5-at-10: Alabama and Game 7s are great, UT's not

5-at-10: Alabama and Game 7s are great, UT's not

October 22nd, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks too much" studios...

Tennessee's Eric Gordon (24) latches onto Alabama's Eddie Lacy during the first half.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Wow, that escalated quickly

There was no LaMichael Fanning suplex or overwhelming single highlight that dotted the exclamation point that was Alabama's 44-13 win over Tennessee.

The score was enough. The relentless wave of power that Alabama plays with was enough. The near-perfection that the Tide plays with was enough.

And barring a surprise that we can't foresee, Alabama has more than enough to keep the SEC saying enough for the foreseeable future.

Wow, are they impressive. And when you're watching them, especially as a fan of an opposing team, the first feeling you get is anger. The second is jealousy. They are just better than everyone right now. It's not like any recent SEC champ/national champ in recent memory:

Watching last year's Alabama team, you knew they were good but they relied on talent a little too much.

Auburn in 2010 had Cam Newton.

Alabama in 2009 surprised Florida in the SEC and was in practically a pick-em game against Texas BCS title games.

Florida had Tim Tebow

LSU and Florida before them were good teams that delivered in the biggest moments.

But none of them was like this. This bunch is complete. Period. Name Alabama's bets player, and there likely are five different answers from five different people.

Quick: When was the last time an Alabama player missed a tackle? And if you don't believe the Tide's talent level is at least two times as good as just about everyone else's know this: Alabama lost four players that went in the first 25 picks of last year's draft, and three of them - Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont'a Hightower - could have returned for their senior season. And if that doesn't convince, remember Tana Patrick, the highly regarded recruit from nearby North Jackson High School? We say he'd be starting at just about every other SEC school. At Alabama, Tana's a third-string linebacker.

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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/Times Free Press.

The rest of college football

As great as Alabama is, that still does not completely cover the stink bomb that Derek Dooley and Co. set off inside Neyland Stadium. Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer points out some interesting trends and numbers in his column today http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/oct/22/wiedmer-tennessees-fan-base-unrealistic-about-vols/.

And, as he points out, the South Carolina can be the death-blow game for Tennessee coaches. South Carolina was also the last ranked team

It's disappointing and the paint by numbers picture being crafted by Dooley and Co. is a mosiac of misery.

- 0-14 against ranked opponents

- three consecutive 31-point losses to Alabama, including two in Neyland Stadium

- Vandy-and-11 in their last 12 SEC games

- Dooley is now 4-16 against the SEC in his time in Knoxville with wins over Vandy (2), Kentucky and Ole Miss.

Less than good. Less than acceptable. Well, less than acceptable for every UT fan not named Harold, who had Alabama winning by 28. Harold was closest in accordance to Price is Right rules (closest without going over), so we'll hook Harold up with some UTC-Georgia Southern tickets. Enjoy.

Elsewhere around college football...

UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman prepares to pass.

Photo by Allison Love/Times Free Press.

- Monster win for the UTC Mocs. A team built on defense always has a chance. Kudos to Russ Huesman and his bunch, because they have made strides each year and have taken steps to get to the cusp. This is where you want to be if you're a Mocs fan - you're playing a home game against Georgia Southern that means as much to them as it does to you. A win almost locks up a playoff spot - providing there's not a late-year meltdown - and an impressive win could go a long way toward a first-round home game. Nice job Mocs.

- Back to UT for a second. For anyone who says Dooley inherited a mess, well, yes he did. But didn't Russ not inherit every bit as big a mess?

- Back to UT for one more second, Yes, Dooley inherited a mess, but remember who one of the potential candidates was when Dooley was hired - none other than David Cutcliffe. Yes, that David Cutcliffe who has Duke in first place in the ACC Coastal and already bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.

- Wow, Coach Boom and the Florida Gators are doing work. Work. And the South Carolina BCS train has lost more than a little steam, no?

- The Fab 4 (plus 1) picks went 4-2 last week with winners on Oregon, La Tech, Florida and TCU - plus 3.5 after buying the half - and losers on Nebraska (which played terribly in a one-point win) and Southern Miss. That makes us 28-13-1 this season. Not bad, but could have been better. We said at the beginning of the week, it'd take Tennessee plus-30 to bet on the Vols and we ignored it when it came check-cashing time.

- The Kansas State run is fun right now.

- Auburn is broken. Period. When you can't upset Vandy, it's busted. Hey, at least that opens up our Saturdays. Yay. Crud.

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St. Louis Cardinals' Lance Lynn breaks his bat as he hits into a double play during the second inning of Game 5 of baseball's National League championship series against the San Francisco Giants, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, in St. Louis.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NLCS

There are few things in sports as enjoyable as Game 7.

Be it baseball, the NBA or even the NHL, Game 7 carries a certain panache that elevates the appearance. And the pressure elevates the intensity and enjoyment. We're in.

That said, Game 7s take one of two routes: They are either knock-down dragouts that make for endings for the ages (this fact is a combination of the stage, the meaning and the fact that Game 7s, unlike one-and-down playoff games, are the culmination of a series in which the teams are well-aware of each other) or blowouts that are decided by the fifth inning, halftime or midway through the second period.

We believe tonight's Game 7 between the Cards and the Giants will firmly be in the knock-down dragout category. This is a meeting between the last two champs (so they know the pressure and what it means to have their backs to the wall). They also know about overcoming hurdles. Let's look:

The Giants cleared losing an MVP front-runner to a failed steroid test. Their best pitcher since Juan Marchial imploded this year and has been in the bullpen for most of the playoffs. No matter, this bunch comes together, plays together and excels together.

The Cards lost their longtime manager, rightly chose not to over pay the best player in the game and were without their bets starting pitcher for most of the season. They won a one-game Wildcard playoff by beating an unbeatable pitcher. Amid it all, they believed and played.

Side question: In retrospect, not signing Albert Pujols is easy to praise. And looking at A-Rod's late career fading, it's doubtful anyone will get a 10-year deal at the age of 30 ever again. But even for a big-market club like the Cards - and we've always said, if you got it spend it - you have to ask what's a better use of $24 million per year: Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina?

Either way, we're in tonight.

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This and that

- It's official: Lance Armstrong will loss his seven Tour de France titles. Dude's fall has been fast and furious, and the cover-up stuff that the entire team was doping to help mask Armstrong's use is kind of surreal, no? That said, here's a different question: Do you think on some side level Armstrong may feel a little better now that this mega-secret is out? Sure the disgrace and the loss of the seven titles - and he may have to pay back the $12 million he won in those races - is painful, but now he doesn't have to wrestle with those demons of lies. And those can be oversized demons that are on steroids (too soon?).

- We'll get more into this later, but we're pretty excited about the NBA. And news that Dwight Howard impressed in his Lakers' debut only adds to that excitement. The Lakers are there with the Celtics, Yankees, Red Sox, Cowboys, Steelers and Packers in that the leagues seem more fun and are better off when those teams are among the best in the league.

- Matt Kenseth survived a crazy race at Kansas that featured a record number of cautions because of a repaved surface. The wrecks hurt the title chances of at least four contenders, but hey, no bellyaching, everyone was driving on the same surface. In fact, Brad Keselowski grabbed hold of the title chase by avoiding the clutter and the carnage. Nice job Brad.

- We'll get into the NFL in a big way tomorrow, but it was a nice Sunday to spend the afternoon at Old McDonald's Farm in Sale Creek. War Family.

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Today's question

It's another crazy Monday. Cuh-razy.

Feel free to cover any of the above. Yes, the always fun free-play.

It can be on Lance or the Vols or the Mocs on Game 7 or whatever.

It also can be in answer to this: Has anyone done a better coaching job than Bill O'Brien. Penn State is 5-2 - with a five-game winning streak after losing to Ohio and Virginia when the PSU kicker missed five field goals - facing unprecedented hurdles and thumped Iowa 38-14 this week.

Talk about inheriting a mess. Wow. Well-played indeed.