5-at-10: Weekend winners and losers, and UT's direction-changing, goal-adjusting victory

Tennessee mascots celebrate during the Vol Walk before an NCAA college football game against Alabama Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Weekend winners

Editor’s note: This week everyone below is playing for second place. We all know who won the weekend.

UTC. The Mocs are legit. On both sides. A one-sided whipping of VMI is not the reasoning for that statement. The dominance the Mocs have displayed is. And know this: UTC as multiple NFL players on its roster currently.

Philadelphia sports fans. Wow, the Eagles are a real Super Bowl contender and the lone unbeaten club in the NFL. And the Phillies just manhandled the Braves to get to the NLCS. Who knows, maybe this year they will even give Santa a polite golf clap during the holidays.

The Astros. We are in love with the Braves’ core. We are in awe of the Dodgers’ deep pockets. We know the Yankees print money and spend said printed money. Same with the Mets. But the best franchise in the MLB over the last handful of years is clearly the Astros, who made their sixth straight ALCS by sweeping Seattle over the weekend.

Deion Sanders. There will be plenty of jobs from which Prime Time can choose, should he decide to leave Jackson State for the big-dollars of the Power Five. Sanders is 21-5 and in line from another SWAC title after a 48-8 win over Bethune-Cookman. His alma mater lost bad to Clemson. The Auburn job will assuredly be open sooner rather than later. He could go back to Hot-lanta if he so desired. Coach Prime is going to have plenty of choices and plenty of suitors in the coming weeks.

New York professional football. The Jets went to Green Bay and rolled Aaron Rodgers and Co. Hey, Man Bun, missing D. Adams yet? The Giants manhandled Baltimore. Big NFL happenings in the Big Apple folks.

Sports books. The public loves favorites. The public loves overs. Underdogs and Unders ruled the weekend. Including some of the biggest trains in recent memory crashed like the Hindenburg. Some of the Sunday monster wins for the house: More than 60% of the bets were on San Fran minus-4.5 over Atlanta. (Side note: This Falcons roster is trash, but this crew plays hard for Arthur Smith and that has to mean something about the coaching staff.) One book told ESPN’s David Purdum that 95% of its action was on over 54 in the Chiefs-Bills game, which ended 24-20, which was the exact score Tony Romo predicted early in the first quarter.  

Weekend losers

The Braves. Maybe this is the exclamation point on the difficulties of going back-to-back. Maybe Dansby Swanson’s contract purgatory caused him to suffer some temporary hitting amnesia. Maybe Charlie Morton is who we thought he was. Maybe Brian “The Snit” Snitker is the guy who toiled for three decades in the minors and not the hybrid merger of Lou Brown, Casey Stengel, Jim Leyland (minus the lung darts), Sparky Anderson and Jimmy Dugan we watched last year.

MLB. The Braves and their national following. Gone. The Dodgers and their national following. Gone. The Mets in the biggest market in America. Gone. The Yankees in the same market. On the brink. Yes, Houston is a top-10 market; Philly is too. But what could have been a dream Final Four now has most of America wondering who’s in the Thursday night NFL game and if tier teenager can find it on the Amazon thingy. 

Robbie Anderson. Dude, you’re getting paid to play football. Coach pulls you, you sit. Quit acting like a baby big fella.   

Auburn. Ole Miss ran for like 12 million yards. Hey, I think the Rebels’ No. 3 RB just scored again. (Side note: The above graph about Deion Sanders, yeah, it applies to Lane Kiffin if the Ole Miss coach decides he wants to look around. And picture this: Alabama’s hearts were broken last week, and who knows how those dudes who opted to return to Tuscaloosa will handle not having an inside track to Atlanta. And there sits Kiffin and Co.) Any well, as for Auburn losing the weekend, it’s worse than a bad football team with a poor coaching staff. I’ve heard multiple Auburn people mention the name Urban Meyer since Saturday afternoon. Egad. Man, if Auburn hires Urban Meyer, I’m going to a) need a whole new wardrobe and b) really need to find some NFL fantasy leagues to take my mind off this nightmare on the plains. When’s hoops season?

Tom Brady. Yo, Tommy. Tommy B. Not the best look my man, cussing out your O-Line because the lowly Steelers whipped your back sides. Egad. The Bucs are a disaster. And how many lingering Eliminator Pools did the Steelers, Jets and Falcons destroy this weekend?

Winning in every way

We normally offer suggestions and welcome input about who won the weekend in this space on Mondays.

Today, there is no debate.

The Tennessee Vols won the weekend. 

They reminded us of the wave of enthusiasm that cascades from Neyland when Tennessee is good. They showed us the power of belief — within and around the program — in sports, and the ripples of talent capitalizing on opportunity. They vanquished a generation of a nightmares against a bullying rival that was beaten soundly early and painfully late.

It was all there Saturday night. The product delivering on the over-the-top projections.

UT 52, Alabama 49, in a game that had the nation’s attention like those electric, “Where were you when…” sporting events.

And because of the cosmic tumblers clicking Saturday night as cigar smoke filled the East Tennessee air, as sweet as the moment was — and after not beating Alabama since 2006, it was assuredly sweet — the future is even more appetizing.

Sure, the exorcism that happened in Neyland was euphoric. But for the Vols to reach those whispers circles — returning to Atlanta, getting to the College Football Playoff, etc. — it was more than a want. 

It was necessary. And now, with a Heisman front-runner slinging the football and cold-blooded play-calling assassin on the sideline, why shouldn’t Tennessee be dreaming beyond Jan. 1 and into the second Monday of 2023?

Josh Heupel’s vision and path are undeniable with the credence of Saturday’s win. His intent was to stare into the eyes of the beast that is Nick Saban and the Tide and beat it back with one 20-yard in route followed by a 50-yard-post-pattern haymaker.

Sure, Alabama has lost under Saban. He’s the GOAT but he’s not perfect.

But in all those losses, Saturday was the first time that he had the looked of a frazzled and frustrated coach whose defense could not have stopped Heupel and Hendon Hooker and the UT offense with the Alabama National Guard, the group Alabama and the entire movie cast from “Sweet Home Alabama.” 

And before you scoff, this Tennessee is more like LSU in 2019 than any other comparison I can draw.

Coach in Year 2. A collection of NFL dudes running routes on the perimeter. A second-year transfer quarterback who is taking the monster leap in terms of profile, production and personality.

Plus, moving forward — and with the scene Saturday night that every uncertain recruit saw over and over again — Tennessee’s got swagger again.

No, Alabama is not going anywhere. Neither is Georgia. They each have too much talent on the roster and in the pipeline.

But judging by Saturday’s showing, that question we have been asking around these parts for all season — who is the SEC’s third-best team — just got a little more confounding.

This and that

— So the Titans were off this week in terms of games, but a big win for the franchise happened as the city of Nashville and the Titans agreed to a new stadium deal.

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall’s SEC wrap column and here’s a story on the Vols getting fined $100,000 for rushing the field after beating Alabama on Saturday night. Yeah, here’s betting Hendon Hooker or Josh Heupel would be more than happy to write that six-figure check this morning. 

— Want to see the opposite of Robby Anderson. It’s Bills safety Jordan Poyer, who was not cleared to fly because of a rib injury so he took a 15-hour car service to K.C. to play in Sunday’s AFC title game preview. Good on you Jordan.  

Today’s questions

Weekend winners — other than UT — and losers. Fire away.

As for today, Oct. 17, let’s review.

The first British Open finished on this day in 1860 as Willie Park Sr. beat Old Tom Morris Sr. by two shots. Spy was there. Side question: If you go by Old Tom Morris Sr., is your son Young Tom Morris or Tom Morris Jr.? Discuss.

Ernie Els is 53. Eminem is 50 today.

Evel Knievel would have been 84 today. Rushmore of famous folks identified with motorcycles? Go.