The Weekend Review: Feels Like a Monster

I don’t often do weekend recaps, but this was quite a full weekend in sports and it just feels like it’s worthy of some extra attention. So we’ll go sport by sport to recap the weekend:

College Football

The Picks – I had a perfect weekend set up. Undefeated. Untied. Unstoppable. Until, for the 2nd year in a row, the Boise State kicking game cost them the TCU game. A 39 yarder flew wide right, and the Swami’s perfect weekend went down the drain. 20-1. Feels like the Patriots’ 18-1 season.

The Marquee Matchup – In their chance to solidify their credibility, Stanford choked and now we get the lovely chance to have two 1-loss teams that both lost to the same team, yell really loud that they should be the #2 contender (after Oklahoma State).

Juggernaut – Oklahoma State has been trying to get everyone’s attention all year. Finally, now that they are scoring an average of 51 points per game and throttling all who stand in their way, they are finally getting some attention. Now, not as much attention as the two teams behind them, but at least it’s something. Weedin, who’s season has been substantially better than Andrew Luck’s, has finally strong-armed his way into the Heisman discussion. If it’s an award for 1 year, Weedin has to win. If it’s a career achievement then I guess Luck wins. If they can avoid a slip in Ames and then use the 2 weeks to prep for Bedlam wisely, we’ll get to find out the answer to what kind of an award it is.

Stay Classy – Nebraska/Penn State had taken on a very different feel by the time Saturday rolled around. I don’t think anyone quite knew how to act. And then the two teams began walking toward each other. They met at midfield and began shaking hands. They intermingled and then took a knee. The man standing in the middle of the sea of young men began a prayer. 107,000 people got completely quiet. Nebraska Running Backs Coach Ron Brown prayed a passionate and fervent prayer that only he could have done at that moment. When all was done the coaches and players seemed to know what to do at that point. The crowd, whether wearing Navy, White, or Red, applauded the young men on the field and seemed to take on the same sentiments. At that point I had a hunch this was going to be a clean, hard-fought game and it absolutely delivered. There was very little “look at me” activity that tends to show up at these types of games. There were very few penalties. There were two teams that worked very hard and played to a 17-14 final and respectfully congratulated each other on the efforts. Very often there is a moment when a new person joins a group when he is finally accepted as a “real” member of that new circle. I think it is safe to say that the way that the University and fans of Nebraska handled themselves this weekend, the moment that Nebraska became a “real” member of the Big Ten Conference just happened.

NFL

The NFL weekend was more notable for the bizarre than for any “Epic” occurrences:

The Rising – The NFC West went 4-0. If you weren’t aware, that is a sign of the apocalypse.

No Wind Beneath Their Wings – The Pre-Season Super Bowl favorite Eagles fell to 3-6 after they lost at home to a John Skelton led Arizona Cardinal team. If you read that to all talking heads in the preseason, you would have found yourself in the Asylum.

Alive – After many people have harped on Tony Romo for weeks and how he should be replaced, he somehow emerges to go 11 for 11 and then 23 for 26 with 3 TD passes against Cinderella (Buffalo) in an absolute beatdown. Oh, please note that this was the first game after his #1 receiver went down with an injury.

Horses Don’t Fly – The Broncos utilized a run/pass balance that only Georgia Tech would be proud of. In the most pass-happy season in NFL history the Broncos won a game where they went 2-8 through the air. (Side note, their top 2 RBs were in the locker room in the 1st Quarter… that would be the sound  of the air going out of every Chiefs’ fan’s sails)

Retractions – It appears that the reports of the Patriots’ death have been greatly exaggerated. It appears that the Colts futility really doesn’t know any bounds

Doh – It appears that there are still coaches that shoot from the hip, knowing that they will get destroyed if they are wrong. Unfortunately for Mike Smith and the Falcons, they were wrong this time.

The Doctor is In – It’s not a good week to be a QB: Stafford – cracked finger; Vick – cracked ribs; Schaub – foot; Cassel – hand; Painter – general odor

NASCAR

One for the Money – 1 race. 3 points. 2 drivers.  Does Carl Edwards finally drop the “Potential” from the potential Champion moniker, or does Tony Stewart become the first Owner/Driver champion of the modern era and grab his 3rd Cup championship to go with his 1 Open Wheel title.

Gimme Five  – This weekend as I saw that Jimmie Johnson was officially eliminated from title contention, something struck me. The last time a champion was crowned that wasn’t driving the #48, I was married with NO children. My 5 & 3 year olds had never been alive to see someone else raise the trophy. Not that seeing someone else do it will have any effect on them, but it emphasized to me how long 5 years really is. So now seems like a time to start looking at how good Jimmie really is. No driver had ever won more than 3 in a row. In his first 10 years in the sport, no driver had won more than 4 (Jimmie won 5 in 9). In 7 of the past 9 years, #48 has finished in the Top 2. All 9 years of his career leading up to this one, the Johnson/Knaus tandem has finished in the Top 5 in points. In this, their 10th year, they are in 5th going into the final race of the season. Greatness is rarely appreciated in its own era, but folks should take the time to appreciate the most impressive run ever and arguably one of the top 3 drivers of all time… and he’s got a lot of years left.

Major League Baseball

Not a lot going on, but there were 2 very newsworthy items.

Experience Optional – The World Series champs just replaced a managerial legend with his former catcher who has exactly 0 years of managing experience

Risk – Reward – Wilson Ramos, catcher for the Washington Nationals, went from kidnapped and held hostage, to rescued by police in Venezuela and reunited with his family, to finishing 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting. That’s quite a weekend.

 NCAA Basketball

 U.S.S. Awesome – The Carrier Classic looked to me like a huge success. It definitely got more ratings and more early season interest than typical Friday Night hoops in November and the fact of the matter is that it was an amazingly cool spectacle. The clouds overhead; The bridge overlooking the flight deck/court; It was a picturesque scene that honored Veterans, celebrated the current soldiers, and entertained for a night. It definitely should be an annual tradition. Kudos to the administration of Michigan State for dreaming it up 7 or 8 years ago.

 Capitalism – College basketball has a perfect storm of factors that should make this a great year.  The NBA is locked out and it appears this won’t change anytime soon (see below). At least 5 of last season’s top 10 players elected to return to school instead of jumping early. This was presumably due to the impending work-stoppage. Additionally, the schools that are traditional powers look to be very good this year, so drawing in the casual fan should be a little easier because they already know those “brands”.  And, in a move that is a happy coincidence, there are more marquee non-conference matchups in the first 3 weeks of the season than there typically are all year. Women’s basketball is known for the great teams playing each other, but historically Men’s basketball just doesn’t do it. However this season we have the following early season tilts: N. Carolina v. Michigan State, Kentucky v. Kansas, Duke v. Michigan State, Florida v. Ohio State, Florida State v. Michigan State, Wisconsin v. N. Carolina, and Duke v. Ohio State.  (Why yes, a LOT of those look like ACC & Big Ten schools…). All in all, the NCAA appears to be in as good of a position to be the basketball of choice for the country as it possibly could hope for.

 NBA

 BRILLIANT! – Now, I’m not into name calling…but do you have to be an idiot to go down this road?! Let’s review: There are at least a half-dozen NBA teams that are losing money every season. With the current economy and the technological advances of recent years, the incentive to shell out big dollars to attend a game instead of watching it on a 65” HDTV at home is getting smaller and smaller. Full-season ticket sales continue to drop. So the Owners lock out the players so that they can try to put a system in place that will put them in a good place now, and will still allow future growth in earning opportunities for the players. And the players are convinced that the league is trying to starve them to death, so it’s now time to play hardball! If it costs them a season, they say they are ok with it. United we stand! (They likely are ignoring the old United We Fall part…) Now, I know that the players are keenly aware of what has happened with the NHL and the Screenwriters’ recent work-stoppages, so I’m sure they are also ok with the deal that they would sign next summer being far worse than the one they just said no to, because that is how these things shake out.  It will only get worse. And this is on the heels of THE BEST basketball season of the post-Jordan era. So all momentum will be lost and fan backlash will simply grow more and more…which, by the way, will negatively impact the bottom line that the players want a hefty portion of. Ok, I’m going to name calling… these guys are just being dumb.

That truly was a Monster weekend.

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Categories: Sports General

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