Wednesday, September 03, 2014

9/2 "Who's Your Four?" Quickie

It took all of one day of college football for the traditional "Who's No. 1?" discussion to become "Who's your four?"

It is absurd (but amazing) to project college football's four-team playoff field after a single week of play, but we're all doing it anyway.

I woke up on Sunday morning and flipped on SportsCenter just in time for Kirk Herbstreit's Top Four. Throughout the weekend, everyone weighed in. Instantly, it was addictive and fun.

My turn:
(1) Texas A&M
(2) Georgia
(3) Florida State
(4) North Dakota State

The playoff is having exactly the impact we talked about last week - it widens the discussion.

Never mind that the SEC champ - regardless of number of losses - is guaranteed a spot. Never mind that Florida State is guaranteed a spot if it goes unbeaten, despite a soft schedule.

Consequently, we are really talking about two spots up for grabs, among three teams: a would-be unbeaten Pac-12 champ, a would-be unbeaten Big 12 champ and a would-be unbeaten Big Ten champ.

That is a big reason why this weekend's Oregon-Michigan State game so intriguing. It's the "All Other Things Being Equal" Bowl, as "unbeaten" inevitably becomes "one-loss."

The Top 25 is a nice vanity metric and helps to frame games worth paying attention to next weekend, but "Who's your four?" is the ultimate question of the day -- and the season.

More Faves:

*Multiple-pitcher no-hitters: More compelling than single-pitcher no-hitters. There have been only six since September 1, 1976 (compared to 80 no-hitters thrown by a single pitcher since then).

I would add that in the hierarchy of no-hitters, the totally unexpected no-hitter -- by a pitcher for whom the no-hitter will most definitely be THE career highlight, by far -- is still superior to multiple-pitcher no-hitters.

*NFL rookie starting QBs in Week 1. Derek Carr may have been the 4th quarterback taken overall, but he had the best (worst?) opportunity to emerge as a starter of any rookie QB. (That doesn't keep the Raiders from settling near the bottom of Bill Barnwell's preview of the NFL's 8 worst teams.)

*JJ Watt: A longtime favorite among the 8-and-under fan base in my house. (I presume he's a favorite among kids whoare NFL fans more generally -- how could he not be?)

*Kevin Durant finding sneaker clarity. I really did think he'd end up with home-state Under Armour. It's easy to see the appeal for Nike - no basketball star feels more accessible than KD, and he has at least another ten years ahead of him in a career that will end with him being among the Top 10 players ever.

*Cookie Monster and John Oliver report the news.

*Speaking of Michigan State, if you want to understand their incredible defense, no one will explain it better to get you ready this weekend than Grantland's Chris B. Brown does here.

*CJR on Elise Andrew, the little-known 25-year-old impresario behind "I Love F---ing Science," a journalism start-up clearly worth a little more attention.

*Lockhart Steele blogging daily again. (Hell of a month for

*Giving myself 30 seconds to decide what Big Idea I'd focus on first if I was the new publisher of the Washington Post.

*The Awl's "Fall Preview" (via the inimitable Alex Balk)

*Madden '15 on the iPhone as Labor Day kids' distraction.

*One more time: Don Van Natta Jr on Jerry Jones.

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