What a beautiful weekend (unless you're a Mocs fan, but even then here's hoping you enjoyed the weather).
From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...
College Football Monday Morning Quarterback
Here are the five things we learned Saturday:
Alabama head coach Nick Saban watches his team warm up prior to an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Rick Wilson)
1) Alabama is crazy good. The beat down the Tide administered Saturday against Florida does not happen frequently to the Gators — and almost never in the Swamp. Alabama's defense is scary because of the following three characteristics: The Tide defense shows up at the ball in a hurry, they show up in large numbers and they show up in a foul mood.
2) The SEC West is crazy good. Four teams — No. 1 LSU (5-0), No. 2 Alabama (5-0), No. 10 Arkansas (4-1) and No. 15 Auburn (4-1) — in the top 15 with a combined record of 18-2 (and those two losses were at No. 2 Alabama and at No. 8 Clemson). The attrition will likely catch up with each of these teams (and despite a very large road win at then-No. 10 South Carolina, Auburn is too young and the October schedule is too tough to remain among the top 15 for long). Only one of these teams can finish unbeaten, and there figures to be a slew of unbeaten teams this year (Boise State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Stanford could each finish the season without a loss), so the SEC stranglehold on the BCS title appears in jeopardy. The SEC's title of having the best football, however, has never been more true.
3) The SEC East has been reset. Tyler Bray (as a friend of mine named Scott says, "He just does what he does — throw for 3 bills") and Da'Rick Rogers (seven catches for 180 yards in his debut as the alpha receiver have Tennessee at 3-1. After back-to-back losses to start the season, Georgia has won three straight — including sweeping the SEC state of Mississippi. Florida, which beat UT last month, was punched and punished by Alabama. South Carolina, which won at Georgia, was tripped up by Auburn. The East is anyone's race, and it's difficult to overstate what Saturday's game between Georgia and Tennessee means.
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers (90) stops Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton (12) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
4) Painful loss for UTC. From 27-0 to a 28-27 loss. Ouch. To El Citadel. Double Ouch. To hear several folks this weekend say, "Same old UTC," is Ouch-squared. Here's the 5-at-10's view. Painful loss no doubt, but if anyone thinks this bunch is anything remotely like the Mocs team of five or seven years ago, well, they are not paying attention. Everyone can have a bad day, which leads us to...
5) The Fab 4 plus one is not impervious to the occasional off-Saturday. We finished 2-3 this weekend with some tough, Tough, TOUGH losses. (That's why they call it gambling, huh?). Side note: Often gamble is about picking the right games as much as picking the games right. Let us explain: If you like the looks of eight games — say the following five and three others like Auburn plus-10, Alabama minus-4 and Clemson plus-7 and leave three winners off your sheet, then it can be twice as painful. So it goes.
LSU minus 30 against Kentucky— miss — Tigers called off the dogs in 35-7 win.
Boise State minus 27 against Nevada — miss — Late Nevada score and Kellen Moore's worst game led to 30-10 win.
Stanford minus 20.5 against UCLA — check — Stanford is perfect against the spread this season.
Georgia minus 6.5 against Mississippi State — check.
The plus one game was Texas A&M minus 3 against Arkansas — miss — Aggies melted down and gave away an 18-point lead).
Last week: 2-3
Season to date: 16-6-1
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) is stopped by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking (51) and strong safety Abram Elam (26) during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
OK, raise your hand if you had Detroit starting 4-0, highlighted by a stunning rally to beat Dallas?
Keep them up there if you had Washington, San Fran and your Tennessee Titans at 3-1 with each team at least sharing the lead in its divisions.
OK, hold them even higher if you had the Philly "Dream Team" at 1-3, the assumed favorites such as the Falcons, Cowboys, Bears, Jets and Steelers each at 2-2.
We'll get more into the teams and the rankings in Tuesday's power poll, but this week's NFL shows us three things:
1) Teams that get touchdowns from their defense and/or special teams win about 725-percent of the time. As Ron Burgandy says, "It's science." The difference between good teams and bad teams in the NFL is so small that unexpected points are simply huge.
2) The weighted schedule is a huge factor in the NFL and one of the reasons that NFL dynasties are generally gone. The schedules are charted not unlike the draft picks (The 5-at-10 loves the draft — you know this) in that after division and mandated games, the teams with bad records from the previous year play other teams with bad records. There's no substitute for an easier schedule.
3) We've said it before, and we'll say it again — there just is never any good that can come from saying the team you play for, cheer for, what have you, the "Dream Team." Not good. And when Vince Young is involved, it can be even worse.
Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, left, walks to the mound to pull starting pitcher Cliff Lee, second from right, as catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) and first baseman Ryan Howard (6) stand nearby, during the seventh inning of baseball's Game 2 of the National League division series with the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Wow, October baseball started off with a bang. Let's go series-by-series:
Milwaukee leads Arizona 2-0. The Brewers have scored 13 runs in the two games and topped D-backs' ace Ian Kennedy. Arizona, it was a nice run. Buh-bye.
St. Louis and Philly are tied at 1. The Cards roughed up Cliff Lee on Sunday, tagging the lefty for 12 hits in a 5-4 win. It was a little stunning since the Cards rallied from a 4-0 hole, and Lee was 94-1 in games he had at least a four-run lead. A decisive Game 5 appears on the horizon and it could be with Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter on the mound. Consider us intrigued.
Texas and Tampa Bay are tied at 1. Huge Game 3 today. There's some stat somewhere that teams that win Game 3 of a best-of-five series that's tied at 1 wins the series — as Brian Fontana would say, 60 percent of the time it works every time.
New York and Detroit are tied at 1. The good news for Yankees, the rain in NYC this weekend means that Tigers ace Justin Verlander will only get one start. That start is tonight against CC Sabathia (Side question: Does anyone know another CC beside Sabathia and the Poison guitarist? Just kind of a strange collection of initials.) Bad news for the Yankees, in their previous eight ALDS, if they have Game 2, they won the series. If they lost Game 2, the lost the series. The Yankees lost Game 2 Sunday night.
Kurt Busch celebrates in victory lane after he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Russ Hamilton, Sr.)
This and that
— More baseball. Want to know how important being truthful is? First ask Bruce Pearl. Now, did you know that Andy Pettitte threw out the first pitch at the Yankees game on Sunday. That's right, the same Andy Pettitte who admitted to using steroids is welcomed back into the fold. Roger Clemens, who many think and some claim used steroids and allegedly even did it on occasion with Pettitte, has denied that claim to everyone with a microphone. Clemens is about as welcome to MLB events as the NARC was at high school parties.
— Kurt Busch won at Dover on Sunday. Busch, as many of you well know, is not exactly the most popular driver in NASCAR. And we're sure both of his fans are tickled about his win. NASCAR fans in general should be somewhat pleased because Busch's win has created a logjam atop the Chase points standings. With seven races left, there are eight drivers within 15 points of co-leaders Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. And that's not even counting Dale Jr., who has plummeted to 10th in the standings, 34 points off the pace, since we all know that NASCAR could very likely change some rule to behoove Junior late in the Chase — something like "If the number on your car rhymes with "Gatey-Gate" you get an extra 35 points," — so the sport's fan favorite can stay in contention as long as possible.
— The Big East presidents have given the conference commissioner permission to explore expansion opportunities. Barring landing one of the really big fishes (think Notre Dame football or Texas), the Big East looks to be one of the slower antelopes in the lion's feeding frenzy that is conference expansion. And the only way for the Big East to land Notre Dame football or Texas is to give them a chance to keep extra TV revenue and that's going to make some folks less than best pleased.
The events of the college football weekend for the four teams that have the most fans in our area were extreme.
Tennessee looked great offensively (and even got a lift from Devrin Young in the return game). Georgia is playing with a lot of confidence on defense. Alabama is playing with a lot of confidence and aggression in every phase. UTC took a gut-punch loss.
OK, how does that reshape your expectations for each team? And hey, if your team is not one of those four, how has the first five weeks changed your view on your team?
We'll be back around 2 p.m. with our reshuffled expectations.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...