From the "Talks too much" studios, let's get to it.
Florida — A-plus
Will Muschamp is the front-runner for SEC coach of the year, right? And with a fast start fueled by defense and forged by early road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee, the No. 10-ranked Gators are at least one year ahead of schedule in their return to the national scene.
Alabama — A
Other than injuries — running backs Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart and starting receiver DeAndrew White are out for the year with knee injuries — the Tide has been the nation's bets team. Considering how well Nick Saban has recruited — Alabama is more stocked than Wal-Mart — the Tide are the nation's premier program until further notice.
South Carolina — A
We had A-plus down at first, but then remembered South Carolina was a preseason top-10 team, so its excellent start was somewhat expected. That said, how about that Connor Shaw, the Gamecocks quarterback who has completed 35 of 39 passes in his last two games.
LSU — A-minus
Not sure why all the LSU angst considering the Tigers are unbeaten and among the top-5 teams in the country despite a new quarterback, losing their best player and team leader three weeks before the season and replacing five guys picked in the first four rounds of the NFL draft. They may not have played great, but those folks looking to drop the Tigers in the polls for winning closer-than-expected games best keep their pie holes shut about teams "running up the score."
Georgia — A-minus
The Bulldogs have impressed, even dazzled, at times, but there definitely is a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty vibe in Athens. Is this the team that made Vandy look like a middle school team or the team that struggled to put away Tennessee and allowed Buffalo and Florida Atlantic each to score more than 20 points? With the bevy of preseason suspensions, this veteran defense is still trying to find its stride.
Mississippi State — B
Coach Dan Mullen removed the King King-sized monkey from his back when the Bulldogs thumped Auburn to give Mullen his first win over an SEC West school not located in Oxford, MIss. That said, the bulk of the Bulldogs' test awaits, and following this week's trip to Kentucky, there is a season-defining game against Tennessee on Oct. 13. Let's see how the Bulldogs do when they don't have the opponent's signals. Allegedly.
Texas A&M — B
The Aggies are building a stout foundation — redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel is going to be a headache for SEC defensive coordinators for the next few years. The Aggies are 1-1 in the SEC and are the only team that is not either undefeated or winless in league play.
Tennessee — B-minus
Johnny Vols Fans are antsy — and understandably so — but the first month of the season has been above average, right? Tennessee is 1-2 in games that before the season could be viewed as toss-ups. Sure the second-half struggles against Florida and late at Georgia are painful, but the positives outweigh the negatives right now, especially considering the best player in Knoxville as of Aug. 2 is now the best player ever in Cookeville.
Missouri — B-minus
Despite controversy at quarterback — James Franklin has been injured and struggled at times — the Tigers are 3-2 despite being outscored 33 points in their four FBS games. There is marked room for improvement since the Tigers do not play a road game in October.
Ole Miss — B
The Rebels were a dumpster fire in the final 20 games of Houston Nutt's tenure. First-year coach Hugh Freeze has jumpstarted the offense with junior college-transfer quarterback Bo Wallace as the Rebels have scored at least 28 points against every foe not named Alabama. Ole Miss has three wins — and the teeth of its schedule in front of it — but if Freeze can find three more wins and get this bunch to a bowl game, then he deserves coach of the year consideration.
Auburn — D
The Tigers have been dreadful offensively. They are last in the SEC in scoring (17.5 points per game) and sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier is ranked outside of the top 15 passers in the SEC, meaning that at least two teams have two quarterbacks that are more efficient. Granted the 1-3 Tigers have faced a difficult early schedule — all three loses are to ranked teams — but a season of promise has been left with flickering bowl hopes after a disastrous September.
Vandy — D-minus
This was poised to be a big, Big, BIG year for the Commodores. Now, at 1-3 they stare at a schedule filled with games they have to have to reach the postseason. It's doable of course considering that Vandy has only one ranked-team (Florida, which visits Nashville on Oct. 13) left on the schedule.
Kentucky — F
The season-ending injury to quarterback Max Smith certainly hurt but not as badly as the overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The rebuilding likely will start after the season, a fact cemented by the Wildcats' dreadful start.
Arkansas — F-minus
What's lower than F? These Razorbacks deserve an H or even a K. Preseason top-10 with a Heisman candidate at quarterback, the departure of world-class scum bucket Bobby Petrino tumbled Arkansas' house of offensive cards to the point that interim coach John L. Smith is the league's biggest cartoon character, senior quarterback Tyler Wilson called his teammates quitters and the fan base seriously wants Petrino back, morality, ethics and plain-old decency be danged. What looked like the primo coaching vacancy a month ago now looks like a major rebuilding effort.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, left, reacts to his touchdown as center Chris Myers, right, congratulates him during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
NFL POW-er Poll
We are four weeks, and the "haves" and "have-nots" are starting to show themselves. The Titans are definitely "have-nots," and the Saints possess "have" talent and a "have-not" record. So it goes.
1) Houston (4-0)
The Texans passed Atlanta for the top spot because of a defense loaded with so much talent — defensive end J.J. Watt is the best player you're not familiar with — that Wade Phillips can't mess it up. Heck, this defense is so talented at every level, Wade can even make a couple extra stress-free trips to halftime buffet during games. Houston is a staggering plus-70 in scoring margin.
2) Atlanta (4-0)
Things are setting up nicely for the Falcons — four games into the season, they already have a three-game lead in the NFC South. Quarterback Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level, and there is not another QB in the league that is not envious of the weapons around him.
3) Arizona (4-0)
The Cardinals have surprised and won thrice in the final seconds and twice on the final play, including last Sunday's overtime win over Miami. Is it luck or the start to a special season? In the NFL, you are what your record says you are, so these Cardinals are still perfect.
4) Baltimore (3-1)
The Ravens survived four games in 18 days and may be right there with the Texans as the league's most complete team.
5) Chicago (3-1)
The Bears get a slight edge over San Francisco because the good Jay Cutler showed up last night in Dallas. Let's face it, if Cutler is behaving and believing, the Bears are good. If Cutler is listless and lounging, this offense stagnates. Still, he's better than 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.
Baseball's final 48 hours
There are two days left in baseball's regular season. Here's what we know:
From the NL, the Nationals are the East champs, the Reds are the Central champs, the Giants are the West champs and the Braves will host Friday's one-game, win-or-pack-the-gear-and-hug-Chipper wildcard game. St. Louis leads the Dodgers by two with two game to play for the final wildcard spot.
From the AL, we know the Detroit Tigers have won the Central and that the Yankees, Orioles, Rangers and A's will be the five teams in the playoffs. The Yankees lead the Orioles by a game in the East, and the Rangers lead the A's by a game in the West.
That said, as we sit this morning Miguel Cabrera would win the AL triple crown. Has there been a more super-secret superstar season than this one? Yes, with football and the joys of September and the attraction of school and all of the other things on the radar, things get lost.
But Cabrera's magical year — dude went 4-for-5 with his 44th homer Monday — has happened in the shadows. Cabrera is hitting .329 (four points better than Mike Trout), has 44 homers (one better than Josh Hamilton) and 137 RBIs (10 better than Hamilton).
Incredible. The last triple crown happened in 1967, when Carl Yaztremski did it for Boston.
— Now that we are into October, the high school football season is almost done. Cuh-RAZY, huh? Here's this week's high school football review show with the goofy TFP sports editor and preps ace Stephen Hargis.
— So, with all the posturing and posing in today's rap world, the 5-at-10 is STUNNED to hear that there was at least one fight backstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards show. Apparently Young Jeezy and Rick Ross went at it — here's a link to get you caught up http://www.billboard.com/column/the-juice/bet-hip-hop-awards-footage-of-rick-ross-1007965162.story#/column/the-juice/bet-hip-hop-awards-footage-of-rick-ross-1007965162.story. Machine Gun Kelly was injured in the incident — not entirely sure why he didn't use his Machine Gun, but so it goes. There was even an alleged confrontation between MMG's Gunplay and G-Unit. Two quick things here: First, how accurate are these reports considering the guy on the scene goes by "Funkmaster Flex" and secondly, well, nevermind.
— Thanks to a tip from Chas9 yesterday, the 5-at-10 looked into the opening line of Kentucky minus-14 against Mississippi State this weekend. Yes, when we first saw it we thought Chas9 messed up. Then we thought basketball season started. Then we started hunting an individual contractor who is familiar in such matters to confirm it. The line did start there, and there were several wise investors looking for entertainment purposes only that took advantage of that number. By this morning the line was down to Kentucky minus-10 and here's saying it will be closer to minus-3 by kickoff. Strange indeed.
Which is the most impressive individual feat:
Winning the triple crown in baseball?
Winning the triple crown in horse racing?
Leading the NBA in scoring and rebounding?
Going back-to-back in the 5-at-10 contests like Tiger did in the two UT pick 'em games?
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 ...