JackSmack: Issue #23

Well Tiger Fans, can we salvage a disappointing season with 2 big games left? Starting the season, we had legitimate national title hopes, and here we stand at 5-3 and a possibility of not going to a bowl game. I thought we could still win the conference, and Georgia Tech did their job last Thursday with a win over the ‘Heels, but we were outmatched against FSU.

We put up a good fight, and maybe it would have been a different game if the punt-rooskie wasn't called back, but like I said, Rix is starting to learn how to utilize his wide receivers by throwing it up when there is one on one coverage. I think the Florida-Florida State game is going to be great now. We're (+8) point dogs going into Maryland this weekend and I just don't know. We're going to have to score some points because you know they will.

Nationally last week, the game of the day had to be Michigan-Michigan State. Great comeback, even though the Wolverines really beat themselves. If you didn't like that one, you had the record 7 overtime game with Arkansas coming out on top of Ole Miss. The SEC West is in shambles. UCLA and Stanford both got knocked out of the Pac-10 race, and while the Washington win helps Miami, Virginia Tech getting blown out by Pittsburgh 38-7 does not. The Illini look like a lock for the Citrus Bowl unless Michigan stumbles again.

The Heisman trophy race has come down to 3 QB's in my mind. In order, I have Dorsey, Crouch, and Grossman. It's going to depend on what team can go undefeated and/or make it to the Rose Bowl.

As for the BCS, Miami is in if they win out. They'll play the Big 12 Champion, unless Nebraska loses. The ‘Huskers could still go, but the Gators might get the points they need if they can defeat South Carolina, FSU, and Tennessee, and then win the SEC title game. I don't see any other scenarios, and for Tennessee fans who think they might get in if they beat Florida, I don't see their points getting low enough.

This week's intriguing matchups: (*--who I'd take)

(3) Florida* (-12) @ (15) South Carolina (I hate to bet against Holtz in a big game, but I like the Gators right now.)

(7) Oregon* @ (16) UCLA (-3) (I'll take the points with the Ducks trying to stay in the conference race with Wash. and Wash. St.)

(8) Washinton* (-3 ½) @ Oregon State (Corvallis can be a tough place to play, but not this year.)

(12) Washinton St.* (NL) @ Arizona State (ASU has won the last 4 in this matchup, but the Cougars are playing well.)

Penn State* @ (14) Illinois (-10) (Kittner should have a field day, but Penn State is playing inspired football right now.)

(17) Georgia Tech (-13 ½) @ Virginia* (Tech's still playing for something, but they haven't won in Charlottesville since '91.)

West Virginia @ (18) Syracuse* (-14 ½) (Could be interesting, but spread is lower because of the 80 pts. scored by WV last week.)

For last week's picks, I went 2-1. Maryland covered easy and Tennessee covered about like I expected, just a little late. Miami needed one more touch to cover, and I guess I should have gone with Florida because Spurrier does know how to cover.

This week, I'm going to go with Miami again giving only (-19 ½) against an overrated BC squad. I also like Oregon (+3) @ UCLA. The Bruins are dead; this week, they get buried. My take of the week, though, is Washington only giving (-3 ½) @ Oregon State.

On to the NFL, where last week I got bombed in my picks and went 0-3. Buffalo got whipped by Indi and the Chargers let the Chiefs get their 2nd win. Jacksonville had Tennessee (McNair did fumble), but that's life, and they missed the cover by a point.

Also last week, the Bears pulled another one out of the hat with that déjà vu miracle comeback against the Browns. The game of the day went to the Ravens as Kris Brown missed 4 field goals for the Steelers. Green Bay shut up Tampa with a nice late win and look out: here come the Redskins. They won their 3rd in a row over a solid Seattle team.

The Jets sat on the up and down Saints, and Oakland continued to impress by whipping the Broncos on Monday Night. Miami and Philly both notched a ‘W' by beating a couple of duds: Carolina and Arizona, respectively.

San Fran got by Detroit and if there is an opposite tough-luck club to the Bears this year, it has to be the Lions. They could be 3-3. By the way, I think Garcia to Owens has become the deadliest QB to WR combination in the league. Yeah, Terrell's an idiot, but he can play.

Tom Brady came back with a solid game as the Pats beat Atlanta, and the Giants squeaked out an overtime winner over Dallas.

By the way, last week's top 6 passers went 3-3, while the top 6 rusher's team's went 6-0 for the second straight week.

Next week, I'll give you a halfway look at who the surprises and disappointments are so far this season and who's going to the playoffs. Going into this week, here's my top 10, with the Jets on the bubble. (last week's ranking in parentheses.)

1) St. Louis (6-1) (1)
2) Oakland (6-1) (2)
3) Green Bay (5-2) (3)
4) Miami (5-2) (5)
5) Pittsburgh (5-2) (4)
6) Chicago (6-1) (7)
7) Baltimore (4-3) (10)
8) San Francisco (5-2) (8)
9) Philadelphia (4-3) (9)
10) New Orleans (4-3) (6)

This week is conference maneuvering week as teams will either pull away or tighten the pack, with a load of interconference matchups. Here's the good ones: (*--who I'd take)

Miami* (5-2) @ Indianapolis (4-3) (-3) (I'll take Fiedler, defense, and the points in a big game.)

Green Bay* (5-2) (-2 ½) @ Chicago (6-1) (The Bears don't have another miracle in them as the Pack find their stride this week.)

Pittsburgh* (5-2) (-3) @ Cleveland (4-3) (I'll take defense and points in a low-scoring game.)

San Diego (5-3) @ Denver* (4-4) (-6 ½) (The Broncos get revenge and get back in the playoff hunt.)

New Orleans (4-3) @ San Francisco* (5-2) (-3) (It's time for the Saints to have a win, but I gotta go with the ‘Niners.)

Minnesota* (3-4) @ Philadelphia (4-3) (-4 ½) (A tough one to call; I'll take the points.)

Sunday Night:
Oakland* (6-1) (-5) @ Seattle (3-4) (The Raiders are playing too well right now.)

Monday Night:
Baltimore* (5-3) (-2 ½) @ Tennessee (3-4) (The Titans need this one, but it's not going to happen.)

After last week, I'm going to get you back with 3 winners. I like the Rams (-18) at home versus a dreadful Carolina team and the Packers to cover (-2 ½) easy over the Bears. My take of the week, though, is the Ravens only giving (-2 ½) Monday Night @ Tennessee.

On to baseball, where first we'll look back at one of the best World Series ever. As a Yankees fan, I didn't mind Game 6 as it was really the first game of the series I could relax. Game 7 didn't kill me as all I asked for all series was a 1-1 game in the 7th inning. Give Arizona credit. They beat Rivera. He's the best, and they did what they had to. I don't think Brenly should even get a ring, though, as he did his best to lose this series. After going up 2-0, he immediately started to think about game 7. If he doesn't pull Schilling in game 3 or Bautista is game 4, the Yanks are buried, but he left them alive, and he's lucky, they pulled it out for him. He almost wants to make me call Bobby Cox a good manager.

Other Series notes: I got a huge kick out of Don Mattingly throwing out the 1st pitch in game 5. He's who I grew up with and is the reason I'm a Yanks fan today. Good move by Steinbrenner locking up Torre and Cashman for 3 more years. Willie Randolph should be managing next year and there was talk about the Twins, but we'll get to Dud Selig in a minute. As for the 2002 Yanks, there will be no O'Neill, Brosius, Tino, Justice, or Knoblauch. Drew Henson (the former Michigan QB) will take over at 3rd and I'd bring up Nick Johnson at 1B. Spencer will start in either left or right next year. Who's the big name they'll grab? I had heard Gonzalez, Bonds and Giambi, but now I hear Sheffield. I want an outfielder, but we'll see. Also, I think it's a huge mistake if George gets rid of El Duque.

On to Dud Selig. I was a fan of this contraction business when I thought it was the Expos and Marlins. But the Twins??? Take away the Devil Rays. Will there be a draft or will all these guys be free agents? With the Expos and Marlins, you're looking at Cliff Floyd and Vladimir Guerrero, but if you take away the Twins, look at the players that will be available: pitchers Radke, Mays, and Milton, two Gold Glove winners in Mientkiewiecz and Hunter along with other young studs like Christian Guzman. Don't do it, Bud.

Well, let's go Tigers, we really need this one. See you next week.

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