5-at-10: College football review, NFL winners and losers and Braves clinch

5-at-10: College football review, NFL winners and losers and Braves clinch

September 23rd, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sportscolumns

From the "Talks too much" studios, lock the hubs on your jacked-up, drop 'er down 4x4.

College football rewind

We knew going in it was going to be a rough weekend, and we were correct. So it goes.

Here's our five takeaways from Week 4:

Butch Jones

1) Swamped. Butch Jones made a quarterback change, and Nathan Peterman offered up game-time evidence why Justin Worley was the Tennessee Vols QB1 to start the season. Peterman was epically bad in a disastrous first half of the Vols' 31-17 loss at Florida. Peterman's terrible first half in his first - and almost assuredly last - start for the Vols put UT in a 17-7 halftime hole. While the score does not look historically bad on the surface, considering that Florida gift-wrapped UT's first TD on a play when the Gators lost starting Jeff Driskel for the season and were overwhelmingly stagnant offensively early on, merely bad QB play for the Vols could have been a 10-7 lead or better. (Side note: Tyler Murphy looked the part in replacing Driskel and now appears to be the QB1 of the Gators. Which is awesome because it raises the 'M' QBs total in the SEC to six with Murray, McCarron, Manziel, Marshall, Mettenberger and now Murphy. It could be seven if UT listed their starting QB as "Missing." Where were we...) Worley rallied the Vols in the second half, but take that with a grain of salt considering it was facing a Florida defense that had lost its top two corners at some point. There is some obvious frustrations as UT beat ace Patrick Brown tells us here. Let's play letter grade Monday - and we'll continue this on Press Row from 1-3 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 with David Paschall. So what grade do the Vols get? We'll share ours around lunch.

2) If you go to Louisiana at night, bring a lunch and a hard hat. Because if a stranger don't get it a shotgun will. The LSU Tigers built a 21-0 lead in a driving rain storm that became a 35-21 win over a fiesty Auburn team. LSU is physical and tough and talented all over the field. (Side note: LSU is currently getting three points from Georgia. Interesting, no?) Running back Jeremy Hill was a load, and proved the winning Tigers have no problem lining up and running right at people. (Buckle up, Grantham, the Tigers like to run it.) It also proves the losing Tigers will struggle with that approach, which is hardly surprising for those that follow Auburn considering Jake Holland appears to be the only middle linebacker on scholarship on The Plains.

3) Hats off to Georgia Tech, Kenny Guiton, Baylor, UCLA - great tribute to their teammate who died - and Johnny Football for making the most of their moments on Saturday. And we definitely do not want Johnny Merchandize watching our kids for an afternoon, but the kid is fun to watch.

4) Difficult to judge the top national title contenders this weekend, since the top teams either were sluggish (Alabama, Georgia and Clemson won games but hardly overwhelmed anyone), off (enjoy the rest Oregon) or thumped overmatched foes (Ohio State, Florida State, Miami to name but three). Stanford's two-touchdown win over a ranked Arizona State team likely qualifies as the weekend's big winner.

5) The Fab-4-plus-1 picks dominated Saturday. After losing the Thursday night Clemson game, we went 4-0 Saturday against the spread with the under in the Vandy-UMass (54.5, 27-7 final), the over in Duke-Pitt (52, 58-55 final), Missouri over Indiana (minus-3, Tigers won 45-28) and Nebraska over South Dakota State (minus-20, Huskers won 59-20). We are now 15-4-1 - 78.9 percent - against the spread on the season.

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NFL

We'll have our power poll on Wednesday, but let's go with some winners and losers for this Tuesday that features the all-time Pittsburgh confusion - the Pirates are about to clinch a playoff spot and the Steelers are a dead-team walking three weeks into the season. Is this 1991? Where's Bubby Brister and Bobby Bonilla?

Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Winner: Jake Locker. Hey, we've been as critical of Locker as anyone, but dude rallied the troops and delivered a money throw to win an NFL football game. That screams winner. And as good as his stats were - 23-of-37 for 299 and a TD with no picks - he was victimized by more than a couple of drops that would have really floated those numbers.

Loser: The Atlanta Falcons. At 1-2 in a tough division with painful injuries mounting, this bunch is going to be in a long fight to make the playoffs.

Winner: Cleveland. The Browns responded to the controversy of dealing their best player with a big 31-27 win at Minnesota. This may have been a rare case where the Browns were better off being away from home so the fans wouldn't protest - the especially uncommon road-field advantage.

Loser: San Fran. Uh, guys, losing at Seattle is fine. Acceptable even. But at home to the Colts? Everyone still on the "Kaepernick is the best thing since sliced bread" bandwagon?

Winner: Andrew Luck. Dude can play. That is all.

Loser: The Giants. GUH-ross - 38-bagel to the Panthers is unacceptable. In fact the whole NFC East is so bad, that Dallas' 31-7 win over the Rams was the division's first over a non-NFC East team. RGIII? What was that?

Winner & Loser: Green Bay running back Johnathan Franklin started the week as a third-stringer. Injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Starks forced the rookie into action and Franklin rushed for 103 and a touchdown. That's the good. The bad: Franklin's fumble was returned for the game-winning TD in the Packers' 34-30 loss to Cincy.

Losers: Those of us who think Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback working. Sure he has a ton of skills, but according to Elias Sports, Rodgers is now 5-17 in games decided by four points or less. That's not a winning stat.

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Braves

Atlanta Braves players and coaches celebrate after the Braves defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-2 in a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. The Braves clinch NL East as the Washington Nationals lose to the Florida Marlins.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Well that was nice.

Your Atlanta Braves punched their postseason ticket this weekend. There is home-field advantage to play, and that's quite the carrot considering the Braves are the best home-team in baseball.

What got this bunch here? How did this happen?

In fact, you can make a hard argument that Fredi Gonzalez should be manager of the year. Yes, Clint Hurdle will almost certainly get the nod since he has the Pirates in the playoffs.

But Fredi G - as bad as he was two years ago - has the Braves staring at home-field advantage after the following:

  • Injuries to every starter other than one of the Uptons and Chris Johnson
  • Losing your two best set-up guys (O'Flaherty, Venters) before the season
  • Losing your No. 1 starter (Hudson) midway through the year
  • Replacing the face of the franchise and the leadership within the clubhouse
  • Having Greg Walker as his hitting coach.

Simply put, Fredi G is the most accomplished member of the G family since Kenny G and Ice T was an O.G.

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This and that

- Dylan Moses, a 6-foot-1, 213-pound high school linebacker from Baton Rouge, committed to LSU this week. Not a huge surprise, but how early is too early? Moses is a 15-year-old freshman in high school and will be part of the 2017 signing class. He started getting offers 15 months ago.

- Henrik Stenson won the the Tour Championship on Sunday to clinch the season-long PGA Tour FedEx Cup. All told, Stenson, who is playing lights-out, collected $11.44 million for the double dip. Stenson now is No. 4 in the world rankings - he was outside of the top 200 just two years ago.

Tiger Woods

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- More golf: Tiger Woods finished second in the season-long FedEx Cup race after his worst showing ever at East Lake. But Woods did secure the top spot on the money list, the PGA of America's points-based player of the year and win the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. The PGA Tour player of the year award will be announced Friday, and Woods is one of the favorites with five wins this year. Not bad for what everyone perceives as an off-year, huh?

- Matt Kenseth went faster and turned left better than everyone else at New Hampshire. Side question: Have you seen the Jimmie Johnson's legends commercial? Why did they get a fat guy with a bad 'stache to stand in Earnhardt's spot? Really?

- Arizona Cardinals stud Rashad Johnson lost part of his finger in his glove. And kept playing. #tougherthanme.

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Today's question

Feel free to offer up the letter grade of your college football team. Or your weekend winner or loser from college football.

Heck, feel free to be brave about the Braves.

But if you still need a talking point, let's go here:

Is Julia Louis-Dreyfus the most successful TV woman ever? (By the stats, it's an overwhelming yes.) What's your Rushmore of TV funny women? Ball is there. JLD is there. Mary Tyler Moore. Who else is in the running?

If you are a Falcons fan, should be worried?

How blah-tastic must Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs be to not be better than what we've seen from Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman?