- Bama/LSU was an absolute classic. It looked like Alabama was dead in the water late in the 4th quarter before LSU missed a field goal, and Bama took the subsequent drive and went 72 yards in under a minute for the game-clinching touchdown. Despite my thinking that Alabama was the best team in the country, I thought LSU outplayed them on the field and were really hampered by Les Miles' incompetence. Among other things, I thought he should've gone for it on 4th down late, plus the fake field goal early in the game was jokingly bad. At any rate, AJ McCarron was brutal for much of the night, but came up with the huge drive late, and he should be commended for that. I firmly believe that this was Alabama's chance to lose, and that they'll run through the rest of the SEC until the National Championship game.
- Kansas State and Oregon held serve. K-State beat Oklahoma State 44-30 behind a 100-yard kick return and a pick-6 caused by the defense. Collin Klein (my Heisman winner as of now) left the game in the 3rd quarter with an undisclosed injury and that's obviously a huge blow to KSU if he's out for any stretch of time, but for now, K-State is still at #2. As far as Oregon is concerned, that offense is devastatingly good. 62 points on the road against a top-20 opponent is ridiculous, and Kenjon Barner's 38 carry, 321-yard rushing performance is the stuff of legend in Eugene. Lost in the craziness of that stat-line (and the eye-popping peformance) was the work of freshman QB Marcus Mariota. He went 20-for-23 for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns with 0 interceptions as well. USC's offense put up a game fight, gaining an equally crazy 615 yards of offense (Matt Barkley threw for 484 yards and 5 TD's) but in the end, the shootout went to Oregon. Obviously, the defense is a concern for the Ducks, but prior to this one, the defense had been fairly good, and USC's offense is an elite one, so the fear level can be lowered a bit.
- Notre Dame held on for dear life in a 3-OT win over Pittsburgh. The play of the game was a missed FG by Pitt in the 2nd OT that would've ended the game and ND's national title chances, but it sailed wide, and the Irish got the win in the 3rd frame. The Notre Dame defense is still elite, but I have real concerns about the offense and I think it would be fairly laughable if they ran into Oregon or Alabama in a potential title game.
- The Rest - Florida eeked out a 14-7 win over Missouri on the strength of 4 interceptions. In short, the UF offense was dreadful, and unless Georgia drops this weekend's game to Auburn (unlikely), they'll be left out of Atlanta. Speaking of Georgia, they got a win over Ole Miss 37-10 to stay on track for the SEC title game. The bulldogs looked mediocre early, but rattled off 37 unanswered and put Ole Miss away. Texas knocked off Texas Tech 31-22 in Lubbock for their 3rd straight win. Nebraska somehow squeezed past Michigan State, which devastated Michigan fans and kept Nebraska firmly in their Big 10 division lead. And finally, West Virginia lost a 2-OT thriller to TCU in Morgantown by a score of 39-38. The Geno Smith for Heisman campaign is firmly off the rails at this point and that's unfortunate.
- The Falcons are 8-0. It took a closer-than-desired effort to hold on for the 19-13 win, but wins are wins in the NFL. Michael Turner had a big 4th quarter to finish with 102 yards on 20 carries, and Matt Ryan played yet another great game, going 24-34 for over 300 yards and throwing zero interceptions. Matt Bryant (aka Mr. Automatic) picked a rough night to miss 2 field goals, but did knock 4 of them down, including a big one to give ATL the 6-point lead late. The march to a 1st-round bye continues.
- Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a 31-23 road win over Cincinnati to take Denver to 5-3. The Broncos are firmly in control of the putrid AFC West with this win, and the Bengals will need to get red-hot in a hurry to stay competitive for a wild-card spot in the AFC. Peyton went for 291 yards and 3 TDs as he continues his comeback/MVP bid.
- The 7-1 Chicago Bears are scorching hot. They put up a crazy fifty-one points on Sunday in their win over Tennessee, and the defense led the way. Five turnovers caused including a blocked punt TD and a pick-six by Brian Urlacher keyed the blowout win, and with the exception of a late 80-yard Chris Johnson touchdown (in complete garbage time), Chicago completely dominated defensively. I'm still wary of Jay Cutler and company on offense, but Brandon Marshall is a beast (9 for 122, with 3 touchdowns here) and the defense is beyond legit.
- The Rest - Doug Martin went absolutely nuts in Tampa's 42-32 road win over Oakland. The Bucs rookie RB went for 251 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns, reaching legendary fantasy status with 51 points in standard scoring. That is absurd, and there's a real argument for Martin as an elite back in the league already. Seattle maintained the montra of their home-field advantage, beating Minnesota 30-20 and going to 4-0 on their home turf. And finally, Pittsburgh went on the road and took care of business over the Giants by a score of 24-20. Out of nowhere, Ike Redman went for 147 yards, and there seems to be a different guy every week for the Steelers.
Not going to go with a full weekend breakdown (because it's 2 full days of early season games lol), but here are a couple of observations...
- As a homer, seeing the Hawks beat OKC on Sunday in Oklahoma City was tremendous. And to do so without Josh Smith? Even better. Al Horford keyed the win with 23 points and 12 rebounds but the key stat of the night was turnovers. Atlanta held themselves to just 10 turnovers, but forced 20 from the Thunder, and anytime you can create 10 additional possessions, that's huge.
- First wins! On Saturday, Boston went on the road and beat hapless Washington 89-86. They were led by 27 from Paul Pierce, and got 12 dimes from Rajon Rondo. And on the left coast, the Lakers got off the schneid on Sunday with a 108-79 rout of Detroit. The Lakers (now 1-3) got 28 points on 12-14 shooting from Dwight Howard, and a 15-8-7 from Kobe Bryant (on just 10 shots!). Detroit is pretty bad at times, but this was at least semi-encouraging for the Lakers, who will be without Nash for a bit longer.
- Is Orlando going to be decent? I murdered them all preseason, but they are 2-0 after a 115-94 blowout over Phoenix on Sunday. Glen Davis (22 points) has broken the 20-point barrier in both games, but the bright spot for Orlando was Nikola Vucevic's best game of his career, going for 18 points and 13 rebounds. I still think Orlando will struggle mightily this year, but this is a positive start.
- Denver is a mess at the moment. The Nuggets, who many thought would win 55+ games are 0-3, and they've done so in ugly fashion. There's no shame in losing a tight road game to Miami (119-116 on Saturday), but the first 2 games were ugly. At any rate, Chris Bosh lit them up for 40 on Saturday night, and Denver's D has been woeful.
- The Spurs are 3-0. That is all.
What to watch for on Monday...
- NFL - Eagles @ Saints - 8:30 ESPN - The final night of the Mike Vick era in Philly? I think it will be if he doesn't lead the Eagles to win. I may be in the minority, but I think he goes nuts here and carves up that putrid Saints' secondary for a 400 total-yard, 4-touchdown type of game. At any rate, it'll be interesting.
- NBA - Twolves @ Nets - 7:30 NBA-TV - I honestly have no idea why NBA-TV went with this game, but it's on so I'll recommend it. Brooklyn is an intriguing team this season, and this is a good chance to take a look at them.
- NBA - League Pass Free Preview! - This is still going through Tuesday night and there are a few games to watch. Knicks @ Sixers (7:00), Jazz @ Grizzlies (8:00), Pacers @ Spurs (8:30), and Cavs @ Clippers (10:30) are all intriguing games, even for casual observers as they feature 7 good teams out of 8, and the 8th (Cleveland) has one of the best young players in the league in Kyrie Irving going against the incumbent best PG alive in Chris Paul.