With Halloween fast approaching, this week, I give you, my loyal fans, the treat of a baker's dozen of topics that enlightened me in the sports world this week. Usually, I keep these to 10, so as not to get too verbose, but certain weeks (I had one last year around Thanksgiving), no matter how hard I try and combine up my points, 10 just isn't enough. And looking ahead to next week's slate of games, it might very well happen again. The remote will be smokin' this weekend.
1) Huskers shuck Mizzou- In a game played under a heavy downpour, Nebraska could have easily packed it in going into the fourth quarter down 12-0, but instead amped up the D and used two picks to help Zac Lee throw 3 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter en route to ringing up 27 unanswered (missed a 2 pt. conversion) and a huge 27-12 victory over Big 12 north rivals Missouri. Now the game later this year against Kansas looms big time and could determine who goes into Cowboys stadium on Dec. 5th.
2) Badgers/Tigers not yet ready for primetime- No, I'm not talking about the good ol' days of SNL, I'm talking about the current season of Saturday college football. Two teams that were struggling for early respect despite being undefeated went down on Saturday afternoon. I knew that Auburn's defense was inconsitent at best and Arkansas could score, but the fact that Auburn's offense took until the second half to show up, and by then it was already far too late, was a huge surprise. As for Wisconsin, if you look at the pure stats, you'd think that they won the game, but they did just enough not only to keep tOSU in it, but win it convincingly. You'd think there was no way since tOSU's offense had less than 200 yards, but there was all kinds of hidden return yardage for both the tOSU defense and special teams. In fact, they accounted for three touchdowns for the Buckeyes. Further proof that stats can lie. The showdown in the Horseshoe on Nov. 14th looks huge now, and will likely decide who plays in Pasadena (no, not on the 7th).
3) Where's Johnathan Crompton and what have you done with him?- Look, I've already been on UGA's offense this year, looking basically lost losing Stafford and Moreno from last year, but I thought it was an absolute physical IMPOSSIBILITY for ANYBODY to make Johnathan Crompton look like the second coming of Peyton Manning. Afterall, I forget if it was going into this game or the Auburn game last week, but here was a QB who's coach had ZERO faith in him as reflected by the offensive play calling, and had thrown 8 TD's and NINE PICKS on the season. If I was Mark Richt, who I love as a coach, I'd want to hide after that defensive showing. I do love ANYTHING that humiliates the Bulldog program, though, even if it is seeing Lane get his first SEC win. Wonder if he was up all night Saturday singing "Rocky Top?"
4) Some "Snead" remarks about Jevan- Ugh! So much for all that talk about Heisman darkhorse and number 1 overall draft pick. This kid looks absolutely lost this season. And his frustration is showing more and more every game. Now, as much as I'd like to hang it all around his neck, okay, so not really, but a lot of the media and Ole Miss fans do, it's simply not ALL his fault. First off, he needs some people around him to start to step up and make some plays. But most of all, AT LEAST half of his problems I hang firmly around the necks of his offensive linemen. Todd McShay ran a good piece on ESPN's College Gameday showing two clips from the South Carolina game. On the first clip, South Carolina rushed TWO, count 'em, TWO people on the play, and Snead was still sacked. That's unforgivable. And so what does Houston Nutt do in response to this? Well, since we can't block two with five, we'll keep BOTH running backs in for extra protection. The result of this play? South Carolina rushes three people against the seven, and while Snead had plenty of time, he has THREE receivers going up against EIGHT men in coverage! Do you think anybody was open? Nope, didn't think so. So say what you will about the kid buying into his own hype, whatever, but there are some serious issues with one of the media darlings who was supposed to contend with Alabama for the SEC West this year.
5) Hold that Tiger- Really. Did the experts not see this one coming? Well, seeing as how Darst was the only one on this website to pick the Gators, and Kirk Herbstreit was the only one on Gameday to call it (more on this in a bit), even getting ribbed by Corso, obviously not. Everybody was so wrapped up in the Tebow/No Tebow/Will he play/Won't he play (more on this next point) what effect will it have on the Gators that they somehow forgot that the Gators sported going into the game, the NUMBER 1 DEFENSE in the nation and the NUMBER 1 running game in the nation. These remain whether Tebow or Brantley is under center. Overall, a brilliant game plan by Urban Meyer to get a tough SEC road victory. Florida was ABSOLUTELY DOMINANT of both sides of the line of scrimmage. It's one thing to let your opponent know you're going to run dive plays 80% of the time early on. To still do it and do it effectively against a team with the athletes on defense that the LSU Tigers possess is another. And kudos to Herbstreit, for not only pointing out that Tebow will play (according to Herbstreit, he thought Tebow would play great. I thought he played well, and as good as could be expected due to the concussion), but calling out the Gator defense, specifically Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes and predicting they would play great and carry the Gators to the win. While Dunlap played well, Spikes was a man amongst boys, and word came out that Herbstreit's comments made their way to the Tim Tebow of the Gators D, and he used it as motivation. In fact, Meyer came out today and said if anybody else in the media wants to make similar comments about Tebow or Riley Cooper, to be his guest. And to all the people (in particular Pac-10 fans who have absolutely no grounds to stand on whatsoever) who were calling this a boring game and the SEC overrated, this was good clean defensive, ram the ball down your throat and you can't stop us football. And, it was the perfect gameplan for the situation. If you don't believe that, just ask the previous 32 Saturday night opponents of LSU in death valley and ask them what their result was. Offense is sexy, sells tickets, and can win you games, but defense wins championships. PERIOD. PERIOD. PERIOD. If you don't believe it, look up who's won the last three BCS National Titles and will likely be favored to do so a fourth time.
6) I'm not a neuropathologist, but I'll darn sure play one in the newspaper/internet- Can the media stop already with the ridiculous pre-guessing and second guessing involved with Tebow playing the LSU game? I'm sorry, Greg Doyle and William Rhoden, but I'll darn sure take the UF medical staff's opinion over yours any day. I guess your journalism degrees somehow came with a minor in sports medicine. I mentioned after the Kentucky game that it wasn't going to be Urban Meyer or Tim Tebow who decided on whether Tebow would be able to play, it would be the doctors. None of the ridiculous speculation by these Web MD's changed that. And honestly, with the D and running game, I believe that UF wins the game with John Brantley, so why risk it if he's not 100%. I think the fact Tebow was on the field meant that he was (although obviously the playbook was scaled back a bit. Sure didn't seem to shy away from contact, though, did he?). Oh, and guess what? Tate Forcier of Michigan has a concussion and has already been stated he will start if cleared. Where's the outcry against Rich Rodriguez and Forcier should not play articles?
7) Horns Hooked in AP- Had to calm down a bunch of Longhorn fans this week who got their panties in a bunch because Alabama overtook them at number 2 in the AP poll. First off, in the two human polls that are used in the BCS formula, Texas is still number 2. Secondly, should the big three keep winning out, there's this little game in Atlanta on Dec. 5th that either Alabama or Florida will have to lose, so even at number three, keep taking care of your own business, and everything will work itself out. Honestly, I'm not impressed by the fact that Texas seemingly has to throw the switch in the second half every week. And if you don't think Florida and Alabama are the two best teams right now, we'll show you on Dec. 5th and again on Jan. 7th, IMHO (of course, one of them can lose before then, and I'll look pretty stupid. I'll take my chances right now, though). However, worrying about these things on Oct. 11th when any/all (we already know at least one will have to) of them can still lose is pointless.
8) DolphinMania runs wild(cat) on the Jets- Wow, what a game last night. Another classic MNF in the rivalry between these two teams. Honestly, I was a bit surprised that with defenses on both teams I would consider to be in the top half of the NFL, that neither team seemed to really be able to stop the other. In the end, though, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski seemed to be the only ones outside the Dolphins offense who realized that on 3rd and goal from the three, with ten seconds left AND A TIMEOUT, that Miami just might run the ball. As they both astutely pointed out, you get stopped, you call the TO and go for it on fourth down.
9) The best and worst of the NFL so far- Can you believe that the two best teams in the NFL right now might have met in week one, with one taking a miracle play to beat the other in the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals? Honestly, you look at all the undefeated teams, and nobody's played anybody except for these two, and they are still winning (yes, obviously the Bengals have the one loss). On the flip side, I believe the Rams are the worst team, but if I had to pick a team to go winless this season, the team with the best chance based on their schedules is my Bucs. And somebody PLEASE explain to me how a team has a QB go 2 for 17 passing and still wins the game? And why is JaMarcus Russell still a starting QB in this league? Just how many wasted first rounders are the Raiders going to have (that DHB pick looks awesome right now)? Couldn't happen to a more hapless, senile owner.
10) Some NHL thoughts- Well, the Lightning pulled off the 4 point minimum I wanted last week (although not the way I expected) going 1-0-2, then picked up a huge win against the Panthers last night. Right now, they are currently in first place in their division and have more points than the Redwings. The Bolts D is playing better as of late. The fact that this team still remains unable to score in shootouts, however, is bothersome at best. The defending champion Penguins are off to a hot start amassing 10 points already.
11) A special look ahead to Thursday night's NCAA game- I usually don't take a whole point for a look ahead, but this week's Thursday night game is huge for the Big East. Regardless of who wins, they need these two teams to put on a great show to bring some respect and interest back to the league, and I believe they'll do it. It was mentioned during a recent Big East broadcast I was watching that the league needs Pitt to win to carry this league, but I just don't argee with it. I think both Cincinnati and USF are perfectly capable of performing this function, and I think the winner of this game is likely to play in Miami on January 5th. Of course, Pitt being undefeated in the conference is still not out of conversation, but I also think West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers when they play well, can all help this league.
12) Weekly look ahead- Wow, let's see. In college, give me the aforementioned Bearcat Bulls game, the Red River shootout to see if OU's vastly improved D can carry their struggling (by their standards) O, Arkansas Florida to create a second common opponent for UF and Alabama to compare them better (I think UF had a better showing at Kentucky than Alabama did which somehow gets overlooked), Alabama South Carolina to see where these two teams really stack up, USC Notre Dame to see just how Doyle's number one QB in the land does against a real defense (a lot of people are picking the Irish in this game, which would be a huge blow to both the Pac-10 and my keep ND out of the BCS hopes), Nebraska Texas Tech to see if the black shirts can slow down the suddenly revamped and rerevved Red Raiders offense, and Virginia Tech Georgia Tech in what should be one of the better ACC matchups of the year. If the Hokies dominate, look for them to enter the title picture if one of the big 3 slips up. Like I said, the remote will be smoking. For the pros, give me Carolina Tampa Bay sorry, I'll actually be in attendance for that debacle (although it could be worse, I could have tickets to KC Washington), the Giants Saints to see which nts team stays unbeaten, Vikings Ravens to see if Baltimore can recover from two straight tough losses, Bears Falcons to see which one of these teams is likely for real and wild card material, and finally Broncos Chargers to see if Denver can keep it going with a tough road game. Good slate for the paid athletes as well.
13) MLB LDS look back and LCS predicitions- Well, I got three out of four right, although I had all of them going longer than what they did. I knew Boston had some holes, but didn't expect them to get exposed that thoroughly by LA, especially since I thought playing in the AL East would toughen them up. TBS lost a lot of money by all of the series ending so quick. But that can happen in short series. I know last year, Philly beat LA in the LCS, but I just think the Dodgers have too much for them this year. Don't see it going less than 6, however (in fact, I'll call it Dodgers in 6), and as much as I hate to, I'll go Yankees in 5 setting up the LAD NYY series you know baseball is praying for for not only the east coast west coast thing, but also the Torre back to New York thing and Manny against the Yankees.