Sunday, November 02, 2008

The World's Largest Outdoor Beatdown

"Do you believe in what you see?"

(Editor's Note: I'm back home...for good...)

49-10?...Really??? So I take it that this may be a minor setback for UGA. I'm not think anyone was watching that game? That was an extremely effective way to straighten out the BCS though. Georgia basically has no shot of making the SEC Championship (they would need to win out and have Florida lose...twice), so they're out for intensive purposes. Meanwhile...oh hey, they're called the Florida Gators. I guess after the loss at The Swamp against Ole Miss, the entire country just stopped talking about them. Well, they're back. Tim Tebow is not about to give up that Heisman Trophy just yet, and in typical Tebow fashion, he only attempted 13 passes yesterday (completed 10), but had two TDs through the air, and, in what makes him perhaps the best player in the nation, rushed for three more. Here's the problem for Florida: They have that one loss. What the Gators have to hope for is that they win out, thus putting them in the SEC Championship against 'Bama. Outside of an SEC Championship win, the Gators will need help from 'Bama, Penn St., or Texas Tech (more on them later). Another thing that I came out of this game with is that Knowshon Moreno may end up as a liability for some team at the next level. I really dig how emotional he is on the field, but sometimes, those emotions can work against you, as was evident yesterday. Sure, Florida was putting a hurting on the 'Dawgs, but it looked like Moreno was not himself. His poisture was terrible, and he basically spent the second half slumped over. This was especially true on the pitch that he botched, which subsequently was recovered by Florida and nearly returned for a TD (there is nothing in the history of football like a D-Tackle trying to take a fumble/INT to the end zone from more than 40 yards out...that's good stuff...don't believe me? you go). Moreno's abilities cannot be denied. He's a great runner, and a great pass-catcher, but his emotions are something to watch out for. If times are tough, especially in the NFL, where he's likely going to end up next year (draft-eligible sophomore...three words that strike the fear of God into college ADs), it will be interesting to see how he handles himself. Hey, at least the score was respectable in the first half (14-3), so they had my attention for a couple of hours there.

If you didn't see the Texas/Texas Tech game, you may want to turn to ESPN Classic about...oh, right now. I don't get the Classic anymore (which basically cuts about half of my daily routine out), but I'm quite sure that game will get some "Instant Classic" acclaim. In one of the more remarkable victories in recent memory, the Red Raiders had their coming out party against Texas, winning with one second left on a Michael Crabtree TD. This has a four-prong effect (stay with me, I know that's a lot of prongs to handle). Okay, first, and most importantly, Texas Tech is officially the "it" team, but there comes a lot of responsibilities in being the "it" team...just ask the team they beat last night. Okie St. comes to town next week (and again, I would like to throw out that they are an exceptional team), and if Tech can survive that, they have a meeting in Norman with the Sooners, who I have to say have teamed up with Florida as the two best teams that no one seemingly are paying any attention to...yet. Second, Graham Harrell has taken the driver's seat for the Heisman, with Tebow likely taking over in the 2-spot, and Colt McCoy, whose name will likely disappear from any kind of publicity until bowl season comes around, in third. Harrell has been doing it his whole career (him and every QB that's played for Tech in the last 10 years), but because of the fact that Tech has played just a pinch of defense, that team will be in the top 5 after the biggest win in school history, and when you're the starting QB of a top 5 team, and you throw for 500 yards a helps. Third, Michael Crabtree is now the hands-down (no pun intended) best receiver in the's not even close anymore. This kid is an absolute animal...and that's what I kept saying over and over last night, which probably annoyed my Dad to no end. He's got speed, physicality, and this just in: tightroping-the-sidelines ability. I mean does anyone understand how good this kid is? He's a sophomore! Are you kidding?! He almost hit 2,000 yards receiving last year. What?! 1,962 yards in a freshman year, and after last night, he's at 921 (he's going to get about 1,300 yards...and it will be considered a down, but none more important than the five yards after the catch he had last night. If he comes out in the draft this year (three words baby: DRAFT-ELIGIBLE SOPHOMORE!!!), he may be the first receiver taken #1 since Keyshawn back in '93. Look, taking a receiver in the top 5 usually pays off (unless you're the Lions...and even they eventually got it right with Calvin Johnson), so in terms of trying to predict how well a draft pick will fare, it's not completely unheard of to take the receiver over the O-Lineman, which notoriously has been the "safe" pick for teams high in the draft order. Okay, and fourth...what happens to Texas now? Well, here's the thing: The Longhorns could definitely go on the same road as Kansas did last year. While not even playing in the conference championship game, the Jayhawks wound up in the Orange Bowl. Now the BCS standings have not come out yet (it's really early on Sunday right all fairness to me, it felt like 9:00 when I got up today...I'm still in the process of falling back...usually takes a couple days), but I'm thinking Texas will fall to right around #5, which still puts them in prime position with one loss. If Tech runs the table, they will be playing Mizzou in the Big 12 Championship. Meanwhile, the Longhorns have a cream-puff finish (this usually happens when you play four top-10 teams in a row), with Baylor and A&M coming to Austin, and a potential landmine game against Kansas on the road, although I'm wildly skeptical that will happen. So, basically, Texas can slip into the BCS without playing in the championship game. Again, and this should be emphasized, it could be a lot worse. It's tough to lose like that, especially to an in-state...rival? Anyway, what Texas needs to do now is take care of the business at hand, i.e. win their next three, and watch the madness unfold. Tech has two top-8 teams in the next two weeks, 'Bama plays LSU on the road next week and will likely draw Florida at the end of the season. Devastating loss? Yes. Season over? Hardly.

The Fighting Gamecocks everybody! If anyone from the Outback Bowl selection committee is reading this (and if they are, I am way famous), have I got a team for you! Much like he's done his whole career, Coach Spurrier won another big game with the defense...wait, that is completely wrong. Spurrier...a defensive genius? My mind is about to explode. As first reported here, USC's defense is incredibly bad-ass (and on that note, probably the best named defense ever...Jasper and Casper Brinkley, Captain Munnerlyn, Stoney can't make this stuff up!), and after the shalacking they put on the Vols last night, find themselves 6-3 with three to play (by the way, how refreshing is it to say that Tennessee sucks?...just go to a mirror and say it, and magically, your day will get so much taking half a vic0din...not that I would know what that's like...and in other news, my cover is blown). So, with Arkansas at the duba-duba-WB next week, and the remaining two road contests against Florida and Clemson, the Cocks need to go 2-1 to get to said bowl game in not-said-until-now Tampa, FL. USC has fought valiantly this season, with near-misses against two conference powerhouses (7-point losses to both UGA and LSU). The defense is...well...bad-ass. I mean how else can I say it? Third in the country in yards/game and second in the country against the pass...oh yeah! So calling all of Gamecock Nation: Let's gear up and get these two wins!

Fav Five Heisman Finalists:
  1. Graham Harrell (sorry for putting an "E" on the end of Graham last time...for some reason I thought he spelled it like that), QB, Texas Tech
  2. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
  3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
  4. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
  5. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
The NFL should be amazing this week. Tons of good matchups today and especially tomorrow. Today, you have Brett Favre and Co. (the Co. in this instance is the Jets...I think we're still at the point where it's weird to believe Favre ia a Jet) go up to Ralph Wilson Stadium, which has to be in the top-5 of home-field advantages, to play the Bills. Actually let me think about this:

Top 5 Home-Field Advantages in the NFL:
  1. Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers (by default...has to be)
  2. Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo Bills
  3. Qwest Field, Seattle Seahawks
  4. Soldier Field, Chicago Bears
  5. Edward Jones Stadium, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(lots of NFC...interesting)

Anyway, this is a huge division game for both. If the Bills win, they have a shot at regaining sole posession of the AFC East. A Jets win could potentially line up a three team log-jam at the top of the division (log-jam has just been annointed word of the week by the way...not just the need more than one day to celebrate how great a word log-jam is).

Houston at Minnesota is probably the most interesting matchup of 3-4 teams you may see in a while. Lots of people had the Vikings not only winning the North, but going to the Super Bowl, putting about 100,000% of their convictions on Adrian Peterson having 2,000 yards and 35 TDs. Well, hasn't quite happened for them (there's still room for you on the Tarvaris Jackson bandwagon...order now, and we'll throw in a spot on the Kellen Clemens bandwagon absolutely free!). I love the Texans. There is so much that appeals to me on that team. Matt Schaub is the shining light for backup QBs everywhere (that means you too Matt Cassell!). Andre Johnson is probably the most underrated receiver in the game (not by this guy of course). Speaking of underrated, ditto for tight end Owen Daniels (he's so underrated that I had to throw the tight end in there). Steve Slaton is a beast, and has teamed with Ahman Green for the down-low thunder/lightning combination of the year. Mario Williams is proving me and everyone else wrong that he was the deservant #1 pick two years ago. Plus, as an added bonus, their starting cornerbacks are both Gamecocks! Oh yeah! Love it.

In the annual Art Modell classic, Baltimore travels to Cleveland to face the Browns. I see pure ugliness in this game, and a lot of it will be coming from the Ravens. I see Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards having big games (purely coincidental that they're both on my fantasy teams...right...). Also, Jamal Lewis has to get pumped for this. The Ravens didn't think he had anything left in the tank. He had a TD in both contests last year.

In what was originally thought of as an absolute monster of a game, the Cowboys take on the G-Men live from East Rutherford (Giants Stadium is way cool at night...sure I was half-awake, but it's always cool to see pro stadiums from the highway...slight side note, I saw BB&T in Baltimore and the Linc in Philly, which could not have been any closer to the road if they tried...awesome...Philly by the way is still in tact, and surprisingly did not burn down after the Phillies won the World Series). So the Cowboys are reeling at this point. Did you think two years ago how huge Tony Romo would mean to this franchise at any point in the future? Also, Pac-Man...what happened? (Oh, and you can call him Pac-Man because, contrary to what was told to you and yours, he's still an insane partier). Anyway, he's in rehab, Terrence Newman has been sidelined in what seems like forever (Newman!)...I mean they barely got by the Bengals for crying out loud. For the G-Men, Plaxico Burress is a total head case. Well, at least some things you can count on each year: The leaves turning in New England being amazing, Pac Man Jones somehow managing to top himself in irresponsibleness (hopefully the grammar police aren't seeing this), and Plaxico doing something totally selfish without having any regard for his team...nice. Anyway, I still see this game being good for two reasons: Marion Barber and Brandon Jacobs. I don't think there are two more fun running backs to watch in the league than these two.

Two landmine games face a couple of 4-3 teams, with Philly on the road at Seattle, and Atlanta...that's right, the 4-3 Atlanta Falcons, rookie QB and all, going out to Oakland, a place they have never won (a fact that I was reminded about by J.T. The Brick about 100,000 times on Friday...really wish I had that hour of my life back). Philly and Atlanta are similar in the fact that they are playing well, but are both in division where they aren't really even in contention despite being above .500 and being only a couple games back. Definite upset potential here, but because Seattle is still rolling with Seneca Wallace, I think the Raiders have the better shot at making it happen. However, they are going to have to contain Rowdy Roddy White (easy set-up for that nickname), who is third in the league in receiving yards, and the Burner, who is third in rushing.

Monday night will see Pittsburgh going to Landover to play the 'Skins...and the intrigue is bubbling over for this one. Both should find themselves in the playoffs, with a home game in the opening round to boot. For the first time I think...ever, the 'Skins fans actually have to pull for the Cowboys to beat the Giants to bring them into a tie at the top of the NFC East with a win against the Steelers. It will be interesting to see how much Willie Parker will get into this game. The Steelers obviously are taking their time getting him back into action, as Mewelde Moore has done more than I think even Pittsburgh could have thought was possible in backing Parker up. Santonio Holmes has not taken over the reigns of #1 receiver from Hines Ward as many thought he would, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but also, a lot of people really thought Holmes would have a breakout season, and so far, he's been just decent...nothing too special. It's early, but I think it may be next year when Holmes busts out and becomes the guy in Pittsburgh. For the time being though, he, and everyone's favorite receiver from Tiffin, Nate Washington, remain compliments to Hines Ward in the passing game. The 'Skins could potentially have three giant holes in their secondary, with Shawn Springs out, and Carlos Rogers and LaRon Landry both listed as questionable. This will be one of the major things to watch for. The other will be how well Pittsburgh stops Clinton Portis in an attempt to put the game on Jason Campbell. Not saying Campbell will not be up for the challenge, but he has not seen anything quite like the "Blitzburgh" scheme the Steelers utilize, which could confuse the young QB. He has been terrific this year, but this will be one of the bigger tests he will face all season. Portis is an absolute monster though, and slowing him down will be a daunting task for that defense (his league lead in rushing over Peterson is 260 yards...unbelievable). Right now, I would think it's a two-man race for MVP: Portis and Drew Brees. That one's a tough call. Quick side-note: Is the Clinton Portis-Champ Bailey the "fairest" trade of all-time in any sport? That, and the Hanley Ramirez-Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell trade are up there that I can think of right now.

Finally, the Pats...remember them? Hi, we were undefeated in the regular season last year, and stand at 5-2 right now...when were we supposed to collapse again? Was it after the Miami game or the San Diego game? I don't know...someone look that up. In any event, here's what I've learned: The Pats can play in tight games and get the occasional blowout (great revenge game against the Broncos), but if we lose, we lose big, and in those games, nothing goes right. So, it will be very easy to tell how this game is going to go down based on the first couple of series. If we go down like 10, 14-0, we're screwed. The Pats do not have the kind of team to come back from a big early defecit, and by "kind of team," I mean Tom Brady. We were down to Indy late last year and won, but if the game follows a similar first three quarters, I don't see the results being as friendly this time around. Two things to watch for, both of which will be on the defensive side of the ball: First, Brandon Meriweather is now the man at safety. While many predicted that this would go down next year, surprise! Rodney Harrison goes down for the year, and likely, unfortunately, his career, and the time is now. Meriweather is an explosive hitter, but likely has not seen anything the likes of Peyton Manning and all his head-game shenanigans, so it will be very interesting to see how he adjusts to that, as it would make a lot of sense for the Colts to test the middle of the field against Meriweather and Colonel Sanders manning the safety positions. Second, Deltha O'Neal has filled in admirably for the departed Asante Samuel, but he and Ellis Hobbs are still behind the eight ball in terms of teams continuing to test them out. Look at the damage Donnie Avery did last week (six receptions, 163 yards and a score). There is no way they can put up a similar game against Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Anthony Gonzalez, and expect to come out roses like last week ("roses" in this case meaning 16 points). Look for the Colts to be an air-first team with a returning Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes in the backfield. Also, Bob Sanders will make his return to the lineup after missing five weeks with knee and ankle injuries. Why does he always have to come back against the Pats? This already happened once two years ago, and he had a monster game, and the Colts won at Foxboro. Hate that Bob Sanders! Again, the first quarter will likely dictate the outcome of this game. I'm just hoping for a respectable showing to be totally honest. I don't have too many expectations...just keep them honest, that's all.

So, that's all for now. I'm back to literally being a stone's throw from the beach, which works out perfectly because it's November and all. Still, very cool to see the beach from my bedroom window. I remember people planning like weeks in advance to go to the beach the last three places I lived at (Columbia, Charlotte, Lynchburg), and now it's like "should I go? I have the two minutes needed to make the walk?" Oh well. In any event, the job search is still on, but I have a feeling it will go a lot better up here because, well, I actually know people. I know this is a weird concept, but if you have people helping you out that already work somewhere to get you the place they work at, you have a much better chance. I know that may seem crazy and all, but I kind of dig that. Hopefully things progress from there...but I gotta get there first right? So, we're taking things one step at a time. Well, I'm home, I'm alive, I have enough Sudafed to knock out a horse, and I somehow have managed to continue to bootleg wireless internet again, so you'll be hearing from me...especially because I got plenty of free time for the moment. Well, I got football to watch, and endlees mixtapes to make, so stay classy...I'll be in touch. Peace.


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