Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Final Week

"I'm just mad about saffron."

Giggidy. So that was good to get the call from Pats Insider. I'm hoping this becomes a weekly kind of thing, and yes, again, hopefully this becomes a career kind of thing. Don't get me wrong, I love writing, but if I could knock out some bills while doing it, that would really be the ultimate. In any event, here's a recap of the weekend:

Well, Saturday didn't go quite the way I wanted it to in Baton Rouge. The LSU running game was clearly the difference, running for almost 300 yards against the Cocks. A big reason why they were so successful was due to the fact that Jasper Brinkley, the preseason first-team All-SEC linebacker, suffered a right knee sprain early on in the game, which took him out for the remainder of the contest, and as it was determined later, the rest of the season. One has to wonder how the Gamecock defense will fare down the road without Brinkley, especially going up against high-powered offenses like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson. USC loooked great on D through its first three games, but after the exploitation of the run defense, and the injury to Brinkley, I have to believe that they won't be nearly as effective as they were against Georgia, but at the same time, I don't see another team putting up the kinds of eye-popping stats that the Tigers did.

I also found it curious that Spurrier switched horses mid-stream, going with Chris Smelley in the second half and benching Blake Mitchell, who has fallen out of favor with...well, everyone. Spurrier noted after the game that Smelley would be getting more opportunities as the season goes along. Smelley did ok for himself, throwing for 174 yards, but that was on 12 of 26 attempts and included a pick. The running game also helped pad Smelley's stats, as they were completely ineffective all game long. Glenn Dorsey, the LSU defensive tackle, basically lived up to everything that had been built up about him, having a monstrous game, disrupting the Gamecock offense all day long. Up next for the #16 Gamecocks is a visit from Mississippi St., and hopefully, a rebound from last weekend. The injury to Brinkley is going to be huge, and any kind of aspiration of making the SEC Championship game likely went out the window...that's how good this guy is and was to this team.

I'm not even going to talk about the fake field goal...

In other news, there were a few surprises on Saturday. First, the Orange(men) of Syracuse went down to Louisville and beat up on them for three quarters until the Cardinals decided to show up at the end of the game, but it was too late, and now, after starting off the year as a national title contender, Louisville has lost two in a row, and have fallen out of the top 25.

Kentucky, who handed Louisville their first loss of the year last year, continued to impress after another huge victory for the program. This time, the Wildcats went on the road and beat Arkansas, who, despite being unranked, went into the game as touchdown favorites against UK. Sure, I took the favorite, but after watching Andre Woodson and the rest of the Kentucky offense hang a 42-spot on the Razorbacks, I'm convinced that this team is the real deal. Georgia also had a huge SEC road victory, knocking off Alabama at Tuscaloosa in overtime. Ole Miss nearly pulled a shocker at The Grove, but Florida was able to sneak by, continuing their quest for back-to-back championships (I'm pretty sure it would be the first occurance of back-to-backs in both basketball and football...correct me if you know anything different though).

In terms of the other predictions, it went fairly well. Wisconsin surprised me by not dominating Iowa at home, so I lost that one. A trap game I should have seen coming came in the Penn St./Michigan game, where I stupidly took Penn St., who were only favored by two and a half. Michigan is 1-0 in the conference, meaning that they still have a shot at getting to the Rose Bowl...seriously. Michigan St. dominated the Irish, putting them in the top 25, but still, they have yet to play a conference opponent, so who knows how good this team really is when they travel to Madison and play the Badgers next week. Notre Dame is 0-4 for the first time...ever. How many more years of Charlie Weis do they have left? Real good call there, especially considering, for whatever reason, his name has been floated to be in the running for Tom Coughlin's job whenever they fire him. Oklahoma St. was able to pull of a victory in a wild game against Texas Tech, but only won by 4, so that was a victory for me. South Florida continues to march on, crushing the helpless Tar Heels at home. Clemson was impressive on the road against N.C. State, and continue to be the one road block for Boston College's hopes to reach the ACC Championship game. Overall, again, not a very impressive week for me.

Last night, the Saints officially hit the wall, as they were unable to get anything going in their first home game in front of a national audience, falling to 0-3 for the season. Again, Vince Young is totally unpredictable as to what he can do on the football field. Last night, he was relying more on his arm than on his legs, tossing two TDs in the win. Vince Young 2, Reggie Bush 0 (he did score twice though).

Going back to Sunday, of course, you know how the Patriots did. They have clearly established that they are the best team in the NFL, even though those pesky Colts continued to stay unbeaten, outlasting the Texans on the road. The Andre Johnson injury proved to be the difference in the game, as Indy only won by six. San Diego continues to be completely unimpressive, losing again on the road to the Packers, who are on quite the opposite scale as the Bolts, improving to 3-0 on the season. St. Louis is pretty much done, as they got whooped on the road against the Bucs, who had their second consecutive impressive conference win at home. The Eagles were sporting arguably the ugliest throwbacks of all-time, but that didn't stop them from throwing up 56 on Detroit. Two of the best QBs by the numbers, Jon Kitna (446 yards, 2 TDs) and Carson Palmer (342 yards, 1 TD) lost. The Bengals, who play the Pats next week on Monday night, lost a heart-breaker in Seattle. After giving up a late TD, the Bungles fumbled the ensuing kickoff, costing them an opportunity to tie, or even win the game. If you look at the results from this week, the 1:00 home teams made out extremely well (8-1), and after that, it completely flip-flopped (2-5). It's not really a trend, just something I thought I would point out. I'm so disappointed Atlanta picked up Byron Leftwich. I mean they really had a chance to go winless, and now they're blowing it...way to go. Dallas is now the best team in the NFC after going to Soldier Field and tearing the Bears apart on the road. They get the Rams at home. I'm pretty sure that will be around a 12-13 point spread, so I don't anticipate the Rams getting back on track, especially considering Steven Jackson will be out for the game.

The Sox' magic number is now five after the Yankees finally lost yesterday to Toronto. The Blue Jays kept themselves busy over the weekend blowing every single game they had a lead in...thanks a bunch. The Sox were unable to pull off the sweep against the Rays, falling short on Sunday despite some rare heroics from Alex Cora. The Sox have six games left. Two against Oakland, and four against Minnesota. The Yankees are on the road for the rest of the year...but play Tampa and Baltimore...so I'm not so sure about this. The Sox did clinch a playoff spot...woo-hoo. We've been leading the division since the sweep of the Yankees in April. Anything short of a division title would be a huge disappointment. Also, the Sox have had claim to the best record in the majors for almost as long, and that too is slipping away. With both Cleveland and Anaheim clinching their divisions, it will be interesting to see how they play the last week of the season. Will they go after home-field, or put it in neutral and rest their starters? I'm leaning towards the first option, meaning the Sox will need to really make a push and go at least .500 in their last six to have a shot. If they go 4-2, it would almost assure them a division title at least, and would draw either the Tribe or the Halos in round one.

Again, because this is the last week of the season, I will try to be updating this as much as possible. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Peace.


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