The highlight of the sports weekend was supposed to be the LSU-Alabama college football game. ESPN has been hyping it for over 2 weeks and even called it the game of the century – partly in jest, but they were also semi-serious. The game itself was not bad. It was close as LSU won it 9-6 in overtime. That’s 15 points total from 2 teams and they needed OT to do that. I understand the defenses are good, but the offenses were horrible. For all their greatness, these 2 SEC teams have no offense or a QB worth looking at. It’s ironic that this game comes a couple of week after the 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said that Stanford QB Andrew Luck’s stock would drop if he played against a SEC defense. He may be right, but how can SEC teams dominate their league without any decent QB? Also, how great are these SEC defenses anyways if the quality of the QBs they are facing, at least this year, is so bad?
The somewhat unfortunate truth is that defense wins championships and a SEC team may very well win the BCS championship this year too, propelled by the athletes playing defense. But they need a good QB and a decent offense to test them out. That’s not happening in-conference this year and it definitely didn’t happen in that game last Saturday. Now the national focus moves to the Bay Area as Stanford is hosting Oregon this weekend in their toughest test of the year. If they win, they stay undefeated and move closer to a BCS championship appearance for Andrew Luck. Oklahoma state is undefeated too, but the conventional wisdom says that they will eventually lose to Oklahoma, though that game is at home. Let’s see if Luck pulls it off against the speedy ducks and get us all closer to a SEC-Pac 12, offense-defense culture clash for the championship.
In the NFL, interesting unpredictability continued. This is one of the main reasons for NFL’s popularity – upsets like the Saints losing to the Rams last week. Parity results in weird results sometimes and this week was no different. The real head scratchers were Denver’s win at Oakland, Miami embarrassing Kansas City and to some extent, Chicago beating Philly tonight. The Eagles and the Bears are not that far apart talent-wise, but after last week’s demolition of the Cowboys, people were ready to re-anoint the Eagles as the Dream team. So it was pretty impressive that the Bears went into Philadelphia and took all that momentum away. Both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte are playing very well right now. As for the Eagles, they are done. They may have to go 7-1 or something to have a shot at the playoffs. Doable, but not practical because they are already 3 games behind a good Giants team for the Division and 3 games behind a good Lions team for the wild card.
Just when the entire NFL was ready to kick Tim Tebow out of the league, the Broncos beat the Raiders on the road and ran all over them. Tebow didn’t pass great, but he ran very well and also threw for 2 TDs against a Raiders defense that played extraordinarily bad. They let some of Tebow’s receivers roam around wide-open in those TD drives and they could not stop either Tebow or Willis McGghee on the ground. They didn’t just give up 8 or 10 yards every play, they seemed to get gashed for 20 to 60 yards a pop in that second half. The only explanation I can come up with is, the Raiders disrespected Tebow’s passing prowess so much that they put 8 or 9 guys around the line of scrimmage and that actually hurt them. It made things easy for the Broncos receivers and the running game found huge, open lanes if they got past the first level of defense around the line, which they seemed to do repeatedly in that second half.
Tough game for Carson Palmer who made some good throws and looked decent. I am sure the media would have been very high on his performance if he had won because he had impressive numbers – more than 300 yards and 3 TDs. But without that win, his 3 interceptions stand out. Good for Oakland that both Kansas City and San Diego lost too. They have to regroup in 3 days and play the Chargers to open the Thursday night schedule. I was also slightly surprised at the NY teams winning on the road. The Jets won at Buffalo and Giants won at New England in a game that resembled their Super Bowl contest from a few years back. Joe Flacco led the Ravens to an impressive road win at Pittsburgh to stop some of their momentum. That division is heating up. With all that said, the biggest news in sports right now is also it’s ugliest. The sex abuse scandal at Penn state is shocking and lets wait for more details before making judgments.