Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Happy New Year!

Today's Calls: Steve Spurrier vs. Paul Johnson, LSU vs. App State, Cubs vs. Replay, Rays vs. .500, Brandon Marshall vs. Pacman Jones, Iran vs. the NBA, Wheaties vs. Phelps and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: We have reached the glorious moment of annual renewal for the sports year. ↵

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↵The Olympics felt like an exotic year-end vacation, but — as of this weekend — as sports fans, we re-set: ↵

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↵— College football kicks off. ↵

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↵— The NFL preseason is over.(And Fantasy gets finalized.) ↵

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↵— MLB’s September stretch. ↵

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↵Sports celebrates its “New Year” over Labor Day Weekend, and it is time to lock in, because it only gets more interesting from here. ↵

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↵Happy New Year! ↵

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↵CFB This Weekend: ↵

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↵Game of the Week: Mizzou-Illinois ↵

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↵Co-GOTW: Clemson-Alabama ↵

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↵Upset Special: Appalachian State over LSU ↵

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↵Spoiler Alert: Utah over Michigan ↵

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↵Blowout Watch: Texas Tech over Eastern Washington ↵

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↵SN’s complete Top 25 picks here. | (And here are mine.) ↵

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↵CFB Last Night: Even with an iffy offense, Steve Spurrier doesn’t lose season openers. ... Preseason rankings don’t jinx Wake Forest: Deacs looked solid winning on the road in the Big 12. ... Stanford beating Oregon State may not be USC-big, but it’s big. ... Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense will translate to Georgia Tech just fine: 349 yds rushing, 7.6 ypc, 6 TDs. ... Dan LeFevour 20/20 Watch: 3 TDs pass (217 yds); 0 TDs rush (42 yds). ... Name to Know: Nate Davis, Ball State QB (21-for-24, 290 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INT). ... Cincy QB Dustin Grutza (3 TD pass/1 TD rush) might make fans forget about Ben Mauk. ... Won’t be so easy for The U. next week at The Swamp. ... ↵

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↵CFB Season Preview: Who’s No. 1? I recommend this BCS bowl debate between Hall and Hayes. Spencer almost gets it right. ↵

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↵My Own Pick: Florida over Ohio State for the national title (I’m sure you’re shocked), after Florida wins the SEC (including a win against Georgia) and Ohio State runs the table after beating USC in L.A. ↵

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↵The rest of my preseason Top 10 (which is really how I think they will finish the season; my Top 10 as of next week will reflect actual performance on the field): (3) USC; (4) Georgia; (5) Oklahoma; (6) Mizzou; (7) West Virginia; (8) Auburn; (9) Clemson; (10) BYU. (Complete BlogPoll Top 25 ballot here.) ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: In a playoff-quality atmosphere and a playoff-quality opponent, the Cubs pound the Phillies. ↵

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↵Oh, and as if the game needed any more hype, replay in baseball debuted at Wrigley. ↵

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↵(BTW: Lots of reaction from Cubs fans to Obama’s crack about their fandom. Their “softie” rep simply doesn’t fit this wild season.) ↵

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↵Rays Bandwagon: Like a consolation prize on a game show, the Rays ensured they cannot finish below .500 this season. (This, of course, is fairly meaningless. At this point, anything less than the playoffs should be considered failure. THAT is progress.) ↵

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↵Too little, too late for the Yankees. I stand by yesterday’s Instant History that their playoff hopes are virtually over. ↵

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↵Injury Watch: Josh Beckett is going to see elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews. ↵

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↵Seriously, do the Twins want to be a contender or not? ↵

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↵Fantasy Studs: Nats Mania! Cristian Guzman hit for the cycle and Elijah Dukes jacked 2 HR to go with 4 RBI and a SB. ↵

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↵One more reason to dislike A.J. Pierzynski — or maybe MLB for blowing the call. ↵

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↵NFL Preseason Finales: Yaaawn! Oh, wait, we were talking about something? Meh. Let’s talk next week when I offer up the Shallowest NFL Preview Anywhere. (Meanwhile: Super-rematch? Hardly. And the Pats still can’t beat the Giants.) ↵

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↵Weather Update: The Saints have relocated to Indy because New Orleans is in Gustav’s path; will their September 7 opener happen at home? ↵

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↵Fantasy Football Watch: Three words for you, fantasy GMs — Draft Brandon Marshall. ↵

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↵(Speaking of reinstatement, Adam "Pacman" Jones is officially back in the NFL. Any doubt he’ll act his way out of it again someday?) ↵

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↵LenDale White does not care for your Buckeyes: “Ohio State sucks.” You have to respect his honesty. (via Sports By Brooks) ↵

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↵NBA: Iranian big man Hamed Haddadi has signed with the Grizzlies, teaming him with Marc Gasol in the All-World frontcourt. ↵

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↵Tennis: The U.S. Open is that much less star-studded (but a heck of a lot more intriguing) with the shocking upset of Ana Ivanovic. ↵

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↵Marketing: You'd think that Michael Phelps would be a lock for the Wheaties box — one of the most distinctive traditions in all of American pop culture. ↵

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↵Kellogg's thought the same thing: So they signed Phelps to a deal, effectively eliminating Wheaties from the competition for Phelps. Presumably, Phelps thought the Wheaties box was nice, but Kellogg's cash was nicer. (As alternatives, Nastia Liukin and decathlete Bryan Clay both earned the coveted honor. But it's just not the same without Phelps.) ↵

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↵Media: Roger Ebert, dean of film critics and a longtime Chicago Sun-Times staffer, absolutely crushes Jay Mariotti. ↵

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↵The Last Word: What is this Labor Day “holiday” you speak of? You can find the Wake-Up Call right here on Monday morning. ↵

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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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