina is starting a freshman at quarterback and in the first SEC game of his career, he gets to face Nick Saban. Good luck, kid! Funny story. South Carolina defeated Alabama in their last meeting back in 2010. Stephen Garcia and Alshon Jeffrey are not walking through the door anytime soon, Gamecock fans.

Can Syracuse Make It Two Out Of 3 Against Clemson?

As good as Clemson has been over the past four years, there have been a few thorns in their side. One of those thorns belongs to Syracuse. Two years ago, the Orange upset the No.2 ranked Tigers, 27-24. Last year, Clemson needed backup quarterback Chase Brice, who came into the game for an injured Trevor Lawrence, to lead the Tigers on a 13-play, 94-yard game-winning drive in the final minutes to win, 27-24. This year, the Orange welcome the Tigers to the Carrier Dome for a Saturday night showdown. Forget the spread. If history repeats itself, this will be no easy game for the Tigers.

UCF Gets A Crack At a Power 5 Team

If UCF wants to dance with the big boys in the College Football Playoff, it needs to beat the big boys in a Power 5 conference. Ask and you shall receive as UCF welcomes Stanford out of the Pac-12 to Orlando. I said that style points matter so UCF not only has to beat Stanford, but they have to dominate them if they ever want to sniff the College Football Playoff. Keep an eye on the quarterback battle. K.J. Costello returns for Stanford while it’s unclear whether Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush, freshman Dillon Gabriel, or sophomore Darriel Mack will line up under center.

Game With The Most Playoff Implications Outside Of The Top 10: Iowa vs. Iowa State

The battle of the Cy-Hawk is the biggest game of the weekend as Iowa travels to Ames to take on in-state rival, Iowa State. It’s so big that College GameDay will be on the scene in Ames for the first time ever. Is either of these teams going to make the College Football Playoff? I can definitively say no, but both teams are undefeated in Power 5 conferences so, in theory, they have shot still. This game has slugfest written all over it. Iowa has the better defense so I’ll take the Hawkeyes to beat the Cyclones by a field goal.

What are your top storylines for the College Football Week 3? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week Two

Week 1 might have lacked many high profile matchups, but it was full of fireworks. Alabama and Clemson took care of business, Jalen Hurts inserted himself into the Heisman race, and multiple Power 5 schools lost to inferior opponents. How’s that for College Football Playoff drama?

Week 2 is highlighted with two spectacular games that will have CFP implications, Texas A&M vs. Clemson and LSU vs. Texas. The winners of both games will take giant leaps forward toward the CFP. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 CFP storylines heading into Week 2.

Can Jalen Hurts build upon his strong debut?

Last week, I said I had no idea what to expect out of Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma. I had doubts that Hurts could be the third straight Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. However, Hurts was in a good situation with Lincoln Reilly calling plays. To put it nicely, Hurts took my doubts and shoved them right up my candy-ass. Hurts was spectacular against Houston, going 20/23 for 332 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 interceptions. He also ran for 176 yards and 3 TDs. I’m not an expert, but it looks like Hurts catapulted himself into the Heisman race. Hurts will have another chance to impress this Saturday night against South Dakota.

Can Jimbo Fisher exact revenge on Clemson and ruin their chances for a repeat?

It’s time for Jimbo Fisher to earn the big bucks. If you’re paid like a top coach, it’s time to win like a top coach. Fisher will have a chance at a signature win this Saturday as Texas A&M strolls into Memorial Stadium to take on the defending College Football Playoff Champion, Clemson. Last year, A&M was on the verge of an upset over Clemson in College Station, but a failed 2-point conversion ended up being the difference as Clemson escaped with a 28-26 win. If Fisher can pull off the upset, it will be A&M’s biggest win since Johnny Football defeated Alabama in 2012.

Will LSU or Texas move into the playoff conversation with a win?

Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week Two

Saturday night is going to rocking as the #6 LSU Tigers invade Austin to take on the #9 Texas Longhorns. The matchup to watch is Joe Burrow versus Sam Ehlinger at quarterback. Take your pick as to who you want under center because both QBs can sling it all over the field. In Week 1, Burrow threw for 278 yards and 5 TDs while Ehlinger threw for 276 yards and 4 TDs. The x-factor is Ehlinger’s running ability. If Ehlinger can move the chains with his legs, it opens up a new dimension to Tom Herman’s offense. Circle this game because the winner will have a huge nonconference win on their resume when the playoff rankings come out.

Can USC survive with a true freshman quarterback?

Week 1 was bittersweet for the Men of Troy. USC beat Fresno State, but it came at a price. Starting quarterback JT Daniels tore two ligaments in his knee, ending his season. Now, USC turns to true freshman Kedon Slovis. Congratulations, Kedon, on the job. Let’s take a look at his prize. In his first start, Slovis takes on Stanford under the lights at the Coliseum on Saturday night! Having the game at home will help the young signal-caller, but Stanford has beaten USC in 8 of their last 12 meetings. It’s a tall task for Slovis, but not impossible.

Is Jeremy Pruitt on the hot seat if he loses to BYU?

Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week Two

I’m not a Tennessee football historian, but losing to Georgia State at home in Week 1 has to be in the Top 3 worst losses for the program. No one expects Tennessee to make the College Football Playoff, but it’s inexcusable and frankly, embarrassing, to lose to Georgia State at home. Now, Tennessee welcomes BYU to town on Saturday night. Jeremy Pruitt is in his first must-win game as head coach of the Volunteers. If the Volunteers fall at home once again, Pruitt’s coaching seat won’t just be hot. It will be in flames.

What are your top storylines for the CFP in Week 2? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week One

College football is back. Thank the lord! I couldn’t watch another cornhole and spikeball tournament on ESPN2. I need college football back in my life and that’s exactly what we’re getting this weekend. Fans received an amuse-bouche of football with a few games last weekend including Miami vs. Florida, but Week 1 starts the road to the College Football Playoff (CFP).

Every week this season, we’ll look at the Top 5 CFP storylines heading into the weekend. We’re a long way from the first 2019 College Football Playoff rankings, which will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. However, every game matters so let’s kick it off with Week 1.

Are we destined for Alabama vs. Clemson In The National Championship?

This college football season feels a lot like when the Cavs and Warriors met in four straight NBA Finals. The question was not “if” they would play in the NBA Finals, but “how” would they get there. Alabama and Clemson are the two best teams in college football right now. There’s nothing to debate here. Alabama and Clemson have the two best coaches, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, and two best quarterbacks, Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence, in the country. Both teams will be double-digit favorites every game with the exception possibly coming in the final game of the regular season when Alabama travels to Auburn. If the Crimson Tide and Tigers meet in the championship, it would be the fifth straight year those two teams met in the College Football Playoff with three of those coming in the national title game. Bama should roll through Duke and Clemson should dominate Georgia Tech in Week 1.

Who is the third-best team in the country?

Is there a consensus third-best team in the country behind Clemson and Alabama? Most fans and experts would choose Georiga as the third-best team in the country. Who can blame them? Georgia has lost three games in the regular season the past two seasons with one of those losses coming to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs will be very good this year. It all starts with the return of third-year quarterback Jake Fromm. Remember the name, D’Andre Swift. The junior running back rushed for 1,049 yards and 10 TDs last season while splitting time with Elijah Holyfield. It’s Swift’s backfield now. If all goes according to plan, the Bulldogs are on a collision course with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

Can Jalen Hurts become the third straight Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy?

Jalen Hurts on Oklahoma / Alonzo Adams

The Jalen Hurts Era at Oklahoma begins Sunday night in Norman against Houston. Hurts has not been a starting quarterback since 2017 when he was at Alabama. Lucky for Hurts, he’s going to a coach in Lincoln Riley who happens to be the best play-caller in the nation. It’s safe to say that Riley has a more versatile offensive strategy at Oklahoma than Hurts’ former coordinators at Alabama. Riley also has two straight quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who have won the Heisman Trophy. Can Hurts make it three for three? To be honest, I have no idea what to expect out of Hurts. Can he throw the ball for more than 4,000 yards as Mayfield and Murray did over the past two seasons? Only time will tell if Hurts fits into Riley’s explosive offense.

The game with most the College Football Playoff implications in Week 1 is Oregon vs. Auburn

The marquee game of Week 1 with the most CFP implications on the line is #11 Oregon vs. #16 Auburn at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday night. Oregon’s 2019 expectations are very high thanks to the return of senior quarterback Justin Herbert. In 28 starts, Herbert and the Ducks offense have averaged 38.3 points per game in his 28 starts. They’ll need every point on Saturday as Auburn’s defense is coming off a season where it ranked 28th nationally allowing 361.9 yards per game and seventh holding teams to just 17.1 points per game. Coach Guz Malzahn believes this year’s defense could be the best defense he’s ever had during his tenure thanks to Nick Coe, Derrick Brown, and Marlon Davidson. Not to add any more pressure, but the entire Pac-12 conference is rooting for Oregon. This is the Ducks’ chance to put their conference on the playoff radar versus arguably the best conference in the nation.

Can Michigan Finally Win The Big Ten Title Under Jim Harbaugh?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If there has ever been a year for Michigan to win the Big 10 Conference, it’s 2019. Urban Meyer is no longer at Ohio State. Trace McSorley is not at Penn State. Wisconsin is still not back to their 2017 form where they went 13-1. Michigan State is average. There are no more excuses for Michigan. Returning quarterback Shea Patterson is in for a treat as new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis will implement an up-tempo, no-huddle, speed-in-space offense. For Jim Harbaugh, it’s time to win the Big 10 and beat Ohio State.

What are your top storylines for the CFP in Week 1? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Adam Driver: The Most Interesting Actor On The Planet

Adam Driver Best actor

Right now, who is the best actor on the planet? Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cate Blanchett, Al Pacino, and Nicole Kidman all come to mind, but narrowing that list to one is nearly impossible. However, if the question changes from “best actor” to “most interesting actor,” there’s only one name that comes to mind and it’s Adam Driver.

Adam Driver is skyrocketing up the charts for best actor on the planet, but for me, he is the clear choice for the most interesting actor right now. For an actor as talented and well-respected as Driver, a career in acting almost never happened. Driver applied to Juilliard after high school but was rejected. After a short stint as a door-to-door vacuum salesperson, he joined the Marines after the 9/11 attacks. In his interview with Howard Stern, Driver emphasized he loved being in the Marines. However, Driver never went to the Middle East because he broke his sternum mountain biking. After being medically discharged, he eventually tried out for Julliard and was accepted. Imagine training as a marine for over two years and having it all end because you fell off a bike. The world is a weird place.

Thankfully, Driver became an actor. After some small roles on television as well as a role alongside Leonardo Dicaprio in J. Edgar, Driver’s first real big break came on Girls. Driver played Adam Sackler, a passionate but standoffish wannabe actor. If I’m being honest, Girls wasn’t for me and I never finished most of it, but Driver was a standout. Driver has this dominant presence where every time he’s onscreen, I’m listening because I know whatever he says will be important. Driver earned three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

As successful as Driver is on television, I’m absolutely fascinated by his movie career. Driver becoming the most interesting actor on the planet is due to these three components: his range, the roles he takes, and the directors he works with.

Let’s start with his range. If Adam Driver played baseball, he’d be a five-tool prospect. For those not familiar with that phrase, a five-tool player has all five of the components that scouts look for when evaluating a player. They are speed, power, hitting for average, fielding and arm strength. Driver is a five-tool actor with unlimited range. There is not a genre that doesn’t suit Driver’s talents. Action, romance, comedy, drama, thrillers, blockbusters, indies, etc. Driver has done it all. He can help lead a huge franchise like Star Wars that grosses billions of dollars or he can be the star of indie dramas like Patterson and Hungry Heart. Spike Lee described Driver in one word, “Beast.” (Start video at 7:10)

Going off his range, the roles that Driver takes are beyond compelling. There are some actors who can only play the good guy. Some actors can only play bad guys. Few will ever cross over and go against typecasting for fear of negative reception. That problem is nonexistent for Driver. His choices are so ballsy, but 9 times out of 10, they pay off.

Let’s take his role as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars franchise. Driver is evil and manipulative, but he’s so damn captivating as the villain. Now, let’s see Driver be a good guy who has to act like a racist in BlacKkKlansman. A.O. Scott of the NY Times said, “The most shocking thing about Flip’s (Driver’s character) imposture is how easy it seems, how natural he looks and sounds. This unnerving authenticity is partly a testament to Mr. Driver’s ability to tuck one performance inside another…” These roles are both extremely complex, but Driver’s innate ability to immerse himself into any role and give good performance after good performance is why he’s so critically acclaimed.

Last but not least, look at the directors that Driver has worked with over the years. These are not some shmucks who are picking up the camera for the first time. These are some of the most influential and renowned filmmakers of the last 50 years.

This list is unbelievable. Clint Eastwood, Oscar winner. Steven Spielberg, Oscar winner. The Coen Brothers, Oscar winners. Martin Scorsese, Oscar winner. Steven Soderbergh, Oscar Winner. Spike Lee, Oscar winner. Jim Jarmusch is one of the most important independent filmmakers of the last 40 years. J.J. Abrams, Emmy winner and one of the most famous sci-fi directors ever. Rian Johnson directed The Last Jedi and one of the greatest episodes of television of the last 21st century, Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias.” Noah Baumbach is one of the hottest filmmakers in Hollywood and critics are already predicting that his newest film, Marriage Story, which stars Driver, will be this generation’s Kramer vs. Kramer. It’s no surprise that these esteemed directors want to work with Driver. Simply put, Driver is brilliant.

If you’re into betting, place a wager on Driver winning an Oscar within the next 10 years. You may not even have to wait that long since Driver has three movies coming out later this year that all have Oscar buzz: Marriage Story, The Report, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I said that determining the best actor on the planet is a tall task. However, if Driver goes three for three to close out 2019, the debate may be over. Adam Driver is the most interesting actor on the planet and soon, he may be the best actor on the planet.

Little Women Trailer: Greta Gerwig’s Adaptation Will Be Major Factor At The Oscars

Little Women

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Best Picture race for the 2020 Oscars and how there have been few, if not any, favorites to be in the hunt for the industry’s top prize. After the release of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it’s clear that OUATIH is the first clear contender for Best Picture. After watching the first trailer to Little Women, Tarantino will have some company in the form of Greta Gerwig.

In her second solo directorial feature, Gerwig presents her adaptation of Little Women, which is based on the 1869 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women focuses on the lives of the March sisters in 1860s New England in the aftermath of the Civil War. This marks the eighth film adaptation of the novel.

In order to differentiate itself from the novel, Gerwig is going to focus more on the sisters’ young adult lives, particularly after Meg, Jo, and Amy leave their family home, according to one of the film’s producers. The film will jump back and forth between timelines to focus on themes rather than narratives. The trailer presents a more modern approach to 1860s New England that’s full of strong female protagonists.

Speaking of protagonists, this cast is full of young stars and living legends. The March sisters are Saoirse Ronan as Joe, Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy, and Eliza Scanlen. As if those four women weren’t popular enough, throw in future “It” star of Hollywood, Timothée Chalamet, and this young core would make the Denver Nuggets jealous. I purchased Saoirse Ronan stock years ago thanks to Atonement and Brooklyn, but Florence Pugh is joining Saoirse in my “Drop Everything And See Their Movie” list. Did I mention that Laura Dern and MERYL FREAKING STREEP rounds out the cast?

I only needed to watch this trailer once to convince myself that Little Women will be nominated for multiple Oscars. The Academy tens to award historical period pieces based on famous works of literature AND films with actors and directors who have received/won previous Oscars. Ronan, Chalamet, Dern, and Gerwig have all received Oscar nominations previously while Streep and Chris Cooper have won for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively. The ingredients of an Oscar-nominated film are present. The question is not if they will receive nominations, but how many nominations it will receive.

Timothée Chalamet and Florence Pugh in Little Women (2019) / Wilson Webb/© 2019 CTMG, Inc.

The person whose Oscar chances intrigue me the most is Gerwig. In 2017, Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, was nothing short of a success. Lady Bird was nominated for five Oscars including Best Orginal Screenplay and Best Picture. More importantly, Gerwig became the fifth women in Oscar history to receive a nomination for Best Director. Gerwig set the bar extremely high. I have no doubt that she can match or even surpass those expectations, but will the Academy reward with her more nominations so quickly?

Little Women is going to be nominated for Best Picture. I’d bet that Gerwig receives an Adapted Screenplay nomination as well. Director is where it gets tricky. As previously stated, The Academy has only nominated five women for Best Director so unfortunately, history is not in Gerwig’s favor. However, if Little Women receives a Best Picture nomination as well as a screenplay and multiple acting nominations, don’t be surprised if Gerwig makes history once again.

Full Oscar Predictions for Little Women

  • Best Picture
  • Best Adapted Screenplay – Greta Gerwig
  • Best Actress – Saoirse Ronan
  • Best Supporting Actress – Meryl Streep OR Florence Pugh
  • Best Costume Design

See you this Christmas when Little Women arrives in theaters.

Are you excited to see Little Women? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @unafraidshow.

Stranger Things Season 3 Finale: Breaking Down Hopper’s Future

Hopper Stranger Things

In Jim Hopper’s letter to Eleven in the Season 3 finale of Netflix’s Stranger Things, Hopper wrote, “I know you’re getting older, growing, changing.” Just like Eleven, all of the kids are all getting older and growing (most noticeably, Mike). Just like the kids, Stranger Things is changing.

*Warning: This article will include major spoilers. You’ve been warned.*

As I’ve said in previous reviews, Stranger Things is an extremely fun and enjoyable show that successfully balancers nostalgia with science-fiction and horror. The Season 3 finale was a great ending to a delightful third season. The final scene depicts the Byers’ family packing up and moving out of Hawkins (FINALLY!) to start a new life. Joining them is Eleven, who lost her father, Hopper, when Joyce shut down the gate room, which disintegrated everyone in the room including Hopper.

Let’s just skip to the elephant in the room for Season 4. (Season 4 has not been officially confirmed, but it’s a stone-cold lock to happen.)

Is Hopper alive?

That’s the million-dollar question. There are a few ways to tackle this. You either believe a) Hopper is alive, b) He’s is dead, but will be brought back to life or c) Hopper is dead.

How is Hopper still alive? There are a few clues that support the idea that our beloved Police Chief of Hawkins is still breathing. Look at his adopted daughter, Eleven, as someone who we thought was dead by was instead trapped in the Upside Down. When Dr. Owens enters the gate room, the gate to the Upside Down is still open. Just like Eleven, there’s a chance Hopper made his way into the Upside Down and is trapped there, which is the most likely option of the “Hopper is alive” theories.

Stranger Things / Netflix

Then, there’s Hopper’s letter. The letter was beautifully written and so heartfelt that it brought a tear to my eye. I urge you to reread it again and when you do, you’ll see that a few sentences are clues to his whereabouts.

  • “I’ve been stuck in one place. In a cave, you might say.” – The Upside Down?
  • “But, please, if you don’t mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.” – See the photo above.

Does this mean Eleven has to rescue Hopper in the Upside Down? Maybe. Plus, we never see Hopper’s body when he “dies.” He doesn’t vaporize onscreen. It goes back to the old saying, “Never found the body” TV trope. If the viewer doesn’t see the death, it tends to mean that the person might still be alive.

Then, there’s the post-credits scene in Russia. Two soldiers are walking through cells when they come across a first door. One says, “No, not the American.” And they go to a second door and take a Russian prisoner down to feed to the Demogorgon. Is this American, Hopper? It might be, but I believe it’s Dr. Brenner, who we learned is still alive in Season 2.

Now, there’s Option B. Hopper is dead, but he’s going to be brought back to life. Huh? Does Eleven now have the ability to raise the dead? Last time I checked, she doesn’t have that power. However, there’s an ’80s pop culture reference that was seen in the third season of Stranger Things that could be the key to Hopper’s resurrection. That reference is Back to the Future.

Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future / Universal Studios

Great Scott! We can go back in time to save Hopper! I don’t believe the kids of Hawkins have a DeLorean, but that doesn’t mean time travel can’t play a part in the show. Notice how the final two scenes are edited. When Eleven reads the letter during the montage, the kids are seen saying goodbye to each other and drive out of Hawkins. However, when she finishes the letter, Eleven brings out her stuff to the truck and the kids say goodbye to each other. Perhaps this editing is a clue about time travel and Season 4 will explain that time travel is possible and necessary in order to save Hopper.

Finally, the last possibility is that Hopper is dead and not returning. Fans would most certainly be upset if Hopper was dead, but his death would be of the utmost significance and shape the remaining 1-2 seasons of the show. Once again, look at Hopper’s letter to Eleven when he says, “I don’t want things to change. So I think maybe that’s why I came in here, to try and make stop that change. To turn back the clock. To make things go back to how they were. But I know that’s naive. It’s just not how life works.” The themes of change and growing up were hammered down in Season 3. Things changes whether we like it or not. Hopper could be dead and whether we like it or not, there may be nothing we can do about it. That’s life.

Even if Hopper is dead, I don’t see David Harbour leaving the show entirely. Harbour is too important and valuable to remove from the show completely. Maybe Hopper will be used in flashbacks all next season or perhaps he’s some ghost dad from heaven. Dead or alive, Hopper’s future remains unknown but his impact on the show will never be forgotten.

Stranger Things Season 3: Winners And Losers

Joyce and hopper stranger things

Stranger Things makes me happy. That’s the best way to describe this series. Season 3 of Stranger Things was a fun, enjoyable show that successfully combines childhood nostalgia with science-fiction and horror. I was not a child of the 1980s, but I can relate to that feeling of playing with your friends and going on adventures in the summer. (Of course, I never had the threat of being attacked by Demogorgons present.) Nothing excites me more than sitting down on my couch, firing up Netflix, and seeing what the gang is up to in Hawkins, Indiana.

*There will be spoilers in this article. You’ve been warned.*

Stranger Things
Stranger Things / Netflix

Season 1 was magnificent. Season 2 was good, but a step back from Season 1’s brilliance. This time, Season 3 was stellar.

Season 3 is set in the summer of 1985. We return to Hawkins to see that the kids have grown, their hormones are rising, and the Mind Flayer is back. Love is in the air at the start of the season as Mike and Eleven are inseparable and can’t keep their faces off each other. Lucas and Max are still an item, though, at times, their constant bickering might make it seem like they’re enemies. Nancy and Jonathan aka the Woodward and Bernstein of Hawkins are still going strong.

Joyce and Hopper (Jopper?) also share a few intimate moments as well as continue down their detective path as they try to solve another supernatural mystery. Magnets, anyone? Will aka Peter Pan is back and all he wants to do is never grow up. The bromance between Dustin and Steve shines once again and they even add new girl Robin into the mix along with Lucas’s sister, Erica. Last, but certainly not least, Billy continues to wreak havoc on the kids except this time, he’s possessed by a former foe. Oh yeah, there’s also the presence of our Cold War enemy, Russia. The 80s, baby!

As a whole, the season had a lot of highs, but there were some small complaints I had. Here are my winners and losers from Season 3 of Stranger Things.

Winner: Robin

Maya Hawke in Stranger Things / Netflix

In my notes for this review, I had “Robin” in all caps. That’s how good of an addition Robin was to the cast. She is the greatest addition to the show since its inception. Her wittiness and quirky attitude matched perfectly with Steve’s charming and dimwitted personality. I could have watched a spinoff of Robin and Steve in the ice cream shop for eight episodes. Which leads me into my next winner…

Winners: Dustin And Steve Adding Robin Into Their Bromance

Maya Hawke, Joe Keery, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things / Netflix

One of the highlights of Season 2 was the bromance that developed between Steve and Dustin. Steve gave Dustin tips with the ladies and Dustin shared his knowledge about science-fiction and Demogorgons with Steve. Adding Robin to the mix was a seamless transition. The three of them teaming up to crack the Russian code and save Hawkins from a potential nuclear and alien invasion was my favorite storyline of the season. I’m not forgetting about Erica, who’s genius and sassiness turned the successful trio into a quartet.

Loser: A Separated Gang

My major issue with Stranger Things over the last two seasons has been the lack of interaction between the original group of Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven. The chemistry between this group is one of the main reasons why Season 1 was so successful. Though Dustin and Steve’s friendship has blossomed, part of me wishes that Dustin had a chance to recapture his magic with Mike, Lucas, and Eleven. Stranger Things can be formulaic in a good way, but separating the kids and teenagers from each other until the very end leaves me wanting more huge team-ups instead of separated groups.

Winners: Dustin And Suzie’s Song

I was initially torn on this scene. Like Hopper, I was entirely confused when I first watched Dustin and his girlfriend, Suzie, belt out the song to The Neverending Story. However, after I rewatched the scene for a second time, I couldn’t stop humming along and eventually, singing the lyrics. The finale was so intense and emotional that a silly and playful musical number to remind us that this show is about children was a good break in the action.

Losers: The Beginning Of The Season

I’m fully aware that this could be a “me problem,” but the first couple of episodes in Season 3 of Stranger Things dragged out a little too much. I was excited to see our favorite characters back, but it felt plotless. The Mind Flayer abducted Billy and Joyce had a magnet problem, but the mission of each group was still up in the air. It wasn’t until the fourth episode, “The Sauna Test,” where the action picked up and the “what do we have to do to save Hawkins” question started to have an answer.

Winner: Hopper

That fit >>>>. Eleven may be the MVP of the show, but Hopper is the most interesting character. Hopper is a broken and flawed man with a big heart but struggles to express his emotions. Sharing his true thoughts with those he loves (Joyce and Eleven) is a struggle, but that’s because he cares about them so much. Did the arguing with Joyce drag out? Yes. Did he spend way too much time fighting Russian terminators? Probably. However, did Hopper continue to captivate my attention in a way that no other character can do? Absolutely. It’s why his death is so special and heartbreaking. I’m going to have more on the finale in the coming days, but for now, let’s assume Hopper is dead for now. That’s a huge loss for the show. Hopper is the only father figure in the entire series and removing him means there’s a serious void in men who like to pound cigarettes and alcohol. All joking aside, Hopper will be severely missed if this was his final farewell. Nominate David Harbour for every award.

Winner: Hopper’s Letter To Eleven And Final Montage

I will be the first to admit that I was a mess after watching Eleven read her letter from Hopper. Joyce put Hopper on the right track, but he absolutely crushed my soul with the second half. Here’s the letter in its entirety.

There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you both about. I know this is a difficult conversation, but I care about you both very much. And I know that you care about each other very much, and that’s why it’s important that we set these boundaries moving forward so we can build an environment where we all feel comfortable, trusted, and open to sharing our feelings.

Feelings. Feelings. Jesus. The truth is, for so long I’d forgotten what those even were. I’ve been stuck in one place. In a cave, you might say. A deep, dark cave. And then I left some Eggos out in the woods and you came into my life. For the first time in a long time, I started to feel things again. I started to feel happy. But lately, I guess I’ve been feeling distant from you. Like you’re pulling away from me or something. I miss playing board games every night, making triple-decker Eggo extravaganzas at sunrise, watching Westerns together before we doze off.


But I know you’re getting older, growing, changing. I guess, if I’m being really honest, that’s what scares me. I don’t want things to change. So I think maybe that’s why I came in here, to try and make stop that change. To turn back the clock. To make things go back to how they were. But I know that’s naive. It’s just not how life works. It’s moving, always moving, whether you like it or not. And yeah, sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s sad. And sometimes, it’s surprising. Happy.

So you know what? Keep on growing up kid. Don’t let me stop you. Make mistakes, learn from ’em. When life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave. But, please, if you don’t mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.

Rereading that last paragraph has me in a puddle of tears. “When life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. it means you’re out of that cave.” That’s a beautiful line that perfectly represents the father/daughter relationship between Hopper and El. Both have been hurt numerous times and yet both continue to find love with each other. It’s a beautiful message.

Throw in the cover of “Heroes” by Peter Gabriel and the finale leaves on an emotional note. It’s not a coincidence that my two favorite endings to the show include that song. The ending of Season 1, Episode 3, where Mike and the crew find “a dead Will” and the Season 3 finale are both elevated thanks to the moving voice of Peter Gabriel.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Season 3 of Stranger Things. It was terrifying, devastating, emotional, and funny. I can’t ask for much more from a television show. Here’s to hoping that Season 4 follows the same release date pattern of the previous seasons and drops sometime in October 2020.

Check back later this week for more Season 3 of Stranger Things content. Click here for previous articles on Stranger Things.

Stranger Things: Five Questions Ahead Of Season 3

Stranger Things Netflix

One summer can change everything. From the tagline of the third season of Stranger Things, the kids of Hawkins are in for a life-changing summer. Season three of Netflix‘s hit show, Stranger Things, is set to premiere on July 4.

It’s been almost two years since we left our heroes of Hawkins, Indiana. In the Season two finale, Eleven closed the gate, destroying the portal from the Upside Down to the human world. However, the trailers revealed that the Mind Flayer is still in Hawkins. Before Season 3, here are five questions I have ahead of the premiere.

What is the significance of the Starcourt Mall and Fun Fair?

Let’s go to the fair and the mall! In Season one, it was the school. In Season two, it was the lab. For Season three, the two major locations appear to be the Fun Fair and the Starcourt Mall. The fair is run by Mayor Kline, played by Cary Elwes. Not much is known about Mayor Kline, but if I were to guess, he’s informed about the supernatural activity happening in Hawkins and chose to sweep it under the rug.

The Starcourt Mall appears to be the site of the major battle that will occur between the kids and the Mind Flayer. In the trailer, the creature is terrorizing Lucas and Max in the middle of the mall. Plus, the mall is home to Scoops Ahoy, where Steve and new girl Robin work. Expect the mall to be a major set piece this season.

What will be the new romance of the show?

The kids are getting older, which means the hormones will be running wild. Romance will play a huge factor this season. Going into the season, the couples are Mike and Eleven, Lucas and Max, and Nancy and Jonathan. I can’t forget about the best relationship in the show, Steve and Dustin. They take bromance to the next level. What will be the new romance of the show? Joyce and Hopper have teased their feelings before, but have yet to act on it. With Bob out of the picture, look for Hopper to finally make a move. Also, watch out for Steve and Robin. The ice cream shop is the perfect backdrop for a summer romance.


How did the Mind Flayer return to Hawkins?

As previously stated, in Season two of Stranger Things, Eleven closed the gate to the Upside Down. However, in the final scene of Season two, the Mind Flayer remained over the school. In the final trailer, Will suggested that when Eleven closed the gate, the Mind Flayer could have been locked out of the Upside Down and remained in the human world. If that’s the case, the Mind Flayer will be looking for a new host. From the clips, I may have an idea as to who it may be…

Reviews have been pouring in and so far, they’ve been very positive.

Check back in next week for a recap of the season. See you in Hawkins.

To Durant Or Not To Durant: What’s Next For The New York Knicks?

Kevin Durant Knicks

The New York Knicks looked poised for a big offseason. One Kevin Durant injury and Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers leaves the Knicks with more questions than answers. How will the Knicks handle free agency?

There’s a common phrase to describe the current status of the New York Knicks. “Things get worse before they get better.” All signs were pointing up for the Knicks as recent as two months ago. New York positioned themselves for a draft position no less than five in the lottery. Kevin Durant was the best player in the world and rumored to be leaving Golden State for New York in the offseason. Plus, the Knicks would have enough money to sign two players like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to max contracts this summer.

However, plans change in the blink of an eye. First, the Knicks lost the chance of drafting Zion when they were awarded the third pick. Then, Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles and is expected to miss the entire 2019-2020 season. Plus, their crosstown rival, the Brooklyn Nets, are the favorite to land Kyrie Irving. Once again, things get worse before they get better.

Despite a horrific 17-65 campaign, which is tied for the worst franchise record in team history, fans remained optimistic because of the high draft pick and cap space. Now, optimism is dwindling because of the injury to Durant. Steve Mills and Scott Perry now have a tough decision to make. What is the plan going forward? Does the Durant injury change how the Knicks approach free agency?

To put it frankly, no. Durant’s injury should not change anything.

The Knicks have a rare opportunity to get better via free agency instead of through a trade. Carmelo Anthony was a top seven basketball player in the NBA when the Knicks made the trade for the star in 2011. However, the Knicks were forced to give up four players and a first-round pick. As good as Melo was, and he was a good player, he is not Durant. Before the injury, KD was arguably the best player in the NBA. Durant averaged 32 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists this postseason.

The Achilles injury is tough to recover from for a player on the wrong side of 30. (Durant will be 31 in September.) However, it’s not impossible to return to all-star form. Dominique Wilkins ruptured his Achilles at age 32 in the 1991-1992 NBA season. Defying the odds, Wilkins averaged 29.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. He went on to make two more All-Star teams and two more All-NBA Teams. It’s possible that Durant may never be the best player in the game again, but it’s not out of the question that he will return to all-star form and be one of the 10 best players in the game.

Here’s the question that Mills and Perry need to ask themselves. If they pass on Durant or he returns to Golden State, then what? Is there a better option than signing Durant despite the fact that he will miss next season? There are definitely options, but the likelihood of them happening are slim. The Knicks are going to progressively pursue Kawhi Leonard, but most reports have him either resigning with the Raptors or signing with the Clippers. Klay Thompson has given no indication that he’s leaving Golden State. Kemba Walker is a free agent and said he would consider taking less money, but that would be to return to Charlotte. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will have plenty of suitors, but all signs point to them resigning with Philly or ending up elsewhere. Could the Knicks snag D’Angelo Russell from the Nets if Brooklyn signs Kyrie Irving?

If all else fails, the Knicks could simply draft RJ Barrett and continue to acquire more talent and hope David Fizdale can help their young core take the next step. However, the Knicks young core hasn’t looked promising as a unit. The best player out of this group is Mitchell Robinson, who was NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Allozo Trier made nice strides this past season along with Kevin Knox (at times). However, Frank Ntilikina is a lost cause Emmanuel Mudiay is most likely leaving. This core, although young, doesn’t inspire a promising future.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say the Knicks sign two players to max contracts. Pair any of the free agents not named Durant, Leonard, or Irving together. Does a Klay Thompson/Tobias Harris combination take the Knicks to the next level? Can a D’Angelo Russell/Jimmy Butler push the Knicks to the top of the Eastern Conference? The more you pair players up, the worse it sounds. The risk of signing Kevin Durant becomes not only more promising but flat-out better for the future of the franchise.

The Knicks can still have a successful offseason that brings the team in the right direction. Mills and Perry have their work cut out for them. The Knicks are a puzzle, but the puzzle can be solved.