The Opening Pitch: The college football regular season is the best in sports because every game matters. The regular season is, more than any other sport, a de facto playoff. Lose once, you're on notice, if not out; lose twice, and (with ultra-rare exception), your season is over.
Florida and Texas and Ohio State and Penn State and USC may earn our respect as some of the best teams in the country, but they earn no credibility the first week of the season for not challenging themselves when there is the most uncertainty.
Save that admiration for Boise State: The Broncos staked their claim to a BCS-bowl bid by absolutely stifling Oregon's offense. Boise may roll through the weak WAC undefeated, but they can always point back to this game. (Whether Oregon, in hindsight, was as good a team as their preseason record is another question -- based on their sorry offense, let's agree the Ducks were a wee bit overrated.)
Looking ahead to tomorrow: Credit Oklahoma for opening with BYU, one of the top five non-BCS programs. And Alabama for opening for the second consecutive year against a top-10 opponent. Do the same for Georgia and Oklahoma State, which could open up its 2009 season -- as hopeful of a BCS breakthrough as any season in recent OK St. history -- with huge momentum, knocking off a top-15 powerhouse from the SEC.
The point is that, at some point, would-be national contenders not only have to win -- but WHO they are beating matters.
LeGarrette Blount incident: Yikes, was THAT unfortunate. In a very hostile road environment, after the most frustrating offensive performance for Oregon in years, I appreciate that Blount was frustrated. But a player -- college, pro, whatever -- can never, NEVER engage fans in the way Blount did. That he showed sincere remorse almost immediately afterward should matter; he should still be suspended for a game or two.
South Carolina edges NC State in a truly ugly one that reflected the reality that we are so starved for college football that even this terrible football would be acceptable.
Tomorrow's Top CFB Story Lines Today:
• Routs expected: Who will look sluggish?
• Game of the Weekend: OK St.-Georgia
• Statement games: For Bama, OU, OK St
• What if: Notre Dame loses to Nevada?
• What if: Michigan loses to W. Michigan?
This week's Top 25 Picks: Presume ranked beats unranked in every game (or higher-ranked team wins -- ie, OK St. over UGA, Okla over BYU, Bama over VA Tech), EXCEPT: I'll take Nevada over Notre Dame. Charlie Weis starts the season right!
Stop laughing at Notre Dame's folly, Michigan fans: Your team is going to lose, too -- the home opener to Western Michigan. WMU senior QB Tim Hiller > UM freshman QB Tate Forcier. (Yes, WMU's defense is rebuilding; good thing they only have to deal with Michigan's offense.)
Mike Vick reinstated for Week 3: INT? Lost fumble? 4 sacks? Bah! He scored a TD, didn't he? Is Vick ready to be an NFL starting QB? No. Will he be ready by Week 3? No. (Well, it IS against the Chiefs. ...) Will he be able to contribute a red-zone TD per game? Why not?
No NFL salary cap in 2010? Does that mean every NFL owner cuts their payrolls down to the nub? Or that some profligate spender who wants to win now will convince a bunch of good free agents to take huge 1-year deals, perhaps playing on their fears of an unpaid lockout in 2011? Or is "uncapped year" just a technicality?
MLB Talking Points
• NL Game of the Night: Pedro out-pitches Lincecum!
• AL Game of the Night: Red Sox take series in Tampa.
• Hanley helps: Pinch-hit heroics vs. ATL.
• Irony: Oh, NOW the Mets start to win?
• Fantasy Stud: Carlos Torres (7 IP, 0 ER, 6 K, W).
NBA Offseason: Bruce Bowen retires. You may have found his game aggravating, but you can't deny the key role he played during the Duncan Dynasty.
Dirk's ex-g/f Cristal Taylor not pregnant: The NBA's most sensationalized summer scandal appears to reach some closure. (Unless, like me, you had already forgotten about Dirk's L'Affair Cristal.)
NBA Twitter policy: Let's hope the league recognizes that its players’ enthusiasm for Twitter has been a huge boon for the NBA's popularity in social media -- yes, even (perhaps especially) when Charlie V tweeted during halftime; a C-list NBA player became an A-lister in social media.
Schadenfreude: Jeff Jagodzinski fired as Bucs O.C. This after he was fired as BC head coach after he went fishing for an NFL coaching job. Boston College fans now believe in karma.
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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