Morning. It's game week. Are you ready?
If you read the Times Free Press this weekend, you are for sure. We had our normal footballapalooza that is the sports section combined with 72 pages of high school preview on Friday and 40 more of college previews in Sunday's TFP.
And remember to following along for live updates on Twitter from high school football games - and all high school sporting events for that matter - at #bestofpreps.
From the "Talks too much" studios, it's here. It's all happening.
Who won the weekend?
We start Mondays here and on Press Row on ESPN 105.1 FM with a simple premise: Who won/lost the weekend?
It's a staple and you know what they say about staples? If you land a staple, staple it to the land. Or something like that.
Who won the weekend? There are several potential answers.
Hunter Mahan won $1.44 million playing golf, broke a trophy, secured a top-five spot in the season-ending Championship and coined the wisdom of Socrates in, "There's never a bad time to play good golf."
Joey Logano won for the third time and will be a player in the NASCAR playoffs.
How about Peyton Manning, who got a 15-yard penalty an tons of locker room creed for giving Houston safety D.J. Swearinger after Swearinger concussed Wes Welker? Two side items: Concussed is a great verb; and how about the pronunciation swing of Swearinger, which is said as Swear-in-ger, but could also be Swea-RINGER.
As for weekend losers, well, it starts with the St. Louis Rams, a team that was poised to be better in the toughest division in football before losing starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the season with an ACL tear. Bradford also lost a lot considering he was theoretically entering a contract year. He has much to prove to live up to his monster rookie deal - which is set to be worth $16 million next year, but the Rams will almost certainly waive him. That means he'll likely be a free agent coming off his second serious knee injury and will be likely to get a short-term deal for back-up money this offseason.
The Braves have played 131 games (68-63) and have 31 left. It's a long season and we have trusted it, but now we are doubting the finish.
Losers of two straight over the weekend, the Braves are eight back of the white-hot Washington Nationals in the NL East standings. (Side note: The Nationals are mashing right now and got 18 flippin' hits in a 14-6 win over the Giants on Sunday. Yes, 18, and every starter but Anthony Rendon had at least two hits and Rendon walked twice.)
How hot are the Nationals? The Braves are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have lost two games in the standings. Ouch-standing.
So that leaves the Braves in a four-team dance for two wildcard spots. Here's the standings:
St. Louis (70-59)
San Francisco (68-61)
Atlanta (68-63) is a game back of the Giants
Pittsburgh (67-63) is 1.5 games back of the Giants
College football game week
Last week we scanned.
This week, we'll probe.
Here are three questions and answers for the Tennessee Vols (coming tomorrow, quick questions for all of the SEC):
Is Justin Worley ready for prime time? We believe so, and we believe that the biggest game for the Vols in general and Worley in particular is the season-opener against Utah State. If Worley can grab the job on Sunday night and convince his coaches, his teammates, Johnny Vols Fans everywhere and most importantly himself that he is QB1, then the season has more potential promise than most would expect.
Will the new offensive line be ready for prime time? We're not sure about ready for SEC prime time, but here's saying the O-Line will be better than expected considering that all five starters are new.
Will the new defensive line be ready for prime time? Here's the biggest problem on the UT team and it comes at a position that demands a certain level of talent in the SEC. The Vols defensively will have troubles all season stopping people because the front will have difficulty controlling the line of scrimmage, which means the Vols will have to bring reinforcements up to stop the run or to get pressure on the quarterback. And that's hardly a recipe for success.
That said, our man David Paschall's Q&A with Phil Fulmer has the former UT coach saying the current UT coach can get to six or seven wins this year.
This and that
- The Kevin Love deal is complete. And with it the Cavs are the favorite in the East. Strange but true. Stranger but almost as true - the Heat may be the second-best team in a weakened East. Go figure.
- The Emmys are tonight. We only watch a few select shows that would be considered, but we'll check it out.
- The NFL's two most discussed rookies - Johnny Finger and Michael Sam - met in actual football ways over the weekend. Sam sacked Manziel - and even did his money-finger-thing - and some how social media did not collapse.
- We did the Ice Bucket Challenge this weekend and as one of our challenges we called for someone - anyone - to pour a glass of ice water on Lou Gehrig's grave. He'd like that.
Feel free to offer your view on who won or lost the weekend.
Also, feel free to answer any of the UT questions above or even poise some questions for your team - we are planning on UT today, Alabama and the SEC on Tuesday, Georgia on Wednesday, UTC on Thursday and figure the mailbag could be reserved for all others on Friday.
As for today's question, well, you know that we routinely scan the wire to see which celebrities celebrate birthdays in the 5-at-10. Today's collection is crazy. Check this out for the stars born on Aug. 25:
Rollie Fingers, 68; (Potential Rushmore of mustaches...)
Monty Hall, 93; (Potential Rushmore of game show hosts)
George Wallace would have been 95;
Justin Upton, 27
Regis Philbin, 83 (and yes we will be giving away LIfe Expo tickets on Press Row this week and next); (Potential Rushmore of celebrities that have appeared at TFP events)
Claudia Schiffer, 44;
Elvis Costello, 60: (Rushmore of Elvises)
Sean Connery, 84; (Several Rushmores here...)
Gene Simmons, 65; (And here)
Blake Lively, 27;
Billy Ray Cyrus, 53.
So if you were born today and are not famous, well, there you go.
Let's honor Billy Ray Cyrus with a Rushmore of mullets. Go.