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Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Weekend winners (and there were far more losers than winners in my book this weekend)

Big Ten. Wow, Michigan handled its business and THE Ohio State looks like THE main hurdle for Georgia in terms of the national title chase. Plus, in a year in which the Big Ten has dominated TV numbers, Saturday's Michigan-OSU game will be the most watched of the regular season.

Luke List. The Baylor School grad has always been among the best players in the world tee-to-green, especially off the tee box. Some early career speed bumps — some self-inflicted — and an inconsistent putter delayed his once all-but-certain PGA stardom. Gang, the kid was playing in majors somewhat regularly while he was carrying as many school books as golf clubs back in the day. Now, he walks, talks, looks and, most importantly, putts like the star a lot of us knew was there. With four rounds in the 60s, he finished tied for 10th this weekend and pocketed $189,000. He has four top 20s — and three top-11 finishes — in his last six starts.

Jonathan Taylor. Vader offered him as an MVP contender last week. Then Taylor said, "Thanks Vader, here's five TDs for you and your fantasy team." And he did it against the Bills, who entered Sunday's game against the Colts with the No. 1 DVOA ranking in the league. (Side note: DVOA is an analytical computation that figures each team's defensive-adjusted value over average compared to the rest of the league.)

My picks. No, seriously. A 5-1 mark lifts us back to .500 against the number at 41-41. Wow, who knew. (Side note: We had some dreadful weeks on the picks we posted in the column and then did much better in actual entertainment value on Saturday. This weekend was the opposite because we had so many honey-do's that we missed the noon window that featured a slew of our picks. Hopefully, this was the weekend you followed rather than faded my guesses.)   

UTC basketball. A road win over VCU over the weekend moves Lamont's Legion to 4-and-bagel. (And a pretty tidy 3-1 against the number, too for what that's worth, which is a few sheckles for those who follow such endeavors.) A win in a looking-to-be-fun home date next Saturday with College of Charleston looks to be the last hurdle between a very likely 10-0 start. War Mocs.

 

Weekend losers

The Las Vegas Raiders. With all the mess surrounding the team off-the-field, it's easy to say Sunday's listless 32-13 beatdown from the Bengals — yes, a beatdown FROM the Bengals — is way less significant. What an unmitigated disaster spinning in the desert. Man, the 3-0 and 5-2 starts feel like a million years ago.

UTC football. I said it in the spring. You bag a shot at a natty — even one with an asterisk — and you better be locked and loaded come Fall. You better have an understanding with your team and your staff that it is the chance you wanted and the setting you choose. Now go make the most of it. Maybe we should have known in the season opener that this team looked like Tarzan but played like Jane in the big moments. I don't know either. If your answer is turnovers then that's the equivalent of a doctor saying the patient is dead because he doesn't have a pulse. While technically true, there were clearly other issues at play — especially for it to be this big an issue come November.

Auburn football. Not sure who should be more disappointed, the college football fans of my former hometown team (Georgia Tech was about 10 minutes from my house growing up, and buckets did the Jackets throw up all over themselves), my current hometown team (read above) or my alma mater. Friends, not unlike the political conversations in which folks incredulously root for the sitting president to fail because he is not in your affiliated party, I am 100% hoping Bryan Harsin is the guy. But this is a poorly coached football team that is only consistent in its inconsistency. If you are an analytics guy and go for it on fourth down a half dozen times a game, then that's fine. But Harsin's hair-brained first-half Hail Mary on fourth-and-1 from Auburn's 35 that became a critical South Carolina TD in yet another Auburn come-from-ahead loss, was neither numbers-based nor nerve-defining. It was desperate. And everyone saw it. And buckets Mike Bobo is bad. Really bad. Back-up QB who was struggling in a scenario in which back-up QBs almost always will struggle. Still, TJ Finley had 32 pass attempts for 188 yards — and why on the Harsin-brained fourth-down try previously mentioned they decided on a go route is beyond me. It's almost as dumb as calling a fade on fourth-and-short down five say, at Happy Valley. Oh, wait. Yeah. Too clever by half, especially against a South Carolina team that entered the game 12th in the SEC and 95th nationally in yards allowed per carry. Oh yeah, Tank Bigsby finished with 164 yards on 22 carries — just wish, you know they used their best player 32 times and asked the QB2 to throw it 22 times. But, yeah, cute play calls Mike.

Pac-12. Oregon getting dismantled by Utah means another January in which the West Coast will be looking to college basketball rather than the college football playoff.  Again.

The officiating feels like it's getting worse every weekend, no? And I'll ask this: Does anyone know what the phrase "Irrefutable video evidence" means? Because even these former officials in the booths are batting like 50% on the insufferable video reviews that take entirely too long and are entirely unpredictable.

Bonus pick: Bears fans. Wow, what to make of the Chicago Bears, who were left helpless as a non-Lamar Jackson Ravens team tippy-toed into Soldier Field and beat Matt Nagy's crew. Egad. How about these names, facts in the game-winning drive. A pass interference call against Chicago for 29 yards, a wide-open Sammy Watkins — yes, Sammy Watkins is still in the league — for 29 yards and then a game-winning TD for the artist formerly known as DeVonta Freeman. Wait, was Chris Wienke the Ravens' QB?      

 

Great expectations

So Florida fired Dan Mullen. Call me stuffed. Truly.

No, not that he got fired after yet another poor, close-game loss to an inferior opponent. The unraveling in Gainesville was apparent.

Stunned that Mullen is jobless considering at the beginning of the season, there were a lot of us who would have placed him second — and no lower than third — among the SEC coaches in terms of acumen. And likely no lower than fourth behind the 'S' Troop — Saban, Smart and Stoops — in terms of seat coolness.

Now, he's cooked.

It happens that quickly, friends.

And it leaves me with a slew of questions.

We can revisit the mailbag and ponder which job opening is the most attractive. (I think Florida is 1, but would not quibble with someone saying USC. LSU is a great gig, but — and I should have mentioned this Friday — we are still unsure how the behind-the-scenes stuff plays out with some pretty nasty allegations.)

We can all wonder how big a raise Lane Kiffin is going to get, be it for staying in Oxford or for leaving for Florida or Miami or anyone of the big-time openings not named USC. (Somewhere, Lane Kiffin's agent is smiling ear-to-ear as he ponders whether to even answer his phone just yet.)

We can wonder where the quick triggers come from, because Mullen was less than a year removed from one more play in the SEC title game of getting into the playoff and, while the off-the-field stuff bagged Coach O, the big salty Cajun was just two years removed from a natty. (In my mind, the answer for those quickened expectations is directly related to Auburn, because everyone was good with the blue bloods winning most of the titles — from the mid-1980s to the late-2000s, it was a slew of predictable names with the occasional outlier of extraordinary circumstances. Then Cam Newton happened and Georgia demanded a title, and LSU and Texas and everyone who had been somewhat patient before were wondering, why them and not us, what's going on? Now Year 1 is Year 1, but Year 2 is kind of like Year 3 and Year 3 is make or break. Period, and in some cases stands alone to anything that previously happened.)

So the crazy coaching carousel just got crazier with another whale in the pool now that the Gators are swimming.

Giddy-up.

(And hey, if anyone wants Mike Bobo, I'll help him pack.)

 

This and that

— Speaking of the PGA, Keith Mitchell finished one shot back of List this weekend and made $147,600 with a tie for 12th. Mitchell was 10 shots back of Talor Gooch, who collected his first PGA Tour win. OK, side question for the group: If we had a draft of PGA Tour players who had names that made them sound like they would have been on the front row of Cobra Kai with Johnny Lawrence running the exercises, Talor Gooch is a strong starting point right? Who — if anyone — would go ahead of Talor Gooch as the guy who would want Johnny to put him in a body bag.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's SEC wrap column, which was part of a Sports front in which the 'P' in TFP was Paschall.

— Gang, great stuff this fall with the 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge. We'll have a new one up tomorrow.

— Bonus loser: All of us in terms of Thursday football. If Bears QB Justin Fields can't play, we're going to have Bears-Lions with an over/under comparative to the number of yeast rolls I consume.    

 

Today's questions  

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

As for multiple-choice Monday, well LeBron James got booted from Sunday's game after what looked to be a punch/elbow swing from James drew blood from Pistons center Isaiah Stewart.

Stewart needed five stitches after the Lakers' win in a game that was physical enough to be played on any playground anywhere in the country.

But here's my question on multiple-choice Monday: How would LeBron James be/do in an actual fight?

— C'mon Jay, he's 6-9, 270, he's gonna kick butt;

— Not sure, it depends on who he's going against;

— Gonna get smoked because his next fight will actually be his first fight.

Interested in your thoughts, but man, I lean toward the last option. (Granted, he'd stuff me or you in a locker because the first option is also true. Thoughts?)

As for today, this is one of those history days — July 21 is too — that we all know what happened. John F. Kennedy was killed on this day in 1963 in Dallas.

Rodney Dangerfield would have been 100 today. Nothing but respect.

Also on this day, "Toy Story" was released.

What's on Pixar's Rushmore. Go.

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