Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Texas, Skins, NLCS

Today's Calls: Texas vs. Alabama vs. Penn State, Redskins vs. Cowboys, Pats vs. Oblivion, Matt Schaub vs. Dan Orlovsky, Hiroki Kuroda vs. Shane Victorino, NBA vs. the Outdoors and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: It's getting chippy out there. ↵

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↵— Phillies fans will undoubtedly be out for payback after last night's "brush-down" tactic contributed to a big Dodgers win. ↵

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↵— Alabama fans may be ticked they "lost" their bye week, vaulted for No. 1 by Texas (and Penn State fans ticked to be "only" No. 3.) ↵

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↵— Redskins fans might be frustrated they could beat Dallas and Philly on the road the past two weeks, then lose to the Rams (in D.C.!) ↵

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↵Take a deep breath: Whether it's the LCS, the CFB rankings or the NFL season, there's a ways to go. Don't burn out on outrage now! ↵

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↵NFL Wrap: So much for the "hot" Redskins. One week, they're coming off back-to-back road wins against the Cowboys and Eagles, one of the most impressive eight days in recent regular-season history. Yesterday, they lose at home to the winless Rams, who made history last week by appearing dead last on every single "Power Ranking" in the universe. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Cowboys fall to the Cardinals, which — along with the Skins — leads the "Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong" portion of your Week 6 scoreboard. (Blocked punt? Really?) ↵

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↵Pats get romped: Let's be clear. A regular-season win against a team that beat you in the previous season's conference title game "avenges" nothing. However, if it makes the Chargers feel any better, they exposed the Pats as non-contenders. (Hey, can Tom Brady win MVP from rehab? Because without him, the Pats are not good.) ↵

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↵Wildcat Watch: Just as everyone was paying attention to it, the Dolphins' "Wildcat" offense — which produced wins the past two weeks over the Pats and Chargers — was on the wrong end. In fact, Matt Schaub did HIS best impression of Ronnie Brown, running for the game-winning TD. Whaaa?! ↵

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↵NFL NOTES: ↵

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↵— The Vikings stole one on a bad call, but the Minnesota fans ("Fy!-Er! Chil!-Dress!") know that the Vikes’ win masks huge problems on offense. ... ↵

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↵— I think the Jaguars are back to being a Top 5 team. ... ↵

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↵— The successes of the Falcons completely baffle me. ... ↵

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↵— So does this mean Jeff Garcia is finally out of the doghouse? ... ↵

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↵— Gaffe of the Week: Dan Orlovsky, scrambling ... right out of the end zone. Brilliant! ... ↵

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↵— Fantasy Watch: At what point is it fair to ask the folks who run fantasy football to recognize Reggie Bush as a wide receiver? ↵

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↵MNF: Unlike college football, there is no debate about the best team in the NFL — it's the defending champ Giants, who should rack up another big win tonight in Cleveland. ↵

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↵MLB NLCS: After winning the first two games at home, did the Phillies think the Dodgers were soft? That the team from the West Coast was going to just roll over? ↵

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↵Hardly: That's what brush-back pitches — and near-brawls — are for. The Dodgers had to take the Phils out of their comfort zone. I'm no fan of baseball's "unwritten rules" of payback, but as a tactic of gamesmanship to get into the Phillies' heads? Totally well-played. ↵

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↵After last night's success for the Dodgers, I fully expect it to be "on." Even if it doesn't happen in Game 4, I fully expect the Phillies to punch back — probably back in the friendly confines of home. ↵

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↵ALCS: I don't think anyone expected the Rays to sweep Games 1 and 2 in Tampa; the Red Sox are just too experienced (and too good) for that. ↵

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↵But with that emotional 11-inning walkoff win in Game 2, the Rays rocked postseason ace Josh Beckett — Jon Lester will actually be an upgrade over the iffy Beckett for Game 3. ↵

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↵Still: All the Rays have to do is return the favor once in Boston to put the champs on their heels. ↵

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↵CFB: Who's No. 1? (And No. 2?) In my latest BlogPoll ballot, here's how I would rank the BCS contenders: (1) Texas, then (2) Bama. ↵

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↵(Don't pity No. 3 Penn State: Texas and Alabama both have brutal remaining schedules; Penn State has the soft Big Ten.) ↵

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↵What the weekend did was resurrect the BCS chances for at least two one-loss teams: USC (already?) and Florida (controls SEC destiny). ↵

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↵Even Oklahoma is arguably still the second-best team in the country, and Mizzou can reclaim its BCS mojo by beating Texas. ↵

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↵(No offense: OK State fans. Hey, I have your 'Boys 4th, for winning at Mizzou. Blame pollsters who had you unranked in the preseason.) ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Why did the league's attempt at an outdoor game fail? The word from an attendee cited two factors: ↵

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↵(1) Because it was preseason, the game lacked both late-quarter star power and any sense of win-the-thing urgency. ↵

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↵(2) The weather conditions — cold-ish and windy — were not ideal either. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Warriors suspended Monta Ellis for 30 games, roughly what the NBA would do to him if he assaulted a fan. Seems harsh, albeit irrelevant — he's on the DL for the 30 games anyway. ↵

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↵NASCAR: Memo to Carl Edwards — if you're going to choke another driver, try to do it without being caught on camera. Edwards added injury to insult by finishing 33rd at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend. ↵

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↵Golf: Thoughts and prayers for the family, friends and fans of golfer Steve Ballesteros, diagnosed with a brain tumor. ↵

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↵CBB: Kentucky gets the new season off distinctively, because these are the worst-looking uniforms in college hoops history. ↵

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↵Pop Culture: I'm slightly obsessed with that ubiquitous new Nike Football ad featuring LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu, tracing them from infancy through boyhood through their careers in the pros, all in 1 minute. Amazing stuff. ↵

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↵The Last Word: If Eric Mangini can name his new baby after Brett Favre, does that give me permission to name my own new baby — due any minute now — after Tim Tebow? (No? You're totally right.) ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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