You know the drill. 15 who deserve props; 7 who got lucky; and an absolute ZERO. 15-7-0. And it’s a good thing the Ravens aren’t considered until Tuesday; or else their run defense might be the easy zero.
Deserving props are……
1. Cliff Tucker, Jeremy Goode, Josh Thornton, Darryl Proctor, Jordan Lee, and Brett Harvey
I don’t know about you; but I’m pretty thrilled to have college basketball back. Tucker looked much improved in tallying 14 as the Terps opened their campaign with a 81-52 win over Bucknell. Jeremy Goode put home 25 as Mt. St. Mary’s opened their season with a 84-76 win over Loyola. Thornton had 24 (19 in the 2nd half) as Towson opened their season with an 86-68 win over Navy. Proctor put home 20 boards and 9 boards as UMBC blasted Stevenson 91-54 to tip off their season. Freshman Lee tallied 22 as Coppin State pushed around Wilmington 94-73 to open the season for the Eagles. And Harvey tallied 34 points as Loyola bounced back from their season opening loss to beat Tennessee State 73-70 Sunday night.
2. Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor
Did Wells really do this? Wow. The Ohio State RB and QB combo combined for 253 yards rushing as the Buckeyes defeated Illinois 30-20 in Champagne; avenging their 2007 loss in Columbus. The Buckeyes still have a reasonable shot at the Rose Bowl-needing just a win over Michigan and a Michigan State win over Penn State.
3. Peyton Manning
The Ravens’ playoff hopes took multiple shots Sunday-as not only did their loss and the Steelers’ win hurt; the Colts put them behind the 8 ball in the Wild Card picture as well; thanks to 320 yards and 2 TD’s from Manning, who helped the Colts beat the Texans 33-27.
4. Brock Lesnar
Sure he’s just 3-1 in his MMA career. Sure the biggest fight he had won before Saturday night was against Heath Herring. Sure there will be detractors who say that his win says more about the lack of great talent in the UFC’s heavyweight division than it does about Lesnar as heavyweight champion. But he beat the greatest champion in UFC history in Randy Couture, and THAT is all you need to know about Brock Lesnar’s accomplishment.
5. Chris Crane and Russell Wilson
Crane was masterful for Boston College, throwing for 181 yards and a TD; and helping the Eagles hold the ball for nearly 40 minutes as BC stunned Florida State 27-17 in Tallahassee to stay alive for the ACC Championship. And I tried telling everyone that NC State was a good team; but not everyone believed me. Maybe after beating Wake 21-17 behind Wilson’s 3 TD’s more of you will understand how well Maryland had to play to beat the Wolfpack.
6. Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards
I don’t think myself a mathematician, but how a driver (Edwards) can win more races (9 to 7), finish in the Top 5 more often (19 to 15) and finish in the Top 10 more often (27 to 22) than another driver (Johnson) and yet still have to watch the other drive celebrate a Championship is strange to me. If I knew more about NASCAR, I’d attempt to explain this; but instead I’ll just say congratulations to Jimmie Johnson for becoming just the 2nd driver to win 3 straight titles.
7. Ryan Grant
It must be nice to play in a division where 5-5 is good enough for first place; as the Packers, Vikings, and Bears all remain tied at the top of the NFC North. Grant was masterful Sunday, rushing for 145 yards and a TD as the Pack CRUISED to a 37-3 victory over the Bears.
8. Nick and Vinnie DePaola
The Hereford Bulls made it look easy Friday with a 37-6 victory over Mervo in the 3A North Semifinals. The brothers DePaola ran for 3 TD’s, and Nick even recovered a fumble to boot. Next up for Hereford will be Milford Mill, who was a winner over Franklin.
9. Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators
There are many who believe the Gators are still the best team in the country. 3 TD’s from Tim Tebow, 167 yards rushing and 2 TD’s from Percy Harvin, and the Gators’ 56-6 win over former Florida coach Steve Spurrier and South Carolina will make sure the Gators don’t fall behind USC in the BCS standings.
10. Jeremy Hall and Denison Cabral
Loyola couldn’t quite make it a perfect regular season and a perfect soccer weekend in the area; but it was still pretty good. Hall scored the championship goal for the Terps as they defeated Virginia 1-nil for their 3rd ever ACC Championship. Cabral netted a hat trick as the Blast opened their season with a 14-4 blowout win over the Rockford Rampage.
11. Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson
Sometimes a trade REALLY works out for both teams. The Dodgers and Red Sox both benefited from their Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay swap last year; and this Iverson-Billups deal appears to be working for both the Nuggets and Pistons. The Pistons may have run out of gas in Phoenix Sunday night, but they’re still 7-3 thanks to Iverson’s 25 Friday night in handing the Lakers their first loss 106-95. It was a pretty good weekend for the Nuggets, who got 18 from Billups Friday night for a rare win in Boston; and 26 more from Billups to lead the way in a Sunday night win over Minnesota. (Congratulations to former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Anthony Morrow as well; as despite not being drafted-he worked hard in Summer League play and was able to sign with the Warriors. The signing paid off, as Morrow poured in 37 points and 11 boards in his first NBA start Saturday night-helping the Warriors beat the Clippers 121-103.)
12. James Bond
The 007 movie-record $70.4 million dollars that “Quantum of Solace” made this weekend isn’t surprising, as the most recent Bond flick is VERY good. It might not be quite as good as Casino Royale was, but the last Bond flick may be the reason movie-goers were encouraged to check out Daniel Craig’s second romp as James Bond. And the best thing about James Bond is that unlike other great protagonists; he is really never in any great danger. Even in difficult circumstances, 007 remains as cool as the other side of the pillow, and never gets in the type of sticky situations that even superheroes like Batman find themselves in. In fact, the title of the next Bond flick might as well be “Hey Everybody! Watch How Freaking Awesome I Am!”
13. Justin Gage
Who knew the Titans had a 100 yard receiver in their arsenal? Trailing 14-3 in the 2nd half at Jacksonville, the Titans’ perfect season didn’t crumble because Gage hauled in 2 TD passes from Kerry Collins; and finished with 147 yards on the day as the Titans walked away with a 24-14 win on the road. They’re 4 games up on the Colts with 6 to play in the AFC South; and are finding new ways to win every week.
14. Da’Rel Scott, Chris Turner, Davin Meggett, Antwine Perez, Obi Egekeze, Mack Frost, Ronnie Tyler, Jamari McCullough, and Danny Oquendo
Could any more Terps have made big plays on Saturday? It wasn’t a pretty win; but beating a good team in ACC play never is. Scott and Meggett combined for over 200 yards; Turner scrambled for 9 on 4th and 5; Perez stopped Cam Sexton on 3rd and 3; Frost sacked Sexton to set up McCullough’s game-ending pick; Tyler and Oquendo made multiple 3rd down receptions; and Egekeze hit another game winner in the rain. All of it added up for a 17-15 win for the Terps; who improved to 7-3 and still control their own destiny for a shot at the Orange Bowl.
15. Deli pickles
When ordering a turkey sandwich at a College Park eatery Friday night; I briefly considered picking up a bag of baked potato chips to accompany my dinner. But upon looking up and seeing a barrel of pickles; I immediately changed my mind and ordered a deli pickle-possibly the size of my forearm; to create the perfect meal. I cannot remember any time in my life when I was not thrilled with a deli pickle I have ordered, and I might go as far as to say that the deli pickle is the greatest accessory in sandwich making history.
Getting lucky were….
1. Charlie Weis
If Navy had gone down the field and scored the winning TD at M&T Bank Stadium Saturday, Weis might as well have not bothered to take the team charter back to South Bend. He was less than half the field away from sending every Notre Dame supporter across the country into absolute PANIC mode; and getting the chance to go back to the Patriots next season. I really don’t care for Notre Dame football, but even I would have felt bad for Weis had the Irish blown a 20 point lead in the final 100 seconds.
2. Eric Mangini
Is there still frostiness between Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini? Maybe, but Mangini can finally smile a bit; as the Jets are in sole possession of first place in the AFC East this late in the season for the first time since 2001-but it didn’t come easy. The Jets blew a 24-6 lead by allowing Matt Cassel to find Randy Moss in the corner of the endzone on 4th down with 1 second left in regulation. The Jets managed to get the 34-31 win in overtime thanks to a masterful drive by Brett Favre; leaving the Jets with a great chance to win the AFC East.
3. The New Jersey Devils
Yes, the Devils DID hold on to beat the Caps in a shootout Saturday night; but if the Devils and Caps somehow find each other very close in playoff positioning at the end of the season; New Jersey will certainly remember the goal they surrendered to Alexander Ovechkin as regulation expired to let the Caps steal a point in Newark. It might have been a fluke goal off a scrum near the net; but it was still inexcusable.
4. The Duke Blue Devils
Are they as good as their Top 5 ranking would make you think they are? Certainly not. But even I would have been stunned to see Duke lose to Rhode Island at home Sunday. But when the Devils fell behind by 12 early; you got the feeling it might be the Rams’ day. And had Duke not managed to score on their final 7 possessions, it might very well have been. Instead, the Crazies were able to see the 62nd consecutive non-conference win at Cameron Indoor 82-79.
5. The LSU Tigers
I can only imagine the look on Casey Willett’s face when he looked up and saw his Tigers were trailing 31-3 in the 2nd half against the Troy Trojans. The game was still in blowout territory in the 4th with Troy holding a 31-10 advantage. Sure, LSU scored the final 37 points of the game to win; but their win did little to help convince me that the SEC is the dominant conference we are told they are week in and week out.
6. The Arizona Cardinals
When you’ve never won a division since the franchise moved to the desert, this wasn’t the way you want to send-off the team that has won the last 4. The Cardinals allowed the Seahawks to shave 13 points off their 19 point fourth quarter lead; and needed a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie interception of a Matt Hasselbeck pass late to make sure the Seahawks didn’t get off the mat. With the NFC-best New York Giants next for Arizona; they could ill-afford to make the Seahawks think they were still alive for the NFC West crown.
7. The Freaking Steelers
When you can’t do as much as score one touchdown; you shouldn’t be able to beat good teams. Fortunately for the Steelers; their opponent Sunday were the reeling Chargers. Jeff Reed hit 3 field goals and Marcus McNeill recovered a fumble in the endzone for a safety that would prove to be huge as the Steelers won the NFL’s first ever 11-10 game. It was ugly, but the Steelers are-UGH-back in first place by themselves.
And this week’s total ZERO…
There is a chance Billy Gillespie could still one day become a great head coach at Kentucky. But somewhere in Minneapolis, Tubby Smith has to be smiling as the Wildcats continue to suffer unthinkable losses. Gardner-Webb last season, and now…….VMI? The Cats put up their worst defensive performance in 19 years; losing 111-103. This Kentucky team could still end up dancing in March; but this one certainly won’t be forgotten.
(And an honorable mention to the Eagles, Bengals, AND the NFL’s overtime rules that allowed for-A FREAKING TIE. The Eagles should be embarrassed for not being able to beat the dreadful Bengals. The Bengals should be embarrassed for having Shayne Graham miss a field goal and forcing newspapers, websites, and TV graphic-makers everywhere to add an additional column to the NFL standings. The NFL should be embarrassed that they don’t force teams to play additional overtimes. How can you possibly charge a fan 100 bucks to sit in the upper deck and witness a TIE?)
That’s it. Talk to you tomorrow morning.