5-at-10: Weekend winners (Georgia and Cleveland High) and losers (Jimbo), Braves magical weekend sweep

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 in Columbia, Mo.(AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Weekend winners

Georgia. Yes, Georgia. Who cares if the Dawgs barely beat a less-than-good Missouri team. Who cares that it derailed almost every parlay I had rolling to that point. (Well I care, but you know.) That game right there is the reason I loathe the idea of expanding the playoffs. It was win or else for Georgia. Period. When the playoff field goes to 12, elite teams like Georgia, Alabama and THE Ohio State will have a mulligan on a weak effort on a late night in an early October game like that. In the modern set up, though, Saturday felt like a playoff game and reminded us that college football has the best regular season in all of sports.

Cleveland High School football. Yes, the Baylor-McCallie game generated a slew of headlines around these parts and it was a thrilling outcome. But Cleveland beat Maryville. Read that again and know it’s Maryville’s first region football loss in 144 games. The last time Maryville lost a region game was in 2000, back when 9/11 was just another day in September folks. 

The Falcons. Hey, gutsy win, Birds. And yes, I still think they should hand the ball to Ridder and the clipboard to Mariota, but this team is 2-2 and could easily be 4-0 in an NFL that apparently is contractually obligated to have every game decided on the last possession.   

Cole Strange. The Packers-Pats game was highly entertaining Sunday afternoon. And the CBS lead team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo could not stop raving about the Pats rookie left guard and former UTC star. The rookie first-rounder was dominant against a very good Packers front seven, and Romo even offered the high praise that taking a guard — like Strange — in round one was not normal but this was a ‘great’ pick. While the verbal praise was clear, the football respect Coach Hoodie has for Strange was apparent. In his fourth professional game with a third-string QB on the field, every meaningful Pats snap was a running play with Strange leading the way.

The NFL decision-makers on parity. Man, every game is close. Every. Single. One. Saints are forced to turn to Andy Dalton, and they are a double-doinking 61-yard field goal from forcing overtime with the Vikings. The Falcons-Browns turned into a three-point slugfest. The Colts-Titans looked like a blowout and then became a rock fight. Heck, the Packers-Pats should have been a mismatch and it turned into a thrilling late afternoon masterpiece. And Brady and Mahomes in prime time? I heart the NFL.

College football in Mississippi. Ole Miss wins in a monster SEC game at home. Mississippi State wins in a monster SEC game at home. Jackson State has the hottest name in the coaching hot seat circles. Saturdays are high times in the Magnolia State these days. 

Bonus pick: Man, the NBA money is nuts. Nuts I say. How else can you explain Tyler Herro getting a four-year, $130 million dollar extension?

Weekend losers

ESPN. Uh, quick question: If Aaron Judge was going for homer 62 as a member of the Kansas City Royals would you be interrupting excellent college football to show him foul off the only strike he sees and then walk? Yeah, thought not. That’s what the ticker’s for friends. And when he does hit the AL record-maker, show us then.

Dolts who think Judge is about to set the MLB record for homers in a season. Seriously, Barry Bonds hit 72 two decades ago. Did he use steroids? I believe he did. But the game has not banned him and the record has not been cleared. Is this not the baseball version of saying Trump won the 2020 election people?

Auburn football fans. We lead a tortured life. Maybe it’s the decade price of Cam Newton, who knows? But if that’s the case — if there is long-term karma in college sports — wouldn’t there be a slew of folks mired in the fifth circle of Dante’s Inferno with us? I mean Arkansas had Bobby Petrino for Pete’s sake and they are not spinning in a glass case of emotion like this.

Jimbo Fisher. First off, Jimbo has to be on the ‘Freddie All-Stars’ of names grown men need to reshuffle when they hit a certain age, like fatherhood, no? Jimbo? Sounds like the heavy-set kid that played first base on the Carter’s Pharmacy Dodgers when you were 10. Second, Jimbo, the Aggies faithful is paying you and your team entirely too much money to go get whipped in Starkville.   

The NFL protocols. Anyone notice a real shift in dealing with head injuries Sunday? I know I did, and in the Pats-Packers game when Bobby Hoyer got hit in the head, the reactions from the New England staff were real and pointed. Call it the Tua Tangent if you must, but I firmly believe in every game before Sunday, Coach Hoodie Belichick would have sent that concussed QB back on the field. 

Bonus pick (visor tip to Spy): Geoff Collins. Man, after a run of absolute rubbish under Collins, Tech fires the man on a Monday and then goes on the road and knocks off a ranked Pitt squad on Saturday. Proving yet again that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. So yeah, Geoff, this looks like a whole bunch of “It’s not us, it’s you” right now. 

That’s a wrap

OK, all the football above aside, everyone in the sports realm — especially in the South — was playing for second place in the ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ chase this weekend.

The Braves won the weekend. Period.

And the Mets lost it.

Atlanta swept the New York Mets in three playoff-like games at a sold-out and rocking Truist Park that reminded us all of the magic and emotion of the ‘er’ months.

And the Braves did it against two of maybe the five best pitchers on planet Earth by beating Jacob deGrom on Friday and Max Scherzer on Saturday night.

It was a series that dropped the Braves’ magic number to 1, meaning one Braves win or one Mets loss means Atlanta wins the East for the sixth straight time.

And this division title is a) more impressive than most know and b) more important.

As for impressive, check these numbers:  

On June 1, the Mets led the East by 10.5 games, and since that time, they are an impressive 63-44. If the Mets win two of their final three games, they will have 100 wins this season.

That’s a great season by any measure.

Since trailing by double digits on June 1, the Braves have been next-level amazing. Atlanta is 76-32 over that stretch — a pace that would equate to 114 wins over a full season — and buried the Mets this weekend.

As for importance, one win in the final three games of the season means the Braves avoid the wildcard round and get to set their rotation exactly as they see fit for the NLDS.

It was three amazing nights of baseball that actually rivaled football for my attention this weekend, which is saying something.

And three of the heroes for the season-defining sweep were three dudes who have garnered a lot of attention around these parts this season.

There was Matt Olson, the Braves replacement for Freddie Freeman at first who homered in each of the three wins over the Mets. In his last five games, Olson is 8-for-16 with four homers and six RBIs.

There was Dansby Swanson, the veteran shortstop who is having a career heading into free agency. Swanson homered in each of the wins over the Mets, too.

And there was Kenley Jansen, the Braves closer who has had a rocky stretch run. Jansen pitched the ninth inning in each of the Braves’ wins, getting a save in each game. He pitched three innings, allowed one hit and struck out six.

Game, set, season.

God bless the ‘er’ months.

This and that

— Could easily have listed the Baylor School football crew in the winners this weekend, too, as the new staff is now 1-0 in the fierce rivalry game against McCallie. That said, the number of reports of vandalism and acts of mischief around that game last week from both sides has been quite surprising to be honest.

— Yeah, Alabama is good. And deep. And Jahmyr Gibbs is fast. So there’s that. All of it, in fact. That said, if you are going to raise a team or demote a team because of the ‘style points’ gained or lost in victory, then do not be upset when Kirby or any other head coach goes scorched on an opponent and runs it up.  

— OK, it’s already difficult enough to truly depict how tough football players are and how much they will do to get back on the field. (Which, to be fair to the NFL and coaches everywhere, makes analyzing concussions and hits to the head even more difficult.) But did you see that J.J. Watt had his heart shocked back into rhythm on Thursday this week? And he played for the Cardinals on Sunday. Of course he did.

— Speaking of that, here’s a great message from Rodney Harrison to every football player with a chin strap about being safe and smart in dealing with concussions. 

— So DK Metcalf is a monster human the good Lord reached down and blessed with physical traits few could know. And DK Metcalf took a cart off the field Sunday in Detroit because it’s pretty clear to everyone who has a ‘tummy’ issue he was going to fill his football pants with more than muscles. We’ve all been there DK, we just did not have a golf cart there to give us a lift. 

— Speaking of hot seats, two more Power Five jobs came open this weekend as Wisconsin sacked Paul Chryst and Colorado fired Karl Dorrell over the weekend. Who had five Power Five coaches getting canned before Oct. 3 and none of them being Bryan Harsin.

— Speaking of Detroit, how about these stats for the crazy Lions offense? Despite being 1-3, the Lions have scored 140 points — 25 more than any other team. It’s also more than the Vikings and Colts have combined. Detroit is averaging 35 points a game and is in last place. 

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall’s SEC wrap column. 

Today’s questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

Multiple choice Monday will go this way.

I was stunned by the Tua Tangent in real and immediate dealings with hits to the head Sunday. So I ask this in earnest: What would be your best guess that the average NFL QB suffers how many concussions over his career?

— 1 or fewer

— Between 2 and 5

— Between 6 and 10

— More than 10?

If memory serves Brett Favre said he had a thousand concussions. Then he pushed an old lady into traffic and took the change out of the blind man’s cup as he was trying to sell pencils.

As for today, Oct. 3, let’s review.

Someone you know turns 52 today. I’ll let you try to guess who. 

Al Sharpton is 68 today. Some sports stars born on this day: Dave Winfield (1951), Dennis Eckersley (1954), Fred Couples (1959).

As for some surreal moments that happened on this day, well Sinead O’Connor ripped up a photo of the Pope on SNL on this day in 1992.

O.J. was found not guilty on this day in 1995. 

I remember where I was when the OJ verdict was announced believe it or not.

Rushmore of most memorable court scenes in movies. Go.