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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ UTC head coach Rusty Wright shows his displeasure to Referee Jeff Page. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs hosted The Citadel Bulldogs in Southern Conference football at Finley Stadium on November 16, 2019.

Weekend winners

UTC and Rusty Wright. Wow, what a comeback. Kudos coach. Job very well done.

Pac-12. Oregon and Utah blasted inferior conference foes and are on track to meet in the Pac-12 title game. Plus, the outliers of Baylor and Minnesota were knocked from the land of the unbeaten, all but eliminating those teams from consideration. And Georgia's 21-0 fourth-quarter cushion over Auburn became a far less-dominating 21-14 win (remember, Oregon's lone loss was a last-second setback against Auburn in August). If they both can stay as one-loss teams and face off as top-10 teams in the conference title game, and the big 3 of LSU, THE Ohio State and Clemson run the table, then the Pac-12 has a clear path to the playoff. From Caesar's Sportsbook, here are the odds to win the Natty: Ohio St 2/1; Clemson 5/2; LSU 11/4; Georgia 9/1; Utah 15/1; Oregon 15/1; Oklahoma 22/1; Alabama 30/1; Penn St 75/1; Baylor 200/1; Minnesota 300/1; Field 125/1. (Side question: Who bets field against that list? Seriously?)

Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow. As of right now, you have to think each is a monster front-runner for NFL MVP and the Heisman, right? Burrow would have to get hurt and throw five picks in a loss, and even then, he's going to be right in the mix, right? Burrow's stats are better than you could even imagine: 3,687 passing yards, 78.6 completion percentage, 41 total TDs (38 passing) — in 10 games. Lamar looked like the biggest-difference maker in the NFL in a rout of Houston, and drew an interesting comparison from Mike Golic Jr. on "Golic or Wingo." GoJo said when Jackson is throwing the ball with accuracy, it's like LeBron hitting 3s and it makes them unstoppable. Jackson also has generated a WWE-level introduction from teammate Mark Ingram. This is fun. "Lamar Jackson in the flesh." (And Jackson's T-shirt is perfect: "Nobody Cares. Work Harder."

LeBron James. Yes, the NBA shouldn't start until at least Thanksgiving and maybe not until Christmas. But LeBron and the Lakers have the best record in the NBA at 13-2 and James is averaging 25-7.6-11.2 and leads the NBA in assists.

Bonus pick: Dak Prescott. The Cowboys have billions. But they have cost themselves a whole lot of money by not handling Dak's contract before this season has made it apparent that Prescott is a) one of those guys and b) the centerpiece of this offense. They paid Zeke, who is a chair, and several pieces of the O-line, which are tables and side items. Dak is "The Big Lebowski's" rug — he holds the whole room together. CHA-ching.    

 

Weekend losers

Baylor football. Hey, the Bears were an underdog to national power Oklahoma, so a loss would not necessarily constitute losing the weekend. But, unbeaten Baylor — at home and with GameDay in attendance and the nation watching — built a 28-3 lead before collapsing in an epic fourth-quarter meltdown.

State of Alabama college football. Wow, where do we start, and a lot of times this would have its own section. Gus Malzahn is making it harder and harder to be an Auburn fan. We as a group are forever loyal and forever overly optimistic. Yes, a lot of us have the little brother chip on our shoulder, too. But this has now become so predictable, it's beyond knowing that every time you drive a car you could have a wreck; this is getting in the car to go have the wreck. What's the definition of insanity again? As for Alabama, well, I hope we all said a prayer for Tua on Saturday. No matter the color of the flag on your car window, he seems to be a great kid and a great player and here's hoping he returns full healthy. While we are here, I have ZERO problem with playing Tua if he was cleared and have less of a problem with playing him until the end of the first half because that's how this works. Now the review of the pregame conversations would be very intriguing, because they could have walked to a 21-7 win over Mississippi State with Mack Jones at QB. But that's not really fair in my opinion, to judge that after the fact. Football is violent, and injuries are right around every corner, regardless of the opponent. That said, Auburn's malaise of offensive stagnation and Alabama's M*A*S*H unit with an injury report — here's more from TFP college football wiz David Paschall — that reads like a Rivals' recruiting who's who makes this a set-up for the most blah-tastic Iron Bowl since 2012.  

Denver. There were a lot of things on an NFL Sunday that were head-scratching. Houston's floater. The Falcons using the best bye week in the history of bye weeks. But the Broncos building a 20-0 lead and losing 27-23 to the Vikings was compelling like a train wreck or a recent Nicholas Cage movie. It was so predictably awful it was impossible to turn away. FYI — teams had lost 97 straight when trailing by 20 at halftime.

Florida hoops. Mike White, what in the world is happening down there?

Minor league baseball fans in a slew of towns, including Chattanooga.
Man, this is crazy, and the ripples could be far-reaching. It also may not be as big a surprise to folks in the inner circles of the minor leagues. Think about this: It's been a while since the Lookouts management has whispered about a new stadium. Is this why, or were they holding back to have a different villain come to the plate? That said, I think this is bigger than a stadium considering MLB has a serious issue about payment for minor leaguers and expenses and such. And one way to keep costs down — or even flat — while increasing wages is to have fewer employees on the books, and disconnecting to the 40 or so markets (and teams that are not already owned by MLB franchises) certainly would make that possible. Very interesting.

 

If the Kaep fits

I'll ask this now, even if we're not on a True or False Tuesday. True or false, Colin Kaepernick does not want to play in the NFL.

I ask this in earnest because of the spinning debacle that his much-ballyhooed and much-more-mishandled NFL tryout became over the weekend.

There were mistakes for everyone on all sides.

The NFL botched this from the start by not having this buttoned-down on all fronts. And that's surprising considering this is an 11-figure operation with a slew of brilliant folks running things.

The 11th hour "waiver" that Kaepernick is rightly saying could have waived future lawsuits and prevented his camp from filming the event is also signed by everyone who works out for an NFL team — combine or individually — and protects the league from being sued if someone gets hurt.

Then there's the terrible decision on Kaep's end. Moving the workout from the Falcons facility to a local high school to control the event was understandable in the sense that Kaep Camp does not trust the NFL.

It also was intergalactically stupid if Kaepernick truly wants a job in the NFL.

How can both be truth? Well, look at the decision on its face and then remember, the physical part of this had nothing to do with an NFL team being interested in adding Kaepernick as a back-up QB.

Nothing.

They all wanted to see if a) he was prepared to say the right things and b) was going to be able to top along and get along.

What do you think the resounding answer to that detail is this morning in NFL offices?    

Forget that Kaepernick was 1-10 in his last 11 starts and 3-16 in his last 19 as a starter.

The only question NFL teams had heading into this tryout was if Kaepernick was going to be a distraction, and the decision to rework everything and blast everyone in sight in the post-workout presser were obvious to everyone.

And that answer brings back to the original question: Does Kaepernick want to be in the NFL, because, short of actually playing the anthem and kneeling before the workout began, Saturday was arguably the worst possible way to conduct a job interview.

That would be true for a minimum-wage backhoe operator, never mind a million-dollar backup quarterback.

 

This and that

— Need a picks ruling here. We updated our Fab 4 picks with an editor's note to abort Friday evening (before kickoff) the La Tech pick upon learning their star QB and starters at linebacker and wide receiver were suspended. Should the La Tech pick count against us? I can see both sides, and we normally ride or die on the relatively slight changes in point spreads. Discuss. As for the rest of the picks, well, it was one of our best weeks in college, and depending on the La Tech ruling, we either went 6-2 or 6-1 counting going against Akron on Tuesday. We had Bama -20 (38-7 win), Georgia -2.5 (21-14 win), Va Tech -5 (45-0), Michigan -13 (44-10 win) and Louisville -3 (34-20). We missed Cincinnati -13 (Bearcats won but failed to cover the number), with La Tech losing badly. If we take the La Tech L, that's 44-40-2, which is 52.4 percent, which is over 50 percent for the first time maybe this season.

— The NFL picks are 2-2 heading into tonight, with the Chiefs minus-3 over the Chargers. Hit Pats and Cowboys. Missed Jags and over in Houston-Baltimore.

— Kudos to Paschall, who hustled down the story on the local woman who got run over on the sideline taking photos at the AU-Georgia game.

— Kyle Busch won the NASCAR season points title. Lots of folks who know racing better than I do say the action has never been better in NASCAR, and I believe them. All season there were a bunch of dudes and teams who could win every Sunday. I also know this: This is the lowest amount of NASCAR I've ever watched, and it will be forever tied because it will be impossible to top watching absolutely none of it.

— With his 311 passing yards at Carolina, Matt Ryan is now 10th — yes, 10th — in all-time career passing. He passed Warren Moon and is about 2,000 yards back of John Elway — yes, John Elway — for ninth. How much of that is about the state of the current game? Ryan is 10th all time and sixth among active QBs. Ryan is almost assuredly going to top 50,000 career yards this season (he has 49,383 yards)

— OK, this made me think of the Chris Rock joke when he said the best golfer in the world was black (Tiger) and the best rapper was white (Eminem) back in the day. What would you have said if someone had told you a decade (or more) ago that the four best QBs in the NFL (Mahomes, Jackson, Prescott, Wilson) are black and the best running back in the NFL (Christian McCaffrey) is white.

— Some more gambling tidbits: From Darren Rovell's Twitter: "A 23-year-old bettor who hit a $239,000 15-leg parlay 19 days ago, won $333,000 on a 13-leg parlay today." Also, Vegas got HAM-mered Sunday with the monster public favorites of the Cowboys and the Patriots grabbing road covers.

 

Today's questions

We have way more than just the normal "weekend winners and losers" questions to ask today.

Which way would you go (yes, we know it's not Wednesday) if I asked you to order the following the stories in order of interest:

Kaepernick's tryout, Tua's injury (and whether he should have been in the game) or the threat of cancelling the MLB affiliation with dozens of minor league baseball franchises, including the Chattanooga Lookouts?

Big items this weekend, for sure.

Also, feel free to toss out a winner or a loser.

As for today, well, on this day in 1902, the Teddy Bear got its name from a Brooklyn toymaker.

Rushmore of toys — and no board games. Actual single, one-item toys.

Go.

 

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