published Monday, October 8th, 2012

5-at-10: College football rewind, Day 1 of the biggest work week of Dooley's career, playoff baseball

Gang, there's a metric ton of stuff to cover, so let's get to it.

College football rewind

  • photo
    South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, center, finds a hole between Georgia outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, left, and defensive end Garrison Smith during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

OK, how crazy was this weekend? Georgia looked like Georgia State. Florida State looked like Florida Atlantic. Florida looked like Florida under Steve Spurrier, and Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team looked like Florida under Steve Spurrier.

There is so much to get to, we couldn't trim to a Rushmore or even a top five in 10 words or less. Yes, we are trying the never-before-attempted 10-in-5 — 10 things in five sentences or less. And if we go over on any of them, consider the rest of this week's subscription to the 5-at-10 on the house.

1) It's Alabama and everybody else: Sorry Oregon, sorry West Virginia, sorry South Carolina. Each of you looked good Saturday and all of you have nice wins on the resumes and deserve to be in the top 5. But Alabama is the most complete team in the country and the Tide handle their BID-ness with the intent, the precision and the effectiveness of a team of Navy SEALS.

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    West Virginia's Geno Smith looks to throw during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, in Austin, Texas.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

2) Who's doubting the Geno Smith train now? Smith, the West Virginia quarterback lit up Baylor nine days ago, passing for more than 600 yards with more TD passes (8) than incompletions (6). Saturday, Smith took the Mountaineers traveling road show to Austin, Texas and put half a 100 on the Longhorns. Smith went 25-of-35 for 268 and four TDs and is completing a cool 81.4 percent of his passes (166-of-204) for 1,996 yards and 24 TDs with 0 picks for the 5-0 Mountaineers. Any questions?

3) It's tough sledding in the SEC for fans: Nice wins for struggling Vandy and Arkansas. Painful losses for Missouri and Auburn, and the fan bases of each are struggling with the circumstances. The pain is especially tough for Auburn, which is 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the league and the Tigers' season is basically done before Columbus Day. Ouch-standing.

4) Tough sledding in the SEC for game-pickers: How about these numbers — the silly TFP sports editor went 2-4 on SEC games straight-up in the "Can You Beat Jay?" contest and the Fab 4 picks (plus one and plus another one for Dr. B — he's a doctor after all) went 5-1? Know the game the Fab 4 (plus one) picks missed? Georgia.

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    Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o (5) celebrates with teammates after they defeated Miami 41-3 in an NCAA college football game in Chicago, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press

5) More on the Fab 4 (plus one and plus another one for Dr. B — he's a doctor after all): OK, the 5-1 mark — had K-State covering the 24 (check, won 56-16), had Notre Dame covering the 13 (check, won 41-3), had the under 44 in LSU-Florida (check, Gators won 14-6), had the over 70 in West Virginia-Texas (check, WVU won 48-45) and had Clemson covering the 10 (check, won 47-31) — moved us to a pretty impressive 21-10 against the spread on the season. So, let's say you had been in Vegas reading the 5-at-10, and had wagered say $100 on each of the picks, you'd be up a cool $1,000 right now. And even more surprisingly, a year after going 1-8-1 in games involving Clemson, we're 3-0 picking the Tigers this year, including Saturday's late TD to cover against the reeling Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

6) What to make of Jimbo Fisher and the FSU Seminoles? Primed to run the table until the regular-season finale against Florida in Tallahassee, FSU was picking up steam as the "it" pick to face Alabama in the title game. A second-half meltdown against NC State — which fought like poet warriors and played so far about its head, the Wolfpack's noses are still bleeding — and those FSU title dreams are all but dashed. That season-opening win over N.C. State looks a touch better this morning, huh Johnny Vols Fans?

7) The college football season is the most painful, most joyous, most dramatic and most confounding playoff system in sports. That's why it's the best — and for Auburn fans, the worst — regular season in sports. Every game means so much, and now Johnny Bulldogs Fan, Johnny Tigers Fan, Johnny Seminoles Fan and all the rest need help from rivals and/or strangers. And for those of us who follow Auburn or Georgia Tech, it's time to re-seed the yard. Excuse us.

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    Arkansas safety Ross Rasner (35) intercepts a touchdown pass intended for Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen (43) during an NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

8) Let's talk Auburn: How bad was Saturday's 24-7 meltdown to an Arkansas defense that entered the game ranked in the bottom five in defense but produced five turnovers and eight sacks? Well, on Sunday night at an event, Johnny Tide Fans were offering their condolences, and there's nothing worse than pity from your rival. Sweet buckets of frustration and fury. So it goes in the rough and tumble SEC — some days you're the bug, some days you're the windshield. That national title in 2010 seems like a lifetime ago, no?

9) Let's give out five quick kudos for the first six weeks of work in college football: Kudos to Mississippi State, which is 5-0 for this first time this century. Kudos to Florida, which is back in the national title picture six weeks removed from starting the season with an uneven win over Bowling Green that had a lot of Jhorty Gator Fans wondering quietly if coach Will Muschamp was in over his head. Kudos to Notre Dame, which is now firmly in the title picture and has a defense that can play with anybody. Kudos to Bill O'Brien, the Penn State coach who started 0-2 but has led the Nittany Lions to four straight wins and is managing an almost untenable situation as well as could be imagined. Kudos to David Cutcliffe, who has the Blue Devils at 5-1 overall, a perfect 2-0 in the ACC and a win away from the school's first bowl trip since 1994.

10) There are 14 unbeaten teams in the AP top 25, and nine of them are in the top 10. There are a lot of expected programs among that list, but the biggest surprise has to be the 5-0 La. Tech Bulldogs, Derek Dooley's former program, who are ranked No. 23. Speaking of Derek Dooley...

Let it begin — Tennessee at Mississippi State

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    Tennessee Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley during warm ups before an NCAA college football game between Akron and Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hope all the Johnny Vols Fans enjoyed the bye week. As we've discussed before, the bye week is excellent.

It's 10 a.m. Monday morning, roughly 131 hours from the kickoff between your Tennessee Vols and the unbeaten, 19th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.

We have listed a litany of "big game" this year for the Vols.

• The opener against N.C. State was big because of the offseason of unrest, and Tennessee passed with flying colors.

• The Florida game was big because it was the SEC opener and because it was Florida. Tennessee failed.

• The Georgia game was big to see how UT would compete and fight on the road against a more talented foe. Tennessee passed by fighting to the end even if they fell a touchdown short on the scoreboard.

This is different on several levels. Be it perception, be it false views or orange-tinted glasses, be it the caste structure of the SEC.

The biggest difference about this week, though, is the hard numbers of this game. Look at the schedule — Tennessee is 3-2 and, barring injury, figures to be mid-sized to heavy favorites in its final four games against Troy, Missouri, at Vandy and Kentucky. Tennessee will be sizable underdogs against Alabama and South Carolina later this month. If those expectations hold true, that leaves Tennessee 7-4.

The swing game is Saturday against Mississippi State, and the appearance and feel is dramatic in the swing between 8-4 and 7-5.

The other thing that makes this game really intriguing is it will feature the league's best cornerback — Johnthan Banks — against the league's best wide out in Justin Hunter.

And one more thing. This is the best chance for Derek Dooley to end the most familiar number on his resume — he's 0-12 against ranked foes as UT's coach. He could bury that bagel forever Saturday.

Giddy-up.

Baseball galore

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    Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (10) fields a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina during the inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. Molina was out at first.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Playoff baseball rocks. As bad and marathonish (yes, we made that up) as the MLB regular season can be at times, playoff baseball is entertaining.

And entertaining does not always equal smiles. Take the Braves' season-ending exit Friday night.

Here's a check list of DON'Ts for adult guy sports fans:

• Don't wear a jersey. Trust us. There are a few exceptions, but they are very rare — Yankees fans get a pass because there are so many of them at a Yankees game, you feel out of place without one, proving yet again, the basic playground rule of when in doubt conform.

• Don't talk during the National Anthem. It's a bad example and disrespectful.

• Don't cheer when someone gets injured. Yes, we're talking to you Kansas City Chiefs fans.

• Don't paint your face. This one needs no explanation.

• Don't get a team tat. Read the previous rule and now imagine never being able to wash it off.

• You really should never throw things on the field. It's juvenile and stupid. But if you feel compelled to throw something on the field, DO NOT throw a full beer. For the love of goodness, that's stupid and wasteful. And at pro ball parks, an $8 beer is not uncommon, so you're basically throwing 10 bucks out there because of a bad call. And that makes sense how?

Granted, this one played out on the terrible infield fly call that was a central part of the Braves' season-ending loss in the wildcard game Friday. It was a bad call and a big play. But so were the trio of errors the Braves made and the mental mistakes they made. It was a fun year that ended too soon, but that's the description for almost every baseball team except the World Series champs and the Boston Red Sox this year. (Side note: The wildcard round gets a monster thumbs up from the 5-at-10. Any extra one-and-done moments in sports is a good thing and it made a true reward for winning the division.)

Here's an update of each of the Divisional Series, and remember this is the final year of the controversial 2-3 format where the lower-seeded team hosts the first two games:

Oakland trails Detroit 2-0: The A's had the better record and had to go to Detroit. Now Oakland is behind the 8-ball and will have to win three straight — including one against Tigers ace Justin Verlander — to advance.

Washington leads St. Louis 1-0: Nice win for a Nats team going on the road in the first playoff game since 1981 for the franchise. Game 2 is this afternoon.

Yankees lead Baltimore 1-0: New York bombs Baltimore closer and hands the ball to Andy Pettitte tonight. If that works, maybe Ron Guidry will pitch later this week.

Reds lead Giants 2-0. Good-night San Fran. Thanks for playing.

This and that

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    Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after wining the Good Sam 500 in a NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Talladega, Ala.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— NASCAR invaded Talladega on Sunday. (Two quick things — If you have not been to Talladega, you need to go; when you go buckle up for a full-tilt party that is open like the Waffle House (all day, every day) and traffic that will make your hair fall out.) It ended with a guy in a fast car avoiding the big wreck and crossing the finish line. Hey, we used to be a big NASCAR fan. We still pay attention to it today, but the sport is struggling on the lines of being predictable and being plain. Can you name the highlight of the season? Well other than this women who has a back tat of Dale Sr. making the ascent to Heaven. We wonder how much a thing like that costs? Our silly fraternity ankle tat is about the size of a quarter, is one color and it cost $30 in 1990. That thing on her back has to be the size of a basketball, in full color and had to be done after 2001. Side question, what are the odds this Nascar Girl's name is relatively familiar, ends in a vowel and is spelled differently than expected. Maybe Ashli or Tifanee or SanDee.

— We'll have our full NFL breakdown on Tuesday, but the Tennessee Titans may be the worst team in the NFL. And Chris Johnson has now rushed for less than 25 yards in four of the Titans' five games this year. OUCH-standing. The Titans' minus-93 point differential is the worst in the NFL — 20 points worse than Jacksonville, which lost 41-3 to Chicago on Sunday.

— Shout out to Spy's Patriots. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning always makes for good TV. Well, except when the stink-pants Titans are playing a late afternoon game against the mediocre Vikings and the Chattanooga-area is forced to watch the Titans. Who made that call?

Today's question

  • photo
    A security official shouts to fans to not throw trash on the field during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The Cardinals won baseball's first wild-card playoff, taking advantage of a disputed infield fly call that led to a protest and fans littering the field with debris to defeat the Braves 6-3.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

What's the biggest story line of the weekend?

Here are the runners-up:

Andrew Luck is better than we thought, and that's saying something since before the draft (we love the draft — you know this) we said he was the best prospect since Peyton Manning and was more athletic. Luck led the Colts to an emotion comeback win over the Packers on Sunday.

Playoff baseball rocks. College football rocks. The NFL rocks. This is a fun time for sports.

Which makes the winning storyline from this weekend a loser. Fans are out of control. Period.

OK, sports teams are a big part of lives. And the word fan comes from the word fanatic.

But this is getting out of hand, right? Let's look around:

Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel, who has played poorly this season, gets knocked out and the home fans cheered.

We saw the Braves-Cards game and the cascade of things people threw on the field after the bad infield-fly call.

Now a story out of Athens has UGA linebacker Christian Robinson saying on social media that after the Bulldogs' lopsided loss at South Carolina that the house Robinson and Aaron Murray share was rolled and egged.

Gang, we all want to win. But as much as you think you have invested in whatever team is your favorite, it's a fraction compared to what the players and coaches on those teams have put in to win.

Discuss.

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jomo11 said...

Jay- do you think, as most national press people tend to say that Dooley's job depends on getting 8 wins and without a win over Miss State that would be very difficult ? Also is beating a top 20 team ( with Miss State BARELY a top 20 team ) really enough ? . . .I am sure most of the SEC is rooting for UTK in this game so that Dooley keeps his job....

also Jay your thoughts on the infield fly out call in the Braves game, as far as rule, judgement, etc. ?

And a question, Does Pat Summitt run any kind of perjury risk in changing her story from her sworn affidavit ? And who do you think is lying , Hart, Summitt, Jennings or all 3 ?

October 8, 2012 at 10:35 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

1,720 yards and 85 first downs.

That's what Tech's defense has allowed the last three weeks.

How about the former parent club of the Chattanooga Lookouts going home up 2-bagel on the former Bondsmen? Nice.

I don't think Tavon Austin gets enough credit. (Note to Texas defense - see the little dude out there wide open? Yeah, you might want to assign a guy to check in on him every so often.)

No opponent has yielded such little resistance to an Irish force since ... since ... well, ever. Thanks for not showing up (and especially not covering) Miami.

I may have been right about Georgia's defense. Oodles of talent, allegedly. Oodles of Gamecocks offense pouring through it. But who knew South Carolina's defense was so stalwart? Huge props to Florida for pushing LSU around in the fourth quarter (and who saw that coming? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) and that sets up what should be a hoooge game between the Gamecocks and the Gators.

Boy, the Titans are bad. They're almost Sam Holbrook bad. And the refs on the final Chargers drive last night looked like leftovers from the Packers-Seahawks game.

October 8, 2012 at 11:01 a.m.
chas9 said...

If you took my wagering advice, you're now homeless. So it goes. I didn't expect another QB injury for KY (just when the latest guy in the barrel was looking like Superman), so they played with their fourth best QB.

And for the other half of my advice, four words: Stupid Infield Fly Rule.

Seriously, why do we have an infield fly rule? Even as a 10-year-old learning the game it seemed peculiar to me. Take away our Braves grief, and it's still a good question. If we repealed the rule, would baseball be a better or worse game? (Friday mailbag?)

As for the KY game, the Cowbell Ringers are tough. The Vols will taste defeat yet again.

And did you see how fit and trim the SC lines (especially defensive) are? On both sides of the ball, there's no belly fat. None. No dunlops disease. There can't be enough strong, quick guys out there to fill the rosters of all the big-time teams, but could this be a new model for winning linemen? They were amazing. Astounding. Game changing. Super-duper.

October 8, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
Livn4life said...

Great buckets of 49 degree rain(that's cold in my book)as I drove into Chatt. this morning! It WAS a great sports weekend. First off, the JohnnyVolness in me; I do see the Miss St game as crucial but cannot believe the fans will force Dave Hart to do what many conceive as unwise to get rid of Coach Dooley before four years. Here is my constant question; who, if not Doo? If there are only fan conjectures and whining, unless they have a solid guy in mind and as a bonafide candidate, better be careful about firing Derek Dooley. Now if they lose to Vandy and UK, okay, Calfrope, he's done. But still, it would be precarious without a proven possible replacement.

DAWGS FLAWGED by GAMECOCKS...that S.Carolina won is no big deal; that they dominated completely, especially on defense was a Gomer Pile SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE moment. And(I am NO dr.)but in my post game diagnosis, it could have been worse. But I am wondering if S Carolina's offense is ready for the likes of a stronger defense. We shall soon see. Geno Smith is good but that WV defense will eventually cost the Mountaineers a game, possibly one they should not lose. Auburn: what is up? War Eagle looks unable to get off the ground. It could be uglier than ugly if they don't improve those trees which have been in question may die without any poisoning.

NFL: Biggest Gomer moment was Indianapolis stunning those Packers. I heard last week how dominant that GB defense was. But who knows from week to week what happens? And with LUCK, a lot of things are possible. Tennessee Titans: Looks like a lot of Eh-Oh moments for fans this season. Then what? Finally, I think the Jets will eventually wake up, don't know how, when or thanks to whom but feel it and I am no Jets, no Ryan, not even a Tebow(as football player)fan. Let's wait, watch and see. More football fun on the way. Baseball playoffs? What is that? No Braves, then it's move along for me.

October 8, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Since both the Mocs and the Vols had a buy week, I spent this weekend at the presence of Big Tex over at Fair Park. Saw everything and consumed only the finest in deep fried goodies in all of North Texas. And yes Jay, I did try the Deep Fried Semoa Girl Scout Cookies which I had stand in line for 30 minutes (They were that popular) to obtain. I didn't get a chance to enjoy some of the night activites due to an unseasonable cold snap in the last 48 hours down here.

Also, gotta love my Fletcher's Corn Dogs (had two).

At least the Bravos fought the good fight tooth, claw and tommahawk until the very end. We just got stomped 5 to 1 and there wasn't anything we can do about it. There was just no gas in the tank. D:

Regarding the "Do Not Do" list, I take issue with the face painting as I have plans to do some head painting as a UTC version of a very popular elemental bender at the Georgia Southern game (yes, I'm coming home for ten days). I'll be Mr. Normal for the road trip to Culhulowee the following Saturday.

Finally, while I'm not prone to join the Aggie nation anytime soon, I did see they were now 4-1 and no. 22 this week. I am so looking forward to that Alabama vs. A&M game.

Also, quickie reminder that Mocs-Furman is on ESPN3 online this Saturday.

October 8, 2012 at 12:20 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Don't know if N.C. State's win on Sat. night does much for Vols' fans. I think that game says more about the incredibly down year the ACC is having. The close Clemson win over Auburn doesn't look good at all right now either for the ACC. If TN played in the ACC, they would easily be the second-best team, if not the best team in the conference. (Agreed?) Instead, they're stuck with being a middle-of-the-pack team in the SEC.

Rush-less of NFL teams right now: Browns, Jags, Titans, Lions

Best NFL division: On paper, it's definitely the NFC West (say what?). All of those teams have a winning record at this point. If not the NFC West, maybe the NFC North. The Packers will surely turn it on at some point. Their tough schedule thus far hasn't helped though.

Worst NFL division: No question it's the AFC South.

October 8, 2012 at 1:40 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stew —

ACC bad. AFC South worse.

And you're spot on about the NFC West. It's salty.

Run JMC —

Texas A&M is a fun story. And they got a freshman QB — Johnny "Football" Manziel — who can slap play.

Fried Samoas? Wow. We may have just had a small heart attack by simply typing that.

Livn(Large) —

MSU is a big game no matter how you slice it. We are starting to believe that unless the program bottoms out, Dooley will get a fourth year. Maybe it's the peace of the off-week or the dumpster fires around the league or the Jennings distraction, but we feel Hart will give Dools another season in the Knoxville sun.

9er —

The USC Spurriers are far saltier on defense than we gave them credit for.

And MSU is tough and physical.

Spy —

Reds good. Tavon Austin is gooder. Playoff baseball is goodest.

Georgia's play Saturday was bad. Tech's D is badder. Auburn is baddest.

Jomo —

We don't think Dooley is going anywhere unless the Vols fade to 6-6 or worse. We think 8 wins is the barometer for good year or not.

— 5-at-10

October 8, 2012 at 3:02 p.m.
chas9 said...

L4L--Agree. No Bravos, no ball.

Jon Stewart--Agree about no Vol gain in the Wolfpack win.

Titans are so bad there's no reason to even mention them again.

And Cam (around whom Jay wants to build a franchise) went a smelly 12 for 29. No joy in the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

October 8, 2012 at 3:13 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- are you hesitant to answer the Summitt/Hart questions ( and i understand ) because of the TFP future working relationship with UTK ?

October 8, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Friday morning Sam Holbrook woke up excited to ump a MLB Wild Card game. Saturday morning he had "Munsoned" his career in the eyes of a fanbase and his Wikipedia page had doubled in size. Sidenote for those who may live a life that warrants having a Wiki page for yourself, you never want the overwhelming majority of the page to be in the category titled "Controversies."

Jay, do you think you could get a movement together for the Titans fans of Nashville to stop going to games so they will get blacked out? Dont get me wrong, I appreciate the nap quality television the Titans are putting out there, cause I need the sleep, but I think I would have rather caught that Broncos-Pats game.

I think fans have always been this out of control, this weekend was just a bad culmination of several incidents. And its not just the pros, the absurdity reaches the simplest level of athletics. There is a reason I will never forgive my mother after she got tossed from one of my games from going onto the field to yell at the ref. Children arent supposed to turn that red. The rest of the world is having to experience the embarassment that non a-hole Philly fans have for years.

October 8, 2012 at 3:45 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

C

October 8, 2012 at 4:07 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

oops.
Chas - i agree Cam is stinking up the joint, but he seems to operate off self confidence, and right now its at an all time low.

I might watch a little of the playoffs & WS without the braves.

October 8, 2012 at 4:10 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I do love me some playoff baseball, even if the Red Sox or Braves are not involved. I would also like to be able to see some of it on TV when I'm working late. Alas, I am cable less. Perhaps joining the 21st century would help, no?

October 8, 2012 at 4:32 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Cam is struggling, no doubt. We echo the sentiments of McPell — Newton's troubles are with confidence.

Jomo —

The main reason we have not been around much today is work got in the way. Stupid work.

We were considering using that for a mailbag, but we'll be happy to dive into it tomorrow.

Spy —

That's not your style. Sports bar. Catfish. Molson. The order can be juggled however you want it.

— 5-at-10

October 8, 2012 at 5:32 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

To paraphrase the great Homer J. Simpson ...

mmmm.... catfish ..... mmmm.....

October 8, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
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