Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Cassel, Hochuli, USC

Today's Calls: Matt Cassel vs. Brett Favre, Brandon Marshall vs. Darren McFadden, Norv Turner vs. Ed Hochuli, USC vs. The Field, Carlos Zambrano vs. No-No, Phils vs. Brewers and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: This is what we've come to in the NFL, after only two weeks: ↵

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↵— Matt Cassel wins just the same as Tom Brady. ↵

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↵— Aaron Rodgers is arguably the hottest QB in the league. ↵

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↵— The best WR is a guy who, two weeks ago, the NFL didn't want playing. ↵

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↵— The best RB is a rookie who wasn't even starting as of Sunday morning. ↵

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↵— And Brett Favre is still throwing game-killing INTs. ↵

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↵Yup, that about sums it up. ↵

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↵Broncos' controversial win: Vox Hochuli? Ref Ed Hochuli's horrendous call cost the Chargers what will likely turn out to be a critical win against a division rival. ↵

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↵Hochuli knows he blew it, and probably knew it just as quickly as he prematurely blew his whistle to save the Broncos' game-winning drive. ↵

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↵His call was wrong on multiple levels: He blew his whistle because he thought it was an incomplete pass. Not only was it a fumble — and not an incomplete pass — but, even if you stipulate that it WAS a pass, the pass went backward, meaning even if it was incomplete, it was a live ball. ↵

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↵"Whoops" isn't enough: Given that he cost the Chargers a week's victory with an egregiously bad call, I propose Hochuli be benched for Week 3. (And the NFL has a problem that replay can't solve. The solution? Instruct refs to swallow their whistles during would-be fumbles.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, how good is Brandon Marshall? The Broncos WR returned from suspension to catch 18 passes, 2nd-most all-time in a single game. (Don't cry for rookie sensation Eddie Royal: He salvaged his day by catching both the game-ending TD and the game-winning conversion.) ↵

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↵Rookie Watch: Darren McFadden, who needed just two games to prove why he is this season's Adrian Peterson: 164 yards on 21 carries with a TD. ↵

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↵More: Who had the Cards, Panthers and Titans all at 2-0? ... And who had the Seahawks, Vikings and Jags all at 0-2? ... Eli Manning has turned a corner, but Trent Edwards is having the breakout season. ... OK, maybe Jim Zorn is going to be just fine. ... And maybe Matt Ryan won't be. ↵

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↵MNF Tonight: Eagles at Cowboys. For all the excitement yesterday, this game matches up arguably the top two teams in the NFL in an already-pivotal NFC East game. Story line: Romo vs. McNabb. ↵

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↵USC obliterates Ohio State: Two main aftershocks. (1) USC gets “poll position” for one of two BCS title-game spots (regardless of how weak their conference appears to be); (2) Ohio State, even if they go 11-1, will never be voted by pollsters to play for the national title. ↵

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↵CFB Weekend Observations: I'm ready to chalk Georgia's close win to ferocious SEC defense, rather than overratedness. ... Your new Heisman front-runner should be Chase Daniel. ... BYU ran it up on UCLA because that's what the BCS system insists they do. ... East Carolina has earned some leeway for a let-down game (still a win) after their start. ... I appreciate Penn State's resurgence, but I still don't buy 'em. ... Overrated: Charlie Weis' knee. ↵

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↵Must-Read: Spencer Hall's weekly A-B-C's. ↵

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↵CFB Rankings: What I find preposterous is that anyone would rank any team except USC at No. 1 after the data that we have so far in 2008. ↵

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↵Two voters in each poll voted for UGA and one each, ridiculously, voted for Florida. (One coach voted for Oklahoma, which isn't entirely crazy.) East Carolina took a hit for barely beating Tulane, but not nearly as much as Ohio State did for getting annihilated by USC. ↵

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↵Worth noting: Five of the AP's Top 10 are from the SEC; 4 of the AP's Top 11 are from the Big 12. USC is the lone Pac-10 team. Knee-jerk-8th Wiscy rounds out the 10. ↵

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↵My First Pass at the BlogPoll Top 25 Ballot: (1) USC; (2) Oklahoma; (3) Missouri; (4) LSU; (5) Georgia; (6) Florida; (7) Texas; (8) BYU; (9) South Florida; (10) Texas Tech ↵

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↵Head over to DanShanoff.com to weigh in on my ranking — I find myself changing my ballot for persuasive arguments. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: "No" news is good news for the Cubs. Doesn't get much crazier than this: In a one-game "series" hosted by Houston (but played in Milwaukee), Carlos Zambrano (who had Cubs fans sleepless with arm troubles) throws the Cubs' first no-hitter in 36 years. Omens don't get much better than that. ↵

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↵NL Playoff Push: The Brewers could have used that kind of home-cooking, because they were swept in a Sunday doubleheader in Philly; their Wild Card lead has evaporated, now tied with the Phillies. ... The Mets can't afford to be losing games in the 9th. ... The sizzling Dodgers were stifled in Denver, but the D-backs couldn't take advantage (what else is new?) ↵

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↵AL Playoff Push: Speaking of sweeps, the White Sox got a big one over the Tigers to hold off the Twins. ... A pair of weekend wins by the Red Sox (and losses by the Rays) means the Sox are only 1 GB in the East (but the Rays are 7 games ahead of the next-closest WC team, with 15 to play). ... Congrats to all-time single-season saves leader, K-Rod. ↵

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↵MLB Rookie Watch: David Price, the jewel of the Rays' youth movement and arguably the best pitcher in minor-league baseball, made his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium: 5.1 IP, 4 K, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 ER. ↵

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↵NASCAR: Kyle Busch's amazing “regular season” will be utterly meaningless if he doesn't win the Chase — especially if he bottoms out. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Michael Phelps wasn't bad on "Saturday Night Live." But that's only because my expectations for him were so low. ↵

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↵Here is FirstCuts' take on Phelps' "acting" performance. ↵

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↵My expectations, however, for the rest of the show were fairly high. And, aside from the opening Palin-Clinton skit, it was terrible. How does a presumably talented cast of writers and actors spend all summer preparing, then come out of the gate with that show? ↵

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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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