Shanoff's WUC: Ole Miss Exposed, Who's Next?

Today's Calls: Ole Miss vs. Expectations, Mike Vick vs. Chiefs D, Penn State vs. Revenge, Pats vs. Falcons, Miami vs. Virginia Tech, NL Wild Card vs. AL Central and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Prove it. ↵

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↵It was a simple request we had of Ole Miss (not to mention the "expert" pollsters who use preseason rep and inertia as their No. 1 ballot criteria): Justify the lofty ranking. Last night, the Rebels (and pollsters) failed miserably. ↵

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↵That's a good cautionary tale for the biggest weekend story lines in college and pro football: ↵

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↵Penn State: Prove the early-season success isn't the product of cupcake scheduling by beating a solid Big Ten opponent. (PSU even gets the benefit of playing at home, in a vengeance game, so no excuses for NOT winning.) ↵

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↵• Mike Vick: Prove that he is worthy of the "I thought I'd be ... starting" talk. Prove that the Wildcat is more than a gimmick when put in the hands of a true dual-threat QB. Prove that, because of his added presence, the Eagles should be considered an NFC contender. ↵

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↵Ole Miss wasn't symptomatic of college football's inherent wackiness; it was indicative of the wackness of the pollsters' early-season rankings, especially when a "top" team hasn't played anyone good, then -- y'know -- actually plays someone good. ↵

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↵It's how we know Alabama is for real. Or the Jets. ↵

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↵At the very least, college football's traditional process of elimination works: We now know that Ole Miss is NOT a contender. ↵

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↵More NFL Week 3 Story Lines: Playing a Top 3 team in the NFC (modeled on the Pats themselves) is make-or-break in affirming the Pats as a legit Super Bowl contender -- or affirming something is VERY wrong this season. ... So: About Adrian Peterson's balky back. He says it's not an issue; we'll see. ... Could the Titans really start 0-3? With the Jets up next? Yes. ... The Saints’ O has made itself must-track. ... If the Lions were ever going to break the losing streak, the Skins are the team to help them out. ↵

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↵NFL Week 3 Picks: Lions, Packers, Vikings, Falcons, Jets, Eagles, Giants, Ravens, Texans, Saints, Bears, Chargers, Steelers, Broncos, Colts, Cowboys. (Last week: 8-8; year-to-date: 21-11) ↵

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↵CFB Game of the Week: Miami at VA Tech. Wins over iffy FSU and overrated Georgia Tech won't do anywhere near as much to prove "The U. Is Back!" as going into Blacksburg and beating the Canes' biggest rival for the ACC title. ↵

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↵This week's other top CFB story lines: Speaking of "prove-it" games, let's see Cal beat a good Pac-10 team on the road before we call them the team to beat in the league. ... Great test for Alabama's pass D against Arkansas. ... Cincy Rules: We'll get a good comparison to Boise St against common foe Fresno St. ... Expect USC to bounce back at home vs. Wazzu. ... Must-See: Texas Tech at Houston. ... Upset Special: Georgia Tech over UNC. (Going conservative this week after last week's Toledo-over-OSU debacle.) ↵

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↵NHL: Wayne Gretzky resigns. And could you blame him? What a mess in Phoenix. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: All that's left for the next two weeks is the feeble NL Wild Card and slightly more robust AL Central races, plus the jockeying for home-field advantage and playoff "seeding." Root for something -- anything -- to make this interesting. ↵

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↵• NL Wild Card: The Giants missed a great chance to pick up a game on the Rockies; that's the kind of missed opportunity that will cost SF any chance at catching the Rox. (Braves and Marlins both idle -- and both 4 GB the Rockies). ↵

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↵• AL Central: How huge is that Tigers-Twins 4-gamer in Detroit starting Monday? Detroit goes into the weekend up 3 games with 10 to play. Last night, they went to their ace Justin Verlander, and he delivered with 11 Ks in 7 IP, leading Detroit to his 17th W. ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Good backstory for why I think Jonny Flynn will be Rookie of the Year -- and make the Rubio situation even more awkward for Minnesota. ↵

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↵Speaking of awkward: David Lee finally signed with the Knicks, after getting stuck in the worst free-agent market in NBA history. ↵

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↵CBB: Top 10 Power Forwards, via DeCourcy -- I agree Patrick Patterson is the No. 1 player in the group. Let's see: Kentucky has the No. 1 or 2 PG, the No. 1 PF and a slew of talent. Yup: That's a pretty good foundation to pick them preseason No. 1. ↵

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↵Auto Racing: Don't expect to see Danica in NASCAR anytime soon. ↵

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↵Tasteless: This was awful. ↵

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↵Programming Note: In observance of Yom Kippur, I won't be filing a Wake-Up Call on Monday, but I will see you back here bright and early on Tuesday morning. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I'm glad it's over with so everyone can just stop talking about it and play ball." -- Ole Miss LT Bradley Sowell, who apparently had no interest in being a national-title contender this season. ↵

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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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