Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: BCS, G-Men, Lakers, JJ

Today's Calls: JoePa vs. Obama, Peyton vs. Big Ben, Titans vs. Giants, BenJarvus vs. Wildcat, Ryan vs. Flacco, Lakers vs. Rockets, AI vs. C's, Jimmie Johnson vs. Inevitability, UNC vs. Duke and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: JoePa proved Obama wrong. ↵

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↵At the very least, Penn State was a reminder that midseason calls for a college football playoff are not just premature, but presumptuous. ↵

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↵For all the flaws of how we crown a champ, CFB has a glorious regular season that all but entirely works out naturally. ↵

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↵Take this past weekend: All the hoo-hah last week about Penn State -- BCS-worthy? BCS-tilter? How about "BCS non-factor?" ↵

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↵And with 4 weeks to go in the season, a grand total of 3 teams -- 3 -- control their own destiny: Alabama, Texas Tech and Florida. Win out, and each would play for the national championship. (Bama-Florida, in fact, feels awfully like a playoff.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, I'm hard-pressed to think of any reason that the Big 12's unbeaten or 1-loss champ playing the SEC's unbeaten or 1-loss champ for the national title is anything but an optimal outcome this season. ↵

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↵(The latest BCS rankings back up my point: The Top 5 comprises 3 Big 12 and 2 SEC teams.) ↵

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↵Granted, lots can happen: Texas Tech has to play at Oklahoma; Bama and Florida both have unpredictable rivalry games left. Still: All signs point to this ideal Big 12-vs-SEC outcome. (Ack: Jinx!!!) ↵

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↵I'm all for a CFB playoff. But of anyone, President-elect Obama knows about taking the long view -- not panicking in the short-term. After all, that's how he ran his winning campaign. ↵

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↵Let's use this past weekend as a reminder that the college football regular season IS one big playoff. ↵

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↵My BlogPoll Top 10: (1) Texas Tech; (2) Texas; (3) Florida; (4) Alabama; (5) Okla.; (6) USC; (7) Utah; (8) Boise St; (9) Penn St; (10) Ohio St. ↵

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↵NFL Weekend Wrap: ↵

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↵*Was it Peyton returning to form for the Colts or simply Big Ben throwing the game away for the Steelers? ↵

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↵*Titans remain unbeaten: Sure, you could play the "yeah-but-it-was-Rex's-Bears" card, but why not enjoy the continued unexpectedness? ↵

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↵*What a big, big win for the Giants on the road against a division rival playing with playoffs-or-bust determination. ↵

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↵*Pats dispatch Bills: For all those New England fans who named their kid "Tom" last year, don't you wish you waited for "BenJarvus?" ↵

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↵(If you're tracking injuries this weekend, none was bigger than Pats LB Adalius Thomas, who broke his arm and may be done for the season.) ↵

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↵*Wildcat Watch: Here's how good Miami's "Wildcat" formation is -- it turned Ricky Williams into an unstoppable weapon. ↵

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↵*Rookie Mania: Who's the more impressive QB, Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco? (Got to go with Ryan: Higher expectations -- and delivering.) ↵

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↵*Fantasy Stud: Adrian Peterson, 192 yards (6.4 ypc) and the game-winning TD against uber-rival Green Bay. ↵

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↵*Let's play "Who's the NFL's Worst?" Your contenders: The Rams (vs. the Jets); the Lions (at all); the Raiders (Monday-Saturday). Hey, at least the Chiefs made things interesting. The Bengals were blissfully on a bye week. ↵

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↵NASCAR: Congrats to your Chase champ, Jimmie Johnson. It's not "official" yet, but with JJ's win in Phoenix, it might as well be. ↵

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↵With one race to go, Miami will be no competition, all coronation. What other sport allows its "playoffs" to finish in advance of a final game? ↵

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↵(I suppose it's the equivalent of an MLB or NBA team going up 3-0 in a best-of-7 Finals series. You know what the final outcome will be.) ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: How far are the Rockets still behind the Lakers in the West? Oh, about 29 points. ↵

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↵(That's more than Houston's "Big 3" combined for. T-Mac and Ron-Ron combined for 3/22 FG, which largely explains the blowout loss.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, in AI's home debut in Detroit, the Pistons must have realized that the trade didn't get them much closer to toppling Boston. ↵

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↵Looking for a signature win for the Knicks in the D'Antoni Era? How about beating the previously unbeaten Jazz? (Isiah would NEVER win that.) ↵

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↵Injury Watch: Tony Parker out 4 weeks (ankle). As if the Spurs weren't having enough trouble this season already? ↵

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↵CBB: Blue Hose! (That's the answer to today's trivia question: When the college hoops season opens up tonight in Durham, what is the imposing nickname of Duke's "opponent," Presbyterian?) ↵

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↵Surprise, surprise: UNC is No. 1 in SN's Top 40 countdown. Just as with last year, anything less than a national title is a failure. ↵

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↵That said: UNC's track record of Hansbrough-led chokery in March doesn't speak much for the Heels' chances of fulfilling that mandate. ↵

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↵(I haven't seen any college hoops preview that doesn't pick UNC. Tell you what: You can have UNC; I'll take the field.) ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Matt Holliday is the hot name. Is he headed to Philly? Or maybe to St. Louis? ↵

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↵Today's Must-Read: Spencer Hall's Alphabetical look at the weekend in college football. ↵

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↵The Last Word: I'm not going to say that Texas Tech will lose to Oklahoma in Norman in 2 weeks, but you'd think the Big 12 would be smart enough not to create a tie-break that relies on the BCS rankings. ↵

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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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