Thursday Night Recap:
Just like last week, my predictions got off to a difficult start as the Chiefs defeated the Eagles. I enjoyed the outcome, as there is currently no NFC East team with a winning record, providing hope that my Redskins can stay in the race as they try to figure out how to win a football game. What's more impressive is how Kansas City, under new and former Eagle head coach Andy Reid, has started the season with a 3 - 0 record. They are showing what you can do by playing tough defense and avoid mistakes. Alex Smith is pretty impressive in managing a conservative offensive scheme and made a great throw from his own goal line that eventually ended up being a huge play. I'll be very interested to see how the Chiefs match up against the Broncos in the AFC West who they go against twice in three weeks, the first game at Denver on November 17.
Clemson went into NC State and came out with a win last night, helped in part by a blown call on what should have been a Wolfpack go ahead touchdown in the third quarter. College has a review system, but apparently they only use it for that type of play if it occurs inside the five yard line. However, it was a play that easily could have been overturned but instead Clemson got the ball back and went in to score, essentially sealing the win. The Tigers' QB Tajh Boyd got off to a slow start, but seemed to come alive after a bench side conversation with coach Dabo Swinney. Carter-Finley stadium has been a place of nightmares for highly ranked ACC teams in recent years, but Clemson ended up taking care of business. Now they need to make sure they get past Wake Forest, Syracuse and Boston College to set up a huge game at home against Florida State on October 19.
Now to a different type of Tiger, this one in the golf world. Tiger Woods alternated between disinterest and frustration yesterday during a birdieless (if that's even a word) first round in the Tour Championship. Reports were that his back was bothering him, keeping him from practicing. He looked like Tiger Woods, he swung like Tiger Woods, but he sure didn't play like Tiger Woods. I have to believe that his injured back is a factor. It will be interesting to see if there's any improvement today. As it stands, he will most likely lose his grasp on the FedEx Cup points race, one he has held most of the season. Henrik Stenson was unbelievably accurate with his iron shots and is in the lead at the moment to collect the $10 million for winning the season-long competition. However, there are three rounds left and if the wind comes up at the East Lake course, anything can happen.
With nine or ten games left, depending on the team, it appears that with the exception of the NL Central the division races are all but decided. That division has three teams separated by two games. In all likelihood, the two teams that don't win the division will become the wild-card teams, barring a big push by the Nationals. I think the Cardinals will end up prevailing. In the American League, six teams are within 3 1/2 games in the wild-card race. Although the Yankees are only 3 1/2 back, they would have to climb over four other teams to get that second spot. The teams to watch are Cleveland, which has a very favorable schedule, and Texas, which is fading as the season ends. My prediction is we'll see Tampa Bay and the Indians in the one game playoff.
College Football Hot Seats:
Texas' Mack Brown faces a must win against Kansas State tomorrow. Reports indicate that Texas boosters were sniffing around the possibility that Nick Saban, following the national championship game earlier this year, would come to Austin . If the Longhorns start 1 - 3, I have no doubt that the search will begin in earnest, if it hasn't already. Even though Brown is under contract until 2020, Texas is one of the few programs with enough money to buy him out of the duration of his deal. The big question is, if Saban turns them down, who will they get? Will Muschamp was the coach in waiting before he went to Florida, but he hasn't exactly wowed anyone with the offense in Gainesville. Colin Cowherd mentioned Chris Petersen at Boise State or John Gruden from ESPN would probably be available. I'll add Dabo Swinney from Clemson or Gary Patterson from TCU. And what about Les Miles from LSU? Okay, he's pretty quirky and might not fit with Texas, plus he has some bad press hanging over him from the recent Oklahoma State series in "Sports Illustrated". But the guy can flat out recruit and coach. There's no way Texas can bring in a high profile assistant, but instead need to hire someone with extensive and successful head coaching experience. Now, I predicted that Brown would find a way to get his team past Kansas State, but the Wildcats are hardly the toughest team left on his schedule, so I think it's pretty inevitable that he'll be out after this season.
The other hot seat is the one that USC coach Lane Kiffin finds himself sitting on. I didn't make a prediction on the Trojans' game with Utah St. this week, but Kiffin can't afford another low scoring effort from his offense, as the Aggies can put points on the board. They've scored 122 points in their two victories against no losses to start the season. Granted, 70 of those were against a toothless FCS member Weber State. But still, this will not be a walk in the park for the Trojans, who still have Arizona State, Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA on the schedule. My prediction is that USC may find a way to survive this weekend, but Kiffin won't make it to next season as head coach of the Trojans. Once again, you have to speculate who might be on the short list to replace him. Can you say Bobby Petrino, late of Arkansas and currently at FCS Western Kentucky? Petrino successfully recruited in California while at Louisville and Arkansas. The question is whether AD Pat Haden would be comfortable with Petrino's past character issues, none of which were the types of things that result in NCAA infractions. It's a long shot, but if it happens, remember you heard it here first.