Shanoff's WUC: Will Tebow Play? Won't Matter

Today's Calls: Tim Tebow vs. Death Valley, Matt Holliday vs. Ryan Franklin, Cole Hamels vs. Fatherhood, John Lackey vs. Red Sox lineup, Bill Belichick vs. Josh McDaniels, Donovan McNabb vs. Michael Vick and More. ↵

↵Tim TebowThe Opening Pitch: The biggest college football game of the year also has the biggest individual story line of the season. ↵

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↵Will Tim Tebow play against LSU? Let's unpack that: ↵

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↵Before anything, Tebow has to be cleared by doctors to play. Based on his participation in practice this week, all signs point to medical clearance. ↵

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↵But then coach Urban Meyer has to decide to put Tebow in the game. Is "cleared" the same as "100 percent?" How much contact has Tebow taken at practice? How will Meyer feel about Tebow plunging head-first into LSU's line on a QB keeper on 3rd-and-short? I know I'll be cringing. ↵

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↵Meyer is keeping the decision-making quiet and has indicated it will be a kickoff-time decision — but after following this story as closely as anyone in the country, I suspect it will happen even after that: ↵

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↵Meyer will keep an eye on the mid-game context before taking the risk of putting in Tebow. If backup QB John Brantley avoids turnovers, if Florida's defense plays up to its best-in-nation potential, if Florida's excellent special-teams units create favorable field position ... it is possible — even probable — Florida won't need Tebow to win. ↵

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↵No one expects Florida to dominate at LSU — with or without Tebow. Meyer's plan to win will be good enough. And as long as the team is playing "good enough" without Tebow, I think Meyer will not play Tebow. ↵

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↵Presuming medical clearance, Tebow will dress out for the game. He can inspire from the sidelines. He can act as an assistant QB coach for Brantley. But as long as the game is in control — within Meyer's plan — Tebow won't play. He may WANT to play, but he won't NEED to play. ↵

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↵Without Tebow, the Gators will beat LSU in Death Valley — call it 27-16. And with the Gators' toughest game of the regular season behind them, we can start the NEXT great absurd Tebow debate: Who needs Tebow? ↵

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↵Top CFB Story lines: Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. But even if Tebow doesn't play, it's still the Game of the Year in college football — just like it was in 2007. If the Gators win without Tebow: Whoa. (And I think they will.) If they don't, can a one-loss (w/o Tebow) Florida team that still wins the SEC title still bully into the BCS title game? ↵

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↵Must-See: SEC triple-header. Unbeaten, Malzahn-powered Auburn at Malzahn-exiled Arkansas at noon (Upset Special!) ... No. 3 Alabama at No. 20 Ole Miss at 3:30 (De facto SEC West title game?)... Florida at LSU at 8 (enough said). ↵

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↵More Games to Track: ↵
↵— Unbeatens Watch: Big Ten Edition ↵
↵Wisconsin at No. 9 Ohio State; Iowa hosts Michigan. ↵
↵— Bowdenfreude: No. 22 Georgia Tech at Florida State ↵
↵Gets worse for Bobby? Dadgummmit, you bet. ↵
↵— Upset Special: Texas A&M over Oklahoma State ↵
↵OK St Big 12 road opener, no Dez Bryant. ↵

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↵Top 5 NFL Story lines: ↵
↵— Game of the Week: Pats at Broncos ↵
↵Belichick vs. unbeaten protege McDaniels. ↵
↵— McNabb is back; how many snaps for Vick? ↵
↵Easing in: Eagles get 0-4 Bucs in Philly. ↵
↵— More Breathers for Contenders ↵
↵Cowboys at 0-4 KC, Vikings at 0-4 Rams. ↵
↵Giants home vs. 1-3 OAK, Steelers at Lions. ↵
↵— Titans Winless Watch ↵
↵0-5 probable w/ Sunday nighter vs. Colts ↵
↵— Fantasy Pick to Click
↵Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi ↵

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↵NFL Week 5 Picks: Bills, Cowboys, Vikings, Giants, Eagles, Steelers, Panthers, Ravens, Falcons, Jaguars, Texans, Pats, Colts, Jets. (Last week: 12-2, Year-to-date: 46-16 — by the way, through 4 weeks I am crushing SN's expert panel.) ↵

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↵MLB LDS Talking Points: ↵

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↵— Matt Holliday is an easy goat. His dropped catch of what would have been the game-sealing out WAS terrible. But it didn't directly cause a Cards collapse, snatching defeat from seeming victory. It did, however, seem to totally unnerve closer Ryan Franklin, who allowed light-hitting pinch-hitter Mark Lorretta to win the game. ↵

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↵— Did Cole Hamels' wife's labor cost the Phillies a crucial home win? Comparing the Hamels of the 2008 playoffs — dominant MVP — to the Hamels of yesterday — distracted loser — even Charlie Manuel admitted Hamels probably did not have the needed focus. (By the way, I give Hamels all the credit in the world for leaving the game as soon as he could, to be with his wife.) ↵

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↵— The Red Sox no longer own the Angels in the playoffs. The Sox hadn't been shutout in a playoff game since 1995 — 14 games. The Angels had NEVER shut another team out in the playoffs. The Angels had lost six straight playoff games at home and had lost 9 of their last 10 playoff games against the Red Sox. (But here's a stat: The Angels have never won a playoff series in which they won Game 1.) ↵

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↵Thursday Night CFB: Nebraska gets a statement win, KOing unbeaten Mizzou in Columbia. The Huskers obviously learned from their last big road game — the last-minute loss at Virginia Tech — exploding for all of their 27 points in the 4th to surge past Mizzou. ↵

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↵SN NBA Countdown: No. 20 Thunder. Is this the most "Free Darko" team in the league? Bethlehem Shoals loves 'em — that's probably as good of a recommendation as you could ask for. (Kevin Durant sure will look good in a Wizards uniform in 2012.) ↵

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↵CBB: Jeffrey Jordan might be coming back — you could say "unretiring" — to play for Illinois. (No, he didn't fax the media a note saying, "I'm back," although that would have been awesome.) Next, he'll quit the team again, then show up playing for (George) Washington. ↵

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↵Trivia: The Las Vegas Locomotives won the first game in United Football League history, over the California Redwoods. The most important number to know: 14,209 — that was the announced attendance, in LV's Sam Boyd Stadium (capacity: 40,000). ↵

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↵The Last Word: "That ball got lost in 50,000 white towels shaking in front of Matt's face. It doesn't really seem fair that an opposing team should be able to allow their fans to shake white towels when there's a white baseball flying through the air. How about Dodger Blue towels?" ↵
↵— Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright ↵ ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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