1. Notre Dame
*This answers the question "What do you get when you combine a Heisman front runner (Brady Quinn), a minor league pitcher (Jeff Samardzija), a semi pro boxer (Tom Zbikowski) and the best offensive mind in the game (Charlie Weis)?" They should have the best passing attack in the country, and that along with a nice defense should do well to win them a few games, and perhaps a long awaited national title.
2. Ohio St.
*I'm big fans of QB Troy Smith (right) and WR Ted Ginn Jr., but something tells me this team may have lost just a little too much on D to be the National Champ. If their defense survives their early test with the Longhorns, maybe I will start singing a sifferent tune, but for now it's still Hail, Hail for 'ole Notre Dame.
3. West Virginia
*Possibly the best all around backfield in the country with QB Pat White and RB Steve Slaton. Not to mention playing in the Big Least should keep them around the top of the BCS heap all year. As long as they don't trip up against Louisville.
*My Heisman sleeper has already been outed as a favorite, but RB Kenny Irons is still a man beast. Auburn has just been so solid the past 3-4 years that you have to expect Tubberville and crew will be fully reloaded two years removed from the Ronnie Brown, Jason Campbell and Cadillac Williams exodus.
*I have to admit, I've always been a sucker for the Gators and they always let me down. But you have to love Chris Leak in his 5th year, and Urban Meyer should prove this season why he's heralded as an offensive genius.
*Sure, maybe my hatred for Pete Carroll is the reason I have the Trojans ranked lower than most. Buy hey it's my blog, and anytime you lose 2 Heisman trophy winners in one season, well that's enough for you to slide down a few slots.
*This is my 3rd SEC team out of the last 4, and yes that means I think it's the strongest conference in the nation. SS LaRon Landry (right) leads this hard hitting defense, and QB JaMarcus Russell probably has enough big plays in that right arm to hold off Ryan Perriloux for one more year.
*I don't see smooth sailing ahead for Texas, but just because they lost Vince Young and a myriad of others doesn't mean they still can't hand out some ass kickins to the Not So Big XII. Mack Brown can still recruit, and his defense can still stick, and that should be enough for a solid run through the Big XII.
9. Florida St.
*I think I am only putting them here because Drew Weatherford is a year older and hopefully a year better, and their defense always seems to have guys that just absolutely eat people. They lost a lot of guys on D, but don't think for a minute there are some beasts waiting in the wings, and a D that fierce will always keep your team around the top 10.
*See above. Just because Rhett Bomar decided to take loots from a booster/car slanger, doesn't mean all is lost in Norman this year. Sure Paul Thompson may be a horrible QB who barely lasted one game last year (blowout loss to TCU), but the defense here will again be enough to carry them through the Weak Ass XII. Not to mention, nothing compliments a great defense quite like the best RB in the nation, Adrian Peterson. Probably not good enough to make a National run, but as usual they will be in the hunt for a big BCS game.
Not Quite There Yet: California, Louisville, Michigan, Georgia
Over the River and Through the Roof?
Question: When is hitting it on the roof of the clubhouse not out of bounds? Answer: When your name is Tiger Freaking Woods. And I'm still not sure if that was his most impressive moment from his latest win at Firestone this weekend. I think it may have been playing to about 75% of his ability, and still being able to beat Stewart Cink in a 4 hole playoff. He's now won 4 tour events in a row (for the second time in his career), he's got 52 titles for his career, he won the Bridgestone event for the 5th time and he was able to hit it on the roof of the clubhouse without being penalized a stroke. And if you think that's amazing then you will love this. Tiger's prize money for his 5 wins at Firestone CC total about $6.6 mil, more than Jack Nicklaus earned in his entire pro career. I'll say it again, it's just fine by me if Tiger goes on and wins every week. The guy is great to watch, and I consider it a privilege to watch the guy that is probably the greatest golfer of all time in his prime.
Red Sox Update
Last Week: 2-4
Standings: 2nd place by 6.5 games
*Well it's official. The Red Sox went 8-18 this month and have officially fallen out of any playoff conversation. Of course I will be the first to jump right back on them if they happen to reel off 10-12 wins in a row, but at this point that seems about as likely as K-Fed actually getting to speak before Congress on how he wants to keep the penny in circulation. The season has gone so wrong so fast, that it's almost difficult to talk about. So I'm going to stop talking about it. Wake me back up when our pitching staff doesn't have the words Snyder or Gabbard in it.
Diamonds Are Forever
*I guess if you told me at the start of the season that the Central would be the strongest division in the AL, I wouldn't have been shocked, but I wouldn't have predicted this. Not only are the Tiger's still plodding along with the best record in the majors, but they are holding off charges from both the White Sox and Twins, who are in a virtual tie for the AL Wild Card. All three of those teams have the offense and the pitching to be considered serious contenders if they can make it into the postseason. I personally would have thought maybe the Indians would have been there instead of Detroit, but either way, the AL Central has been by far the cream of the AL crop this year.
*So maybe I don't care about the NL Wild Card race. It's not because I don't like the National League, it's because I know that whoever does win that thing has ZERO chance of winning the World Series. Matter of fact, there's only one team in the entire NL that I feel does have a chance, and that's the NY Mets. The one thing I do want to say about the Wild Card race is, who on earth would have though the Marlins would be only 3 games out at the start of September? There average aged player is like 23, the entire team makes about as much as Kevin Brown and the owner gets the manager pissed by screaming at the umpire's from the stands!
*If there was ever an enigma in major league baseball, it's the 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers. And this latest incident in San Diego sums up their season beautifully. Brad Penny started mumbling to himself when a call went against him. If he knew then that his mumbling would lead to both his 2nd baseman and manager getting tossed and him being taken out of the game, I think he may not have done it. Grady Little came out to get him, and in a bizarre turn of events he left the mound to argue and was called out by Padre manager Bruce Bochy when he went back to the mound for a second time. So in a series where the on again off again Dodgers got swept by San Diego, they also became probably the first team ever to have 2 players and a manager tossed in one inning for double dipping to the mound. But hey what do I know, a month ago they were in last and now their in first by 2 games. So maybe there is a method to their madness.
*And I would be remiss if I didn't congratulate the Pittsburgh Pirates for cementing their 14th straight losing season this week. You know that's no easy accomplishment, and it gives the D-Rays a bar of excellence to strive for, so they've got that going for them....which is nice.
Last Week: New England 41 Arizona 0
*I don't care what season it is, it's always nice to whoop someone by forty-one points. But what's even better is when that margin is a franchise best in the pre-season, your 3rd year TE plays like a one man wrecking crew and your star safety returns to the lineup despite having his knee blown up less than a year ago. Sure we wish Deion Branch was on the field, but I can only judge the guys that play, and they are looking damn good. We may have lost a lot this off-season (Vinatieri, McGinest), but I am expecting huge years from guys like Colvin, Wilfork and Gostkowski, combined with the returns of Matt Light, Rodney Harrison and a healthy Corey Dillon. Saturday night was just a sneak peak of the power the Pats are getting ready to bring to the table in '06, with or without Deion "The Olive" Branch.
In the Trenches
*Is it already the beginning of the end in Big D for Terrible Owens? Amid a pre-season that has seen him miss most practices and all games, now TO is going back to being...well...himself. After claiming he was prepared to be a model citizen and teammate when he signed with Dallas, TO has been nothing but disruptive. After "saying" he had a hamstring injury that was forcing him to miss much of the pre-season, TO has shown up late to team meetings and rehab sessions, causing a $9,500 fine from the Cowboys. You knew this would come too. TO is not going to change who he is, not for Bill Parcells, Jerry Jones or anyone. He is who he is, and that is quickly becoming one of the worst cases of an over inflated ego killing a career that I've seen in my lifetime. Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden even think he's blowing it.
*You know the NFL season is close to starting up when a Minnesota Viking gets caught trying to have sex in public. LB Dwight Smith was detained this weekend when he was caught debriefing a 24 year old woman in the stairwell of a local club. All I can say is at least it was consensual ,and at least it wasn't on a boat. I'm not sure what goes on in Minnesota, but I'm pretty sure these things do, and in abundance:
*Super Bowl ticket scalping by the head coach
*head coach threatening to fight his own players
*purchasing of fake male sex organs in order to pass drug tests
The Vikes are just a joke right now. Unless they play some stellar ball this season, all anyone is going to want to talk about is why on earth this team insists on constantly shooting itself in the foot. But on a positive note, owner Zygi Wilf received a large fruit basket from the Bengals this weekend and a note that read. Dear Zyg, thanks for making us look like choir boys Sincerely, Starvin Marvin Lewis and the Cincy Cell Block.
*When Eli Manning was drafted first overall, I sat here and told everyone that I thought Ben Roethlisberger was the best QB that year. He may have slipped all the way to 17, and was the 3rd QB taken, but hasn't he been the best pro so far? So when this draft rolled around, while I appreciate the talents of Vince Young and Matt Leinhart, I was more sold on Jay Cutler. He wasn't surrounded by nearly as much talent in college as the other 2, but still managed to put up monster numbers and keep a weak Vanderbilt team in virtually every game they played. And now Cutler is doing it at the next level. He's even making a strong case to replace Jake the Snake as the starter on a team that went to the AFC title game a year ago. I'm sure Leinhart and Young will turn into fine pros, but as of right now, it's looking like the Broncos had a big time QB fall right into their laps, just like the Steelers a few years back. Hopefully they will be smart enough to give him the reigns sooner rather than later and put Jake the Stache back on the pine.
The End of an Era
This week marks the final US Open, and most likely final tennis tournament as a professional for Andre Agassi. Hopefully, Andre can make a decent run as an unseeded player, and perhaps match his 1994 feet when he became the first player in the Open era to win without being seeded. But even if he's ousted in the first round in straight sets, there's no forgetting this man, or denying the impact he had on his sport. He was actually the man that inspired me to pick up a racquet (for better or worse) with his thrilling Wimbledon Championship in 1992. The combination of flash, skill and humility that he brought to the game was a breath of fresh air. Andre stood out more as an entertainer than an athlete, and sometimes we forget that he has won 9 major title, and the career Grand Slam (winning all 4 majors), something Pete Sampras could never do. When you look back twenty years ago at the likes of Sampras, Courier, Chang and Agassi, you would have figured that maybe Andre was the most popular, but probably wouldn't have pegged him as the one with the longest career. So, adios Andre, and know that the tennis world is far better place for having you in it.
Now That's What I'm Talking About!
Now this is the USA basketball team that I remember. Kicking ass and taking names. Team USA (notice how I didn't say Dream Team 6 or whatever they would be) is back to doing what it does best, and that's blowing people out and playing great basketball. After destroying Australia by 30+ this weekend, the Yanks have set themselves up with a game against Germany this week. Things couldn't be going much better, and I still like my prediction before this thing started that our boys would go over there and just tear people up Rec league style. The one thing that has surprised me is how well Carmelo Anthony has played. Maybe it's because LeBron and Co. are the best supporting crew 'Melo has played with since Hak, GMac and Kueth, but he has been unstoppable as their leading scorer. Being with those guys allow him to stretch teams, and now that he's stroking threes again, he's virtually unstoppable. Hopefully people in Denver are taking notice. Supply this guy with some quality role players and look what he can do? After showing flashes this whole tournament, expect Anthony to come to Denver on a mission to prove that he's every bit as good as his fellow class of '03 mates.
Last Week: 14-5-3
Overall: 221-178-63 (4th place, 18 games back)
Final Week of Regular Season vs Brazil Nuts (158-246-58)
*So apparently the playoffs start next week and it seems the timing couldn't be any better. While my team still doesn't appear to have the necessary pitching to win the title, if I can put together 3 weeks in a row like the last 3, then not only could I win, I would expect to. If I can't improve to 3rd in the standings after this week (I trail only by one game), I will have to take on Frosco in the first round. And when I say take on, I mean take out.