5-at-10: College football lessons, NFL drama, Sunday splendor

5-at-10: College football lessons, NFL drama, Sunday splendor

September 24th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

We hope your weekend was a blast. Seriously. First day of fall was Saturday, the weather was spot on, etc. We're going to start today with a funny scene Saturday. Cue the music.

The 5-at-10 clan was at Finley Stadium on Saturday afternoon to watch the Mocs and were recording the Auburn game. We see someone we know at the pavilion and this followed:

Someone we know: "So you think Auburn has a chance? That'd be some kind of upset."

5-at-10: "Well, it makes us think of a Bible verse. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."

Someone we know (with stunned look on his face): "Dude, didn't know you were a Biblical scholar too?"

Mrs. 5-at-10 without missing a beat: "He's not. It's a line from "Hoosiers."

She's right of course. Amen.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's go...

College football lessons

We're going to pick 10 college teams that have a fair amount of area interest and share a brief view on them as we make the first turn on college football's tri-oval. If you don't agree, feel free to comment or you can see our complaint department and get your 5-at-10 subscription fees refunded. And with a tip of the helmet to the Emmy's this week, we'll do it with some Hall of Fame TV stars. Deal? Deal. (Side note: Complaint department is open every fifth Monday from 7:05 to 7:09 a.m. That may be Central time, too. We're not sure.)

Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) celebrates with wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) after a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Akron on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn.

Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) celebrates with...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Tennessee: It's hard not to feel like Schultz from "Hogan's Heroes" about these Vols. "We know NOTHING." UT was a 35-point favorite over Akron in a 47-26 win that was tied at 23 at halftime and was 26-23 10 seconds into the fourth quarter. We know the Vols have NFL pieces - a few on offense and A.J. Johnson is so good he could start for Alabama - but we don't know which UT team is going to show up. This Saturday, both the Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde versions were there.

Alabama: "Elizabeth, this is the big one." OK, Fred Sanford does not get enough credit, and that was his go-to line. This Alabama team is the big one. Period. The Tide handle their BID-ness and are relentless. Watch or listen to the Tide, and two things stand out: They are other-worldy physical, and they have five-star recruits on special teams that would be starting players at 11 other SEC defenses.

Georgia: "Moving on up." The theme to "The Jeffersons" seems fair here because Georgia effortlessly handled their BID-ness on Saturday, Alabama-style. The Bulldogs are the second-best team in the SEC. We could even give the Bulldogs a Mr. Burns, "Exxccelllent" after their 48-3 thumping of Vandy.

UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman makes a pass during a game against Appalachian State Saturday at Finley Stadium. The game marked UTC's Southern Conference opener.

UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman makes a pass during...

Photo by Allison Love /Times Free Press.

UTC: "Hey, hey, hey... what's going on here?" OK, maybe Mr. Belding's catch phrase does not belong in the pantheon of TV one-liners, but he's all-Moc after all. Allow us a moment here, and we're judging our words with measure and purpose. Saturday's second-half collapse that led to a 34-17 defeat was a bad loss. Yes, Appy State is always going to be a tough challenge, but this is not the App State of three-straight titles and multiple NFL players. There was a very good crowd that was in to the game from the start. It was a Chamber of Commerce-type of Saturday, weather-wise. And the Mocs imploded after building an early 10-0 lead. Plus, the quarterback situation is still a situation, and that must get better in a hurry or it likely will get much worse.

Auburn: And now, for something completely different. Shout out to Monty Python and the gang for the best way to describe an inspired Auburn effort. Hey, a loss is a loss is a loss, and there's no such thing as moral victories. That said, Auburn stood toe-to-toe with then-No.2-ranked LSU and fought for 60 minutes before falling 12-10. Was it a win? No. Was it a marked improvement from the first three games. No doubt. There are moments that can make or break a season, and this one may have helped save the year for Auburn.

The crowd was in it, the stands were full, there were several big-name recruits in the house, and Auburn was a play away from pulling a monster upset. That's way better than being a play away from losing to La-Monroe or being a planet away in a drubbing at Mississippi State. Plus, you know how we said last week, you get a good idea of what kind of respect-level a coach has in his locker room by the type of effort his team gives in big games and big moments? Consider this a stamp of approval for this coaching staff from inside the locker room. And while we're here, the Vols and the Mocs face similar circumstances this week.

Georgia Tech: We like Paul Johnson. We know he can slap coach football. We know our guy Spy and PJ are tight. We also know there is unrest on The Flats. As Sgt. Joe Friday would say,"Just the facts, ma'am," and Tech's overtime loss to Miami leaves the Jackets cooked in the ACC before October hits.

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, left, hands the ball off to running back Marcus Lattimore during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, left, hands the...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

South Carolina: Who was that masked man? Quarterback Connor Shaw started Saturday's rout of Missouri with an incomplete pass. He finished 20-of-21. South Carolina is 4-0 for just the ninth time in its 119 seasons on playing football. Shaw is 11-1 as a starting quarterback. All of those numbers are impressive.

FSU: And awaaayyyy we go. The Seminoles look every bit the part of the ACC's version of Alabama. They come at opponents in waves. Plus, how good would this defensive lineup look with two potential first-rounders Brandon Jenkins (out for the year with a foot injury) and corner Greg Reid (dismissed before the season for case of the stupid)?

Florida: "Can you smell what the Boom, has cookin'?" Apologies to the Rock, but Coach Boom - aka Will Muschamp - continues to build on the momentum from whipping Tennessee. Florida is now 4-0 with an open date to get ready for suddenly human LSU. Plus, the Gators have to leave the state of Florida just once more -Oct. 13 at Vandy - this season.

West Virginia: "Let's rock." Little Al Bundy to cap the list. This selection may stun you, but the Mountaineers were our pick to make a bona fide run at the BCS game from before the season. Nothing has changed with that. (Side note: The Mountaineers did spoil us from a perfect 5-0 week on our picks, though. And sweet buckets of sweet moments in gambling history: How about that late Clemson TD to cut FSU's lead from 19 to 12. And yes, the spread was 14. Stupid Clemson.)

NFL drama

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates his game-winning field goal with teammate Sam Koch after an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. Baltimore won 31-30.

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates his...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

The ref debate is not going away. In fact, it's getting worse. In fact after the Patriots' last-second loss to Baltimore, New England linebacker Brandon Spikes took to the Twitter: "Can someone please tell these #&^%$ zebras foot locker called and they're needed Back at work !!!! #BreakingPoint."

Here's the 3-and-out key storylines from Sunday's madness:

1. The replacement refs are struggling. And while there has not been the Holy Grail - a blown call that directly affected the outcome of a game - there have been plenty Holy Growls. There have been mistakes in the basics (Jim Harbaugh got an extra challenge Sunday), in position and real threats in player safety and the games are dragging on and on (heck, the Jets-Dolphins was a four-hour game). All of this happened Sunday, the same day that reports on the meetings between the NFL and the regular refs have the sides nowhere close to a deal.

2. Super finishes. Baltimore's dramatic win over New England (aided somewhat by balky officiating). The Chiefs sending the Saints to 0-3. The Raiders stunning the Steelers. And none of these were as exciting as the Titans' 44-41 overtime win over the Lions that feature two Detroit TDs in the final 30 seconds.

3. We'll cover this more in Tuesday's power poll, but are we ready for an NFL with only three 3-0 teams and those teams are Atlanta, Arizona and Houston, which has the combined Super Bowl pedigree of Moe, Larry and Curly?

Spectacular Sunday

Brandt Snedeker reacts after chipping in for a birdie on the 17th hole during the final round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012.

Brandt Snedeker reacts after chipping in for a...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

OK, the replacement refs had a bad Sunday. So did Dabo Swinney and Paul Johnson. As did the cast and crew of "Mad Men," which was blanked in the Emmys despite 17 nominations.

But compared to Brandt Snedeker, no one had a Sunday worth writing home about.

Snedeker, the shaggy-haired former Vandy star who is truly one of the good guys in golf, won the Tour Championship at East Lake and secured the Fed Ex Cup with the win.

All told, Snedeker played 18 holes of golf Sunday and made $11.44 million. Sweet buckets of payola, that's some cabbage. No one this side of Bill Gates makes that kind of coin in an afternoon. For math nuts out there that's $635,555.56 per hole and $168,235.29 for each of his 68 swings on Sunday. Good work if you can get it.

And to make matters even better, read the following quote Snedeker gave to reporters afterward: "It's going to be an unbelievable thing to go through this process of being financially secure for a long period of time. Looking at what we can do to help other people out with that money. I'm not by any means a flashy guy. Of anybody that I know, I do not need $11 million. So there are going to be things we can do to really help people. So that's the way I look at it. This is unbelievable to be financially stable for the rest of my career. As long as I'm not an idiot, I should be fine. Really. I really think we can make a difference and help a lot of people out in Nashville and Tennessee and the surrounding areas, for sure."

Wow, in the files of good things happening to good folks, we all won a little bit with Snedeker on Sunday. Well everyone this side of the replacement refs, anyway.

This and that

- The Braves head into the final stretch of the regular season with a playoff berth all-but secured. They are 4.5 games behind the Nationals but are 8.5 games clear for third in the top wildcard spot. Atlanta's magic number for a postseason spot is two - meaning any combination of Braves' wins and Milwaukee Brewers losses that add up to two gets it done.

- We watched parts of the Emmys on Sunday and realized two things: First we are pop culture deficient in today's world; secondly, the entertainment world lost some real giants this past year. Dick Clark, Andy Griffith, Whitney Houston, Richard Dawson, Sherman Hemsley, et al. Moment of silence, please.................. That'll do.

- The NASCAR race is tight; tight as the bolts on the Brooklyn Bridge. That said, we believe it's Jimmie Johnson and then everyone else. So it goes.

Today's question

It's a Monday free for all. There was a ton that happened this weekend and we're sure we missed something so fire away.

If you need a starting point, you can finish the following sentence, "Here's what we know about (insert you favorite college football team)....."

Enjoy, and gang, the 5-at-10 had a record-setting week last week. Thanks for being part of the party.