published Monday, September 10th, 2012

5-at-10: Vols back in the picture, college winners and losers and a Peyton tribute

University of Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs for a touchdown against North Carolina State during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff college football Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Tennessee Volunteers defeated N.C. State 35-21 in their season opener.
University of Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs for a touchdown against North Carolina State during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff college football Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Tennessee Volunteers defeated N.C. State 35-21 in their season opener.
Photo by Associated Press.

Buckle up gang, there's a lot to cover. From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...

UT's ready for its close up

With a quick and impressive 2-0 start, your Tennessee Vols are back in the Top 25 (No. 23 with a bullet, Mr. Dufresne if you please). They are back in the national picture (ESPN GameDay is coming to town Saturday). And they are back staring at a familiar hurdle to bigger plans and bigger dreams.

Florida.

The Gators are Tennessee's Newman. No matter the start, there they are, waiting and looming. Sure, Vols fans may hate Alabama more, but Florida is bigger because it's in the East. And a win Saturday sets the dominoes in place for a 4-0 trip to Athens, G-A with a world of possibilities.

But you can never look past the Gators, that's especially true for a Tennessee team that has not beaten Florida since 2004 — the last time UT started 3-0.

Certainly, this is not your prototypical Florida team, cut in an offensive shadow of fear and arrogance. There is no Fun-n-Gun or Spread-and-Tebow-upside-the-head. This bunch is young and defensively salty and — as always — supremely athletic.

Florida's impressive win at Texas A&M was paramount for the program and second-year coach Will Muschamp, who has a great deal in common with UT coach Derek Dooley, up to and including yielding the SEC's hottest chair to campuses in Auburn, Lexington and Fayetteville.

So it's Florida and its quick-twitch defense against Tennessee's high-flying passing game.

It's Florida and Tennessee with something on the line. That's how it's supposed to be.

Weekend winners/losers from college football

  • photo
    Auburn running back Mike Blakely (22) is tackled by Mississippi State defenders Curtis Virges (98), Deontae Skinner (51) and Johnthan Banks, right, after a no-gain rush in the first quarter of their NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. Mississippi State won 28-10.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Winner: Dan Mullen, the Mississippi State coach who officially put to rest the nagging stat that he had never beaten an SEC West team other than Ole Miss. The Bulldogs pounded Auburn 28-10 in a game that was amazingly not that close.

Loser: Gene Chizik, the Auburn coach who is going to grow forever tired of the following stat: In his three years and two games at Auburn, Chizik is 30-12 — that's 16-12 without Cam Newton and 14-0 with Cam Newton, who produced the single greatest college football season ever in Auburn's 2010 national title. We do not believe Chizik should be on the hot seat (winning a national title should get you some cushion) but to pretend there are not a lot of unhappy Auburn fans is foolish. Consider this: Auburn is 0-2 and still has Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Arkansas on the schedule. The Tigers will be fortunate to go 6-6 and make it to the Music City Bowl.

Winner: Spouses of Auburn fans. Consider how much extra time you'll have with your significant other since the season has become tough to watch. How bad was Saturday against Mississippi State? Auburn's offense was more productive in the 2008 Mississippi State game. Yes, Auburn's offense was better four years ago in the 3-2 win.

  • photo
    Arkansas coach John L. Smith walks across the field before an NCAA college football game with Jacksonville State in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Loser: John L. Smith, the soon-to-be former Arkansas coach who watched as starting quarterback Tyler Wilson was injured and the Louisiana-Monroe Skyhawks beat the Razorbacks 34-31 in overtime. Arkansas went from No. 8 in the country to unranked — the biggest fall since Michigan went from No. 5 to unranked by losing to Appalachian State in 2007. Two side notes: One, it took Michigan five years to recover from that loss. Two, Louisiana-Monroe is headed to Auburn this weekend, and as poorly as Auburn played, if the Tigers are favored by more than 12, take the points and the money and run. As Gordon Gekko said, "Greed is good." Heck, this time next week, the La.-Monroe Skyhawks may be leading the SEC West at 2-0. Thanks John L.

Winner: Bobby Petrino, unemployed coach. With all the head scratching and head banging and headaches around the league and the country for programs that expect to be way better than their current product on the field, Petrino and all his baggage will get another shot next year and he may have choices. Heck, look at the growing list of warming seats:

• Bo Pelini, who has kind of flat-lined at Nebraska and is hearing whispers after the Huskers' loss at UCLA;

• Al Golden, who took Miami to Manhattan, Kan., and got thumped by Kansas State;

• Joker Phillips, who is a shoe-in for an Oscar nod in his portrayal of Dead Coach Walking;

• John L. Smith. Actually, Smith, the coach who replaced Petrino and signed a 10-month deal, is gone at year's end. His fate was so sealed by the Skyhawks, his seat is no longer hot — it's disinterested. (And here's saying a majority of Arkansas fans we know would take Petrino back today, and could bring as many volleyball players as he needed.)

Loser: Alabama-beat reporters. Nick Saban's bunch is so good and so much better than everyone else right now, Saban needs to find controversy. Hello beat guys, who Saban has blamed for distractions, under-respecting opponents, not doing their jobs and a potential role in the Kennedy assassinations. (We made that last one up, but the season's not over yet.)

Winners: THE Ohio State and Notre Dame. Yep, power programs who are 2-0 and in the conversation again. Sure, THE Buckeyes are in NCAA timeout but they are going to be a player for a while, considering Urban Meyer had success in the SEC, so being good in the Big Ten will be a cakewalk. (Side question: What kind of logo is B1G? Seriously? That is almost as silly as "Legends" and "Leaders." Notice we said almost.)

Losers: Area fans of Auburn, UTC and Vandy. That's three teams that had high hopes coming into 2012, and nine days into the season, each is bagel-and-2 and looking at some tall games down the road. Each of the three lost seasonal "swing" games Saturday.

Winner: The Georgia Bulldogs and coach Mark Richt, who survived some speed bumps and suspensions and are still 2-0. Yes, the 5-at-10 liked them before the game, even though they were not among our picks. That said, the Fab 4 picks plus 1 went 4-1 last week with winners on Florida, Ohio State (by a half-point), Stanford (by a ton of points) and Cincy (by a ton of points). We lost on UNC, which could be this year's Clemson.

Tip of the helmet

  • photo
    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning takes to the field with backup quarterback Brock Osweiler (6) trailing before the start of an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Denver.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

We will continue our NFL review on Tuesday's during the season, but we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the pleasure and passion and near-perfection that Peyton Manning delivered Sunday night.

All the work and worry, the drive and dedication, the labor and love that went into Manning's comeback came full circle.

And for every non-Steelers fan watching, it was hard not to be impressed.

Manning's numbers were fine — he threw for 253 yards and two TDs, including the 400th and 401st of his Hall of Fame career — but the fact that he was so Manning-esque after missing all of 2011 and going more than 600 days between starts was incredible.

It was not lost on Manning, either, the reserved quarterback who is normally as quotable as your power bill.

"It's just one game. I try to keep it in perspective," Manning told the AP. "I know how hard I've worked to get to this point. I know how much help that I've gotten along the way, from a lot of people. I'm very grateful for that. It's special. I will definitely say it's special."

Welcome back Peyton, NFL Sundays are better with you on the field.

This and that

— And while we're speaking briefly about the NFL, wow, how about that RGIII? Big-time debut. Huge in fact.

— How about the Nationals pulling the plug on Stephen Strasburg a start earlier than scheduled? And saying it was because of mental fatigue? If we're Strasburg, we're pulling someone aside and having a spirited chat about this. In essence, the organization is saying, "Yes, we know our future ace needs to go easy on his arm... AND we believe he needs a mental break from this big, bad, pennant racey. He'll have some juice boxes and a nap and we'll see you in the spring."

— Your Atlanta Braves are 5.5 games back of the Nationals in the NL East with 21 games to play. With three games against the Nats this weekend in the A-T-L, it's doable, tough, but doable. The Braves have won five in a row and hold the top wildcard spot by 5.5 games over St. Louis. In fact, Chipper ended his love/hate/hammer relationship with the New York Mets on Sunday and here's saying you didn't notice much of it with football everywhere. That's OK, that's why we're here. Side note: Jones ended his career with the third-most homers for a visiting player against the Mets ever, behind Willie Stargell and Mike Schmidt.

— NASCAR heads to the playoffs with Jeff Gordon sliding into the postseason. The points have been reset and here's your top 12 (the points are reshuffled to reward drivers who had the most wins during the regular season):

1) Denny Hamlin 2012

T2) Jimmie Johnson 2009

T2) Tony Stewart 2009

T2) Brad Keselowski 2009

T5) Greg Biffle 2006

T5) Clint Bowyer 2006

T7) Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2003

T7) Matt Kenseth 2003

T9) Kevin Harvick 2000

T9) Martin Truex Jr. 2000

T9) Kasey Kahne 2000

T9) Jeff Gordon 2000

— Serena Williams is the second best female tennis player ever behind Martina. And in truth, each in their prime Serena vs. Navratilova would do something that we did not think was possible: It would make the 5-at-10 interested in female tennis.

— Rory McIlroy was on target and in the money ($1.4 million for winning) this weekend. Rory appears primed and pumped for the stretch run. And we're still holding out hope that he and Tiger are the final group in the Ryder Cup with the outcome in doubt. Giddy-up.

Today's question

Gang, it's definitely a free-skate Monday. That's right, pick your pleasure and do it to your old-school skating rink jam.

Need a starter? OK, here's three:

— As a fan, is your team losing a heartbreaker like UTC did better or worse than getting pounded like Auburn did? (And yes, that's "Car Wash" playing in the background at the skating rink.)

— Can you recall a weekend with more interesting and meaningful sports happening? (Why yes, that is Blonde playing in the background.)

— We talked about the quarterback Rushmore last week, and if you feel the need to share your top four QBs ever go right ahead. Here's a different question, what's the best stat to grade a quarterback? Super Bowl wins? TD passes? Yards? Here are the top six in touchdown passes:

Brett Favre — 508

Dan Marino — 420

Peyton Manning — 401

Fran Tarkenton — 342

Tom Brady — 302

John Elway — 300

(And we'll close the free skate with "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen, which is probably playing in a skating rink somewhere at this very moment.)

Discuss.

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.
Stewwie said...

UT gives up 21 to N.C. State and UConn only gives up 10. Maybe that first win wasn't as good as originally thought. No telling how the Vols/Gators will turn out. Edge to the Vols for having this game at Neyland.

Hats off to Jacob Huesman for a great performance in his first start on Sat. night. The game-tying drive spoke volumes about the maturity of this young man. And he's only a freshman. The missed chip-shot FG early on ended up costing us. The D gave up way too many yards, but even with all of that, this game should have gone to OT.

Frierson didn't address the controversial decision by the officials at the end to put 1 second back on the clock. That enabled JSU to kick the game-winning field goal. The announcers on the webcast said Russ was giving the officials a piece of his mind after the game.

It's the Djoker vs. Murray in the U.S. Open finals today. If Murray is going to win, he must take care of BID-ness early and often and try to win in straight sets. If it goes to 4 or 5 sets, I like the Djoker to win because he seems to have better endurance than Murray.

[As a fan, is your team losing a heartbreaker like UTC did better or worse than getting pounded like Auburn did?]

Losing stinks either way, especially if it's an upset.

September 10, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.
Todd962 said...

Do you think Jim Irsay was skating around his mansion Sunday night blaring Air Supply's "All out of Love?" I'd like to think a single tear fell as he saw Peyton's post game interview.

"Im all out of love, what am I without, I can't be too late to say that I was so wrong."

Luck had the rookie debut that I figured RG3 was going to have, as RG3 sat on my FFL bench racking up 20 something points. Who goes out against the Saints in their first pro game and lights it up. New guys...

Gonz says hello, and while he didnt want to recall any pictures with his fiance adjacent, he did mumble something about a jetski.

September 10, 2012 at 11:34 a.m.
chas9 said...

Loved the winners and losers today, especially the Auburn digs. And the Orange roosters have a right to crow. I'm not clear if your Joker reference was a thumbs up for The Cats, but I'll say again: Kentucky's gonna surprise somebody.

After challenging Scientology's bona fides, we were remiss in not giving the Unification Church some hell when the guy who held the Sun in one hand and the Moon in the other passed away last week. Dude bilked millions from widows and orphans to get their loved one out of Hell and paid George H. W. Bush to appear with him to fake legitimacy. No, Spy, "Moonies" are not Warren Moon's groupies.

And the formerly legitimate Duke basketball program is now squirming trying to explain how a player ("a Playah") paid $30,000 down on jewelry worth over $100K while still a poor student. And unless you're Mr. T or a pimp, what does a dude do with all that bling? Bye-bye, Dook.

September 10, 2012 at 11:51 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Biggest sign yet of Auburn's decline:

On September 22, CBS just announced that their 3:30 game will be Missouri at South Carolina instead of LSU at Auburn. Ouch.

I'm sorry.

September 10, 2012 at 12:17 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Sorry I'm late to the party but we're having healthy business traffic at work which is always a good thing.

So.....where to begin.

As much as I'm enjoying writing Chatlanta (sci-fi novel I've been working on and off for two years now), I'm thinking about writing a screenplay for a romantic comedy titled "Why am I a Mocs fan?" It can be about a guy who blogs about his favorite team who can't get a break on the field no matter how hard they try just like our "hero" can't win in the game of love. I may actually pitch this idea to the Chattanooga film geeks.

I was not expecting a blowout but I was expecting the team to at least win by a touchdown. That T-Poss guy they had was dan-ger-ous.

The OVC streaming was definitely not the best around. But for free I guess I cannot complain. So I was able to see Gunner Miller's beautiful interception in the 2nd quarter.

I had called in to SportTalk and put down A&M +3. I got the spread right....just not the team. I will admit it was close game and a showing that A&M is definitely going to fit in well in the SEC.

Believe it or not, I have a ULM T-shirt in my collection from when I visited their campus a couple of years ago on a trip from home back to Dallas (I usually stay overnight in Monroe on rare roadtrips coming from Chattanooga). I can remember vividly when they were UT's whipp'n boy in terms of homecoming and money games. Now it appears they're slowly becoming giant killers. Also, fun close-to-home fact, ULM is in the same conference as UNT. Unfortunately, their game is in Monroe this year. D:

Finally (before I leave for lunch), I know there's been a lot of drama on Scrappy Moore Field, However, we're still 0-0 in the conference and Glenville's paycheck game this Thursday might be just the tinkering game the Mocs need before "the MOTHER game" against Yoseff and the Alabama "wannabe's" coming down here from Boone.

September 10, 2012 at 12:28 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Here's a different question, what's the best stat to grade a quarterback? Super Bowl wins? TD passes? Yards?]

Career passer rating! Just kidding, but I do like the stat as a guide even though it's not easy to understand. Yards and TD passes are good, but I like TD-to-INT ratio as well. Yards-per-game would help too. Rings are like icing on the cake. Marino doesn't have any, but he's surely in everyone's top 10 of all time. As for my QB Rushmore...let me get back to you on that.

September 10, 2012 at 1:07 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stew —

Agree rings are too hit or miss. Too many guys have one — you Trent Dilfer and you Brad Johnson — that don't touch Marino.

Losing does stink. And it's painful too.

And we're tip the fedora to Jacob. Kid delivered with a lot of pressure on the line. They didn't win, but he did everything — and more — to try to deliver one.

962 —

Irsay may have been driving around in the rain listening to "The Last American Virgin" soundtrack. Or Tears of a Clown maybe.

We had RGIII in the lineup, but it may not matter.

9er —

We thought Moonies were fans of the famous marshmallow Pie made right in Chatt-town. That's not right either?

As for the Duke kid, we've got two things: First, Allen Iverson laughs at that kind of bill and Rick Davis Gold and Diamond, and we'll see how it plays out. Could be the start of a tattoo-type thing like Ohio State; could be Cam Newton type of situation, too.

Stuck —

Yes that hurts. And in truth, who can blame them. That may be a 20-point line.

Run JMC —

Keep fighting the good fight. A win against App State could heal a lot of wounds.

— 5-at-10

September 10, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
deboman said...

Some quick thoughts on the weekend, few winners and losers that come to mind.

Winners- The Citadel- nice win over a tough Ga. Southern squad. The new SEC schools, A&M and Mizzou, both held tough and didn’t embarrass themselves their first time in the ring. The Beer Vendors at Richmond International Raceway- with a race extended that long, no cooler in the world is gonna hold enough beverages to last that long into the morning.

Losers- The poor kicker from Penn State. Misses four plus a PAT to lose by one. How long ‘til they are talking about the Curse of JoPa. Sexy Rexy- Shanny decides to dress two rookies and leave Grossman’s experience in street clothes (must seem like forever and a day since he was starting in the Super Bowl). The NHL fans- really another lock out on the horizon this week after finally shaking off the last one. Stupid, just stupid.

Best QB stat... Hard to pick just one b/c none really tell the whole story. QB rating really tries, but I can’t put much merit into a measure that maybe 10% of people know what the best rating is, plus you can reach it while throwing incomplete passes. Think ESPN has tried to come up with some new QB stat, again, yet unknown and not making much of a mark. SB rings…icing to say the least. Can you really say Eli is better than Peyton and not giggle a little?

September 10, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Ten Ring,

You were at the Signal game. I read your article. Seems the only other Preseason All State Player besides Reece on the team saw little if any balls throw his way. Seems to becoming a trend. Your considered opinion would be of some comfort. I'm guessing.

Still on working vacation, fechancellor

September 10, 2012 at 4:24 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Debo —

Wait till Debo sees us, he loves us.

Glad to see back around these parts, and we almost included Penn State fans in the losers section in today's F-O-I-B sports column, but some how that felt like kicking a group when they're down, you know?

Yes, with an extended rain delay, here's saying the beer records were smashed at Richmond. And does anyone have rights to be a Copenhagen vendor there? You can't tell me there are not 100s if not 1000s of dudes (and even some ladies) jonesing for a pinch of snuff 'tween their cheek and gum. $12 a can and start the retirement fund.

FE to the C —

Braves tickets are soon to be Fed Ex-ed. We'll think about your question and respond soon.

— 5-at-10

September 10, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I've been on my way to atlanta for a state supreme court hearing most of the day. First, Rory is all that. He might go on a eldrickish run here Second, fumbles and missed/blocked field goals get you beat. Well, at least we don't have to worry about going undefeated. PS: Fire Bobby.

September 10, 2012 at 6:33 p.m.
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