Saturday, September 11, 2010

CFB Hangover: Uh, So About Boise...

It is fairly remarkable that Boise State didn't even play today, and yet their season of hopes for a shot at playing in the BCS championship game imploded when Virginia Tech lost to James Madison.

I have had Boise State ranked No. 1 since January, in the preseason and in Week 1. The latest ranking was partly a function of the offseason, but mainly a function of the credit I gave them for beating a seemingly great team.

And now, under the weight of further evidence -- fodder for any "resume-based" ranking -- I will take that No. 1 designation away. Virginia Tech won't even be ranked.

I reject the "But Virginia Tech was ranked No. 6 at the time" -- every win should be re-interpreted in light of new evidence. In this case, the new evidence is damning: Boise State's win -- its close win -- over Virginia Tech isn't nearly as impressive as it was a few days ago.

More notes from the weekend:

*Would you like to see a No. 1 team in action? Hopefully, you watched Alabama dismantle a Penn State team that will likely end the season inside the Top 20. The Tide made Penn State look like a 1-AA team. So much for that questionable Alabama D.

*Last point about Alabama: If it wasn't obvious before, Trent Richardson is better than reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram. And it doesn't appear to be close.

*OK: While I'm not sure if Ohio State would have won as big if they were playing away from the Horseshoe, I have to give them credit for beating a solid -- if not great -- Miami team.

*Two words: Denard. Robinson. There isn't a more exciting player in college football, and he has catapulted himself to the top of the Heisman race.

*Apologies to Oklahoma fans, for doubting you.

*Apologies to all fans, for foisting Georgia Tech on you as a Top 10 team.

*My doomsday prophesy for Florida against South Florida looked pretty good for about a quarter and a half, in one of the hottest game conditions I have ever personally experienced. Despite the eventual rout, Florida did little to prove they are anything close to elite.

*Who would have guessed that Steve Spurrier's salvation at South Carolina would come in the form of a running back? But freshman Marcus Lattimore is that good.

Preliminary BlogPoll Top 10:
1. Alabama
2. TCU
3. Ohio St
4. Boise St
5. Texas
6. Utah
7. Iowa
8. Auburn
9. Oklahoma
10. Oregon

Complete poll coming tomorrow evening. Roughly looking at 11-25 like this: Houston, Nebraska, South Carolina, Air Force, Miami, Florida, Oregon St, Arkansas, Arizona, Wisconsin, Stanford, LSU, Michigan, Fresno St, USC. (Out: PSU, GT, FSU, VT, WVU. Cusp: Baylor, A&M)


*Kim Clijsters: Go Moms!

*Federer KO'ed: Did anyone NOT want to see Fed-Nadal?

*USA Hoops: Game of the Decade today vs. Turkey (at Turkey). Kevin Durant will have to have the game of his life, frankly.

*Is Vernon Davis worth more money than any tight end in NFL history? Frankly, it doesn't really matter what any of us think -- he's being paid like it.

*Latest hero in the NL West see-saw: Tim Stauffer.

*While I was recovering from the Gator game and relaxing while watching late-afternoon college football, Penn State women's volleyball was a couple miles away on the UF campus in Gainesville having their 109-match streak snapped by Stanford.

*Um, yeah: So it's only the first Sunday of the NFL regular season. Setting aside Thursday night's opening game, Week 1 is here. Settle in!

-- D.S.

Saturday (Panicked) Quickie

This is strange. This is my 10th season as a Florida football fan -- 6th of the Meyer Era -- I have never felt as uncertain about a Florida game outcome as I am about today, when the Gators play South Florida at the Swamp.

Not last year at LSU in the "Tebow post-concussion" game. Not any of the "win-or-else" games in 2006 or 2008. Not even last year's SEC title game against Alabama.

But a combination of factors have me freaked about Florida losing to USF:

(1) The way Florida played last week. In a word: Dreary, particularly the offense. (And now comes word Florida may be without its kicker.)

(2) USF QB BJ Daniels. I polled folks yesterday trying to figure out if Florida had ever played as talented of a dual-threat QB in the Meyer Era. No one could think of any.

(3) For USF, this is their national-championship game. I would argue they care more about winning this game than winning the Big East title. Florida simply can't care as much.

Again, I have never been as uncertain about a Florida game's outcome as I am today. I really do think there is a serious chance they are going to lose. Winning would be a relief, not a thrill.

(Perhaps, with expectations like those, it should be the other way around: When you least expect it, shouldn't the win be particularly thrilling? Hmm: Have to consider that.)

So there's my agita for the day. I can only imagine how fans of national contenders are feeling whose teams are in even tougher match-ups: Ohio State, Miami, Oklahoma, FSU, Penn State... I suspect that Alabama fans feel pretty comfortable about where things are.

What a great day in college football: From the Swamp at noon to the couch at 3:30 for OSU-Miami and Oklahoma-FSU to the 7 p.m. kickoff of Alabama-Penn State.

More this morning, briefly:

*What a brutal result for Marshall fans. I watched most of that game and the Herd had that thing won... right up until they started playing not to lose.

(Houston did nothing in routing UTEP last night to change my mind that they are a Top 20 team that is being too easily dismissed by the pollsters. Keenum didn't even throw a TD.)

*Did I say "Monday" about the Padres officially losing their lead in the NL West? I meant Friday.

*Roy Halladay for NL Cy? I can get behind that. (I am absolutely behind the "King Felix for AL Cy" movement. Would be an even bigger moment for voters than picking Greinke in '09. Felix pitches today, and I suspect all the voters will be paying attention.)

*Fantasy Stud: Nelson Cruz, a star on my fantasy team -- which, naturally, earned a bye-week in the consolation bracket. Can use those HRs next week, Nelson!

*Injury Watch: Johan Santana's shoulder. Let's keep an eye on that in 2011. A brutal Mets season gets even worse. Hey, at least their single-A team in Brooklyn is playing for a league championship.

*Schadenfreude alert: Bruce Pearl.

*Villanova football into the Big East? It's not a bad idea: Nova is a 1-AA power, and 1-A status with Pennsylvania and New Jersey's recruiting base could yield a pretty good team. (Also, the league wouldn't have to expand the hoops league to bring in a new football team.)

*USA Hoops: World Basketball Championship semifinal vs. Lithuania, no easy game. Again: Team US is a failure if they don't win gold. So winning today is obviously a must.

*Although I was in Gainesville, I did not see Penn State women's volleyball extend its record winning streak to 109 matches last night against the Gators.

*Good gosh, Tiger really does suck right now.

Happy birthday to my father-in-law! Happy to be able to be in Gainesville with him to celebrate. Um, let's hope it doesn't include a Florida loss.

-- D.S.

Friday, September 10, 2010

College Football Preview/Picks

Another week, another game I'll watch in person at The Swamp -- the final chance I'll have to watch Florida first-hand this season.

Unlike last week, I have very low expectations. Unlike last week, I'm ditching my Tebow jersey as gameday shirt of choice. Oh, and BJ Daniels scares the hell out of me. (Not quite as much as nutjobs threatening to burn the Quran, but still.) For USF, this is a national-championship-level game; can't say that I think UF feels the same way about it. Very very nervous.

There are a ton of marquee games -- a Florida loss at home to South Florida would trump all of them. Let's take a pass through the schedule. Enjoy the weekend!

1 Alabama over 18 Penn State -- And it won't be close.
2 Ohio State over 12 Miami -- GOTW. Very very close.
4 TCU over Tennessee Tech
5 Texas over Wyoming
6 Nebraska over Idaho -- NU still overrated.
7 Oregon over (at) Tennesse -- Let's see 70+ here.
8 Florida over South Florida -- Umm...Upset Special?!
9 Iowa over Iowa St
17 Florida State over (at) 10 Oklahoma -- Upset Special
11 Wisconsin over San Jose St
13 VA Tech over James Madison
14 Arkansas over LA-Monroe
15 Georgia Tech over (at) Kansas
16 USC over Virginia
19 LSU over at Vanderbilt
20 Utah over UNLV
21 Auburn over Mississippi State -- Thursday night.
22 Georgia over (at) 24 South Carolina
23 West Virginia over Marshall
25 Stanford over (at) UCLA

More games of note:

Notre Dame over Michigan
Houston (DS-ranked!) over UTEP
Washington over Syracuse
Cal over Colorado
Air Force over BYU
Northwestern over Illinois St

-- D.S.

2010 NFL Season Preview Mania

A few (sort of belated) thoughts on the 2010 NFL season:

*There isn't a scenario where there can be an ending as dramatic as last season's -- the historically woeful Saints winning a championship, with the key play an unlikely onside kick that I consider to be the single greatest play in the history of the NFL. Anything -- everything -- after that is a let-down, including (perhaps especially) a Saints repeat.

*However, I am a sucker for repeats in sports and think the Saints will repeat as NFC champs.

*I probably should take the Colts in the AFC, but I want to reward the Ravens for upgrading their passing to match the terrific Ray Rice on the ground (plus the D).

*No team is more worth watching than the Jets -- Rex Ryan proved that during this season of "Hard Knocks."

*For a long time this summer, I was honestly thinking that Tim Tebow had a shot at NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year -- say, if he scored 7-10 TDs on single-wing plays, plus made all sorts of other key plays, like short-yardage 1st-downs. I'm not convinced Josh McDaniels is ballsy/innovative enough to use him that aggressively, which would -- of course -- change my prediction. The safer bet is CJ Spiller.

*I fully expect Sam Bradford to break in half before the season is over. It's not that I think he'll play 16 games, which is a struggle for even the heartiest QB; it's that I don't think he'll make it through six.

*Things will not go nearly as well for Brett Favre this season as they did last season. And Donovan McNabb will be a flop in DC. (T.O. in Cincinnati, on the other hand, will do really well.)

*Big Ben's return in Week 5 will be one of the Top 3 biggest events of the season. It shouldn't be, but it will be.

Season Predictions:

NFC East: Giants (WC: Cowboys)
NFC North: Packers
NFC South: Saints (WC: Falcons)
NFC West: 49ers
NFC Champ: Saints

AFC East: Pats (WC: Jets)
AFC North: Ravens (WC: Steelers)
AFC South: Colts
AFC West: Chargers
AFC Champ: Ravens

Super Bowl: Ravens over Saints

What are you picking?

-- D.S.

09/10 Quickie: Saints, NFL Week 1, More

Don't forget to join in the NFL Pick 'Em group (or the College Football Pick 'Em group), both "Daily Quickie Readers."

Today's Names to Know: BJ Daniels, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Miles Austin, Ray Lewis, Auburn, Terrelle Pryor vs. Jacory Harris, NL West, Carlos Gonzalez and More.

Gainesville, Fla. -- It's pretty strange that the biggest storyline of the sports weekend here is whether some nutjob is going to burn the Quran.

But, hopefully, that's now a non-issue, and we can concentrate on what I gauge around town as not nearly enough panic that Florida could lose tomorrow. Let's leave that there.

Saints beat Vikings in opener: And if, like me, you fell asleep before the game ended -- you didn't miss much. That opening Saints drive was one of the biggest sports teases of all time. Still: The NFL is back. No complaints.

(Um, to follow that last part up: Last night's game was the most-watched NFL season opener ever. Yes, ever. And it was NBC's most-watched game since 1997, essentially the pre-internet era. Partly it was "any football is good football," but there's no question that if it was Raiders-Bills, fewer fans would watch than "Saints-Favre.")

Big new deal for Tom Brady: It is impossible to imagine this NOT having happened. He's only the face of the franchise and one of the Top 3 QBs in the league -- certainly for the next 4 years of his extension. What they've done is punt on the awkwardness of the eventuality he is let go.

Big new deal for Miles Austin, too: From undrafted to massive contract makes Austin one of the most interesting NFL talent-develpment stories of the past decade -- not unlike Brady, frankly. But...

...Isn't it less about talent development than a poster for the failure of the talent-evaluation/"draftnik" industry, that one of the elite WRs in the NFL could so comprehensively go unnoticed?

This isn't whiffing on an undrafted player who goes on to be a serviceable practice-squad player; this is missing on a player who almost instantly became one of the Top 5 receivers in the sport.

Ray Lewis calls out the Jets: "No excuses" with Revis back on the roster. There are a couple things to love about this -- (1) Lewis so willing to talk smack; (2) making one of the best games of Week 1 even better; (3) affirming the Jets have become a national NFL brand.

Auburn gets one in Starkville: While many of the other Top 25 teams are racking up cupcake wins this weekend, Auburn earned an SEC road win -- no small thing. Not sure if Auburn looked like a Top 10-crasher, but certainly confirmed their Top 20 status.

What a weekend in college football: Ohio State-Miami is the headliner. Alabama-Penn State should affirm how good Bama is. Florida State-Oklahoma is one of the top "prove-it" games of the month. Even Notre Dame-Michigan is intriguing beyond the recent "which team can generate more schadenfreude." And that's all without upsets (see above -- gulp).

Is there any less of a story than LeBron reportedly going to attend the OSU-Miami game? I do like the "worlds-colliding" element: LeBron is an Ohio State fan -- he almost certainly will lure Terrelle Pryor to his shoe brand -- but he will have to directly spurn his new fans in Miami, who almost assuredly are rooting for The U.

This is not unlike the way he watched the Indians-Yankees playoff series while wearing a Yankees cap. The only redeeming thing about LeBron being a Buckeyes fan is that you can hardly call him a front-runner for a team that so rarely actually makes it to the front. I cannot believe I have now spent 200 words on LeBron's rooting interest in the Miami-tOSU game.

Giants bop Padres: 1 GB with 3 more to play head-to-head this weekend. By Monday morning, I think we'll have a new leader in the NL West. (Hardly a bold prediction, given San Diego's slide the last few weeks.)

More awesomeness from Carlos Gonzalez: Ultimately, I think Joey Votto gets the nod from NL MVP voters because (a) Votto will be in the playoffs and Cargo won't be, and (b) voters love the historic weight of Cincinnati versus the nouveau riche-ness of Colorado. (See Tulowitzki's Rookie of the Year runner-up finish a few years back.)

Team USA routs Russia: No, this has nothing to do with 1972. Good god, people: Let it go. If you are under the age of 50 -- 50! -- you have zero recollection of this event in sports history. Let's focus on what should be plenty challenging semifinals tomorrow, shall we? (A US-Turkey finals would be nutso -- at least the crowd environment.)

Carmelo to the Bulls for Joakim Noah? If the Nuggets were extremely lucky, they would get to pull off this deal -- and without having to take on Luol Deng's albatross salary. The fact is that Denver should be wanting to get something back for Carmelo; Noah feels like about as much value on the dollar as the Nuggets will get.

NFL Labor Pains: Anyone actually think they'll reach a deal by November? This is the union chief Smith posturing as

Scandals, Cont'd: More problems for UNC football?

Branding: If they told you they were switching it from "IndyCar" to "IRL" -- instead of the other way around -- would you know (or care)?

Coming later today: The Shallowest NFL Preview Ever (now Later Than Ever!) and CFB weekend picks.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

NFL Preview Delayed, Saints-Vikes Pick

Wasn't able to finish my short -- yet shallow! -- NFL preview post today. I will publish it on Friday morning. For now, I can merely make my pick on tomorrow's season opener: Saints over Vikings.

Complete Week 1 picks coming Friday. Don't forget to sign up for the ESPN NFL Pick 'Em group (Daily Quickie Readers) before tomorrow night's game.

(I'll give you a hint about the season preview: I pick the Saints to repeat as NFC champs, losing to the Ravens in the Super Bowl.)

L'shana tovah
, friends.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Deadspin

Five years ago today, Deadspin launched.

In my opinion, Deadspin has had such an impact on the sports-media landscape -- pound-for-pound, as much as anything in sports media in the 15 years of the "internet era" -- that it is even possible to splice sports' internet era into "pre-Deadspin" and "post-Deadspin."

Of course, that could also be shorthand for "pre-blogosphere" and "post-blog" (and you could make the same argument about Gawker, beginning in 2003).

Deadspin was and is important for its individual contributions to the landscape -- the stories broken, the talent incubated, the epic posts -- but probably just as important (if not more) for its symbolism:

Not simply "fan perspective" in sports media (which had been around arguably since 1995 or even earlier and was shifting inevitably) but the tip of the effort when it came to changing -- upending -- the relationship that existed between sports, its mediators and fans.

"Fan perspective" media was largely dominated by "me" (with exponentially more of that now); Deadspin was (and remains) far more concerned with "we" -- down to the literal "royal 'we'" deployed by founding editor Will Leitch. "We" are fans; "they" are, by implication, everyone else.

It was this combination -- of actually being a linchpin when it came to consuming sports in a new and different way and of symbolically representing the shifting balance of power between sports-media producer and consumer -- that is Deadspin's legacy and that has held up over the last half-decade.

The landscape has shifted seismically since September 8, 2005 -- and will continue to shift. More choice is one factor; seemingly everyone claiming to represent "we" is even more interesting.

Deadspin, like every other sports media company (or media company period), will have to iterate and evolve and test and risk; as much as anything, these first five years give Deadspin the foundation and the permission to stake out a powerful place over the next five years.

Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to its success -- editors, commentors, tipsters, linkers, lurkers, contributors, subjects, supporters -- and here's to more anniversaries to celebrate.

-- D.S.

(Wow, just went back and found this: My promotion of Deadspin's launch in the Daily Quickie on September 9, 2005. Very small item along the right side. Innocent times!)

09/08 Quickie: Boise, Bush, UK

Today's Names to Know: Boise State, Reggie Bush, Kellen Moore, Luis Scola, Tiger Woods, Enes Kanter, Joey Votto, Phillies, Mat Latos, Lew Perkins, Matt Ufford, Tim Tebow, Deadspin and More.

Cripes, the drama about Boise yesterday -- and, presumably, for the rest of the season.

I net out -- for now -- in a couple of ways:

(1) I think they are the best team in the country, based on preseason prognostication and one week of on-field proof. So count me in the "Boise rules" camp, I guess.

(2) I think that any poll voter who didn't have Boise as their No. 1-ranked team this week should have their ballot taken away, because voting should be (mostly) on what you've done so far.

In fact, in the long and illustrious history of the mainstream pollsters being laughably wrong, that Boise got only 8 1st-place votes in the haughty AP poll (just 7 flipped to Boise from the preseason poll) and ZERO in the epically tainted Coaches' poll is an indictment. (I remain entirely curious how many of my BlogPoll colleagues will join me this week ranking Boise at No. 1. I hope, as a percentage, it is much higher than the AP voters.)

(3) I think the only thing that everyone -- me, included -- should be focused on as it relates to rankings and BCS fates is where we are THIS week. For THIS week, Boise is a Top 2 team.

(4) I wish people would stop worrying about where Boise will end up after the first Saturday in December. You'd think CFB fans would know enough to know crazy results always happen.

(Um, except last year, when they didn't. But we'll conveniently overlook that.)

More on the radar this morning...

*Reggie Bush-Heisman SNAFU: Oh, just take the freaking thing away from him already. But only if you're going to give it to Vince Young. If you're just going to "vacate" it, forget I asked.

*Speaking of Heisman, it only took one week of college football games for my preseason Heisman pick Kellen Moore to take over the lead of the HeismanPundit straw poll.

*Luis Scola has been unstoppable at the World Basketball Championships. Brazil found out yesterday. Is the US going to find out, too?

*Speaking of the Worlds, let's just go ahead and presume that Turkish big man Enes Kanter won't be playing for Kentucky next season.

*Tiger on Ryder Cup team. Prediction: He is going to play amazingly and it is going to jumpstart the next phase of his career. Because he can subordinate himself -- the "solo Tiger" thing -- to playing for something else (the team). Please don't ask why I didn't give LeBron the same analysis about going to Miami.

*The Phillies are in first in the NL East. With 20-odd games to go, anyone give the Braves a shot to take it back? (I don't.)

*Milestones: Trevor Hoffman hits 600 career saves. (Meanwhile, Jim Thome has tied Frank Robinson for 8th on the all-time HR list.)

*MLB Fantasy Stud: Mat Latos, who may also be the only thing -- at least after last night's very quality start -- separating the Padres from the oblivion of not reaching the postseason.

*Yet another reason (via Neyer) to love Joey Votto.

*But that's only to keep pace with Carlos Gonzalez -- Triple Crown Watch.

*How will Tim Tebow do this season? There's a Teblog post for that.

*Kansas AD Lew Perkins retires immediately: Nothing sketchy about that.

*Matt Ufford of WarmingGlow and KSK is one of my favorite writers and favorite people. Please consider donating to his (hilariously humiliating) effort to raise money for Wounded Warriors.

*Happy 5th anniversary, Deadspin. I'll have a post about this birthday later today.

*Also coming today: Shallowest. NFL Preview. Ever.

*Don't forget to join in the NFL Pick 'Em league (groupname: Daily Quickie Readers). And enter your picks by tomorrow night's kickoff!

*No posting tomorrow, out of respect for the Jewish holidays. In my own interpretation, I will have a post on Friday.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

BlogPoll Tuesday: Boise State, TCU 1-2

Peggy: "I can't tell the difference anymore between something good and something awful."

Don: "Well, they're very close."

-- Mad Men, "The Suitcase" (9/5/10)


In one interpretation, the first Top 25 ballot after the season starts is even noisier than the preseason ballot.

The preseason ballot is entirely fluffy. The ballot after a single week of games does its best to bake in what we saw on the field -- so-called "resume ranking" (who won, who they beat, how they won, where they won) -- but the data sample is so limited that it is impossible to put that play on the field in any sort of meaningful context.

It is easy to be seduced by the routs (see Oregon) or the pinball numbers (see Auburn) or overlook shoddy opponents or punish teams for not winning impressively enough (see Florida, Oklahoma, Wisconsin -- all plunged into the 20-25 range... or USC, out of the Top 25 entirely).

But then there is that bit of Week 1 clarity -- at least the clarity that I subscribe to: When a good team beats a good team. I give the winning team a LOT of credit (and I give the losing team a lot of credit too, presuming they make a game of it).

That made it easy to rank Boise State No. 1. Now, I'm going to try really hard to avoid any (largely vapid) triumphalism from having them ranked No. 1 in the preseason. But I hope that at least gives me the credibility to question anyone who doesn't have Boise ranked No. 1 this week. It is a bandwagon I'm happy to make room on.

It also made it easy to rank TCU No. 2 -- aside from Boise State, no team beat a better opponent this week than the Horned Frogs.

(To my point above, I refuse to penalize Virginia Tech or Oregon State for losing to, this week, the Top 2 teams in the country. In fact, the fact that both played each so tough makes me think that they proved more about how good they are than "1-0" teams who blew out cupcakes.)

Do things get murky? Absolutely. Why do I credit Utah only up to a point? Would I have ranked Oregon in the Top 5 if they hadn't scored 70 points but, say, merely something in the 40s, like Miami or Ohio State? Am I accounting for defense? Obviously, I can't watch every game to understand the full context of how points were scored or allowed.

Again: Week 1 is messy. With each passing week, there is more data -- not just who you beat this week, but how your previous week's wins stand up against increased context:

Ohio State-Miami is huge. FSU-Oklahoma is huge. Alabama-Penn State and Oregon-Tennessee will tell us a lot more about the Tide and Ducks than this past Saturday's romps. Mississippi State almost surely will enter the Top 20 if they beat Auburn on Thursday night. The Georgia-South Carolina winner will be ranked. Florida can move up if they look better against South Florida than they did against Miami of Ohio. The Notre Dame-Michigan winner probably crashes into the 20s.

For now, this is the best I can do -- without your help. But now I request that you please take a look and offer your suggestions, guidance, opinions and critiques in the comments. I will submit a revised ballot by tomorrow a.m.

1. Boise State
2. TCU
3. Alabama
4. Oregon
5. Ohio State

6. Utah
7. Texas
8. Georgia Tech
9. Miami
10. Iowa

11. Auburn
12. Florida State
13. Virginia Tech
14. Oregon State
15. Houston

16. West Virginia
17. Nebraska
18. Arkansas
19. Penn State
20. Arizona

21. Florida
22. Fresno State
23. BYU
24. Oklahoma
25. Wisconsin

(Out from last week: USC, Cincy, Pitt, Navy, Washington)

-- D.S.

09/07 Quickie: Boise, Boise, Boise(!)

Not only was last night's Boise State win over Virginia Tech likely the most important college football game of the season, but (given those stakes) it is unlikely we will see a more exciting game, either.

Consider: A huge game with massive national implications not just living up to the hype -- but actually exceeding it.

But really: Did anyone actually think that if/when VA Tech gave Boise the ball back with 90 seconds left and no timeouts -- hell, if it was 19 seconds left -- that Boise wouldn't march right down the field and score?

(This was the most obvious reality that the game produced, and VT's limp performance on their last possession was only slightly more staggering than Musberger and Herbstreit basically conceding the game on Boise's behalf, when the rest of us knew exactly what was coming.)

And so we have a clear No. 1 team for this week's rankings: Boise State. I can pack away my preseason predictions and mainly rely on a team's resume; no team had a bigger or better win this first week of the college football season than Boise.

Most importantly, it was memorable. And it needs to stay memorable -- even nostalgic. Because when we get to mid-October or mid-November and Boise's schedule stinks and the haters are howling and voters are questioning whether Boise is worth one of the top 2 spots in their poll...

...they need to remember last night's win -- most notable for Boise's unwillingness to see their dream season implode, even against a Top 10 team, basically on the road, only in Week 1.


Here's a preview of my BlogPoll ballot, mulled over late into last night: (1) Boise St, (2) TCU, (3) Alabama, (4) Oregon, (5) Ohio St. (Florida: 20th. USC: Unranked.) It's a mess. Come back at 12:3o today and see for yourself -- comments, critiques, etc. welcome, as always.

I love how people are like "This win could be big for Boise!" and "This win keeps Boise's BCS hopes alive!" Well, of course it does! "Hopes?" Folks can obviously disagree with me ranking Boise State at No. 1 in the preseason, but I can't understand how anyone wouldn't have them No. 1 this week -- you don't have to be a "resume-ranking" purist to credit Boise for presenting the best evidence -- on the field, in the 2010 season, given admittedly limited information -- that they are the best team in the country right now.

(I can already tell this "Boise State vs. Everyone Else" meme is going to be the most annoying storyline of the season. Sincere passions on both sides, but you're not going to convince anyone to switch opinions. It's OK for now, because we're within 12 hours of it being relevant, but is this going to be a "thing" every weekend from here on out? It's wearying, especially on Twitter.)

Here's what Boise State has to root for: That Virginia Tech runs the table. That Oregon State -- who BSU plays in a few weeks -- is a Top 3 team in the Pac-10. And that all the other contenders lose at least once in their conferences...

...And, most importantly, that voters are simultaneously sophisticated enough to recognize Boise's exceptionalism against a relatively weaker conference schedule -- yet stupid enough to merely look at overall records and say "Well, Boise is the only undefeated team!" en route to ranking them 1 or 2. This seeming contradiction is at the heart of Boise's BCS hopes.



*No team in baseball needed a win more than the Padres did yesterday, snapping that (season-killing?) 10-game losing streak. The Giants won, so SD is clinging to a 1-game lead that no one really thinks will hold up over the season's final 20-some games.

*If TJ Housh wanted to play for a contender that could use him, I completely understand how Ray Lewis' case to him was going to be compelling enough for the WR to sign with Baltimore. (The Ravens are the new Jets?)

*Of course, with Revis back, maybe the newer Jets are the new Jets.

*Does anyone really care where Matt Leinart ends up as the backup?

*Will anyone really watch the "T.Ocho Show?"

*In case you missed it over the long weekend, my fantasy baseball team tanked in the final week of the regular season, and not only did I fall out of the playoff field, but I fell into the second division... again.

I had never finished in the top half of my league, let alone made the playoffs. The streak continues. I think I might have to fire the manager for this year's depressing collapse. (Team MVP: Felix Hernandez, who kind of knows what I'm talking about.)

*More fantasy navel-gazing: I had my final football draft last night -- a KSK keeper league in which I finished last in 2009 but keep a solid core of Andre Johnson, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy. After giving up my keeper draft slots, my first pick was in the 3rd round, and although I needed a QB and a complementary WR, I had decided to reach for either Jahvid Best or CJ Spiller, if either were available. Both were. Personally, I prefer Spiller -- particularly in a keeper league -- but for some reason I can't think of this morning, I took Best. I'm now wondering what the hell I was thinking. (As for my holes at QB and WR, I ended up with the best of slim pickings in Round 5 and beyond by taking T.O. -- ugh -- and getting lucky with Matt Ryan in the 6th.)

*The NFL begins in two days. Don't forget to set your fantasy rosters. My NFL preview is coming tomorrow. (Thursday is Rosh Hashanah and I won't be posting.)

-- D.S.

Monday, September 06, 2010

09/06 Labor Day Quickie

Boise State-Virginia Tech tonight might be the biggest college football game of the season. That's a tough claim to make in Week 1.

Here's what we know:

If Boise State wins, they stake a claim to No. 1 this week (per "resume" ranking) and give themselves a marquee win to support getting a spot in the BCS title game if they go unbeaten.

If Boise loses, their dream of crashing the BCS title game -- and probably any BCS bowl -- is over. Doubters will say "Told you." And we lose a key storyline of the season immediately.

The stakes are not insubstantial. On the one hand, if Boise played a tougher schedule, they would have more than just this (and, arguably, Oregon State in 3 weeks).

On the other hand, as far as single-game challenges go, playing (and beating) arguably the best team in the ACC is one of the toughest tests any team will take on this season.

We don't know much this early into a season. But we do know that this is a big game.

For the record, I think Boise rolls (an unsurprising prediction from someone who thinks they are the best team in the country) and the debate is so on.

More: Jets and Darrelle Revis come to a deal. At the very least, it makes this week's Hard Knocks a lot more interesting. Season finale drama!

(Does Revis play offense? Because that's where the Jets have looked listless this past month. Maybe his return will energize the entire team.... The point is that he is the best player on the team, and they weren't going anywhere without him.)

Another season, another second-division finish in my baseball fantasy league. Losing 8 of 10 categories to a hungry playoff contender this week cost me what would have been my first-ever top-half-of-the-league finish. It feels entirely appropriate that my Team MVP was Felix Hernandez, who has had a Cy-worthy season on a second-division loser. (And who had two brilliant starts this week, particularly yesterday. Give him the Cy, voters.)

It's Labor Day. Get back to relaxing...

-- D.S.