published Monday, September 19th, 2011

5 at 10: The Fab 4, NFL comebacks and College Football's Monday morning quarterback

From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...

College Football Monday Morning Quarterback

Here are the five things we learned Saturday:

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    Alabama running back Trent Richardson (3) runs over Kent State linebacker Luke Batton (30) for a touchdown during the first half of a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

— There is a collision course destined for the first Saturday in November between LSU and Alabama, and barring injuries, it could be the game of the decade. Gang, those two teams are physical, athletic and angry. Defensively, the Tigers and the Tide show up at the ball in a very big hurry, in very large numbers and in a very bad mood. After three weeks of the season — and yes, this is insanely early, especially from the 5-at-10, who believes the first polls should come out the first week in October — here is projected BCS title-game: Oklahoma vs. LSU/Alabama winner with a very shifty-eyed Boise State and a Stanford team with a relaxed smile waiting in the wings.

— The Vols are not ready for prime time on the road. Not yet any way. UT was overwhelmed early — Florida lead 16-0 less than 22 minutes into the game, and it could have been worse — and struggled against the Gators' speed. The latter is nothing to hang your head about — lots of people are going to struggle against Florida's speed — but the former is disappointing for a team and a coaching staff that seemed to really embrace the challenge of going to the Swamp. Two more quick things here, Johnny Vols Fan: First, don't say "We're young..." because Florida is possibly as young and even younger on defense. Second, losing Justin Hunter hurt, no doubt, but injuries are part of the game and if your entire team's chances are pegged to a wide receiver, well, that's a whole other kettle of fish. Plus, Hunter was not the one that could not block the Gators front seven. That said, the Vols will have to spend a good chunk of the bye week figuring out who replaces Hunter, who is out for the year after tearing his ACL on Saturday.

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    Mississippi State wide receiver Chris Smith (8) is tackled by LSU players, including defensive back Tharold Simon (24), during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Davis Wade Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, in Starkville, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

— There is no shortage of stud, Stud, STUD running backs in the SEC. Auburn's Mike Dyer, Florida's Chris Rainey, Alabama's Trent Richardson, MSU's Vick Ballard and LSU's combo of Mike Ford and Spencer Ware are all hosses. And none of them are Marcus Lattimore, who went for 246 yards and all three of South Carolina's TDs in a closer than expected 24-21 win over Navy.

— Holy shelves of text books and backpacks stuffed with homework, but we're watching the revenge of the smart kids. Vandy smacked Ole Miss 30-7 Saturday and Georgia Tech continued its offensive fireworks with a 66-24 win over Kansas. Tech is back in the top 25, ranked 25th in the AP poll. Vandy is 3-0 and receiving more votes in both polls than UT and Georgia.

— Defensively, Auburn is not rebuilding. It's more like a complete new structure that has to be built from the ground up and it looks like the Tigers don't even have the proper permits. The Tigers had their 17-game winning streak snapped at Clemson with a 38-24 loss that apparently started with Auburn being informed that the new no-tackling-until-the-ball-has-moved-8-yards-beyond-the-line-of-scrimmage-after-the-first-quarter rule was in effect for the visitors. Here are some eye-popping (and for Johnny Tigers Fan, eye-gouging) numbers from Montgomery Advertiser Auburn ace Jay G. Tate (for what it's worth if you're an Auburn fan and don't know about Tate's outstanding work here, then consider this an early Christmas present):

Auburn defensively through three games in the last 10 years

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    Clemson's Sammy Watkins, left, slips a tackle from Auburn's T'Sharvan Bell during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in Clemson, S.C., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Collard)

2001: 60 plays, 236 yards, 17.3 ppg

2002: 68 plays, 312 yards, 10.0 ppg

2003: 61 plays, 262 yards, 15.7 ppg

2004: 63 plays, 273 yards, 7.7 ppg

2005: 63 plays, 246 yards, 8.7 ppg

2006: 60 plays, 249 yards, 5.7 ppg

2007: 71 plays, 283 yards, 19.3 ppg

2008: 67 plays, 214 yards, 5.0 ppg

2009: 70 plays, 350 yards, 22.3 ppg

2010: 78 plays, 340 yards, 21.3 ppg

2011: 91 plays, 534 yards, 36.7 ppg

Two other numbers that are scary for Auburn fans that Tate offers: Auburn has allowed 35 third-down conversions (the 2004 team allowed 48 all season) and has allowed 798 rushing yards (2004 allowed 1,354 all season). Ouch.

On the gambling front

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    Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) scrambles in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/John Russell)

Before we get to the 5-at-10's picks from last week, there are two crazy betting stories we need to share:

First, according to friend of the show RJ Bell of, the Titans' upset of the Baltimore Ravens was like the Vegas sports books finding an extra $100 million bill or two in their jeans in the dryer. We love it when that happens. According to Chris Andrews, assistant director of Cal-Neva sportsbooks, coming off their week 1 destruction of the Steelers, the Ravens received more individual bets than any team ever. Yes, including Super Bowl teams. Andrews' numbers included parlays and teasers and since the Titans were getting points and won the game outright, here's saying there were several bookies nationwide wearing Matt Hasselbeck jerseys this morning.

Second, and continuing the great NFL Sunday enjoyed by the house, there was an estimated $85 million bet on the Dallas Cowboys (minus-3) at San Francisco. On the first play of overtime, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo hit Jesse Holley for what looked like a sure TD. But Holley, who earned an invite to Cowboys camp through a reality TV show and now is a contributing NFL player, was caught at 1 by 49ers safety Donte Whitner. Dallas kicks the game-winning field goal on the next play for a 27-24 win and a push for everyone who had Dallas. One yard — 36 inches — saved Vegas $85 million. Crazy indeed.

How did the 5-at-10 do this weekend? Glad you asked. We're still riding a pretty hot streak, let's take a look.

The 5-at-10's Fab 4 picks (plus one)

Georgia Tech minus 14 over Kansas (Check, Tech won 66-24).

Indiana minus-15 over South Carolina State (Check, Indiana won 38-21).

Oklahoma minus-3 over Florida State and over the 55 (Check on the line, OU won 23-13; Wrong on the total).

Bonus pick (a Fab 5, this week?): Miami minus-2.5 over Ohio State (Check, Miami won 24-6).

Last week's Fab 4 (plus one): 4-1

This season's Fab 4: 10-2-1

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    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes a catch in front of Philadelphia Eagles free safety Kurt Coleman (42) and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (24) in the second half of an NFL football game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Wow, what a comeback

We'll get more into the NFL in Tuesday's 5-at-10, but sweet rewards for staying up late as the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan captured a 35-31 win over visiting Philadelphia and Mike Vick.

To say this is anything short of a huge win would be underplaying it. The Falcons, who collected a fair amount of preseason Super Bowl buzz, were thumped in week 1 at Chicago. They were down 31-21 late in the third quarter and the possibilities of starting 0-2 — and losing to Vick, the former franchise star who has become the cornerstone of the Eagles' dream team persona — were real.

Enter Matt Ryan, who had not played well through the better part of the first three quarters. He had thrown two picks, and against a relentless Eagles pass rush, Ryan's ultimate health was in as much question as the final outcome.

But the Falcons switched gears, going no-huddle and letting Ryan call a majority of the plays at the line. The move led to two touchdowns and renewed sense of possibility in Atlanta this morning.

Does that mean the Falcons are Super Bowl bound? Who knows because there is no way to answer yes to that question in September. (But starting 0-2 would have been a real way of answering "No.")

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    New York Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee (35) scores on the slide past Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) in the fourth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, at Turner Field in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

This and that

— Stupid Braves. C'mon guys, get it together. Losing two of three to the Mets' AAA team plus David Wright is hardly the way to seize the postseason moment. The wildcard lead over the Cardinals is 3.5 with nine games left (St. Louis has eight games remaining). Three quick pitching thoughts on the Braves: Tim Hudson looked the part of an ace in Saturday's 1-0 win; the bullpen needs some rest; and is there anyway we can start a collection to help buy out Derek Lowe.

— And so it begins, the crazy land grab that will be college expansion has started in earnest. Here's what TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer had to say about it (SEC could lose big in realignment). Hard to argue against Weeds on this one. It's also hard to see how anyone or any school will stop this from becoming four mega-conferences. And it's harder still to know if that's going to be better or worse for college sports. (Oh, it will be way better for the big college sports programs' bank accounts, but so it goes.)

— NASCAR was rained out Sunday and they'll try to run it today. Go get 'em guys. Drive fast and turn left.

— Very good win for your Chattanooga Mocs on Saturday at a good Eastern Kentucky club. UTC is 2-1 and will head to App State for what is shaping up as a huge, Huge, HUGE game of tackle football. Good times indeed.

Today's question

We're three weeks into the college football season.

Seems like it just started, right? Well, theoretically, if your team has played three games, then the first quarter is in the books and we're going down to the sideline reporter for some thrilling insight.

What would the sideline reporter say about your team right now? "Loren, whatcha' got."


about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
andyjohns said...

I agree. Falcons were a treat to watch in the second half and the Braves are maddening.

Mr. 10, how long will the Vick/Atlanta story line last? Is it over now?

September 19, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.
patrickd said...

If they sent it down to me on the sidelines, this would be my take on Alabama:

Verne, first let me correct you, his name's pronounced Trent Richardson not Brent Fitzchedmonde. Verne, there's a lot we don't know about this Alabama team. What we do know is that they're talented and well coached. What we don't know is how they'll react when they've been punched in the mouth. They'll soon be faced with opponents that can match their talent and physicalness on the field, even their depth. Alabama plays Arkansas this week followed by the Florida Gators in Gainsville. These two games are going to give us an honest appraisal for the question everyone wants to know the answer to--Can Alabama handle the dominating and already tested defense of LSU when they meet in November?

Back to you in the Drunken Moose Studios, Verne.

September 19, 2011 at 11:19 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Wow was that Tech game fun to watch.

But you know,that offense will never work at that level. Never.

September 19, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.
kburgess1013 said...

What a game last night! I had thought that Atlanta was almost guaranteed a loss. I don't mean anything against my favorite NFL team, but it just seems that the Eagles have always had the Falcons' number, regardless of who was on either team or coaching staff.
Every game I am more and more impressed with the talents of Julio Jones. I am very glad that Dimitroff made the moves that he did to get Mr. Jones on the team. I also think that Jacquizz Rogers is showing potential. I hope that Atlanta's offensive line will continue to gel, and that Matt Ryan will feel more trusting of all players.

I am continuously disgusted with the lack of talent displayed by Matt Bosher. That idgit needs to GO immediately. I think I've seen high school players with better kicking abilities than him. Ugh he's terrible! I'm also not happy with Dunta Robinson's head butt maneuver last night. Did his $55,000 fine in last year's Eagles blood bath not teach him anything?

September 19, 2011 at 11:47 a.m.
jgreeson said...

AJ —

Yes, that should put a cap on the Vick back to Atlanta storyline. It was done two years ago when he returned first. It was done this week when he returned as the starter. The only way it will live on is if the Eagles come to the Georgia Dome for the NFC title game this year, and then all bets are off.

PDavi —

100-percent spot on. And Verne doesn't care how you pronounce any one's name. YES SIR!

Spy —

That offense is more a high school/I-AA approach. It won't generate any consistent success in a BCS conference. No way. Uh, 66 points is an impressive number if they were running against NO defense nevermind a Big 12 defense.

KBurg —

The ceiling for this Falcons team is off the charts, as long as the offense stays healthy. If Chris Redman is a central figure at any point for the next four months, all bets are off.

— 5-at-10

September 19, 2011 at 12:10 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Took the Eagles and the points. Also took, in no particular order, for entertainment purposes alone, Vols, Spartans, Gamecocks, Seminoles, Hokies, Hurricanes, Utes, Cardinal (no s please).

September 19, 2011 at 1 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

So best we can tell, you went

Eagles plus 3 (loss)

Vols plus 10 (push)

Spartans plus 5 (loss)

Gamecocks minus 17 (loss)

Seminoles plus 3 (loss)

Hokies minus 23 (loss)

Hurricanes minus 3 (WIN)

Utah plus 4 (loss)

Stanford minus 9 (WIN)

Better hang on to your day job — unless of course your day job is picking games, and then in that case, well, nevermind.

— 5-at-10

September 19, 2011 at 1:43 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

I went to the Ga Tech - KU game Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium - Grant Field. When we think of Paul Johnson's offense, we think of the Ga Southern (Tracy) Hamm-bone, run-way-more-than-throw offense. It may not work everywhere, but it is working this year at Tech. Check the stats - it is balanced. You do not know what Johnson will call next - he will call anything, any down, any distance, anywhere on the field. Also went to the QB Club lunch today to hear UTC DC Adam Fuller. His unit has pitched back-to-back 2nd half shut-outs against JSU nad EKU. Go MOCS - beat App !

September 19, 2011 at 2:49 p.m.
jgreeson said...

BillyRScott —

Spy is pretty good friends with Paul Johnson and that's a running joke for those that know Coach Johnson pretty — and one that kind of chaps his tuckus.

And yes, you're spot on about the UTC defense throwing down the gauntlet. Here's saying the Mocs have a little surprise in their pocket for one App State.

— 5-at-10

September 19, 2011 at 3:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show McPell

The Auburn game was "Buzz, your girfriend, woof!" ugly on defense. I needed a shot or two of whatever your moose is drinking. Nice to see the Mocs on a roll and how about Baylor and McCallie whooping up on the Nashville teams setting up a game that might be a little Alabama-LSU intense on Friday night?

September 19, 2011 at 3:11 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Got Vols at 9, not 10. Thanks for not kicking the extra point, Dooley Junior. I thought Utah thumped BY and U. We didn't cover?

September 19, 2011 at 4:07 p.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

Dabo Sweeney is a complete loon. Did you see the interview with him on the field after the game? Good lord man. Get a grip. Dabo can recruit, and that #2 for Clemson, the true freshman WR, looks like he will end up in the NFL Hall of Fame one day (what a talent!), but geez Dabo. Quit acting like a raging lunatic.

Tennessee just needs more talent period. Losing Hunter makes it even worse. Tennessee doesn't have a difference making running back on the roster. Hopefully, Dooley will recruit a difference maker or two there. A big time tailback is needed BADLY. The offensive line is very young and obviously can't or doesn't want to run block. Maybe the coaching is the issue there. Tennessee also needs more speed on defense. That is obvious. The front 7 look very pedestrian. The two true freshman linebackers, Maggitt and AJ Johnson will be better players with more experience. AJ needs to move to MLB next year though. He's just not fast enough as an outside backer unless Tennessee shifts to a 3-4 defense where he can rush the passer some. Tennessee's defensive line is weak. Jacques Smith is the most talented one there. After that, there's a big dropoff. More talent is needed across the board. Depth isn't good either. Oh, and the kicker/punter? Geez freaking louise man! I cold have timed the punter on the blocked punt with a sun dial. When are the open tryouts in Knoxville?

Ole Miss could upset Georgia in Oxford this weekend. I know. I know. Ole Miss looked horrible against Vandy on Saturday. They didn't even show up really. However, Nutt is good for an upset or two every year, and Ole Miss's back is against the wall. Georgia and Mark Richt (and Mike Bobo and a putrid defense) may be the perfect tonic. Dont' be surprised if Georgia, even as bad as they are, come in to this game a bit overconfident and get upset.

September 19, 2011 at 5:09 p.m.
eljefe said...

Cinque a dieci,

What is the current top ten funniest things in sports?

Yes. I like lists. If you don't have a list you ain't getting nothing done, son!

Mine are in no particular order:

Eli Manning's Helmet; Joe Maddon's (Rays) eyeware; Rex Ryan's "swagger;" Tom Coughlin's constantly contispated expression; Brian Wilson's beard; Dabo Swinney (Yes. I am still bitter. Thank you so much for asking); That anybody thinks Tony Romo is talented; Barrett Trotter's cheese 'stache; I actually have as a tie: The expressions Spurrier makes every time Garcia fouls something up and the pre-game signs on Gameday. Thoughts?

September 19, 2011 at 9:19 p.m.
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