Happy Veterans' Day, and to those of you who have served all of us, a heartfelt thank you.
Form the "Talks too much" studios, be the ball Danny. It's kind of hard with you talking like that.
College football rewind
Auburn was impressive. The Tigers moved to 9-1 with a dominating win in Knoxville. Auburn may line up in crazy formations and move pieces like a chess master with Tourette's, but calling this a spread offense is a misnomer. Auburn is a run-first, run-next, run-always offense that marries power and pace like few others. Granted, there were a number of special-team breakdowns for the Vols — including TD returns on a punt and a kickoff, each of which was aided by a questionable no-call on what looked to be a block in the back — but Auburn hung a double nickel in Knoxville and threw seven passes. Read that last part again.
Alabama is better than everyone else. Period. We fell into the mass herd that thought LSU was going to give Alabama a game. We were wrong, and as all of our mothers said, if everyone was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you want to, too? LSU controlled the first half, but failed to stretch its lead. Alabama owned the second half and pulled away for a 38-17 win that put a firm exclamation point on any debate about who is the best team in the country. Yes, Florida State has a nice resume with a win at Clemson — the Miami blowout is going to look worse by the week — but Alabama is different. Double period, which is almost an ellipses, which is a three-period string, which is like a three-peat string, which gets us back to Alabama.
Fab 4-plus-1 picks (times 2) went 6-4, which is OK but still not up to our standards. We're now 35-24-1. We'll say this, though, there were so many underdogs that covered, hitting 60 percent is pretty solid for us considering that we almost always play favorites. We hit on Auburn, Missouri, over in UCLA, Fresno State, La. Tech and Indiana. Of the misses, we had a little bad luck on Navy (which won by 14 but was giving 16 and missed on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and took a knee in the Hawaii red zone on its last two drives — let's say that was not entertaining for some) and some on Ole Miss, which won but failed to cover after Arkansas scored a cosmetic fourth-quarter TD and the Rebels turned it over at the Arkansas goal line.
The BCS is out and Alabama and Florida State are the clear Nos. 1 and 2 in the poll. That will not change of if they win out. That means THE Ohio State and Baylor could run the table and finish on the outside looking in. It also means that any of the one-loss teams, led by Stanford, Oregon and Auburn respectively will need a ton of help.
Speaking of Auburn and Alabama, here's saying that as of this morning, the Tide are spending at least a chunk of every practice working on Auburn's diverse and dominating running game. With all due respect to Mississippi State and UTC — Bama's next two foes — we believe Nick Saban has the trip to Auburn circled for a variety of reasons. We also believe the Tide will not surrender the chunks of yards the Tigers churned out against UT. We also believe the Tide safeties will be in better position.
We're going to ask a question at the end of each segment today. Enjoy. Question No. 1: Which college football team won the weekend? You can say UTC, and we're good with that. We'll take Vandy, which went to the Swamp, punched Florida in the face, jumpstarted its bowl chances and punted Gators coach Will Muschamp firmly into the cross hairs of a disgruntled fan base. Florida is now 4-5 and needs two wins in a season-ending stretch of at South Carolina, Georgia Southern and FSU to reach a bowl game.
We have been in town for 11-plus years. We think this weekend was the best for UTC sports in that time.
Game one of the Will Wade era was a fun event. The changes to McKenzie at the very least looked good, and whether shining that spud is enough, well great. Still, the floor look great, the seats did too. Plus, moving the students under the basket is a good move, and hats off to a large number of students that showed. There was an energy at McKenzie — and this was at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. We also give a tip of the visor to whomever decided to have the Mocs enter coming down the aisle of the student section. Good move. Side question: How in the world does a season-opener start for one team (UTC counted the game) and it's an exhibition for the other (Covenant is not counting the game).
After the Mocs crushed Covenant, the Lady Mocs thumped Alabama. In truth the Lady Mocs is years ahead of Alabama's, but any win over an SEC foe is good times for UTC.
Then came Saturday, and arguably the biggest win in UTC football history since they added the T in the name.
Banged and battered, a defense that is playing with like eight healthy guys and eight more that are ignoring pain that would make the rest of us take the day off from whatever, the Mocs continue to be the league's best defense. Period. They hand-cuffed Wofford from the start in a 20-10 win that secured at least a share of the SoCon title.
Good times indeed. (And thanks JoMo for the invite, and if the Mocs have another home game — something that is quite possible and would be an almost certainty with a win Saturday at Samford, we're hoping to get by there. There was a lot happening this weekend.)
Question No. 2: Fill in the blank to this question: The crowd of a smidge more than 12,000 at Finley was _. We will use expected, since there were a couple of us that set the over/under 12K, and maybe it was Stewwie who said over 12 and under 13,000. Well-played indeed.
Monday morning NFL review
Here are five quick takeaways from an NFL Sunday that was parts puzzling, parts promising (depending on your loyalty) and parts powerful.
The most watched MRI in the country will be sometime today when Peyton Manning has a scan on his lower body. Manning is on pace to throw 59 TDs and more than 5,700 yards — each would be NFL records — and the Broncos are 8-1 and a game back in their division, so there will be motivation throughout the season. That said, if Manning is sidelined, the Broncos are stable ponies.
Speaking of QB ailments, after losing starter Aaron Rodgers last week, the Packers lost Seneca Wallace on their first series in a loss to Philly. We have explored the import of the quarterback before, but the ups and downs in Green Bay made us ponder what is B.J. Coleman thinking right now? Coleman was the Packers' back-up for about 24 hours before being cut the week before the season as the Packers added Wallace and Scott Tolzien the week before the season opener. If things had turned fractionally different, Coleman would be getting ready for his first start of the season.
The Falcons stink. That is all. So do the Titans. If you are an NFL fan in the 423, may we recommend you look a few more hours East, and...
The Panthers do not stink. Behind a first-round steal of a few years ago, the Carolina Panthers have won five straight and are 6-3 after winning ugly at San Francisco. Know the following facts about the Panthers and this win: They won without getting into the San Fran red zone; the win was the first for Cam Newton in a game decided by three points or less; linebacker Luke Kuechly, arguably the best player in any sport you have not heard a ton about, and the Panthers limited the 49ers to 4 yards on 14 fourth-quarter plays and held Colin Kaepernick to a QB rating of 7.7. Ouch-standing.
Surely you have heard it by now, but the interview with Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito continued to blur and swirl the entire Jonathan Martin incident. Incognito told Fox Sports that he is not a racist and that everyone in the organization knew he had Martin's back more than any other teammate. He also admitted to taking things too far, which even Helen Keller could see. Still, here are the three things we think we know: The blame looks to belong more and more with the organization, in truth; we agree that this is not a 'bullying' story as much as it is a hazing/locker room story; we believe Incognito may be a world-class jerk but it's hard to think that Martin did not snap, too. So it goes. And tonight we'll get a Jon Gruden interpretive dance on the situation. Maybe it will be his version of the African ant-eating ritual.
Question 3: We'll talk about the best in the league in tomorrow's power poll, but let's stay local. Which team is in a worse spot, the Falcons, who have a good quarterback that's paid like an elite quarterback, solid receivers (when healthy) and holes in a slew of places, or the Titans, who have few long-term answers at quarterback or wide receivers and a solid mix of talent everywhere else?
This and that
— Whoa nelly, there is news breaking out of Atlanta that the Braves are moving. Yep, the Marietta Daily Journal is reporting that the Braves are going to relocate to south part of Cobb Counny and build a stadium near the intersection of 285 and I-75. The AJC has confirmed it. Gang, that locale is about 3 minutes from where the 5-at-10 grew up and we're going to call them the Smyrna Braves. This is not up for discussion.
— Monster start for chas9's favorite freshman since back when Richie Farmer's mustache was cute rather than criminal. UK's Julius Randle scored 45 points and grabbed 29 rebounds total in his first two college games. Good times.
— Jimmie Johnson finished third at Phoenix on Sunday in the "drive-fast-turn-left" auto club event, the penultimate of the season. Johnson leads the points race by 28 points over Matt Kenseth and can secure his sixth championship with a 23rd-place-or-better finish next week at Homestead. Johnson is elite. The word penultimate is underrated.
Is Alabama beatable?
If you are the Steelers do you look to trace Ben Roethlisberger and rebuild?
Speaking of quarterbacks, who would your rather have, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick or Matt Ryan? Discuss.
Should the Braves change their name?
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 ...