published Monday, September 12th, 2011

5 at 10: Mark Richt, SEC and a weekend of suspenseful endings

 (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...



College football Monday morning quarterback

Wow, what a Saturday. Amazing from start (the Auburn-MSU game was highly entertaining) to finish (Michigan's rally over Notre Dame was awesome — wonder who Brian Kelly cussed out after this one?).

Here are the top five things you need to know:

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    Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers (21) quarterback Tyler Bray (8) is left. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

1) The Tennessee passing game is BIG TIME: Say what you want about lighting up Montana in the season opener a week ago. There are no flies on Tyler Bray, Da'Rick Rogers, Justin Hunter and Co. after Vols' aerial assault on Cincinnati, which entered Neyland Stadium as just a 6-point underdog and left with a 45-23 spanking. (And yes, the Vols minus-6 was one of the 5-at-10 Fab 4 picks. More on that below.) As for the Vols, the old football adage states you establish the run to set up the pass. OK, whatever you say. But remember, old cars didn't have air conditioning — never mind CD or DVD players and BlueTooth connections — and when was the last time you saw a typewriter? These Vols establish the pass to set up the pass and then plan on passing some more.

Yes, Florida's trip to the Swamp will be telling in a lot of ways. Mainly we'll learn whether Bray, who has a ton of physical tools, is mature enough to win on the road in the SEC. Until proven otherwise, however, the UT Airways is open for business and now checking all baggage. Orange Kool-Aid, anyone?

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    South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore (21) runs for a touchdown. (AP Photo/John Amis)

2) Maybe this week will be a must-win for Georgia: A tough, Tough, TOUGH loss for the Georgia Bulldogs against South Carolina on Saturday in a game that UGA outplayed USC and still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It now makes for an even tougher week for Mark Richt, who might want to consider showing up to news conferences this week wearing a flame-retardant suit not unlike a NASCAR driver's in preparation of the heat that's coming. Especially considering Richt's short fuse last week — remember he said the USC was not a must-win, but that Georgia viewed every game as a must-win and that the media would spin it however it wanted anyway.

After the loss Georgia is 15-15 in its last 30 games and looking for answers. Let's start here: So coach, is Saturday's test against Coastal Carolina a must-win?

Don't get us wrong, Georgia played well Saturday — much better than that debacle against Boise State — and should have won the USC game. But Georgia's a big boy program and big boy programs know that "should have" wins are the same as ugly losses. "Should have" wins are the hallmark of lower-tier programs and upstart teams with new coaches. That's not Georgia.

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    UTC fullback Taharin Tyson (2) lowers his head for yards as he is tackled by Jacksonville State's DiMetrio Tyson (96).
    Photo by Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

3) M-O-C-S, Mocs, Mocs, Mocs: The 5-at-10 clan went to Finley for UTC's impressive 38-17 win over No. 10-ranked Jacksonville State. Well played all the way around, guys. Lines moved quickly. Big, fun crowd. Russ Huesman and the Mocs delivered. The reported attendance was 12,185, but it sure felt like more than that.

4) Learning week: Coaches say teams improve more from Week 1 to Week 2 than at any time in the season. OK, we'll buy into that. Here is a 5-in-10 (top five list in 10 words or less) by the 5-at-10 of the top lessons of the weekend:

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    Spirit, a bald eagle, gives the crowd a scare as he flies close to them prior to the start of the Mississippi State=Auburn NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. Auburn has a unique tradition of flying an eagle over the stadium before home games. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

— Underestimate Auburn at your own peril: Tigers have won nine straight against ranked foes.

— You can't underestimate that Alabama defense: Tide's D is so good it can ignore QB issues.

— Buckle up Sunshine State: Oklahoma@FSU, OSU@Miami, UT@Florida set for Saturday

— Michigan dances in dark over Notre Dame: Great comeback in first night game at Big House. (Side note here that does not count against the 10-word limit — hey, it's our show, we can bend the rules — the Michigan-Notre Dame throwback uniforms started to grow on us, and we noticed two big things: First, the officials' throwback unis were awesome right down to the old-school caps; second, who knew Adidas had such prominent logos on the old-school Michigan and ND jerseys?)

— Show your gold Vandy: Dores beat UConn 24-21 as James Franklin now 2-0



5) The Fab 4 picks were truly fabulous: The 5-at-10 is soaring out of the gate picking against the spread. At this pace, we'll have to give you the first one for free and then charge you for the next three. We're 6-1-1 after a strong 3-0-1 Week 2 showing. Let's review:

Over the 56.5 in the Auburn-Mississippi State game — Check (41-34 =75 points

Tennessee minus-6 against Cincinnati — Check (45-23 Vols)

Oregon minus-27 against Nevada — Check (69-20 Oregon)

South Carolina minus-3 at Georgia — Push (45-42 USC)

In fact it was such a big week, our Saturday SEC picks against the number finished 8-1-1. Wow. (And yes, we may have sprained an elbow patting ourself on the back.)

This week's Fab 4: 3-0-1

This season's Fab 4: 6-1-1



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    Maryland wide receiver Ronnie Tyler leaps into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA football game against Miami in College Park, Md., Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Speaking of gambling...

This morning may have capped the craziest week in sports betting history that did not involve March Madness, the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby.

Check it:

— Last Monday night, Maryland covered a five-point spread by running back an INT for a TD in the final minute

— Saturday, Southern California defensive back Torin Harris scored on a blocked punt return on the final play of the Trojans win over Utah. Officials waved off the TD after calling unsportsmanlike conduct on Harris, the Trojans, Lane Kifin, Ed Orgeron (who could be called for unsportsmanlike conduct every hour on the hour daily for the next 17 years) and the rest of the USC family. Without the score USC, which was favored by 8.5 at most Vegas sports books, won 17-14. Two hours after the game ended — and after hundreds or even thousands betting tickets were either cashed or tossed away — the Pac-12 reversed the call and said the TD counted so the final score was USC 23-14, which covers the number. The Las Vegas Journal Review has more on it HERE, including how the MGM Grand sports book said that 17-14 was its final and borrowing a line from Forrest Gump, "That's all they had to say about that."

— Sunday, the craziness takes over in the NFL, highlighted by the Manning-less Colts getting hammered by Houston, and at the U.S. Open, where heavy favorite Serena Williams loss to Sam Stosur. But the big gambling story on Sunday — the 10th anniversary of 9/11 — was at Belmont, the largest horse racing facility in New York. The winner of the first race came from the No. 9 slot, winner of the second race came from the No. 1 slot and the winner of the third race came from the No. 1 slot. That's right 9-1-1 to start the anniversary card. According to RJ Bell of pregame.com, the odds of that happening at any time are 336-to-1. The odds of it happening on 9/11, well, off the charts.



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    Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

NFL recap

— The Colts were so bad without Peyton Manning they are 3-point underdog Sunday against Cleveland, which got thumped by Cincinnati in Week 1.

— Cam Newton. Any questions? Wow, dude throws for 400-plus in his professional debut (insert Auburn joke here).

— After his implosion against the Jets, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said in the postgame news conference that he cost the Cowboys the game with his stupid decisions. Of the course the media asked him to clarify which stupid decision was he talking about. Seriously.

— A Falcons meltdown in Chicago with a visit from Mike Vick and the Eagles on the horizon. Hmmmm, trouble brewing?

— MNF football doubleheader. Something tells the 5-at-10 that the Patriots are going to look really, Really, REALLY good tonight.

— We'll cover this in Tuesday's NFL Power Poll, but wow, how about those Ravens, who put a 35-7 beatdown on the Steelers?



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    A ball hit for a single by St. Louis Cardinals' Rafael Furcal bounces away form Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 9, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

This and that

— Danger, Danger, Will Robinson. The once-unshakeable Atlanta Braves are starting to leak oil heading to the homestretch. After getting swept in St. Louis — including a rare meltdown by closer Craig Kimbrel on Friday — the Braves' wildcard lead is down to 4.5 games over the Cardinals. Now the Braves will face the Florida Marlins (who have always been a thorn in Atlanta's side) for three games and Atlanta will hand the ball to the barely-old-enough-to-shave trio of Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado. Raise you hand if back in spring training you had any of those three guys starting a meaningful September game. Yeah, us neither.

— Hey Dale Junior is in the Chase. It was good to see that the Helton family was finally able to alter the rules so Dale Earnhardt Jr. — the sport's most popular driver by leaps and bounds — could make the postseason. Here's saying that PGA commissioner Tim Finchem has already sent NASCAR president Mike Helton an email about next year's PGA playoffs. Because of the PGA has another round of playoffs without Tiger Woods, well, somebody wake us when it's over, OK?

— Oklahoma still is atop the AP poll, marking the 100th week the Sooners have been ranked No. 1. Wow, almost two full years of being No. 1, and yes, that's a record.



Today's question

This will be a Monday regular.

Who gets your game ball from the weekend? It can be high school, college or NFL, but which player gets your seal of approval.

We'll be back around noon with our answer, but among the leaders in the clubhouse are Tyler Bray, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Mathieson, and the UTC defense (we were getting a little QB heavy there).

Bring it.

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

A: Randall Cobb Q: Which other SEC grad had a spectacular NFL debut? Dude scores six on his first NFL reception, and shortly thereafter sets a team record for longest kickoff return TD, including sticking the landing on a 360 flip for ten extra style points. Can't give him the game ball because both were busted assignments, but dontcha know the Packers are salivating over how effective he'll be when he gets the playbook down? And seeing how good he is at this level explains a lot about how far Kentucky is down this year. And who at Knoxville U. got fired for not recruiting their backyard?

September 12, 2011 at 10:42 a.m.
patrickd said...

My game ball goes to none other than Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

This kid plays school yard ball. He's the most athletic player on the field. He has, at the most, three plays drawn up for him, none of which he follows. Will hurl it at a receiver who is covered 45 yards down the field because a receiver being covered is meaningless to him.

Denard Robinson is the pure definition of "a puncher's chance." This puncher can KO any one of Michigan's opponents. By that same token, the puncher being able to reproduce last Saturday's Balboa like ending 14 games in a row is as likely to happen as Auburn winning the next 13 straight National Titles.

See what just happened there?

September 12, 2011 at 10:48 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er --

Randall Cobb is a great call. And it was not the final straw in Fulmmer's pink slip, but UT's disinterest in Cobb did not help.

Pdavi --

If Auburn wins the next 13 titles would that make them 10 short of Bama?

That said Robinson is on the list with Stephen Garcia as the two guys in college football who can easily beat either team on any field on any Saturday.

5@10

September 12, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
kburgess1013 said...

This weekend was a real kick in the gut for Kburg. I could kind of deal with the Dawgs loss, knowing in my heart that it should have been a win. It doesn't say much for Spurrier's Gamecocks who are mostly 4th and 5th year, almost NFL ready players, when they can only beat a young team of mostly freshmen and sophomores with a couple of lucky breaks on turnover mistakes. I had to step away from TV all together to avoid a total melt down over the Falcons game. That was DISGUSTING! Although it is mildly comforting to know that the Falcons were in good company for great teams with week 1 losses to be absolutely ashamed of. And hey at least the NFC south is all tied up at 0-1. As for my players of the week: College: Isaiah Crowell NFL: I'd tend to agree with Aaron Rogers, but I'll put up another Packer- Randall Cobb, who did an awesome flip over a Saints player, stayed on his feet, and ran all the way in for a TD.

September 12, 2011 at 11:20 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Well, just wait until Chez Reavie climbs into the 88 Chevy to see how much Mr. Finchem and Mr. Helton talked.

So ... how fast are Notre Dame's fat wallet boosters going through their contact list today to dial up the names Gruden, Jon and Meyer, Urbie?

September 12, 2011 at 11:54 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

Jay - You guys at the TFP need to get a story together comparing the downfall of Mark Richt at Georgia to the downfall of Phil Fulmer at Tennessee. The similarities are incredible.

September 12, 2011 at 12:57 p.m.
Blueoval said...

Great comment on Helton/Finchem, 5/9. That one made me laugh but I could see it happening. Not sure who would get the game ball....there were a lot of great performances. I was lucky enough to see Cobb play in both high school and college and he's just one of those special athletes like Bo Jackson, Neon Deon or even Blueoval. :)

September 12, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.
kburgess1013 said...

War Eagle! I just can't help myself.

Agreed, Georgia outplayed and outperformed USC, which must have been deflating to a highly charged UGA team Saturday. I hope they can recover from the mental aspects of the loss but, then again, the season is just beginning. Good luck UGA until you play Auburn where I'll take a total meltdown on your part without batting an eye.

Falcons looked about as out of sync as I can recall from any game last season, but the entire NFL opening weekend speaks directly to a lot of really good teams appearing, well, out of sync or slap terrible (hello Colts, even without Manning that was really bad).

Aside from all the NFL madness, Cam Newton played far better than I expected in the season opener. It just goes to show you can never gauge what Newton is capable of doing (hello Les Miles! Your jaw dropping sideline performance as the one Mr. Newton ran like the wind for the TD last year speaks to his ability to perform above and beyond expectations). Good for him.

Quick question: How do the beloved Auburn Tigers stack up regarding our upcoming game against Clemson?

So far we're yet to disappoint but luck seems to be our best player thus far. I have to chock the first W on the season to this, but I have to take a bit of credit away from lucks performance in game two, though it was definitely still working in our favor. We looked to have some skills in the bag during big time pressure moments when we absolutely needed it. I'll take it as long as the skills keep building. Luck always tends to run out at some point. A win is a win and even better against a conference rival, especially a ranked one.

Thank you, Auburn, for another near heart attack.

September 12, 2011 at 1:21 p.m.
wcole777 said...

Disclaimer: kburgess1013 had nothing to do with wcole777's commentary above except for not logging out of the 5@10 chat board.

wcole777 takes credit for all opinions and statements above. I believe that without this disclaimer it would be a rough day for wcole777, especially since the commentary on UGA vs. Auburn may have wcole777 sleeping on the floor for the rest of the week.

September 12, 2011 at 1:27 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

im done for the year....or at least till UGA wins...or till Football season is over.

September 12, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy --

The Domers are inching toward meltdown mode.

And this is how much trouble Richt is in: The Tech fans we know are hoping Richt keeps his job. Ouch.

ChattaVol --

The similarities are there, but we think Richt's ultimate flaw is most like Tommy Tuberville's -- he's too loyal to mediocre assistants.

BlueOval --

Those names -- Bo, Deion, BlueOval -- are frequently mentioned together.

WC --

More to come on this weeks games, but lucky and 2-0 is better than unlucky and playing well and 1-1.

Oso --

It can only get better.

September 12, 2011 at 2:44 p.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

Jay - Fulmer was too loyal to mediocre assistants also. That is one of the numerous similarities with Richt. How else do you explain mediocre coaches like OC Randy Sanders, WR coach Pat Washington, OL coach Jimmy Ray Stephens and RB's coach Woody McCorvey staying around for as long as they did. Phil Fulmer himself said the following to Chris Low in Destin, Florida on 5/31/2006 (Nashville Tennessean - 6/1/2006), admitting that he should have gotten rid of some dead weight coaches earlier: “A couple of them should have been made a couple years before that, but that's hard because you're just coming off an Eastern Division championship and some good years. But getting to where we got to, we were patching it in some ways and should have made some changes before that. I was talked out of it, actually. But ultimately, it's all my responsibility."

I don't know what's worse. Refusing to get rid of underperforming coaches or being "talked out of it". I can't believe Fulmer, the head coach, would actually admit begin talked out of letting dead weight coaches go. Then again, maybe I can.

September 12, 2011 at 3:42 p.m.
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