From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...
College football Monday morning quarterback
- It's hard to remember the SEC ever being this top heavy. There are two elite teams: Alabama and LSU. There are two very good to great teams: Arkansas and Georgia. Everyone else is blah, and each is capable of producing a stink-bomb performance that is so unwatchable, even the most devout fans start clicking the remote and looking for something else to do. (Yes, we're talking about you Auburn. And you Tennessee. And you Florida.) Auburn's complete collapse Saturday against Georgia was so bad, that it calls for a quick history revision. Not unlike Peyton Manning's MVP candidacy as an injured by-stander (here's the football definition of "value" - with Manning, the Colts are always among the teams capable of reaching the Super Bowl, without him they are 0-10), Auburn's offensive level of incompetence makes what Cam Newton did last year even more incredible and quite possibly the single greatest season in college football history.
- It's hard to imagine a better weekend for Johnny Alabama Fan. His two tradition bitter rivals - Tennessee (more on that below) and Auburn - were trounced. The Tide made easy work of Mississippi State. Two more teams - Stanford and Boise State - fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. Alabama sits third in all the polls that matter, waiting for Oklahoma State to pull an Oklahoma State and trip up somewhere. Four weeks ago, it looked like there could be a true BCS disaster with as many as six unbeaten teams. Now, there are but three - LSU, OSU and Houston - and it looks very possible Alabama will get a rematch against LSU in the title game.
- OK, let's stroll back to right before Week 3, when the two SEC coaches on the hottest seats were, in order, Georgia's Mark Richt and Ole Miss's Houston Nutt. Since then, Richt's Bulldogs have circled the wagons, won eight straight games and are a win against hapless Kentucky from booking a spot in the SEC title game. Well played indeed. Nutt's Rebels have collapsed, lost seven of eight and were thumped by Louisiana Tech by 20. At home. On homecoming last Saturday. Ouch-standing. That said, with the win over Ole Miss, La. Tech - UT coach Derek Dooley's former program - now has more SEC wins this season than Dooley's current program. Ouch-of-sight.
- Fab 4 (plus-1) went 2-3 last week, including the easy-money pick that was Arkansas. We're 33-19-1 overall against the spread. That's pretty good, but we've been scuffling in recent weeks, especially when you consider that we started 14-3-1 (that's 17-16 since). The lesson here, as the season goes on, the lines makers get better.
Now this has happened, broseph
One of the best moments of "Anchorman" was when Jack Black punted Ron Burgandy's beloved dog, Baxter, off the bridge. Relax, PETA folks, it was not a real dog.
Johnny Vols Fans everywhere know the exact feeling Burgandy experienced as they are watching their beloved UT Vols get punted off the bridge week after week.
Arkansas thumped the Vols 49-7 and finished 3 feet short of 500 yards of offense. It was not pretty - although the new checker board sleeves were quite fetching. On the field, the Vols held the ball for more than 37 minutes and managed just one touchdown. (Although there was a Rajion Neal sighting, so that's good right?) Defensively, the Vols held Arkansas to a less-than-impressive 8.7 yards per play - and that's not counting the 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Joe Adams.
The lists of firsts is not good Johnny Vols fan. This is UT's first 0-6 start in SEC play ever. Only one of those six SEC losses by single digits (although that 20-12 loss to Georgia looks a lot better this morning after what the Bulldogs did to Auburn on Saturday). A sweep of its final two games would get UT in a bowl game as our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here, but an 0-2 finish would result in the first eight-loss season in program history.
Depending on your point of view on the Vols in general and Dooley in particular you know the common topics and can recite them chapter and verse - the familiar refrain of depth, injuries, third coach in four years, full moons and werewolves, the fact that they even made Caddyshack 2 devalues Caddyshack, and the list seems to grow each week. Are they reasons or excuses? Probably some of both, but hold on to your Smokey T-shirt for the following stat:
Vandy is a 1-point favorite against UT this week. In Neyland Stadium. Read that again.
Is everyone OK?
NASCAR makes final turn
OK, the 5-at-10 is big enough to admit when we possibly may have gone a touch over the top on some heckles.
NASCAR, take a bow, the new points system has created drama all the way down to the end. And that's a good thing.
Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart finished 1-2-3 in Sunday's race at Phoenix, and Edwards leads Stewart by three points heading into Sunday's season finale at Homestead, Fla.
The possibilities are wide and far-reaching. Stewart and Edwards are locked in a points race so tight, that it will almost come down to a one-on-one showdown. And that's a good thing.
So as everyone is driving for the checkered flag, Stewart vs. Edwards will decide the title. Somewhere, there's a NASCAR official hatching a dream scenario where Dale Jr. wins Sunday's race and Stewart and Edwards are door-to-door - whether it's racing for 40th or fourth, it doesn't matter - until the very end. That would be a great thing.
This and that
- Gambling in the NFL has become about picking winners. According to friend of the show, RJ Bell at pregame.com, the point spread has been meaningless in 28 of the last 29. That means the favorites have won by more than spread and the underdogs won outright, including Sunday's win by the Arizona Cardinals, who were 14-point underdogs in their 21-17 win over Philadelphia.
- Speaking of Philadelphia, the Eagles - a trendy Super Bowl pick two months ago - fell to 3-6 with the loss and proved yet again that using the slogan "Dream Team," which renowned deep-thinker and renaissance shoulder pad thrower Vince Young used to describe the Eagles, is never a good play.
- Baseball free agency is starting to pick up steam, and Braves fans have cause for concern. First, the Phillies were willing to spend big bucks for former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon (a smart move considering the Phillies' window to win it all is starting to shrink as that lineup ages). Second, the Florida Marlins are courting the biggest names on the market and reportedly have made an offer to Albert Pujols.
- College hoops started in earnest this weekend, and the Lady Mocs notched a nice win against UAB on Friday, the Vols won in Cuonzo Martin's debut and the Lady Vols rolled over Pepperdine on Sunday. The Mocs lost at Indiana. Two things that jumped out from the weekend: Cleveland State (the one in Ohio) stunned No. 7-ranked Vandy - apparently Vandy has adopted the SEC traditional stance that the 'Dores are a football school - and there's actually a story on the ESPN.com that there are "big bracket games" for teams this weekend. Please. Stop it. It's November, the only brackets that matter are those in the holiday tournaments that end in places like Maui or Puerto Rico or wherever.
We asked it last week, but it's looking more and more possible after another crazy week of college football.
If Oklahoma State loses, it's looks like Alabama will get a rematch in the BCS.
Does Alabama deserve a title shot, and should a team that does not win its conference championship get a chance to play for the national championship?