From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...
College football Monday morning quarterback
Wow, what a Saturday. Amazing from start (the Auburn-MSU game was highly entertaining) to finish (Michigan's rally over Notre Dame was awesome — wonder who Brian Kelly cussed out after this one?).
Here are the top five things you need to know:
Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers (21) quarterback Tyler Bray (8) is left. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
1) The Tennessee passing game is BIG TIME: Say what you want about lighting up Montana in the season opener a week ago. There are no flies on Tyler Bray, Da'Rick Rogers, Justin Hunter and Co. after Vols' aerial assault on Cincinnati, which entered Neyland Stadium as just a 6-point underdog and left with a 45-23 spanking. (And yes, the Vols minus-6 was one of the 5-at-10 Fab 4 picks. More on that below.) As for the Vols, the old football adage states you establish the run to set up the pass. OK, whatever you say. But remember, old cars didn't have air conditioning — never mind CD or DVD players and BlueTooth connections — and when was the last time you saw a typewriter? These Vols establish the pass to set up the pass and then plan on passing some more.
Yes, Florida's trip to the Swamp will be telling in a lot of ways. Mainly we'll learn whether Bray, who has a ton of physical tools, is mature enough to win on the road in the SEC. Until proven otherwise, however, the UT Airways is open for business and now checking all baggage. Orange Kool-Aid, anyone?
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore (21) runs for a touchdown. (AP Photo/John Amis)
2) Maybe this week will be a must-win for Georgia: A tough, Tough, TOUGH loss for the Georgia Bulldogs against South Carolina on Saturday in a game that UGA outplayed USC and still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It now makes for an even tougher week for Mark Richt, who might want to consider showing up to news conferences this week wearing a flame-retardant suit not unlike a NASCAR driver's in preparation of the heat that's coming. Especially considering Richt's short fuse last week — remember he said the USC was not a must-win, but that Georgia viewed every game as a must-win and that the media would spin it however it wanted anyway.
After the loss Georgia is 15-15 in its last 30 games and looking for answers. Let's start here: So coach, is Saturday's test against Coastal Carolina a must-win?
Don't get us wrong, Georgia played well Saturday — much better than that debacle against Boise State — and should have won the USC game. But Georgia's a big boy program and big boy programs know that "should have" wins are the same as ugly losses. "Should have" wins are the hallmark of lower-tier programs and upstart teams with new coaches. That's not Georgia.
3) M-O-C-S, Mocs, Mocs, Mocs: The 5-at-10 clan went to Finley for UTC's impressive 38-17 win over No. 10-ranked Jacksonville State. Well played all the way around, guys. Lines moved quickly. Big, fun crowd. Russ Huesman and the Mocs delivered. The reported attendance was 12,185, but it sure felt like more than that.
4) Learning week: Coaches say teams improve more from Week 1 to Week 2 than at any time in the season. OK, we'll buy into that. Here is a 5-in-10 (top five list in 10 words or less) by the 5-at-10 of the top lessons of the weekend:
Spirit, a bald eagle, gives the crowd a scare as he flies close to them prior to the start of the Mississippi State=Auburn NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. Auburn has a unique tradition of flying an eagle over the stadium before home games. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
— Underestimate Auburn at your own peril: Tigers have won nine straight against ranked foes.
— You can't underestimate that Alabama defense: Tide's D is so good it can ignore QB issues.
— Buckle up Sunshine State: Oklahoma@FSU, OSU@Miami, UT@Florida set for Saturday
— Michigan dances in dark over Notre Dame: Great comeback in first night game at Big House. (Side note here that does not count against the 10-word limit — hey, it's our show, we can bend the rules — the Michigan-Notre Dame throwback uniforms started to grow on us, and we noticed two big things: First, the officials' throwback unis were awesome right down to the old-school caps; second, who knew Adidas had such prominent logos on the old-school Michigan and ND jerseys?)
— Show your gold Vandy: Dores beat UConn 24-21 as James Franklin now 2-0
5) The Fab 4 picks were truly fabulous: The 5-at-10 is soaring out of the gate picking against the spread. At this pace, we'll have to give you the first one for free and then charge you for the next three. We're 6-1-1 after a strong 3-0-1 Week 2 showing. Let's review:
Over the 56.5 in the Auburn-Mississippi State game — Check (41-34 =75 points
Tennessee minus-6 against Cincinnati — Check (45-23 Vols)
Oregon minus-27 against Nevada — Check (69-20 Oregon)
South Carolina minus-3 at Georgia — Push (45-42 USC)
In fact it was such a big week, our Saturday SEC picks against the number finished 8-1-1. Wow. (And yes, we may have sprained an elbow patting ourself on the back.)
This week's Fab 4: 3-0-1
This season's Fab 4: 6-1-1
Maryland wide receiver Ronnie Tyler leaps into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA football game against Miami in College Park, Md., Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Speaking of gambling...
This morning may have capped the craziest week in sports betting history that did not involve March Madness, the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby.
— Last Monday night, Maryland covered a five-point spread by running back an INT for a TD in the final minute
— Saturday, Southern California defensive back Torin Harris scored on a blocked punt return on the final play of the Trojans win over Utah. Officials waved off the TD after calling unsportsmanlike conduct on Harris, the Trojans, Lane Kifin, Ed Orgeron (who could be called for unsportsmanlike conduct every hour on the hour daily for the next 17 years) and the rest of the USC family. Without the score USC, which was favored by 8.5 at most Vegas sports books, won 17-14. Two hours after the game ended — and after hundreds or even thousands betting tickets were either cashed or tossed away — the Pac-12 reversed the call and said the TD counted so the final score was USC 23-14, which covers the number. The Las Vegas Journal Review has more on it HERE, including how the MGM Grand sports book said that 17-14 was its final and borrowing a line from Forrest Gump, "That's all they had to say about that."
— Sunday, the craziness takes over in the NFL, highlighted by the Manning-less Colts getting hammered by Houston, and at the U.S. Open, where heavy favorite Serena Williams loss to Sam Stosur. But the big gambling story on Sunday — the 10th anniversary of 9/11 — was at Belmont, the largest horse racing facility in New York. The winner of the first race came from the No. 9 slot, winner of the second race came from the No. 1 slot and the winner of the third race came from the No. 1 slot. That's right 9-1-1 to start the anniversary card. According to RJ Bell of pregame.com, the odds of that happening at any time are 336-to-1. The odds of it happening on 9/11, well, off the charts.
— The Colts were so bad without Peyton Manning they are 3-point underdog Sunday against Cleveland, which got thumped by Cincinnati in Week 1.
— Cam Newton. Any questions? Wow, dude throws for 400-plus in his professional debut (insert Auburn joke here).
— After his implosion against the Jets, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said in the postgame news conference that he cost the Cowboys the game with his stupid decisions. Of the course the media asked him to clarify which stupid decision was he talking about. Seriously.
— A Falcons meltdown in Chicago with a visit from Mike Vick and the Eagles on the horizon. Hmmmm, trouble brewing?
— MNF football doubleheader. Something tells the 5-at-10 that the Patriots are going to look really, Really, REALLY good tonight.
— We'll cover this in Tuesday's NFL Power Poll, but wow, how about those Ravens, who put a 35-7 beatdown on the Steelers?
A ball hit for a single by St. Louis Cardinals' Rafael Furcal bounces away form Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 9, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
This and that
— Danger, Danger, Will Robinson. The once-unshakeable Atlanta Braves are starting to leak oil heading to the homestretch. After getting swept in St. Louis — including a rare meltdown by closer Craig Kimbrel on Friday — the Braves' wildcard lead is down to 4.5 games over the Cardinals. Now the Braves will face the Florida Marlins (who have always been a thorn in Atlanta's side) for three games and Atlanta will hand the ball to the barely-old-enough-to-shave trio of Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado. Raise you hand if back in spring training you had any of those three guys starting a meaningful September game. Yeah, us neither.
— Hey Dale Junior is in the Chase. It was good to see that the Helton family was finally able to alter the rules so Dale Earnhardt Jr. — the sport's most popular driver by leaps and bounds — could make the postseason. Here's saying that PGA commissioner Tim Finchem has already sent NASCAR president Mike Helton an email about next year's PGA playoffs. Because of the PGA has another round of playoffs without Tiger Woods, well, somebody wake us when it's over, OK?
— Oklahoma still is atop the AP poll, marking the 100th week the Sooners have been ranked No. 1. Wow, almost two full years of being No. 1, and yes, that's a record.
This will be a Monday regular.
Who gets your game ball from the weekend? It can be high school, college or NFL, but which player gets your seal of approval.
We'll be back around noon with our answer, but among the leaders in the clubhouse are Tyler Bray, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Mathieson, and the UTC defense (we were getting a little QB heavy there).
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...