5-at-10: SEC asked and answered, NFL power poll, Vols future if Fulmer still there

5-at-10: SEC asked and answered, NFL power poll, Vols future if Fulmer still there

October 1st, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Get up and get moving. There's work to be done.

Giddy-up.

From the "Talks too much" studios, we're planning on taking in Dwight Yoakam this week, so let's stay there for a while and offer, "They threw this drunk man in my jail cell, I took 15 dollars from that man."

SEC asked and answered

1. Alabama

Alabama defenders Jarrick Williams, C.J. Mosley and Brandon Ivory sack Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace for a fourth-quarter safety in the top-ranked Crimson Tide's 25-0 win Saturday night.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

How bad will Saturday be? It will be as bad as Alabama wants it to be and more than likely worse. Georgia State is the worst FBS team in the country; Alabama is the best FBS team in the country. Alabama's fifth-string running back had more stars in the recruiting rankings than Georgia State's first-string offense. You do the math.

Saturday: vs. Georgia State, 12:21 (WDSI)

2. Georgia

Anyone else wondering if Aaron Murray can win the big game? Didn't think so after Murray was 20-of-34 for 298 yards and four TDs in Georgia's 44-41 win over then-No. 6-ranked LSU. Murray, who was named Walter Camp offensive player of the week for the second time this season, now has to be considered among the leading Heisman candidates, right?

Saturday: at Tennessee, CBS (3:30)

Georgia coach Mark Richt has a wealth of offensive weapons.

3. LSU

Does anyone doubt Mark Richt can scout quarterbacks any more? As good as Murray was Saturday, LSU starting QB Zach Mettenberger, who signed with Georgia originally, was every bit as impressive Saturday. And to be fair, tip of the helmet to LSU offensive Cam Cameron, because Mettenberger has improved more from one mediocre season to the next more than any SEC quarterback this side of Jonathan Crompton or Chris Todd.

Saturday: at Mississippi State, 7 (ESPN)

4. Texas A&M

Where will Kevin Sumlin rank on the hot list of coaches this offseason, considering we know one power program (USC) is open and there's a likelihood another big fish (Texas?) could be looking for a new coach? Being in the SEC and coaching in Texas gives Sumlin a good gig, no doubt. But if USC - and especially Texas - com calling, you have to listen. And with Johnny Football almost assuredly on the way out, how much higher can Sumlin lift the Aggies? Either way, here's saying Sumlin will get a nice pay raise this offseason, regardless of the zip code.

Saturday: Off

5. South Carolina

Is time to recognize Mike Davis in the upper echelon of SEC running backs? Yes, with this caveat - Davis is very good, but no one in the conversation is Todd Gurley. That said, Davis, who leads the SEC with an average of 127 rushing yards per game, has been extremely productive and downright saved the Gamecocks from what could have been a season-wrecking flub at Central Florida last Saturday. Looking at the SEC running backs, five sophomores - including Davis, Gurley and T.J. Yeldon - and a freshman comprise the top six in the SEC in rushing yards per game.

Saturday: vs. Kentucky, 7:30 (FSN)

6. Florida

How will the Gators' front seven handle the run-first, run-always Arkansas attack? This will be a much sterner test that last Saturday's cake walk in Lexington when the Gators allowed but 173 yards against Kentucky. Plus, this will be against one of the nation's top rushing offenses and the true absence of defensive tackle Dominique Easley will be better know this week.

Saturday: vs. Arkansas, 7 (ESPN2)

7. Ole Miss

How will the young Rebels respond to the beat down in T-town? Ole Miss went to Tuscaloosa thinking they were ready because of a fast start to the season. Alabama showed up knowing they were ready because of the familiar scars and tests they receive every week. The only way for the youthful Rebels to improve is to learn from moments of that magnitude. Lesson learned. Scars acquired.

Saturday: at Auburn, 7 (ESPNU)

8. Missouri

Is Missouri ready for SEC play? The Tigers had a five-week, four-game slow walk into conference player and ran the table with wins over Murray State, Toldeo, Indiana and Arkansas State. That's not exactly the four horseman of the apocalypse, but Missouri handled its business, averaging more than 45 points and right at 550 yards per game in its 4-0 start. The conference opener at Vandy will be a more trying chore.

Saturday: at Vanderbilt, 7:30 (CSS)

9. Auburn

Can Nick Marshall play a complete game? There have been flashes of nerves and highlights, of knowledge and headway. Marshall's play is paramount for Gus Malzahn's offense, and the junior-college transfer still has yet to put it all together. How much he improved during Auburn's bye week will be key in a game that could raise the expectations for the winner.

Saturday: vs. Ole Miss, 7 (ESPNU)

10. Arkansas

Are we ready to give Alex Collins SEC freshman of the year honors yet? With all due respect to Ole Miss' outstanding kiddie corps, Collins has been top shelf. He leads the SEC in rushing with 597 yards in five games. Dude is a stud duck.

Saturday: at Florida, 7 (ESPN2)

11. Vandy

Who's going to win the James Franklin Bowl - Vandy coach James Franklin, who has led the Commodores to its best run since before the great depression, or Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who is directing the high-flying Tigers offense. Call this a hunch, but we like Franklin in this one.

Saturday: vs. Missouri, 7:30 (CSS)

Vols T logo

12. Tennessee

Can Tennessee keep Georgia under 50? Considering a deeper and better LSU defense was struggling to keep up with the Bulldogs high-wire offensive act, it's difficult to see Tennessee - which is 12th in the SEC in scoring defense at 26.2 points per game despite a season-opening shutout of overmatched Austin Peay - slowing the Bulldogs.

Saturday: vs. Georgia, 3:30 (CBS)

13. Mississippi State

Would you rather cross Amnicola Highway blind-folded or play a hacked-off LSU team? Tough call, right? Mississippi State is playing the "Guess who's our quarterback game." This is not like Tennessee is playing the "Who could be out quarterback" game. MSU has senior starter Tyler Russell ready to play after suffering a concussion earlier this year and his running counterpart Dak Prescott, who filled in well for Russell, ready to go. The shell game may make for some long hours for the LSU defensive staff, but it likely won't affect the outcome.

Saturday: vs. LSU, 7 (ESPN)

14. Kentucky

How does a 1-3 start get worse? Well, Saturday's trip to Columbia is the Cats' first real road trip. Hey, on the bright side, Julius Randle is the real deal, so there's that.

Saturday: at South Carolina, 7:30 (FSN)

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NFL power poll

NFL quarterback Peyton Manning

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

We vowed two weeks ago that we would know more today. We do know more, and we'll know more still two weeks from now.

What we can glean from the first quarter of the NFL season is that Peyton Manning has a pretty good grasp of the Denver offense, Jake Locker looked the part before getting hurt last Sunday, and, because of injury and desparation the Atlanta Falcons offensive huddle has a grand total of three plays - "Julio get open," Tony G. get open" and "Julio AND Tony G. get open" - which is less than ideal.

As for the power poll, well, let's look:

1) Denver: Yes, the Broncos are extremely good and are crushing folks right now. Manning's using his bevy of weapons at will and maximizing mismatches to the point that you are going to have to score 30 to beat them. Two quick points: With the emergence of Demaryius Thomas and the continued excellence of Calvin Johnson, when did we get to the point that Georgia Tech was Wide Receiver Institute? As if the Broncos offense wasn't good enough as it is, they also have the league's best return guy in former LSU speedster Trindon Holliday

2) Seattle: The Seahawks caught a break and found a way to topple Houston on the road Sunday. Ever wonder why it's the winning teams that catch the breaks and the losing teams complain about the bad breaks? Winning teams don't; they just go make the breaks happen.

Tom Brady

3) New England: Tom Brady is the quarterback version of the great Bum Phillips quote about Don Shula back in the day. Phillips said of Shula: "He can take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n." Amen Bum, and hey look some no-name wide out is open and Brady found him.

4) New Orleans: The Saints Monday night beatdown of the formerly unbeaten Miami Dolphins was impressive in each phase. These Saints have a salty edge and the look. You know they got that look.

5) Kansas City: Think the Philly fans are still giddy over trading Andy Reid for Chip Kelly. The Chiefs are unbeaten. The Eagles are faltering, which leads us to...

Bottom five

28) Philadelphia: Hey, we love the fast-paced offense that Oregon and Co. use on Saturdays too. Whether Chip Kelly's attack can work on Sundays is still up for debate. Side question: If the Eagles' struggles continue, could you not see Kelly pulling a Bobby Petrino and bolting for USC?

29) Pittsburgh: Big Ben Roethlisberger says the Steelers are terrible. Big Ben may have a future as an analyst when his playing days are done. (And if the Steelers' porous offensive line doesn't start blocking better, Big Ben's playing days may be done sooner rather than later.)

30) Tampa Bay: Ah, the Bucs. The Bucs are supposed to be in the bottom five right? And you know what really leaves the line cold, try this phrase: "Hey Bucs fans, let's rebuild and reload around Mike Glennon." Ouch-standing.

31) New York Giants: Hard to believe Tom Coughlin has two Super Bowls and likely could be a Hall of Famer. And his seat is hotter than the Macon, Ga., blacktop in July. Remember the good old days of August when Eli Manning was an elite quarterback? Nope, neither do we.

615) Jacksonville: Wow, this may be the single worst NFL team ever. A 37-3 loss at home to Indy? And in less than two weeks the Jags go to Denver and Vegas has pegged that line at a historic Denver minus-28. Egads.

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Baseball done and starting

The baseball regular season is long and you have to trust it. Sometimes, that trust betrays you, like Lil' Danny Struggla.

Sometimes, that trust cleanses you, like now with the playoffs starting tonight with the first of two play-in wildcard games before the best-of-five first rounds starting Thursday.

Sadly, it was a season dominated by A-Rod and PEDs and head-scratching drama that covered one of the more entertaining seasons in recent memory, punctuated with one of the top-five walk-off moments in sports history. Seriously, it does not get any better than Mariano Rivera's exit from Yankee Stadium last week. Well-played indeed.

That is the image we choose to cling to as we look forward to the postseason - it's October, after all, and somewhere Reggie Jackson smiles. (Side Reggie story: We were in the Turner Field press box many moons ago, and we're at the urinal and we're doing our stuff and look over and Reggie Mr. October Jackson is standing right there. The current sports editor of the TFP had not been doing this long and we were still occasionally prone to noticing big time sports celebs, so we look over and say, "Hey you're Reggie Jackson," and he says, "Yep, and I still will be when I get done pee-ing. Want to chat outside?" Of course we did not see Reggie again. Mmmmmm-barrassing.)

As for the regular season that was, here's the awards we share:

AL MVP - Miggy Cabrera, Detroit. Dude hit for the triple crown last year and had a better year this year. Maybe one of the 10 best right-handed hitters ever. Yes, Spy, ever.

AL Cy Young - Max Scherzer, Detroit. He went 21-3 with 240 Ks and a 2.90 ERA. In a perfect world, a Game 1 World Series match-up of Scherzer and Kershaw would make things right in the world. (And the game could be done in less than 100 minutes.)

AL Rookie - Wil Myers, Tampa Bay.

AL Manager - Terry Francona, Cleveland.

NL MVP - Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh. Choice that makes the traditionalists and the stat-mongers happy at the same time.

NL Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw, L.A. Remember that run when anyone other than Greg Maddux winning the Cy Young was a surprise. We're there with Kershaw.

NL Rookie - Yaisel Puig, L.A.

NL Manager - Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh. Safest bet on the board this side of Bama over Georgia State in the money line.

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This and that

- Texas AD DeLoss Dodds will retire in 2014. And the hits keep coming for Mack Brown, huh? Odds he's coaching the Longhorns in three months? We'll say 50-50 is generous to Mack.

- As the Heat open training camp, LeBron James says he has to get better. If does, things could be tough for the rest of the league. What are we saying? Things already are tough for the rest of the league, especially when you consider that Boston is noticeably worse and Dwyane Wade appears to be healthy and motivated. Not one, not two, not three...

- David Price was top-shelf Monday night as the Rays ended the Rangers' season with a 5-2 win in an extra special Game No. 163. Sorry JMC. The Rays now head to Boston for the next round of the playoffs.

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Today's question

Happy shutdown day. Or sad shutdown day. Whichever fits your politics and policies.

That said, what business shutting down - other than your employer of course - would most affect your day-to-day endeavors?

If that's not your cup of tea, well, how about this: Former UT coach Phillip Fulmer was at Baylor School on Monday speaking to students. With the firing of Lane Kiffin on Sunday, we started thinking back to the last few falls.

Here's our question for you, if Fulmer had got one more year from Hamilton, where would the Vols be? Now maybe he would still have been fired a year later, but the time frame would have been skewed.

So if Fulmer had survived 2008, where would the Vols be today?

Discuss. (And Jomo, this is not blaming the current mess on anyone or anything of that nature, just curious what people think the alternate ending would have been if Fulmer had stayed. And we know for sure there would have been at least some change to the landscape because Fulmer had Tajh Boyd committed, and that turned out pretty good for Clemson, no?)