Alabama. That was an impressive defensive effort folks. Outstanding — and for Leonard Fournette and his Heisman chances, ouch-standing — in fact. And now remember that the Tide pitched a dominating shutout that limited the explosive Tigers to less than 150 yards of total offense with the nation's best safety out for the season. Talent. Waves and waves of talent.
Washington. Yes, there was hand-wringing in the Great Northwest when the Huskies were No. 5 rather than No. 4 in the first college football playoff. Then Texas A&M stumbled mightily at Starkville. To hammer home its point, Washington turned a 21-20 lead into 66-20 win over a Cal team that had been undefeated at home.
Andy Reid. Is the man who, according to the LeBatard Show, looks like the guy who stops by the table of sweats, wags his finger at the tray of donuts and says, "Don't mind if I do," the second-bets coach in the NFL? OK, Belichick is one. We all concur with that. But after a consistently good career with the Eagles, Reid is showing off his skills in Kansas City. The Chiefs are 6-2, and have been without defensive star Justin Houston all season and won Sunday without quarterback Alex Smith and top running backs Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles. To ake matters worse, the team's best wide receiver — Jeremy Maclin — injured his groin in the first quarter, and tight end Travis Kelce was ejected for acting the fool.
Rod Pampling. Winning any golf tournament gets you on the short list of talking points about winning the weekend. When that tournament is on the PGA Tour and the payout is $1.2 million, well, all the better. Now know that Pampling's win this weekend — his first in more than a decade — came after the tournament made a mistake even letting him in the event. The field was supposed to be cut from 156 because of the limited amount of day light and Pampling was not supposed to be in the tournament.
Fab 4 (plus 1) picks. You have to take advantage of when things are going your way in the entertainment hunting world. A 4-1 week against the spread is strong; in truth though, we left several picks on the cutting room floor. UNC, Wake Forest, Washington, under in the LSU-Alabama game, Mississippi State were all on our list before being removed. Our lone miss was FSU failing to cover the 5.5 in a 24-20 win over N.C. State. It balanced out this week, since we had Georgia covering by a scant half-point in its 27-24 win over Kentucky.
Tommy Tuberville. The Cincinnati coach lost his cool Saturday after an awful performance in the Bearcats' 20-3 loss to BYU and cussed at a fan who was heckling him. This probably happens a lot more than we realize, but this one was caught on TV by a local news outlet.
Steph Curry. Curry's streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer ended Friday night at 157. He missed all 10 of his 3s in an embarrassing loss to the less-than-good Los Angeles Lakers.
Baylor University. In the most fitting and appropriate tail-whipping of the season, the TCU Horned Frogs were America's team for at least one Saturday afternoon. Facing rival Baylor University in a game not that long ago would be viewed as the offensive version of Alabama-LSU with similar national impact, TCU hammered the Bears 62-22. Baylor players wore all-black uniforms, and several suggested it was in support of former coach Art Briles, who was fired after his awful decisions to allow players with sexual assault histories into his program and claims that he tried to convince sexual assault victims not to press charges and even threatened a victim. Fans were buying T-shirts with #CAB (Coach Art Briles) and there was a "#CAB" banner hanging in the stadium Saturday. Shame on everything involved in this, and here's hoping every parent of every prospective female freshman takes notice of this awfulness before deciding to send their daughter and their money to Baylor. And thank you TCU, for dropping the hammer on the most misguided program — how are all the assistants who turned blind eye after blind eye — in college football.
NFL Hall of Fame. The Oakland Raiders have been through quote the roller coast in the last year. Talks of moving, be it to Vegas or L.A. Up and down seasons. Now the play on the field is sharp, and last August former star and beloved Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler was inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame posthumously. Well, if it wasn't bad enough that The Snake didn't get to enjoy the honor himself, the Hall's stupid and mindless — and more accurately heartless — policy of not giving the family of people who are dead when they are inducted a HoF ring or jacket. The families get a patch. Yes, a patch, like they learned to tie a knot is Scouts or made it through the first big ride on their motorcycle. A patch? Man for a $10 billion operation, the NFL comes across as pretty dang petty a lot of the time.
Mark Helfrich job security. Not only did Oregon get whipped by USC, the Ducks were embarrassed in the process. Oregon is 3-6 and would have to sweep Stanford, Utah and rival Oregon State just to make a bowl game. Now comes word that aging Nike billionaire and Oregon alum Phil Knight is willing to pony-up a huge chunk of coin — talks of a $10 million annual salary — for a coach to bring Oregon a national title before the 78-year-old Knight croaks. For $10 million a year, here's betting there will not be a shortage of resumes headed to Eugene. And here's betting that Alabama, Michigan and THE Ohio State better be thinking about what types of incentives they are going to pay Saban, Harbaugh and Meyer to make sure their resumes are not part of the new and growing Oregon paper trail.
SEC home stretch
Hard to believe, right, that the SEC has three weeks left in the regular season? Crazy. And sad.
And other than Alabama's eliteness — not only in the league, but across the country — what do we really know? Not much. And, maybe too much.
We know West will almost assuredly be decided by the Iron Bowl. Yes, Georgia could be Auburn this weekend, and if Alabama handles its BID-ness against Mississippi State on Saturday, that would clinch the West for the Tide.
We know there are two double-digit lines out there for this weekend's games that have no business being that big. Auburn is laying 10 to Georgia, which has not lost to the Tigers in Athens since 2005. The status of bruising Auburn power back Kam Pettway is uncertain after what looked like a pulled leg muscle late in Saturday's win over Vandy. And how is Tennessee laying two touchdowns — it started at 15 and is now down to 13 — against a Kentucky that played its fanny off against Georgia.
We know that the best quarterback in the league — Ole Miss senior Chad Kelly — is finished with his college career after tearing his ACL Saturday. Tough break.
Speaking of tough breaks, the state of Mississippi has had them by the truckload. Kelly and the Rebels are 4-5 despite leading in the second half of every game this season. Ole Miss, now without the league's best QB, needs two wins in its final three against A&M, Vandy and Mississippi State to secure a postseason trip. Speaking of State, which was impressive in an upset win over A&M on Saturday, did you know that the Bulldogs are 4-5 but have lost three games — South Alabama, BYU, and Kentucky — on the final snap? MSU has Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss left, needing two victories to secure a bowl trip.
The war of attrition that is this league is staggering. Whether it's from known stars like Kelly and Trevor Knight or Eddie Jackson to breakout stars like Pettway, there are a lot of monster names nursing nagging injuries. With all apologies to Leonard Fournette, if we had to buy stock in one offensive player in the SEC to have a monster career in the NFL, we'd make Christian Kirk our bluest of blue-ship stocks.
We believe that Jacob Eason is going to be really, Really, REALLY good sooner rather than later. (Side note: If we were a five-star wideout, we are calling Kirby Smart and asking what time does the bus arrive?)
Finally, we know that Tennessee is way, Way, WAY better than Tennessee Tech. We knew it before Saturday, and we saw it play out Saturday. We all have heard good things about John Kelly and he showed them Saturday. Josh Dobbs' accuracy was at a higher level — not just numbers against an inferior foe, but throws that were very precise — than we can recall. And we know Tennessee played a ton of freshmen, a good thing considering the date and the weight of the opponent.
As for the sideshow, because, well, there always seems to be a sideshow with the Vols at this point, there was a social media uprising when it appeared that UT coach Butch Jones mouthed some words that looked an awful lot like "F*$% all of them" when the crowd at Neyland started booing when Jones sent in the field goal team on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the final seconds of the first half.
After the game Butch said he was irate about having to settle for the field goal but was not asked about the film clip. He may have been talking about his assistants — he said after word he was frustrated about the lack of urgency — and he admitted he was trying to get the refs' attention, so maybe that was the target of the outcry.
Or maybe it was the collection of folks frustrated and booing. Who knows?
But we do know this, it's never easy in Knoxville, or the SEC. (Unless you are Alabama.)
This and that
— The Tennessee Titans did not make the 'losers' list even though they lost at San Diego on Sunday. The Chargers are the single best last-place team in the league. (The AFC West is salty friends.) Also, the Titans' resiliency was worth noting, considering they had two turnovers returned for touchdowns and allowed almost 500 yards of offense and were in a one-possession game. Still, even as he takes strides, Marcus Mariota can't take the next step until he protects the football better. Period. He has flashes, but this turnover trait leads to the career of Mark Sanchez.
— Remember way back when — like three weeks ago — when the Minnesota Vikings were on the shortlist of NFL teams we could trust? Yeah, we don't either. How cracked is the Minnesota offense? Well, Stefon Diggs had 13 catches for all of 80 yards, and he was far and away the best part of the attack. (Side note: The avalanche of 5-yard slants and bubble screens is a bigger problem with the aesthetics of this game than most realize. Seriously.)
— One more Vikings tidbit: Former Georgia kicker Blair Walsh has the full-blown yips. Dude gagged a playoff field goal last year that would have beaten Seattle. This year he's missed three PATs and four field goals. Sunday, in the Vikings' OT loss, Walsh missed another extra point and had a field goal blocked.
— Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall stood during the anthem, saying he has seen progress from the efforts of police. He, like Colin Kaepernick, had been kneeling during the pregame ceremony.
— Example 1,709 of how cracked our governmental services are. Here's a story about one of the more than 1,300 'mothballed' educators who are being pid not to work. This dude, who is suing the city of New York to actually go back to work, is making $94K a year. There are no words.
Weekend winners and losers. You know the drill.
What do we really know about the SEC? Other than Bama being really good, that is. Finally, if you need a Rushmore, here's something different.
Watching the Titans on Sunday it was clear, at least to us, that Philip Rivers is the real deal. His numbers are at all-time level — he's 13th all-time with 44,007 yards, ninth with 298 career TD passes, tied for seventh with a 64.8 completion percentage, and eighth in passer rating at 95.5 — and, even though he'll be 35 early next month, dude still has a few seasons. Especially if he plays like he did Sunday. But, no matter how well he plays, if he stays in San Diego, he almost assuredly will not win a Super Bowl. If that's the case, in our mind he will be the second best NFL quarterback of the Super Bowl era not to have one.
Who else is on the Rushmore of Super Bowl-less quarterbacks? (Yes, Marino is far left.)