From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...
College Football Monday Morning Quarterback
Here are the five things we learned Saturday:
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.
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 http://madvertiserblogs.com/HABOTN/, then consider this an early Christmas present):
Auburn defensively through three games in the last 10 years
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
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 pregame.com, 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
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.")
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.
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."
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 ...