From the "Talks too much" studios, let's get to it.
College football rewind
As we mentioned Friday, when your team has an open week, you get to really enjoy the college football festivities. Saturday did not disappoint. Let's take a review of what we thought, what we learned and what we think it means:
Georgia 51, Tennessee 44
What we thought: We thought that Tennessee entered overmatched and Georgia was firing on all cylinders. We thought Georgia defensively was elite and the one-dimensial Vols needed several big plays from Tyler Bray and the passing game to compete.
What we learned: We learned that Georgia is specially balanced offensively. The Gurshall tandem of freshmen runners Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall is great today and potentially off the charts. Aaron Murray has worlds of play-action possibilities, and the UGA offense did overmatch the UT defense, which allowed 560 yards on 64 snaps but did manage to force three turnovers that played a direct role in one score or an almost direct role in two more. Tennessee had better than expected success against the Georgia defense — 37 points that should have been 41 (missed PAT and missed short field goal) — is better than even the most passionate Johnny Vols Fan could have imagined. The enigma that is Tyler Bray remained every bit as puzzling as he was this time last week, last month, last summer and last year. He made a dozen big-boy throws that will be shown in his highlight reel if he becomes a first-round draft pick. He also made at least a half dozen shaky decisions and poor throws that will be used if as potential reasons if he falls to a day-three NFL pick.
What it means: Georgia is on the short-list of national title contenders. The defense will get a helmet full from Todd Grantham this week after allowing that many points and 478 yards of offense, including a shocking 197 on the ground. Offensively, the Bulldogs may be the most balanced team in the country. This is a team that likely will be favored in every regular-season game from here on out. And Saturday did little to change that.
Tennessee fought and gave their fans a show to enjoy — the effort was there, the Vols pride was there, the emotion was there. And while there's no column for "good effort, good try, so close" in the won-loss standings, this was noticeably more competitive than the Vols' showings against the SEC's elite in Derek Dooley's last two years. That said, was it a fight to the finish or did Georgia's second-quarter meltdown (fumbles that UT turned into two touchdowns in two minutes that needed 26 yards of offense to score) mean the final score was fool's gold. Either way, the Vols are 0-12 against ranked foes under Dooley. And Saturday did nothing to change that.
UTC 28, The Citadel 10
What we thought: This was a must-win for UTC. Period.
What we learned: The Mocs delivered a performance that matched the moment, scoring three consecutive touchdowns after falling into a 3-0 hole. The much-debated dual quarterback system produced dramatically improved results. Having Terrell Robinson back in the quarterback mix directly resulted in an improved showing. Robinson rushed for a team-best 97 yards and was 4-of-5 passing for 73 yards and a TD.
What it means: The Mocs still have their goals and the bulk of their SoCon season in front of them. They are 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the league, and we think a win over then-No. 15-ranked El Cid is a nice feather on a potential playoff resume. That said, the Mocs have six games left after Saturday's bye, and must win five of them to have a shot at the playoffs. This was the first step.
Around the nation:
We thought: Georgia Tech was going to be much better than this. A humbling two-touchdown loss to MTSU means Al Groh's job as the defensive coordinator in Atlanta is all-but cooked and 5-at-10 favorite Paul Johnson is now getting invites from Derek Dooley, Joker Phillips and the rest of the Hot Seat Club for their regular meetings.
We learned: That Geno Smith is a MON-ster. When you throw 40 or more passes and you have more TD throws (8) than incompletions (6), well that's a good day. And when Geno gets the Heisman in a couple of months, he'll need to thank his defense for being so bad that he had to deliver those kind of numbers for West Virginia.
What it means: Five weeks into the season, the dominos have been positioned and the house of cards have been stacked so we see there are five-to-seven games that will shape the BCS race: Saturday's Georgia-South Carolina and Texas-West Virginia games, Nov. 3's Alabama at LSU and Oregon at USC, FSU-Florida in the regular season's final weekend and the SEC championship, especially if whichever team from the East (be it Georgia, South Carolina or Florida gets there unblemished). That no Big Ten team is even in the discussion is quite telling, no.
There are two types of Ryder meltdowns — there's the one where the spoiled celebrity shoplifts petty merchandise for attention (called the Winona Ryder) and there's the one where an overconfident group of golfers think they can show up and win and get smoked on their home soil (ah, the 2012 Ryder Cup).
Where do you start with Europe's dazzling come-back-from-the-all-but-dead 10-6 hole Sunday in golf's version of a trans-Atlantic tug of wardrobes?
Do you start with Rory McIlroy showing up 10 minutes before his tee time, slipping on his shoes and slapping around Keegan Bradley?
What about Ian Poulter, who may dress like cream puff (not that there's anything wrong with that), but he plays the game like pound cake — honest and powerful and buttery?
How about the emotion of Jose Maria Olazabal (and how much fun it is to say Olazabal, which is pronounced Ole-ah-THA-bel) and the tribute the Europeans paid Seve?
And of course there's the implosion that was the Americans, punctuated perfectly by Tiger Woods' three-putt on the final hole of the event that allowed the Europeans the win outright? (To be fair, even if Woods had won the hole and even the match, the 14-14 tie would have resulted in the cup remaining across the ditch.)
Or even second-guessing Davis Love III for several head-scratching decisions? Love picked Steve Stricker as a captain's pick and left Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Nick Watney at home. Stricker went bagel-for-4. Or how about Love leaving Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson on the sideline Saturda afternoon. The tandem of Bradley-Mickelson was 3-0 in team play and Love sat them to "rest" them for Sunday. Both lost Sunday matches. (As for Love's "rest" mumbo-jumbo, we say hogwash. Rest? These guys are playing golf not running half-marathons. Love sat everyone at some point in part to protect egos. What is this, Upward Basketball, where everyone gets to play? No. No sir it's not.
From top to bottom, the Europeans deserved to win this Ryder Cup. And the U.S. deserved to lose it.
We will get more into the NFL with tomorrow's power poll, but let's rewind Sunday, which was filled with standout performances and head-scratching decisions. It was the Ryder Cup with helmets.
— We normally offer picks on college games, but gang we apologize for not sharing the sound financial/entertainment investment that was the Patriots on Sunday. At 1-2 and facing a season-shaping moment, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were going to deliver. They did. Hope you were aware of it.
— The Falcons are pretty good, and Atlanta remained with Arizona and Houston as the league's three unbeaten teams.
— How about the dumpster fires burning in New Orleans (0-4) and outside the New York Jets' office? The Saints got exactly one hit on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 28-27 loss Sunday, and if you can't get to the quarterback in the (cue Ron Jaworski) NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE you can' get to the playoffs. The Jets are 2-2 so their season is not over, but after getting thumped 34-0 at home by San Fran, questions and doubt are everywhere. The Jets averaged less than 3 yards per play (145 total yards on 50 snaps) and got three of their nine first downs because of penalties on the 49ers.
— Uh, there are some problems in Nashville. The Titans lost Jake Locker to a shoulder injury (the second time that's happened this year) and Matt Hasselbeck came on in relief and threw four TD passes — two the Titans, two to the Texans defensive backs. Getting thumped by Houston is not that big of a deal — Houston may be the best team in the league. But these Titans are 1-3 and are an NFL-worst minus-70 in point differential. That's not good.
This and that
— How about that Big Bad Brad Keselowski? Driver K won Sunday at Dover, taking home the ugliest trophy in sports and moving to the front of the Chase for the Cup. He leads Jimmie Johnson by five points with seven races left.
— The baseball season has three days left, barring rain. Here's what we know: The Orioles, Yankees and Rangers are in the playoffs in the AL, with Detroit holding a three-game edge in the Central and Oakland holding a three-game edge for the final wildcard spot. None of the division titles are decided. In the NL, Washington and Atlanta are assured of a spot. The Reds have clinched the Central and the Giants have clinched the West. The Cards lead the Dodgers by two games for the final wildcard spot.
— More baseball: Want to know the scientific baseball definition of a team of destiny? The Baltimore Orioles are headed to the playoffs for the first time since Cal Ripken was in uniform. The O's are 25-games over .500 but have scored only 11 more runs than their opponents all year. Conversely, the Tampa Bay Rays are likely going to miss the playoffs despite outscoring foes by a combined 116 runs this year. Cuh-razy.
As per our normal stance, Monday is bring what you got. It's a chance to take the mic and share your view on the sports weekend.
But if you need a topic, here's a couple of starting points:
Why does LSU get punished for winning ugly on the road, but Georgia is not punished for winning a tight shootout at home?
Which is a bigger surprise: Arizona being 4-0 or the Saints being 0-4?
We were filling up the 5-at-10 family truckster on the way to the corn maze on Sunday, and Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" was playing over the loud speaker. Which instantly begs the question, what's your Rushmore of movie soundtracks? We'll take Animal House, Purple Rain, Pulp Fiction, Almost Famous.
We vetoed A Hard Day's Night because it's more an album that inspired a movie rather than the other way around. Same with Willie's Red-headed Stranger. We also vetoed Dirty Dancing because we have a 'Y' chromosome.
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 ...