5-at-10: College football, World Series and NASCAR hits the homestretch

5-at-10: College football, World Series and NASCAR hits the homestretch

October 24th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...

MONDAY MORNING COLLEGE FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK

Wisconsin's Philip Welch (18), Kyle French (94) and Jeff Duckworth (15) walk off the field after the team's 37-31 loss to Michigan State in an NCAA college football game in East Lansing, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

1) When will we learn? When? Every year we think, "Oh my this is the year there will be seven unbeaten teams and the BCS will be like 5 p.m. Atlanta traffic." And every year, the herd thins itself and starts to take shape about the time Halloween decorations start popping up. The biggest shocker had to be Wisconsin, which lost on a 44-yard pass play on the last play of the game. The Badgers were beating foes by an average of 51-9, and when they run the table and finish 11-1, there will be a lot of hand-wringing and head-scratching in Madison. The least surprising -- at least for anyone who followed Auburn in the 2000s -- was Texas Tech beating Oklahoma, if for no other reason than Tommy Tuberville every year found a way to beat a top-5 team when you thought his club had no chance. (Every Auburn fan will also tell you that there's virtually no way Texas Tech wins this week unless they are playing the Arkansas School for the Deaf Leopards.) The list of unbeatens is narrowing and with the LSU-Alabama showdown set and Kansas State and Oklahoma State still staring at dates with Oklahoma it will continue to dwindle.

2) Wow, how about the can of whipping that LSU opened on Auburn. Ouch. And the second half of the Alabama-Tennessee game. Impressive. LSU and Alabama are off Saturday heading into the Nov. 5 slugfest, so there will be plenty to discuss about each team before then. But has the SEC - the renowned best college football conference - ever been this two-team top heavy. There's LSU and Alabama, a serious dropoff to Arkansas, and then an even bigger dropoff to everyone else.

3) Also know this about the national championship race: If the Nov. 5 showdown is as good as people think and the herd continues to get slimmed down and unbeaten teams fall by the wayside, here's saying that if the winner of LSU/Alabama and Boise State are the only two unbeaten teams left at the end of the season, the BCS title game will be Alabama-LSU.

4) Andrew Luck is so good it's scary. The Stanford star is the most NFL-ready quarterback maybe of all time. He can make every throw. He leads. He makes every read. The NFL will be a whole new challenge of course, but Luck is making playing quarterback against big-time college football teams look mighty easy.

5) The Fab 4 (plus 1) suffered its first losing week. A foray into the Big Ten did not prove fruitful (stupid, Wisconsin) and we violated at least two known gambling laws: If the bell cow is delivering milk, you have to keep drinking until it goes bad. (This means we should have picked Alabama and LSU if for no other reason that they have delivered time and again. We got scared and we paid for if.) Second, never pick a Ron Zook-coached team. (This is one of the classic blunder - the most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line." After that is the don't back the Zooker.) After going 2-3 this week, we nailed Kansas State and Nebraska by half a point, we're still an impressive 24-13-1.

WORLD SERIES

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland waves to the crowd after he was taken out of the game during the ninth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Arlington, Texas (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

The images before the Texas Rangers' 4-0 win over St. Louis in Sunday's Game 4 that evens the World Series at 2-2 were telling.

There was Texas manager Ron Washington laughing hysterically and practically doing a George Jefferson-type dance when Nolan Ryan missed the ceremonial first pitch from former president George W. Bush (who looked 15 years younger, by the way). There was calm in the home dugout, even though a loss would be crippling. And there was the pre game conversation between Washington and Derek Holland that laid the ground work for the the game of the young left-hander's life.

Holland went 8-plus innings of scoreless baseball in the Series-tying win. He allowed two hits to a Cardinals team that had scored 16 runs 24 hours earlier. He did not allow a hit to Albert Pujols, who had hit 1,300 feet of homers 24 hours earlier. In a word, Holland was clutch. And he was awesome.

Now we have a best-of-three, and this series is getting really interesting. Does that mean people are watching? Probably not, but the 5-at-10 has been entertained and that's good enough for us.

Side note: Here are the entries that still have a shot in the Not-So-World-Serious challenge:

5-at-10: Cards in 7 (Albert Pujols)

Mrs. 5-at-10: Rangers in 6 (Ian Kinsler)

Oso: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

Spy: Rangers in 6. (Michael Young)

OTWatcher: Rangers in 6 (Adrian Beltre)

SportTalk's Dr. B (He's a doctor after all): Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

SportTalk's Quake: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

SportTalk's Cowboy Joe (He's a cowboy after all): Cards in 6 (Lance Berkman)

WarEagle: Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

BetterthanYou: Rangers in 6 (Mike Napoli)

Friendoftheshow: Rangers in 6 (Napoli)

Pickled: Cards in 6 (David Freese)

NASCAR HITS HOMESTRETCH

Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) talks with driver Trevor Bayne (21) prior to qualifying for the Good Sam Club 500 auto race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Jimmie Johnson finished back in the pack Sunday at Talladega. He dropped to seventh in the Chase for the Championship standings. It all but ends his dominant run with five straight championships. Well done, JJ. Now move along.

As for the current standings, well, Carl Edwards has distanced himself a little bit from a tight pack of four guys - Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick are all between 14 and 26 points off Edwards' less. As long as Edwards can avoid a big mishap, it appears he's headed to a Cup title.

That, however, in some ways took on some added drama Sunday during Clint Bowyer's victory that ended with his late pass of teammate Jeff Burton. It was Bowyer trying to win a race, and it was the right thing to do and made for some entertaining racing (something that has not always been applicable about NASCAR this season).

That said, teamwork was on center stage for Ford drivers. After working with him for most of the day and committing to help on the radio, Trevor Bayne, behind the wheel of a Ford, left Jeff Gordon out to dry late Sunday, and if you are by yourself at the two-by-two tavern than is Talladega, you're cooked. Bayne "apologized" afterward (when did going to Twitter and deflecting blame become an appropriate response?) but the intent is clear: Ford will help Ford; Chevy better look to help Chevy. Dodge, well, you guys may need to get out of Dodge (see what we did there).

This could be like old-school NWA wrestling, all we need is Gordon Solie doing the play-by-play.

THIS AND THAT

- There are plenty of reports that have Missouri withdrawing from the Big 12 today and in the SEC before the end of the week.

- From the "Wow, that makes sense" files. Former THE Ohio State University coach Jim Tressel, who resigned amid scandal, landed an NFL job. He made his debut Sunday after sitting out a suspension for appearances sake. Of course, he works for the Colts, and made his first game day the Biblical 62-7 whipping the Saints handed Indy. Ouch-standing.

- More NFL: Could anyone extend an on-going argument adding fuel to each sides belief more than Tim Tebow did Sunday? for the first 57 minutes of the the Broncos visit to winless Miami, Tebow was the worst quarterback playing Sunday - and that's saying something. He missed open receivers. He held the ball too long. He made poor decisions. Pretty much everything every critic said he would do. But after throwing for all of 45 yards in 57 minutes, Tebow made history by leading the Broncos from a 15-0 hole with less than three minutes left to an 18-15 overtime win. He inspired and made the clutch plays and his team won. Period. Exactly like each side predicted.

- Volunteer to get better. The Tennessee Vols and the Tennessee Titans got hammered this weekend. UT lost to Alabama 37-6; the Titans lost 41-7. Worse still, they were outgained a combined 955-303.

- The 5-at-10 likes how the UTC Mocs handled their BID-ness on Saturday. Business-like. Efficient. Relentless. The march to the playoffs has started - in fact, the playoffs have started. And here's saying the Mocs are going to make a run and make this really interesting.

- After all the hubbub and the hand-wringing about the TSSAA ruling and the Signal Mountain appeal and the fallout, consider us among those that are grateful Signal Mountain did not take this to court. It's a sad situation with a lot of collateral damage - and those people that have enjoyed this and ultimately enjoyed the suffering of teenagers, need help - but this is how it should end. There was a ruling, there was an appeal and now it's done. High school sports, more than everything else, are about life lessons and memories, and the memories of this for those involved are going to last - good or bad. But to take this issue into the legal system only leaves a life lesson that if you aren't happy with a ruling, sue somebody. Thankfully it did not come to that.

TODAY'S QUESTION

Cards slugger Albert Pujols hit three homers in Saturday's Game 3 of the World Series. He joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson on the list of guys who have hit three homers in a World Series game (and guys who have never been in the 5-at-10's kitchen).

No doubt it was awesome - and anytime you join a list that includes Babe Ruth, well it's an accomplishment worth telling your friends. (Unless of course that list is something like most hot dogs eaten at Yankee Stadium in a career and it goes Babe Ruth, Kobayshi, you, George Costanza, Rudy Giuliani.) But the game was long since over when Albert connected for homers No. 2 and No. 3.

Still dude hit a quarter of a mile of homers. In a World Series game.

Question: What's the best individual postseason performance, and why? We'll have a sport-by-sport list around 2 p.m.

Discuss.