More importantly, the champs decided they were going down swinging. Win or lose this weekend, that's all we wanted. Show some pride. Show some heart. Show us last season meant something. And they did.
Yes, the Sox showed some fight — more like a lot of fight — last night. But they still have to take two in Tampa, beat a pitcher that made them look like Little Leaguers a week ago (James Shields), and stop a lineup they haven't shown they can stop with an injured pitcher (Josh Beckett). All the signs point to a Rays-Phils World Series. But I guess if there's one team that's proven it can overcome all the odds, it's the Red Sox.
All I know is that it just made this weekend a lot more entertaining. I went 8-6 in picks last week, so let's see if I can improve on that. Onto the Weekend Viewing Guide:
Wake Forest at Maryland, Noon Raycom Sports
Georgia Tech at Clemson, Noon ESPN
Vanderbilt at Georgia, 12:30 ESPN360
I must say, a pretty weak early schedule on Saturday. Unless you have a vested interest in the Maryland Terrapins, there's no reason to wake up before 330. The Georgia game could be good, but who is really gonna get their ESPN 360 going that early? Now if you do follow the Terps, you'd know they play down to their competition or up to their competition, there really seems to be no middle ground. The Terps are capable of beating Wake, especially at home, but I think that people put too much into that Clemson win. Speaking of the Tigers, all signs point to a brutal beatdown courtesy of Paul Johnson's 5-1 wishbone -style offense, what with a new coach and turmoil within the ranks. Well ... ummmm ... upset pick.
Prediction: Wake Forest 31, Maryland 20; Clemson 24, Georgia Tech 20; Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 20
Ohio State at Michigan State, 3:30 pm ESPN2
Michigan at Penn State, 4:30 pm ESPN
I've got a dilemma with this Michigan game and it doesn't involve the final score. I had a ticket to the game, but as part of my job I'm being forced to cover something called Potomac Day. It's as lame as it sounds, or so I'm told. Add in the Caps only home game for the next week and a half occurring on Saturday night and you've got the perfect storm of activities that will keep me from Happy Valley. As I wrote earlier this week, I'm glass half full when it comes to Rich Rod and these Wolverines, but I don't think any amount of good mojo will result in a road win. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes go to East Lansing to face the upstart Spartans, who have quietly lost just one game thus far. Neither team is as good as advertised, but I just don't see a world where the Big Ten title comes down to Michigan State and Penn State.
Prediction: Ohio State 24, Michigan State 20; Penn State 38, Michigan 21
LSU at South Carolina, 8 pm ESPN
Missouri at Texas, 8 pm ABC
ALCS Game 6, 8 pm TBS
I put the LSU game on top because something tells me when this South Carolina season is over, we're going to see the Ol' Ball Coach hang em up. The team is 5-2 but both of those losses are in the SEC and frankly, I don't see the Gamecocks breaking through to the upper echelon of the conference any time soon. That's not what he came back to college football for. As for that Mizzou/Texas game, it should be a wildly entertaining shootout in the mold of the Red River Rivalry last week. In this topsy turvy college football season, I expect things to be thrown into more of a flux when Chase Daniel bounces back from a tough loss last week.
Prediction: LSU 34, Steve Spurrier 20; Missouri 42, Texas 35; Rays win Game 6
Chargers at Bills, 1 pm CBS
Saints at Panthers, 1 pm FOX
Nobody is really sure what to make of either the Bills or the Chargers. Can the Chargers play enough defense to be a contender, can they look as impressive as they did last weekend against the Pats? As for the Bills, the questions have to be are they actually for real and what about Trent Edwards? Can he come back from this concussion. As weird as this sounds, I'm going with Norv's gang. My preseason pick, the Panthers, rebound from a somewhat demoralizing loss to the Bucs last week. The NFC South is turning into one helluva division, though. Every team has legitimate playoff aspirations.
Prediction: Chargers 34, Bills 20; Panthers 27, Saints 24
Browns at Redskins, 4 pm CBS
Colts at Packers, 4 pm CBS
I won't actually be watching this Colts game since we're getting the Skins game here in DC. But just to go over it quickly, I think the emergence of that second Peyton knee surgery made his slow start make a lot more sense. I think this team gets on a roll now.
As for the Skins/Browns game, I'm really, really nervous about it. The Browns passing game got back on track last week against the Giants and the Skins secondary is beat up. Smoot probably won't play, safety Chris Horton is hindered by a bad ankle, and Springs is questionable with that pesky calf injury of his. Because of that, the onus falls on the Skins defensive line to get consistent pressure on Derek Anderson because he's as shaky as they come with pressure in his face. They didn't do that last week against the Rams, and it cost them on that 40-something yard pass to Donnie Avery that put the Lambs in field goal position. On that play the Skins had a safety blitz on, leaving Leigh Torrance on an island.
Prediction; Colts 35, Packers 17; Redskins 24, Browns 21
Andre Carter answers the call with a big game Sunday afternoon. You heard it here first.